Archive for the 'Police Brutality' Category

POLICE IN THE US

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Never would I have predicted how much I appreciate the work of a member of the Reagan administration, but I find that Professor Paul Craig Roberts often sees some of the same things I do and says many things with which I agree.  In this case, I would argue that many people, especially persons of color and other minority groups might not ever have had the view of the US police that Dr. Roberts and I did.  Certainly police brutality has always existed in some situations, but I don’t think that the US has always been the kind of police state it has become.  Dr. Robert’s remarks are below.

Paul_Craig_Roberts.jpg

“I can remember times when police in America were reliable. They had themselves under control and saw their role as helpful to citizens and investigators of crimes. They took care not to bring charges against innocent people and to kill citizens without cause. Police would put their lives on line in order to avoid making a mistake in the use of their power.

“Those times are gone forever. The police have been militarized, especially after 9/11, but even before. Police are taught to regard the public, especially any suspect or traffic offender as a potential threat to the police. The new rule taught to police is to apply violence to the suspect or offender in order to protect the police officer, and to question suspects only after they are safely secured, it they are still alive after being beaten, tasered, or shot.

“This police training, together with police incompetence, which is difficult to understand in these days of GPS addresses, results in massive assaults in the homes of totally innocent American civilians who have done no wrong, but, despite their innocence, lose family members and pets to gratuitous police violence.

“Taxpayers pay the police to investigate crimes, not to attack members of the public. But the police have been taught to see their role as protecting themselves from a criminally- inclined public, black and white.”

You can read the complete article here.

CARL DIX SPEAKS ABOUT POLICE MURDERS

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

“Wilson Has Walked

“AMERIKKKA MUST COME TO A HALT! THERE IS RIGHETOUS RESISTANCE AND YOU MUST BE PART OF IT!!!”

Carl

By Carl Dix

“The grand jury has refused to indict Darren Wilson, the cop who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson. Once again one of their hired guns has gotten away with murdering a Black youth. This is a shot to the heart. A brutal, horrible injustice in its own right. And a damning indictment of the very essence of this system. It was a statement that ONCE AGAIN, the lives of Black people mean NOTHING to those who sit atop this empire of injustice.

“This has to stop. NOW.

“Amerikkka has a long history of savage oppression of Black people going all the way back to the dragging of African people to this country in slave chains. This savage oppression continued after slavery was abolished in the form of Jim Crow segregation and lynch mob terror. And it’s still in effect today in mass incarceration and police given a green light to brutalize and even murder people. Police killed 2 Black men in St. Louis since Michael Brown was murdered. A 12 year old boy was murdered by police in a Cleveland playground just this past weekend.

“For weeks the authorities told people to remain calm and let the system work. For days we heard them threaten to unleash militarized police and the National Guard on any who would protest. Well, the system has worked-It’s let another murdering cop walk free. This amounts to the system giving a stamp of approval to police murder of Black people.

“And that is why it is so right, so just, and so necessary, that people are standing up! Within hours, people from the projects, from the campuses and beyond poured into the streets in righteous fury and defiant protest. They stood up to teargas in Ferguson. At 1 AM, thousands marched through the heart of NYC – from lower Manhattan through Harlem and have shut down the Triboro Bridge. Protesters blocked key freeways in LA and Oakland. Hundreds at the White House are staging die-ins. Actions ranging from prayer vigils to street protests, from Boston, Baltimore, Seattle, and beyond.

“There is no standing on the sidelines now.

“Bringing business as usual to a halt needs to continue and be built on. People need to stay in the streets. Don’t go to work. Walk out of school or make stopping this genocidal program what your schooling is about. People in the neighborhoods where police routinely brutalize and murder need to make their anger felt thru mass political resistance.

“And everybody needs to join in saying NO MORE to police murder. Athletes and musicians need to take a stand on this. Everyone has to take a side in this fight – Are you with the police who murder Black youth and the system that gives them a stamp of approval for their murderous actions? Or Are you with the people who are standing up and saying NO MORE to this shit? If you fail to act, you’re going along with the stamp of approval this system gives to police murder. But if you do act, you can be part of changing everything!

“What is at stake is the very world we will live in. Can you tolerate a world where the lives of Black people mean nothing? It’s that basic. If your answer is no, bring AmeriKKKa to a halt! And DON’T STOP UNTIL THERE IS JUSTICE AND THE MURDERER OF MICHAEL BROWN IS IN JAIL.”

CARL DIX IN FERGUSON TO PROTEST POLICE MURDER OF MICHAEL BROWN

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

This photograph is of Carl Dix, co-founder with Professor Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, who was arrested in Ferguson, Missouri, protesting the police murder of Michael Brown. The speech he was giving when they arrested him is below.

Carl_Fergusonarrest

We Stand With the Defiant Ones

We stand with the defiant ones. We stand with the angry ones, the rebellious ones, the ones who will not take it, the ones who tell the truth—and the ones they lie about. Without defiance, without  rage, without righteous rebellion, without people insisting on their rights and defending those rights in the street—very few people would even know about Michael Brown and how he was shot over and over with his hands up, murdered by pigs and then left to lie there in the streets, as if he were an animal. Very few people would have shared the grief of his parents for the terrible loss of this young man, at the very beginning of his life. Without the rebellion, this terrible  state-done murder would just be another rerun of the same old all-too-familiar story, the same murderous stuff that happens to Black and Latino youth over and over again.

But because of the defiance and rebellion, the whole world knows the story. Now everybody has to deal with this. And people all over the country and all over the world support this fight. You, the defiant ones, are changing the thinking of millions and millions of people… you are calling out to everyone NOT TO TAKE IT… you are making history—in the way it badly needs to be made.

So, yes we stand with the defiant ones—and we will defend them and stand with them in deed as well as word.

But now the authorities bring in the National Guard. This just shows how SCARED those on top are of the people that they oppress and dog, from day one down to today… The National Guard is just another part of their whole ILLEGITIMATE use of force and violence against people expressing their rights. And any illegal, unconstitutional and illegitimate actions of the National Guard can—and must—be defied too. The people’s righteous demands have not been met: this cop, this murdering pig, must be charged and taken into custody. NOW! This pig chief must be fired. And right now, the people must be allowed to stay in the streets and express themselves in no uncertain terms.

Sunday night, as the tear gas hung in the air and the time ticked down to the midnight curfew, a woman stepped up and started calling out to people: “No Justice! No Curfew!” In response to the call to “go home and get some rest” she said—“Michael Brown can’t get no rest, he can’t go home. We’re not going home!” This is the spirit of Ferguson—this is the spirit we need to support and spread.

To everyone who really wants liberation, who wants a better day for our youth—don’t let them tamp this down. To the “leaders” who attack the angry ones and tell us to trust in the system—NO. If you can’t do any better than that, get out of the way.

And to any so-called militants who shamefully take up the role of the police and decide who can protest and when, who attack and slander the “agitators” and the communists as “provocateurs,” you need to cut that COINTELPRO shit out and if you can’t stand with the people when they stand up…then just get on home.

Stand together and demand REAL JUSTICE!! The time is NOW!

Anniversary of Death of MLK: Racism in the United States Today

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Forty-six years ago Martin Luther King was assassinated and in response a rebellion of Black Americans was launched.  Here is a link to an article that puts this in perspective for today.

MLK

Newark was the site of six days of violence in 1967.  I had never been to Newark then, the year I graduated from college, but in recent years I worked there on a television project for the Sesame Workshop.  The condition of Newark’s black population does not appear to have changed and the city reflects the degradation of the entire country at this time.

There is little doubt that some Black Americans have more opportunities than their counter parts before the 1960’s revolts against white racism.  Still, I think of the black population in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and since, as well as in Newark today.  I know that many of our black sisters and brothers continue to live less well than white ones do.  The economy is bad for many people in this country now, but the black population is always at the bottom.

I am on my way in a few minutes to work with the current Broadway production of the American theater classic Raisin In The Sun.  I rejoice at the opportunities that the young man actor in that production has, but I deplore the continuation of systemic racism in this country and the continuing failure of the US to value all its people.

I also wonder today what the relationship of systemic racism has to the torture currently inflicted on brown people at the torture center at Guantanamo and in other places around the world.  I note the huge number of black and brown people among the astronomical prison population in this country.  I think of the stop and frisk program aimed at young black men here in New York City.

And I say no more.  Let us stop this, let us do all we can to stop systemic racism.

Torture in US Domestic Prisons

Monday, May 6th, 2013

engines_of_torture

Engines of torture when the tubes are forced down a person’s throat who is conscious and refuses them.

The perception by many people in the US, even the relatively small number who are aware of the torture at Guantanamo, is that torture of all kinds by the US has been an aberration since the wars of aggression in this century.

The truth is that torture is practiced in US domestic prisons and was just exported to prisoners taken in US wars.  Only lately, and due to media coverage of the current, but not the only, hunger strike by many of the prisoners at Guantanamo, is there much attention on torture in domestic prisons.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Ann Neumann published on 4 May 2013 in Waging Nonviolence:

“The prisoner has lost half his body weight and four teeth to malnutrition. He and his lawyer have gone to court to stop the force-feedings, but a judge ruled against him in March. If I asked you to guess where Coleman is being held, you’d likely say Guantánamo — ‘America’s offshore war-on-terror camp’ — where a mass hunger strike of 100 prisoners has brought the ethics of force-feeding to American newspapers, if not American consciences. Twenty-five of those prisoners are now being manually fed with tubes.

“But William Coleman is not at Guantánamo. He’s in Connecticut. The prison medical staff force-feeding him are on contract from the University of Connecticut, not the U.S. Navy. Guantánamo is not an anomaly. Prisoners — who are on U.S. soil and not an inaccessible island military base — are routinely and systematically force-fed every day.”

You can read the entire article here.

Neumann reiterates the facts about force feeding being torture.  The US is in contravention of international law and of American Medical Association standards.

What can we do to stop barbaric practices of the US government at home and abroad.  What are you doing to stop them?

Do We Do Everything the Police Say?

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Police can and do make errors and give orders that are not legal, sometimes accidentally like every other human being and sometimes on purpose. It is chilling that a judge, who is supposed to be impartial and not a tool of the police, would tell someone that he has to do what the police tell him.  The moment that we citizens allow the police to think for us, we live in a police state; and when judges back that up, we are in real trouble.

It appears from the following incident in the Bronx court today that we are in real trouble. Below is a report from that court room today:

“Josh [Norkin, attorney for Noche Diaz, activist against the Stop and Frisk police, see more here and here] went in front of the judge, who immediately started lecturing Noche that when a cop tells him something, he has to do it.  She went on at length speculating that, whatever Noche had done, he didn’t want to obey the cop, or tell the court what he was doing.  Josh took her on in a loud clear voice.  ‘We know exactly what was going on. The police were beating a man terribly in the street, and a crowd gathered.  Noche was in the crowd, observing.’ The judge said Noche had to follow the police order to move.  Josh said no, he didn’t.  ‘It wasn’t a lawful order.’

Noche Diaz, Stop and Frisk activist

“The judge didn’t like this at all.  ‘I suppose he wants to stand on his constitutional rights, but he doesn’t have them here.’  She asked the DA if they would offer an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal).  They did offer it.  Josh told the court, “‘We will refuse an ACD’

“Hell, yeah.  The whole point of defending ourselves against these unjust arrests is to establish that people have the right to observe and document police abuse.  Just because the NYPD arrests you while doing it, doesn’t mean they’re right.  It’s great to have attorneys on our side who see this, and who are just as outraged as we are.”  See the rest of Debra Sweet’s report here.

Are you outraged at the way the NYPD treat people of color in this city?  Are you outraged that the judge lectured Noche and wonder if she would lecture a Wall St criminal?

If you are, what are you doing about this?  Go to the Stop Mass Incareration website, learn more and sign the resoultion.  Go to the fundraiser on Thursday for legal expenses for these defendants who are standing up to police abuse in this city and to a policy that targets black and brown persons.  If you can’t make the party, you can still contribute online.  Link that site to your facebook page and other social media.  Go to a hearing yourself if you are in NYC.

Stop Stop and Frisk protesters are making an impact.  Though the corporate media don’t give this very much attention, alternative media in this city do.  Maybe most importantly,  the people in the courtrooms where these hearings are held, many of them from the populations being targeted, are getting to see resistance for a change.  They may be gaining some hope for a better world.

WE WON’T STOP TILL WE STOP STOP AND FRISK

New Freedom Fighters Face Jail: Call the DA,Go to the Courtroom

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Jamel in Harlem on 13 September

Below is part of a statement by Jamel Mims, one of the new freedom fighters working to stop the New York Police Department  Stop and Frisk policy that victimizes our young black and brown people in New York City:

“The stakes of this case are undoubtedly high. This is the second mass trial resulting from the civil disobedience campaign that has sparked citywide resistance to the stop-and-frisk policy.  The Queens District Attorney added a serious misdemeanor charge to our case last month, and re-wrote our charges last week so that we are being charged as ‘acting in concert’ rather than as individuals.

“If anyone thinks this is just ‘business as usual’ and that authorities won’t convict us or send us to jail, let me reiterate — the DA has twice bumped up the charges, and has made it very clear that the prosecutorial apparatus intends to place us behind bars.”

Read the entire article here.  There is video of the march and protest where Jamel and others were arrested as well as Jamel’s text.

Carl and some of the students leading the march through the neighborhood on the day for which a group including Jamel are being tried.

Wed Oct 24, Court Support
9:30am Trial (Day #2)
Queens Criminal Court (11/19/11 arrests at 103rd Precinct: Jamel Mims, Carl Dix, Bob Parsons, Morgan Rhodewalt)

125-01 Queens Blvd. near Hoover Avenue & 82nd Avenue. The Summons Part is located across the street in the Borough Hall Building.

Directions
Take the E or F train to the Union Turnpike Station. The Q60, Q37, Q74 and Q46 buses all have stops in close proximity to the Courthouse.

And, read about my experience that day here.

Jamel is a Fullbright Scholar, multimedia artist, and arts educator in New York City.  His courage and determination inspire me.  I am glad to know him and ask everyone wherever you are to telephone the District Attorney, 718 286 6000, to demand that all charges against him and the other defendants be dropped.   If you live in New York and can go to the court on Wednesday at the address above at 9am to support Jamel and the others.

Jamel’s Photographs from Sept. 13 in Harlem

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

The photographs below are by Jamel “JamNoPeanut’ Mims and show people of all ages participating in Harlem.  Some of the youngsters were great at distributing whistles to people all around the projects. We all enjoyed blowing them.

BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON STOP AND FRISK

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Jamel with one of the Posters

I had written the phone number of the National Lawyers Guild on my left arm in preparation.  I might have needed it.  When I got to the meeting place, I noticed that Noche, the courageous young activist whom I was to meet for this action,  had done that, too.

We were in a section of the Bronx targeted by the NYPD for the Stop and Frisk policy, which produced nearly 700,000 incidents where police, without warrants, stop mostly young men of color mostly in specific neighborhoods, and subject them to humiliating personal searches. The “reason” the city and NYPD give for this practice is to keep guns off the street.

Below is what the Center for Constitutional Rights says about this policy:

“In 2011, in New York City, 685,724 people were stopped, 84 percent of whom were Black and Latino residents — although they comprise only about 23 percent and 29 percent of New York City’s total population respectively. 2011 is the highest year on record for stops. The number of stops represent an over 600 percent increase since Mayor Bloomberg came into office. In 2011, 88 percent of all stops did not result in an arrest or a summons being given. Contraband was found in only 2 percent of all stops. The NYPD claims their stop and frisk policy keeps weapons off the street – but weapons were recovered in only one percent of all stops. These numbers clearly contradict that claim.” See the complete report here.

Noche and I were soon joined by a few other people, including a legal observer from The Bronx Defenders. The young attorney, Cara Suvall, was there to see that the police did not impede our rights to protest and to note any illegal behavior of the police should there be any.  I always like to see the legal observers on the street with us.  At least if things go wrong, there will be a qualified witness to testify what really happened.

A police car drove up and stopped right in front of us as we were taping signs to the railings of the public housing project and park, passing out flyers and whistles to passers by and encouraging them to blow the whistle any time they see the police stopping the young people of the neighborhood.  The police took photographs of us from the car and before long a “white shirt”, Lieutenant Jose Torres showed up.  I was standing next to Ms Suvall, who fortunately was very tactful with him.  He was there to “help” us.  The only help he could give would be to advocate for an end to Stop and Frisk.  Not willing to borrow trouble, however, I did not say that, nor much of anything

He asked what I understood to be whether the protest would be repeated on some regular basis.  I said that I knew of no such plan when Ms. Suvall deferred to me on this. I did not explain that we hoped to empower the entire neighborhood to resist the policy all day, every day, forever or until the policy is stopped, whichever comes first.  I could imply with all honesty that I, personally, did not plan to be on that street corner at any regular interval.  I hope people in the neighborhood will be there every day.

He withdrew a little and was joined by a van of police who hung out more or less out of earshot for most of the rest of the time we were there.  As police encounters for this campaign to STOP Stop and Frisk go, this was not bad.  Launched last year and spearheaded by Professor Cornel West and Revolutionary Communist Party spokesperson Carl Dix, the campaign still goes on.  A chant for it is “We won’t stop till we  STOP Stop and Frisk.”  To date, we have not stopped.

This particular action was to support people in the neighborhoods and empower them to lead the charge against this policy.  People stopped to talk with us, some already having whistles that were distributed earlier.  Many took away whistles and flyers.  Some told us stories of the brutality they have seen and experienced.  One old man of great dignity walked up to the police and blew the whistle at them then and there.  I tried to speak to grandmothers and mothers, as I want to contribute to making a better world for all of our children and know that they share my desires.  My heart was especially touched by the adorable little boys I saw, all of whom will be eventual targets of this policy unless we stop it.

Young Protester Blowing the Whistle

Noche was really good with the young men. He knows what they experience and can offer  strength to them on how to resist. A young journalist from Columbia University interviewed us and was especially moved by Noche’s story.  He is facing years in prison for standing up for people who are oppressed, but there he was on the street again.  A reporter and camera woman from NY1 also interviewed him. I loved the group of neighborhood people, mostly young men who were grouped behind him as he answered the reporter’s questions on camera.

People who work for two local social service agencies, came out of their offices in the buildings across the street, drawn in part by all the whistle blowing.  “‘How are we to do homework help with a young person when they’ve just gone through an interaction with a police officer that has broken down their spirits with folks who they trust?’ said David R. Shuffler, the director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. ‘It’s a real challenge in our neighborhood.'” He shared this in an  interview with NYC1.  See that report here .

Indeed, the shockingly low effectiveness of the Stop and Frisk policy for what the city and police force say it is for, leads people to wonder if it is not really intended to intimidate persons of color and criminalize them.  A look at prison statistics could give credence to that idea as well.

When things began to slow down at our location and we heard that they were still going strong in Harlem, Noche and I loaded signs, whistles, and flyers into a wheeled cart and got very good at carry it up and down the subway stairs as we ventured to the area of Harlem north of 125th between Amsterdam and Broadway.  We marched about the public housing projects, greeted often with people blowing their whistles in support and distributing more of them to people who didn’t have one along with flyers about ways to use them to help STOP Stop and Frisk.  I did not see a police officer and wondered why, but also felt glad.   This seemed more like a celebration and less like a siege.  The fact is, however, that many young persons endure Stop and Frisk in that area as well.

People mounted similar actions in Brownsville in Brooklyn, Jamaica in Queens, and the Styvesant Place and Wall Street area of Staten Island.  You can read Elaine Brower’s account of the Staten Island event on the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website here.  It remains to be seen if the people in those neighborhoods targeted for Stop and Frisk will blow the whistle to stop the policy.   I want to go back and see before too long.

We won’t stop till we STOP Stop and Frisk

Don’t Suppress OWS Rally and March on February 28

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Yesterday, February 28th, people gathered at Union Square in New York to protest the brutal suppression of the Occupy Wall Street movement which spread all over the country.  Nationally coordinated police raids were carried out in the dark of night, injuring peaceful protestors and destroying their personal property, as well as the People’s Library at the New York occupation.  The only violence done was by the police.

A group of people in New York, both within the Occupy movement and from those like me in the community who have been inspired by it and supported it, formed an Ad Hoc Committee Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement and planned the rally and march.

Unless otherwise noted, all the photographs below were made by Scoboco.

One of the people at Union Square for the rally expressing the view of many present

People listening intently to those on stage

At this event, a little different from many, there were in Acts 1 and 2 of this rally-drama, occupiers on ladders in the crowd showing in words what it was like to experience the eviction  and something of the nature of what the occupation movement actually did.

Occupier Desiree above the heads of the crowd on a ladder telling her story about the eviction

Attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who has been arrested for doing so, spoke about taking the movement to Black and Latino neighborhoods.  Signs from the stage said things like “They stole our shit!” and “They were violent, but we got arrested!”

 In Act 3, about the effects of the Suppession of OWS, attorney Norman Siegel, who is bringing a lawsuit against the city for the destruction of the People’s Library in the eviction, was one of the  speakers.

Captain Ray Lewis, retired Philadelphia Police Department, seen above at Liberty Square, who has protested with the Occupiers, spoke during this section.  Professor Andrew Ross from NYU, part of Occupy Student Debt, addressed that issue, which affects many of our young people

Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary with his daughter Bethany sang a special version of The Great Mandala at the end of Act 3.  He had also performed  a set of songs including Have You Been to Jail for Justice as people gathered on the Square beginning at 4pm

Act 4 was where Voices of Conscience, several prominent people from different arenas, spoke about why Occupy is important and called us to act to resist the suppression of it.  Susan Sarandon, who has been arrested with the occupiers, was one who has herself acted courageously. Andy Zee spokesperson for Revolution Books also spoke in this section.

Noam Chomsky could not be present, but sent a video that was screened in Act 4, photograph unattributed

Rev. Steven Phelps, senior minister of the Riverside Church, concluded the spoken part of Act 4. Then, Outernational, the musical group that had also done a set before the rally began, played their rousing Fighting Song.  Part of the lyrics were Go! Go! Go! encouraging us to go on the march.

Outernational (photograph unattributed)

Travis Morales, who was one of the two Narrators  with Alice Woodward, then called us to march to Liberty Square behind the huge puppet of Lady Liberty.

 

 Lady Liberty

NYPD out in force.

What are the corporate masters afraid of from a group of peaceful, if noisy, protestors?  Why did the NYPD don riot gear and evict them from Liberty Plaza last year in a raid coordinated with similar ones across the country?  Why were they present in the hundreds  at this rally and march of completely peaceful people?  The only answer is that the ruling corporate elites of this country do not want change, do not care about the inequality, and are willing to pay for violent suppression of it.

Fortunately, persons like Peter Yarrow on stage and at the head of the march may have helped temper the response to this protest event.  We all arrived at Liberty Square, where we chanted “Whose park? Our park?”  We have made a beginning of a response to the suppression of OWS.  We need to keep moving forward to support this movement.