Ferguson Area Black Class Action Suits and Other Killed by Police Issues
(It’s a bit long, but I’ve been collecting links for about ten days now.)
(Or you can read the transcript; sorry, but I can’t manage to embed the video no matter now many ways I try.)
Exquisitely relevant to the issue is Bassem Masri’s editorial for HandsUpUnited: ‘The Pine Lawn Police Department is the Worst’, in which he describes the massive corruption and criminality of the force and the city’s mayor, Sylvester Caldwell (an expansion of ‘Negro Farming’ (racist rent extraction), and brings these numbers (and yes, I found the source was the WaPo,):
‘In 2013, Pine Lawn had 23,457 outstanding warrants in a town of 3,275 people. That’s not counting warrants that were paid off. That is a total of 7 warrants per person. While the mayor eats extravagantly, his constituents are being extorted. Not only extorted but the police try and fear monger the population into obedience. A tactic that has angered and frustrated residents has forced many into poverty.’
He describes one woman’s hideous experiences in the jail, and lists non-negotiable demands for Pine Lawn Judge Dean Plocher to put into immediate effect.
And from the LATimes comes this good news in aid of a hideous situation: ‘Missouri cities, including Ferguson, sued over ‘grotesque’ jail conditions’. Wording from the lawsuit:
“They are kept in overcrowded cells; they are denied toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap; they are subjected to the constant stench of excrement and refuse in their congested cells; they are surrounded by walls smeared with mucus and blood; they are kept in the same clothes for days and weeks without access to laundry or clean underwear; they step on top of other inmates, whose bodies cover nearly the entire uncleaned cell floor, in order to access a single shared toilet that the city does not clean; they develop untreated illnesses and infections in open wounds that spread to other inmates; they endure days and weeks without being allowed to use the moldy shower; their filthy bodies huddle in cold temperatures with a single thin blanket even as they beg guards for warm blankets; they are not given adequate hygiene products for menstruation; they are routinely denied vital medical care and prescription medication, even when their families beg to be allowed to bring medication to the jail; they are provided food so insufficient and lacking in nutrition that inmates lose significant amounts of weight; they suffer from dehydration out of fear of drinking foul-smelling water that comes from an apparatus on top of the toilet; and they must listen to the screams of other inmates languishing from unattended medical issues as they sit in their cells without access to books, legal materials, television, or natural light. Perhaps worst of all, they do not know when they will be allowed to leave.”
Some residents spend “three, four, five” weeks in the jails, not to serve a criminal sentence but because they can’t afford to pay a fine to get out, according to Brendan D. Roediger of the St. Louis University School of Law.’
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III denied all of it. Officials in neighboring Jennings didn’t respond to requests to comment.
The two class-action lawsuits were filed by the nonprofit advocacy organizations ArchCity Defenders, Equal Justice Under Law, and by attorneys with the St. Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics. The lawsuits contend that the jail conditions and jailing for failure to pay fines violate numerous constitutional rights.
Describing the typical racist rent extraction to fill city coffers in the area, attorneys cited cases in which inmates ‘negotiate’ their fines, only to be held in jail on other minor infractions. Apparently the Jennings jail serves several nearby municipalities, and even finding out which jurisdiction charges have been filed is hard, and getting documents from city officials is a Herculean (and obscenely expensive to obtain, as we’ve seen before) task.
Plaintiff Tonya Berry said that the jails are ‘only full of black people’.
Oh, and apparently having been asked to comment on the story, comes this har har:
‘Ferguson city officials said Police Chief Tom Jackson mandated in 2010 that the jail be cleaned on a daily basis and that inmates have access to a toilet, washbasin, drinking water and a shower.’
From Feb. 9 on St. Louis public radio: ‘Civilian Oversight Board For St. Louis Police Clears First Legislative Hurdle’, but then on 2/13/2014 came this Tweet:
Nicholas J.C. Pistor @nickpistor
“Civilian oversight board bill fails to garner votes to suspend rules to move bill forward today. Will have to wait.”
Speaking of which, Glen Ford’s written about ‘The Complexities of Black Community Control of Police’, in which he lionizes the new generation of activists, but posits that they will soon reach a…
‘”Where do we go from here?” historical moment, when activists must choose whether to challenge the foundations of the system that made Black lives immaterial in the first place, or be sucked into the morass of patchwork reforms that enfeeble the movement while failing to alter relationships of power.’
He discusses Bruce Dixon’s column on the distraction of reforms and ‘proceduralism’ that paper over the “the fundamental role of police in enforcing the established order, or the role of prisons and jails in society.” Among what he calls ‘cheap tricks and gimmiks’ by black misleaders is Obama’s promise to fund more body cameras for police departments, and allow the Al Sharptons of the world to claim victories, then send folks home to wait for the ‘good new stuff’ to take root and keep The Rabble safe from police. A recent case in point, over and above ‘missing video’, ‘malfunctioning cameras’, yada, yada:
St. Louis Police caught turning off dash cam so they could continue beating a suspect.. http://t.co/0gF04cg68p
— Rebelutionary Z (@Rebelutionary_Z) February 16, 2015
Ford cites the Mayor of Newark’s draft plan for a Civilian Complaint Review Board as one of the the best he’s seen, but notes that the board won’t have the authority to fire cops, meaning it’s not true community control of police.
In other police news:
On Feb. 4, the Grinning Reaper, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton offered: ‘Raising Resisting Arrest to a Felony Would Be ‘Very Helpful’
“I think a felony would be very helpful in terms of raising the bar significantly in the penalty for the resistance of arrest,” Mr. Bratton told reporters after speaking at the hearing in lower Manhattan.
The top cop reiterated previous statements that resisting arrest is impermissible, and endangers both law enforcement and civilians.
“We need to get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can’t. You just can’t do it. It results in potential injuries to the officer, to the suspect. And we need to change that, and the way to change that is to start penalties for it,” he said.’
No word yet on whether or not he might order a few dozen packs of Google’s robotic ‘Spot’ Dogs, advertized as being able to sniff out “uncooperative behavior”. Run, Spot, run; See Spot snatch and grab.
About the same time, from Deray McKesson::
deray mckesson retweeted
‘In 179 NYPD-involved deaths, 4 cops have been indicted. Only 1 of those cops has been convicted, and he served 0 jail time.’
From Newsone.com: ‘NYPD Cop Indicted In Shooting Death of Akai Gurley’ :
‘Rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang was indicted Tuesday by a Brooklyn grand jury in last November’s deadly shooting of Akai Gurley in an unlit stairwell of a housing project, according to the New York Daily News.
Liang will face criminal charges that can send him to prison for up to 15 years in the Nov. 20, 2014 shooting, a source told the News. Liang was on patrol at the Pink Houses in Brooklyn’s East New York when Gurley and his girlfriend opened a door into the dark stairwell. That’s when police say Liang fired without uttering a word.’
There’s not one thing that I can think to say about this piece from Countercurrentnews.com: ‘Family Asked Cops To Check On 74-Year-Old Vet After Surgery… They Broke In and Killed Him Instead’:
‘A family of a 74-year-old veteran was concerned about him after he got out of surgery. Due to work and other circumstances, they couldn’t check on him yet, so they called the police to ask them if they could do a “welfare check.” Now, officials in North Carolina are launching an investigation to figure out why police officers broke into the man’s house and killed him, instead of checking on him.
Chief Robert Helton of the Gastonia Police Department shot and killed the elderly James Howard Allen on Saturday afternoon, according to The Charlotte Observer.
An officer arrived to Allen’s home around 10:20 pm on Saturday, but when he didn’t receive an answer at the door, he decided to break in.’
Medicated, and arguably terrified, the poor man armed himself against the break-in, and “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.” Love the passive voice; it wasn’t “The Chief of Police shot him dead”. RIP, Mr. Allen; we’re so, so, so sorry.
From the LATimes again: ‘Video seems to show man fleeing as police in Washington state shoot him’. It not only shows that, but that his arms were up in surrender.
‘A video of a deadly clash between Pasco, Wash., police officers and an unarmed man appears to show the officers shooting the man as he runs away — infuriating residents and civil liberties leaders.
Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot and killed by Pasco police officers around 5 p.m. Tuesday after, police said, he threw rocks at them.
In a statement released Wednesday, the department said Zambrano-Montes ignored several orders to stop throwing rocks at cars in a parking lot on North 10th Avenue and West Lewis Street.
Fleeing from police and not following an officer’s command should not be sufficient for a person to get shot.- Kathleen Taylor, executive director, ACLU of Washington
The man began throwing rocks at the officers, including one “that was about softball size,” and struck two of them, according to the police statement. The officers tried to subdue Zambrano-Montes with a stun gun before eventually opening fire with their service weapons.
Zambrano-Montes was pronounced dead at the scene.’
Subsequent reports don’t mention that he threw rocks ‘at police’, just at cop cars.
We’re so sorry, Antonio. I’m sure that the rocks looked very large. I’ve read that your mama came from Mexico to take your poor body home. RIP.
Kevin Davis was killed by police on Dec. 29: “He never had a chance,” his girlfriend said.
‘Davis’s legal team said a next-door neighbour, Naponica Patillo, told them in an interview that she had opened her front door to retrieve a grocery bag to find Pitts poised outside her door, about 10-15ft from Davis’s. “She says that he had his gun pointed in the direction of Kevin’s apartment,” said Rashid McCall, an investigator for the legal team, “and that it went ‘drop the gun-boom-boom-boom’ as he immediately fired, and then she quickly shut the door”.
‘How a broomstick-swinging, mentally ill man ended up shot dead by police’, Feb. 16 at the Miamiherald.com:
‘Only a week out of a mental health facility, Lavall Hall, 25, needed help — again. But the next few moments of interaction with Miami Gardens police officers proved fatal for Hall, who witnesses said lay face down and handcuffed near the middle of Northwest Second Court after being shot by police.
Daniels said she told police repeatedly that her son was schizophrenic and bipolar and took medication, and that he needed to go back to the hospital for help.
“If I had known they were going to kill my child, I never would have called them,” Daniels said Monday, still emotionally charged from her son’s death the day before. “I’m not going to rest until I get some justice.”
We’re so very sorry, Lavall Hall; may you rest in peace, as well.
From RT: Ferguson: Life Matters; a 53 minute video on youtube.
From the Free Thought Project, Feb. 16: Cops Have Killed Every 8 Hours in 2015, Sending At Least Three People to Early Graves Per Day. The author contrasts this figure (corporate news accounts of killings) with a number of nations’ and their ‘killed by police’ numbers over an entire year (2013 or 2014). Hint: the contrasts are crazy-making.
From RT: Civil rights group challenges FBI chief’s claim that police racial bias is ‘unconscious’; in part:
‘In a statement, the group said that Comey’s speech “perpetuated many of the dangerous, discriminatory perspectives that uphold the crisis of violent and abusive policing.”
The group also said: “Director Comey presented false equivalencies around the police violence facing Black and brown Americans and the growing calls for systemic policing reform. Holding police accountable for addressing the crisis of discriminatory police misconduct is not ‘unfair,’ but is rather one of the most critical challenges facing our nation.”
ColorofChange.org also disputed Comey’s “argument that Black and brown communities are to blame for the daily terror and indignity of discriminatory policing. The reality is that law enforcement and leaders such as Director Comey and Attorney General Holder have the responsibility and obligation to address the violence and discrimination endemic to law enforcement.”
That was my read of Comey’s comments as well; thank you, ColorofChange.
By way of a special request to readers who Tweet:
I don’t, but if you would consider it valuable that some of the posts at Black Agenda Report would be valuable to folks on the ground in the movement, would you consider sharing them on their various accounts? Perhaps Bassem’s, DeRay’s, Bella’s, or Rebelutionary_Z’s? I’d finally found a contact dress fro Glen Ford, asked him if their site’s social networking person might do it, but I never did hear back from him, and haven’t noticed that anyone had done so.
And speaking of BellaEiko, here she is, ‘keepin’ it real’; do click her link:
Is that Al Sharpton?! Then wonders why nobody listens to him http://t.co/huxYbDCxME
— BellaVOX (@BellaEiko) February 18, 2015