In April 2016, a 13-year-old boy was shot by officers of the Baltimore Police Department. The boy ran when faced with the police, so they gave chase. During the chase, the police spotted the boy holding a gun, and when he turned, they shot the teenager. The youngster wasn’t critically injured, and it seemed like an open-and-shut case of a justifiable use of force. Now people are wondering. The Baltimore Police Department is currently in court over one of the biggest scandals in the history of American law enforcement. The corruption case is replete with intrigue as police reveal secrets that sound like something out of an urban-fiction novel or a lost season of The Wire. It has revealed how one of America’s largest cities just happened to be filled with crooked cops, but no one seems to be talking about it outside of Baltimore.
By Esther Ojulari for Black Alliance for Peace. Buenaventura, Colombia - “I know you’re fighting a just cause…We go all round the country and we see people fighting just causes all the time…But this is our job…our role here is to attack, so that’s what we do.” These were the words my friend was told when he engaged in conversation the other night with an agent of the ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron) on the streets of Buenaventura, Colombia, in the context of the ongoing civic strike. The mainly Afro-descendant and indigenous community of Buenaventura on the Pacific Coast of Colombia has been on a civic strike now for 16 days. 16 days in which business, banks, shops and schools have been closed down and taxis and buses have stopped working to demand that the national government fulfills its basic human rights obligations to its citizens.
By Staff for Popular Resistance. On Monday, the police department of the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, Texas, changed its story on the shooting of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, who was killed by a police officer on Saturday. Edwards was a a freshman at Mesquite High School. The story changed after Chief Jonathan Haber watched body-cam footage of the shooting. The video tape has not been released and police say a decision on its release will be made by the police and prosecutor. The Balch Springs police Tuesday fired Oliver who fatally shot Jordan Edwards. In a statement the family said "Over the past 24 hours Chief Haber has made commendable strides toward justice. However, there remains a long road ahead. We anxiously await this officer's ... arrest for the crime of murder. . . The magnitude of his horrible actions cannot be overstated. We fully expect an equivalent response from those responsible for investigating and punishing the crime. We also know that although his actions were the most wicked and consequential, he was not the only officer responsible for dreadful behavior that evening."
By Adeshina Emmanuel for In These Times. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions (R – AL), a longtime ally, to become his attorney general. Sessions is known as an immigration hard-liner with an alleged history of racist remarks and actions, sparking fears that his confirmation could mean major changes at the Department of Justice (DOJ)—especially as it relates to communities of color. “I would hope the folks who have been activists around police reform, who have built an important and effective movement, will see this as a moment where that movement needs to get bigger,” says Jonathan Smith, former DOJ official. Activists concur, but not just because of the potential shifts in the DOJ. Master notes that Trump’s presidency has emboldened proponents of white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and anti-Muslim sentiments in the U.S. She says that means activists from marginalized groups have to change their approach, bolster their bases and collaborate more with one another. “Trump’s regime … doesn’t stop our work,” says Samantha Miller, a Baltimore area organizer.. “It makes it more pressing.”
By Aviva Shen for Think Progress. A video of Security Resource Officer Ben Fields yanking a teenage girl from her desk and throwing her across the room shocked the internet and inspired investigations into South Carolina’s use of police in schools. But on Friday, after 11 months of investigating, prosecutors announced they would not be pursuing criminal charges against the officer. Fields was fired in October for his conduct, which the sheriff said at the time made him “want to throw up.” About 100 students at Spring Valley High protested his firing. Other students had reportedly nicknamed him “Officer Slam,” because he had a reputation for violence.
By Karen Savage for Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — For a few seconds on July 10, the ear-splitting police noisemaker — referred to as an LRAD — and the chants demanding justice for Alton Sterling awkwardly paused at exactly the same moment. I closed my eyes in relief. As if on cue, a lone cicada cried out from the tree above, the insect’s call piercing the air, but not the tension. With my eyes closed and the cicada's solo still echoing through the sweltering heat of a Sunday afternoon in Baton Rouge, I saw neat bungalows, crape myrtles and longleaf pine trees. I imagined a crawfish boil, kids on bikes, grandmothers with church hats. But when I opened my eyes, we were still surrounded on three sides by an army of militarized police. Officers still gripped automatic weapons, still wore gas masks and bulletproof vests, still held tear gas cylinders ready to be fired.
By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. The Afromation protest in Baltimore stood up for black life and the importance of black culutre in the face of ongoing killings. To understand the reasons for protests in Baltimore and across the nation, we must look at the "race-based trauma" caused by police killings. As we prepared to march, I was talking with two of our colleagues. They described how it felt to be an African American man and see video of people who look like them being killed by police for no reason. It creates a trauma that requires them to act in order to stop it. The demands of the Afromation protests are reasonable: 1. An all-elected civilain complaint review board to give communities control of the police and self-determination; 2. A ten percent cut in the police budget away from militarization of the police and surveillance of the community with the funds used for community programming.
By Staff for Popular Resistance. In response to the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota there were protests held in many cities across the country. The New York Times reported "Baton Rouge Is Passionate, and Peaceful, After Shooting of Alton Sterling" writing: The protest of the fatal police shooting of a CD vendor here in Louisiana’s capital had many of the trappings of similar flare-ups around the country: blaring music, young men with faces obscured by bandannas, and obscene and brutal sentiments directed toward the local police department, on angry tongues and homemade placards. But as Wednesday night’s street rally flowed into Thursday morning, it had managed to be as peaceful as it was passionate. In Minnesoata, outrage grew over the death of Philando Castile, killed in a traffic stop. The video of the aftermath published on Facebook by his girlfriend after the shooting went viral and caused immediate reactions. The police did not even check for a pulse or administer first aid.
By Seed Coalition for SEED. Heather and another activist with Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED) climbed a crane on a site being used for the construction of a massive fracked gas export terminal in the community of Cove Point, Maryland. They hung a banner from the top of the crane that read “Dominion, go home. No gas exports. Don’t frack Maryland. Save Cove Point.” The climbers’ lives were jeopardized when law enforcement officers tried to remove them from the crane in an unsafe way — an allegation that the state’s attorney didn’t challenge in court. The complaint Heather filed that is central to this case stems from her being assaulted during the extraction by a 6’4”, 285 lb. cop while surrounded by numerous officers, Dominion employees, and contractors. A statement about the assault and endangerment was released after the court process from that action ended, in order to not incriminate the defendants when they had open legal cases.
By Anne Meador for DC Media Group. Prince Frederick, MD - The first day of an unusual trial of an anti-fracking activist began with jury selection, opening statements and testimony from four witnesses for the prosecution. Charged with making a false statement, Heather Doyle is the object of retaliation for political reasons by the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, according to SEED Coalition, the grassroots group she is affiliated with. On Tuesday, the prosecution challenged the veracity of the complaint she made alleging police brutality and unsafe conduct and attacked her credibility. The whole process started more than a year ago with a protest initiated by Doyle and Carling Sothoron on February 3, 2015. They were trying to draw attention to Cove Point LNG, the massive gas liquefaction facility being constructed by Dominion Resources in Lusby, MD.
By Mothers for Justice United. Seattle, Washington - The Matteo Ricci College (MRC) Coalition of Seattle University is standing against racism and oppression felt by students in the Humanities program. The MRC Coalition has presented five demands to University leadership that they feel will improve the undergraduate experience by eliminating racism at the institution. As the sit-in and take over of the Seattle University Casey Building continues, mother and social justice activist Maria Hamilton, joined the students in their protest. Maria Hamilton is the mother of slain Milwaukee man Dontre Hamilton, who was killed by former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney on April 30, 2014.
By TeleSur in Mintpress News. San Francisco, CA - The San Fransisco police killed another Black person Thursday morning, except this time there were actually consequences. The city’s police chief, Greg Suhr, resigned hours after the fatal shooting of a Black woman and after San Fransisco Mayor Ed Lee asked him to step down. “It’s unfortunate it required another innocent life to be taken … but this shows the power of the people and the community,” tweeted Frisco Five hunger striker Edwin Lindo. The “Frisco Five” is a group of local activists who went on a 17 day hunger strike outside of the city’s Mission District police department to protest police brutality and racism and to demand Suhr’s removal from his position.