Since the night of October 10, 2012, Taide Elena and Araceli Rodriguez have traveled a long road to access justice for Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. The road has not been easy. On three occasions, the U.S. government has denied them justice. On countless other events, the same government has violated their rights as victims of a crime that has become tragically common over the years: the murder of people -migrants or not- by U.S. Border Patrol agents. In the first trial on April 2018, a jury in a federal courtroom in Tucson, Arizona, acquitted Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz of second-degree murder charges for the murder of Jose Antonio. In a second trial for lesser charges in November 2018, a jury only reached a nonguilty verdict for involuntary manslaughter and a hung jury for voluntary manslaughter.
By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet - In a September 2014 report prepared for the United Nations Committee Against Torture, a grassroots effort called We Charge Genocide documented that, “Young people of color in communities across Chicago are consistently profiled, targeted, harassed, and subjected to excessive force by the (predominantly white) [Chicago Police Department]—leaving far too many physically injured, killed, and emotionally scarred.” The investigation, led by directly impacted Chicago residents, determined that between 2009 and 2011, 92 percent of all CPD Taser uses targeted black or Latino people. Black residents are 10 times more likely to be shot by the CPD than their white counterparts, the probe found...
By Staff of It’s Going Down - 1,152. That’s the total amount of people that were killed by American law enforcement in 2016. Every day over the last several years, on average, over 3 people are being killed by the police in this country. Sadly enough, at the time of this writing, a total of 12 people have already been killed by police in 2017, continuing this deadly average. The amount of people actually physically harmed by police, to say nothing of the millions who are left with mental scars, extorted through fines and tickets, killed as bystanders in high speed chases, or who have been sexually assaulted, is of course much higher.
By David Swanson for World Beyond War - Before people had an easy way to see video footage of police murders, headlines crediting the police with just and noble actions couldn’t be effectively questioned. We’re still back there in the dark ages when it comes to war murders, but we can overcome the lack of quickly shared videos if we choose to. When the headlines celebrate some sort of “victory” in Mosul or anywhere else, we can point out that the videos of people being blown up in their houses would be truly horrific if we had them. This is not, after all, a point on which there can actually be any question.
One of New York City’s most active anti-police brutality groups now uses stand-up comedy as well as direct action to raise consciousness. On April 11, the group “NYC Shut It Down” held an event in Brooklyn called “Stand Up, Don’t Shoot” featuring spoken word poetry and comedy from the activists themselves. The group, also called the “Grand Central Crew,” is known for their weekly protests at Grand Central Terminal, occupying big retail stores, and recently confronting City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and asking her to defend her calls for more cops. “We’re here to bring some light and levity to our dark and tragic times right now using art and comedy to affect social change,” Elsa Waithe, stand-up comedian and member of NYC Shut It Down, said. “Sometimes you can supercede someone’s defenses with laughter."
A coalition of nearly 50 groups who have been protesting in Ferguson, Missouri since the shooting of the unarmed African American teen, Michael Brown, have issued a list of demands to law enforcement. They are calling it the “rules of engagement” and calling on police to accept them if they want there to be peaceful protests. Michael T. McPhearson, the executive director of Veterans For Peace, and a co-chair of the coalition said the group “must do what we can to ensure there’s not loss of life.” He added that, “we want to de-escalate violence, but we do not want to de-escalate action.” The coalition said that police are ultimately to blame for escalating tensions, as before they appeared on the streets in riot gear and the like, there had not been any instances of rioting or looting and protest leaders and activists had been successfully “policing” the crowds who had turned out up until that point. A new wave of protests are expected to erupt soon, as the grand jury decision about whether the killing of Michael Brown was justified is expected to come at any moment now. At a recent news conference about the list of demands issued to local, state and federal law enforcement, the “Don’t Shoot Coalition” said that police should be concerned with safety first, and if they are, this means they should be willing to agree to a “de-militarized response.”
What does justice look like? The answers from Ms Bynes and Mr Russell were profound. Neither one of them talked about putting Officer Wilson in jail, as much as they might think that’s a good idea. They didn’t focus on the grand jury that continues to mull whether or not the Ferguson police officer will face charges in Mr Brown’s death. They talked about children. About broken institutions. About breaking down barriers. About having a job and a reliable way to get to work that didn’t involve a car breaking down or running out of gas. As St Louis teeters on the edge of whatever is to come next, much of the talk in some segments of the community is about the grand jury, and about what might or might not happen in the streets following that fateful decision. Justice is about what comes after that. It’s about Ms Bynes driving to work in Chesterfield without having to navigate a patchwork of municipalities, most of which shouldn’t exist, that rely on traffic stops to pay their bills. It’s about her neighbors having that little extra money in their pockets to feed their children, or put gas in their cars, rather than pay fine upon fine in city court upon city court that prey upon blacks in ways most whites in the community don’t understand.
#DCFerguson will hold a rally, 7pm at Mt. Vernon Square in Washington DC, the "day after" if the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, does not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of teenager Michael Brown. #DCFerguson continues to stand in solidarity with the Michael Brown family and the sisters and brothers in Ferguson that are continuing to protest and resist the police murders of Black and Latino people every 28 hours in America. ANSWER Coalition organizer Eugene Puryear says, "The murder of Michael Brown and the situation in Ferguson can and should be a turning point. Where we finally come to terms with the root causes of these issues and address social deprivation and oppression and the police brutality that comes with it." The initial sponsors of #DCFerguson include the National Black United Front, the ANSWER Coalition, We Act Radio, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the American Muslim Alliance, as well as independent organizing networks that have sprung up in the wake of Michael Brown's killing.
Larry Hamm, one of the great local organizers of our times, puts the killing of Michael Brown in historic context dating back to the slave trade, as well as in the context of the unfair economy. Hamm calls for people to "fill the streets" the day after the grand jury in Ferguson makes its decision. Hamm is speaking at the Black is Back Coalition event in Washington, DC this November 1, 2014. Hamm is Chairman of the People's Organization for Progress based in Newark, NJ. Tarak Kauff, a board member of Veterans For Peace, in urging people to watch this video writes "If you care about anything, care about this. The video of Larry Hamm, perhaps the greatest, most insightful and eloquent revolutionary since Martin Luther King and Malcolm X is 14 minutes and 37 seconds short. Clear the table of all distractions. You want to watch this video and you want to listen to every single word Larry Hamm has to say and you want to get ready. Get ready just as we did in the 101st when we were on STRAC alert. Bags were packed, ready to load on planes as soon as we could get to the loading zone. I hear Larry and I hear him loud and clear. My car will have a full tank of gas and I expect to see many of you in the streets with me. As Larry says, 'I can't take it anymore.' And I say, if not now, when?"
From Ferguson to Mexico, Iraq to New York, D.C. to Honduras, and beyond, let us together honor the memories of those killed by the police and military on this Day of the Dead. The Black is Back Coalition marched from Malcolm X Park, (also known as Meridian Hill Park) down 16th Street to the White House on November 1, 2014. The Coalition held a rally in Malcolm X Park decrying the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and police abuse against communities of color across the nation. They pointed to the economic realities of being black in the United States -- high unemployment, low wages, low wealth, high incarceration -- and criticized President Obama for doing nothing to lift black communities. The Coalition continues its work on November 2nd with a teach-in at the Howard University Blackburn Center located at 2397 Sixth Street, NW in Washington, DC 20059 from 11 AM to 4PM.
Another anti-police brutality protest turned violent in the French city of Rennes, with masked youths and police engaging in running street battles. The unrest follows the death of a young environmental activist earlier this week. Overnight Thursday, protesters in the northwestern city lobbed flairs at police and flipped over cars, some of which they set ablaze. Police responded by firing tear gas. The number of arrests or injures, if any, remains unclear. The protests are in response to the death of 21-year-old activist Remi Fraisse. He was killed early on Sunday by an explosion, which occurred during violent clashes with police at the site of a contested-dam project in southwestern France. His death, the first in a mainland protest in France since 1986, has been blamed on a concussion grenade fired by police. France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who came under serious pressure to resign following the incident, announced an immediate suspension of such grenades, which are intended to stun rather than kill. On Monday, outrage at Fraisse’s death sparked protests in several French cities. Violence erupted in Albi, the town close to the dam, as well as in Nantes and Rennes. Fraisse was one of 2,000 activists present in the southwestern Tarn region to protest the €8.4m ($10.7) million Sivens dam project.
This edition of Clearing The FOG Radio, co-hosted by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, focuses on where the movement against police abuse is going. With the decision of the grand jury possible any day now, and the likely result being no indictment according to law enforcement leaks to the press, how should the people of Ferguson and the nation react? What would be a constructive to response for the lack of justice for Michael Brown? And, what should the movement be demanding. In the first half hour two guests who have worked in Ferguson as part of the movement for justice for Michael Brown discuss next steps, the mood of the community and how those of us outside Ferguson can help. In the second half hour, two African American activists in Washington, DC and New York City comment on the situation, not only in Ferguson but regarding police abuse nationally. In DC, Kymone Freeman has been part of the #DCFerguson coalition and in NYC, Glenn Ford long-time commentator on African American issues and editor of Black Agenda Report comments. Ford proposes that rather than "community policing" we need "community controlled policing" that includes the ability of communities to remove officers who are racist or abusive.
Eighteen year old Michael Brown man was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. Because the people of Ferguson rose up in protest, his death did not disappear as is often the case with black victims of police violence. Newspapers and television networks from all over the world cover the continuing protests as a grand jury deliberates Wilson’s fate. The coverage has varied greatly in quality, with the New York Times faring the worst among the major corporate media outlets. The Times alternately casts aspersions on Brown’s character and relies on law enforcement leaks which make it appear that Wilson acted appropriately when he shot a fleeing, unarmed young man. The result is justification for racist murder. But the worst case scenario has happened not once, but twice with New York Times reporters reporting law enforcement leaks as if they are factual and making the case that Wilson was justified in shooting Brown. An August 19, 2014 Times headline claimed that eyewitnesses to the shooting gave accounts which conflicted with another and which also implied Brown threatened Wilson after he fled.
Throughout the nation the issue of police brutality, including killings of unarmed people, is a common problem. It is part of a criminal enforcement system that has pitted police against people in ways that are very destructive to the fabric of the nation. DOJ is taking or has taken action involving three dozen law enforcement agencies during the Obama era. To turn this moment of awareness and activism into an effective movement, we need an agenda to transform policing so police play a constructive role in the community. At the inspiring FergusonOctober actions, protesters put forward a list of demands that provide an agenda for a movement to fix policing in America. People need to unite around the resulting agenda from the killing of Michael Brown and so many others across the country. At the same time, people need to act on their own to create the world we want to see, e.g. instituting Cop Watch and forming citizen groups to define the police they envision. Finally, we need to recognize the connections between police abuse with the broader issues of an unfair economy, environmental destruction, racism and government corruption. Uniting to build a mass transformative movement is the only path to the changes that are needed.
#DC Ferguson put forward a three-part agenda before the City Council: - One, we need to have the Office of Police Complaints empowered with the power to indict officers for misconduct. - Two, we want to have a significant number and y’all can argue about the percentage because gentrification is real, we want a significant percentage of police officers who work in our community live in our community. - Finally, we want any officer who has fired upon or caused the death of an unarmed otherwise innocent civilian to be fired, to be arrested, to be convicted and to go to jail. Anything less than that, is lip service to this issue. We have not seen any qualitative changes with a Black President to a Black Attorney General, who just quit, but we have not seen any changes. Until we get these three things we will continue to shut down as much as we can with #DCFerguson.