Will there be justice for NYPD victim Ramarley Graham?August 22, 2013
At around 3 pm on a Thursday afternoon in February 2012, 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was leaving a Bronx bodega with his friends, when he was followed by members of the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the 47th Precinct of the New York Police Department. Footage from his home’s surveillance camera shows that Ramarley approached the door of his house, in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, unlocked it and walked inside. An officer then ran to the door, followed by another, gun drawn, and tried to kick it in without success. Multiple officers swarmed the house, entering through the back without a warrant and letting others in through the front.
Officers at the bodega radioed their suspicion that Ramarley was armed. Rather than moving with caution and calling for backup, NYPD officers broke through a series of doors, following Ramarley upstairs and into his bathroom. According to Officer Richard Haste, he yelled “Show me your hands!” before Ramarley reached for his belt. Shouting “Gun! Gun!” Haste then shot Ramarley in the chest, killing him. No weapon was found, only a small bag of marijuana which investigators hypothesized Ramarley had been attempting to flush down the toilet.
Ramarley Graham was one of at least twenty-one people killed by the NYPD in 2012, according to the Stolen Lives Project, a project of the October 22 Coalition, whose members mine news articles and reach out to the community seeking examples of deaths at the hands of police. In 2013 so far, twelve people have been fatally shot by NYPD, including 16-year-old Kimani Gray this past March. Stolen Lives estimates that since Amadou Diallo was killed in 1999, unarmed and fired upon forty-one times outside his apartment building, at least 238 people have been killed by NYPD—the majority black or Latino men or teenagers.
Setting Ramarley Graham’s case apart from most was the indictment of his shooter, then 31, who was charged with manslaughter, first and second degree. It was the first indictment of an on-duty NYPD officer for such a shooting since 2007, when three detectives were indicted, and later acquitted, for killing Sean Bell, also in the Bronx. A 23-year-old father, Bell had been out celebrating on the eve of his wedding when killed. Haste pleaded not guilty, just as the detectives in the Bell case did.
Since their son’s death, Ramarley’s parents, Constance Malcolm and Franclot (Frank) Graham, have been fighting tirelessly for answers and accountability. The raid on the family’s home was traumatic; Ramarley’s little brother Chinnor, now 7, was in the house, along with his grandmother, Gwendolyn Henry, who was taken directly to the NYPD’s 47th Precinct Station House and interrogated for seven hours. Beginning shortly after Ramarley’s funeral, which included the Reverand Al Sharpton as a speaker, Malcolm and Graham held eighteen weekly vigils outside the house where he died, one for each year of his life. They also created theorganization Ramarley’s Call, which meets weekly to strategize rallies and participation in other anti-police brutality events.
Members of the group were in the courtroom this past May, when Judge Steven L. Barrett threw out the indictment against Haste, calling the language used by the District Attorney to present the case to the grand jury “misleading.”
“With no great pleasure, I’m obliged in this case to dismiss the charges,” Judge Barrett told the court, adding that his ruling did not establish that Haste had acted with justification, and that the DA had the right to reconvene a grand jury.
But on August 7, a reconvened grand jury decided not to re-indict Officer Haste. Outraged by the news, the next day Malcolm and Graham held a rally outside DA Robert Johnson’s office, where they were joined by Councilmembers Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn and Andy King of the Bronx, as well as Comptroller John Liu, Tamika Mallory of the National Action Network (NAN), along with friends, family, and supporters. “I’m just lost right now,” said Graham tearfully. “I’ve got so much pain and anger inside of me.” The family has initiated a petition calling for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the case.
Another protest two days later was held in front of the 47th Precinct Station House in the Bronx, and Ramarley’s parents plan to participate in the upcoming march on Washington with NAN, this coming Saturday, August 24.
“We have to ask ourselves this question,” Graham implored the crowd outside the DA’s office on August 8. “Had Ramarley been white, would this have happened? Would they have run into a white person’s home?” The question echoed the hypothetical offered by President Obama in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in July: Had Trayvon Martin been of age and armed, would he have been allowed to stand his ground?
The answer to these imagined scenarios clarifies reality: our system judges these murders not as injustices. As tragedies, maybe. Just as important, we need to ask ourselves how these murders even occurred—how they developed from the seed of subjective suspicion to a teenage life prematurely taken—and what this has to do with the way race operates in our criminal justice system.
Source

Will there be justice for NYPD victim Ramarley Graham?
August 22, 2013

At around 3 pm on a Thursday afternoon in February 2012, 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was leaving a Bronx bodega with his friends, when he was followed by members of the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the 47th Precinct of the New York Police Department. Footage from his home’s surveillance camera shows that Ramarley approached the door of his house, in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, unlocked it and walked inside. An officer then ran to the door, followed by another, gun drawn, and tried to kick it in without success. Multiple officers swarmed the house, entering through the back without a warrant and letting others in through the front.

Officers at the bodega radioed their suspicion that Ramarley was armed. Rather than moving with caution and calling for backup, NYPD officers broke through a series of doors, following Ramarley upstairs and into his bathroom. According to Officer Richard Haste, he yelled “Show me your hands!” before Ramarley reached for his belt. Shouting “Gun! Gun!” Haste then shot Ramarley in the chest, killing him. No weapon was found, only a small bag of marijuana which investigators hypothesized Ramarley had been attempting to flush down the toilet.

Ramarley Graham was one of at least twenty-one people killed by the NYPD in 2012, according to the Stolen Lives Project, a project of the October 22 Coalition, whose members mine news articles and reach out to the community seeking examples of deaths at the hands of police. In 2013 so far, twelve people have been fatally shot by NYPD, including 16-year-old Kimani Gray this past March. Stolen Lives estimates that since Amadou Diallo was killed in 1999, unarmed and fired upon forty-one times outside his apartment building, at least 238 people have been killed by NYPD—the majority black or Latino men or teenagers.

Setting Ramarley Graham’s case apart from most was the indictment of his shooter, then 31, who was charged with manslaughter, first and second degree. It was the first indictment of an on-duty NYPD officer for such a shooting since 2007, when three detectives were indicted, and later acquitted, for killing Sean Bell, also in the Bronx. A 23-year-old father, Bell had been out celebrating on the eve of his wedding when killed. Haste pleaded not guilty, just as the detectives in the Bell case did.

Since their son’s death, Ramarley’s parents, Constance Malcolm and Franclot (Frank) Graham, have been fighting tirelessly for answers and accountability. The raid on the family’s home was traumatic; Ramarley’s little brother Chinnor, now 7, was in the house, along with his grandmother, Gwendolyn Henry, who was taken directly to the NYPD’s 47th Precinct Station House and interrogated for seven hours. Beginning shortly after Ramarley’s funeral, which included the Reverand Al Sharpton as a speaker, Malcolm and Graham held eighteen weekly vigils outside the house where he died, one for each year of his life. They also created theorganization Ramarley’s Call, which meets weekly to strategize rallies and participation in other anti-police brutality events.

Members of the group were in the courtroom this past May, when Judge Steven L. Barrett threw out the indictment against Haste, calling the language used by the District Attorney to present the case to the grand jury “misleading.”

“With no great pleasure, I’m obliged in this case to dismiss the charges,” Judge Barrett told the court, adding that his ruling did not establish that Haste had acted with justification, and that the DA had the right to reconvene a grand jury.

But on August 7, a reconvened grand jury decided not to re-indict Officer Haste. Outraged by the news, the next day Malcolm and Graham held a rally outside DA Robert Johnson’s office, where they were joined by Councilmembers Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn and Andy King of the Bronx, as well as Comptroller John Liu, Tamika Mallory of the National Action Network (NAN), along with friends, family, and supporters. “I’m just lost right now,” said Graham tearfully. “I’ve got so much pain and anger inside of me.” The family has initiated a petition calling for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the case.

Another protest two days later was held in front of the 47th Precinct Station House in the Bronx, and Ramarley’s parents plan to participate in the upcoming march on Washington with NAN, this coming Saturday, August 24.

“We have to ask ourselves this question,” Graham implored the crowd outside the DA’s office on August 8. “Had Ramarley been white, would this have happened? Would they have run into a white person’s home?” The question echoed the hypothetical offered by President Obama in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in July: Had Trayvon Martin been of age and armed, would he have been allowed to stand his ground?

The answer to these imagined scenarios clarifies reality: our system judges these murders not as injustices. As tragedies, maybe. Just as important, we need to ask ourselves how these murders even occurred—how they developed from the seed of subjective suspicion to a teenage life prematurely taken—and what this has to do with the way race operates in our criminal justice system.

Source

There are now more Americans in jail than were in Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago
May 9, 2013

There are now more Americans in jail — 6 million — than there were in Stalin’s Gulag, reports Fareed Zakaria, in a column called “Incarceration Nation.”

And it’s not just a relative population thing.

The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. How does that compare to other countries?

It’s 7-10X as high:

  • Japan has 63 per 100,000,
  • Germany has 90 per 100,000
  • France has 96 per 100,000
  • South Korea has 97 per 100,000
  • ­Britain has 153 per 100,000

And it’s a rapidly exaggerating trend: In 1980, the U.S. only had 150 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. More than half of America’s 6 million prisoners are in jail for drug convictions, with 80% of those in jail for “possession.”

Source

Infographic Source

As if these statistics weren’t startling enough, the US has just blocked proposals to expand prisoner rights at the U.N. meeting in Buenos Aires. 

It opposed a proposal that would have allowed a prisoner facing disciplinary charges to be represented by a lawyer, even at his or her own expense. It pushed, unsuccessfully, for removal of a reference to health care being provided to prisoners free of charge – presumably because many U.S. prisons and jails charge prisoners for medical care. (The Brazilian delegation objected to the deletion, and the language remained in the Draft Report.)

The U.S. delegation was particularly hostile to any meaningful limits on solitary confinement, such as a maximum duration or the exclusion of vulnerable populations like children and persons with mental illness.

Source

These delegations really show why the U.N. is so problematic & how it lacks any promise of progress, especially at the hands of the US on the Security Council. Of course, mass incarceration disproportionately affects people of color & the poor, so racial justice must be intertwined with the struggle for prisoner’s rights. Thanks to climateadaptation for the heads up about this story.

Alan Blueford supporters shut down Oakland City Council
September 30, 2012
The Justice for Alan Blueford (J4AB) campaign, angry and over a hundred strong, led by Alan’s family, forced the Oakland City Council to cancel their meeting Sept. 18. They had gone to the City Council, which hadn’t met since mid-July, to demand the police report on Alan Blueford’s killing, and that murder charges be brought against Officer Miguel Masso. The Council had previously promised to assist the family in getting to the truth about their 18-year-old son’s May 6 killing by the Oakland Police Department.
It had taken over two months to get the coroner’s report, which was finally released after the J4AB campaign held a press conference and rally in front of the coroner’s office. The report showed that there was no gunpowder on Alan’s hands and no drugs or alcohol in his blood. Now, after more than four months, the family was insisting that they would not leave the Council without the police report. Jeralynn Blueford, Alan’s mother, pleaded to the Council: “We came here in May asking for help … and this officer is at home on our tax dollars. We still don’t have a police report. The [police] story has changed so many times.”
Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, pointed out that the coroner, per the report, had moved Alan’s body at 1:25 a.m., only an hour after he was fatally shot. This indicated that they were more worried about quickly removing Alan’s body than conducting a proper investigation. Jenny, Alan’s sister, told the Council: “Look at my parents’ faces and see if they need more time for the police report. We don’t need money. … You have the power to demand the answers.”
After the family and supporters took over the meeting for an hour, the Council president, Larry Reid, declared a 10-minute recess, supposedly to wait for the appearance of Police Chief Howard Jordan and the police report.
The 10 minutes turned into 45, after which the Council tried to reconvene and move on to the next agenda item, without the promised appearance of Jordan or the report. Ironically, the first item was a declaration of an “international day of peace”!
The crowd roared, chanting “No justice! No Peace!” The J4AB supporters were determined not to allow the Council to conduct business as usual. Reid hastily adjourned the meeting, declaring the next meeting to be in two weeks!
Blueford supporters respond to OPD article
On Sept. 22, an article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, in an attempt to slander Alan Blueford. The OPD and the Council had received significant negative press after the Sept. 18 Council meeting. They used Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Chronicle columnists often used for this type of political volleying, to present a “leaked” story from the OPD, that they supposedly now had Alan’s fingerprints on a gun, claimed to have been found 20 feet from his body.
A Sept. 23 press release issued by the J4AB campaign reads in part: “Suddenly this allegation is released, with no way of substantiating it, seemingly as revenge against the Blueford’s for demanding justice for their son. If this evidence were so clearly damning, they likely would have released it months earlier.
“‘First we want to know if it’s actually true,’ said Dan Siegel, former legal advisor to Mayor Jean Quan. The police have already lied to the press, claiming that Alan shot at Masso, which we now know is not true. Now they leak this item to the press because they think it will help their case, but we still can’t see the police report.
“This latest action by the Oakland Police Department is yet another maneuver to avoid any accountability for the actions of Officer Miguel Masso, who should have never been hired in the first place. Masso faced brutality allegations during his previous tenure at the New York Police Department, a fact which did not stop OPD from hiring him.
“It has never been explained why Masso shot himself in the foot with his own weapon, whether this was an accident that caused Masso to think he was shot or done on purpose to cover up the shooting. Additionally, Masso had absolutely no reason to stop Alan the night of May 6 in the first place.
“OPD Chief Howard Jordan claimed that Masso thought Blueford and his friends had a concealed weapon or drugs, an incredible claim as these two items look nothing alike. More likely, Masso saw a group of young African-American men on the streets of Oakland late at night and assumed they were criminals and treated them as such.
“The allegation that Alan’s fingerprints were on the gun says nothing about the events leading up to his murder. Whether he pointed the gun at Masso, or Masso even saw him holding it at all, will remain unverified until all the evidence in the case is released — something OPD has steadfastly refused to do.
“‘We still want the police report. We still want Masso fired. We still want an end to stop-and-frisk practices in Oakland,’ said Adam Blueford, Alan’s father. ‘This doesn’t change anything for us. This is just another broken promise from the police that they need to be held accountable for.’
“The Bluefords and their supporters will be attending the October 2 meeting of the Oakland City Council to once again demand justice for their son. For more info: www.justice4alanblueford.org”
Source

Alan Blueford supporters shut down Oakland City Council

September 30, 2012

The Justice for Alan Blueford (J4AB) campaign, angry and over a hundred strong, led by Alan’s family, forced the Oakland City Council to cancel their meeting Sept. 18. They had gone to the City Council, which hadn’t met since mid-July, to demand the police report on Alan Blueford’s killing, and that murder charges be brought against Officer Miguel Masso. The Council had previously promised to assist the family in getting to the truth about their 18-year-old son’s May 6 killing by the Oakland Police Department.

It had taken over two months to get the coroner’s report, which was finally released after the J4AB campaign held a press conference and rally in front of the coroner’s office. The report showed that there was no gunpowder on Alan’s hands and no drugs or alcohol in his blood. Now, after more than four months, the family was insisting that they would not leave the Council without the police report. Jeralynn Blueford, Alan’s mother, pleaded to the Council: “We came here in May asking for help … and this officer is at home on our tax dollars. We still don’t have a police report. The [police] story has changed so many times.”

Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, pointed out that the coroner, per the report, had moved Alan’s body at 1:25 a.m., only an hour after he was fatally shot. This indicated that they were more worried about quickly removing Alan’s body than conducting a proper investigation. Jenny, Alan’s sister, told the Council: “Look at my parents’ faces and see if they need more time for the police report. We don’t need money. … You have the power to demand the answers.”

After the family and supporters took over the meeting for an hour, the Council president, Larry Reid, declared a 10-minute recess, supposedly to wait for the appearance of Police Chief Howard Jordan and the police report.

The 10 minutes turned into 45, after which the Council tried to reconvene and move on to the next agenda item, without the promised appearance of Jordan or the report. Ironically, the first item was a declaration of an “international day of peace”!

The crowd roared, chanting “No justice! No Peace!” The J4AB supporters were determined not to allow the Council to conduct business as usual. Reid hastily adjourned the meeting, declaring the next meeting to be in two weeks!

Blueford supporters respond to OPD article

On Sept. 22, an article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, in an attempt to slander Alan Blueford. The OPD and the Council had received significant negative press after the Sept. 18 Council meeting. They used Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Chronicle columnists often used for this type of political volleying, to present a “leaked” story from the OPD, that they supposedly now had Alan’s fingerprints on a gun, claimed to have been found 20 feet from his body.

A Sept. 23 press release issued by the J4AB campaign reads in part: “Suddenly this allegation is released, with no way of substantiating it, seemingly as revenge against the Blueford’s for demanding justice for their son. If this evidence were so clearly damning, they likely would have released it months earlier.

“‘First we want to know if it’s actually true,’ said Dan Siegel, former legal advisor to Mayor Jean Quan. The police have already lied to the press, claiming that Alan shot at Masso, which we now know is not true. Now they leak this item to the press because they think it will help their case, but we still can’t see the police report.

“This latest action by the Oakland Police Department is yet another maneuver to avoid any accountability for the actions of Officer Miguel Masso, who should have never been hired in the first place. Masso faced brutality allegations during his previous tenure at the New York Police Department, a fact which did not stop OPD from hiring him.

“It has never been explained why Masso shot himself in the foot with his own weapon, whether this was an accident that caused Masso to think he was shot or done on purpose to cover up the shooting. Additionally, Masso had absolutely no reason to stop Alan the night of May 6 in the first place.

“OPD Chief Howard Jordan claimed that Masso thought Blueford and his friends had a concealed weapon or drugs, an incredible claim as these two items look nothing alike. More likely, Masso saw a group of young African-American men on the streets of Oakland late at night and assumed they were criminals and treated them as such.

“The allegation that Alan’s fingerprints were on the gun says nothing about the events leading up to his murder. Whether he pointed the gun at Masso, or Masso even saw him holding it at all, will remain unverified until all the evidence in the case is released — something OPD has steadfastly refused to do.

“‘We still want the police report. We still want Masso fired. We still want an end to stop-and-frisk practices in Oakland,’ said Adam Blueford, Alan’s father. ‘This doesn’t change anything for us. This is just another broken promise from the police that they need to be held accountable for.’

“The Bluefords and their supporters will be attending the October 2 meeting of the Oakland City Council to once again demand justice for their son. For more info: www.justice4alanblueford.org

Source

Terrorists in blue: How police maintain a system of racism & inequalityJuly 30, 2012
"To some Negroes, police have come to symbolize white power, white racism and white repression. And the fact is that many police do reflect and express these white attitudes. The atmosphere of hostility and cynicism is reinforced by a widespread belief among Negroes in the existence of police brutality and in a ‘double standard’ of justice and protection—one for Negroes and one for whites—a deep hostility between the police and ghetto…was a primary cause of the riots."
The passage quoted above was from a government-commissioned investigation into the causes of urban rebellions throughout the 1960s. For four years, from 1964 through 1968, hundreds of thousands of African Americans rose up against the racism and injustice across the U.S. In dozens of cities, the causes were the same: unemployment, substandard housing, and police brutality among many others.
This report was published in 1968, and yet the description of the police’s relationship to Black communities sounds very familiar. The only significant difference now is that in many urban areas, Black and Latino cops make up a larger part of the police forces.



WHAT YOU CAN DO

Stand with family members of victims of police brutality. Find out more about the National Alliance of Parents Against Police Violence on Facebook.




In some cities, there have even been Black police commissioners and superintendents along with Black political representatives, whether it be mayors, city council members or other ranking officials. These changes in the demographics of the police and city administrations that govern them haven’t changed the way that police departments regularly occupy, harass, intimidate and terrorize communities of color.
The reason behind this continuity is something that people in these communities already know: the police do not exist to protect and serve but are here to maintain racism and inequality.
This isn’t a conspiracy theory but is demonstrated in multiple ways, whether it is the disproportionate way that Blacks are arrested for drug crimes compared to whites or the way in which African Americans and Latinos are “legally” stopped for no reason at all.
The New York Police Department’s policy of stopping and frisking young men of color has resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of stops for random searches in hopes of finding contraband. In more than 90 percent of the stops, nothing is ever found, but the possibility of being stopped is a way of intimidating and controlling the movement and presence of Blacks and Latinos outside of spaces they are presumed not to belong.
Police operate in Black and brown communities as if the Bill of Rights does not exist—randomly stopping people for no reason, conducting searches without consent, and arresting and holding people with no charges. It is also infuriating because they operate with impunity. It is next to impossible to have a dirty cop charged with a crime or even disciplined for illegal or unethical behavior because the cops police themselves.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
BEYOND THE daily harassment, more than ever, the police are being used to hem in the potential for protest and resistance to the social crisis that is consuming Black communities across the country.
Black America is being ravaged by unemployment, growing rates of poverty, public school closures, and rental evictions and home foreclosures, to name only the most extreme conditions. In the absence of any real solutions to the economic crisis in communities hit the hardest, more police violence and intimidation are prescribed to keep them in check.
In Chicago, for example, growing poverty and disillusionment with any notion of social mobility in this society has given way to desperation and horrible violence across the city’s Black neighborhoods, but instead of addressing what is painfully obvious—some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the U.S.—local officials periodically suggest new, esoteric policing strategies to address crime.
These policies include neighborhood sweeps of young men, a growing number of surveillance cameras, and an increased police presence in these neighborhoods. These measures, of course, do nothing about crime except add to the number of young Black men with criminal records and thus increase the likelihood that they will never get employment, exacerbating the central problems of unemployment and poverty.
Not only can’t the police do anything about the conditions that give rise to crime but they actually contribute to it. In Chicago, the police have been found to be involved in crime rings that sell drugs and guns.
The combination of growing racial and economic inequality with aggressive policing and the criminalization of Black youth is resulting in even more police violence and even murder at the hand of the cops. According to a report published by the Malcolm X Grassroots Collective, since January 2012, 110 African American men and women have been murdered either by the police, security guards or white vigilantes—almost a person every two days.
Despite the continuity over time of police violence, there’s a perception that it’s getting worse. Because of social media and networking, it’s easier for recordings of police terror to “go viral” and be seen across the country in a matter of hours.
The media initially ignored the murder of Trayvon Martin, but word of the racist killing of the Florida teenager exploded via social media, and the case morphed into a national symbol of racism and police corruption.
Protests against a police riot in Anaheim, Calif., were captured on video, and people around the country were able to see what the police tried to cover up. The mainstream news reported that police offered to buy cell phones from those who recorded the police actions for fear that word would get out.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THESE ACTIONS point to a greater reality that, while police terrorism is intensifying, so is the willingness to confront it and organize against it. The time is ripe for a movement against the police.
In New York City, activist organizing and an emergent movement against stop and frisk has the NYPD on the ropes, and the potential to end that legalized racism is within sight. Earlier in the summer, more than 13,000 people in New York marched silently to dramatically demonstrate against stop and frisk.
In Anaheim, where the police executed a young Latino man in cold blood, community members rebelled and lashed out at cop terror. In fact, after an evening of being shot with rubber bullets and arrests, community members demonstrated inside of the police department demanding justice.
In Chicago, a “people’s hearing” against police violence brought out more than 100 people, despite city officials’ efforts to thwart the meeting by forcing it to relocate. Across the country, communities large and small are organizing vigils, marches, demonstrations and community organizing meetings to speak out against police violence and murder against African Americans and Latinos.
At the center of much of this organizing are the family members of the victims of police murder who bravely and heroically are finding each other across the country and joining forces to demand justice and speak out against this racist terrorism. The outpouring of protest and organizing in response to the lynching of Trayvon Martin showed that the potential for a movement against police brutality, murder and corruption is vast.
Police terror may be a permanent feature of a system that is as economically unequal and unjust as this one, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make demands for police accountability and beyond. Our growing movement should demand an immediate end to the legalized racial profiling of stop-and-frisk programs in New York City and everywhere else variations of it are used.
We should call for federal investigations of local police murder and brutality cases because we know that the police can’t police themselves. We should demand elected and accountable police review boards that can independently investigate police crimes. We should demand an end to laws that criminalized the filming or audio recording of police as these are often the only means capture “proof” of their crimes.
There has never been a more urgent need to build a movement against racist, police terrorism in the U.S. There is another reality to consider as well. If the police continue to kill Black men and women with impunity, the possibility of the kinds of urban rebellions that shook American society in the 1960s is a distinct possibility.
One must consider that this isn’t the 1960s, but it’s the 21st century—and there’s a Black president and a Black attorney general and people surely expect more. Moreover, in just the last several days near- riots have broken out in Southern California and Dallas, Texas, as the police, growing more brazen in their disregard for Black and brown life, have executed young men in broad daylight, out in the open for all to see.
In Dallas, people watched the police shoot a man in the back as he was running away. Hundreds of people gathered in response to the Dallas Police Department’s deployment of a SWAT team and riot police.
There’s a growing feeling of exhaustion with the vicious racism and brutality of cops across the country and the pervasive silence that shrouds it—and people are beginning to rise against it.
Source
Written by Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, a racial justice activist & author in Chicago. Watch her speak about racial justice here.

Terrorists in blue: How police maintain a system of racism & inequality
July 30, 2012

"To some Negroes, police have come to symbolize white power, white racism and white repression. And the fact is that many police do reflect and express these white attitudes. The atmosphere of hostility and cynicism is reinforced by a widespread belief among Negroes in the existence of police brutality and in a ‘double standard’ of justice and protection—one for Negroes and one for whites—a deep hostility between the police and ghetto…was a primary cause of the riots."

The passage quoted above was from a government-commissioned investigation into the causes of urban rebellions throughout the 1960s. For four years, from 1964 through 1968, hundreds of thousands of African Americans rose up against the racism and injustice across the U.S. In dozens of cities, the causes were the same: unemployment, substandard housing, and police brutality among many others.

This report was published in 1968, and yet the description of the police’s relationship to Black communities sounds very familiar. The only significant difference now is that in many urban areas, Black and Latino cops make up a larger part of the police forces.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Stand with family members of victims of police brutality. Find out more about the National Alliance of Parents Against Police Violence on Facebook.

In some cities, there have even been Black police commissioners and superintendents along with Black political representatives, whether it be mayors, city council members or other ranking officials. These changes in the demographics of the police and city administrations that govern them haven’t changed the way that police departments regularly occupy, harass, intimidate and terrorize communities of color.

The reason behind this continuity is something that people in these communities already know: the police do not exist to protect and serve but are here to maintain racism and inequality.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory but is demonstrated in multiple ways, whether it is the disproportionate way that Blacks are arrested for drug crimes compared to whites or the way in which African Americans and Latinos are “legally” stopped for no reason at all.

The New York Police Department’s policy of stopping and frisking young men of color has resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of stops for random searches in hopes of finding contraband. In more than 90 percent of the stops, nothing is ever found, but the possibility of being stopped is a way of intimidating and controlling the movement and presence of Blacks and Latinos outside of spaces they are presumed not to belong.

Police operate in Black and brown communities as if the Bill of Rights does not exist—randomly stopping people for no reason, conducting searches without consent, and arresting and holding people with no charges. It is also infuriating because they operate with impunity. It is next to impossible to have a dirty cop charged with a crime or even disciplined for illegal or unethical behavior because the cops police themselves.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

BEYOND THE daily harassment, more than ever, the police are being used to hem in the potential for protest and resistance to the social crisis that is consuming Black communities across the country.

Black America is being ravaged by unemployment, growing rates of poverty, public school closures, and rental evictions and home foreclosures, to name only the most extreme conditions. In the absence of any real solutions to the economic crisis in communities hit the hardest, more police violence and intimidation are prescribed to keep them in check.

In Chicago, for example, growing poverty and disillusionment with any notion of social mobility in this society has given way to desperation and horrible violence across the city’s Black neighborhoods, but instead of addressing what is painfully obvious—some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the U.S.—local officials periodically suggest new, esoteric policing strategies to address crime.

These policies include neighborhood sweeps of young men, a growing number of surveillance cameras, and an increased police presence in these neighborhoods. These measures, of course, do nothing about crime except add to the number of young Black men with criminal records and thus increase the likelihood that they will never get employment, exacerbating the central problems of unemployment and poverty.

Not only can’t the police do anything about the conditions that give rise to crime but they actually contribute to it. In Chicago, the police have been found to be involved in crime rings that sell drugs and guns.

The combination of growing racial and economic inequality with aggressive policing and the criminalization of Black youth is resulting in even more police violence and even murder at the hand of the cops. According to a report published by the Malcolm X Grassroots Collective, since January 2012, 110 African American men and women have been murdered either by the police, security guards or white vigilantes—almost a person every two days.

Despite the continuity over time of police violence, there’s a perception that it’s getting worse. Because of social media and networking, it’s easier for recordings of police terror to “go viral” and be seen across the country in a matter of hours.

The media initially ignored the murder of Trayvon Martin, but word of the racist killing of the Florida teenager exploded via social media, and the case morphed into a national symbol of racism and police corruption.

Protests against a police riot in Anaheim, Calif., were captured on video, and people around the country were able to see what the police tried to cover up. The mainstream news reported that police offered to buy cell phones from those who recorded the police actions for fear that word would get out.

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THESE ACTIONS point to a greater reality that, while police terrorism is intensifying, so is the willingness to confront it and organize against it. The time is ripe for a movement against the police.

In New York City, activist organizing and an emergent movement against stop and frisk has the NYPD on the ropes, and the potential to end that legalized racism is within sight. Earlier in the summer, more than 13,000 people in New York marched silently to dramatically demonstrate against stop and frisk.

In Anaheim, where the police executed a young Latino man in cold blood, community members rebelled and lashed out at cop terror. In fact, after an evening of being shot with rubber bullets and arrests, community members demonstrated inside of the police department demanding justice.

In Chicago, a “people’s hearing” against police violence brought out more than 100 people, despite city officials’ efforts to thwart the meeting by forcing it to relocate. Across the country, communities large and small are organizing vigils, marches, demonstrations and community organizing meetings to speak out against police violence and murder against African Americans and Latinos.

At the center of much of this organizing are the family members of the victims of police murder who bravely and heroically are finding each other across the country and joining forces to demand justice and speak out against this racist terrorism. The outpouring of protest and organizing in response to the lynching of Trayvon Martin showed that the potential for a movement against police brutality, murder and corruption is vast.

Police terror may be a permanent feature of a system that is as economically unequal and unjust as this one, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make demands for police accountability and beyond. Our growing movement should demand an immediate end to the legalized racial profiling of stop-and-frisk programs in New York City and everywhere else variations of it are used.

We should call for federal investigations of local police murder and brutality cases because we know that the police can’t police themselves. We should demand elected and accountable police review boards that can independently investigate police crimes. We should demand an end to laws that criminalized the filming or audio recording of police as these are often the only means capture “proof” of their crimes.

There has never been a more urgent need to build a movement against racist, police terrorism in the U.S. There is another reality to consider as well. If the police continue to kill Black men and women with impunity, the possibility of the kinds of urban rebellions that shook American society in the 1960s is a distinct possibility.

One must consider that this isn’t the 1960s, but it’s the 21st century—and there’s a Black president and a Black attorney general and people surely expect more. Moreover, in just the last several days near- riots have broken out in Southern California and Dallas, Texas, as the police, growing more brazen in their disregard for Black and brown life, have executed young men in broad daylight, out in the open for all to see.

In Dallas, people watched the police shoot a man in the back as he was running away. Hundreds of people gathered in response to the Dallas Police Department’s deployment of a SWAT team and riot police.

There’s a growing feeling of exhaustion with the vicious racism and brutality of cops across the country and the pervasive silence that shrouds it—and people are beginning to rise against it.

Source

Written by Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, a racial justice activist & author in Chicago. Watch her speak about racial justice here.

Texas executes its 1st inmate using single drug
July 18, 2012
A 33-year-old Texas man convicted of carjacking and fatally shooting a suburban Dallas stockbroker was put to death Wednesday, becoming the first prisoner in the nation’s most active capital punishment state to be executed with a single lethal drug.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials announced last week they were modifying the three-drug execution procedure used since 1982 because the state’s supply of one of the drugs — the muscle relaxant pancuronium bromide — has expired. Yokamon Hearn was executed Wednesday evening using a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital, which had been part of the three-drug mixture since last year.
Ohio, Arizona, Idaho and Washington have already adopted a single-drug procedure, and this week Georgia said it would do so, too.
Source

Texas executes its 1st inmate using single drug

July 18, 2012

A 33-year-old Texas man convicted of carjacking and fatally shooting a suburban Dallas stockbroker was put to death Wednesday, becoming the first prisoner in the nation’s most active capital punishment state to be executed with a single lethal drug.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials announced last week they were modifying the three-drug execution procedure used since 1982 because the state’s supply of one of the drugs — the muscle relaxant pancuronium bromide — has expired. Yokamon Hearn was executed Wednesday evening using a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital, which had been part of the three-drug mixture since last year.

Ohio, Arizona, Idaho and Washington have already adopted a single-drug procedure, and this week Georgia said it would do so, too.

Source

Un(equal) justice under the law
July 04, 2012
THERE’S ONE law for the man who murdered unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida—it’s called “Stand Your Ground.”
And there’s another for young Black teenagers in New York City, like Ramarley Graham, who was killed an NYPD officer in the bathroom of his home—it’s called “stop-and-frisk.”
Because in the eyes of the U.S. justice system, if you kill a Black teenager, you’re innocent until proven guilty. But if you’re a Black teenager, you’re already guilty when you get up in the morning.
These are two faces of the U.S. criminal justice system, where the priority is anything but justice and where racism infects every inch of it.
Source - finish the article
Read more about the movement against the racist U.S. criminal justice system.

Un(equal) justice under the law

July 04, 2012

THERE’S ONE law for the man who murdered unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida—it’s called “Stand Your Ground.”

And there’s another for young Black teenagers in New York City, like Ramarley Graham, who was killed an NYPD officer in the bathroom of his home—it’s called “stop-and-frisk.”

Because in the eyes of the U.S. justice system, if you kill a Black teenager, you’re innocent until proven guilty. But if you’re a Black teenager, you’re already guilty when you get up in the morning.

These are two faces of the U.S. criminal justice system, where the priority is anything but justice and where racism infects every inch of it.

Source - finish the article

Read more about the movement against the racist U.S. criminal justice system.