Category Archives: Police Abuse|Brutality|Killings

Stephen Bantu Biko

12 September 1977 – 18 December 1946

Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.

The Definition of Black Consciousness, I Write What I Like, 1978.

Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) leader, South Africa’s most influential and radical student leader in the 1970s and a law student at the time of his death. He became a martyr of the Freedom Struggle and posed one of the strongest challenges to the apartheid structure in the country.  Biko was murdered on 12 September 1977, in a Pretoria detention cells.

Due to local and international outcry his death prompted an inquest which at first did not adequately reveal the circumstances surrounding his death. Police alleged that he died from a hunger strike and independent sources said he was brutally murdered by police. Although his death was attributed to “a prison accident,” evidence presented during the 15-day inquest into Biko’s death revealed otherwise. During his detention in a Port Elizabeth police cell he had been chained to a grill at night and left to lie in urine-soaked blankets. He had been stripped naked and kept in leg-irons for 48 hours in his cell. A blow in a scuffle with security police led to him suffering brain damage by the time he was driven naked and manacled in the back of a police van to Pretoria, where he died.

Bios: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Biko

http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/people/bios/biko-s.htm

 

 

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Huey P. Newton

February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989    Huey Newton

Huey Percy Newton  founded the Afro-American Society and was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, serving as its minister of defense during much of the 1960s. Later he turned to community service for the poor.

Newton was born February 17, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana. The youngest of seven children, Huey was named for former Louisiana governor Huey Pierce Long.

The Newton family moved to Oakland, California, in 1945 to take advantage of the job opportunities created by World War II wartime industries. In Oakland the family moved often, and in one house Huey was compelled to sleep in the kitchen. Even though the Newton’s were poor and victims of discrimination and segregation, Huey contends that he never felt deprived as a child and that he never went hungry.

Newton, founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 with Bobby Seale. The organization advocated that Black Americans “bear arms in self-defense” against community repression by police. Among the tactics he employed was the institution of ”justice patrols” by armed Black men whose purpose was to monitor police actions and inform community residents of their rights when confronted by law enforcement.

In 1967 Newton was arrested and charged in the shooting of one policeman and the killing of another. His trial and subsequent conviction focused attention on the issue of police brutality.

Newton was considered a political prisoner. A national movement using the catch phrase ”Free Huey!” rallied people across the nation to the cause of civil rights.

After he served 22 months, his conviction was overturned due to a prosecution error in the trial.

In 1970, he was called to appear before the California State Senate Un-American Activities committee to answer charges that the Black Panther Party was a communist-run organization.

In 1974, Newton spent time as a fugitive in Cuba after being accused in the murder of a 14-year-old prostitute and of pistol-whipping his tailor. He returned to Oakland and faced two trials on the charges, both of which ended in hung juries.

ARREST IN MURDER OF NEWTON

INTERVIEW (1968) –

Huey P. Newton

“Revolutionary Nationalism- A good example of revolutionary nationalism was the revolution in Algeria when Ben Bella took over. The French were kicked out but it was a people’s revolution because the people ended up power. The leaders that took over were not interested in the profit motive where they could exploit the people and keep them in a state of slavery. They nationalized the industry and plowed the would be profits into the community. That’s what socialism is all about in a nut The people’s representatives are in office strictly on the leave of the people. The wealth of the country is controlled by people and they are considered when ever modifications in the industries are made.

The Black Panther Party is a revolutionary Nationalist group and we see a major contradiction between capitalism in this country and our interests. We realize that this country became very rich upon slavery and that slavery is capitalism in the extreme. We have two evils to fight, capitalism and racism. We must destroy both racism and capitalism.”

(Bio continues at ~ http://www.africawithin.com/bios/huey_newton.htm )

Alameda Courthouse

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The 1979 Greensboro Massacre

Nelson Johnson

Nelson Johnson at the body of Jim Waller

Late morning, November 3, 1979, at the corner of Carver and Everitt Streets in Greensboro, North Carolina, forty Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis handed each other shotguns and automatic weapons from the trunks of their cars and opened fire on black and white anti-Klan demonstrators and union organizers who had gathered at Morningside Homes, a black housing project.

ssmith
Sandi Smith

Sandi Smith, a nurse who’d been active in the black student movement and was at the time trying to unionize textile workers, was shot between the eyes. 

The KKK and Nazi members shot at anyone who wasn’t hiding while four television news teams and one police officer recorded the action.  They then got back into their cars and sped away after which the Greensboro police arrived and began arresting protestors.

In the aftermath five people were killed and 11 wounded in the attack.   All five were members of the Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO), and four were rank-and-file union leaders and organizers.

*Murdered were:

Sandi Smith,  president of the student body and a founding member of the Student Organization for Black Unity (SOBU) at Greensboro’s Bennett College. She was a community organizer for the Greensboro Association of Poor People (GAPP) and became a worker at the textile mill where she and others formed the Revolution Organizing Committee (ROC) to unionize the plant. Sandi was a leader of a march of over 3,000 people in Raleigh to free the Wilmington 10, ten young activists jailed on false charges to stop them from organizing. In her work at a Cone Mills textile plant, she battled sexual harassment, low wages, and unhealthy working conditions.  

Jim Waller

Jim Waller

Dr. Jim Waller who received his medical degree from the University of Chicago and trained at the Lincoln Hospital Collective in New York City. In 1973 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, Waller organized medical aid and set up a clinic to aid American Indian Movement activists under siege by the FBI. When he moved to North Carolina to teach at Duke University he coordinated Brown Lung screenings in textile mills, co-founding the Carolina Brown Lung Association. He later gave up his medical practice to organize workers becoming vice president of the AFL-CIO local textile workers union  Waller and went to work in a Cone Mills textile plant in Haw River. From inside he helped organize and eventually became president of the AFL-CIO union local after leading a strike in 1978 that helped the union grow from about 25 members to almost 200.

wsampson
Bill Sampson

William “Bill” Sampson was a student anti-war activist and president of his college student body. He studied at the Sorbonne in Paris during college, received his Masters degree in Divinity from Harvard in 1971, then studied medicine at the University of Virginia. As a medical student he organized health care workers to support the liberation struggles in southern Africa. Bill left medical school to work and organize in one of Cone Mills’ Greensboro textile plant, where he built the union and focused on training new leaders. The workers had chosen Bill to run for president of the local.

Cesar Cauce
Cesar Cauce

Cesar Cauce was a Cuban immigrant who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, where he was a campus leader in the anti-war movement. He rejected a full scholarship to study history at the University of California at Berkeley and instead to help to unionize Duke Hospital workers. Cesar organized strike support for union struggles throughout NC and was a regular participant in the Goldkist strike, a campaign to organize poultry workers in Durham. He also traveled extensively throughout the South, writing about class struggles for the Workers Viewpoint.

Michael Nathan
Michael Nathan

Dr. Michael Nathan, chief of pediatrics at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, a clinic that helped children from low-income families. Nathan had been an anti-war and civil rights student activist at Duke University. He organized and led a chapter of the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR), an organization that fought for improved health care for poor people. Mike studied child health and treated sick children in a mountain clinic in Guatemala in 1972 and 1973, and was a leader in a movement to send aid to liberation fighters who eventually toppled the apartheid system is what’s now Zimbabwe.

The permitted march and rally, declaring “Death to the Klan” was organized by the WVO, which was active in the poor neighborhoods and textile mills in the area. It advocated antiracism, unionism, and communist revolution. The group had previously clashed with Ku Klux Klan members prior to the deadly November encounter.  In July 1979 anti-racism protesters disrupted a screening of a pro-white supremacist film, “Birth Of A Nation” in China Grove, North Carolina. Continue reading

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Attica! Attica! Attica! | By Kevin Alexander Gray

Attica! Attica!

On September 10, 1971, more than 1,000 inmates took over the Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison located in western New York.

Attica The prisoners broke windows and burned beds and furniture after overtaking 32 guards and civilian employees.

Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller giving inmates finger

Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller giving inmates finger

It took over 1,500 state troopers and sheriff deputies to regain control.

By September 13th 1971, 42 people had been killed and the uprising was over.

BlackPast.org –   There were many causes of the riot. Tensions were already high “as the prison was extremely overcrowded and inmates were being denied basic sanitation needs. They were usually limited to one shower a week and one roll of toilet paper per month. Additionally there were allegations of racism by the prison’s all white guards against the 54% black population and a significant Puerto Rican minority.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rockefellers/peopleevents/e_attica.html

William Kunstler @ Attica

William Kunstler @ Attica

Using pipes, chains, and baseball bats, the inmates quickly overcame the guards in the area.  Suddenly they were in command of the prison and had taken 40 staff members hostage. Their demands were: federal takeover of the prison, better conditions, amnesty for the crimes committed during the revolt, and the removal of the prison’s superintendent.

Attica aftermathThe authorities and prisoners remained at a stalemate for four days until New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller approved an operation to reclaim the prison. Tear gas was dropped by helicopter into the prison yard and law enforcement officers opened fire into the smoke. In six minutes more than two thousand rounds had been discharged. The prison was retaken but at the cost of thirty nine inmates and ten guards lives.

AtticaThe nine member commission put together by Governor Rockefeller to sort out this tragedy had a number of criticisms about the handling of this situation. The media was allowed access and this attention gave the prisoners a national spotlight that they were unwilling to give up. Governor Rockefeller, despite numerous requests from the Corrections Commissioner Russell Oswald to come to the prison, had refused and then ordered the state’s armed forces into action without ever appraising the situation himself.  Also the negotiations were hampered by the fact that they took place with 1,200 rioters looking on.

The assault itself was poorly planned and inmates and hostages alike were wounded and killed as a result. The use of shotguns after the tear gas was dropped in particular was criticized as the potential for unintentional injuries was enormous.  Additionally no adequate medical care was arranged for those injured in the assault and rushing to find help for the wounded put lives needlessly in danger.”

AtticaIn the end there were conflicting calls for tougher prisons on one side, and for prison reform to correct the abuses that had contributed to the riot on the other. In the immediate aftermath of the riot, the prisoners’ rights movement flourished for a brief bit and a number of reforms were instituted.  But in the years since, politicians have opted to be “tougher on crime by incarcerating many more people, thus Attica 1971overcrowding many facilities; reducing any service that might be seen as “coddling” prisoners; reducing or eliminating prison education programs” and generally creating a permanent criminal underclass.

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Obama, Gates & Crowley | By Kevin Alexander Gray

The ProgressiveCitizens have the right to talk back to the police


President Barack Obama reached the wrong conclusion on the controversy between the police officer and the professor.

He said both people overreacted, and by bringing them to the White House for beers, he sought to make the controversy go away.

Instead, as someone who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, he should have taken an unequivocal stand for free speech.

Citizens in this United States have the right to talk back to the police. The cops are not the Gestapo. We should not conclude from this incident that we need to be more servile. Instead, we should conclude that police abuse their authority when they slap a “disturbing the peace” or “disorderly conduct” charge on someone who is standing up for his rights.

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The Colfax Louisiana shooting | “Teachable Moment?”

Obama needs to convene beer summits all over the USA.

The Colfax (Louisiana) police shooting (July 24, 2009).

The subject of the 4:54 minute video is the July 24, 2009 fatal shooting of 54-year old Natchitoches, Louisiana resident Harold Phillips by Colfax, Louisiana Police Officer Stephen Merchant.

Phillips, who’d just been released from the Natchitoches Correctional Facility, died after Merchant reportedly shot the fleeing Phillips.

Eyewitnesses claim the officer misinterpreted “horseplay” between the dead man and his sister, believing he was witnessing a domestic assault.

Merchant is white. Phillips is black.

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Stand in Solidarity with Prof. Gates! Say NO to Racism!

Bail Out The People Movement

Stop Racial Profiling and Police Brutality!

Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Was Right!

The Cambridge Cops Must Apologize!

Youth Need Jobs & Schools – Not Jails!
 
Demand a Justice Department Investigation of Racial Profiling Across the US!

———————-
Sign the Online Petition.
http://www.bailoutpeople.org/gatespetition.shtml  (text of online petition)

Let President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Massachusetts Governor Patrick, Cambridge Mayor Simmons, the Cambridge City Council, Cambridge Police Commissioner Haas, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Congressional Leaders and members of the media know you stand against racism with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and you want the Obama administration to launch a national investigation into racial profiling and police brutality NOW!

The arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by a Cambridge police officer after showing two forms of identification after he, along with a Black limo driver, had unjammed the lock to the front door of Gates’ own house in a predominantly white, upscale neighborhood known as “Harvard Square” has brought the struggle against racism to the front pages of newspapers throughout the US and around the world.

The Cambridge Police Department and their racist allies have worked overtime to slander and vilify Prof. Gates. But his only crime was in fact to resist the racist arrogance of the Cambridge Police and not acquiesce to their racist and unjust treatment of him. The torrent of racist vitriol targeting Prof. Gates as well as the absolute racist arrogance displayed by the Cambridge Police Department in demanding that Pres. Obama and Gov. Patrick apologize for expressing support for Prof. Gates, cannot go unanswered!  It is time for all poor and working people, and particularly whites, to come out against these racist attacks and stand foursquare in 100% solidarity with Professor Gates and against racial profiling and police brutality.

Cambridge, Harvard University and Boston are seen around the world as bastions of liberalism, hotbeds of progressive ideas and prestigious places from which cutting-edge research emanates. But the racial profiling and arrest of Prof. Gates have re-raised the question of how much has changed since the 1970s when, in the wake of court-ordered busing for desegregation, white racist mobs were stoning buses carrying Black school children and attacking Black people on the streets and in their homes.

Gates was Right! The Cambridge Police Department was Wrong!

Racial profiling is another expression of institutionalized racism. In the U.S., racial profiling and police brutality have become an unfortunate reality of life for people of color, especially youth. It doesn’t matter whether it occurs in the inner city, a small town, or an upper-middle class suburb.

In a 2004 report entitled “Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security and Human Rights in the United States,” Amnesty International documented that in a year-long investigation, an estimated 32 million people had been racially profiled–the vast majority of them from nationally oppressed groups. One can only imagine how much these numbers have increased over the last five years, not only for those born in the U.S. but also for immigrants.  Since 9/11 there has been a corresponding increase in racial profiling targeting the Arab and Muslim communities.

The police have been, by far, the most feared perpetrators of racial profiling, and understandably so. Police harassment and brutality is an epidemic.  According to a 2008 report by the Washington, D.C. based Campaign for Youth Justice entitled ”Critical Condition: African American Youth in the Justice System” African American youth make up 30 percent of youth arrested while they represent only 17 percent of the overall youth population. Additionally, African American youth are 62 percent of the total number of youth prosecuted in the adult criminal system and are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence.

One only needs to remember how the Somerville 5 (5 Black youth from Somerville who were arrested on racist frame up charges by the Medford Police)  or the Jena 6 were treated.  Not to mention the racism that followed the devastation of the 9th Ward in New Orleans as a result of hurricane Katrina.

As the economic crisis deepens the ruling class will use all means at its disposal to foster artificial divisions between white workers and Black, Latina/o, and immigrant workers.  It is our responsibility to build a movement based on anti-racist, class-wide solidarity–as workers of all nationalities are losing their jobs, homes, health care and pensions in rapid numbers; and as the economic crisis becomes even more severe. Continue reading

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