Today is the annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. While it is not something that typically gets much attention, police brutality in Grand Rapids and Michigan is a reality–or at least a possibility–on a daily basis for many oppressed people. For example, Detroit has recently seen police officers shooting suspects, beatings, and other incidents.
Moreover, earlier this year a video surfaced showing a police officer in Michigan slam a 16-year old boy’s head into a wall, knocking out three teeth:
The officer received a 10-day suspension for the act.
The October 22nd Coalition explains the reasons for organizing annual events drawing attention to police brutality:
Why do we need to act on October 22, 2008?
The current economic crisis looms large in people’s thinking, and the media talks endlessly about the upcoming elections, as if nothing else is happening in the world. Meanwhile, attention is diverted from the increasing incidents of repression and violence toward people in certain neighborhoods, toward immigrants, and toward political dissent. Verdicts from the court system in recent years have clearly established that all the police need to do is invoke the “terrorism” word, or say that they “thought” there might be a danger, and they get a free pass to raid, beat, bomb, gas and arrest.
We need to put a stop to this, and drag the truth about the nationwide epidemic of police violence and repression into the light of day for all to see. Many people would be outraged if they knew what was happening. It’s up to us to let them know, and call on them to join us in the streets. October 22nd is a day to rely on ourselves, not the politicians. People of all different communities come together in events in local areas to say, “No More!”
2008: What’s been happening across the country?
Not-guilty verdicts in New York for the three detectives who shot Sean Bell 50 times on his wedding day. The court system once again put its stamp of approval on any action taken by a police officer, no matter how outrageous. Then in July, a Grand Jury was led not to indict the NYC officer who killed 25-year old Jayson Tirado in a fit of “road rage.” District Attorney Robert Morgenthau described the incident as “a justifiable shooting in unfortunate circumstances.”
A police “surge” in Chicago leaving six people dead in a month. Between June 11th and July 5th in Chicago, police shot twelve people, all Black and Latino. Six were killed, six wounded and survived. The Governor of Illinois responded by suggesting that state troopers be sent into Chicago to help control “violent crime”! More than forty killings by police in LA County, including four by Inglewood police alone in four months. 19-year old Michael Byoune was killed by Inglewood police in the parking lot of a burger stand – bullets rained into the car until his body fell out. Six weeks later, Inglewood police shot 23-year old Ruben Walton Ortega five times, killing him in an alley. Kevin Wicks was blown away in his own apartment by the same cop who killed Michael Byoune. Then, Inglewood police shot 47 times at an unarmed homeless man, Eddie Felix Franco. One of the seven cops suspended also killed 20-year old Richard Tyson just last year, shooting him in the head and back while he was on his bicycle.
17-year old Carlos Rivera was killed by Newton Division police in South Central, shot at more than 20 times as he was hanging out with a friend in front of his house, then shot again in the head as he lay on the ground.
46-year old Roketi Su’e was killed by Long Beach police in front of a birthday party. A nurse at the party who tried to help him after he was shot was handcuffed and put in the police car until Roketi was dead.
More than twice as many people have been shot and killed this year in Maryland by Prince George’s County police than in all of last year. County police have killed seven people this year, compared to three in 2007.
Massive raids and round-ups of immigrants ripped from their families and sent to detention centers and prisons. There were six hundred people arrested during raids in Mississippi, 321 arrested in South Florida. Hypothermia-inducing tactics have been used on many detainees in order to get them to sign a waiver of rights to deportation.
Prison-like schools and the school-to-prison pipeline. In Tampa, FL, 14-year old Keon Dawson was dragged from his classroom, detained and searched as part of the ongoing harassment against him and other witnesses to a cop’s murder of his brother, Javon Dawson. A 10-year old girl in Marion County, FL was arrested in school for bringing a knife from home to cut her sandwich. After throwing a tantrum at school, 5-year old Dennis Rivera was handcuffed by NYPD and then taken to a psych ward.
Increased police state and attacks on political dissent. FISA Amendments of 2008 legalized wiretapping and email spying Protesters against the moving of war equipment (Strykers) to Iraq in Olympia, Tacoma and Fort Lewis have been met with tasers, rubber bullets, and more. The highly repressive conduct of police during both the DNC and RNC went largely unreported in the major media.
Torture and death by police taser. Andre. D. Thomas, a 37-year old in Swissdale, PA, was killed by taser after he was handcuffed. Although there has been documentation of death by taser, Taser International has recently developed and marketed new “less lethal” weapons for use by law enforcement.
STOP POLICE BRUTALITY, REPRESSION AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF A GENERATION!
NO MORE STOLEN LIVES! FIGHT BACK!