Dozens of groups rallied outside the U.S. Department of Justice Wednesday afternoon to deliver a list of demands to Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General. They cited specific changes needed to change police departments which they claim are targeting and profiling minorities. Their demands come in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed youth. They asked for an appointment of a special prosecutor, an immediate civil rights investigation, and prosecution of Darren Wilson, the police officer responsible for the shooting. Organizers are mobilizing on the heels of a building crescendo of national interest in changing police force posture. They sense a climax in consciousness towards achieving justice and equal rights applied by police forces in communities across the country. They want to seize the opportunity to implement their ideas while the enthusiasm is there to do it.
Saturday’s march and rally are specifically demanding the arrest of Officer Darren Wilson, the demilitarization of the police, and the institutionalization of civilian review boards of the police with the right to hire and fire. The Call to Action for Saturday explain: “Residents of the District of Columbia, just like millions around the country recognize that at the root of Ferguson are the social, racial and economic injustices that exist nationwide. They know that Ferguson could really be anywhere and Michael Brown could be any young Black male. According to a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, every 28 hours a Black person is killed by a police officer, security, or vigilante in the United States.
The following call to action was issued by the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Council, made up of community leaders on the ground in Ferguson. Protest against police killings, brutality, profiling and legal coverups “This will be a national massive march on Ferguson. People of conscience, from all walks of life, and all over the United States, will come together in Ferguson in the largest single mass demonstration to demand justice for Michael Brown,” said Akbar Muhammad of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Council. The march demands . . .
A video showing the arrest of a black St. Paul man for allegedly sitting in a public space and refusing to give up his name surfaced yesterday, Aug. 26 — only weeks after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Missouri re-sparked the national debate on race and police profiling. The video, shot by the man’s cellphone, shows his interaction with officers as he attempts to pick up his children from New Horizon Academy in downtown St. Paul. As the officers force the man to put his hands behind his back, he drops his phone and the video goes black, but the audio continues and we hear the man crying for help and proclaiming that his kids are watching. Both officers in the video are white. “Why do I have to let you know who I am?” the man tells the first female officer at the beginning of the video. “I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.”
Hundreds of mourners gathered at a St. Louis church this morning for the funeral of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose shooting death Aug. 9 by a police officer began nearly two weeks of unrest in Ferguson. The service began a bit after 10:30 a.m. at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 5515 Martin Luther King Drive. The church can seat about 2,500 people. Those in the crowd included babies and the elderly, and the attire ranged from ladies in elegant hats to young men wearing t-shirts, shorts and ballcaps. Parked nearby were at least a dozen news satellite trucks. The Rev. Charles Ewing delivered the eulogy for his nephew. He said his message is to heal the hurt, not just in Ferguson but the whole nation. He asked for justice not only for Brown, but for Trayvon Martin, for victims of black-on-black crime, for the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
The father of Mike Brown has asked that people call off all protests Monday, the day of his son’s funeral. “I would like for no protesting going on,” Michael Brown Sr. said during an interview on Hot 104.1 FM, a hip-hop radio station in St. Louis. “We just want a moment of silence that whole day. Just out of respect for our son.” Brown went on air this morning with the Demetrious Johnson Show, which runs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Michael Brown’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, in a church in St. Louis that can accommodate up to 4,500 people. Three White House officials, Rev. Al Sharpton, and thousands of community members are expected to attend.
It’s been nearly two weeks since a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed an unarmed teenager, but the police department has yet to offer a full account of the hazy circumstances surrounding Michael Brown’s death. An official incident report, which the American Civil Liberties Union obtained from police and released on Friday, answers none of the pressing questions that hang over the killing. If anything, it raises new ones. The two-page document is almost entirely blank. It includes the address, time of day and a handful of other bare-bones details, but does not include a description of the scene, quotes from eyewitnesses, names of the officers involved, or any other pieces of information normally found on such documents.
The small city of Jennings, Mo., had a police department so troubled, and with so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it. Everyone in the Jennings police department was fired. New officers were brought in to create a credible department from scratch. That was three years ago. One of the officers who worked in that department, and lost his job along with everyone else, was a young man named Darren Wilson. Some of the Jennings officers reapplied for their jobs, but Wilson got a job in the police department in the nearby city of Ferguson. On Aug. 9, Wilson, who is white, killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown after Brown and a friend had been walking down the middle of a street.
The body of a mentally ill black woman who was shot and killed by police was brought to Phoenix City Hall today by community activists and the slain woman’s family, who demanded an external investigation into her death. Michelle Cusseaux, 50, was fatally shot by Phoenix Police Officer Percy Dupra on August 14, after police say she threatened officers with a hammer when they went to serve a court order to deliver Cusseaux to a mental-health facility. Community members have joined Cusseaux’s mother in calling for an independent agency to investigate the killing, in addition to the Phoenix Police Department’s own investigation, although Phoenix police haven’t agreed to seeking an external investigation. “We’ve had to take drastic measures,” Cusseaux’s mother Frances Garrett said, standing beside her daughter’s casket outside City Hall.
In a major victory for free speech rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a ruling today denying the City of New York’s effort to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s mass false arrest of 700 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011. The class action lawsuit was filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a non-profit public interest legal organization, within days of the mass false arrest. The case Garcia, et al. v. Bloomberg, et al., 11 Civ. 6957 (JSR), was argued before the Second Circuit in April 2013. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director for the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and attorney for the protestors, said: “The decision by the NYPD high command to illegally trap and arrest 700 peaceful protestors was a disgrace. It is one of the largest mass arrests and mass violations of civil liberties in U.S. history. This is a critical victory for justice and the right to dissent in America.”
Petition To Eric Holder Against Racist, Militarized Policing To Be Delivered, Sign here now. When: Wednesday, August 27th at 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Where: In front of the Department of Justice, Constitution Ave between 9th & 10th St NW, Washington DC Washington, DC – On Wednesday, August 27 at 4pm, activists will rally outside the Justice Department to call on the Attorney General to help secure justice for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri, as well as an overhaul of US law enforcement tactics in order to stop police brutality and the militarization of our police forces. “Michael’s murder is symptomatic of a systemic, racist culture that condones the murder and incarceration of black boys and men at rates highly disproportionate to the general population. U.S. police or vigilantes kill a black man every 28 hours,” says Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo of No FEAR Coalition and Black Agenda Report. “We need the full support of the Attorney General’s office to make sure that Michael Brown is not simply another name added to the anonymous statistics and meaningless deaths of African-Americans at the mercy of a merciless system.”
A new coalition called Hands Up United has formed around the events in Ferguson, MO that is working for accountability in the case of the police murder of Michael Brown and for new policies at the national level to reduce police brutality. According to their website, HandsUpUnited.org, the coalition includes “local organizations leading on the ground in Ferguson, such as Organization for Black Struggle, Missourians Organizing for Reform, Empowerment, and others. The National Demands reflect demands developed by organizations such as Freedom Side and Dream Defenders.” They are calling for a nationwide student walk out on Monday, August 25, the day of Michael Brown’s funeral which would have been his first day of college if he were alive. The website states: “Youth in Ferguson are calling for a student walkout to honor Mike Brown and protest police violence and racial profiling. On Monday, August 25th, stage a walkout on your campus. Commit to walking out for Mike Brown and create an event to invite others to join you.”
More than 1,000 people marched through Washington, DC on August 23rd calling for justice, transparency and an end to police brutality. After several weeks of protests in response to the brutal murder of Michael Brown, individuals continue to question the system of policing and media reporting in the United States. Many have said that there is a “lack of justice” throughout the nation and have expressed outrage in how the media depicts victims of police brutality.
The violence that turns a small-town protest into a fiery national spectacle like the one that has played out this month in Missouri is often unwittingly provoked by police, according to researchers at UC Berkeley. The research team, which studied clashes between police and activists during the Occupy movement three years ago, found that protests tend to turn violent when officers use aggressive tactics, such as approaching demonstrators in riot gear or lining up in military-like formations. Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., are a good example, the study’s lead researcher said. For nearly two weeks, activists angered by a white police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager have ratcheted up their protests when confronted by heavily armed police forces. “Everything starts to turn bad when you see a police officer come out of an SUV and he’s carrying an AR-15,” said Nick Adams, a sociologist and fellow at UC Berkeley’sInstitute for Data Science who leads the Deciding Force Project. “It just upsets the crowd.”
Thousands marched in Staten Island On August 23rd. They were protesting police brutality and abuse. They were demanding justice for the victims of that abuse. Eric Garner was placed in an illegal choke hold by a NYPD office several weeks ago. His crime? Selling illegal cigarettes. Despite his protestations and his repeated plea of “I can’t breathe,” despite the fact that he was already subdued, despite the fact that he was surround by cops, the officer continued to choke Mr. Garner. The result? Eric Garner died on the sidewalk, a victim, like so many others, of out-of-control police brutality. These police crimes are then followed by a disturbing lack of transparency and a failure of the justice system to indict, try and convict. Victims are invariably people of color. The time has come for civilian control of the police forces and an end to the militarization of police departments around the country.