Kali Akuno and Arlene Eissen, of the US Human Rights Network, provided a set of concrete demands flowing out of the Trayvon Martin case addressing the seamless garment of vigilante murder, police malpractice and the prison state:
Currently, there is no national database that documents the killings of Black people by police, security guards and self-appointed peacekeepers. To understand the magnitude of the epidemic, we demand it be documented. To ensure that we hold the government accountable to this mandate, we call on all the organizations defending the human dignity and rights of Black people to collaborate on producing an independent database of these summary executions.
We must demand that the priorities of Homeland Security be shifted. As a recent Salon.com article noted, “So much money has gone into armoring and arming local law-enforcement since 9/11 that the federal government could have rebuilt post-Katrina New Orleans five times over and had enough money left in the kitty to provide job training and housing for every one of the record 41,000-plus homeless people in New York City. It could have added in the growing population of 15,000 homeless in Philadelphia, my hometown, and still have had money to spare. Add disintegrating Detroit, Newark, and Camden to the list. Throw in some crumbling bridges and roads, too.”(March 5, 2012) The military industrial complex is no longer a sector of the state—it has become the state—a police state. We must use whatever political rights we have left to demand that the tremendous resources used to fortify this militarized stated be used for human development, such as education, health care, and the development of sustainable energy and technology, not hunt and kill people.
At the same time, Homeland Security grants to police departments should be conditional on institutional overhaul that deprograms racist policies, rules of engagement, training and rewards.
a. Recruitment, training of new recruits and on-going retraining must identify racist assumptions and uproot them. The concept of “suspicious behavior” must be deconstructed under the leadership of community representatives.
b. When a cop has killed or wounded an unarmed “suspect” or used excessive force to subdue a “suspect”, that cops should be suspended without pay until the investigation is complete. If the cop is not cleared, he should be fired. (A number of killer cops are repeat offenders)
c. Cultural and institutional support that allows police departments to lie, cover-up, spin, justify and remain unaccountable for killing Black people must be identified. All actions must be video recorded and made public.
d. Community representatives responsible to community forum should be consulted on all these changes and approve them before implementation. Representatives of families whose loved ones have been killed should participate in these community bodies.
e. Money from one homeland security tank could more than fund high quality training for the entire police force for decades.
Redirect Homeland Security Funds to establish and institutionalize local community mental health programs. Jails and prisons are flooded with people who need support for emotional problems. Treatment, not punishment is needed. And there also should be community support for families—especially those with children who have emotional problems. A tragic number of children get killed by police when desperate parents call for help. This must end. Also, police must be trained, retrained and retrained on how to deal with people exhibiting erratic behavior. The policy of tasing for compliance must be ended.
Overhaul policies that encourage and justify harassment, assault and murder by non-trained, non-accountable citizens, such as “stand your ground”. Eg. Security guards, self-appointed neighborhood watch coordinator and a man defending his “castle” were responsible for at least four murders in the last three months.
Eliminate all the policies and procedures on all levels of government and in all state agencies that sanction the racial profiling of Black and other discriminated and targeted groups.
Stop the War on Drugs and end the mass incarceration of Black people. Reform all of the drug enforcement, quality of life, and mandatory minimum sentencing laws that have resulted in the gross over incarceration of Black people and the largest penal system in the world.
Challenge the cultural and legal climate that demonizes Black people and encourages racist attacks by security guards and vigilantes by instituting a massive public education campaign that addresses the historic legacy of white supremacy and institutional racism and educates the public about their fundamental human rights.
Finally, the Obama administration must create and institute a “National Plan of Action for Racial Justice”1 to fulfill the governments obligations under the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)2 by creating a permanent Inter-Agency Working Group to implement all of the aforementioned demands to protect Black and other historically oppressed groups from racial discrimination, targeted violence, and summary executions. For more information on CERD visit http://www.ushrnetwork.org/content/campaignproject/elimination-all-forms-racial-discrimination-icerd.
To The Brown Family,
I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t. What I can do for you is what has been done for me: pray for you then share my continuing journey as you begin yours.
I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence.
Further complicating the pain and loss in this tragedy is the fact that the killer of your son is alive, known, and currently free. In fact, he is on paid administrative leave.
My advice is to surround yourselves with proven and trusted support. Through it all, I never let go of my faith, my family, or my friends. Long after the overwhelming media attention is gone, you will need those three entities to find your ‘new normal.’ Honor your son and his life, not the circumstances of his alleged transgressions. I have always said that Trayvon was not perfect. But no one will ever convince me that my son deserved to be stalked and murdered. No one can convince you that Michael deserved to be executed.
But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain. The galvanizations of our communities must be continued beyond the tragedies. While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light. I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…
With Heartfelt Support,
Sybrina D. Fulton
Excerpts taken from Time Magazine August 18, 2014 Digital Edition
Currently, there is no national database that documents and reports on the killings of people by police, sheriffs, deputies, and other state agents. A centralized national database that would provide empirically acquired information to the public to support the efforts of community based organizations, legislators, other policy makers and individuals who strive to reduce the abuse of state authority is essential to understanding the magnitude of this issue.
Due to what seems to be an increase of police use of deadly force against unarmed people, we created a petition on the White House petition site asking the legislators to set aside funds sufficient to collect data and report on all unarmed civilian fatal encounters with police officers, sheriffs, and other deputies for all state,county, and municipal authorities.
We are asking all who support this idea to go to that site and sign the petition. Click here, e White House petition to add your name to the list of supporters. If we are able to gather 100,000 signatures, an action will be taken.
But in the meantime, we have set up our own database.
|id||First Name||Last Name||Date of Incident||City and State||Agency||Link to Story||whole_name|
|5||Aaron||Campbell||01/29/2010||Portland, OR||Portland PD||http://www.theroot.com/photos/2013/06/unarmed_black_men_shot_by_police_20_sad_stories.html||Aaron Campbell , campbell aaron|
|3||Eric||Garner||08/10/2014||Staten Island, Ny||NYPD||http://www.laprogressive.com/michael-brown-shooting/||eric garner, garner eric|
|4||Aiyana||Jones||04/05/2011||Detroit, MI||Detroit PD||http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Aiyana_Jones||Aiyana Jones , Jones Aiyana|
|6||Alonzo||Ashley||07/18/2011||Denver, CO||Denver PD||http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/coroner-death-of-man-at-zoo-was-homicide||Alonzo Ashley , Ashley Alonzo|
|7||Amadou||Diallo||02/04/1999||Bronx, NY||NYPD||http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadou_Diallo||Amadou Diallo , Diallo Amadou|
|8||Anton||Barrett||05/28/2012||Vallejo, CA||Vallejo PD||http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Fatal-shooting-by-Vallejo-police-is-2nd-in-3-days-3590418.php||Anton Barrett , Barrett Anton|
|9||Danroy||Henry||10/17/2010||Thornwood, NY||Pleasantville PD||http://www.cbsnews.com/news/danroy-henry-update-family-of-student-killed-by-cop-say-1st-official-account-of-shooting-was-purposely-misleading/||Danroy Henry , Henry Danroy|
|10||Deandre||Brunston||08/24/2003||Los Angeles, CA||LACSD||http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deandre_Brunston||Deandre Brunston , Brunston Deandre|
|11||Jonny||Gammage||10/12/1995||Pittsburgh, PA||Pittsburgh PD||http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonny_Gammage||Jonny Gammage , Gammage Jonny|
|12||Kelly||Thomas||07/05/2011||Fullerton, CA||Fullerton PD||http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_Thomas_(beating_victim)||Kelly Thomas , Thomas Kelly|
Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford and John Crawford III all died after confrontations with police, and their deaths are still shrouded in mystery, even as the black community reels from the losses.
You should recognize these names. They all belong to unarmed black men who were killed by law enforcement since July 2014 for seemingly inexplicable reasons: allegedly selling loose cigarettes, allegedly holding a toy gun in the toy section of Wal-Mart, allegedly running away after a scuffle with the cops, and allegedly complying with police and lying down on the street.
All of these cases are in varying stages of investigation. Here’s a roundup of what you need to know about each one:
Family says: Ford’s family claims that when he was shot Aug. 11 in South Los Angeles, he was obeying Los Angeles Police Department officers and lying on the ground. The 25-year-old, who was mentally disabled, was stopped by police for what was described as “investigative” reasons. A cousin, who did not want to be identified, said that the unarmed young man was laid out before he was shot in the back three times. Ford was rushed to the hospital, where he had to undergo surgery, but he did not make it. Tritobia Ford, who was identified as the young man’s mother, said that the police would not tell her where her son was hospitalized.
Officers say: During the “investigative stop,” there was allegedly a “struggle” that caused shots to be fired, according to an LAPD news release. The officers involved did not require medical attention, although they did reportedly have minor scrapes. The department also said that it was unaware of any information being withheld from the family.
Any charges? So far no charges have been filed in this particular case, but the officer responsible, who has yet to be identified, has been put on paid administrative leave as the incident is investigated. According to reports, LAPD police Chief Charlie Beck, the Office of the Inspector General and the Board of Police Commissioners are expected to review the case.
Community reaction: Twitter has taken the lead on this case, as usual, with the hashtag #EzellFord. News of Ford’s death is still spreading online and in real life as the nation reels from the loss of Ferguson, Mo.’s “gentle giant,” Michael Brown. According to reports, a rally for Ford is being planned for Sunday, Aug. 17, at LAPD headquarters.