Damn Detroit police! You killed 7-year-old Aiyana Jones!
by Kimora Lee Simmons
You threw a stun grenade through the front window and lit the little girl’s blanket on fire! And then you shot off a bullet that landed in her neck! We know you were looking for the suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old but, according to the family and other witnesses, that person was in the upstairs apartment.
And while this defenseless angel was lying in her blood, taking her very last breaths, you handcuffed her father and put his face in his daughter’s last remains! First you said that the grandmother attacked the officer who pulled the trigger that pierced the neck of Aiyana, and now you have revised your story to say that the grandmother “may have simply collided” with the officer.
No matter what happened, you should never have used those tactics, because there were children in the house. And of course you knew that – since there were toys all over the front lawn! Now that a family has been shattered and a life has been lost, an entire community is left to question, “How could this happen?”
How, in this age of unfettered technology, did you get this so wrong?! It’s my sincere hope that the cameras for A&E’s “The First 48” television series that trailed you and filmed the whole incident didn’t spur your heroics! I know reality shows very well indeed. Please tell me that this wasn’t a performance for the cameras!
As the family has said, and I agree, the officer who shot Aiyana is not a “monster.” I do not believe that his actions were intentional, but the slapdash techniques with which these kinds of raids are executed concern me.
We have militarized our police force and, in doing so, created a war between those who are supposed to protect AND serve our communities with the men, women and children who live in them! We break down doors in our own neighborhoods the way we break down doors in Baghdad or Kabul. We treat our very own citizens as if they are on the other side. We have lost the connection we once had with our police force. We are afraid of them and they are afraid of us!
‘We break down doors in our own neighborhoods the way we break down doors in Baghdad or Kabul. We treat our very own citizens as if they are on the other side.’ – Kimora Lee Simmons
If we do not rethink this style of policing, Aiyana Jones will have been lost in vain! Her lesson is an echo of the horror visited upon Trevor Casey and his family – that law enforcement must be held accountable, which is why I support a federal investigation into the death of this little girl.
A 12-year-old responds to Aiyana Jones’ death
by Marypat Hector, age 12
You ask any 4- or 5-year-old what they want to be when they get older and half of them will tell you they want to be a police officer. It seems as though we are born to serve and protect. But then what happens to us to make us want to decide who we will protect and how well? It is simply disgusting to think that the men that swore an oath to serve and protect would give that up in a reckless rush to judgment, all for a TV show? A 7-year-old girl was shot, maybe even burned and killed while the police were looking for a few minutes of fame. The police simply violated the 7-year-old’s human rights.
I use to ask myself what made young boys run from the police? What made adults get afraid when a police drove up next to them? The first thing you hear is, the police are next to us or the police are behind us. But it all is starting to make sense to me now. Police are human and like most humans, they make mistakes and they take their personal views on life to work.
If you are a racist man and you have a job as a police officer, lawyer or doctor, I ask you, will you protect and serve everyone the same? The answer is no! I have studied Huey Newton for two years now and I understand better than ever why he armed the Black Panthers. Not to gun down people, but he knew our community had to protect itself. His bold and sometimes radical ideas should be looked at in times like this. A 7-year-old child will never have the chance to grow up to serve or protect our community. I don’t know what you are waiting for but the time is now.
When I heard of yet another tragedy, I wanted to take to the streets and cry out for justice. I wanted to cry out for real change. Dr. King, Malcolm X and Huey Newton are all gone. They’ve been gone for 40 years now, so stop waiting on the next Black leader to just pop up. The next Black leader should be the head of your house, the bus driver, the insurance man, the CPA or whoever. Our next great leader is not one, but a nation of people that realizes the importance of life and knows how to protect and nourishes it.
What will we do for this family? What will we do for this child’s mother, father and grandparents? I hope to turn on the TV and hear about the public outcry. I want to hear what the consequences for these actions will be. No one is above the law. They are just there to enforce it. And when they can’t, we as a community will demand for every irresponsible police officer’s job and not just him being suspended but charged.
‘No one is above the law. [Police] are just there to enforce it. And when they can’t, we as a community will demand for every irresponsible police officer’s job and not just him being suspended but charged.’ – Marypat Hector, age 12
This story first appeared on Global Grind.
Jobs gone, Detroiters face growing repression
by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire, Detroit
At 12:35 a.m. on May 16, more than 20 Detroit police officers staged a raid at a two-family dwelling on the east side where they said a warrant was to be served for a suspect in a recent murder case. The police threw a flash bomb through the front window of the frame house. It caused a fire in the bed where 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones was sleeping alongside her grandmother, Mertilla Jones.
Then the cops kicked in the door of the downstairs flat. A few seconds later Aiyana Jones was shot by a police officer in the neck and head. Her grandmother Mertilla Jones told Workers World she “saw the light go out in her eyes.” Young Aiyana was dead.
The next few hours were harrowing for the families living in the home. Charles Jones, Aiyana’s father, said there was no warning and that the incendiary device thrown into the home was the first sign of a police presence.
Jones said later that sections of the couch where Mertilla and Aiyana Jones were sleeping were “cut up and taken to the police station as evidence.” For more than three hours the police ransacked the house and held several of its residents in detention outside the home.
Charles Jones said that he was held face down for hours by the police. Aiyana’s aunt, Lakrystal Sanders, recalled how she was kept outside in the cold with no shoes for two hours by the police. “Why didn’t the police come when it was daylight? Why did they come at night?” she asked.
Sanders also noted that “there was an unmarked vehicle parked in front of the house” for hours the day before the actual raid. She stated the police told her they were looking for her fiancé as a suspect in the killing of a 17-year-old.
“They never knocked and I was coming to open the door when I heard an explosion and the police kicked in the door,” Sanders said.
Mertilla Jones was taken into police custody for several hours after the raid and then released without being charged. Corporate-owned media reported that she was being held because the grandmother had purportedly reached for the officer’s gun, prompting the shooting. Jones denies these allegations.
“I never did anything. They are lying. They killed my grandbaby,” Jones said. “I laid down and put the blanket over Aiyana and the window exploded.”
The raid was filmed by the “The First 48” television show for an episode airing at a later date. In light of the killing of Aiyana, the videotape could prove to be quite revealing in reconstructing the events of the early morning police action.
Repression escalates in city
In response to the killing of Aiyana Jones, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality dedicated its entire radio program on May 16 to exposing the incident. “Fighting for Justice” airs every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. on AM station 1310 WDTW. The DCAPB organized a press conference and candlelight vigil for later that day outside the Jones’ home.
The week prior to the Jones killing, five Detroit police officers were shot, one fatally, inside a vacant home on the east side. A 25-year-old African-American suspect was wounded at the scene and taken into custody.
Ron Scott, spokesperson for DCAPB and co-host of “Fighting for Justice,” told the media after these shootings that the incident was a reflection of the increasing tension between the Detroit police and people in the city. Police Chief Warren Evans, in response to a question during a press conference on the shooting of the officers, said Scott’s remarks were “insensitive and ignorant.”
There was a flood of attacks from the police against Scott and the DCAPB in the corporate-owned media. Scott contends that his words were taken out of context and refused to issue the apology demanded by law enforcement and the media.
On a local Fox 2 news program called “Let It Rip,” Scott debated the police chief and three other media and legal pundits for the network. The program was widely viewed and the station was inundated with calls asking for the segment to be re-aired. The program was put up in full on the station’s website a few days later.
Other crises face Detroiters
Detroit’s state-appointed emergency financial manager Robert Bobb has not resolved the budget deficit of the public school system. Since Bobb’s appointment in 2009, the Detroit public school system has sunk another $100 million into debt.
A court challenge on behalf of the elected school board, parents, teachers and community organizations won a preliminary injunction in Wayne County Circuit Court against the closing of 45 schools in the district. It also halted numerous policies proposed by Bobb that would further privatize the system and weaken local control.
But this injunction was overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals. It ruled within several hours after the hearing that the Detroit Board of Education did not show that any irreparable harm would be done if Bobb implemented the plans for school closings and downsizing. The appeal to overturn the injunction was litigated by Republican Attorney General Mike Cox, who argued on behalf of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Granholm had appointed Bobb to gut Detroit’s public schools.
The political significance of this episode in the struggle over the future of public education in Detroit is that both the Democratic and Republican parties held identical positions, siding with state and private interests over the right of the people in a majority African-American city to run their school system.
Private groups such as the Skillman Foundation are playing significant roles in drafting and promoting corporate-oriented plans to remold and liquidate public education in favor of charter schools for profit.
In another issue related to law enforcement, the U.S. Justice Department has not responded to demands by the Muslim community and its supporters for an investigation into the assassination of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was shot 20 times by FBI agents on Oct. 28. Abdullah and several followers and family members had been lured to a warehouse in neighboring Dearborn under the guise of unloading merchandise from a truck.
On May 15, a group of inter-faith religious leaders announced they were sending a letter to President Barack Obama demanding he direct Attorney General Eric Holder to address the concerns of the Muslim community and others regarding the imam’s unprovoked killing and the subsequent prosecution of a number of his family members and followers.
On May 17 Holder spoke at Wayne State University Law School. Members of the DCAPB and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice held a demonstration there demanding an end to police terror against the people of Detroit.
The protest drew attention to the killing of Aiyana Jones and also raised other issues concerning the lack of implementation of two federal consent decrees regarding use of lethal force and detention facilities within the Detroit Police Department. Detroit cops have been under a federally appointed monitor for nearly seven years, after a three-year investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. However, police brutality and misconduct continue.
Plans are underway to do further outreach in the community where Aiyana Jones was killed. Brenda Cowans, who lives in the neighborhood where the police raid took place, attended the demonstration outside the WSU Law School and welcomed interest by MECAWI to work with the community to combat police brutality in the area.
“We must speak out and fight injustice because otherwise we will be misused by the system,” said Cowans.
© 2010 Workers World. This story was originally published May 19, 2010, by Workers World, 55 W. 17th St., New York NY 10011, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.workers.org, at http://www.workers.org/2010/us/detroit_0527/.