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On Oct 22, 2013, two days after Big Man’s 47th Black Panther Party Anniversary Celebration, held in Santa Rosa, ended, a beautiful child,13-year-old Andy Lopez, was gunned down and shot to death by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus. On Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, five years later, the Board of Supervisors for the county reached a settlement with Lopez’ parents for $3 million. This settlement does not mean Erick Gelhaus is clear of any civil liability.
We are enraged and disheartened by the cowardly decision of the San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón NOT to file charges against the officers who killed Mario Woods and Luis Gongora Pat. Charges for killer cops are among the three demands we have made since our start in December 2015. This DA has never – not once, in all of his tenure, and all of the egregious cases during his watch – filed any charges against officers who kill. Spread the word: Protest and press conference Tuesday, May 29, 12 noon, at 850 Bryant.
This Sunday, April 15, will mark one year since David Josiah Lawson, who was a sophomore at Humboldt State University (HSU), died after suffering multiple stab wounds at an off-campus party. Currently, no one is in custody for his death. Shelley Mack is an attorney in Arcata and is currently working with Kyndra Miller, a lawyer based in San Francisco, to assist Ms. Lawson with litigation. On April 13, Mack delivered a notice of claim to the City of Arcata in Lawson’s death.
Just after 10 a.m. EDT on Feb. 1, a group of inmates took four staff hostage as they seized control of Building C at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, with 120 prisoners inside. By the end of the 18-hour standoff, Sgt. Steven Floyd Sr. was dead. Republican Rep. Steve Smyk, who had planned to support a bill to reinstate capital punishment, says he thinks the uprising has given some state lawmakers who initially opposed the death penalty a new outlook.
As police murders accumulate, and police chiefs get fired and replaced because they cannot stop it – as in Oakland and San Francisco – the notion that this represents a political crisis becomes a truism. It is not a “crisis of policing,” which would suggest a situation beyond the capacities of the police. It is the police who have become the crisis.
Elaine Brown’s “A Taste of Power,” a memoir which chronicles her leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense when co-founder Huey P. Newton is imprisoned, still resonates with me. The idea that a Black woman is nominated to the leadership position of the most powerful civic organization in the country at that time is still remarkable and speaks to what Kathleen Cleaver calls revolutionary imagination.
The people of San Francisco are outraged by the ongoing misconduct and mismanagement of the San Francisco Police Department by Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr. His history of breaking the laws he is sworn to uphold, along with his consistent refusal to discipline officers for their brutality and crimes against residents, has created a crisis in the city. We will accept no more. It is time for Suhr to go.
As I write these words with tears in my eyes, my chest is so heavy and it aches like I’m living those days again. I relive the nightmare every day of being told my boys were shot. I live this every day. A mother should never have to hear those words or, even worse, be told that their child has died. My heart goes out to the families that have lost a loved one to this madness. I want justice for my sons Bryson and André.
Friday night, March 11, prisoners took over Holman Prison in Alabama. A fight between inmates escalated to include guards and even the warden. Staff fled, and the prisoners took over, lighting guard towers on fire and barricading the doors. Prisoners say the officer had used excessive force to break up a minor fight. “He went in swinging his stick and throwing inmates around. People get tired of seeing their fellow convicts get treated that way (and) are getting more and more aggravated every day when their rights are being taken away, even the rights we’re supposed to have as human beings.” A rally at Holman is set for Saturday, March 19, 9-11 a.m.
In an effort to improve transparency, accountability and trust between law enforcement and the public, Sen. Mark Leno has introduced SB 1286, a bill allowing greater public access to peace officer records related to serious uses of force and sustained charges of misconduct. “California is behind the times when it comes to providing transparency in law enforcement records,” said Sen. Leno, D-San Francisco.
San Francisco is touted by conservative detractors and liberal boosters alike as the nation’s most progressive city. This is still true in many ways, even amidst towering symbols of gentrification. But, in particular, when it comes to holding police accountable for use of excessive force against communities of color, the City by the Bay is no different from the New Yorks, Chicagos, Baltimores or Fergusons of this country, where cops literally get away with murder. Think this is an exaggeration? Read on.
Once a killer cop, always a killer cop! Black San Francisco is demanding that Mayor Ed Lee face the music and fire Chief Greg Suhr, as well as the five officers involved in the execution of Mario Woods, a young man with special needs who was gunned down by five gang members of the SFPD. Records reveal that many of the officers involved had used deadly force on unarmed individuals in the past.
NBA player Thabo Sefolosha had his leg broken by the New York Police Department, an undisputed fact that is still stunning to contemplate. This week, Thabo has been in criminal court as prosecutors attempt to imprison him for the crime of “resisting arrest.” In actuality, he is being prosecuted for not going away quietly: choosing instead to fight back. His testimony, and the testimony of witnesses, could mean that they will not get away with it.
The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines the word “hostility” as 1) a hostile state, condition or attitude; enmity; antagonism; unfriendliness; 2) a hostile act; 3) Opposition or resistance to an idea, plan project, etc.; 4) acts of warfare; 5) war. So our initial question to the people is: “What does hostility mean to you?”
On Tuesday, July 14, one day after commuting the sentences of 46 people currently serving sentences for nonviolent drug offenses in federal prisons, President Obama addressed the NAACP National Convention in Philadelphia. In his address, the president declared that our criminal justice system is “built on the legacy of slavery, segregation and other structural inequalities that [have] compounded over generations.” Our current system, the president said, is “not an accident.”
On Tuesday, June 6, 2006, around 8 p.m., an SFPD officer fatally shot Brother Asa as he crouched in an attic’s two-and-a-half-foot crawl space, hiding because he’d recently spent a short time in jail and was afraid of going back. According to press reports, officers were responding to a neighbor’s complaint of possible trespassers, yet Asa and his friend were there with the tenants’ permission.
Yesterday I wrote about the ACLU’s efforts to ensure that the U.S. government is properly engaged at a U.N. meeting in Buenos Aires on uniform rules for the treatment of prisoners. Now that the meeting is underway, it appears that the U.S. delegation is playing a constructive role – but we’ve still got work to do.
A horrific shooting on Nov. 29 resulted in the death of two unarmed African Americans, Malissa Williams, 30, and Timothy Russell, 43. This may be the worst example of excessive use of deadly force in the history of the United States. The fact that 12 of the 13 Cleveland police officers were white and the victims were Black in a city which has an almost 70 percent minority population is a crisis. We all know that 12 Black police officers would never have fired 137 shots at Black or white citizens.
Calipatria State Prison Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) E. Duarte is currently under investigation by the United States District Court due to a complaint of excessive force on an inmate and complaints of falsifying legal documentation and planting evidence on inmates.
As the police continue to shoot unarmed and mentally disabled people, including a man in a wheelchair, the community is speaking out against these incidents of excessive force. On Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 17, about 150 San Franciscans and Bay Area activists expressed their outrage with a march and rally in San Francisco.
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