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On May 23, Cuyahoga County Judge John P. O’Donnell found Officer Michael Brelo not guilty of felony involuntary manslaughter in the killing deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell. Williams and Russell were killed in November 2012 after Cleveland police officers unleashed 137 gunshots into the couple’s car following a police pursuit. The family of Timothy Ray Russell released the following statement in response.
Why should we care what happened on May 13th, 1985? Because what happened then is a harbinger of what’s happening now – all across America. I don’t mean bombing people – not yet, that is. I mean the visceral hatred and violent contempt once held for MOVE is now visited upon average people – not just radicals and revolutionaries, like MOVE. A free screening of “Let the Fire Burn,” the documentary on the police bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia, takes place on the 30th anniversary of the bombing, Wednesday, May 13, 7-10 p.m., at Omni Oakland Commons.
It’s now a century after the founding of Mother’s Day, and our sons are still being taken from us. Society has not disarmed, but instead has militarized to the teeth. Mothers’ sons everywhere are still killing and being killed. Police militarization has ripped apart the fabric of our communities. Armed with military-grade vehicles and weapons, warrior cops cultivate an atmosphere of tension and fear, exacerbating conflicts instead of resolving them. We all know we’re going to die one day, but it certainly shouldn’t be at the hands of a public servant who’s supposed to serve and protect us. Mothers are powerful; if we come together, we can be unstoppable.
The message for the protectors of the white corporate and financial elite is that it does not matter if you execute a kid in cold blood in front of a dozen witnesses or you are caught on video murdering Eric Garner or 12 year-old Tamir Rice; you don’t have to fear prosecution from the state. It is now open season when it comes to policing and controlling the dangerous class of poor and working class Black people.
Keith Cook delivered this speech on Dec. 5 at “Cops vs. Free Speech,” a public forum organized by the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia: Thank you for inviting me again to be a part of this essential, timely discussion that we should be having across our nation. Free speech – for most of us who are activists, what does the Fraternal Order of Police, commonly known as the FOP, have to do with it?
Rebellion is a fire that spreads quickly, can’t be controlled and illuminates paths mired in darkness. As children we are taught not to play with fire. Fire is dangerous. It will burn you. While the obvious consequences of being burned will not be questioned here, the recent burning of a few buildings in Mexico and the U.S. have been central in exposing the inherent violence and contradictions of the state and capitalism.
Over the last month, we have seen a veritable “Sports World Spring” as athletes have spoken out on politics in a manner unseen since the 1960s. They have been inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations directed against the killing of unarmed Black men and women by police as well as the inability of the criminal justice system to deliver justice. Now, in the wake of the horrific killing of two NYPD detectives, everything has changed.
The marches in the streets are not done. The die-ins disrupting traffic are not done. Any kind of closure for the families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley and so many others is far from done. Athletic protest actions have the effect of amplifying the impact of a new struggle for human dignity in the face of racism. It has found expression in all 50 states and in solidarity actions in cities around the world, all with the message that Black lives matter.
This week tens of thousands of people in the United States flooded the streets to demand racial justice. It is one of many issues that have been building for years, reaching the tipping point and seeming to explode in a national awakening. We also saw that in the last two weeks with national protests for living wages. Four years ago we listed 15 crisis issues that the country needed to face; poverty wages and the injustice in criminal enforcement, including racially abusive police practices, were two of them.
Wait. Patience. Stay Calm. We’ve been waiting for dozens, hundreds, thousands of indictments and convictions. Every death hurts. Every exonerated cop, security guard or vigilante enrages. The grand jury’s decision doesn’t surprise most Black people because we are not waiting for an indictment. We are waiting for justice – or more precisely, struggling for justice. The young people of Ferguson continue to struggle with ferocity.
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