Thursday, November 26, 2015

4 People Arrested for Shooting Black Lives Matter Protesters

The New York Times reports that:
MINNEAPOLIS — The police on Wednesday released the names of four men arrested in connection with a shooting during a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police station that injured five protesters.

The shooting erupted on Monday, during the ninth day of protests demanding action against two white Minneapolis police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, an unarmed black man, on Nov. 15. None of the wounded protesters had life-threatening injuries, the authorities said.

On Wednesday, protesters paused for the first time as Mr. Clark’s funeral was held, and hundreds gathered to commemorate him at Shiloh Temple International Ministries, calling for a day of peace.

The authorities identified the suspects in the shooting as Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 23; Nathan Gustavsson, 21; Daniel Macey, 26; and Joseph Backman, 27. All are white and were arrested in the Minneapolis area. The police also detained a 32-year-old Hispanic man, but he was released after questioning.

The four men are being held at the Hennepin County jail and have yet to be charged.

According to Sun This Week,
Scarsella was identified as one of two masked men in a You Tube video in a dome-lit vehicle who say they were driving to the protest at Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct police headquarters for a “recon” mission.

The driver identifies himself as “SaigaMarine” and Scarsella as “Black Powder Ranger,” and says they are “locked and loaded” as he displays a black pistol.
Today, eyewitness Leslie Redmond appeared on Democracy Now. On the program, she suggested that the police may have been involved in the shooting. The shooting occurred right down the street from the police precinct. According to Ms. Redmond, the protesters heard over 10 shots fired. Despite the fact that shooting occurred right down the street from the police precinct, it took the police and the ambulance an unusually long period of time to arrive at the scene. When the police finally arrived, they maced protesters and witnesses. The police allegedly did not interview the witnesses until an hour later. Ms. Redmond further stated that the police wore similar masks as the white supremacist gunmen.

Check out the video below.

In addition to investigating the killing of Jamar Clark, we must demand that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the Minneapolis Police Department's practices and possible involvement in the shooting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Justice for Laquan McDonald

The New York Times reports that:
CHICAGO — A white Chicago police officer was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday in the death of a 17-year-old black man, just hours before city officials appealed for calm as they released a chilling video of the officer shooting the teenager as he lay crumpled on the ground.

The grainy, nighttime dashboard camera video, which a judge ordered released last week, shows the young man running and then walking past officers in the middle of the street and spinning when bullets suddenly strike him down. For a moment, lying on the ground, he moves but then is still after he appears to be shot several more times. An officer kicks an object away from his body. The video shows none of the officers on the scene offering assistance to the teenager, Laquan McDonald...

On the evening of Oct. 20, 2014, police officers approached Mr. McDonald on the city’s Southwest Side, prosecutors said, after a resident reported seeing him breaking into trucks and stealing radios. Mr. McDonald, who had the folding knife in his hand, walked away as officers arrived. Someone called for a police unit with a stun gun, though it was not clear whether anyone ever appeared with one. At one point, Mr. McDonald “popped” the tire on a police car, apparently with his knife, the prosecutors said.

With more officers arriving car by car, Mr. McDonald kept walking and jogging along, not responding to orders to drop the knife, prosecutors said. Near a Burger King along a busy stretch of Pulaski Road, Officer Van Dyke’s marked Chevrolet Tahoe pulled up alongside other police vehicles, including one containing a dashboard camera. Officer Van Dyke was on the scene for fewer than 30 seconds, prosecutors said, before he began shooting his service weapon, which had a 16-round capacity.

The shooting spanned 14 or 15 seconds, and in about 13 of those seconds, prosecutors say, Mr. McDonald was lying on the ground. He was hit 16 times, including in his backside. An autopsy showed the presence of the drug PCP in his system.
This tragic story raises two important questions. Why did it take Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez a whole damn year to file charges against Officer Van Dyke? The video clearly shows that Laquan McDonald was approximately 15 feet away from the officers. He did not lunge toward, approach or threaten the officers with the knife. In fact, Laquan was attempting to walk past the officers. While Laquan was on the ground, Officer Van Dyke fired most of his shots. It does not take an entire year to figure out the obvious. Officer Van Dyke murdered Laquan.

As reported in The Times-Pacayune, when two black Marksville, Louisiana police officers, Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, and Lt. Derrick Stafford, 32, killed a six year-old white boy, Jeremy Mardis, those officers were arrested and charged with second-degree murder three days after the killing. In the Jeremy Mardis case, there was video evidence from body cameras. In Marksville, the authorities did not need a whole year to analyze the footage and interview thousands of witnesses. They only needed three days to reach a decision.

Yet, the Cook County State's Attorney actually expects us to actually believe that she needed an entire year to reach an obvious conclusion. There is no rational justification for Cook County's delay in filing charges against that Office Van Dyke.  Apparently, when the victim is white, justice is swift. When the victim is black, justice is frequently delayed and denied.

Second, why was Officer Van Dyke never disciplined for prior offenses?  As reported on ABC 7 News, at least 18 prior citizen complaints were filed against Officer Van Dyke. Eight of those complaints alleged excessive force and two involved use a firearm. According to the news reports, some of the complaints allege that Officer Van Dyke used racial slurs. Yet, the Police Department never disciplined Office Van Dyke. Instead, they unleashed that rabid dog on the people of Chicago.

Unfortunately, this is not a case of "one bad apple." It is about a police department that is rotten to the core. The police department failed to hold that officer responsible for his conduct. If Officer Van Dyke was properly disciplined for his prior alleged misconduct, perhaps Laquan would still be alive today. Laquan's blood is on Officer Van Dyke's hands and the Chicago Police Department's hands.

No amount of blood money paid to Laquan's family will silence the people's righteous demand for justice. We will remain vigilant.  Enough is enough. Justice for Laquan McDonald, Jamar Clark and everybody else.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The War Against Black People: White Supremacists Shoot 5 Protesters

The AP reports that:
Dozens of demonstrators huddled around bonfires Saturday evening, maintaining their presence at a Minneapolis police station where they have established an encampment following the death of a black man who was shot by police last weekend.

Minneapolis civil rights activist Mel Reeves said the primary goal of the protests is to see the officers involved in the death of Jamar Clark prosecuted based on statements of people who say they saw the shooting. He said the officers should face charges and "go through the same procedures that we do. We think they're guilty, but let the court decide."

...Protesters, led by leaders from the NAACP and Black Lives Matter, also have called for the release of surveillance footage taken at the scene of the deadly encounter early Sunday...

Authorities have said the footage — from an ambulance, mobile police camera, public housing cameras and people's cellphones — doesn't show the full incident and that releasing the recordings would also taint a review by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Mica Grimm of Black Lives Matter said she was at the meeting and told officials the protests won't end until the community says it's OK. She said she wants to ensure the "safety of this community after we leave this space."

Both officers involved in the shooting, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, have been placed on standard administrative leave. Authorities haven't said who fired the fatal shot.

Police have said the officers were responding to an assault call and found the 24-year-old Clark interfering with paramedics. Authorities say there was a struggle. The head of the Minneapolis police union has said Clark was shot after reaching for an officer's gun. Protesters have said they don't believe that version of events...

Some people say they saw him handcuffed at the time of the shooting — a claim police have disputed. McKnight, speaking for the family, said that's not something they're concerned with.

"That's not the point. The point is: He was unarmed, on the ground, now he's dead," she said.

On Monday evening, white supremacists shot of the five protesters. Salon reports that:
Five people were shot at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis late Monday night. The Associated Press spoke with Minneapolis police who confirmed the shootings. Police spokesman John Elder told AP all five have injuries that are not life-threatening.

The local newspaper The Star Tribune reported that the five people shot were protesters. Black Lives Matter media contact Miski Noor told The Star Tribune “a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.” When the activists tried to get the white supremacists to leave, Noor said the racists “opened fire on about six protesters.” Five were allegedly hit.
According to the New York Times,
Mica Grimm, an organizer with Black Lives Matter who said she arrived on the scene soon after the shooting, said two people were shot in the leg, another in the arm and a fourth in the stomach. None suffered life-threatening injuries.
Days before the shooting, white supremacists got on video and threatened the protesters.

The killing of Jamar Clark and the shooting of Black Lives Matter protesters are reminders that we are at war. That war began when we were brought us to this country in chains. Even with a black President in the White House, that relentless and ruthless war against black people continues today.

Sadly, we face a more imminent threat than foreign terrorists wearing black fatigues and ski masks. We face domestic terrorists wearing blue uniforms and shiny badges. Too often, instead of protecting and serving the black community, the police harass and brutalize the black community with impunity. Every other day, there is a new black person killed by the police. Every other day, there is a new hashtag on Twitter for another fallen black man, woman or child killed by the police. Today, the victim is Jamar Clark. Tomorrow, it will be someone else.

Not only do we face a threat from the police, we face an imminent threat from the rising white supremacist movement in this country. They are a greater threat to us than extremist Muslim terrorist groups. Monday night's shooting poignantly illustrates the very real danger that white supremacists continue to pose. Other recent examples include the Charleston massacre, the recent Virginia race war plot and racist threats against black students around the country.

How many more warning signs do we need before we finally wake up? We have a moral and legal right to defend ourselves. It is time for us to exercise that right. Speeches, marches and vigils are good, but we need soldiers, guns and bullets. Otherwise, we will continue to be sheep preyed upon by racist wolves.