Wednesday, June 19, 2019



Three incidents of police brutality spark outrage across US

Three incidents of police brutality in the United States over the past month have sparked public outrage. Each incident exposes the systematic brutality that workers in all areas of the US suffer at the hands of police on a daily basis.
Corona, California
On Friday, an off-duty LAPD cop shot and killed an unarmed young man and wounded his two parents, Russell and Paola French, who were also unarmed, inside of a Costco Wholesale store in Corona, California. His parents were taken to hospitals in critical condition.
Kenneth French, 32, was nonverbal and was living with an intellectual disability at the time of his death. He had the mental abilities of a teenager, according to family members, and lived with his parents. French appeared to be well-liked according to his Facebook profile and was studying accounting at a nearby university.
The exact details surrounding the shooting of French and his parents remain unclear. Costco has security cameras throughout its massive retail stores, yet no video footage or witness reports of the shooting from inside the store have been released. The name of the police officer who shot French and his family has not been released as of this writing.
The officer alleges that French attacked him while he was holding his child and getting free samples at the store. The officer’s attorney told the press that he was knocked unconscious and woke up “fighting for his life.”
The public is right to be skeptical of such a defense. In the US, police fatally shoot roughly 1,000 people each year who pose little threat to the cops who murder them. French’s cousin, Rick Shureih, disputes the claims by the police department that the off-duty cop’s life was in danger.
“It could have been that he bumped into somebody but couldn’t communicate the fact that he was sorry,” he told the Washington Post. Shureih described his cousin as a “gentle giant” who would never intentionally hurt anybody, and his aunt and uncle as “the sweetest people in the world.” He has called for witnesses to be allowed to tell their account of events and for footage of Coscto security cameras that recorded the incident to be released. Other family members have also called for the officer who shot the French family to be arrested.
Dale K. Galipo, attorney for the French family, said in a statement to the press that the shooting was “excessive and completely unjustified because Mr. French was unarmed and posed no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone ... There seems to be unequal treatment of police officers compared to other citizens when deadly force is used, causing death or serious bodily injury, which is a great concern to many members of the community.”
Phoenix, Arizona
On Saturday, disturbing video footage was released of the violent May 29 harassment and arrest of a young African-American family by Phoenix, Arizona police officers.
Police confronted 22-year-old Dravon Ames, his pregnant fiancée Iesha Harper, and their two children, aged one and four years old, in the parking lot of the family babysitter’s apartment complex. Multiple police officers in cars accosted the family after allegedly receiving a call from a Family Dollar store employee who reported the theft of a toy doll by the four-year-old.
Still image of viral video depicting police attempting to take Iesha Harper's child and arresting her on May 29.
In a scene shockingly similar to stories of the war crimes committed by the US Armed Forces against civilians in the Middle East, Officer Christopher Meyer pulled Ames from the car. Meyer then proceeded to hurl obscenities at Ames in front of the crying children and ordered him to put his hands up. After Ames shouted “My hands are up” to show that he was complying, Meyer threatened to shoot him and pushed him against the side of an armored police vehicle, where he handcuffed him. The officer kicked Ames in his leg so hard that he fell to the ground.
Meyer then terrorized Harper and the children as they looked on, shouting “I’ll shoot you in front of your f---ing kids” and ordered her to drop her child on the hot pavement. The video shows Harper pleading with police not to harm her because she is pregnant and is seen trying to protect her one-year-old child as the officer attempts to rip her from her arms. A witness came down and took the children from Harper’s arms before police dragged her into a car.
Bystanders recorded the videos that were released. Although Phoenix police are required to wear body cameras, none were turned on throughout the entire incident. The police have since reported that no one in the family was armed. The family is suing the Phoenix Police Department for $10 million.
Phoenix Democratic Mayor Kate Gallego issued a perfunctory statement via Twitter on Saturday: “There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable ... seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.”
The Phoenix Police Department claims that it was not aware of the footage until Tuesday, and Police Chief Jeri Williams announced on Friday that she would begin an investigation. The officers who committed the assault on the family have been assigned to desk duty, the typical slap-on-the-wrist given to police officers accused of brutality.
Ames told reporters in a press conference that he does not believe that the public apologies made by the Police Department and the mayor are sincere, noting that they were “hollow.”
South Bend, Indiana
On Sunday, a South Bend police officer, Sergeant Ryan O’Neill, shot and killed 53-year-old husband and father of five Eric Jack Logan in the Central High School Apartments parking lot. Police claim that they were responding to a call about a person breaking into vehicles when they confronted and shot a man partially inside of a car, later identified as Logan. The police claimed that Logan waved a knife at them, which Logan’s family members dispute, saying that he never carried knives or guns with him.
Shafonia Logan expressed outrage at the killing of her husband at the hands of the South Bend police. “I don’t know what happened or what they say, with breaking into a car. Was that justified for you to shoot and kill him about breaking into a car?” Residents of South Bend were also angered to learn that O’Neill neither had his police body camera nor his headlights on when he shot Logan.
The shooting prompted South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to cancel campaign events in New York and fly back to South Bend for damage control, and to save whatever face he could for the Democratic Party, which has funneled military grade equipment to the police and expanded police departments across the US in order to better oppress the working class.
South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski feigned disgust at the events when he met privately with Buttigieg and Logan’s family on Sunday. Sergeant O’Neill, the officer accused of killing Logan, has been placed on administrative leave.
The three assaults have seen an outpouring of public support for the victims, and at the same time, outrage at the injustice of the policy brutality that has become part of daily life for workers and youth in the US.
On Kenneth French’s Facebook profile, supporters wrote:
“We don’t even know what happened yet. For all we know that cop was at fault, or shot someone over a fight. Which in that case, would be wrong as well. He also shot the guys elderly mother and father. All were unarmed. Seems excessive to me no matter what the facts are seeing as how they were all unarmed. I hope the truth comes out and the cop goes to jail.”
“I smell foul play here and the officer should be held accountable to set an example that being a police officer does not make you above the law. Think about it, I hope the DA adds more charges too.”
One video recording of the assault of Ames, Harper and their children in Phoenix has over 201,000 views and 2,900 retweets on Twitter as of this writing, and thousands more on other social media platforms. Virtually all comments centered around the injustice of the brutality against a defenseless family, including children, and the lack of faith in the US criminal justice system to find the officers guilty of the crimes they committed.
Each reaction by elected officials and police departments to these cases serves the same purpose: to suppress or redirect mass anger at the increasingly common and violent police killings and assaults.
The police function as the armed guards of the capitalist state. Democrats and Republicans alike are arming the police with military weapons left over from imperialist wars abroad and military training in order to prepare to violently suppress the working class at home. More than ever, the ruling capitalist class and its political servants fear the mass struggles of workers against the capitalist system, which are bound to grow as wages and jobs are cut and the cost of basic necessities like housing and healthcare become more and more out of reach for working class families.
Workers who are angered at the rise of police brutality in the US and wish to fight back will find no way forward through the bankrupt calls for “police reform” by the Democratic Party and those groups that operate in its orbit such as Black Lives Matter, the Democratic Socialists of America and others who ignore the class issues involved in police violence and attempt to paint police killings as a purely racial issue.
Workers who want to fight back against police violence will only be able to do so under a genuine socialist program, by connecting the struggle against police violence to the struggles against war, for good jobs with benefits and high wages, the right to public education and a safe workplace. They must break from the capitalist political parties to link up internationally with teachers, healthcare workers, industrial workers and logistics workers worldwide who are fighting for these same basic rights, under a program aimed at placing the means of production into the hands of the working class, and overthrow the capitalist system of exploitation which necessitates the use of police violence to guard the wealth and privileges of the few.

According to, at least 808 people have been killed by police so far this year, outpacing last year’s deaths by 20 victims.... and they ALL GET AWAY WITH IT!

"Police in the United States are trained to see the working class and poor as a hostile
enemy. Anything less than complete submissiveness is grounds for officers to unleash
deadly force on their victims. In some instances, even the most casual encounters with
police have proven to be deadly."

"In the overwhelming majority of police killings, of which there are more than one thousand every year, no officer is ever charged. In the few cases where charges are brought, most are found not guilty. The Supreme Court has made it nearly impossible to convict a police officer for murder stating that an officer is permitted to use deadly force as long as he or she believes that either they or others are in danger."




A somewhat desperate suggestion to fix corruption in our law enforcement agencies


No matter the outcome of the investigations authorized by the new attorney general, William Barr, and the supposedly ongoing investigation by the DOJ inspector general, the basic facts cannot be denied.  Law enforcement at the highest levels in this country has proven to be corrupt.  The faith that the American people once placed in the federal justice system has been lost and may never be regained.  The consequence of this universal distrust is permanent damage to the underlying belief and faith in the entire system and our country. 
The Department of Justice, the FBI, the CIA, and other domestic intelligence agencies have once again been shown as political weapons to be used against political enemies.  This is not new.  J. Edgar Hoover used the FBI as his personal investigative tool to keep various members of Congress in check and prosecute various enemies of his and the presidents he served during his reign of terror.  Robert (Bobby) Kennedy was John F. Kennedy (the president)'s brother.  Could there have been any undue family influence on how Robert Kennedy carried out his duties?  Strangely, no one at the time in the press seemed to have had a problem with this relationship.  The attorney general and the DOJ are primarily political tools of the president, who appoints the attorney general.  Why would the president appoint an enemy?  But suddenly this has become page one since it involves Trump and his appointees.
Congressional oversight of the activities of the DOJ and its subsidiaries is 100% political.  Facts, truth, and the law have nothing to do with how members of Congress, especially Democrats, carry out their supposed "oversight" functions.  The uproar regarding the Mueller investigation would never have occurred if Hilary Clinton had been elected president.  No investigation of anything would have been initiated.  The attorney general would have been a friend and supporter of Clinton, just as Holder and Lynch were friends and supporters of Obama.  Why is Trump different?  Because the    Democrats hate him for "stealing" their rightful power and control.
True oversight of the Department of Justice can be accomplished only by a separate and distinct investigative unit not under the direct political control of the Congress.
Much of the Judicial Branch of the government is highly politicized.  One need only look at the Ninth Circuit in California or the naked overreach of district judges issuing rulings against this president that have national implications and effect. 
Given the political history of the judicial system, I still suggest that the oversight function of the DOJ and its subsidiaries be vested in the Supreme Court as the least of all evils.  I recognize the dangers inherent in giving nine unelected judges such power.  But history has shown that the present procedures are seriously flawed.  Trusting elected political animals, whose existence depends on the whims of the mobs to which they cater, to behave in a rational, logical, and lawful manner is like asking elephants to walk a tightrope.
A separate Supreme Court–monitoring unit whose function would be akin to the existing inspector general's office of the various agencies with an independent I.G. in each organization reporting to the Court might make more sense.  Another option would be a monitoring unit funded and populated by the states.
Both of these suggestions would be akin to the Civilian Review Boards that exist in many cities to monitor the actions of local police departments.  Members of such commissions or boards could be drawn from the wide spectrum of civic-minded civilian occupations, not just judges or law enforcement people.  The tasks would be so great as to negate the possibility of volunteer members.  This would call for full-time dedicated, honest citizens.  Where are Diogenes and his lamp when so desperately needed?
Certainly, a lot of thought and honest evaluation would have to be given to the exact development, function, makeup, and legality of any such board, but I submit that something must be done to rectify the dangerous situation that now exists.  Neither Congress nor the president will ever agree to this type of monitoring, which would mean giving up some of their political grandstanding activities in front of the TV cameras.  But what is to stop the Court from instituting a parallel monitoring ability on its own?  Inadequate or no funding from Congress?  Where there is a will, there is a way.
Is this another item of change to be considered by the so-called Convention of States? 
Can any republic such as the United States continue to exist when its philosophy of equal justice for all is built on a foundation of shifting political sands?  From fixing speeding tickets to manufacturing evidence to spying on citizens, the trust the people have had in law enforcement at all levels has always been looked upon by the populace with a wink and a nod.  We cannot continue down the path to an equivalent KGB or Gestapo type of justice system.
The existence of corrupt law enforcement agencies and individuals is certainly not unique in history.  One needs only to remember the famous quote of the Roman poet Juvenal: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"  ("Who guards from the guards themselves?")

Police: 80 California High School Students Attack Officers, Cause Lockdown


28 May 20194,403

Bear Creek High School in Stockton, California, was placed on lockdown last week after an estimated 80 students attacked police officers who arrived on campus to detain one student for fighting with school staff.

Stockton police estimated that about 80 Bear Creek High School students were involved in a physical altercation with police officers on Friday morning as the officers were detaining one student for fighting with school staff, according to Stockton Record.
Video footage captured the chaotic brawl, which shows scores of students surrounding the officers in what appears to be an attempt to stop them from detaining the student. Moments later, one student in the crowd can be seen throwing a garbage can at the officers while the others jeer and shout.
Watch below:
Stockton police arrived at the high school on Friday morning to detain one student who had been reported for fighting with school staff, but when the student resisted arrest, it spurred around 80 other students to engage in a physical struggle with officers and school staff members, according to police.
“During this detention, officers were struck by several students and a garbage can was thrown at officers and school staff,” said the Stockton Police Department.
The incident resulted in the Lodi Unified School District placing the school on lockdown.
“I don’t know what’s going on with these kids,” said a concerned parent to FOX 40 News, “I don’t know, even with the authority there and they’re still being too much. It’s scary, it’s dangerous.”
“When you go to school, you’re supposed to respect the authority that’s trying to keep you safe while you’re here on campus,” added former Bear Creek High student Kira Elkins.
Stockton police did note, however, that no officers, students or staff members were injured during the physical altercation, adding that the student who had been initially detained was cited for resisting arrest.
It remains unclear whether the other students involved will be charged.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

Horrifying moment Phoenix police point guns at a black family and tell the father they're 'gonna put a f**king cap in your head' after 'his daughter, four, walked out of a store with a $1 Barbie doll'

·         Chilling footage from May 29 shows cops surround Dravon Ames and his family
·         They tell the 22-year-old: 'I'm gonna put a f***ing cap in your f***ing head'
·         His pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper, 24, stands by in tears, pleading with officers and desperately holding onto her two young children as the horror unfolds
·         The incident is understood to have been sparked by accusations of a $1 theft 
·         Two videos taken by onlookers show the full extent of the shocking encounter 
·         In one clip officers can repeatedly be heard swearing in front of the youngsters
·         One says: 'You're gonna f***ing get shot' and 'put your f***ing hands up' 
·         The family is now said to be seeking $10 million in damages from the police 
·         Phoenix police say they are now investigating the incident in which neither Ames or Harper are thought to have been arrested
This is the horrifying moment Phoenix police hold a black family - including a pregnant woman and her two little girls - at gunpoint after their four-year-old daughter is said to have walked out of a store with a $1 doll. 
Chilling footage from May 29 shows cops, some with guns drawn, telling 22-year-old Dravon Ames: 'I'm gonna put a f***ing cap in your f***ing head' as they surround him and his loved ones.  
His pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper, 24, stands by in tears, pleading with officers and desperately holding onto her two young children as the horror unfolds.
She cries: 'I can't put my hands up, I have a baby. I'm pregnant.' 
The incident is understood to have been sparked by accusations one of their young girls walked out of a dollar store with a $1 doll. 
Two videos taken by onlookers show the full extent of the encounter between the young family and cops.  
In one clip officers can repeatedly be heard swearing in front of the youngsters, telling their parents to 'put your f***ing hands up' . One can be heard saying: 'You're gonna f***ing get shot.'
Ames frantically tells them: 'My hands are up. My hands are up.' 
In a lawsuit they claim police 'grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother's hand'. It adds: 'Island [the couple's 1-year-old child] has been having nightmares and wetting her bed, which she has not done before this incident.'
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Chilling footage from May 29 shows cops surround Dravon Ames and his family with guns drawn. They tell the 22-year-old: 'I'm gonna put a f***ing cap in your f***ing head'
As Ames is held against a police car his partner desperately tells police she is unable to lift her arms as she is carrying her one-year-old baby. At least one child can be heard crying as they are taken to safety by witnesses. 
The officer screams: 'If I tell you to do something you f***ing do it.' 
Ames replies: 'Yes, sir.' 
In the second clip onlookers call out to ask to take the children away to avoid them from seeing their parents being detained.  
The family is now said to be seeking $10 million in damages from the police with former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne representing them. 
Ames told The Phoenix New Times: 'We're thinking we're gonna get shot cause he kept threatening, "I'm gonna shoot you in the face". We were so scared.' 
It is understood the parents had just pulled into the parking lot to leave their children with a babysitter when their car was surrounded. 
Ames said: 'A police officer, we don't know who he is, a guy, random guy came up to the door banging on the window with a gun, says he's going to shoot us in our face, telling us to get out of the car. He hasn't alerted us that we're being pulled over anything.
'If you look at the video pretty good I'm snatched out the car and I fly back and that's when he grabs me out the car. My hands were up the whole time.' 
Neither Ames or Harper are thought to have been arrested. 
Two videos taken by onlookers show the full extent of the shocking encounter. In one clip officers can repeatedly be heard swearing in front of the youngsters
His pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper, 24, stands by in tears, pleading with officers and desperately holding onto her two young children as the horror unfolds
Reporter Meg O'Connor tweeted about the incident, posting the videos online 
Their claim states: 'The police officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights under the fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution.
'The first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother's hand. He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement.
'The first officer pulled the baby by the arm to get her away from the mother, which injured the arm, in a condition known as 'dead arm.' Island [the couple's 1-year-old child] has been having nightmares and wetting her bed, which she has not done before this incident.'
Arizona senator Martín Quezada has condemned the footage on Twitter, writing: 'This is everything that's wrong with #LawEnforcement today. My #LD29 #Maryvale community deserves better than this type of inexcusable and unjustifiable rage and abuse of power from the @phoenixpolice.' 
Phoenix police say they are now investigating the incident. 
They told KNXV-TV the officer who swore is on a 'non-enforcement assignment.' The other officer who drew his gun is understood to still be on patrol. 

Police murder in Memphis

The brutal murder on Wednesday of 20-year-old Brandon Webber by US federal marshals is the latest eruption of police violence in a country where youth and workers are gunned down on the streets by uniformed killers with numbing regularity.

Webber, the father of three and a student at the University of Memphis, was, according to eyewitnesses, shot up to 20 times after he had been handcuffed and subdued by marshals who had come to his home to serve felony arrest warrants. Webber, an African American, was the third victim of homicidal police violence in Memphis so far this year.
Just two days before, in the far northeastern corner of Tennessee, a young white man was killed by police in a strikingly similar manner. Police went to the home of Terry Frost, 32, in rural Sullivan County to serve him with an arrest warrant. As with Webber, police claim that Frost used his vehicle as a weapon as he attempted to escape. Sheriff’s deputies opened fire and killed him.
Between the killing of Frost on Monday and that of Webber on Wednesday, it was announced Tuesday that the Memphis police officer videotaped last year killing unarmed Terrance Carlton, 25, as he lay on the ground in a fetal position, will face no criminal charges.
On Wednesday evening, heavily armed Memphis riot police attacked several hundred angry residents of the Frayser neighborhood where Webber was killed, firing tear gas into the faces of unarmed youth and workers. Three people were arrested, including one who was charged with inciting a riot.
The media emphasized the claims of the authorities that 25 police officers were injured, none seriously, by rocks and bottles thrown by protesters. Mayor Jim Strickland, a Democrat, told a local television station that a “violent response” to any police shooting was “absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Every year in America, some 1,000 people, overwhelmingly working class, are killed by police. According to a database compiled by the Washington Post, Webber’s death is the 406th police killing so far in 2019.
It is just short of five years since the police chokehold killing of Eric Garner in New York and the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri sparked a wave of protests across the country. But in the subsequent years, the toll of police killings has only risen.
The conditions in Memphis, a city of 650,000 people, and particularly in the Frayser neighborhood, exemplify the underlying economic and social conditions behind the reign of police violence in working class communities throughout the United States. In 2011, the Census Bureau declared Memphis “the poorest big city in America.” Median household income in the city is $38,826, and the poverty rate is 26.9 percent.
In Frayser, the poorest neighborhood in Memphis, the corresponding figures are $31,065 and 44.8 percent.
Like scores of US cities, Memphis was hit by factory closures in the 1970s and 1980s, leaving communities such as Frayser economically devastated, with nothing but the toxic waste left behind by shuttered plants to serve as a reminder of vanished jobs.
Police violence is an expression of the acute class contradictions that permeate a society dominated, behind the increasingly tattered trappings of democracy, by a wealthy and criminal corporate-financial oligarchy. The police serve as a front line of state repression in a country where the richest three billionaires have more wealth than the bottom 175 million Americans combined, and where the entire political establishment and both of its major parties are focused on propping up the stock market by pumping trillions more into Wall Street, paid for by slashing jobs, wages, pensions, health care and education.
A quarter-century of endless war abroad, waged to protect the global interests of the oligarchs, has its domestic counterpart in the militarization of the police. Billions of dollars’ worth of military hardware—tanks, helicopters, armored vehicles, drones—has been handed over to state and local police departments in recent decades. Like the redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top of society, the process has been presided over by Democrats no less than Republicans.
The Trump administration has formally adopted a policy of preparing for war against America’s “great power” competitors, beginning with China and Russia. The strategists of this policy speak of “total war,” involving centrally the militarization of the home front and suppression of social and political opposition. Hence Trump’s open encouragement of the police to “get tough” and his setting up of concentration camps for immigrants. The Democrats remain virtually silent on the persecution of immigrants, while overwhelmingly voting for massive increases in Pentagon spending.
With the police killing in Memphis and the eruption of protests, the purveyors of racial politics are once again seeking to obscure the fundamental class questions underlying police brutality and present the issue as purely a racial matter. Pamela Moses, founder of Memphis Black Lives Matter and a candidate for mayor, told Time magazine that police “are supposed to be trained to apprehend without deadly force, but when it comes to us, we always have to die.”
As a matter of fact, more whites are killed by police than blacks, although the latter, along with Hispanics, are killed at a disproportionate rate. According to the Washington Post list, of the 181 police killings so far this year in which the race of the deceased is known, 82 were white, 52 were black and 44 Hispanic. Astonishingly, police killings have taken place in 46 of the 50 states, including in such largely rural, sparsely populated and overwhelmingly white states such as Vermont and Wyoming. What the vast majority of victims of police violence have in common is not their race, but that they are working class.
While racism no doubt plays a role in police attacks on minorities, the basic reason that blacks and Hispanics are so frequently victimized is that they make up a disproportionate percentage of the most impoverished and oppressed sections of the working class. With few exceptions, it is not wealthy blacks and Hispanics who are subjected to police terror.
The role of racial and other forms of identity politics is to divert attention from the real source of police violence and repression, as well as poverty, inequality and war, i.e., the capitalist system. Politically, it serves to divide the working class and channel social opposition behind the Democratic Party, a party of Wall Street, the military-intelligence complex and privileged sections of the upper-middle class.
It was the African American, Democratic President Barack Obama who expanded the program of military arms to the police and repeatedly intervened on the side of the police when challenged in court for illegal and unconstitutional violations of civil liberties. Under Obama’s watch, with only the rarest exceptions, killer cops got away with murder without even being charged. Trump bases his naked support for police violence on the foundations laid down by his predecessor.
The police are part of what Engels called the “special bodies of armed men” that comprise the capitalist state. They cannot be reformed by adding more minorities or more civilian oversight. The state is not a neutral body. It is the repressive arm of the ruling class.
Under conditions of mounting economic, social and political crisis of the capitalist system in the US and internationally, and a growing movement of the American and world working class against social inequality, the ruling elite in the US and every other country is turning more and more openly to dictatorial forms of rule.
Youth and workers who want to fight against the plague of police violence and murder must turn to the growing movement of workers of all races and nationalities—to the teachers, health care workers, industrial workers who are striking in the greatest numbers in decades—and fight to unite them on the basis of a struggle for genuine equality and democracy under socialism.

Tempe, Arizona police officer fatally shoots fleeing 14-year-old boy in the back

On January 14, 14-year-old Antonio Arce was shot in the back as he ran away from a Tempe, Arizona police officer down an alleyway. The boy later died at a hospital, fatally wounded by a bullet which struck in his rear shoulder-blade area. The shooter has been identified as Officer Joseph Jaen.
Antonio Arce
Police claim that Arce was carrying an airsoft gun and that he “turned toward the officer,” who then “perceived a threat and fired his weapon.” Body camera footage released by police shows Arce running away from the officer.
Jaen was responding to a 911 call about a suspected burglary in an alley in Tempe. The bodycam video shows Jaen pulling up to a pickup truck facing his squad car.
The officer then exits his car and crouches behind a trash can yelling, “Hey.” The officer, with his gun drawn, chases after the teen after he exited the passenger side of the truck and began running away down the alley.
The officer yells, “Let me see your hands” and fires two shots at the teen. Jaen then yells, “Shots fired, shots fired,” and later, “He’s got a handgun, he’s got a handgun.” The video inexplicably ends before the officer reaches Arce’s body.
Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir asked the public to withhold judgement until police completed their “investigation.” The purported gun which Arce was allegedly holding was a replica 1911 model airsoft gun.
Arizona police killing video
The video shows Arce holding an object, but it is not clear whether it was the airsoft gun. Two witnesses, who have not been identified or released any statements, have since claimed that Arce was holding an item which looked like a gun.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the owner of the truck in the video, Lou Silvas, disputes the official police version of events. Silvas told the Arizona Republiche was unloading items from his truck around 2:30 p.m. that Tuesday afternoon when he went inside his house and left his truck unlocked. He heard two shots outside and went to check his truck and look for his cellphone.
Silvas said he noticed his two airsoft guns were still in his truck and was later shocked to hear Police Chief Moir tell the media on Friday that Arce had stolen one of his airsoft guns from his truck before running. Silvas said there were only two airsoft guns in his truck and they had been undisturbed.
He believes the bodycam video shows Arce with a large, black cellphone in his hand, which was missing from his truck. In a police photo, the image of the object was freeze-framed and circled, with the caption, “appears to be a weapon.”
Silvas told the newspaper he thought about removing his airsoft guns from the car but noticed the empty police car parked in front of him. He then decided to wait for the officer, assuming he was being recorded the entire time.
He then reported being approached by a group of officers shortly after and was then placed in handcuffs in the back of a police car. Silvas asked what he had done wrong and was merely told it was just a “safety precaution.”
More than an hour later, Silvas was released but forced to wait outside his home while officers searched it. In an initial report, police mentioned a second suspect, but have since not mentioned this.
Silvas was asked by a detective the next day about the contents of his truck and mentioned the two airsoft guns. He then said the police impounded his truck and he would not be able to retrieve it until the following week.
Another resident of the home, Julie Ann Bravo, also said police searched the home without permission or a search warrant. The home’s occupants, including a 71-year-old woman, were ordered out of the house until 10 or 11 p.m., until the officers were done.
Bravo told media how she saw officers use a stun gun and handcuff Arce after the shooting. This would contradict Muir’s press conference where she stated officers “rendered aid” to Arce within minutes of the shooting until firefighters arrived to take him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Bravo claims to have recorded the incident on her tablet and allowed police to take it as part of their investigation. When they returned it, Bravo said it would no longer turn on and hasn’t functioned since, despite it being only a day old.
The shooting had started with a 911 call from an anonymous man who reported being robbed in his home the week before. He told the operator that he was suspicious of anyone in the alley.
Silvas believed the caller was a neighbor who had a grudge against him and thought calling the police about his truck would give him a hard time. He told the Republic, “If he didn’t call that 911 call, that young boy would still be alive today. But I would be out a cellphone — because that’s all he took outside of my truck was a cellphone.”
He added, “If they’re announcing on the airwaves that (the airsoft gun) was taken from my vehicle, that’s not true,” Silvas said. “Because I had my two still there—and that’s all I’m saying.”
Arce’s mother apologized to Silvas for the stolen phone to which he replied, “Look, I can replace the cellphone, but I can’t replace a kid.”
A protest was held on Thursday night with about 100 people gathered outside Tempe Police Department. Sandra Gonzalez, Antonio’s mother, shouted, “They killed him,” adding, “I want you to know the worst racists exist in Phoenix, Arizona. They treat us as criminals. I want justice. I need justice.”
Jason Gonzalez also addressed the crowd demanding, “We want to see the bodycam footage. We want the autopsy and to do an autopsy by ourselves, without police.” He told demonstrators how police would not let the family see Antonio’s body or say in what exact circumstances he died.
As the demonstration continued, police officers threatened to arrest those who were blocking traffic on the street. In order to avoid a potential assault by the police the protest organizers ordered an end to the demonstration around 8:20 p.m.
On Saturday, hundreds of people marched with Arce’s surviving family in the same alleyway where he lost his life the week before. They released balloons and held banners with the words “Justice for Antonio.”
Juan Arce, Antonio’s father, spoke in Spanish with an English interpreter saying, “It doesn’t matter if it was a child of 14-years-old or a person who is 50, there are many other ways to find solutions to things like this instead of murdering people.”
Antonio’s 18-year-old brother, Jason Gonzalez, also spoke at the vigil saying, “He ran because he was scared—my brother isn’t a criminal, isn’t a bad person.” He was joined by 13-year-old Samantha Gomez, who befriended Arce in third grade at Scales Technology Academy. “He was such a good best friend, I miss him very much.”

Chicago police officer sentenced to less than seven years for murder of Laquan McDonald; three officers acquitted in cover-up

By Michael Walters
21 January 2019

On Friday Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to less than seven years (81 months) in prison, plus two years’ probation for the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The sentence was handed down by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan one day after three CPD officers were found not guilty of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in covering up the murder of the African-American teen. Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to be convicted of murder during an on-duty assault in more than half a century.
Van Dyke was convicted in October 2018 by a jury of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for every bullet Van Dyke unloaded into McDonald’s body over a 15-second period. Van Dyke could have received up to 20 years for second degree murder and between six and 30 years for each count of aggravated battery. If he was given the full sentence, he could have been in prison for the rest of his life. The minimal sentence can only be understood as the action of a ruling class that needed to sentence Van Dyke to avoid an eruption of social anger but did not want to set a precedent that might limit the ability of the police to act with the utmost violence.
The special prosecutor, Joseph McMahon, requested in his closing argument that Van Dyke receive 18 to 20 years. The defense argued that the case “screamed out for probation” due to the officer’s “clean” past and unlikeliness to reoffend. Including the time already served, and an early release he would not have received under aggravated battery, Van Dyke will likely spend less time in prison than it would have taken McDonald to go through high school.
Judge Gaughan overrode the jury’s conviction of murder and battery by electing to only sentence on the second-degree murder, reasoning that murder charge was the most serious conviction since the death was the result of the battery. Further, he stated that if he were to sentence on the aggravated battery charges, he would have combined the 16 convictions into one because they were all part of one act. Even if one accepts the reasoning that Van Dyke should only have been sentenced on murder, the 6.75-year sentence stands in contrast to the will of the jury.
McDonald was murdered in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side. At Friday’s sentencing, the prosecution presented five witnesses to offer a glimpse of the terror that Van Dyke and the CPD regularly unleash on the area’s residents. As an officer, Van Dyke had 18 official complaints filed against him, none of which were investigated.
Edward Nance recounted being pulled over by Van Dyke and experiencing an immediate aggression that would be echoed by several other witnesses. “Open this mother f-cking door right now” Nance recalled Van Dyke yelling. Van Dyke then proceeded to pull him out of the car and slam him onto the hood without explaining why he was pulled over. After the manhandling by Van Dyke, an emotional Nance testified on Friday that he is in constant pain and cannot lift more than 10 pounds with his left arm. Due to the actions of Van Dyke Nance was awarded $350,000 by a federal jury in a suit against the city of Chicago.
Nance was ticketed for not having a front license plate and his car was towed after police found a small amount of marijuana in the car. He testified this was the last time his family saw the car. Cars are frequently impounded when small amounts of drugs or open alcohol are found. The steep fines are often more than the value of the vehicle. This puts enormous strain on families who can barely afford to share one car.
Vidale Joy recounted being pulled over by CPD in 2005. Van Dyke immediately approached the car with his gun drawn “infuriated” and “out of his mind” shouting obscenities and racial epithets. Joy recalled that Van Dyke immediately pulled a gun to his temple and demanded he get out of the car.
Jeremy Mayers recounted a traffic stop where Van Dyke choked him for refusing to spit out a cough drop. A third witness, Eric Breathette, recounted Van Dyke pulling him over, then immediately handcuffing him and placing him in the back of the police car. Van Dyke accused him of playing his music too loud, an accusation that Breathette would not admit to. He was taken to the police station. When the prosecutor asked him to identify the officer in the courtroom by an item of clothing, Breathette let out a sigh and a chuckle and stated, “He’s definitely in the right attire, he’s in a county [prison out]fit”
The final witness for the prosecution was Laquan McDonald’s great-uncle who read a letter prepared in the voice of the slain teen.
For its part, the defense produced several police officers, Van Dyke’s family, including two of his children, and Van Dyke himself. Van Dyke categorized the night as the “worst day in my life” and that he prayed for the soul of McDonald. Not called to testify was Van Dyke’s partner Joseph Walsh, who had just been acquitted of conspiracy the day before Van Dyke’s sentencing.
Walsh, Thomas Gaffney and Detective David March, had been charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct in relation to the murder of McDonald. They were accused of lying to investigators immediately after and following the shooting of McDonald, withholding or giving misleading information, filing false police reports, failing to interview witnesses and destroying evidence. After a five-day bench trial, Cook County Criminal Circuit Court justice Domenica Stephenson found the state failed to meet the burden of proof on all charges.
The three officers filed a series of reports alleging that McDonald threatened them with a knife and lunged at Van Dyke, and after being shot twice, McDonald tried to get up, and swung his knife. These claims were contradicted by the dashcam video that was buried for 13 months after the shooting.

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