National Press Conferences
Target Police Brutality
Revolutionary Worker #975, September 27, 1998
On September 15-17, nationally coordinated press conferences were held in cities across the country to announce the Third National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. The press conferences were also an occasion to publicly release the initial list of endorsements for the Call for a National Day of Protest on October 22, 1998.
Families of police brutality victims were a key part of these press conferences. And there was important focus on the Stolen Lives Project, which documents the names of people killed by the police and border patrol. The press conferences also involved many other people: revolutionaries, activists on prison issues and various other fronts, ministers, lawyers and others.
The following are excerpts from some of the speakers at the press conferences in four cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Carl Dix, National Spokesperson Revolutionary Communist Party, Member of National Coordinating Committee of October 22nd Coalition
There are a couple of things that we are here to make clear today. One is that police brutality and police murder is at epidemic levels all across the United States. The other is that we and people like us all across this country are taking it into our hands to stop this cancer that is poisoning too many of our communities. On October 22nd, 1998, we're going to take a giant step towards building a movement all across this country to put brutal, murdering cops in check. October 22nd will be the third annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. On that day, in cities all across the country, people will march, demonstrate, hold community meetings, cultural events. Many, many people will wear black in solidarity with the protests and in memory of the victims of the police and all of us will be saying together: Police brutality must stop. Our young generation will no longer be treated like criminals by these authorities....
Here in New York City on October 22nd, we're gonna be marching down Broadway from Union Square.... And it's going to be a broad array of people. Here you see mothers whose children's lives have been stolen from them by the NYPD, revolutionary activists like myself, ministers, youth who are tired of being scapegoated and treated like criminals, many, many other people. We're all going to be coming together that day from our different backgrounds, representing many different races, even speaking different languages--but standing together and saying together: police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation must stop, it will stop and it's going to be people like us that stop it.
Margarita Rosario, Parents Against Police Brutality, October 22nd Coalition
On January 12, 1995, my son Anthony Rosario's life was taken away from him, and the life of my nephew, Hilton Vega. My son received 14 shots in his back face down on the floor. My nephew received eight shots to his back also face down on the floor by two ex-bodyguards of Mayor Giuliani. The night my son was killed, Mayor Giuliani called the 46th precinct to congratulate Patrick Brosnan and James Crow on a job well done. Since then Mayor Giuliani has tried to silence me. When I put a sign behind my car that says "Anthony Rosario Killed By Cops" he has tried to silence me by sending his cops out to issue me summonses and tickets every time I ride my car on the street.
King Mission, Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation
On behalf of my nation, we'd like to say that we do not condone police brutality, by any means necessary. We are strong supporters of the October 22nd movement and any organization that is against any racist cops police brutality or social injustice.
My son was killed August 4, 1998 and to this day they're covering everything up. I don't know who killed my son. It was an undercover cop. I don't know who the undercover cop is. All I want is to get justice. I'm seeking justice for my son.
Roy Maxwell, father of Paul Anthony Maxwell, shot six times on July 24, 1998 in Hempstead, Long Island
My son was naked on that day and it was evident that he had a problem. Instead of the police officer coming to his assistance to help him--because they should have realized that he was not in good mental health--they ended up shooting him to death.... I can still recall my neighbors describing how Paul fell to the ground, and I'll never forget that.
Iris Baez, Anthony Baez Foundation, National Coordinating Committee of October 22nd Coalition
We have to join force together and say no more police brutality. It has to stop. And October 22 is putting the message out, together with the Stolen Lives Project. How many more lives have to be stolen? October 22 want to make sure that this stops.... This is what October 22 does, bring out the truth. Say no more police brutality, stop the killing of our children.
Dr. Robert Rockwell, National Secretary, Refuse & Resist!, Member of the National Coordinating Committee of October 22nd Coalition
In Refuse & Resist! we say it's all one attack. The victims of police brutality are the same people who are the victims of a lot of other things that are going on in this country. They're the same people who are the victims of attacks on welfare. They're the same people who are being put in prison and whose habeas corpus rights are being taken away and who are being executed. They're the same people who are being attacked as immigrants and as causes of a lot of the problems in this country. In Refuse & Resist! we've called this hatred and this scapegoating a "politics of cruelty."
Herman Ferguson, Chairman, New Afrikan Liberation Front
The boot jack police under the control of Giuliani have gone raving mad, and we have to understand that we are going to have to take strong measures to stop them. We're going to have to say to the police: when you move on us, you move on a whole community and we're going to move against you. We're going to exercise the right, as was called for in the Million Youth March, to defend ourselves against you when you go wild, when you break the law. We are going to put you back on the side of law and order by any means necessary and any way that we feel will be most effective.
Also speaking at the NYC conference were: Errol Maitland, Douglas Fischer Justice Project and producer of Wake Up Call on WBAI; Carol Taylor, president and founder of Institute of "Interracial" Harmony; Hillel Cohen, National People's Campaign; Chandana Mathur, Workers Awaaz; Ray Laforest, Disney Haiti Campaign; Fritz Paul, Haitian Mobilization to Defend Immigrant Rights.
Stan Willis, Chicago Conference of Black Lawyers
All over the country, whether in Chicago, Detroit, big city, small city, suburbs--police are intimidating communities of color in particular. We have to give the people a voice, speaking out and organizing against police violence in our community. The October 22nd Coalition is a continuing effort to give the people a voice. To tell people throughout the country that there's a united force to deal with police violence in our community.
George Morris, father of Kevin Morris, shot by an off-duty cop, January 1998
Since I've become familiar with the Stolen Lives Project, I've seen all across the United States that there are many different people that are experiencing the same thing that my family experienced.... I'm here to say October the 22nd is our day.
Chris Geovanis, Neighbors Against Police Brutality, Justice is Blind/Mother's Against Injustices
[Geovanis discussed a number of cases of wrongdoing by police and prosecutors.] Justice is Blind has documented literally dozens of cases like this, where officers who have a direct link to Jon Burge and the torture ring he ran for 15 years are up to the same old criminal behavior in the Chicago Police department.... The story that this document paints is chilling. It shows a police department that is lawless, a police department that is out of control, a police department that has suspended any pretext of commitment to due process or justice under the law, and a police department that is clearly committed to criminalizing anyone who is unfortunate enough to be snatched up dubious dastardly deeds.
Rev. Costella Cannon, mother of Frank Bounds who was tortured by police and is currently on death row with terminal cancer
Frank has been denied the investigation of the case. He was robbed of witnesses and the evidence that was in the case. He was stolen from his family. His health was taken from him. Had he even had the right to have the post conviction heard.... I stand fully with the October 22nd rally day.
I was a victim of police brutality in June 1994. The police beat me up in a back room.... I won my case for the police brutality and was awarded $200,000 for the damages. It's not enough for me. I want the police punished for what they did to me and my family."
Ernie Jacobsen, victim of police brutality
I find it abhorrent that the Chicago Police Department would investigate 7- and 8-year-olds and treat them as criminals. I find it abhorrent that they would continue to go after Jeremiah Mearday.... I'm here to say that there are victims of all nationalities and economic backgrounds.
Sonny Lee Carter, father of police brutality victim Jeremiah Mearday
I'm here on behalf of the October 22nd Coalition, just here to support you.
Wallace "Gator" Bradley, United in Peace
I was at the Million Youth March in New York and saw how Giuliani and the police abused people. But I didn't have to go that far. I'm seeing how they take witnesses into the various jails and torture and get confessions. We seen that the Burge epidemic hasn't died, it's carrying on.... Until everybody come out and support efforts against police brutality, it's going to be more Blacks locked up, more Hispanics locked up.
Also speaking at the Chicago conference were: Arriba, Chicago October 22nd Coalition; Jeffrey Haas, People's Law Office; Emile Scheppers, Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights.
James Lafferty, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild and Member of the National Steering Committee of the October 22nd Coalition
The Stolen Lives Project, which the Lawyers Guild, the Anthony Baez Foundation and the October 22nd Coalition sponsors, has for the last several years been gathering names of people murdered by the police. We've already assembled over 1500 names in what we contend are murderous situations violative of constitutional rights. Those of us who sponsored this would like to believe that if people of good will understood this dirty secret about how much police violence really is being conducted in their name day in and day out all across this country, that they would be angry about it, that they would rise up about this. We invite all people of good will who believe in justice and fairness to join us this October 22nd here and throughout this country.
Rev. M. Andrew Robinson-Gaither, Faith United Methodist Church
As a pastor in the faith community, I am calling all of my colleagues, and you who are laypersons to get on board in support of October 22nd.
Lorine Harris, whose son was killed by Gardena police in 1989
My son was shot in the back of the head. He was 20 years old. He was a very loving child. My life is upside down. I don't get to see him anymore.... His life was stolen from him at an early age. It's hard for me. All the parents out there that have lost their kids like I have--it's just unbearable. It's been nine years, and I can't cope with it.
Herman Harvey, whose son was killed by police in 1997
My son was assassinated by the LAPD. His name was Kevin Robinson. He was a deaf-mute. He was shot three times in the back. They allowed my son to bleed to death on 43rd and Compton Ave. The police refused a paramedic to even touch him. I am sick and tired of all of this mess that is being carried on here in this city of Los Angeles, the State of California, other cities throughout the country. It is time for we, as fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, to get together and bring about a stop to all of this harassment and police brutality.
Joey Johnson, a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party
We're not dealing with this city-by-city or case-by-case. It's all over the country in cities large and small. It's happening in jails, it's happening in the prisons, like Corcoran where prisoners are being assassinated and set up in guard-instigated "gladiator fights." It's happening in the INS detention centers where our immigrant brothers and sisters are being beaten down and brutalized and then deported.... I think it's going to take a revolution to uproot all of the injustices of this system, and I look forward to the day when that comes. But we cannot stand aside and let the people be beaten down and brutalized and treated like animals. We have to come together from all different perspectives to demand that this end.
Tomás Lopez, Immigrant Rights Committee, October 22nd Coalition
Maura Gomez and Zoila Rodriguez were taken to prison, solely because they carried out a humanitarian defense against a violent action directed at an armed man. [Maura and Zoila tried to stop an INS beating of an immigrant man; the two women are now fighting deportation--RW] This is why we are here. To proclaim the justice which comes from god--nobody has the authority to kill or brutalize. To respect the physical and moral dignity of all humanity. We unite as a community of faith--to unite with others with various viewpoints to demand justice and a stop to police brutality.
Also speaking at the L.A. conference were: Dr. Donald Evans, Families to Amend California's Three Strikes Law; John Shapley, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Cuauhtemoc, Youth/Student Network of October 22nd Coalition; Rev. Doug Dorman, Long Beach Faith Ministries; Tom Louie, La Resistencia; Dona Dymally, family member of a victim.
Djehuti-Mes/Charles Vaughn Jr.
My father was murdered on May 19, 1998 on the Monterey Peninsula by Seaside police officers. My father, an ex-school teacher, had his Bachelors, his Masters, Ph.D. candidate. It didn't matter. He was "expendable" in this system.... We're here to let you know, the October 22nd Coalition, that that's gonna end.... On October 22nd, we will stand strong, we will march from Mission and 24th Streets, we will take this city back to the people.
Isabel Huie, civil rights officer at Chinese for Affirmative Action
It has been almost one and a half years ago since the shooting death of Kuang Chung Kao by a Rona Park peace officer. Mr. Kao was inebriated and waving a stick over his head. The officer presumed that because he was an Asian man, he was doing martial arts, and shot him just 34 seconds upon arrival at the scene. In response to Mr. Kao's death, along with many community members and leaders and other civil rights organizations, we formed the Coalition for Justice for the Kao Family to demand a fair examination of what took place on April 29, 1997. The senseless death of Mr. Kao at the hands of a police officer forever changed the lives of the survivors who must cope with the trauma of senseless death and the endless questioning that one has.
Dan Garcia Sr.
I'm the brother of Mark Garcia who was murdered by San Francisco police on April 6, 1996. I'm also here representing 30 families. We started a family group for emotional support and to help in the legal process for defense of the families. The October 22nd Coalition in the Bay Area has helped to set up a family group of those who have been killed by police. There are government agencies who help people who are victims of crime. But there is no help for those who are victims of crime committed by the police.... Through the October 22nd demonstration and the Stolen Lives Project, we can make people more aware and turn public opinion strongly against police brutality.
Richard Diaz, Human Rights Defense Committee
Our family got involved when my brother was killed by a sheriffs deputy. He was literally mowed down like a blade of grass by the use of an automobile. And the District Attorney failed to review the actions against this officer and our family's been fighting it since 1994. We're not gonna stop fighting it. We joined the Coalition here and we joined the October 22nd march the last two years. I'd like to encourage everybody from Santa Clara County to join us in the march on October 22nd.
Luis Talamantez, Pelican Bay Information Project and California Prison Focus
We will be wearing black on October 22nd in remembrance of all our friends, comrades, family, that have been taken, stolen from us by state authorities.... The greatest percentage of anybody going to prison right now are women. 80 percent of all women in prison are mothers. They have children. We see our children being killed here on the streets. The spiral of violence, state-sanctioned violence, brutality that's taking place. If the people themselves, through coalitions like October 22nd, don't take to the streets and do something about it, it can only escalate. We're seeing too many people killed here by the police, by state security. We have to stop it some kind of way. We have to get on the front lines and say basta! No more! We will not let this take place in our name! We will resist! October 22nd is a good starting point.
Lea, Youth and Student Network of October 22nd Coalition
Youth in this country feel they have a much better chance of going to jail than they have of going to college. In this state, in the last 10 years, only one college has been built, and there's been 27 prisons. Youth have to deal every day with coming home, being jacked up, being brutalized.... It's outrageous and we are not going to stand for it any more. The youth are the future in this country. Everybody's going to be out from colleges and high schools on October 22nd. And we're gonna say no more!
Gerald Smith, Copwatch
We want to explain to people why we think it's very important to support this mobilization. We think that the October 22nd Coalition has proven itself in action. We've carefully observed what they've been doing over the last couple years, and we think that they have shown that they're serious, that they have successfully mobilized the families of many of the victims of police brutality, people who have been murdered. And they have won the respect and confidence of these families. And therefore we are quite impressed with the work they have done. And consequently we are now supporting this effort. We need a powerful united front of all organizations that represent people who are struggling for police accountability, the worker's movement, the youth movement, all victims, potential victims and opponents of police brutality need to come together.
Julia Allen, Prison Activist Resource Center and Critical Resistance Conference
I wanted to come and show my support for October 22nd, and also to announce the Critical Resistance Conference which is happening September 25-27 at the University of California, Berkeley campus. Very important, very exciting--over 200 events, a hip-hop concert, a benefit concert, an art exhibit, prisoners are telephoning in from inside and speaking on panels..Please come out to this. And please wear black on October 22nd.
Others speaking at the S.F. conference were: Edwin Rodriguez, Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Maya, R&R!; Graham Noyes, National Lawyers Guild; Carlos Petroni, editor Frontlines; Nancy Mitchell, National People's Campaign; Judy Greenspan, California Prison Focus; Anita, League of Filipino Students; James Tracy, Eviction Defense Network; Keith McHenry, Food Not Bombs.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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