A Cry for Justice
Families Speak Out Against Police Murder
Revolutionary Worker #1026, October 17, 1999
Press conferences were held in Washington, DC, Houston and Los Angeles, during the first week of October, announcing the publication of the new STOLEN LIVES book. Families of police victims spoke out about their experiences and demands for justice. Standing with them were many activists and supporters who joined in denouncing the epidemic of police murder. More press conferences are scheduled for cities across the U.S.
Here are statements made to the press.
Lorita Geddie: "I'm the mother and the voice for my son Joseph N. Cooper, Jr. Joe's life was stolen November 11, 1995 by an off-duty policeman in Washington, DC. Joe was beaten and shot numerous times. Joe was dead three days before the family was notified. My son's death is a mystery to me. As of today, no police report. Last week I was told by the Freedom of Information Act office, this case is under review. My question is after three years and 11 months this case is still under review? His killer still remains active on the police force here in Washington, DC."
Arnetta Grable: "My son, Lamar Wayne Grable, was 20 years old at the time when he was murdered by a Detroit police officer. He was shot eight to 11 times, twice in the back.... The witnesses at the time that my son was killed said after he was shot in the back he was turned over, and the officer leaned over him, and shot him the remaining times.... They never gave a reason why except to say they saw him walking down the street with a gun.... No one at the scene saw him with a gun. They did come up with a gun later on without his fingerprints on it. The officer that murdered my son has killed two other people under suspicious circumstances and he also has four police brutality lawsuits against him. He still works for the department. They call my son's death `justifiable homicide'.... I've been offered money twice that I've turned down. Why would they offer me money if nothing was wrong, if nothing had been done, if my son had not been murdered and unjustly murdered? You can't give me money to buy my silence."
Rev. Walter Fauntroy, former congressman and representative of National Black Leadership Roundtable: "No homes are more lonely than the homes that these people have left, no hearts more crushed or broken than the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters of the stolen lives that are documented here."
Carl Dix, national organizer for the October 22nd Coalition, RCP national spokesperson: "This book is...in my view, a war memorial because the system is waging war on the people. That's the only way I can sum it up when you have police act as if they're 007 with a license to kill our youth. That's a war a people have to actually wake up to and begin to wage the kind of resistance that this situation actually calls for."
Other speakers at the Washington, DC press conference included Gilda Sherrod-Ali of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, Stephanie Joseph for the National Lawyers Guild, Nia Kuumba of Mothers On the Move Spiritually and Marilyn Preston-Killingham of the Republic of New Afrika. Endorsers of the press conference included Congressman John Conyers, Amnesty International, and the NAACP.
Bernell Butler, uncle of Tyisha Miller, a young Black woman shot while unconscious in a parked car: "I'm here to stand with these families, and we will march and we will picket. We will go up and down the streets, to the highways and to the valley. And we will stand by these families until justice is served. We're going out on October the 22nd, and we're going to try to combine the masses of this city and the cities around and even the State for a national day of protest against police brutality.... Tyisha Miller's case is similar to all of theirs. These officers were celebrating one of the officers' birthdays that night. And it has been left out of all the reports that they got there using racial slurs, that they came there with the mentality not to save her life, but to take her life."
Latanya Green, sister of Preston Green: "My brother was maliciously murdered by two Lynwood sheriffs. It was early in the morning. Two witnesses say that they fired at my brother 18 times, but 11 bullets actually hit my brother: two in the head, several in the torso area, and several in the leg area. It happened October 26, 1993 and we're still waiting for an actual police officer, or someone to come knocking on the door to let us know.... Keep believing, keep hoping, keep fighting and don't give up."
Constance Flaum, mother of Michael Arnold, killed March 27, 1998, shot by police 106 times: "Less than two years ago, I would have been where you are, sitting on my couch, comfortable and secure, and watching this on television, feeling a moment of anger, a moment of sympathy. But feeling absolutely confident that `This does not happen to people like us. This does not happen in our family. The police after all are out there to protect and serve. The district attorney is out there for us. This is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. There's obviously more behind these stories than these families are telling here. Please take a good look at Michael William Arnold [as she held up a large photo of her murdered son] and understand that your son could be the next poster boy....
"His prescribed medication left Michael phasing in and out of consciousness, hallucinating and lost on the freeway.... Thirty minutes later, this man (who was afraid to drive his car) was shot to death by the police. The police told the media that he was a suicidal freeway sniper who had died in a shoot-out with the police. None of it made any sense.... They murder my son, they cover it up, they set up a new crime scene, they cover it up some more. Wake up! Wake up! On October the 22nd, it is about all of us. This is a human condition. All of the racism that is going on in this country is fed, fostered and festered by the powers that be. Because you know what? We share the same humanity. We suffer in exactly the same way. We cry in exactly the same way."
Tony Nieto: "I'm the father of Angry Bear Nieto. I have been fighting the justice system for 11 years plus. My son was murdered, shot in the back by a prison guard. I was told by telegram that he was shot in the chest. The inmates started writing to me and telling me, `No, he was not shot in the chest. He was shot in the back'... When people buy this book, and they see all these pages and they see all these stories about what happened to these individuals, they will realize that this country is out of control. That justice does no longer exist in our country."
Paul Hayward, father of Derek Hayward: "My son is on page 5 of the Stolen Lives. In November, the day after Thanksgiving of 1994, the baboons of the Riverside City Police Department very intelligently answered a 911 call that involved my son. He was locked in a bathroom with no way in or no way out except the door. He had induced some speed, had no weapons. They arrived in force. Eight of them proceeded to kick the bathroom door down, applied one and possibly two carotid chokeholds and took his life. For years and years and years, like so many of you others, I have fought the system."
Other family members attending the L.A. press conference included: Marian Sims, the aunt of Dion Goodlow; Cynthia Arnold, sister of Michael Arnold, Brian Smith, brother of Danny Ray Smith; Amparo Jaurequm, mother of Jaime Jaurequm; Gloria Santos, mother of Julio Castillo; and Roda Taylor, mother of Terry Taylor.
There were statements from Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California, Angela Sanbrano, director of the Central American Refugee Center, Joey Johnson, supporter of RCP, member of October 22 Coalition; James Lafferty, L.A. National Lawyers Guild director, and Rev. Richard Byrd (Meri Ka Ra), Christ Unity Center. There were also representatives of the Mexican Consulate and Amnesty International.
Annica Gorham, president, University of Houston MEChA: "When our people go and defend themselves it's called `murder' and they are sent away right away. When the police officers kill someone it is called `self defense' and they are not indicted. They get off scot-free. We can't stand for my brothers and sisters living in fear, afraid to walk down the street...afraid of the police officers that harass our community. That is why I am proud to stand here saying that MEChA is doing and will do everything possible to stop the criminalization of a generation."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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