Wesley Bell beat the bad guy, McCulloch. We need many more such wins. Photo–Twitter.
[Speaking Truth To Empower]
This November, Black Americans will be going to the polls in the most monumental midterm elections of our lifetime—where besides the usual problems plaguing our communities, we must deal with the rotten reality of rising racism, encouraged by a White supremacist oriented White House.
The issues we face are many and they include: high unemployment, high homelessness, and high incarceration rates. The other issue we must continue resisting is police brutality.
At this very moment, many politicians are lobbying Black Americans for our votes. Part of our political agenda, this year, must be to send the strongest message possible to politicians that racist police violence must stop. In recent months, mainstream media have drastically diminished their coverage of police violence. But the reduced reporting on racial policing has nothing to do with cops changing their conduct against Black people. America’s police are still brutalizing our communities with impunity, and little accountability; even more so now, given that during a visit to Long Island the nation’s Racist-in-Chief Donald Trump actually said police should “rough up” suspects as they lead them into police vehicles.
Let’s briefly look at a few recent cases.
Last week, reporting emerged that Officer Spenser McAvoy and Michael Sippel, from the Rochester New York Police Department, were suspended over allegations they brutalized 37-year-old African-American Christopher Pate. The Monroe County District Attorney’s office is supposedly investigating these officers—for Tasering, and breaking bones in Mr. Pate’s face. Some say Pate was beaten for jaywalking while Black.
According to Pate, on May 5, he was approached around 4:45 p.m. by the two officers at the intersection of Fulton Avenue and Bloss Street. Allegedly, he was told he matched the description of an individual on the police’s “most wanted” list. Pate said he showed identification. After believing he was in the clear, Pate attempted to leave. At this point, the police interaction ended in a brutal beatdown.
Police dispute Pate’s story. In the police incident report, Officer McAvoy claims when he asked Pate for identification he said, “Have a good day, officer.”
Officer McAvoy also claimed he arrested Pate because he “changed his direction of travel, wouldn’t look at me, and began to walk northbound across Bloss Street and in doing so impeded the vehicular traffic of a gray Honda sedan that was traveling eastbound on Bloss.” McAvoy also said he grabbed Pate by the hand, “at which point he told me that I had no reason to stop him.”
These are the alleged actions that justified the brutal beating. Pate says it’s a lie; and even the lie itself does not justify what the supposed officers of the law did to Pate. It appears they were out looking for a Black man to brutalize.
Recently, in a similar story, the DeKalb County Police Department in Georgia reopened an investigation into the brutal beating of Katie McCrary, a Black homeless woman, on June 5, after a cellphone video emerged of the assault. The video shows the unnamed officer sitting on the woman—while beating her and telling her to put her hands behind her back. The officer can be heard saying “stop resisting” which the standard lie almost every officer brings up to justify brutalization of Black folks.
At one point, he threatens to shoot Ms. McCrary for her alleged disobedience. This thuggish terrorist officer justified his criminal actions by claiming McCrary “attempted to push me out of the way and walk out of the door.” He also said McCrary “reached out and grabbed my badge.” Even assuming this were all true, the beating this woman received should not be condoned. Was she going to shoot him dead with his badge? What kind of cop threatens to shoot an unarmed woman?
Now, after these Rochester Police officers arrested Mr. Pate for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, apparently a Rochester City Court judge realized the police incident report was manufactured nonsense and dismissed the criminal complaint against Pate. These officers should be fired. The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office should file criminal charges against these officers.
Here’s another outrage. Last week, Milwaukee City Attorney Grant Langley falsely blamed NBA player Sterling Brown for self-inficting the injuries he sustained after being inexcusably tasered and arrested by officers from the Milwaukee Police Department, on January 26. Langley says, “The injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiff, if any, were caused in whole or in part by their own acts or omissions.”
Here we see yet another example of a prosecutor doing everything to exonerate criminal cops from accountability. No one is supposed to police the police; and no one is supposed to police and prosecute useless prosecutors. Brown was assaulted by Milwaukee Police Department officers as he exited a drug store. What should have, at best, been the issuance of a parking ticket—Brown admitted he parked in a handicapped area—turned into Brown being brutalized by bigoted officers of the Milwaukee Police Department. Brown filed a lawsuit with the backing of the Milwaukee Bucks organization, which released a statement saying: “Sterling continues to have our full support. What happened to him was shameful and inexcusable.”
Indeed, it was inexcusable. However, when Mr. Langley tells us police did nothing wrong, and then blames Mr. Brown for the injuries he sustained, what does this tell us about America’s contrived concept of “blind justice” and adherence to the “rule of law?” It also gives the greenlight to police to continue their criminal abuse of innocent Black people.
This brings us to why Black America must continue to focus on the elections of prosecutors and judges. Mr. Langley is not one of a kind. Most prosecutors do everything in their power to absolve police officers who brutalize Black people.
Mr. Langley’s actions can be mirrored in the actions of other prosecutors who’ve manipulated the legal system to exonerate criminal cops. In Staten Island, then prosecutor Dan Donovan no doubt used the secret grand jury proceedings to make sure Officer Daniel Pantaleo wasn’t even indicted for killing Eric Garner by using his arms to lynch him. In Ohio, then Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty obviously utilized the office to make sure Officer Timothy Loehmann paid no penalty for killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice. In Ferguson, Missouri then prosecutor Bob McCulloch used his office to defend—not prosecute—the murderer of 18-year-old Mike Brown: Officer Darren Wilson.
Donovan has been rewarded for perverting justice and is now a congressman representing Staten Island—where many NYPD officers live. However, there are some good news: Black America was able to inflict political punishment on McGinty and McCulloch, by bouncing their behinds from office. A similar thing was done in Chicago, where Anita Alvarez was voted out of office. She covered-up of the cold-blooded murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The defeat of McCulloch by city Councilman Wesley Bell, an African-American, is arguably the most important political victory so far in 2018. Bell, a former municipal judge, prosecutor and public defender, delivered a historic victory in the Democratic primary. McCulloch had been county prosecutor for almost 30 years. Part of Bell’s platform is to assign special prosecutors to cases involving police misconduct. He has also advocated for real community policing, not racist business-as-usual conduct. Bell will probably become the first African-American county prosecutor in Missouri history, as he is now running unopposed as November nears.
We must duplicate these victories wherever our political votes and voices allow. Prosecutors who distort justice must be forced from office. Black lives must be made to matter to those pretending to care about “law and order.” No one is better placed than Black folk to make this happen.
The November elections are crucial for many reasons. The issue of mass incarceration is also a major one for Black America. Even though African-Americans make up a mere 13% of the total American population, our community represents 40% of the prison population.
By contrast, White Americans are 64% of the American population and only 39% of the prison population. White folk are simply never arrested and prosecuted at the same rate as Black folk even when they commit the same type of crimes. Even when they are prosecuted and convicted the sentencings differ.
These numbers reflect the real racist nature of America’s so-called criminal justice system. For example, according to the ACLU’s “The War on Marijuana in Black and White” report, “Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.”
Why? Because Blacks are primary police targets for arrest. We know this by the secret tape recordings made by some honest officers and their public revelations. The officers who have come forward include NYPD Officers Adhyl Polanco, Adrian Schoolcraft, Craig Matthews and Pedro Serrano.
The mass incarceration of Black America starts with police interactions that target our communities in a discriminatory manner. The targeting is driven mostly through police quotas; some euphemistically refer to them as “performance goals.”
Black America must put this country on notice. Our communities will not tolerate racial policing.
This November, Black America must send a message that enough is enough. Politicians, prosecutors, and all other rascals who inflict damage on our communities must be shown the exit.