By Diane Bukowski
October 31, 2017
ARRANGEMENTS: The family has scheduled final arrangements for Nov. 10-11, 2017 to allow time to come from out of town and arrange schedules. They thank everyone for the condolences they have expressed.
Family hour and viewing:
Friday, Nov. 10 from 2 t0 8 p.m.
BUTLER FUNERAL HOME
14170 Morang Dr. Detroit, MI 48224
Saturday, Nov. 11 12:30 p.m.-1 p.m.
SECOND CANAAN CHURCH
9435 Hayes, Corner of Wade, Detroit, MI 48213
DETROIT – Arnetta Grable, Sr., warrior mother of Detroit’s movement against police brutality, and of Lamar Grable, executed by Detroit police Sept. 21, 1996, passed away Oct. 30 after a lengthy illness. Her family, including her younger children Aaron Grable and Arnetta (Rochelle) Grable, Jr., and friends crowded her hospital room on her 69th birthday Oct. 25 to shower her with their love and admiration.
The room was decorated with balloons and seven posters full of photos that chronicled the history of the movement Ms. Grable initiated.
Ms. Grable was known across the U.S. and across the world. She co-founded the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and was a leading member of the national October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. She most recently visited Cuba, where she was the keynote speaker at a rally against racist oppression in the U.S.
“I demand Lamar’s day in court,” Ms. Grable repeated through a seven-year court battle after Lamar’s slaying by now-notorious three-time killer cop Eugene Brown, aided by his partner Vicki Yost. Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair had refused to charge Brown criminally, after then Interim Detroit Police Chief Benny Napoleon covered up an internal police report recommending charges.
Aaron Grable told VOD recently that the entire family met each time Ms. Grable was offered a settlement to avoid a civil trial.
“We can’t miss what we never had,” Grable said he told his mother. For Ms. Grable, the battle was never about money. But Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Isidore Torres unsuccessfully attempted to appoint “guardian ad litems” for Grable and his sister Arnetta Jr., who was only nine years old when her oldest brother was gunned down. Torres and Ms. Grable’s first attorneys claimed she was not acting in her children’s best interests.
On Aug. 6, 2003, a civil jury rendered a $4 million verdict against Eugene Brown and the City of Detroit, after a trial in which renowned forensics examiner Dr. Werner Spitz testified that Lamar had been executed, shot eight times in the back, chest and arm.
The jury deliberated for only two hours. Both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court refused to overturn the verdict, citing Brown’s admission during the trial that he “might have” shot Grable three times in the chest as he lay on the ground.
“I kept my promise to my son, that I would vindicate his name,” Ms. Grable said after the verdict. “Lamar Grable’s creator will be Eugene Brown’s final judge. The Detroit Police Department and the badge that he wears will not protect him on judgment day.”
Then-Mayor Dennis Archer had told the media that Lamar Grable was a criminal who tried to kill a police officer. Brown, who previously served on Archer’s personal security staff, got an official commendation for the murder. Brown had already killed another man, Rodrick Carrington, in 1995, and would go on to kill Darren Miller in 1999. He shot and wounded a total of nine others without just cause.
He was never disciplined or fired for his actions, but instead was promoted to sergeant and recently retired with a full pension. Yost was promoted multiple times. She recently headed the Inkster Police Department. During her tenure, officer William Melendez severely beat and nearly killed Black motorist Floyd Dent, an incident that garnered world-wide publicity. Melendez was involved in killings and frame-ups during his earlier tenure with the Detroit Police Department. In one case, he framed up the son of Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality member Cornell Squires, a dear friend of Ms. Grable’s.
During Brown’s civil trial, evidence included Yost’s admission that she had taken home the gun she and Brown claimed Lamar was carrying before turning it into the forensics lab, and an expert’s determination that Brown himself had created bullet holes in his vest and shirt that did not line up with each other or a “bruise” on his chest.
Ms. Grable and Grable’s father, Herman Vallery, with whom Grable lived for the last six years of his life, testified that their son, who was 20 when he was killed, was a dutiful and loving child who did not use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, and was “very happy” about his life. Ironically, he was on his way home from a P.A.L. (Police Athletic League) church event when he was gunned down by Brown with Yost in a vacant lot on Field south of Kercheval.
“Every chance he got, he was shooting videos,” Vallery said. Grable ran his own video business, filming weddings and other events, and founded the Young Entrepreneur System (Y.E.S.), a program to teach young people how to run businesses. He also wrote poetry and was a musician. He had no criminal record.
Ms. Grable and the DCAPB continued the battle to press charges against Eugene Brown and his partner. After the Michigan Citizen and this reporter filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Detroit Police Department for a copy of the internal report on Brown’s killings, they were forced to take the request all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court before being granted a redacted version of the report, which confirmed that Dep. Chief Walter Shoulders and others on a special task force had recommended that Brown be charged in the three killings he committed.
Ms. Grable’s attorney David Robinson told this reporter that he had seen an unredacted copy, which included a description of the bullets from Brown’s weapon that were dug up from under the location in which Lamar Grable fell. Later, Ms. Grable and other family members and supporters demanded that Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy bring charges, since there is no statute of limitations on murder. She refused.
Ms. Grable, Vallery, and the family held commemorations of Lamar’s death on its anniversary every year. Last year, they had a plane fly a sky banner proclaiming “E. Brown and Vicki Yost—God saw what you did—Lamar Grable, Sept. 21, 1996” from the vacant lot on Field near Kercheval where he was killed, to downtown court and police headquarters and back.
Ms. Grable and the Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality sponsored a televised public hearing on police killings in Detroit at a City Council meeting in 1998, during which numerous other family members and victims came to testify. It marked the first time that such ongoing killings and police brutality were exposed in a public forum, subsequent to the late Mayor Coleman A. Young’s abolition of S.T.R.E.S.S. (Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets) in 1975. S.T.R.E.S.S. was a plainclothes police unit responsible for the murders of 22 unarmed men, all but one of them Black, during the 1970’s.
Ms. Grable worked with the families of many of victims, creating a “First-Aid Kit” giving them instructions on how to begin their own investigations of loved ones’ deaths, and counseling them. She had a degree in counseling and previously operated her own health food store, after working for the Wayne County Court system.
Ms. Grable traveled to Washington, D.C. and met with then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to demand federal action against Detroit police. Later, the U.S. Department of Justice imposed a “consent decree” on the Detroit police department. However, it did not stop the tide of killings by police.
Periodically, Ms. Grable sponsored national meetings of the Oct. 22 Coalition out of her home and local churches. The family of Aiyana Jones, 7, murdered by Detroit cop Joseph Weekley during a SWAT-style military police raid 2010, attended many of these meetings. They included Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones, mother Dominika Jones, and aunt Krystal Jones. She, her family and other members of the DCAPB attended rallies to protest the inter-agency task force killing of young father Terrance Kellom, 19, in 2014.
Ms. Grable’s battles foreshadowed the national “Black Lives Matter” movement, kicked off by the police execution of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. in 2014.
SEE LIST OF DETROITERS KILLED BY POLICE FROM 1992 AND ONGOING: AT http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/DETROITERS-KILLED-BY-POLICE-SINCE-1992-edited-1-1.pdf
Michigan Citizen stories by Diane Bukowski on Lamar Grable and Eugene Brown:
Detroit Free Press articles on Detroit police in 2000: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Detroit-cops-are-deadliest-in-U-S-1.pdf
Related from VOD: stories cited below on cases listed in “Detroiters killed by police from 1992-2016” are only a sampling of VOD’s coverage. To see more, put the names of those killed or framed by police into our search engine.
#JailKillerCops, #JusticeforLamarGrableRodrickCarringtonDarrenMiller, #Justice4AiyanaJones, #Justice4TerranceKellom, #Justice4KevinMatthews, #Justice4JanetWilson, #FreeCharlesLewis, #FreeAllJuvenileLifers, #BringDownPrisonNationPoliceState, #DownwithKymWorthy
I extend my deepest condolences in the loss of a sister/warrior who fought against police terrorism in the murder of her son and the family members of many others. May our freedom fighting ancestors embrace you as you join them. The fight against police terrorism continures✊
Arnetta was one of the strongest, bravest women I’ve ever known. The system threw everything it had at her and couldn’t break her. My love to Aaron, A.J. and Val.
This is from a poem I wrote to families of police murder victims who marched in 2015.
A Terrible Beauty
for the families of October 24, 2015
Pain and grief
scorch your soul
down to the soles of your feet,
strip you howling naked,
turn you inside out
like the flaying of skin.
You open these wounds, these cuts
again and again and again
for all to see
in the cause of being free.
I remember seeing ms Grable around doing protest or events but didn’t know who she wasvor her story. So sorry about her passing. Hope she will RIP with her son. God Bless.
My auntie Nita was a rebel with a cause I’m going to miss her dearly love your niece ronetta you are forever in our hearts I will see you again auntie