“DETROIT WILL BREATHE” plans Public Tribunal June 20 5-8 PM, Hart Plaza to try Police Chief Craig, Mayor Mike Duggan for police brutality
Up to 4,000 protesters out daily in Detroit, thousands more across state, metro areas including suburbs since horrendous murder of George Floyd
Millions across the globe begin new era demanding profound changes to system, power to people in housing, health care, jobs, water, human rights
Tristan Taylor: Movement must recognize achievements to date, recognize that power is in the streets and remain there: We can win so much!
Seattle: Labor Council expels police union
BY DIANE BUKOWSKI
JUNE 15, 2020
DETROIT — As a global uprising galvanized by the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd May 31 continues, hundreds of protesters of all races, genders and ages turned out again Sat. June 13 in front of the Detroit Police Department’s “Public Safety Headquarters” for the 16th day of marches in Detroit.
They were joined by dozens of youth who marched from downtown’s Campus Martius chanting loudly, “Black Lives Matter.” (See video at top).
“We must unite and come together—too many of our people have died, brothers and sisters, old people, there is a horrible disease that killed mostly Black people,” one marcher cried out. “This is about more than just George Floyd, this is about millions that have been killed by the police, and it’s about the system that has disenfranchised Blacks across the country.”
Strikingly, the action included numerous young whites with signs recognizing their responsibility and that of other whites to fight to end racism and police brutality, and acknowledging that they have benefited from “white privilege” for centuries.
Thousands more turned out again across the metro area including the suburbs and in cities small and large across Michigan, Black and white alike, families with babies in strollers along with youth and elders, an astounding phenomenon not seen since the civil rights and anti-war movements.
“Detroit Will Breathe” leader Tristan Taylor announced the organization will hold a Public Tribunal Sat. Jan. 20 to try the city’s Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig for brutality against the protesters and to further present their demands.
It will be held at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, Woodward and Jefferson, from 5 PM to 8 PM.
“We have so much power, we have achieved so much and we can achieve so much more, we are not marching in vain,” Taylor told hundreds outside the DPD headquarters. “The public tribunal on the racist [Detroit] police brutality experienced by protesters is to make sure the truth is told and that we have justice.” He said protesters who have been arrested and charged, who are among those invited to attend and speak, cannot count on the courts to accomplish that.
Duggan temporarily put Detroit under a curfew while the DPD arrested hundreds, including members of the media, using tear gas and rubber bullets, claiming protests were run by outside instigators. Protests in Detroit began peacefully, but were immediately met by walls of police in riot gear and in military tanks funded by the U.S. Pentagon.
Taylor noted Detroit City Council’s intent to vote June 16 on a contract with DataWorks, which runs the city’s “Green Light” program, or “hypersurveillance of Black and Brown bodies” as Taylor termed it. The Council appeared to have removed the item as of June 15 according to emails from the City Clerk’s office.
The Detroit News reported that caravans of up to 33 “Detroit Will Breathe” cars descended on the homes of Council members Andre Spivey, James Tate and Janee Ayers June 15, honking their horns in opposition. The Council members generally reacted in anger, with Spivey saying, “I pray that protesters try not to make Detroit like other cities; that’s not our narrative.”
Despite public notice of removal of the item from the agenda, it went ahead and held discussion through “Zoom” on June 16, with public comments from residents including Tawana Petty and Eric Blount.
Petty said major corporations and over a dozen cities in other states are considering bans on facial recognition software. The News quoted her saying, “For some reason, the blackest city in America is doubling down.” It likewise quoted Blount, who called the software “a tool of institutional racism to the highest degree.”
“Detroit will Breathe” has joined forces with veteran revolutionary organizers in Detroit, from the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Evictions, Foreclosures and Utility Shut-offs, to the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, to pursue demands encompassing a broad scope of people’s needs.
Young women who spoke at the rally called on protesters to avoid divisions and keep the broader picture in mind of the whole historic movement that has arisen in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and “keep our eyes on the prize,” as Taylor said, quoting a slogan harking back to the massive civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
At the rally, Dave Sole of Moratorium NOW! detailed many of those demands, including the fight against 3,000 evictions planned in Detroit after the current moratorium expires June 30, and the ongoing battle to provide ALL those serviced by the Detroit Water Department and the regional Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) with water, which they have declared a human rights. The GLWA was birthed during Detroit’s phony bankruptcy proceedings, after Detroit refused for decades to give up its control of water.
After the rally, protesters marched to downtown Detroit, with a smaller group proceeding to southwest Detroit. “Detroit Will Breathe” has been sponsoring rallies throughout the city’s neighborhoods for the last weeks and organizers said it will continue to do so. They also plan to continue marching daily. Their plans can be found at http://www.detroitwillbreathe.info, at https://www.facebook.com/detroitwillbreathe/ and on Instagram, at @detroitwillbreathe. The group also has a Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/detroit-will-breathe.
MOVEMENT APPROACHES WAR
So far, the movement has achieved significant victories across the country, victories that were not dreamed of “even two weeks ago,” as Taylor said. The victories show unprecedented fear of the escalating protests on the part of public leaders who have rushed to consider and implement some of BLM’s demands.
Meanwhile, battles in the streets are escalating nationally and globally, while police retaliate with new killings. At least two lynchings in California and officially unsolved murders of other BLM activists have occurred, as they did after the historic Ferguson uprising for #Mike Brown in 2014.
In New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio has dismantled the NYPD’s plainclothes “anti-crime” units comprising over 600 officers in the wake of long-standing complaints from the Black and Brown communities. The New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo earllier struck down a state statute barring disclosure of police disciplinary records and say they will open them to the public.
Such disclosures will benefit thousands of prisoners locked up for decades on false confessions and witness testimony by officers who have a long record of coercing such actions with threats and prolonged interrogations. The failure the disclose this information in their cases is outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brady v. Maryland :: 373 U.S. 83 (1963). See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/2019/11/18/hundreds-of-police-officers-are-proven-liars-some-still-help-send-people-to-prison-usa-today/.
DeBlasio just announced that NYPD officers now face a mandatory demand to turn in all their body-cam videos no longer than 30 days afterwards.
City Councils around the nation are initiating ordinances that would ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants and outlaw the use of tear gas and pepper spray on protesters, and other instruments of the police state.
In Detroit and Michigan, officials are slow to move on demands for a registry of police officers with prior complaints and convictions and oppose demands to de-fund the police, and other proposals aimed at reigning in the police. This is despite New York’s actions and even U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent executive order which would establish a database “that tracks police officers with excessive use of force complaints in their records” but is otherwise unsatisfactory to many activists.
State Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Inkster), a retired Wayne County Sheriff, says he is putting together a bill to open police disciplinary records statewide, but so far it has not been finalized amid opposition by various forces.
Carter told the Detroit News, “The first thing police say when something bad happens is, ‘We need more training. But I’ve gone through a police academy. I’ve taught at a police academy. I’ve been to FBI training — and nowhere is training part of what we witnessed in Minneapolis. You don’t need more training in situations like that — you need more accountability.”
But Carter as well as Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and AG Dana Nessel are opposed to demands to de-fund the police, with Nessel saying she has “friends” in police departments.
On June 16, Nessel released a program of police reform proposals she is submitting to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), which requires that law enforcement officers in the State be licensed. See full list at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/MI-AG-Police_Reform_693872_7.pdf
The proposal would authorize MCOLES to revoke an officer’s state license for conduct that “adversely affects the officer’s fitness or that is detrimental to the reputation, integrity and discipline of the department;” proposes departments must maintain misconduct records indefinitely and calls for “a centralized registry of misconduct that is accessible by the public and to law enforcement agencies across the state to make it more difficult for a bad officer to move to another jurisdiction.”
Nessel proposes to amend state law governing the forfeiture of employee benefits so that officers lose pensions and other retirement benefits on conviction of felonies including severe injury and death.
Neesel wants to mandate that law enforcement agencies report use of force data, by race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, and age. Among other regulations, Nessel would “create an independent investigative and prosecutorial process for deaths that involve the actions of law enforcement officers.”
But the National #Black Lives Matter movement has endorsed the more fundamental demand to defund the police, which strikes at the heart of the racist infrastructure, in https://blacklivesmatter.com/defundthepolice/. It also has a national petition at that site.
De-funding and de-militarizing the police is the top demand of “#Detroit Will Breathe.” It borders closely on another demand to ABOLISH THE POLICE, and replace them with community-run structures. Advocates say that demand recognizes the very nature of the police, which has U.S. origins in the 18th century as slave-catchers, and under the capitalist system are structured to protect the property interests of the rich.
Both de-funding and abolition advocates want to channel the billions in funding currently going to police and military across the U.S. into providing for the needs of the people, including housing, health care, free access to water and other utilities if needed, and education through the college level, accompanied by cancellation of trillions in student debt owed to the U.S. government.
In Seattle, protesters have taken over a four block-plus area outside a police precinct that was boarded up during the #GeorgeFloyd protests and made it into a police-free zone called variously the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or CHAZ, and the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, CHOP. Politico says, “From there, the fluid protests, spearheaded by BLM but involving a wide spectrum of activists and ordinary citizens, coalesced with surprising rapidity into something like a provisional government.”
The Seattle Mayor and its Police Department have recognized the zone, and are now negotiating with the leaders of CHOP over the need for public passage through various streets, but controversy continues.
Meanwhile, says the Seattle Times, “The Martin Luther King County Labor Council, a powerful umbrella group that’s backed the Seattle Police Officers Guild in past contract talks, voted Wednesday night [June 17] to expel the union.
“We need to defund the police so we’re not being shot and killed,” said Evana Enabulele, an organizer with Decriminalize Seattle, which is pushing the city to address public safety by investing in basic needs and social services rather than a police system with racist roots. “When you defund the police, you’re able to actually invest in programs for Black folks and give folks the things they need.”
POLICE CONTINUE KILLINGS; #BLM ACTIVISTS & FAMILIES SLAIN; 6 BLACKS, LATINOS LYNCHED
#RayshardBrooks: In the wake of these victories, and even after police officers nationally including Derek Chauvin and his three fellow killer cops have been fired and face serious criminal charges including second-degree murder, rank-and-file police are rising up to re-assert their murderous authority in the face of the massive protests.
The people of Atlanta, Georgia flooded back into the streets in the wake of the killing of young father #RayshardBrooks, 27, by Atlanta cops Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan on June 12. Outraged, they eventually burned down the Wendy’s restaurant in whose parking lot the killing happened.
An autopsy found that Brooks suffered two gunshot wounds to his back and he died of organ injuries and blood loss, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner who ruled Brooks’ death a homicide.
On June 17, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, Jr. announced charges of felony murder against Rolfe, and multiple counts of aggravated assault for wildly shooting in the direction of witnesses in a nearby car.
Howard said Brooks did not pose an immediate threat when Rolfe shot him, that hew was “cooperative” and “jovial” with officers after he was found “peacefully” sleeping in his car and subjected to a sobriety test.
“For 41 minutes and 17 seconds, he followed their instructions, he answered the questions,” Howard said. “Mr. Brooks was never informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence. . . .[then] grabbed by the rear.”
Rolfe was fired immediately after the killing and Brosnan put on administrative leave by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms after police chief Erica Shields resigned. Protests have continued to escalate, crowned by a massive march in downtown Atlanta Sunday, June 14 sponsored by the NAACP.
The unedited bodycam video, below, shows that Brooks engaged in a lengthy, low-key discussion with the officers lasting nearly 45 minutes, beginning first when Brosnan stopped him in the Wendy’s. At the conclusion of the discussion, Rolfe had him perform a walking test over a long period of time, and then demanded that he take a breathalyzer test. It was later revealed Brooks had a low level of alcohol in his blood. Brooks had told officers he had only one and a half drinks.
The last two minutes of the video show Rolfe abruptly handcuffing Brooks, without even telling him the results of the test. Off guard, Brooks resisted the arrest, which appeared to be without cause since he had offered to walk back to his sister’s nearby apartment and leave the car in the parking lot. (Michigan’s Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal to resist an unlawful arrest–see)
Rolfe then stunned him with a Taser, a potentially fatal instrument that deals extreme pain to the recipient. Likely perceiving himself under severe and unwarranted attack, Brooks grabbed the taser away from Rolfe and ran with it. As he ran, he saw Rolfe take out his gun, and then fired the taser he had at Rolfe in self-defense. Rolfe shot him in the back twice, and he fell to the ground. The bodycam video does not show officers attempting to render any medical aid to him, or even calling EMS, as he laying bleeding out on the ground according to the ME. He continued to speak, telling the officers to call the EMS, indicating that he likely might have survived with immediate medical aid.
Below are videos published by the New York Times showing the final portions of the police bodycam videos along with videos from witnesses and the Wendy’s surveillance video.
Since the charges have been brought against Rolfe, Atlanta police officers are beginning to call in sick. They also featured an unrecognizable photo on their Facebook page of a woman in black (photo at left) they claimed initiated the burning of the Wendy’s, so they could pursue charges. Cops on the Facebook page posted numerous derogatory comments about her, then posted a photo showing a woman in yellow and green claiming it was it was the same woman. The Atlanta Police Department official website carries a photo of Atlanta police in riot gear in a large military tank (below).
US DOJ acts against those accused of arson in Minneapolis Police Precinct, but will it take action against murders by police?
The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that they had “captured” Dylan “Shakespeare” Robinson of Brainerd, Minnesota in Colorado after bringing arson charges against him. They alleged he was shown in various media coverage among the individuals who firebombed the Minneapolis Police Station.
They earlier arrested Braden Wolfe and Bryce Williams (see photo at left). The USDOJ is devoting substantial time and effort on such charges against protesters.
At the same time they contend they are investigating the police murders which caused the deaths of #GeorgeFloyd of Minneapolis, #RayshardBrooks of Atlanta, and (seen below) #ManuelEllis of Tacoma, Washington.
Even under President Barack Obama, the USDOJ actually participated in the 2009 assassination of #ImamLuqmanAbdullah, leader of a mosque in a poor Black neighborhood in Detroit, shooting him 21 times in an ambush as he defended himself from an attack by a police dog which was attacking and biting him. The USDOJ eventually investigated itself and unsurprisingly, cleared all involved in the Imam’s death, including their own agents, and Detroit and Dearborn, MI police.
Even under Democratic President Barack Obama, the USDOJ did not bring civil rights charges against dozens of cops implicated in the police murders of #MichaelBrown in Ferguson, MO in 2014, which gave rise to the #BLM movement, and hundreds of other police murders which ensued across the nation.
#BLM protests are invigorating support for those recently killed by police as well. They include Manuel Ellis March 3 after being tased, punched and choked by Tacoma, Washington police officers.
Releases of two new passersby videos of his death, including one with audio where witnesses are pleading with police, “Ohmigod, just arrest him, stop hitting him, ohmigod that was so scary,” in the video below, which is dated June 5. The Ellis case is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice as well, after dissatisfaction with city and state investigations was expressed by his family.
Meanwhile, Austin, Texas police were captured on video kneeling on a teen’s neck during a #GeorgeFloyd protest there. Numerous other instances of police brutality against #GeorgeFloyd protesters have been reported across the country in the months since his death on May 31.
Over the past weeks two young Black men, Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch from California, and two so far unidentified Houston men have been found hanged to death in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.
Fuller had just participated in a #BLM protest in front of Palmdale City Hall, where he was found lynched June 10. Malcolm Harsch of Victorville, CA was found hanged outside the Victorville City library June 16. Two men, one Latino and the second Black, were found hanged in Houston, Texas, home of #GEORGEFLOYD, and site of his funeral this week.
Investigators in the Fuller and Marsch deaths at first termed them suicides, but were met with cries of outrage by their families, who said they had no reason to kill themselves, and protesters have massed to march against the lynchings in both cities.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a Black teen was found hanged outside an elementary school in Houston, while two days earlier, Houston police found a Hispanic man hanged outside a store in the community of Shady Acres. Authorities have not identified the men and were still awaiting autopsy results from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
“We’re talking about multiple people hanging from trees across America in the middle of a race war that’s going on,” said resident Anthony Scott,” the AJC reported. Another man who would not give his name said, “With everything that’s been transpiring, with all of the hangings that have been taking place within the last two weeks, why wouldn’t you automatically assume foul play? No one is hanging themselves from a tree.
The AJC also reported that “The family of 19-year-old Oluwatoyin Salau, a woman who recently protested after the death of George Floyd, confirmed that the activist was found dead after being missing for more than a week.
“Salau was one of two victims discovered Saturday night off Monday Road in southeast Tallahassee, [Florida] the Tallahassee Police Department revealed June 15. . . .The other victim, Victoria “Vicki” Sims, had also been reported missing. Sims was a retired state worker and was well-known in her community for volunteering for local Democratic races.”
In 2018, Danye Jones, the 16-year-old son of prominent Ferguson #BLM protester Melissa McKinnies was found hanged in their backyard. McKinnies has said he had every reason to live, and decried a ruling by the Medical Examiner that he was a suicide,
She posted on her Facebook page, “My baby was lynched,” with photos of him as she found him hanging. Her actions were reminiscent of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s mother displaying his mangled body during his funeral decades ago, after he was lynched for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
After the Ferguson rebellion of 2014, numerous activists were targeted and killed, including DeAndre Joshua in November 2014 and Darren Seals in September 2016, who both were found shot to death inside torched vehicles. Seals was with Michael Brown the day he was murdered by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, and spoke out constantly about his friend’s death. Another protester, Shawn Gray, who testified during grand jury proceedings, was also found dead later.
Authorities claimed three other Ferguson protesters committed suicide, MarShawn McCarrel of Columbus, Ohio, in February 2016, Edward Crawford Jr., 27, in May 2017, and Bassem Masri, a 31-year-old Palestinian American.
On June 17, police claimed Terron Boone, the brother of Robert Fuller, was shot and killed during an interaction with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Rosamund, California, according to a statement from a lawyer for the Fuller family.
According to officials, it began as a search for “a kidnap domestic assault suspect” by the department’s Major Crimes Bureau. Boone was in the front passenger seat with a woman driver and a 7-year-old girl in the back seat. “Detectives followed the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop,” the sheriff’s office said “The suspect opened the front passenger door of the vehicle and engaged the Deputies by firing multiple rounds at them with a handgun.”
They said Boone was struck several times in the “upper torso,” and pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver was also shot once in the chest. She was reportedly treated at a hospital and released. A 7-year-old girl was in the car but was not injured.
There is no law enforcement video available of the shooting, because neither the detectives involved in the chase nor their vehicles were equipped with cameras. They claimed investigators are trying to recover video from other systems in the area.
However, one witness, who watched from the balcony of a nearby apartment building said that she believes she heard “four or five gunshots” and then saw Boone’s body slumped over, dead, in the passenger seat of the vehicle, contradicting the sheriffs’ version.
Video of the scene (below) show all of the vehicle’s windows, driver and passenger side in the front, and both in the rear of the SUV, completely blasted out.
RELATED STORIES (to be posted)
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