News Release Archive - Police Brutality

Biden’s Pick of Rahm Emanuel: “Disrespect for Black Lives”

File:Rahm Emanuel, official photo portrait color (cropped).jpgWith the Senate expected to soon take up the nomination of Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan, opponents are intensifying grassroots efforts to prevent confirmation. Last week — adding to a range of media denunciations since the White House announced the selection of the former Chicago mayor — a columnist for Emanuel’s biggest hometown newspaper lambasted the nomination as a “cynical, ludicrous idea.” Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a statement denouncing the Emanuel pick while two other members of Congress, Cori Bush and Mondaire Jones, released a similar joint statement.

While noting that a national NoToRahm campaign is underway with constituents calling for senators to reject the nomination, the Chicago Tribune column by Rex Huppke quoted the campaign’s coalition: “Emanuel has a long record of being extremely undiplomatic, abrasive and contemptuous of humane values. His record as mayor of Chicago, where his administration oversaw the coverup of the horrific police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, is especially troubling.”

Earlier this summer, victims and relatives of victims of police brutality in Chicago while Rahm Emanuel was mayor released a joint statement that said: “During his eight years in office, Emanuel displayed contempt for communities of color. He showed callous disregard for terrible losses suffered by the families of those who were killed or brutalized by officers of the Chicago Police Department.” They added: “Rahm Emanuel became a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol.”

A longtime Chicago journalist and political consultant, Delmarie Cobb, told Huppke that “Rahm Emanuel was a disaster for the Black community in Chicago. The remnants of his administration are still very much evident and we’re still living through them. So the idea that someone like him, who was a complete failure as a mayor, would be rewarded with a high-profile ambassadorship or anything in the presidential administration is just unbelievable.”

And Cobb said: “It was Black voters who took Biden over the top. He would not be president if it weren’t for Black voters. So this is an insult to Black voters everywhere, not just in Chicago, to put someone in such a high-profile position whose actions with Laquan McDonald alone should be disqualifying to ever hold a position in anyone’s administration.”

Meanwhile, a Sept. 1 Chicago Tribune news story reported that 28 relatives of Chicago victims of police violence “voiced opposition to an Emanuel appointment to ambassador. Arewa Karen Winters, who said her nephew was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in 2014, noted Biden’s support for George Floyd’s family and police reform. ‘Rahm Emanuel does not deserve to be the ambassador of anything,’ Winters said in a video voicing opposition. ‘As families who have been traumatized by police violence and terror, we are very hurt and we feel betrayed at even the thought of President Biden wanting to appoint Rahm to such a prestigious position.’”

Cobb wrote in an article that Emanuel “closed 50 public schools in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods. He closed six of 12 mental health clinics in these communities. Now, who needs access to mental health care more than Chicago’s Black and brown residents who are underserved, underemployed and under constant threat of violence?”

Cobb is available for interviews and can put journalists in communication with relatives of victims of Chicago police violence during Emanuel’s time as mayor.

DELMARIE COBB, dlcobb@thepublicityworks.net

Report: $21 Trillion Financial Cost of Militarization Since 9/11

LINDSAY KOSHGARIAN, lkoshgarian@nationalpriorities.org@lindsaykosh
    Program director of the National Priorities Project, Koshgarian is co-author of the just released report: “State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11,” which states: “Over the 20 years since 9/11, the U.S. has spent $21 trillion on foreign and domestic militarization.

    “Of that total, $16 trillion went to the military — including at least $7.2 trillion for military contracts.

    “Another $3 trillion went to veterans’ programs, $949 billion went to Homeland Security, and $732 billion went to federal law enforcement. …

    “Spending on the DoD totaled $14 trillion over the last 20 years, including $1.9 trillion in funds appropriated specifically for wars through the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Even though in recent years the fund was increasingly used for routine military expenses (or ‘base requirements’), this total falls short of estimating the true costs of the War on Terror. More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s $14 trillion in spending over the last 20 years was for operations, purchasing and research and development. Operations and maintenance ($5.7 trillion) includes costs for operating, deploying, and maintaining weapons systems, including the military’s nearly 300 ships and more than 13,000 aircraft, and facilities, as well as training and other costs. Procurement ($2.8 trillion) includes the purchases and upgrades of major weapons systems such as ships and aircraft, as well as land vehicles, missiles, and ammunition.”

Relatives of Chicago Police Victims Oppose Ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador to Japan

Victims and relatives of victims of police brutality in Chicago while Rahm Emanuel was mayor released a joint statement Thursday against the reported plan by President Biden to nominate Emanuel as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

“During his eight years in office, Emanuel displayed contempt for communities of color,” says the statement. “He showed callous disregard for terrible losses suffered by the families of those who were killed or brutalized by officers of the Chicago Police Department.”

The 28 signers of the statement declared: “The possibility that Rahm Emanuel will become the U.S. ambassador to Japan is abhorrent to those of us who continue to mourn the loss of our loved ones due to police violence that he aided and abetted as mayor of Chicago. … No president who is truly serious about stopping brutality and murders by police would nominate Rahm Emanuel for an important government post. …. Rahm Emanuel became a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol.”

Emanuel was mayor of Chicago from 2011 to 2019.

Five of the signers are willing to talk to journalists:

They are reachable via DELMARIE COBB, dlcobb@thepublicityworks.net

DOROTHY HOLMES
Holmes is the mother of Ronald “Ronnie Man” Johnson, who was shot in the back by CPD the same week that Laquan McDonald was killed in 2014. Video featuring Ms. Holmes is being released today. She says: “Rahm Emanuel covered up the murder of my son.”

AREWA KAREN WINTERS
Winters is the aunt of Pierre Loury, killed by CPD in April 2016. Pierre was shot in the back as he was climbing a fence fleeing from the police. Video featuring Ms. Winters is being released today.

EMMETT FARMER
Farmer is the father of Flint Farmer, killed in June 2011. Police officer Gildardo Sierra shot him in the back three times as he lay on the ground. He didn’t have a weapon. Sierra was involved in multiple shootings as an officer.

KENYATTA BRAND
Brand is the sister of Rekia Boyd, who was killed by off-duty officer Dante Servin in 2012. Servin was drinking, then driving when he saw young people in the park. He shot at one of the young men, killing Rekia. State’s attorney Anita Alvarez undercharged him — manslaughter instead of first or second degree murder — and then the judge pronounced a mistrial instead of requiring the state to charge him correctly.

MARTINEZ SUTTON
Sutton is the brother of Rekia Boyd.

Colombia: La Resistencia

FORREST HYLTON, [currently in Brazil] forresthylton@gmail.com
Hylton teaches history and politics at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín. He just wrote the piece “La Resistencia” for the London Review of Books.

He writes: “Long one of Latin America’s most conservative countries, Colombia is undergoing a sea change. The second general strike in as many years evolved rapidly into a nationwide urban insurrection. ‘La Resistencia’ has endured for a month in the teeth of ferocious repression. …

“Soon after the protests started on 28 April, the proposed tax reform package that had triggered the strike was withdrawn, proposed healthcare reforms died in committee, and the finance minister and the foreign minister were forced to step down. There were (toothless) calls for dialogue and de-escalation from the international community. Yet the overwhelmingly non-violent protests have continued, as has the government’s response using deadly force.

Ninis (young people without education or job prospects) from urban peripheries have been the leading force on the barricades and they have faced the brunt of police terror — some of it captured on cell phone videos, including sexual assault, torture and murder — in Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, Cartago, Buga, Tuluá, Cali, Popayán, Pasto, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla. They and their families account for perhaps half the population, and on the rare occasions they are interviewed, they say things like: ‘We have no future because they have taken everything from us, even fear. We have nothing left to lose.’ This was already true before Covid-19 hit, but lack of basic income support during the pandemic has made daily life impossible.”

International Commission Charges that U.S. Police Violence is Torture

KERRY McLEAN, kerrymclean@gmail.com
McLean is an international human rights lawyer and the spokesperson for the Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence, which just released their extensive report [PDF].

The commission was set up by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, National Conference of Black Lawyers, and National Lawyers Guild “to examine whether widespread and systematic racist violence in policing against people of African descent” in the U.S. constitutes violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The report finds “a pattern and practice of racist police violence in the U.S. in the context of a history of oppression dating back to the extermination of First Nations peoples, the enslavement of Africans, the militarization of U.S. society, and the continued perpetuation of structural racism.”

These conclusions were drawn by twelve Commissioners — judges, lawyers, professors and experts from Pakistan, South Africa, Barbados, Japan, India, Nigeria, France, Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, the United Kingdom, and Jamaica — who held public hearings from January 18 to February 6, 2021.

The Commissioners “find violations of the rights to: life, security, freedom from torture, freedom from discrimination, mental health, access to remedies for violations, fair trial and presumption of innocence, and to be treated with humanity and respect. … The Commissioners find that U.S. laws and police practices do not comply with the international standards on the use of force, which require legal basis, legitimate objective, necessity, precautions, proportionality, protection of life, non-discrimination, and accountability. …

“Many Black people are killed in broad daylight to intimidate communities and because officers don’t fear accountability.”

What Does the Conviction of Chauvin Mean?

MAX RAMEAU, afrimax@niainteractive.com
NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree
Rameau and Freeman are writing a forthcoming book, Community Control Over Police, and wrote the piece “Community Control Vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis.”

Freeman said today: “There is a struggle to control the narrative of what the Chauvin conviction actually means. This struggle is between, on the one hand, the people whose actions in the streets nearly a year ago sent then president Trump fleeing to a bunker and forcing the prosecution of Chauvin. And on the other hand you have the ruling class establishment trying to uphold the illusion of shared interests and obscure notions of systemic change. The same President Biden claiming the country must ‘confront head-on systemic racism and the racial disparities in policing and the criminal justice system’ is the same Biden who has sped up the flow of military gear to police departments, exceeding in this first quarter of 2021 such transfers under his predecessor.

“Real justice for the Black and Brown working class against the repression of police requires a power shift. It requires putting such forces and all the resources allocated to it under the collective democratic control of those most directly impacted by this repression.”

Also, see recent Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Did Biden’s Pick for Border Agency Cover-up Police Killings?

Did Biden’s Pick for Border Agency Cover-up Police Killings?

The New York Times reports in “Not Your Usual Police Chief: Biden Picks Trump Critic to Run Border Agency” that “Chris Magnus, the Tucson police chief who carried a Black Lives Matter sign at a protest, was chosen to lead Customs and Border Protection.”

But journalist Dennis Bernstein examined Magnus’s record as police chief in both Tucson and Richmond, Calif. Bernstein’s three-part expose, “Fatal Errors” examines Magnus’ record in the two cities where he held sway and scrutinizes his actions in two deadly cases where young Latino men died in custody when there was no justification for their deaths.

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein@gmail.com, @flashpointsnews
Bernstein is an award-winning journalist and executive producer of “Flashpoints,” broadcast from KPFA and syndicated on Pacifica Radio.

Last year he wrote an in-depth three-part series for Who.What.Why. titled “Fatal Errors.” The pieces included: “Police Brutality in Tucson,” “Shot by Police in Richmond, CA” and “Police Reformer — or Cover-Up Artist?”

    Bernstein said: “Magnus of the Tucson PD really wants you to think of him as a reformer. But while he was tweeting about how he would never allow this kind of in-custody police killing that he had witnessed in the 8:46 second killing of George Floyd, the chief’s men had done the Kenosha cops one better. Their in-custody suffocation of a brown man went on for over 12 minutes and the chief covered it up for over two months, even as he commented as a reformer about George Flyod.

“Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez desperately pleads as he drops to all fours, naked, disoriented, and terrified in a darkened corner of his grandmother’s Tucson garage. He wails and screams as three officers swoop down on him, forcing his face into the floor as they double handcuff his arms behind his back. He offers no resistance, apologizing, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I love everybody.’ He cries out for his grandmother to help, ‘Nana, ayúdame! … Please give me some water. … I can’t breathe!” See video.

“‘Tranquilo! Chill the f– out, man,’ shouts Officer Ryan Starbuck, bearing down on the man’s back.”

    Following the killing of Ingram-Lopez last year, his family settled for $2.9 million in December.

“Bad Apple” Argument Obscures Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com
Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, just wrote the piece “Calling Chauvin a ‘Bad Apple’ Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence, which states: “As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd proceeds, the prosecution will try to portray the defendant as a ‘bad apple.’ In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell alerted the jurors that they would hear police officials testify Chauvin used excessive force in violation of departmental policy to apply restraints only as necessary to bring a person under control. However, this argument obfuscates the racist violence inherent in the U.S. system of policing. …

“Black people who are unarmed or not attacking police are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, the Brookings Institution found. … More than 75 percent of the time, chokeholds are applied on men of color. …

“Prosecutors were compelled to bring charges against Chauvin because the whole world had seen him kill Floyd. After massive protests erupted following the horrifying video of Chauvin’s torture of Floyd — now known to have lasted nine minutes and 29 seconds — the MPD [Minnesota Police Department] fired Chauvin and prosecutors charged him with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They later added a charge of second-degree murder.

“But what would have happened if eyewitnesses had not recorded Floyd’s death? Would Chauvin have been fired and charged with murder? …

“For nine minutes and 29 seconds, Chauvin continued to choke Floyd as several bystanders watched, many visibly recording the killing. Chauvin didn’t try to hide what he was doing. As eyewitness Genevieve Hansen testified, Chauvin looked ‘comfortable’ with his weight on Floyd’s neck.”

Tucson Police Chief: Reformer or Serial Cover-up Artist? What Might Real Reform Be?

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein@gmail.com,
Bernstein is the award-winning journalist and executive producer of “Flashpoints,” broadcast from KPFA and syndicated on Pacifica Radio.

    He just wrote a three-part series for Who.What.Why. titled “Fatal Errors“: “Police Brutality in Tucson,” “Shot by Police in Richmond, CA” and “Police Reformer — or Cover-Up Artist?” 

    Bernstein said today: “Chief Chris Magnus of the Tucson PD really wants you to think of him as a reformer. But while he was tweeting about how he would never allow this kind of in-custody police killing that he had witnessed in the 8:46 second killing of George Floyd, the chief’s men had done the Kenosha cops one better. Their in-custody suffocation of a brown man went on for over 12 minutes and the chief covered it up for over two months, even as he commented as a reformer about George Floyd.

“Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez desperately pleads as he drops to all fours, naked, disoriented, and terrified in a darkened corner of his grandmother’s Tucson garage. He wails and screams as three officers swoop down on him, forcing his face into the floor as they double handcuff his arms behind his back. He offers no resistance, apologizing, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I love everybody.’ He cries out for his grandmother to help, ‘Nana, ayúdame! … Please give me some water. … I can’t breathe!” See video.

“‘Tranquilo! Chill the f– out, man,’ shouts Officer Ryan Starbuck, bearing down on the man’s back.”

Bernstein’s three-part expose, “Fatal Errors” examines Chief Magnus’ record in the two cities where he held sway and scrutinizes his actions in two deadly cases where young Latino men died in custody when there was no justification for their deaths.

Debate Confusion, Trump’s Racism and Biden’s Praise of Police

Newsweek reports in “Did Donald Trump Condemn the Proud Boys and White Supremacists?” that at last night’s debate moderated by Chris Wallace, President Trump, when asked to condemn white supremacist violence, said “Sure I’m willing to do that,” but then told the group the Proud Boys to “stand by.”

NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree
Freeman is co-writing a forthcoming book, Community Control Over Police, and recently wrote the piece “Community Control Vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis.” He is also an organizer with Pan-African Community Action and an analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Freeman said today: “Corporate media’s moderation and coverage of the debates is just as complicit in mass confusion. Biden’s rejection of community control over police is comparable to Trump’s refusal to denounce the white supremacist Proud Boys.

“Everyone knows Trump is racist. But for the questions not to be softballs they should have asked Biden about the connections between racism and policing. Only a month ago we saw in Kenosha and other places amiable interactions between police and right-wing militias mobilized against anti-racism and anti-police brutality activists. Yet Biden manages to get in praise of police and a denunciation of so-called violent activists with no interrogation from Wallace.”