News Release Archive - Police Brutality

Is the Solution Defunding the Police, Or Community Control?

MAX RAMEAU, afrimax at niainteractive.com
NETFA FREEMAN, netfa at ips-dc.org, @Netfafree
Rameau and Freeman are writing a book, Community Control Over Police, and just wrote the piece “Community Control vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis” which was published by Black Agenda Report.

They write that it is “undeniable that policing in the U.S. is out of control and outrageously overfunded. Since 1977 crime has continued to fall, but police budgets have almost tripled to a staggering $115 billion per year.”

But, they argue, “Defunding the police will not abolish the police. Far from purging classism, racism and patriarchy from its ranks, defunding the police is likely to bring them back in their purest form and with a vengeance.”

They note that historically, “the shift from private security to public utility created the contradiction that allowed civil rights organizations to fight for equal protection under the law, public transparency and other reforms. Of course, this did not end police brutality or alter the fundamental function of police as protectors of wealth and enforcers of the will of the ruling class, but turning the police into a public utility did provide some important tools necessary for the reduction of harm and heightening contradictions when those harms came.”

They point to other examples around the world to illustrate their argument: “South Africa is a modern capitalist country that is mostly post-industrial and features pockets of development that mirror the wealthiest western nations. Yet, the government there does not spend anywhere near the amount of resources on police as the United States. So how do upscale malls, financial districts, wealthy white neighborhoods and other configurations of the ruling class protect themselves from the majority of residents living in poverty? They hire private security firms to enforce the rules of the establishment — not the laws of the province or country.”

Rameau is a Haitian-born Pan-African author and organizer with Pan-African Community Action. Freeman is on the Coordinating Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace and an organizer in Pan-African Community Action which published a longer version of their new piece.

Today, Sentencing for Pacifist Jailed for Protesting “Omnicidal” Weapons — Supported by Activist Thrown to Ground by Police

Early Friday, IPA put out a news release “Barr Prosecuting Pacifists: Activists Face Prison for Action at Huge Nuclear Weapons Base” about the years-long prosecution and the sentencing of Plowshares activists, which begins Monday morning with the sentencing (by video conference) of Elizabeth McAlister, who founded Jonah House in Baltimore with her late husband Phil Berrigan.

The elderly man who Buffalo police shoved to the sidewalk and lay bleeding from his head has been identified as Martin Gugino.
Gugino is a long-time peace activist and recently made a series of video statements about the sentencing of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists who entered a major nuclear weapons facility on April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination to “nonviolently, symbolically disarm” the weapons there.

The support group for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 states that the Catholic Worker activists, after entering the nuclear weapons facility in Georgia “then split into three groups and prayed, prayerfully and symbolically poured blood, spray-painted messages of disarming nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King, ‘the ultimate logic of racism is genocide’ and another naming the ominicidal logic of Trident. The seven waited to be arrested.”

One of them, Father Steven Kelly, remains in jail. Others, like McAlister, have spent over 17 months in jail prior to trial with little media attention and is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. ET Monday. The unusual sentencing will take place by video conferencing while she remains at home in Connecticut. For public access to audio of this hearing, dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234.

The group reports that “Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was granted an adjournment and given a new date on June 29, 3:30 p.m. in Brunswick, Georgia.”

The other activists — Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Kelly — have asked for an adjournment “and were given June 29 and 30 as their new dates to appear with no times specified yet. They were not told whether they’ll be allowed to be sentenced in person in open court or whether they’ll have to travel to Brunswick to be sentenced remotely by video once they get there.”

In one of his videos supporting Mark Colville and other Plowshares activists, Gugino addresses the federal court in Brunswick, Georgia where Colville is awaiting sentencing in support. Gugino cites Martin Luther King’s belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Gugino added: “What he doesn’t say there, is that it doesn’t bend itself; we have to bend it. We have to go out into the culture and act justly, act morally, do good, and little by little it will bend the culture towards justice. And some of the time, the culture doesn’t want to be bent, and so there will be conflict, and that’s just part of it. And Martin Luther King knew very well the possibilities.”

A year ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Prize winners wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking the charges against the activists be dropped. Instead, at their trial in October, the prosecution and judge prevented the activists from mounting a series of defenses, including presenting a justification or necessity defense with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg testifying on their behalf — or invoking international law. The prosecution and judge even effectively kept the reality of the nuclear weapons at the base from the jury. The activists were convicted on October 24 to minimal major media coverage.

Interviews are available with:
MARK COLVILLE, markcolville9761 at gmail.com, @amistadobrero
One of the seven Plowshares activists, Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. He used a hammer made from melted-down guns to smash parts of a shrine to nuclear weapons at the facility. In late December, the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

More information and interviews with other Plowshares activists are available via the group’s extensive website and via the media team:

Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com, @kingsbayplow7
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com

Rev. Hagler on Trump and Protests

Protestors face off with MPDC officers in riot gear at Lafayette Square following the murder of George Floyd.

Rev. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER, gshagler at verizon.net, @graylanhagler
Rev. Hagler is senior pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. and chairperson of Faith Strategies, an interfaith coalition. He tweeted about Trump using militarized forces to clear Lafayette Square so that he could hold a Bible in front of a church — and about how some esteem property over human life.

On Sunday, he delivered a sermon, “Divided We Fail,” saying: “I can’t stop thinking about where we are as a country because I do not see this unity or this sacred essential purpose in our existence as people in this America.”

Describing the death of George Floyd, Hagler asked: “Why didn’t the other cops hear [Floyd’s words, ‘I can’t breathe’] and respond? It was because they protect their own, occupy us, for the purpose of keeping us in our places.”

He spoke of “the long-held truth that whites see the police as their protectors of property and themselves against people who are black and not like them.”

In contrast to how police treat African Americans, he pointed to how “gun-touting white men can storm the Michigan Statehouse. …

“The problem with white America [is the] deluded and myth-based thinking that they built this country and made it wealthy. No, its wealth is because of exploited and enslaved labor” concluding that “unless the nation can confess … it will remain divided.”

Police Targeting Reporters; Big Media Hiding Police Abuse

TREVOR TIMM, trevor at freedom.press, @trevortimm
Executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, Timm tweeted a string of links to videos of police attacking journalists, writing: “Police are purposefully targeting reporters all over the country, in video after video. There’s no other way to describe it.”
Another tweet reads: “This might be the worst one yet. Journalist complies with order to get down, while making it known he’s press. While he is on the ground defenseless, a cop pepper sprays him at point blank range.”

Timm is a columnist for GEN magazine. In response to a Twitter thread about a series of videos showing a pattern of police violence against protesters from a fellow columnist, he tweeted: “I’ve been watching cable news for the last two hours, it is completely devoid of this reality. It’s been almost all about random looters, virtually zero coverage of the dozens of truly disturbing videos of cops brutalizing civilians for no reason.”

Timm has done extensive work on drones and notes that a Predator Drone launched from Grand Forks Air Force Base was deployed over the Minneapolis protests.

See past accuracy.org news releases on the militarization of the police.