by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends
“This latest yet unidentified St. Louis police executioner claimed that he followed Myers and his friends because he felt that the teens were acting suspiciously.”
Ten minutes earlier he had taken the turkey sandwich Berhe Beyet made him and cradled it away from his friend’s playful snatching. Then stood breaking off a piece that he shared with another friend. By now, his mother has seen this tape of him standing in silhouette, and watched his peaceful chewing. On his way out the door he gives yet another friend a bite of what he did not know was his last supper, walking off into a night every parent in America cannot begin to imagine. A night every black person in America knows is coming and that the next one coming could be them—might as well be them—every time they imagine the high caliber bullet shattering his cheek bone, eye socket, aorta the medical examiner identified as the cause of death.
The ten minute clock begins running out of time as he steps outside the door and the security camera changes from color to black and white, where the silent footage is of body language, is of laughter and play and ease, making this confluence of uncertainty with the inevitable more cruel still.
Uncertainty, because we will never know what happened in the ten minutes after Vonderrit Myers Jr., 18, carried his turkey sandwich out of frame and into the last ten minutes of his life. Two wildly divergent narratives have emerged: One, told in very carefully crafted language with particulars to this incident sprinkled with assertions of the officer’s feeling afraid for his life and his almost reckless waiting for the suspect to fire three rounds his way before dispatching what turned out to be a seasoned and precise lethal response. Myers has been portrayed as a troubled, repeat offender from the wrong side of the tracks. The other narrative, from eye witnesses, most of them black, some of them having themselves been previously fingerprinted, pointing their fingers at a rogue cop out to “put down” a young “suspicious”-looking black male, their voices minimized and cheapened by the state-sponsored press coming out of St. Louis.
“The Ruger 9mm Myers is said to have fired at the stalking vigilante-cum-police-officer that turns into a Smith and Wesson .038 in the police department’s next revision.”
There will be solemn intonations on the responsibility to withhold comment on the ongoing investigation beyond proclaiming that Myers was no stranger to the criminal justice system. After all this time we might even be tempted to believe these depictions but for the constantly changing details in the official police story: the hoody Vonderril was said to be wearing when he was attacked by the off duty police officer—said to have been pulled off during a scuffle with his assassin—that he isn’t wearing ten minutes earlier when last seen in the security video; the bushes Voderrel is said to have jumped out of but are missing from the crime scene photos; the Ruger 9mm he is said to have fired at the stalking vigilante-cum-police-officer that turns into a Smith and Wesson .038 in the police department’s next revision.
Or the overt omission of disclosure about the St. Louis police union rep, Jeff Roorda, who was quoted as saying, “I’ve known dozens and dozens of officers who have been in a situation to take a life, and they never take it lightly,” while the story fails to mention that Roorda himself was fired for repeated incidents of misconduct including falsifying records while he was a cop. Does Roorda only take fraud lightly? No. Roorda, now a democratic state senator in Missouri, “was the primary author and sponsor of legislation this year in Missouri, which aimed to completely conceal the identity of police officers being charged in shootings,” according to the DailyKos:
“All of that is to say that the state of Missouri, from the top to the bottom, has absolutely no problem concealing (or even outright concocting) the truth in a case when the career of a police officer is at risk.”
Just 12 miles from the scene of Michael Brown’s murder, one final insult to the dignity of Ferguson residents is that Jeff Roorda is behind the Shield of Hope charity that has raised $500,000 in funds for Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown and Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon has personally campaigned for Roorda since Brown’s slaying. Had Roorda gotten his way, no names of police involved in killing civilians would ever have been released, had the bill he authored and introduced not been defeated.
This latest yet unidentified St. Louis police executioner claimed that he followed Myers and his friends because he felt that the teens were acting suspiciously. This case mirrors the Trayvon Martin murder where the teen went to the store to purchase skittles and a soda and was confronted by self-appointed vigilante, George Zimmerman, who also thought Travyon was acting suspiciously. Zimmerman was found innocent of the murder of Travyon and his attorney Mark O’Mara was rewarded for his successful defense of white supremacy with a lucrative CNN contract as a legal consultant.
“Killing black men in America remains a closely held prerogative of white supremacy.”
Kajieme Powell, a 25 year-old mentally disabled man, was killed by St. Louis police days after the murder of Michael Brown. No charges were brought against the police officers who shot him multiple times. Michael Brown was profiled and executed as he walked in the street. A grand jury decision is expected in early November in which white men compose the majority of grand jury panelists. No one will be surprised if Officer Darren Wilson is never charged with Michael’s murder. And, no one will be surprised if the police officers who murdered Vonderrit Myers and Kajieme Powell are never charged with their murders. Killing black men in America remains a closely held prerogative of white supremacy.
…As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,
They kill us for their sport.
Using the scientific modality of empiricism, the ability to predict outcomes based upon historic experiences, observations and reality, the murders of Brown, Powell, Myers, Martin, the hundreds and thousands before them we can extrapolate that if we do not act many more will surely die. It is utterly predictable. These deaths are not the result of hundreds of individual “bad apples” in police forces throughout the United States; these deaths are not accidents of nature, poor police training or officers fearful for their lives. Since Africans were brought to the US these deaths are part and parcel of the programming and desired outcome—the pacification, intimidation, population control and emotional scarring that is necessary to force African-Americans into becoming a pliant and subservient population that accepts minimum wages, apartheid-level education, job discrimination, premature deaths, exploitation of labor, emotional trauma, murder of our children by police, mass incarceration and sub-standard living conditions without resistance. The murders must be seen as a part of the desired outcome to disenfranchise African-Americans in order to have access to a cheap pool of labor and to discourage fighting for their humanity.
Yet every generation finds the courage and resilience to fight back. This is power of the resistance taking place in Ferguson. This is its legacy. We have arrived at this point in American history where we don’t need to be polite, or feign naivety about the intentional murder of black boys and men. The only question is: What is the end game for the African-American community?
As I wrote in my BAR essay: “Code Black Alert: the Execution of John Crawford,” from 1857 to 2014 the disposition of Black life has been circumscribed by the whims and capricious predilection of police, vigilantes and everyday white folks. A systemic and profound variable in the lives of African-Americans has been the pervasive and unrelenting storm of state-sponsored violence. Every 28 hours a black person dies at the hands of police, security guards or vigilantes. This represents an unbroken chain that links the 1857 Dred Scott decision to the present. Thus, one can hardly be surprised at the latest wave of violence directed against African-Americans.
“One can hardly be surprised at the latest wave of violence directed against African-Americans.”
If we are to emulate the human and sex traffickers that are elevated to the status of US founding fathers, what will it take for us to declare for ourselves:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
—Declaration of Independence, 1776
It took the Founders 126 years to reeach enough is enough.
Contrast this with the human and sex trafficking that was legal in the United States until so-called emancipation in 1865 – after which it has been repackaged through many iterations from Jim Crow to its current offering of a “felon” over a “slave” and preference for the word “thug” over “nigger” and the current historic period of mass incarceration.
Whatever else may be said of Africa-America, 395 years is—very—patient. Three times as patient as the Founding Fathers, to be exact. The Founding Fathers would have thrown off such government and provided new guards for their future security three times by now.
Understanding the history of policing in the US African community is important to developing an analysis and thus the ability to predict whether this system is salvageable or needs to be completely reimagined.
Part II of this series will trace modern policing among African-American to its 1703 ancestral roots in Deep South human trafficking and enslavement called “Slave Patrols.”
Code Black Alert: Boston:
Boston police officers disproportionately observed, interrogated, or searched black residents from 2007 to 2010, according to the preliminary results of a study commissioned by the department that were released Wednesday.
“This study shows evidence not just of racial disparity, but of racial bias,” said Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, which collaborated with the Boston Police Department on the genesis of the study, and on Wednesday released its own analysis of the data. “That is really alarming.”
Code Black Alert: New York:
Another day, another brutal police assault for the crime of standing on the street while Hispanic. Santiago Hernandez, 23, has accused a half-dozen NYPD cops of punching, beating and kicking him as they investigated a noise complaint – really?
Code Black Alert: New York:
The family of 17-year-old Marcel Hamer has released a cell-phone clip of a plainclothes New York City police officer hitting the teen while he lies in the gutter… Hamer’s family says he has suffered from memory loss, dizziness, and headaches ever since. See YouTube.
Code BlackAlert: Georgia:
A grand jury in Georgia has declined to charge any of the cops in a SWAT team’s botched drug raid who threw a stun grenade into the crib of 19-month-old Bounkham “Baby Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, thereby severely burning him, detaching his nose from his face, disfiguring his mouth and possibly causing him brain damage.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA is available through amazon.com and the National Whistleblower Center. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered vanadium mine workers. Marsha’s successful lawsuit lead to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet and serves on the Board of Directors of ExposeFacts. www.marshacoleman-adebayo.com.
Kevin Berends is Director of Communication, No FEAR Institute, co-founder of Lake Affect Magazine and producer of the independent television program streetlevel.
TALES FROM THE BRUTALITY CRYPT: via Wikipedia
- January 29, 2008: Quadriplegic Brian Sterner was dumped from his wheelchair as he was being booked for an alleged traffic violation at the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office jail facility. Surveillance video showed Sterner tumbling to the floor and officers searching his clothing as he lay prone. The video raised concerns about police treatment of the disabled after being widely circulated on news channels and YouTube. After the video was publicized, the deputy responsible resigned and was charged with felony abuse on a disabled person. Charges were dropped when she agreed to a plea bargain in which she would perform 100 hours of community service with the disabled and agree never to work in law enforcement again. Several other deputies were suspended without pay, and one supervisor was fired for not reporting the incident.
- November 21, 2006: Kathryn Johnston, an 92-year-old Atlanta woman, was shot and killed by police officers who had entered her home with a no knock warrant that had been based on false information. She had fired one shot over the heads of the police, who she assumed were intruders, when they knocked down her door. Those responsible later admitted to planting marijuana in Johnston’s house and submitting cocaine into evidence, lying that it had been bought there. Two of the three officers involved would eventually plead guilty to charges including manslaughter. The three were sentenced to five, six, and ten years in prison.
- October 7, 2009: 15-year-old Marshawn Pitts, who is an intellectually disabled student, was beaten by Dolton police officer Christopher Lloyd at a school for special needs children Pitts attends and Lloyd works at. The assault was caught on surveillance cameras. Lloyd said that he ordered Pitts to tuck in his shirt and Pitts had cursed at him and was acting belligerent. Pitts, however, said that he did not understand what Lloyd was saying and Lloyd proceeded to slam him against the wall, repeatedly punch him in the face, and hold his face onto the floor, breaking his nose and preventing him from breathing. Several students and teachers had to physically bring Lloyd off of Pitts. Lloyd was placed on administrative leave and later resigned.
- June 7, 2011: Flint Farmer was fatally shot three times in the back by Chicago police officer Gildardo Sierra. Sierra and a partner had responded to a domestic disturbance call allegedly involving Farmer. When confronted by the police, Farmer fled. Sierra shot at Farmer multiple times, hitting him in the leg and abdomen. Publicly available police video shows Sierra circle the prone Farmer as three bright flashes emit from approximately waist level. The coroner who performed the autopsy on Farmer reported that Farmer could have survived the shots to the leg and abdomen, but any of the three shots through the back would have been fatal. Although the Chicago police department ruled the shooting justified, by October 23, 2011 Sierra had been stripped of his police powers and the FBI had opened an investigation into the incident.
- March 13, 2013: 47-year old Cassandra Feuerstein suffered serious facial injuries after being forcibly thrown into a holding cell by Skokie police officer Michael Hart. Hart was later charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.
- March 22, 1990: During a shootout, Adolph Archie, an African American killed a white officer, Earl Hauck in downtown New Orleans. Moments later a security guard shot Archie in the arm and he was taken into custody by police officers. As the prisoner was driven from the scene in a patrol car, angry officers could be heard on the police radio cursing and calling for him to be killed. The demands were heard all over New Orleans. When the car carrying Archie arrived at a hospital, a mob of screaming officers was there to meet it. No superior officers dispersed the mob. For reasons that have never been satisfactorily answered, Adolph Archie was not taken into the hospital, but was driven to a station house in the precinct of the officer he had killed. There he was fatally beaten. No officer was ever charged in connection with Archie’s death. A settlement of $333,000 was eventually reached between Archie’s family and the city, with one-third of the sum going to the family of the fallen officer.
- September 2, 2005: Henry Glover was shot to death and his body was burned by New Orleans police officers following Hurricane Katrina. Glover was near a strip mall and mistaken for an armed looter when officer David Warren shot him. Glover was taken by a bystander to a nearby school for medical attention where other officers set fire to a car containing Glover’s body. Several officers received lengthy sentences for burning Glover’s body and the subsequent cover-up. Officer Warren was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison for manslaughter, but on appeal received a new trial which has yet to begin.
- September 4, 2005: A deadly police shooting occurred on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Six days after the hurricane, seventeen-year-old James Brissette and forty-year-old Ronald Madison were killed in the gunfire, and four other civilians were wounded. All victims were unarmed. Madison, a mentally disabled man, was shot in the back. Members of the New Orleans Police Department coordinated and fabricated a cover-up story for their crime, falsely reporting that seven police officers responded to a police dispatch reporting an officer down, and that at least four people were firing weapons at the officers upon their arrival. The officers also planted a gun at the scene to make it seem the civilians were armed. On August 5, 2011, a New Orleans Federal Court jury found five police officers guilty of a myriad of charges related to the cover-up and deprivation of civil rights.
- October 9, 2005: Robert Davis was filmed in an altercation with New Orleans police officers. In the video, Davis is punched in the head several times by the officers and kicked as he laid on the ground covered in blood. An Associated Press reporter was also assaulted by one of the officers. Two officers were later fired and one was suspended when they were charged with battery as a result of the incident. However, charges were dropped against two officers and one committed suicide pending a trial.
- June 18, 1993: 24-year-old Archie “Artie” Elliott III was driving home from his construction job in the late afternoon when Officer Jason Leavitt of the District Heights Police Department pulled him over for driving erratically. Leavitt administered a field sobriety test, which Elliott failed. After determining to arrest Elliott, Officer Leavitt searched Elliott, handcuffed him and placed him in the front seat of Leavitt’s police car and securing him in the seat with the seat belt before closing the car door. Shortly afterward, Officer Wayne Cheney of the Prince George’s County Police Department arrived as backup. Two officers were standing beside the car when they claimed that Elliott suddenly exited the car and pointed a gun at them. Both officers opened fire and shot Elliott a total of fourteen times. Police say they recovered a small, unloaded, .22 caliber handgun from the scene. Several witnesses disputed the officers’ account of the incident,[who?] but a grand jury declined to issue an indictment.
- June 25, 2003: Albert Mosely was arrested for a probation violation and transported to the Baltimore Police Department’s Western District stationhouse, where he became involved in an altercation with Officer Bryan Kershaw. Mosely was still handcuffed when Officer Kershaw picked him up and threw him into the concrete wall of a holding cell. Mosley was rendered quadriplegic, sued the city, and was awarded $44 million in damages. The city appealed and the suit was eventually settled for $6 million.
- February 2008: Officer Salvatore Rivieri was suspended from the Baltimore Police Department following the release of a video on YouTube showing him screaming at and manhandling a 14-year-old boy for using a skateboard at the Inner Harbor tourist area, where skateboards are prohibited. The boy’s mother filed a lawsuit against Rivieri in April 2008, two months after the video was widely circulated, seeking $6 million for assault, battery and violation of rights. The lawsuit was dismissed. Rivieri was eventually terminated in 2010 after another video of him verbally assaulting a film producer surfaced.
- June 5, 2008: Tyrone Brown, a United States Marine, was fatally shot by an off-duty Baltimore police officer, Gahiji Tshamba. After partying at a night club, Brown made a sexual advance toward Tshamba’s girlfriend. Tshamba pushed Brown away and shot him. Tshamba claimed Brown was being aggressive and he was in fear for his life. However, witnesses said that Brown was turning to leave when Tshamba shot him. Tshamba was subsequently convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
- July 29, 2008: Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo‘s house was raided by Prince George’s Sheriff’s Department SWAT team on suspicion of drug possession. It turned out that Calvo’s address had been randomly selected by drug dealers. When SWAT officers entered the Calvo house with a no-knock warrant, Calvo’s two dogs were shot to death and Calvo, who was in nothing but underwear, was handcuffed to his mother-in-law. Calvo was detained for two hours by police until they confirmed his identity and ultimately cleared him of being involved in the crime. Calvo claimed his dogs were shot as a “sport” by the SWAT team and the dogs ran away when the SWAT team entered the house. The police claimed the dogs tried to bite the officers, and the raid was deemed a “model operation”. Calvo sued the city and police for the wrongful deaths of his dogs and excessive force from the raid. In January 2011, the suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money and various SWAT reforms.
- March 3, 2010: Officer Sean McAleavey, of the Prince George’s County Police, was suspended along with four other officers in connection with the beating of aUniversity of Maryland student, John J. McKenna, 21, after a college basketball game. The incident surrounding the beating was originally presented through court filed charging documents as an altercation between McKenna and a police horse, where McKenna allegedly struck the horse which then retaliated by kicking him. Video that surfaced, after McKenna hired a private investigator, showed officers in riot gear slamming him into a wall before beating him. McKenna suffered a concussion and contusions as a result of the altercation. Officer McAleavey has since returned to duty and the case is under federal investigation. wikipedia
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