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Statement on Police Brutality

December 13, 2006

The WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign joins outgoing U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney in demanding that Congress hold national hearings on "the state of America's law enforcement agencies' use of force and deadly force and the impact on Americans on the basis of race and economic standing." We call on supporters to mobilize around this effort and to stand in solidarity with all who are fighting against police brutality and all forms of oppression.  

(see below for demonstrations and events)

The WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign condemns the unwarranted murder of Sean Bell on the morning of Nov. 25, 2006, the day that was to be his wedding, and the attempted murder of his friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield by 5 undercover Queens Police officers. Their firing of 50 bullets into the car of 3 innocent and unarmed Black men is an abomination and we call for their immediate removal from the police force. We also join the voices of those who are calling for the immediate firing of police commissioner Raymond Kelly and Organized Crime Control Bureau Chief Anthony Izzo.

We also condemn the police killing of Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old African American grandmother, who was killed in Atlanta, Georgia, just days before Sean Bell, during a botched no-knock warrant raid on her home. As Kathryn Johnston lived alone, she had bars on her door
and windows and also had a permit to carry a gun for protection. On November 21, plainclothes police officers pried the bars from her door, broke her door down and barged into her apartment. Frightened, she fired on the police and they killed her. Officers said they were there because of a drug tip from an informant. However, the informant later revealed that he never gave the police Ms. Johnston's address.

This is eerily reminiscent of the New York cases of Alberta Spruill and Eleanor Bumpurs. In 2003, Ms. Spruill, 57, was getting dressed for work when armed police in riot gear barged into her place and exploded a stun grenade. She died of a heart attack. Eleanor Bumpurs was a 67-year-old Black woman who the policed gunned down in 1984 when 6 officers came to enforce an eviction order from her apartment stemming from an amount of $96.85. They claimed that she charged at them with a knife. One officer fired two shots into her. However the coroner's report showed that the first shot totally destroyed her hand and the knife. It was the second shot into her chest that killed her.

The Black community and other oppressed people continue to live in a country where their rights are denied and their lives are continuously snuffed out by police practicing brutal oppression and often using paramilitary tactics against them. We demand an end to police brutality and the state murder of Black, Latino and other people of color.

The WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign is a coalition of committed community activists, comprised primarily of people of color, who are on the front line of the struggle to end oppression and racism in this country and abroad. The people of Justice and Unity are WBAI Board members, listeners, and staff who remain committed to ensuring that WBAI and the Pacifica network remain an empowering voice for disenfranchised communities, as well as an organizing tool in the struggle for socio-economic parity and justice.

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Upcoming Demonstrations and Events:

Thursday, December 21, 11:00 am

NEWARKERS UNDER ATTACK RALLY

Sponsored by the New Black Panther Party and the Ras Baraka Civic Association

On Thursday, 12/21 concerned citizens will be gathering in Military Park to march to City Hall in Newark, NJ to protest the lay off of 271 Housing Authority Workers, and the proposed layoffs of over
800 workers, the 8% property tax increase, the harassment of street vendors, the proposed closure of 8 fire houses and overly aggressive policing.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 12 NOON 
(note changed date)

DAY OF OUTRAGE !!!!
BLACK FRIDAY
SHUT WALL STREET DOWN!

Thursday, December 21
Assemble 12:00 pm
Chase Building, Liberty & Nassau
Downtown Manhattan
A train to Fulton or 2 or 3 to Wall Street.
PATH Train to World Trade Center Site

Sponsors: Black Mens Movement * December 12th Movement
(718) 398-1766

SUPPORT US REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CONYERS, THE INCOMING CHAIR OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, WHO PROMISES TO USE HIS POSITION TO DEMAND MORE POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY.