Police brutality in America
- Police brutality: Alive and well in America
By Saeed Shabazz
Mar 26, 2005
Juanita Young addresses an anti-police brutality rally.
Photo courtesy of the October 22nd
(FinalCall.com) - Juanita Young is legally blind and suffers from
asthma. But that did not stop the New York Police Department from
arresting her in June 2003, charging her with trespassing, holding
her for 35 hours and refusing her medical attention.
According to Ms. Young, she was asleep in her bed when officers from
the 40th Precinct in the Bronx ordered her and her three children to
get out of the apartment due to an order of eviction. However, she
maintains that she was never served with eviction papers. She
further alleges that a police officer dragged her in handcuffs down
the steps of the apartment building.
Activists say her outspokenness against police brutality made her a
target in the continuing campaign to intimidate those who stand up
against police crime. Ms. Young, according to activists, had become
a powerful voice for social justice.
This case is approaching its 19th month, without any resolution.
There have been 12 scheduled court appearances. Originally charged
with three counts of criminal trespass, she now faces only two
trespass charges and must appear in a Bronx courtroom on March 30.
"We are ready to go to trial," offered Steven Reed, spokesman for
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson. Mr. Reed said that the
reason for the continual delays was due to Ms. Young's health, and
the legal problems facing her activist-attorney Lynne Stewart. He
said that Ms. Young's legal team rejected an offer for an
Adjournment Contemplating Dismissal (ACD). The District Attorney's
office has not made any public comments on the case, which has
become a cause celebre in the national fight against police
"I am innocent and the ACD implies guilt," argues Ms. Young. She
states that the only thing she is guilty of is uncovering the facts
surrounding, what she calls, the "point-blank execution" of her son,
Malcolm Ferguson, at the hands of a NYPD Street Crime officer in
Ms. Young said police had targeted her son because of his
participation in rallies protesting the 1999 killing of Muslim
immigrant Amadou Diallo. She stressed that there are too many
unexplained details in Malcolm's death. She joined the October 22nd
Coalition Against Police Brutality; started attending anti-police
brutality rallies, gave lectures around the nation against police
brutalityliterally becoming a thorn in the side of the NYPD.
"We are continuing to stand with Juanita Young, because people must
realize that police brutality has not ended in America; it is on the
rise," claimed Steven Yip, director of the New York City October
22nd Coalition. Mr. Yip claimed that, from Los Angeles to Miami,
police misconduct was increasing. On the October 22nd website
(www.october22-ny.org), there are names of four persons who have
been killed by law enforcement so far in 2005.
On March 30, three members of the Brooklyn-based Malcolm X
Grassroots Movement are scheduled for a court appearance to answer
charges against them for assault and obstruction of government
administration. The three are members of the organization's Cop
"I cannot speak to the specifics of the charges," explained Asha
Bandele, media spokesperson for the group. They started the cop
watch program because there were too many police shootings in the
city and someone had to step up to the plate, she stressed.
According to observers, the three members had responded to a report
that the police were beating a Black man in the street and, as they
began to film the police activity, officers allegedly told them to
move on, but an argument ensued.
"We must maintain our vigilance," argues Ann Braden of the Kentucky
Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which is located
in Louisville. Her organization is currently fighting the decision
by the Louisville Police Department to pay a White officer $59,000
in back pay after he was exonerated by a jury in the January 2004
death of 19-year-old Michael Newby. The police department said the
officer was guilty of excessive use of force. The officer, who
claimed that the teenager had tried to get his gun, shot Mr. Newby
four times in the back.
"There is a double standard in Louisville. The police chief recently
fired four White officers in the beating of a White man, but Blacks
cannot get justice, and we must say that this is wrong," Ms. Braden
said. She argues that the Louisville Police Department continues to
de-humanize Black men, because they do not feel that Black life
"This city must face the racism on the police force. This community
needs justice. We are not going to be quiet about the Michael Newby
case," she insisted. "We are not giving up. Our voices must be
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