Coundown to the Oscar Grant Vedict/ Why Are Police beating Our Kids?

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Breaking News Update Wed June 30 2010:

Judge has taken 1st degree murder off the table. Jury will choose from 2nd degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter… Closing arguments will start tomorrow…Mehserle’s lawyer wanted jury to choose either murder 1 or acquital. Many speculated getting murder1 would be difficult.

As the historic Oscar Grant trial comes to a close in Los Angeles we wanted to share a crucial update as to what is going on in the trial. For those who are unaware, for the first time in the history of the state of California, a police officer (Johannes Mehserle) was brought to trail and charged with murder after shooting and killing someone while on duty.

An unarmed, completely subdued Grant was shot in the back as he lay face down on New Year’s morning ’09 in front of hundreds of people on a BART subway station in Oakland. Mehserle claims he thought he reached for his taser instead of his gun. It’s a story the community wasn’t and has never brought especially when it was revealed that Mehserle was heard shouting “I thought he had a gun’.

If he had a gun, then why reach for your taser?

The community became even more enraged when it was discovered that moments before Grant was killed, Mehserle’s  partner Tony Pirone who was recently fired had called Grant a ‘bitch ass nigger’ before he was shot.

The community was even more enraged when it was discovered that Mehserle just six weeks earlier in an unprovoked attacked had severely beaten a 41-year-old Black man named Kenneth Carrethers after he was overheard complaining about how inefficient the police were at stopping crime…

We caught up with Minister of Information-JR who is the associate editor of the SF Bayview and heads up the Block Report Radio. He’s been down in LA covering the trial even after he and several other Black men under 40 were kicked out of court for a variety of un-related reasons. In our podcast JR explains why this has been going on in what many are saying is a highly biased court.

Expert witness Greg Meyers said there was no excessive use of force during the Rodney King trail. Of course he is defending Johannes Mehserle

In this interview JR talks about some of the ‘expert’ witness that have come forward in defense of Mehserle including a former LA police captain Greg Meyer who claimed that Grant when shot was resisting arrest. It’s an outlandish conclusion considering Grant was shown completely restrained with the larger Mehserle sitting on his back. however one should not be surprised, considering it was Meyer who sat on the witness stand during the Rodney King trail and claimed there was no excessive use of force.  I guess the estimated 30 thousand dollars paid to Meyer didn’t hurt when giving his testimony.

We also spoke to JR about the media blackout on the case especially in the LA area and offer up some reasons why this is happening.

In the latest update another expert witness is claiming that Mehserle was so stressed out that he became temporarily blind which is why he shot Grant. What’s taking place at this trial is unbelievable.

Today June 30th the judge will be meeting with lawyers to discuss what the options are for jurors. Mehserle’s high-priced lawyer Michael Rain is pushing for an all or nothing ruling. In short either convict him of murder or acquit him. The prosecutor wants the jury to have options so Mehserle doesn’t walk.

Sadly the judge on the trial Robert Perry has history of siding with the police as was evidence during the infamous Rampart Scandal in LA when he let the cops off the hook.

Also as we speak Oakland police have been planting seeds of fear in the community by warning people of impending riots. Last night KRON 4 reported that as much as 21 thousand national guards are on alert and ready to move in on Oakland. All off vacationing officers have been called back into the city with police as far away as Oregon ready to join in.

Why Are Police Beating Our Kids-What Should We be Doing?

In pt 2 of our podcast we sat down with community activist and former Seattle mayoral candidate Wyking Allah and  Paradise Gray of X-Clan and One Hood out in Pittsburgh to talk about the recent rash of police brutality incidents where children as young as 7 have been the victims.

Wyking does an excellent job putting things in historical context and offering solid solution for communities to follow. He noted that much of what he suggested were key tenets on his platform for mayor.

Paradise Gray updates us on two key cases in Pittsburgh. One involves the beatings that took place last fall when officers stormed the University of Pittsburgh campaus looking for anarchists. Unsuspecting students were tear-gased, beaten and arrested. There was major investigation with the police being found in the wrong.. The other incident involves honor student Jordan Miles who was beaten and had his dread locks ripped out his head by a rogue group of martial art expert police dubbed the ‘Jump Out Boys‘.

Gray also speaks about the incident of Pamela Lawton who had a police officer stick his gun in the face of her crying 7 year old after she was pulled over for a traffic violation.

Like Wyking, Paradise lays out a number of solutions for us and our communities to follow.

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Reality TV, Cops Mistreating Little Kids & the Tragic Death of Aiyana Stanley Jones-Who Protects Us From You?

By now many of you have heard of the tragic shooting around 7-year-old  Aiyana Stanley Jones. It’s beyond heartbreaking. It’s beyond shocking.. and sadly it underscores the disrespect and disregard far too many have for Black life. When word of this first came out, there were far too many who asked, ‘What did they do wrong?”, meaning that the family or even the little girl must’ve done something as opposed the police being dead wrong in their procedures. many were quick to point out that the police were looking for a suspect in the killing of a 17-year-old earlier that week and the family was supposedly harboring him.. Again, folks conditioned to immediately side with the boys in blue..

Of course we now know that the police entered the wrong resident, tussled with the girls grandma after they tossed flash grenades in the house and shot Aiyana ‘by accident’. Here’s something many don’t know. Most police departments are media savvy and deeply embedded in the corporate media machine. They allow camera crews to follow them and we are bombarded with numerous ‘reality Cop spin-off shows that result in us forever having a ‘soft spot’ for the police who take us on highly edited and somewhat scripted adventures through the sordid world of crime and vice.

The city of Detroit is one such department being profiled for reality TV -in this case 48 Hours and it was on that fatal night that Aiyana was killed that these dip shit cops with a camera crew in tow came busting into the wrong house, storm trooper style, tossing flash grenades and ‘shooting’ the girl-oops lemme rephrase.. the gun ‘accidently’ went off. What we all need to be asking is; ‘How much of their outlandish actions were attributed to them showing off and hamming it up for TV cameras?’ How much was their over the top approach attributed to them wanting to show LAPD, NYPD and every other city profiled on reality shows that Detroit PD was ’bout it bout it’?

I ain’t no expert in police work, but I covered enough of these stories and had enough police officers on my shows to understand a few things. First, officer safety is paramount. The goal is to come home at night, hence if you are not chasing down a suspect and you know he’s holed up in a unit that has children and other folks, you wait it out. You catch dude when he leaves the building. There’s all sorts of ways to flush someone out a resident that you have surrounded. However, the gung-ho shoot em up bang bang, Tea Party crowd that watches these types of reality cop shows would find thoughtful, methodic police work boring. So with TV crew on hand, and anxious producers needing some ‘action’ to satisfy the thirst of viewers, the police as was the case here in Detroit are gonna ham it up and perhaps break a few rules-end result a dead 7-year-old girl name Aiyana  Stanley Jones.

Folks need to ponder on that for minute-serious ponder that…Was police work compromised by TV cameras. I been on TV sets before and I know the type of pressure producers can exert when looking for an angle or a result.I also know cops are human and while some are shy about the cameras, others play to it..Why a flash grenade in a house with innocent people? Let’s all pause and ask ourselves that for a second.

Second thing, folks need to understand that this isn’t the first time police have gone overboard when it comes to dealing with 7 year old girls. A couple of years ago in Pittsburgh, PA a mother Pamela Lawton was pulled over for what appeared to be a routine traffic stop. She was on her way to a Pee Wee league game with her two girls in the car age 7 and 8.

Pamela Lawton and One Hood member Reverend Cornel Jones

When the officer Eric Tatusko approached the car he had already drawn his gun on the mother and ordered her to put her hands up.  As he approached the car, the mom, not knowing what was going on and why she was ordered to put her hands up was shaken and scared. She became more frightened when the officer went over to the passenger side where the girls where with the gun drawn. The whole ordeal caused Ms Lawton’s kids to cry frantically. The officer became annoyed when the girls would not stop. Bear in mind the mom still has her hands in the air.. Next Officer Tatusko pointed his 9mm gun at the 7 year old Joshalyn Lawton and threatened to shoot her if she didn’t stop crying.

When other officers arrived on the scene, they ordered Tatusko to withdraw his weapons. Then in an attempt to justify this egregious behavior, officers searched Pamela’s car ‘looking for weapons’. Of course they found nothing. Ms Lawton was cited her for having expired insurance and then hit with disorderly conduct charges for yelling at the officer. She spent an year in trial as the police did everything they could to spin the story.. Lawton thanks to the outrage and help of community members like X-Clan member Paradise Gray and rapper Jasiri X and their fellow members of the group  One Hood who helped bring national attention to this story, was eventually found not guilty.

The Aiyana Jones tragedy, the Pamela Lawton case are coupled with a slew of cases including 3 officers entering a kindergarden class to put handcuffs on and arrest a 5 year old girl who was having a tantrum in Florida..Or the 94 pound, 10 year old in Martinville, Ind who was tasered by police .. There’s a long list and sadly what’s been missing is not only some sort of change in policy on how to deal with small children, but a lack of good cops stepping up and telling folks that these types of incidents are wrong. From what I been told; many are afraid to cross the blue line for fear of retaliation.. is this what are tax dollars are paying for?

-Davey D-

Below is the link to the interview we did with organizer and author Adrienne Maree who attended the vigil for Aiyana and wrote the moving piece below


there is no justice for aiyana

by Adrienne Maree

there is no justice. not for aiyana stanley jones.

there is punishment, and perhaps accountability. someone to point towards, many people, a trail of blame, stories, mistakes and tears.

but there is no justice.

i’m just home from a vigil for aiyana. i don’t like to go to these things because they make me feel too raw and hopeless. my partner, however, knew that we had to go and make sure aiyana’s story was told. so here it is: she was alive yesterday, 7 years old. she went to bed on a couch in a first floor room with her grandmother last night. in the wee hours of the morning, cops raided her house. a man outside the house shouted that there were kids inside. a man on the second floor of the house was a suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old last Friday.

the police threw a “flash bang” through the front window. it blinded everyone inside; it lit aiyana on fire.

the news reported a tussle with the grandmother, during which the firearm discharged. everyone in the family says there was no tussle, that the grandmother was throwing herself over the baby when aiyana was shot in the head.

what do you call the blinded, terrified groping of a grandmother who knows her grandchildren are in the room, blasted from safety and sleep into chaos and danger, whose granddaughter is on fire? how do you comfort a man like aiyana’s father, which was forced to lie face down in his daughter’s blood by the same police officers who killed her?

the police shot and killed aiyana. they shot her in the forehead. her family saw her brain on the couch. by accident, perhaps. which doesn’t even matter to a 7-year-old. you don’t get let off any hooks for your intentions in this case, officer.

apparently a crew from the television show 48 Hours were with the police during the raid. i can’t help but wonder what their footage shows, and if filming for the show had anything to do with the drastic tactics and fatal timing – flash bombing a home in the middle of the night when the women and children are most likely to be home and sleeping.

standing on the sidewalk with over 100 black people, some shell-shocked, some sharing bits and pieces of the tragic gossip, some railing against the mayor, some staring at each other or holding each other in quiet sadness…i only saw the children. they were running, kicking, punching each other. playing. they were all 7 to me, however big or small. they were all potentially aiyana. yesterday she was with them, today she is martyred for no cause.

several members of imam luqman’s family were present, in prayer as we approached the house, present in solidarity with the particular grief of losing a loved one to violence at the hands of authority figures.

as we left the crowd, a man walked past us – more literally was dragged past us, barely able to walk, wailing in grief. his voice ripped through the southern twilight on the street, the realest voice there. i had spent the whole day around beautiful, vibrant children – little boys who ran circles around me and kicked everything because they were ninjas, and then grabbed my hands gently and easily to cross the sidewalk. and then i held a 2-day-old baby, totally fresh, just barely opening his eyes to say hello. what is more valuable than our children? this man, stumbling down the sidewalk weeping – this is how it feels when society offers up our babies as human sacrifices in pursuit of an unattainable justice.

i wanted to hold him. i wanted to say it would be ok, that there would be justice for aiyana. but i don’t believe, right now, there is any real justice for the violent deaths of our youth.

every thread i pick up in the story leads to more impossible questions.

why are police officers legally able to use military tactics on a house with children in it on a sunday morning…or any morning, on any house, with anyone in it?
why do the grieving faces of people on this street look so unsurprised?
and when 17-year-old Jerean Blake was killed Friday, wasn’t that equally devastating? did we do enough as a community at that moment?
do we know how to keep our children safe?
can we admit that we don’t know anything about how to be the kind of society where this could never happen?

to step back from the immediate events is to see what happens in communities who internalize the corporate military worldview that some people are expendable. the way we function as an economy that places profit first is that it’s normal for people in uniform to throw bombs into the home of civilians and shoot children.

an economy that valued people first could never justify those tactics.

i think of the children in my life – those blessed and loved and safe, and those who will never really be safe because of how the world sees them. the way aiyana died, the last minutes of her life – that is terrorism. to know that that kind of terror and pain can happen to a child in this time – IS happening to children, funded by our tax dollars, right now, in iraq, afghanistan, palestine, arizona, and here in detroit – is to understand that as things stand, there is no justice. nothing will make it right, nothing will take away the pain, nothing will heal us – and anyway, there is no time to heal. not for aiyana.

detroit police, at the behest of the detroit city government, are on the offensive in this war against our community. this is national in scope – international really. we cannot keep half-healing from the wounds inflicted on us – we have to fundamentally shift the way we participate in our lives and in the creation of our local economies and societies. we have to demand that police fundamentally shift how they are allowed to function in our communities – they must be disarmed, we must demand they focus their training on the humanity of communities, unlearning these tactics of creating devastation from a safe distance.

we have to make today’s events impossible – that is the only way to regain our humanity. then, maybe, we can use the word justice.

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Troubled Kids-Troubled Adults: The Only One Who Spoke Truth Yesterday Was 6 year Old Falcon-The Balloon Boy



daveyd-raider2The only person who seemed to be honest during yesterday’s enthralling ‘Balloon-Gate’ scenario was 6 year old-Falcon who was at the center of it all. That little kid sat up on national television and told the world-‘We did this for the show.’ And what a show it was. It had all the ingredients; roller coaster action, teeth clenching drama, intrigue and mystery-It was all there.

On top of it, seemingly everyone was in on what appeared to be a grand exercise in mass deception. That includes the McGiverist/Inspector Gadget-like father –Richard Heene who’s ‘acting’ abilities’ were atrocious. His tears and supposed outrage had me taking notes-‘Do not take lessons from his acting coach’. There was the overly eager ‘friendly’ next door neighbor, Marc Friedland who was on every news channel seemingly going for his sot at 15 minutes of fame by extolling the virtues of what many of us were seeing as a wacky family.

But perhaps the most dishonest were the news agencies who quickly cut away from President Obama addressing folks in New Orleans about Katrina recovery and followed the runaway balloon for two hours. During those two hours news channels tripped over themselves pulling out charts and graphs to give us reports about wind currents, high altitudes, temperatures and speculation about possible lightning storms.  It was done in such a way that everyone at the airport stopped what they were doing and gathered around the TVs to watch. The deception was realized after the balloon landed and little Falcon was nowhere to be found. That’s when our favorite news channels trotted out all these balloon experts who repeated over and over, there’s no way that a craft of that shape and size could’ve carried a 6-year-old boys to such heights (10 thousand feet was one estimate) and at such speeds(85 mph was another estimate). In fact most said the balloon wouldn’t have flown at all.

We also came to find out that law enforcement agencies in Colorado had early on suspected that Falcon had either fallen out of the craft or was never on it. That vital information was communicated at least a good 15 minutes before the balloon landing but was not broadcasted. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. What ratings seeking news outlet would want to stop their coverage after drawing everyone in and getting them to watch for two hours? What news outlet in 2009 would have the courage to sit up and say  ‘Sorry folks-false alarm, we assessed this situation wrong?’

Apparently none of our ‘trusted’ new sources. Instead giving us the full scope of what was taking place, what we got was a breath taking narrative that had us all at the edge of our seats as we watched the balloon make a soft landing and an undercover officer heroically dash out to make sure it didn’t take off again. Poor guy, I don’t think anyone had the heart to tell him there was no kid in the balloon because dude was running like there was no tomorrow.

Little 6 year old Falcon spoke the truth yesterday

Little 6 year old Falcon spoke the truth yesterday

As for the throngs of people watching intensely at Oakland Airport, they seemed relieved, I heard a few claps, and even saw a couple of high fives as the wall to wall coverage concluded and damage control procedures of reframing the discussion kicked in. It started with news anchors acting like they were just as shocked as we were to discover the little boy was missing…As we say back home ‘Negro Please’-translation-Please spare me the drama.

I wasn’t alone in my assessment as the twitter world was abuzz with folks pissed off that they were duped. One tweet summed it up best by noting the balloon escapade was phony and he wondered how many country’s were bombed while we watched this unfold. He noted that perhaps a bill was secretly signed reinstating slavery while we watched the balloon coverage…

What caught my attention in the aftermath was the instant psychological analysis that was quickly attributed to the little boy, especially after it was discovered he was hiding in the attic. These experts kept noting that ‘Little Falcon’ is a smart, precocious young man who may have been seeking attention.  I heard words like  ‘warm’, ‘loving’ and even ‘little genius’ being used to describe him. We heard police officers boldly assert that it’s not unusual for young kids to go hide in attics when people are looking for them after they caused a big mess. Empathy and understanding were the marching orders of the day and the themes directed at Falcon. And should they not? After all, he’s six years old and shouldn’t we see all six year olds with such loving gazes?

It’s hard not to think how the narrative would’ve been played out had it been ‘Lil Darnel’ or Lil Jesus from the inner city who caused this commotion. Would we have been as sympathetic and understanding or would we have seen him as a young uncouth troublemaker? Would the Nancy Graces and Gloria Allreds of the world been on TV calling for this child to be removed from the home and there be widespread condemnation of the entire community for the actions of one?

Before people get too bent out of shape and start rolling their eyes and mumbling ‘Oh brother here we go again’, keep in mind it was just a year ago that we had a spate of arrests and handcuffed placed on  5, 6 and 7 year olds all over the country for acts far less disruptive and costly then the ones caused by ‘cute, precocious’ Falcon. We even had one infamous incident in Pittsburgh, Pa where an officer saw fit to pull a gun and point it at the head of a 7 year old girl-Joshaly Lawton who wouldn’t stop crying when her mom was pulled over for a traffic violation. The mother Pamela Lawton was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct when she objected to the officer pulling a gun on her child.

Am I the only one who recalls the handcuffing and arrest of 7 year old Gerard Mungo Jr. in Baltimore for riding a moped on a sidewalk? Am I the only one who recalls school officials in St Petersburgh, Florida calling the police who then handcuffed 5 year Jiyisha Scott who they said was throwing a temper tantrum?  Weren’t there similar incidents in places like Chicago and a couple of other cities that escape my mind?  Am i the only one who recalls some of the same news outlets that encouraged empathy and understanding toward Falcon were justifying the arrest of these little Black kids who I guess weren’t seen as cute and precocious?

There’s many ways to look at what took place yesterday and attributed to larger societal problems. Lack of parental oversight, kids having access to too much, our society just getting more and more out of control are a few of the isms and schisms that can be conjured up.

Our kids are crying out and we keep failing them. We fail them with our less than stellar policies that suggest we won’t leave them behind, but in reality we do. We fail them when we require more and more in the workplace from overworked and underpaid parents, take away resources for support and then blame them for not being as responsible and ‘there for their kids as much as we would like them. We fail them when we grandstand and utter lofty phrases like ‘It takes a Village to raise a child’ and yet we don’t actively participate in the raising process by setting good examples for the young kids we say we’re raising to follow. In fact we don’t even take steps to childproof this proverbial village we like to talk about.

Sadly many of us can’t even tell when our kids are crying out for help.  Was Little Falcon crying out for help yesterday when he hopped in the balloon, hopped out and hid in the attic while a massive manhunt kicked into gear looking for him? Most people including the newscasters who participated in this exercise of deception kept suggesting that Falcon’s actions were troubling and he needed help-and that’s probably true.

But lemme close by restating my initial remarks. The only person who seemed to be honest during yesterday’s enthralling ‘Balloon-Gate’ scenario was 6 year old-Falcon. Yesterday in front of a nationwide audience we heard him cry out for help and unfortunately I think it was ignored. So let me repeat his cry for help. Falcon said  ‘We did this for the show.’ That was his cry for help.

Ladies and gentlemen our kids are not fodder for over-the-top dramatic news coverage, rating boosters for reality shows or poster children for fake ass politicians who use them as convenient backdrops while trying to push forth an agenda.  Our kids are not show material. They are real, tangible beings who we all better be responsible for and I do mean all of us…

A troubled six year old today who’s issues aren’t adequately and lovingly address will one day  grow up to be a troubled adult who will go to do things like shoot unarmed men in the back of the head at an Oakland BART station, look us in the eye and lie to us about weapons of mass destruction that don’t exist and send us off to war or violate our trust by raiding our banking system, tanking the economy and leaving all us in economic ruin.

A troubled kid one day becomes a troubled adult who will go on to do things like plow drugs and alcohol on an unsuspecting 13 year old, rape her, flee the country before doing jail time and will act incredulous and shocked when finally caught and forced to answer for his misdeeds. His equally troubled friends will actually defend him and claim he did nothing wrong. Troubled kids become troubled adults who lose all sense of civility and compassion and become hardened to the point of seeing no need for justice for those who have been egregiously wronged

A troubled six year old who is not fully cared for will one day grow up and become a troubled adult who will inappropriately use his kids to put on a good show…

something to ponder.

-Davey D-

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