Police Brutality: The New Drug of the Nation

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in a survey asked by regular citizens on whether police officers used excessive force or threatened them during a regular traffic stop or other reasons, disclosed how citizens feel about the performance of their law enforcement agents. The Police Public Contact Survey results shouldn’t be that surprising in that profiling and abuse still prevails. 

Although these summary findings were conducted in 2008, with the recent developments in the Travon Martin tragedy, people of color and Latinos are heavily profiled and continue to have the highest rates of police brutality and cases against them. The findings prove the following:

-Among persons who had contact with police in 2008, an estimated 1.4% had force used or threatened against them during their most recent contact, which was not statistically different from the percentages in 2002 (1.5%) and 2005 (1.6%).

-Males were more likely than females to have force used or threatened against them during their most recent contact with police during 2008, and blacks were more likely than whites or Hispanics to experience use or threat of force.

-Of persons who had force used or threatened against them by police in 2008, an estimated 74% felt those actions were excessive.

-Of those individuals who had force used or threatened against them in 2008, about half were pushed or grabbed by police. About 19% of persons who experienced the use or threat of force by the police reported being injured during the incident.

-Among persons experiencing police use or threat of force in 2008, an estimated 22% reported that they argued with, cursed at, insulted, or verbally threatened the police.

-About 12% of those involved in a force incident reported disobeying or interfering with the police.

-Among individuals who had force used or threatened against them in 2008, an estimated 40% were arrested during the incident.

-An estimated 84% of individuals who experienced force or the threat of force felt that the police acted improperly. Of those who experienced the use or threat of force in 2008 and felt the police acted improperly, 14% filed a complaint against the police.

What has disturbed me over the last week is that many people have slammed the Reverend Al Sharpton on his comments at a press conference is which he said: “Trayvon Martin committed no crime,” he explains. Sharpton later adds, “He had no weapon and he had every legal right to be where he was. The rush to judgment was those that moved against him, said he was suspicious, and took his life. So to lecture us about rushing to judgment, we’re a victim of a rush to judgment in this case. Let’s be real clear on that.” Although I don’t agree with everything that the Reverend says, I have to take issue with something he and the ‘so-called’ black civil rights activists continue to sleep on, which is the negligence and brutal nature of the actions of the Sanford Police Department. I’m going to take it even further than that, the outright killing of black people by use of excessive force. Also how some law enforcement agencies turn their blind eye to justice.

As you recall, Police Chief Bill Lee, who recently resigned and is on administrative leave, has had his fair share of problems underneath him as does the Sanford Police Department. Lee and his staff failed to follow proper department detailed procedures in addressing the press, the family of Trayvon Martin, and mandatory law enforcement policies. Like, the outright failure to interview Trayvon’s girlfriend who was on the phone with him before the shooting. The police department had a detailed phone log Trayvon’s cell phone calls but never contacted her after the senseless murder. The department never gave George Zimmerman a toxicologist test nor check his car or impound it, a standard and mandatory procedure that all officers must do. Also, Trayvon’s body was at the country morgue for three days classified as “John Doe” nor contacted them about the body earlier to see if he matched the exact identity of his body. The Sanford Police Department also disclosed Trayvon Martin’s academic and disciplinary record from high school trying to defame his character to the press.

I admire what the Reverend Al Sharpton is trying to do, which is to bring the awareness of the facts surrounding the case and to help bring justice to the Martin family. But what I’m not hearing is what we need to do to bring officers and law enforcement agencies like the Sanford Police Department accountable for their actions. 

Lets not forget Amadou Diallo, the immigrant from Guinea, who was shot 41 times fatally by New York City police officers Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, Richard Murphy, and Kenneth Boss. Diallo, who was unarmed, was standing in the vestibule of Bronx apartment building when he was hit 19 times because the officers thought he had a gun. The City of New York awarded the family of Amadou a settlement of $3,000,000.

Just recently the Denver Police Department paid over a millions dollars in which their officers used excessive force. According to an article in the Denver Post, “In 2010, Denver settled seven cases alleging police brutality for a total of $125,000. It settled seven cases in 2009 for $303,700. In 2008, settlement amounts totaled slightly more than $1 million.” A case in 2011 amounted in a total settlement of $795,000 to Alexander Landau. Landau suffered from trauma and brain injuries following a 2009 traffic stop for an illegal turn.

The Trayvon Martin case along with the tens of thousands of cases like this continue to happen yet WE don’t hold the officers and departments accountable. It took six years to finally fire the officers that shot and killed Sean Bell here in New York City. And the sad thing about that case is one of the officers will receive a portion of pension despite the horrid nature of Mr. Bell’s death. Now do you call that justice? Many in the black community will be happy to see George Zimmerman to be tried and sentenced to life in prison. To me, that’s just playing it safe. I demand that the police chiefs, lieutenants, and officers lose not only their jobs, but if the evidence is there, try them as well for colluding evidence and allowing their officers to allow them commit the travesty that happened in Sanford.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics proves that racial profiling is a common practice among many law enforcement agencies around the country. It also shows people are afraid of the very people that we pay out of our own paychecks to ‘protect and serve.’ We as a people need to go from preventing senseless murders like Trayvon Martin and Amadou Diallo to organizing and bringing down corrupt police departments like the ones in Denver, New York City, and Sanford.

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report   

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

 
Advertisements

Remembering Gil and Mike: The Last of the Journalist Giants

"Like It Is"

As I was going to post this week’s weekly column; I was stopped in my tracks early this Easter Sunday morning with the news of the death of long-time journalist Mike Wallace who was one of the last of the pioneering giants of broadcast news. Mr. Wallace died at the age of 93 in New Canaan, Connecticut at a nursing care facility. Mike was one of the original three journalists that made groundbreaking territory in broadcast news with a show created by the late Don Hewitt entitled ’60 Minutes.‘ What 60 Minutes did to news journalism was take a story that you’d read in a magazine or paper, but take viewers each week inside three different stories in a long-form expose’. Over the show’s successful run it’s won 95 Emmy Awards and is currently the longest running television show in prime-time.

My column was originally going to be on the legendary Gil Noble who passed away last Thursday due to a stroke he suffered last summer. Both Gil and Mike were class acts when it came to interviewing the major newsmakers of the last 60 years. Mike, with his no nonsense interviewing style approach, asked the hard questions, but was well respected and revered by many as fair and very knowledgeable on the subjects he covered while on 60 Minutes.

The Backbone and Heart of 60 Minutes

But before I press on, I have to say, my career as a journalist and broadcaster owes a great deal to the deans of this medium. Guys like Dr. Billy Taylor, Carl T. Rowan, and Gil Noble made it possible to bring the black culture, history, politics, and the struggle to the masses in a articulate and candid form where many people of color would never have the platform to express themselves in a heavily dominated White owned and controlled medium called television and radio. As I created and developed The Pace Report I saw a lack of diversity over my years of working for Raycom, NPR, and CBS/Infinity in presenting news of people of color and other minorities. I saw the government over the last 15 years loosen the reigns on big corporations and how only a FEW companies own and dominate the media which allows little room for different voices in the media.

Gil Nobel in 1975 took over as the host of the news program “Like It Is” as a groundbreaking show that catered to the African-American community. Although the show aired only in New York City on WABC-TV, over 40 years Mr. Nobel interviewed the pull of black America stopping at no costs to bring the voice and different views of our people.

Born Gilbert Edward Nobel on February 22, 1932 in Harlem, he knew the city inside and out. He first got his start in broadcasting when he was hired as a reporter at the legendary WLIB in 1962. During the late 1960’s as the nation was dealing with racial issues, Nobel was hired by WABC-TV in 1967 as one the station’s first reporters of color. He was not only a reporter but served as weekend anchor. “Like It Is” started in 1968 and Gil began as a correspondent on the show until he took over the hosting duties in 1975. He would win seven Emmy Awards during his reign as the host.

What Gil brought to the show was his in-depth knowledge of black history and how it relates to politics, sports, religion, the arts, and civil rights. His candid interviews with history makers and news making African-Americans as well as world dignitaries helped viewers allowed people to be informed on what’s going on in their diaspora. Some of the many names he’s interviewed and profiled over the years include Minister Louis Farrakhan, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr, Stokely Carmichael, Andrew Young, Dr. Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Abbey Lincoln, and Lena Horne.

I think what I’ll miss about both Gil is that he took pride in being black and never letting anyone know this. In watching his past interviews you can tell he was well organized and researched on the topics and subjects he discussed. At a time when journalists are now covering more pop culture and tabloid based news, Gil stayed true to the facts and issues that still need to be addressed in the black community.

Both Gil Nobel and Mike Wallace will be sorely missed. Their contributions and excellence in journalism lives on and continues to be a staple to some journalists who continue to respect the art and dignity of writing and producing news.

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Trayvon Martin…the Tragedy Still Continues

ImageOver the last couple of weeks I’ve been writing about the unraveling of the case of the late Trayvon Martin whose story has received a lot of attention. The county has come together both black and white to the chagrin of how the Sanford Police Department has covered up facts and neglected the justice of the Martin family and the City of Sanford. The sentiments of the black community around the country is simple, we’re tired of being beaten and abused by law enforcement agencies and the laws that protect the corrupt officers and departments via George Zimmerman. The “Stand Your Ground” law that is in affect in the state of Florida and similar in 26 other states further shows that the victim is never protected and by some technicalities can let a criminal walk the streets. In this particular case George Zimmerman is free because a tiny 17-year-old teenager was a threat to him! Ain’t that the pot calling the kettle black.

Last week the Sanford Police Department decided to play dirty and release to the press Trayvon Martin’s school records and publish his disciplinarian problems over the years. Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade School Superintendent, has vocally been against how Trayvon’s record was leaked to the press and how the police department has been using this info to further protect security patrolman George Zimmerman. Carvalho in a recent interview with Miami CBS News affiliate WFOR on Friday stated: “I think it’s shameful that people are having access, unlawful access, to privileged and private information about children.” The police leaked to the press that Trayvon was suspended three times ranging from tardiness to being caught with a plastic bang with a marijuana residue. All of this was done to defuse the heat on the police department.  

Meanwhile, Richard Kurtz, the funeral director of the Fort Lauderdale based Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home who was in charge of Trayvon’s dead body. “In dressing the body we could see no physical signs like there had been a scuffle,” Kurtz says. “I didn‘t see any knuckles’ bruises and what have you, and that is something we would cover up if it would have been there. I did not see any signs of any cuts on his neck or face.” The investigation of his body as  well as new police surveillance of George Zimmerman entering the Sanford Police Department after the shooting of Martin that clearly shows that he had no scuffs and signs of no injury, it’s looking more like these guys wanted to cover themselves from all the damage that they’ve caused.

As we enter month number #2 on this case, people have already made up their minds about what should be done to George Zimmerman. But I want to take this to another level. We as a people of color are sitting around crying about Trayvon Martin but we haven’t addressed the real issue if how can we prevent this from happening again. Also we as a people haven’t dealt with racism face to face with out white counterparts. According to writer John McWhorter, he clearly outlines this issue of race and the legal system. “The main obstacle to getting black America past the illusion that racism is still a defining factor in America is the strained relationship between young black men and police forces. The massive number of black men in prison stands as an ongoing and graphically resonant rebuke to all calls to “get past racism,” exhibit initiative, or stress optimism. And the primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all.” I believe that the Latino and black communities now more than ever need organize our own neighborhood watch programs in the inner cities to the effluent neighborhoods to cut down the risk and negligence from our police departments. Also stay on these police departments to hire and diversify more people of color and other ethnic backgrounds. Due to Zimmerman’s background and his upbringing, his view on African-American men and teens stem from the television, music, and what his other so-called racist environment has declared against black people. 

My other issue is how we as a people need to stop talking openly about race in the barber shops, beauty shops and churches and begin talking to white people about race here in 2012. In my almost 40 years on this earth, I’ve witnessed and have seen some white people not want to talk about race or politics openly. As a matter of fact, some white people allow talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and many others to speak for them publicly and we allow them to get away with it. The more they have a platform to say these ignorant tirades, the more we allow them to get away with doing corrupt thing. My case in point, the Sanford Police Department leaking out Treyvon’s school record!  Yet, when some blacks like the Reverend Al Sharpton or the Minister Louis Farrakhan speak about race and wake some the masses up, white folks call them racist! Let me say on record, I don’t agree with everything the Reverend Al or Minister Louis say on addressing matters of race and religion, but I admire them for speaking and writing on the issues that many people of color need to become more vocal about. I was really glad that Reverend Sharpton spoke out about leaking out Trayvon’s record and how that was a “lowball curve” tactic that the police department used to discredit his character. If we as a people don’t START verbally addressing the matter of race and police brutality we’re going to continue to see senseless murders like Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Rodney King and the many endless black men who died from reckless law enforcement agents.

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report   

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

 Image

AS THE TRAVON TURNS PART # 2

“And there are people still in darkness, And they just can’t see the light, If you don’t say it’s wrong then that says it right, We got to try to feel for each other-let our brother’s know that we care. Got to get the message, Send it out loud and clear……None of us free…None of us is free…..None of us is free, one of us are chained….None of us are free!”

                           from Solomon Burke and the Blind Boys of Alabama’s “None of Us Are Free”

Image

The country is at a standstill about the death of Trayvon Martin and how the echos of police brutality and racial profiling still roars its ugly head when dealing with people of color. Over the last week the President and many other high ranking politicians have verbally spoken on the issue as well as reiterated that this country still has a ways to go in dealing with race and how blacks continue to be high in the totem pole when it comes to high incarceration rates, high school drop out rates, and lack of proper legal and fair representation.  

As this case is approaching it’s month anniversary, its now a fact and on record the Sanford Police Department has been at fault on many counts. Over the last ten years many black residents have had legitimate complaints against the racially insensitive police department. According to Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr., last Friday addressed the matter after the announcement of Police Chief Bill Lee’s resignation. “The issues that have been brought to my attention regarding the black community and the Sanford police department go back 10 years,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done there.”

Image 

Sanford, a suburb of of Orlando, Florida, has a population of 53,570 residents of which 57 percent of population are white and 30 percent are black.

In 2010 Brian Tooley, who was Lee’s predecessor who retired early this past January, had captured Justin Collison, the son of Tooley, on video for bringing up charges for knocking out Sherman Ware, a African-American homeless man. Again the Sanford Police Department took its time for the case to eventually go to trial. It took well over a month for Collison to be arrested. He was charged with felony battery and disorderly conduct. This case made waves because Collison’s video hit You Tube and wave of community protestors demanded action.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHGEam82GME) Collison agreed to pay for Ware’s medical expenses and make donations $1,000 donations each to three non-profit organizations. In 2005 16-year-old Travares McGill was fatally shot by two neighborhood patrol guards, the same watch patrol that George Zimmerman was a part of, when they feared for their lives. Both patrol guards Bryan Ansley and William Swofford were arrested two months later and charges were eventually cleared.

Police Chief Bill Lee has had his fair share of problems underneath him as so does the Sanford Police Department. Lee and his staff neglected a list of proper detailed procedures that the department didn’t do or respond to. Like, the outright failure to interview Trayvon’s girlfriend who was on the phone with him before the shooting. The police department had a detailed phone log Trayvon’s cell phone calls but never contacted her after the senseless murder. The department never gave George Zimmerman a toxicologist test nor check his car or impound it, a standard and mandatory procedure that all officers must do. Also, Trayvon’s body was at the country morgue for three days classified as “John Doe” nor contacted them about the body earlier to see if he matched the exact identity of his body. 

Trayvon’s murder is sending chill though every black person in this country. People who’ve I interacted over the last week has asked and addressed this same question: “What if that was my son or daughter?” Profiling has been a big question of concern of how blacks and some minorities have been addressed by law enforcement agents. The mere fact that an innocent black teenage male gunned down with just a bag a Skittles and a can of ice tea continues to baffle the mind. There have been comparisons to the late “Emmett Till” as the Reverend Al Sharpton stated at a rally in Sanford last week. The fact that racism still exists and George Zimmerman, a Latino and a minority in this country himself, had the nerve to profile a poor innocent black teen!

I want to address this issue of patrolman Zimmerman and how the press needs to stop sugarcoating his background. The press needs to stop saying Zimmerman is white! He’s Latino raised and grew up in a biracial family! Because Angelina Joie and Brad Pitt adopt African kids doesn’t make them white even though they raised them! They’re still African! The media continues to sugarcoat that Zimmerman is white and the community acts like he’s white and defend his actions..yet, he’s a minority! Yet, Zimmerman has the nerve to profile Trayvon! If it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then its a duck!

The State of Florida has the “Stand Your Ground” law that seems to be a shield for law enforcement agents there act like Wyatt Earp. Officers now have the right to use any kind of “responsive force” to shoot an innocent teen like Traynon! So now officers can shoot first and ask questions later! The “Stand Your Ground” law is similar in 21 states and continues to endanger people of color and other minorities that fit this category. 

The bottom line is clear, the evil seed of racism and hate that built this country, still exists loud and clear in 2012. The very laws that were designed to protect people of color and other minorities have the “Stand Your Ground” laws to protect evil people like George Zimmerman and the officers of the Sanford Police Department. As the song states: “None of us is free, one of us are chained….None of us are free!”

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report   

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com