News and Reports
June 8, 2001 | Page 14
Oakland police brutality
by SCOTT JOHNSON
OAKLAND, Calif.--"It's been a police cover-up from the start." Those are the words of Jervis Muwwakkil, father of Jamil Wheatfall, who was recently killed by Oakland police. "When a police officer puts on the hat of the judge, jury and executioner, he becomes a criminal himself," Muwwakkil told Socialist Worker.
Wheatfall, a 36-year-old African American, was unarmed when six police beat him to death on April 14. After a month, the police still have not released the police report on the incident or the coroner's report, even though the Oakland Tribune published an article citing coroner's evidence that Wheatfall died of drugs and not the beating and choking he was subjected to. "It was like a direct press release from the police department," Muwwakkil said.
The police have yet to even release the names of the officers involved, none of whom have been given administrative leave or disciplinary action of any kind. "I don't feel those officers should be still on duty on the streets."
Neither do the 100 people who protested on May 22 in response to the police killing of Wheatfall. People United for a Better Oakland organized the rally, which included Muwwakkil and his attorney John Burris as speakers.
After the rally, protesters marched to City Hall where a handful of people representing Wheatfall's family asked the City Council to launch an investigation. Muwwakkil carried a large photo of his son's bloody face that he took at the coroner's office.
Wheatfall is the second victim of the Oakland police this year.
"We bomb the hell out of any country that doesn't follow our line. If we're taking on that role in the world, we can't start doing the same at home," said Muwwakkil. "Until we as a people start holding police accountable for these actions, it's going to continue to get worse."
by KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR
ANN ARBOR, Mich.--More than 200 activists came to the campus of the University of Michigan in early June for a conference on defending affirmative action and fighting racism. Attendees represented about 40 college campuses and more than a dozen high schools.
The conference included two full days of workshops and meetings on a wide range of topics--from fighting racism in higher education to linking the fight against racism to the antiglobalization movement.
Activists brought a wide range of experience to the discussions--from Penn State students who organized against racist attacks over the past year to California students who successfully organized to get the University of California Board of Regents to overturn a decision to ban affirmative action.
The conference was organized by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration, Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary and Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. On the agenda was coming up with a strategy for fighting recent attacks on affirmative action--like Proposition 209 in California and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's anti-affirmative action "One Florida" plan.
Ann Arbor was chosen as the site of the conference because a federal judge ruled in March that the University of Michigan Law School would have to dismantle its affirmative action policy for admissions.
Attendees discussed a proposal for a mobilization in defense of affirmative action in Cincinnati in October, when the law school's appeal will be heard in a federal appeals court.
by CANDICE AMICH
CHICAGO--About 300 people marched to State's Attorney Dick Devine's home on June 2. Devine has refused to prosecute crooked cops and grant new trials to victims of police frame-ups and torture, such as the Death Row 10.
Activists unfurled yellow crime-scene tape in front of his house.
Vera Love, whose son Robert Russ was fatally shot by Chicago cops two years ago, spoke. Devine has yet to investigate and prosecute the cops who murdered the unarmed Black man.
Protesters then gathered in a park to hear activists from several groups, including the Comité Exijimos Justicia and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
by YUSEF KHALIL
NEW YORK--About 300 people gathered to protest the city's annual "Salute to Israel Day" parade on May 20. The demonstration brought together several organizations, including the Palestine Right of Return Coalition (Al-Awda), Jews Against the Occupation, and the International Socialist Organization, in the fight against the oppression of Palestinians.
The parade came just a few days after Israel used U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets against Palestinian targets in the Occupied Territories.
"People supporting Israel should hold their heads in shame," Hannan Adely, of Al-Awda, told the crowd. "There is nothing to be proud of. We are here to educate the kids and the people on what's really going on in the Middle East."
Chloe Tribich, of Jews Against the Occupation, had a similar message. "We are here to protest the human rights abuses against the Palestinian people," Tribich said. "As U.S. taxpayers, we don't want our money to be used in supporting these human rights violations. As a Jew, I don't want these abuses to be done in my name."
A speaker from the Vieques Support Campaign tied the struggle of Palestinians to the fight to stop the U.S. Navy from using Vieques for target practice to test U.S. weapons.
The diverse protest showed the potential to build a movement that can fight to cut U.S. aid to Israel.
Israel is an apartheid state, with racist laws similar to apartheid South Africa. That's why activists have launched a campaign along the lines of the anti-apartheid movement to cut U.S. economic, military and political ties to Israel.
There is only one solution: ONE Palestine, with equal rights for all!
by BRIDGET BRODERICK
CHICAGO--Nearly 200 people gathered May 22 in front of the Chicago Hilton Hotel to protest former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The protest was organized with just two days' notice by various Arab and Arab American organizations.
Not In My Name, a group of American Jews calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, also helped to build the event.
Speakers denounced the Israeli government's use of F-16s against the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem and Gaza-- and called for the U.S. to end its massive funding of the Israeli state.
Protesters praised the emergence of united actions between Arabs, Arab Americans and Jewish Americans.
Next, groups will be organizing a June 8 vigil for an end to Israel's occupation and another protest against the Israeli ambassador on June 13.
For information about future protests, call 312-458-9920.
by MARY RAPIEN
PROVIDENCE, R.I.--When Brown University administrators introduced former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as a featured speaker at graduation ceremonies in May, they called her an "emissary of peace and democracy" who helped "children domestically and abroad."
But hundreds of students and alumni had something different to say about "Mad A."
Albright is notorious for defending the United Nations' genocidal sanctions against Iraq--once telling a TV journalist that 500,000 Iraqi children killed because of the U.S.-backed embargo is "worth it."
At least 100 graduating seniors responded with messages on their graduation caps that read, "Not worth the price," "End the sanctions on Iraq" and "500,000 children." They also chanted, "Fuera de Vieques" and "U.S. out of Colombia."
During Albright's speech, 35 protesters marched outside, forcing those inside to close windows despite the heat and humidity of the afternoon.
Graduating senior Gwendolyn Forrest told reporters that she and others wouldn't "remain complacent in the face of this suffering [of the Iraqi people] and this affront to the sacredness of our Baccalaureate."
George Capaccio, an anti-sanctions activist who has visited Iraq several times, explained that Albright, though out of office now, should still be brought to justice. "We should be reminding the American people of the evil done in our name," Capaccio said.
by TIM COOK
CENTURY CITY, Calif.--Some 350 activists gathered out front of the posh Century Plaza Hotel to protest George W. Bush's energy policies in the midst of rolling blackouts and out of control rate hikes.
Bush came here to meet with Gov. Gray Davis, who hoped to convince Bush to pressure the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to impose price caps and other measures.
The meeting was briefly interrupted when former Green Party Senate candidate Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange demanded immediate price caps. Benjamin was quickly escorted away by hotel security.
Bush went on to dismiss Davis' requests and soon ended the meeting, leaving no doubts that the "energy summit" was nothing but an empty political gesture.
Outside the luxury hotel, however, the mood was quite different. Student activists, Greens, Sierra Club members, socialists and others came out in force.
With chants like "Today blackouts, tomorrow Gray out!" and "Public power now!" it was clear that the crowd was angry over the crisis and totally unsatisfied with Dubya's and Gray's lame solutions.
Many protesters came out because they just can't stand Bush. "In November 2000, a deviant Supreme Court bestowed kingship on a bumbling idiot who wants to gut our environmental laws, build more polluting power plants and reintroduce the madness of nuclear power," Green Party member Donna Warren told the crowd, "and the Democrats are doing nothing to protect the people."
After the rally, protesters gathered at the entrance to the hotel parking structure to greet Bush as his presidential motorcade left for the airport.
Police in riot gear corralled protesters away from the drive and at one point knocked a 10-year-old girl in the forehead with a baton.
CHICAGO--Parents in the Little Village (La Villita) community ended their nearly three-week hunger strike demanding the construction of a long-promised high school in their neighborhood June 1.
In late May, hunger strikers and their supporters crashed the Chicago Board of Education meeting to protest the disappearance of funds for their high school. Board President Gary Chico was forced to admit that the $30 million allocated in 1999-2000 for the Little Village High School was used for "other projects."
Although Chico didn't say what those other projects were, two magnet high schools have been built in rich neighborhoods while the site for a school in Little Village sits undeveloped.
More parents joined the hunger strike as it became clear that Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Paul Vallas had no intention of addressing their demands.
Vallas and others have tried to portray the hunger strike as political manipulation by community activists and politicians.
But the parents involved in this fight are clear. "The most important thing is that CPS build a high school," said hunger striker María Elena Lee. "They are robbing our children of an education."
Hunger strikers were able to push state legislators in Springfield to allocate more funds for high school construction. The next battle will be to get their school built, but for now they're planning a celebration on June 4.