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News and reports

February 22, 2002 | Page 11

Stop police violence in Long Beach

By Randy Childs

LONG BEACH, Calif.--A multiracial crowd of 200 people marched through downtown February 9 to protest the police murder of Marcella Byrd, a 57-year-old African American woman. Byrd's daughter Angela and son Tirus joined the protesters.

Several Long Beach police officers surrounded Marcella Byrd on January 19. Police claim that Byrd, a diagnosed schizophrenic less than five feet tall, threatened them with a kitchen knife. They opened fire, hitting her with at least 10 bullets.

Speakers at the protest compared Byrd's killing with a Los Angeles case. Margaret Mitchell was also small, middle-aged and mentally ill when several LAPD officers shot her three years ago, claiming deadly force was needed because she "threatened" them with a screwdriver.

Neighborhood residents cheered the protesters when they marched past the place where the cops killed Byrd. Protesters also stopped outside police headquarters.

It will take more activism like this to make the Long Beach police pay for what they did to Marcella Byrd.

Abolish the death penalty

By Noreen McNulty

CHICAGO--The Campaign to End the Death Penalty picketed a debate between the candidates for Illinois governor February 18. About 40 people gathered to send the message that the death penalty is too flawed to fix!

All six of the Illinois gubernatorial candidates are pro-death penalty--though several are also claiming to support the moratorium on executions declared by current Illinois Gov. George Ryan. Candidate Pat O'Malley, a Republican, opposes the moratorium and claims it is illegal.

Once Gov. Ryan's commission on the death penalty releases its recommendations on how to "fix" the death penalty, it will be all too easy for a pro-death penalty governor to reinstate the death penalty.

Leaks to the press report that the commission voted 8 to 5 for abolition of the death penalty, but it's not yet clear if this recommendation will be included in its final report.

Four of the six remaining gubernatorial candidates met at National-Louis University for a moderated debate about the education system in Illinois--where activists turned out to give them an education in grassroots opposition!

Even though several activists were on the list of approved attendees, they were barred from entering because of the protest. But we'll be dogging the candidates throughout the governor's race--to kick off a season of activism to push for abolition in 2002.

We won't go back--abolition now!

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