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News and reports

April 6, 2007 | Pages 14 and 15

Northeastern Illinois University
New York City police violence

Northeastern Illinois University
By Adam Turl

CHICAGO--The struggle for free speech at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) continues. Campus disciplinary charges have been filed against two members of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) and NEIU Socialist Club.

On February 28, two members of the Socialist Club were arrested for taking part in a CAN protest of a campus CIA recruitment event. Ken Barrios and Matt Larson were erroneously charged with "disruption" and "simple battery." Some members of the Student Government Association (SGA) seized the opportunity to go on witch-hunt against the Socialist Club--but backed down in the face of an overwhelming outpouring of support.

Activists then turned their attention to the pending court case against Barrios and Larson. On March 28, 40 people attended a CAN press conference on campus to demand the charges be dropped. Later that day, 20 supporters packed the court hearing in downtown Chicago.

The administration has reportedly offered to drop charges if Barrios and Larson promised not pursue a civil rights lawsuit against the university. However, the Chief Clerk of the Placement Office, Robin Wagner, who filed the bogus complaint of "simple battery," refused to withdraw charges. The State's Attorney downgraded the battery charge against Barrios, but, as Socialist Worker went to press, all charges remained in place.

A disciplinary complaint was filed against Larson and Barrios on March 27 by Dean Kelly. A hearing will be held on April 9 at 10 a.m. Outrageously, if Larson and Barrios invoke their Fifth Amendment rights, they could be suspended on the spot--even though they face an ongoing trial.

This ham-fisted intimidation is obviously meant to intimidate student activists into backing down, but students are vowing to fight. A protest is being organized by CAN on April 9 to demand all criminal and campus charges be dropped.

What you can do to help: Attend the protest at NEIU on April 9 at 9 a.m., in the NEIU Quad, 5500 N. St. Louis. Call Dean Kelly's office at 773-442-4610 and ask them to drop all charges now. Come to the next court hearing on April 24 at 1:30 p.m., at 555 W. Harrison.

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New York City police violence
By Andrew Jagunich

NEW YORK--Police here are trying to smear the memory of Sean Bell, who was gunned down in a hail of 50 bullets on November 25, 2006. Three of the five officers involved in the killing now face criminal charges.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly claims that a Queens man, Anthony Jeffers, identified Bell as the person who attacked him in a drive-by shooting last July. The press immediately repeated Kelly's statement, with the New York Post running an article with the headline "Sean Bell Shot Me."

Jeffers, however, denies that he ever said Bell did it, and says he never saw Bell's face until cops showed him a photo. "They asked me, 'Did he do it?' I said no," Jeffers told the New York Times. "It's a false statement. They're lying."

On March 16, a Queens grand jury indicted Officers Gescard Isnora and Michael Oliver for manslaughter, and charged Detective Marc Cooper with reckless endangerment.

Just days before, the Detectives' Endowment Association claimed to have found a worker at a AirTrain platform who allegedly saw someone shoot at the police on the night of Sean Bell's death. However, the Air Train platform is roughly a mile away from the club where Sean Bell was killed.

Anti-police brutality activists are seeing through the smear campaign against Sean Bell. A March 20 rally at Union Square called by People's Justice drew 200 people and demanded that all five cops be charged with murder.

"The 50 bullets is not the issue," said Juanita Young, who lost a son to police violence. "It's just the fact that they're so eager to pull that gun."

Michael, a construction worker from Brooklyn, said in an interview that "this is not just a New York City problem, it's a nationwide problem. Crime happens because of economic problems. They shouldn't flood the neighborhood with police, they should flood it with jobs."

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