Demanding a police apology

By Chris Murphy

EIGHTY PEOPLE rallied against police brutality January 12 at the Khmer Buddhist Center of Rhode Island in Providence. Two separate Cambodian households in the West End were raided and their families terrorized by local law enforcement last week.

The police entered one home with guns drawn and grabbed a sleeping 13-year-old from his bed and stomped on him. The police also humiliated a 77-year-old grandmother, holding her at gunpoint and mocking her while she was in the bathroom.

The raids turned up nothing more than a small amount of marijuana, and two people were arrested. Local media and law enforcement attempted to depict members of the family as "gang-bangers," but in reality, the raids were nothing more than a fishing expedition by police looking for guns.

During the rally, a relative of the family recounted the harrowing ordeal, describing the Providence Police Department as the "real gang." She then demanded an apology from the mayor and public safety commissioner. Shouts of "Where is the mayor?" echoed through the crowd.

The rally also made common cause with the Latino community, which has also been the target of raids by law enforcement. One man spoke about how his home had been raided a few years ago--with police using racial slurs and insisting that they didn't need a warrant to enter the premises. The rally ended with the chant: "What do we do when the cops attack? Stand up! Fight back!"

A march to the Providence Public Safety Complex is planned for later this week to demand an end to all policing in our communities, full disclosure of past home raids in the city and all of Rhode Island, publication of gang database policies, a public apology from the city and the dropping of charges.