New epidemic of racist police brutality

By Bryan G. Pfeifer, Workers World, 11 March 2006

Police brutality has reached epidemic proportions in communities of color across the nation. Police terror from Benton Harbor, Mich., to Boston to Cincinnati to Houston to Los Angeles to Milwaukee to New York City is institutionalized within this capitalist society especially in relation to oppressed communities and youth, including lesbian, gay, bi and trans youth.

A March 2 article—“Hub youths say police harassment is constant”—in the African American weekly The Boston Banner describes the wholesale occupation and terror of oppressed communities in Boston. Numerous Black, Latino and Cape Verdean youth, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, described semi-apartheid conditions. These included police wantonly stopping and frisking, racist verbal and physical threats, coercion and beatings, random questioning and worse before, during and after school and work hours.

“I basically get stopped every day,” said one youth of color to the Banner. “They ask you questions: ‘What's your name? What's your address? What school do you go to?’ They search you. They know us all. But they do it all the time. And they always ask us the same questions.”

Other youths reported to WW that in the evening and late-night hours nothing less than police-state occupations take place where local, state, and federal agents invade oppressed communities under the guise of fighting “the war on drugs, gangs and violence,” when their real role is to terrorize and subjugate mostly working and poor people of color.

If arrested, these youths and others' names are placed into a Massachusetts state database called “criminal offender record information” or CORI, where an arrest, even if later dropped, is accessible by employers, schools, government agencies, newspapers and more. Attempting to expunge a so-called “record” can take years and thousands of dollars in legal fees, reports the Banner.

Bishop Filipe Teixeira is a well-known anti-police-brutality activist in the Greater Boston area and member of the Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Coalition (BRPHRDC). He supports those like 18-year-old Devone Jacques, a Haitian man brutally beaten on Feb. 24 by the Boston Municipal Police in front of his home in Dor chester, a borough of Boston.

Teixeira, along with over a dozen witnesses including Jacques' mother, witnessed 10 to 12 police officers kicking Jacques on the ground as he was cuffed at his wrists and ankles. The police then picked him up and threw him into a police van from which Jacques slid out and banged his head on the street. Upon throwing him back in the van, police Maced him. Jacques was slowly transported to the hospital, placed in jail for three days and released on bail after being charged with assault and battery on a police officer.

Despite police harassment against supporters like Teixeira, who has been issued minor municipal citations such as parking tickets after speaking out, a network is developing to support Jacques and all youth in the city terrorized by the police and other state agents.