“F— Your Breath”: Police Killings in South Carolina & Oklahoma/The Penn Act Political Football

This column appears in the April 16 – 23 edition of the Hartford News…

Last Thursday defense attorney Mark Geragos, appearing on CNN, described what happened when North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Michael Slager murdered Walter Scott. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LNO_y9Dge4 Geragos said that Slager used a bogus excuse to pull over Scott, telling Scott that his “third brake light” was out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttyxt3bjq2k According to Geragos, this is known as a “pretext stop”, where a patrol officer will invent a reason to racially profile, fishing for a way to bust a Black driver.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yvPvc7IEIU Scott’s murder, which was captured on cell phone video by eyewitness Feidin Santana, is graphic evidence of how racial profiling can lead to murder.

Call and email your legislators and tell them to vote Yes on H.B. 5437, Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill, and anti-police brutality legislation currently active at the State Capitol. Rep. Ritter’s bill includes the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act traffic stop receipt amendment. Check out our Action Alert on the CP No Sellout blog for details.

https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/action-alert-stop-racial-profiling-police-brutality-in-connecticut/ Mary Sanders, who wrote CP’s Trayvon Martin Act bill language, will be a guest May 26th at 8:00 pm on Voice of the City with host JCherry on WESU 88.1 FM. http://tunein.com/radio/WESU-881-s28607/ Incredibly, Gov. Dannel Malloy said a police body cameras bill will not be passed; he used cost of the cameras as an excuse. http://wwlp.com/ap/malloy-expects-police-body-camera-law-but-not-this-year/Yjis This is the same guy who has launched a $100 billion transportation project without identifying any funding sources. Find the money for body cameras! If not now, when?

Monday a video surfaced from Oklahoma of 73-year-old Robert Bates shooting and killing another unarmed Black man, 44-year-old Eric Harris. Bates apparently mistook his gun for his Taser. The video of the shooting was recorded on a body camera. Harris is heard on the video saying that he was losing his breath after he was shot. An officer on the scene said, “F— your breath.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfh_dRpu3gM Bates, who has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, is the owner of an insurance company who is also a reserve deputy for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department. ABC News reported that Harris’ family is outraged at the relationship between Bates and the sheriff. “The family said Bates ‘is a wealthy man who has contributed vehicles, equipment and money to TCSO [Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office].’ They said Bates ‘has a close personal relationship’ with Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz and ‘contributed thousands’ to his campaign. Bates reportedly owns an insurance company and served as chairman of the Glanz re-election committee in 2012. The Tulsa World cited records showing he donated $2,500 to Glanz’s campaign that year. The family also accused Bates of wanting to be a ‘pay to play’ cop. ‘We do not believe it is reasonable – or responsible – for TCSO to accept gifts from a wealthy citizen who wants to be a ‘pay to play’ cop,’ the statement said.”

Last week Office of Policy and Management Under Secretary Mike Lawlor and members of the so-called Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project took credit for reforming the Alvin W. Penn Act, the state racial profiling law, during a briefing last week at the Capitol. CRP3 members Andrew Clark and Ken Barone presented a dry summary of data which told us what we already knew: racial profiling is happening in Connecticut. The Department of Justice investigation of the East Haven Police Department, and subsequent 2013 convictions of EHPD officers Dennis Spaulding and David Cari for violating the civil rights of Latinos, was more than enough proof.

The Courant, CT News Junkie and Connecticut Mirror Capitol Bureau Chief Mark Pazniokas ignored events at the March 20 Judiciary Committee public hearing on H.B. 5437 and the aforementioned bills. Rep. Bruce Morris revealed that he was racially profiled by the police days earlier, and became emotional as he urged the CT police chiefs who opposed H.B. 5437 to support it. Sen. Gary Winfield and State Representatives Angel Arce and Robyn Porter held the police chiefs accountable for their opposition to our bill and anti-police brutality legislation, in an exchange that became heated. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/rep-bruce-morris-passionately-supports-h-b-5437-urban-lawmakers-hold-police-accountable/

The Penn Act was named in honor of the late Sen. Alvin W, Penn, a Black lawmaker who pushed for the passage of legislation against biased policing after he was racially profiled in 1996. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/26/nyregion/policing-the-police-on-racial-profiling.html Despite this history and with everything happening in this country around the issue of racial profiling and police violence, Christine Stuart and Doug Hardy of CT News Junkie and Pazniokas made a decision not to mention the developments at the March 20 hearing at all. However they covered the OPM/CRP3 infomercial by white Capitol bureaucrats, a story that had all of the drama of Ferris Bueller’s economics class. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUjhSBjxuXA Only the Connecticut Post reported on the fireworks at the Judiciary Committee hearing.

The racist overtones of the Capitol reporters’ biased coverage of the racial profiling issue in Connecticut is an example of what Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman refers to as the Access of Evil. Reporters suck up to those in power, in order to maintain access to those people.

http://www.thenation.com/article/access-evil A personal grudge against CP is also a factor in the CT News Junkie coverage. Lawlor, CRP3 project manager Jim Fazzalaro, Clark, Barone, Stuart, Hardy and Pazniokas can afford to play bs political games with the racial profiling issue, because they know they will never have to worry about a cop pulling them over for no reason and putting a hole in them, like Slager did to Scott. They walk around the Capitol all hunky dory with their internalized white superiority and white privilege. This issue isn’t a game in my world. What happened to Walter Scott could happen to me. These bureaucrats and ‘journalists’ are on the wrong side of history.

Resources:

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report on the extrajudicial killings of Black people:

https://mxgm.org/we-charge-genocide-again-new-curriculum-on-every-28-hours-report/

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/) . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

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