Samuel Bryant Police Brutality Case/ So-Metro Radio Interview July 13 & 14

This column appears in the July 9 – 16 edition of the Hartford News…

Misha Charlton, Mary Sanders and I will be guests on the So-Metro Radio Community Connection show featuring Jacey Cofer Monday, July 13. Time: 10:00 PM. We’ll be talking about the Meagan Hockaday Act, legislation named in honor of Misha’s sister, who was murdered by Oxnard, California police officer Roger Garcia in March. Meagan Matters! https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/meagan-matters-police-murder-of-black-women-ignored-by-corporate-media-activists/ We’ll be talking about the Samuel Bryant/Hartford Police brutality case and the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act on Tuesday, July 14th. Time: 10:00 PM. http://www.sometroradio.com/

Samuel Bryant, the Brown Paper Bag & Poverty in Hartford

The HPD has been in spin mode, trotting out their NAACP puppets for the media in an attempt to get ahead of the developing firestorm over the video of Bryant being beaten with a baton by HPD officer Robert Fogg, as he was held up by Detective Brian Salkeld. The HPD has already issued a statement saying that the use of force was appropriate. Folks should be asking if the police have talked to Lashon Barrett, the man who videotaped the incident; he said on the video that Fogg pistol whipped Bryant with a Taser gun before he started recording. If HPD officers were already wearing body cameras, we would know exactly what happened. This is the video of the assault on Bryant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rDESnEnrm8

Last week I received a copy of the Bryant arrest report from the HPD. Fogg should consider a career as an author, because his report is pure fiction. Fogg said that he pleaded with community residents in the area to help him as he and Salkeld attempted to subdue Bryant, but the “crowd” responded with threats and he feared that they would attack. The video shows Salkeld holding Bryant in a bear hug as Fogg tells Bryant to “Get on the f—— ground”. The “crowd” Fogg described consisted of four people who stood on the sidewalk silently watching Fogg beat the crap out of Bryant, while Salkeld held Bryant up. The only yelling that can be heard is a woman who says that she is taping the incident and is going to report the officers. She never threatened them. Fogg says in the report that he struck Bryant in the head with his Taser gun (claiming self-defense). Barrett said that Fogg struck Bryant with the Taser before he started recording, but he is adamant that it was an act of brutality.

After the corporate media made a big show of calling Bryant a felon during their coverage of the HPD brutality case, it should be noted that Fogg and Salkeld jacked up Bryant because they saw him on the corner drinking out of a bottle in a brown paper bag. The officers from the department that has been yapping about “community policing” clearly went against that philosophy. For years, the understanding between residents in low income communities of color and the police has been that as long as you keep your alcoholic beverage in a brown paper bag and don’t bother other residents, the cops won’t bust you for public drinking. Major Bunny Colvin talked about the history of the brown paper bag civic compromise in an episode of the classic HBO series The Wire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2fV-_eiKxE

David Simon, executive producer of The Wire, was a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun. Ed Burns, one of the show’s producers, is a former Baltimore police detective. The Wire isn’t a “cop show”, it’s insightful commentary on how institutions such as city and state government/law enforcement work, or more specifically how they don’t work (see Resources). Fogg and Salkeld going after Bryant is an example of police oppression of residents in urban neighborhoods. Foley actually made the inference to me that the police go after every person they see in Hartford drinking out of a bottle in a brown paper bag. Really? HPD cops must not have time to do anything else, if that’s the case. Foley, does the HPD carry out raids to see if people rip that tag off of their mattresses, too? You know, the tag that says don’t remove under penalty of law? Foley will certainly cluck about drugs and money being found on Bryant. My response is that as I’ve been saying repeatedly in this space and Foley himself has admitted, poverty is the root cause of the problems in this city. Lack of economic opportunity fuels the dope game in Hartford.

The unemployment rate for Blacks/Latinos is at Depression era levels; the jobless rate for Black males age 18-25 in some areas of this city is as high as 50%. The absence of a mainstream economy in the poorest sections of Hartford forces individuals to turn to the underground economy to get paid, where violence is an occupational hazard. A New Deal/Works Progress Administration type of program would be an effective tool against gun violence and drug dealing in low income communities of color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/election-2014-urban-agenda-analysisct-polling-locations/ The aforementioned links in our Resources section at the end of this column feature Simon and journalist Bill Moyers talking about how drug trafficking has served as a form of welfare and inverted capitalism in urban areas like North Hartford with no economy. The police murders of Mike Brown and Freddie Gray have forced conversations about racial economic disparities in Ferguson and Baltimore. The same thing must happen here.

Police “Build Trust” While Killing Legislation, Segarra’s Secret Gun Violence Meetings, Reentry Crisis, Human Services Budget Cuts

I sent this email to Foley in response to an email he sent to me defending Fogg and Salkeld’s brutal assault of Bryant, a beating which was recorded on a video that has gone viral.

“Where do I begin after such a condescending response? I guess I’ll start with the last sentence. The same guy who talks about ‘building trust’ with the community tells a community resident who wants to meet, ‘While I have no idea who you are, I’ll meet with you.’ You blew off a respectful, private email request to meet with Mary and myself, but you were quick to respond when I confronted you on social media about a police brutality issue that you, your bosses at the Hartford Police Department and Mayor Pedro Segarra are desperately trying to keep from turning into another Ferguson/Baltimore. I don’t need to list my resume as an activist for you or anyone. However you have made it quite clear that I’ll never be invited to one of Segarra’s secret damage control meetings to discuss how to make him look good, while bullets are flying all over Hartford. Only his puppet ‘community leaders’ get a VIP pass to those meetings.

Segarra obviously fears being confronted by people he can’t control in a public forum while he’s running for re-election, so community residents will continue to be excluded from a conversation about the violence gripping this city. I actually thought that you might be different after your comments to the media about the link between poverty and Hartford gun violence, but your remarks on the Rawson shooting, coupled with your attempt to defend Fogg and Salkeld when a viral video exposed Fogg’s Samuel Bryant arrest report as fiction speaks volumes. No, it’s better that a nobody like me not waste your time meeting with you. Foley, your last email is Exhibit A – well actually, Exhibit B, this report is Exhibit A ( http://www.operationghettostorm.org/) for why Black people in this country don’t trust or respect the police. But you already know that. Justice for Mike Brown. Justice for Freddie Gray. Justice for Walter Scott. Justice for Meagan Hockaday. Jail killer cops.”

I was going to share Foley’s email but I didn’t want to promote his propaganda in my column. He was saying what in my opinion was racist crap about how Bryant shouldn’t be allowed to walk around the community. I guess Bryant should just jump in front of a bus and kill himself. Formerly incarcerated people need support, gainful employment and housing. Bryant told the police that he’s an alcoholic. Foley’s attitude is an example of how the disease of addiction is criminalized. How about getting Bryant into a substance abuse treatment program instead of beating him up? The recently passed state budget includes deep cuts to mental health and substance abuse treatment. Those cuts reverberate in the streets of Hartford and other urban areas. Mary is executive director of the Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain, CT. For 50 years SSC has been providing services to the poor, until June 28 when the nonprofit closed its doors due to budget cuts. Mary is fighting for money to reopen, but SSC may be shut down for good. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/spanish-speaking-center-of-new-britain-ct-closes-due-to-budget-cuts/

Instead of writing off Bryant like Foley wants to do, the system should be working to truly rehabilitate him and turn Bryant into a productive citizen. Like a typical right-wing bigot, Foley talked as if people who go to jail stay there forever, never to bother us again. The reality is that almost all incarcerated people are coming home. A USA Today article reported on reentry issues faced by formerly incarcerated individuals. “Throughout the USA, inmates released from prison have traditionally been given little more than a few dollars and a ride to the bus station. Often, they don’t even have valid state identification cards, further hindering them when they try to find work. At least 95% of all state prison inmates will eventually be freed, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, prompting communities to reconsider how they deal with hundreds of thousands of inmates released every year from correctional facilities.” http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-12-13-excon-inside_N.htm I would prefer that formerly incarcerated individuals return with the support, opportunities and life skills they will need to get on their feet and stay there. That’s a win-win for them and the communities they’re coming back to. Real rehabilitation enhances public safety. Foley’s callous remarks about Bryant underscore Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton’s assessment of the police. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuU7bEqKcLk

During our email exchange I remembered that I wasn’t talking to Foley, I was talking to the Hartford Police Department. Foley is a company man who isn’t going to say or do anything to jeopardize his career; he wants to be a chief someday. Foley talks out of both sides of his mouth. He goes on and on about serving community residents, yet he is complicit in Segarra’s effort to freeze these residents out of a conversation about gun violence in their neighborhoods. Foley, the HPD and the other police departments in urban areas in this state are trying to scam Blacks and Latinos. While they talked about “building trust”, “communication” and “community policing”, the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association was at the State Capitol testifying against racial profiling and police use of force/body cameras legislation. The combative attitude of the police drew stern rebukes from urban lawmakers such as Sen. Gary Winfield and Rep. Angel Arce at the March Judiciary Committee public hearing on these bills.

Rep. Bruce Morris demanded that the police support Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill, which includes CP’s Trayvon Martin Act traffic stop receipt amendment. During the hearing Morris revealed that he had been racially profiled days before after leaving the Capitol late at night. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/rep-bruce-morris-passionately-supports-h-b-5437-urban-lawmakers-hold-police-accountable/ I suggest that city residents ask Foley and “community leader” Hyacinth Yennie why the police opposed these bills. Yennie has been vocal in her opposition to body cameras for HPD cops. She used cost as her primary argument, but also repeated the police mantra about “building trust”, which she said should be the focus instead of cameras. Studies found that body cameras dramatically reduce use of force by police officers and citizen complaints against officers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unKwsam7vIc

The San Diego Police Department describes the cameras as a “win-win” for them and community residents. http://www.onenewspage.com/n/World/754y8neum/Report-San-Diego-police-say-body-cameras-win.htm Yet the police use of force/body cameras bill would not have been passed by the State Senate here if the legislation made cameras mandatory for municipal officers. Only state troopers will now be required to wear the cameras, even though the vast majority of brutality cases and extrajudicial killings of Blacks and Latinos involve municipal officers. Body cameras have been proven to be a deterrent of frivolous complaints against cops. The state is providing grant money for municipal departments to purchase the cameras, if they choose to equip their officers with the devices, so cost is no longer an excuse that the police or Yennie can use. The only plausible explanation for the CT Police Chiefs’ opposition to the bill is that they’re afraid of the cameras capturing misconduct by municipal officers like the beat down of Bryant. The police are trying to lull communities of color to sleep, so they can go back to business as usual. Stop falling for this bs.

My message to Rep. Brandon McGee and any groups that are ready to pounce on the Bryant case: you should have made your voices heard before. I didn’t hear McGee call for the police use of force/body cameras bill that was just passed by the legislature to include language making body cams mandatory for municipal officers. I didn’t see any Moral Mondays/Black Lives Matter folks at the Judiciary Committee public hearing on the bill. That was the time to speak up, not now because it’s politically expedient or a publicity opportunity.

Resources:

Bill Moyers interviews The Wire executive producer David Simon. Topics include the so-called War on Drugs:

Part 2 of the Moyers interview with Simon:

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948 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

David Samuels

Founder

Community Party

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: