Political Roundup: Eric Coleman Update/Baton Rouge Police Attack/Former Cop Speaks Out

 by David Samuels
This column appears in the July 21 – 28 edition of the Hartford News…
Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! Replays on the Tuesdays that we’re not on live and every Wednesday, same time. Next show: August 2. Guests: Josh Elliott, candidate for Connecticut State Representative. Missouri police reform activist Toni Taylor.  http://sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
Community Party Radio Podcasts
Josh Elliott, Candidate for State Representative
Check out CP’s No Sellout blog Election 2016 Candidate Tracker for a profile provided by Josh Elliott, who is running for a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly. Includes info on making a donation to his campaign. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/election-2016-candidate-tracker-josh-elliott/
Special Message
Violence against police officers only HURTS the movement for police reform. There are cops who care about the community, and are speaking out against racism, brutality and corruption. This movement is supposed to be about STOPPING VIOLENCE! If you’re thinking about harming a member of law enforcement, STOP!    .
Mandatory Police Body Cameras
Judiciary Committee Co-Chair Sen. Eric Coleman has not responded to the Community Party’s call for him to introduce a bill in 2017, which would make it mandatory for all police officers in Connecticut to wear body cameras. We have contacted him on Facebook, and via email. I’m one of Coleman’s constituents. Ironically last week I received a mailer from Coleman with the heading “Fairness & Equality Under the Law”. There is a picture of Coleman speaking at a University of Hartford event on race relations in Connecticut. Coleman personifies the Democrats’ attitude regarding the police violence issue: plenty of lip service, but no interest in REAL police reform. Young Black males are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than white males. We will continue to demand that Coleman walk the walk, and implement legislation that will protect communities of color. My colleague Mary Sanders said it best. “This has been another brutal year for people of color and I would hope CT legislators have seen enough to finally take appropriate preventive action. Hopefully we’ll be able to work with our co-chairs, instead of around them this next session.”  Stay tuned.
 Facebook Conversation on Baton Rouge
These comments were posted on Sen. Gary Winfield’s Facebook page last Sunday.

Nick Gauthier When a system forces people into bondage, kicks them and shoots them when they’re being held down (sometimes literally), and removes all peaceful means to challenge such injustice, then violent resistance is inevitable. Unjust systems of governance, such as ours, are eventually reformed and those at the top are the ones who choose whether those reforms can occur peacefully, by opening democratic avenues of resistance and change, or violently, by responding to those with legitimate grievances with violent suppression enforced by a militaristic police state.

Side note: The point still stands regardless of the details of this specific incident.

David Samuels   Exactly.
David Samuels Nick’s comment should be pasted onto the forehead of every legislator in the Connecticut General Assembly who has engaged in obstruction on the police reform issue. The Democratic controlled legislature annually kills bills submitted by Mary L. Sanders and I. The cowardice of elected officials has brought us to this point. They thought that lip service about ‘coming together’ would put a lid on the rage in communities of color, and allow the status quo to remain. They were wrong. I condemn any attacks on police officers. I wish that elected officials had seen the warning signs in Baltimore, Ferguson and as far back as Los Angeles back in 1992 following the Rodney King verdict, and realized that we were headed to what now appears to be a war in the streets. Police in the United States kill at a rate of 70 times more than all other ‘first world’ nations. At least 37 people have been killed by police in the U.S. this month, which is more than the total number of people killed by police in Britain since the year 2000. 585 people have been killed by police in this country in 2016.
Mary L. Sanders I believe they did see the warning signs David Samuels – unfortunately they opted to increase their suppression with more weapons, less tolerance, and more incarceration if not brutality. Not saying all cops are down with that … but unfortunately the fallout for challenging the system is too much for many to risk. That goes for both the elected officials and cops.

David Samuels Exactly. Easier to give lip service and do nothing.

Mary L. Sanders As for the cops, they risk their livelihood – the lawmakers risk political capital, committee assignments and reelection.
David Samuels Police in Britain killed 0 people in 2013, 1 person in 2014. Police in Canada killed 14 people in 2014. Police in China, a dictatorship 41/2 times the size of the U.S., killed 12 people in 2014. Police in the U.S. killed 1140 people last year.
Mary L. Sanders   “What we allow, is what will continue.”
David Samuels Time to examine law enforcement policies in other countries, and implement REAL change to policies here. Continuing to prop up the current system clearly is not working.
This week we’ll share Part 1 of a Democracy Now! interview with former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who is speaking out against police violence. Check out the DN website.  http://www.democracynow.org/
                                                        Ex Seattle Police Chief Condemns Systemic Police Racism Dating Back to Slave Patrols
NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Wednesday, President Obama met at the White House with law enforcement officials and civil rights leaders. President Obama hosted the meeting one week after the police—fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and the killing of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The roots of the problems we saw this week date back not just decades, date back centuries. There are cultural issues, and there are issues of race in this country, and poverty and a whole range of problems that will not be solved overnight. But what we can do is to set up the kinds of respectful conversations that we’ve had here, not just in Washington, but around the country, so that we institutionalize a process of continually getting better.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: While the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile made national headlines, they were not isolated incidents. According to a count by The Guardian, at least 37 people have been killed by police in the United States so far this month. That’s more than the total number of people killed by police in Britain since the year 2000. Overall, police in the United States have killed a total of 585 people so far this year.
AMY GOODMAN: After Wednesday’s summit, President Obama said the nation is “not even close” to resolving issues between police and the communities they serve.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re going to have to do more work together in thinking about how we can build confidence that after police officers have used force, and particularly deadly force, that there is confidence in how the investigation takes place and that justice is done.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, our next guest writes, quote, “American policing is in crisis. … Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are two of the most recent casualties in what has become a deadly epidemic.” It may surprise you to learn who wrote those words—not a Black Lives Matter activist, but a former big city police chief. Norm Stamper is the former police chief of Seattle, Washington. He joins us now from Los Angeles, California. His new book, To Protect and to Serve: How to Fix America’s Police. He recently wrote an article for Time magazine called “Police Forces Belong to the People.” His previous book headlined Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.
Norm Stamper, welcome back to Democracy Now! As you look at what happened in the last week alone, not to mention what has happened in the years since you were the chief of police in Seattle, what are your comments about how police are trained to deal with communities of color?
NORM STAMPER: You know, the training of police officers is a very prominent theme in the conversation about police reform, and it’s, of course, very, very important. But there are much deeper and important issues, as far as I’m concerned, namely those associated with the institution itself, the structure of the organization, the culture that arises out of that structure. It’s paramilitary. It’s bureaucratic. It insulates and isolates police officers from the communities that they are here to serve.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So what would you say, Norm Stamper, are some of the systemic problems of police violence? And what do you think has led to—you referred to the paramilitary nature of the police forces now. What do you think accounts for that?
NORM STAMPER: I think what accounts for it—there are several factors, one of which is that in 1971 Richard Nixon famously proclaimed drugs public enemy number one—drug abuse—and declared all-out war on drugs, which was really a declaration of war against his own people. And overwhelmingly, young people, poor people, people of color suffered, and have continued to suffer over the decades as a result of a decision to put America’s front-line police officers on the front lines of the drug war as foot soldiers. And then we wonder why there’s such a strain in the relationship between police and community, and particularly those communities that are entrenched in poverty and other economic disadvantage, communities that historically have been neglected or abused or oppressed by their own police departments. So we really intensified and escalated the country’s war against poor people with that drug war. And we have spent $1.3 trillion prosecuting that war since the 1970s, incarcerated literally tens of millions. Please hear that figure: tens of millions of disproportionately young people and poor people and people of color. What do we have to show for it? Drugs are more readily available at lower prices and higher levels of potency. It’s time for us to end that drug war. That began the militarization of policing, without a doubt.
9/11 is another milestone, for obvious reasons. The federal government began throwing military surplus at local law enforcement agencies, such that, in terms of how they look, in terms of how they’re equipped, in terms of how they are weaponized, America’s police forces look more like the military than domestic peacekeepers.
Next week: Part 2.
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 and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com  

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