Friday, July 30, 2010

Federal Investigation and Activist Responses to Police Violence

Family members of Raymond Robair, a man who was killed by police in the Treme neighborhood just a few months before Hurricane Katrina, finally received some vindication for their efforts to receive justice. On Thursday, two New Orleans police officers were indicted on federal civil rights charges in the case. As the federal investigations of New Orleans police continue, it has become nearly impossible to argue for any solution that is not systemic - it is clear that this department is rotten to the core.

Activists are continuing to pressure for systemic change. Community United for Change has issued a call for young people who have experienced police harassment to come to a meeting next week in the Treme neighborhood. According to the invitation:
Young people, more than any other age group, are on the receiving end of police harassment, brutality and murder. If you or your friends have been jacked up by the NOPD terrorists without cause, we need you to come forward. Your testimony will help to end NOPD profiling and falsely arresting young people. Let’s make some noise ‘til we get it right.
The public hearing will be Thursday, August 5, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the Treme Community Center, 900 N. Villere St. (corner of Dumaine St., near Armstrong Park). Door prizes and edutainment by Sess 4-5 and other positive artists. For information, contact Community United for Change at 504-251-2201.

Community United for Change member and longtime activist against police brutality Malcolm Suber will also be part of an interesting panel discussion and film screening next week at Community Book Center. He will be joined by activist and hip-hop artist Sess 4-5 and lawyer and activist King Downing, who has organized nationally against racial profiling and police brutality and was one of the first organizers to work on the Jena Six case. They will be speaking in conjunction with a screening of the video Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop, a documentary about a special unit of the New York City Police Department formed just to target hip-hop artists.

The event will be Tuesday, August 3, at Community Book Center, 2523 Bayou Road, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. For info call 9311-7614 or 948-7323. The event is sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and Community Book Center.

In a sign of how far our entire criminal justice system needs to go, this week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that "two New Orleans men who have waited in jail for nearly nine years without coming close to trial on a 2001 murder haven't had their rights violated by the delay." Clearly, we are a long way from the basic human rights we need.

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