Protest against WNBA fines grows as Washington Mystics refuse to take questions about basketball
By: Nina Mandell | July 22, 2016 10:59 pm
WASHINGTON — Just as the New York Liberty and Indiana Fever did before them, the Washington Mystics refused to talk about basketball on Friday following their 95-75 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks.
Instead, as a protest to the fines levied against three teams for wearing warm-up shirts that supported Black Lives Matter, they would only talk about the issues going on in the world.
“We definitely wanted to show our support for those teams that did get fined for wearing just plain black Adidas shirts,” Mystics guard Natasha Cloud said. “We’re allowed to wear whatever we want to the games, to and from the games, so if they’re going to take away our right and our voice to advocate for something so important to 70 percent of the league which is African American, we’ll find other ways to do it and other ways to do it is to wear our shirts to and from the game and use the media to (express ourselves).”
The Liberty and Fever were the first teams to refuse to talk about basketball following their game on Thursday. Cloud said her team would continue to refuse to talk about basketball “until we get support.”
Photo by Nina Mandell
The Mystics weren’t the only one to continue the protests. Before their game on Friday night, Seattle Storm players tweeted out pictures of their team wearing black t-shirts with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote. They tagged the WNBA’s account in the tweets, which seemed to imply their own protest of the fines.
“This league is behind (our cause), so we’re not sure where this hesitation lies,” Cloud said. “We understand, we’re not bashing our league at all but we would just like a little support. The league was quick to jump on the Orlando (mass shooting) and we fully supported that but we’re kind of frustrated that we’re picking and choosing which events we want to support and which we don’t.”
Mystics center Stefanie Dolson said that the team had considered wearing warm-up t-shirts to support Black Lives Matter before games as a number of other teams had done, but declined to do so after receiving a league-wide memo from the WNBA warning they could be fined for violating the league’s uniform policy.
“We had planned to wear them before a game and we were told not to,” she said. “We did sadly what we were told, but I think looking back I wish we would have done the black shirts as well. We had an early game though so we couldn’t go out and get the shirts.”
The Los Angeles Sparks didn’t stage any protest, but did not rule out doing something in the future. The WNBA is going on a break for the Summer Olympics beginning next week as a number of the league’s players will be in Brazil representing their countries.
“I don’t think it’s going to go away,” said Sparks star Candace Parker of the activism. “Every two or three days, there’s something else on the news about something, so we’re not worried about it going away.”
And the discussion among players, she said, isn’t over.
“I think for sure that’s something we’ll communicate and talk about as a group across the board in the WNBA.”
Common, Ava Duvernay, Others Say ‘My Life Matters’ In New Video Series
Stars like Common, Ava Duvernay, Boris Kodjoe, and Terrence J are using a new video series to speak up for victims of police brutality and racialized violence.
“My Life Matters,” a series of three videos, has a roster of celebrities and entertainment industry professionals – Common, Ava Duvernay, Lala Anthony, David Oyelowo, and others – recounting the most meaningful moments of their lives. They speak about their professional and educational accomplishments, marrying significant others, starting families, and fun times with loved ones.
They then take a different turn: they point out that if they were the victims of police brutality or racialized violence, that they would not have lived long enough to have such moments. Each celebrity ends their segment by saying, “my life matters,” before saying the name of a victim of police brutality or racialized violence. Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Amadou Diallo, Laquan McDonald, Trayvon Martin and Akai Gurley are among the victims honored in the videos.
The videos are moving because with the abundance of victims, headlines and video footage, it can be easy to get lost in the cause as a concept, or to see the victims as a collection of colors on a smartphone, computer or television screen. They drive home the fact that each of these victims were human beings who had the rest of their lives to look forward to, and that they were robbed of those fulfillments by officers or other armed people who killed them. It also uses the phrase “My Life Matters,” hopefully cutting through the rhetoric of people who tune out after the phrasing of Black Life Matters.
The video series was put together by Blackout For Human Rights – a network of artists, entertainers, activists, educators and spiritual leaders who pool their resources to fight against human rights violations in the United States. Blackout’s founding members include filmmaker Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station), Ava Duvernay (Selma), Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), and others.
Blackout For Human Rights also put together the #JusticeForFlint concert to raise money for the water crisis in Flint, and the MLK Now event in January.
A Chicago demonstrator flies the Pan-African flag at a protest aimed at reining in police unions on Wednesday.
WASHINGTON ― Two activist groups, Black Lives Matter and the Black Youth Project 100, launched #FreedomNow, a two-day long campaign of nationwide actions designed to highlight the role of police unions in shielding officers who engage in misconduct. The protests, which began Wednesday, took place in Chicago, New York, Washington, Detroit, Durham, North Carolina, and Oakland, California.
Organizers in Chicago led protests at Homan Square, a secretive facility where for at least 11 years, the Chicago Police Department illegally detained and physically abused black and Latino residents.
In Washington, protesters occupied the grounds of the national legislative office of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the country’s most powerful law enforcement union, for 13 hours. Demonstrators blocked street traffic and chained themselves to ladders placed in the building’s front yard. They also flew the red, black and green flag of Pan-Africanism, an ideology that encourages the unity of all people within the African diaspora.
Liz Adetiba/The Huffington Post
A member of the Black Youth Project 100 sits chained to a ladder on the property of the Fraternal Order of Police in Washington on Wednesday.
“In the confrontation between Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter, we put our stake in the ground and won’t retreat, but confront the state with our bodies directly. That’s what this moment is about for us,” said Jonathan Lykes, co-chair of the Black Youth Project 100’s D.C. chapter.
The activist groups argue that police unions are impeding efforts to reform law enforcement both nationally and locally. There’s some truth to this.
When their members are accused of violence, police unions stoutly defend them, sometimes long after the evidence shows they did wrong.
“Police unions are much like police chiefs. When an officer is caught doing a very bad thing, they start to circle the wagons,” Cheryl Dorsey, a retired Los Angeles police sergeant, told VICE News last year.
On the national level, the Fraternal Order of Police has lobbied against bills that would end the transfer of military equipment, including tanks, to police departments across the country, as well as sought to impede efforts to gather data on deaths in police custody.
“When it comes to the FOP, it is the one entity that we really haven’t made visible within the last three years of the Movement for Black Lives,” Lykes said, using another name for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This is about making visible an institution that often works in the shadows and is often allowed to cover up the accountability process when it comes to police killing black bodies and black lives,” Lykes said. “We’re just trying to shine a light on that picture. We’re trying to do it in a coordinated way.”
Devin Barrington Ward, another member of the Black Youth Project 100 and a former D.C. Council staffer, suggested that even those within the leadership of law enforcement are becoming frustrated with the way union involvement can obstruct officer discipline. He pointed to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier as an example.
Ward claims that Lanier met with local activists to discuss her department’s efforts, although a representative for the chief denied that any such conversation took place.
Not surprisingly, some unions contend the attention from activists is unwarranted.
“Today’s protest was a display of misdirected and misinformed anger that should have been pointed at City Hall ― not the police officers who were on hand to protect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights,” the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of New York City said in a statement released Wednesday.
Ward pushed back, saying that police unions are “not used to having this type of limelight shined on them, so that’s why they’re responding like that.”
Liz Adetiba/The Huffington Post
Demonstrators block off traffic near 4th Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Washington during a 13-hour occupation of Fraternal Order of Police property.
While Black Lives Matter activists have mainly focused their attention on protesting elected officials, Ward said the shift to police unions is crucial.
“When we really want to get to the root of the issue, it’s finding out who are the special interest groups and where is the money coming from to push these bad policies,” he said.
How Four Teenage Girls Organized This Week’s Huge Silent Protest
Eva Lewis is someone you should know. She and three other black teenage girls were the driving force behind Monday’s massive sit-in protest in Millennium Park and subsequent march to protest gun violence and police brutality in Chicago.
The event to “break the divide between communities, and bring youth from all areas of Chicago in solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” drew more than 1,000 people and the attention of local and national media—not bad for a group of 16- and 17-year-olds who organized the whole thing on social media. The silent sit-in was followed by poetry and other performances, and the group gained steam as it left the park and closed down the streets, marching toward Federal Plaza to meet up with another, unaffiliated group of protesters.
Though the two rallies were spurred by the same news events of the previous week—the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and the subsequent attack on police in Dallas—they differed in both their focus and their methods, Lewis explains. More on that later.
When the 17-year-old rising senior at Walter Payton College Prep is asked to describe herself, she first identifies herself as a member of Bomic Sans (“You know, like the font Comic Sans?”), Payton’s team in the Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry competition. She’s an artist. An activist. And advocate. She ticks off an impressive list of achievements—among them, being asked to speak in front of the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year.
We spoke with Lewis after she finished her day’s work as an intern at Stony Island Arts Bank to find out how Monday’s protest came together.
Start from the beginning: How did you get the idea for the rally?
I didn’t decide it. This girl that I knew from my old school, Maxine Wint , she [and Sophia Byrd, 17,] had an idea. They know each other from Chicago Children’s Choir. Maxine posted on Twitter that she wanted to have a sit-in on Monday. They hadn’t organized a real protest, a big thing, before. I hadn’t organized one either, except I’d been behind the scenes for some of the Chicago Public Schools protests that have happened this year, helping with press releases, inclusivity, stuff like that. So I offered to help. Natalie Braye, she’s 16, she had also communicated with Maxine. All three of us used to go to Kenwood.
So you got your team together. What happened next?
I said, we need a group chat. Then they said we need a press release, and I had just learned how to do that. I said, we need goals, we need a purpose. What we wanted was this to be a peaceful protest. We had a goal of no arrests, which seemed impossible, because I hadn’t heard of a protest with no arrests—like this weekend was wild.
There were protests all late last week and weekend. Did you go to them?
Nope. I’m 17 years old. Although I have a lot of ideas, and I’m an activist, I’m aware constantly that I’m a minor, and that I don’t want to put myself in a dangerous situation. Which is why we did [our sit-in] during the day, because we didn’t wanna be out in the dark. Also, mental health is so important and those deaths [of black men at the hands of police] are so tolling. You have to be in a mentally prepared state to do a protest. Having it on Monday gave me the right amount of time.
What do you do to prepare for something like that?
I pray. I sung to myself gospel songs. It makes me feel calmer, ’cause then I’m promising myself in my spirit that I’m gonna be safe and everyone’s gonna be safe, and whatever is God’s will is gonna be done. My mom prayed too, and my grandma. They are so proud of me.
So your family is supportive of what you’re doing?
Oh yeah. I learned everything I know from them. And my grandfather, too—he just passed away. He was the first person to teach me that my gender didn’t matter, that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my gender at all. He empowered me. He taught me about the system young, about racism. [My family] taught me that I should never think I am less than, I just have to work harder to be recognized for my work.
You say you’re an activist and advocate. What does that mean?
[At the UN headquarters], that’s where I learned about the difference between advocate and activist. I decided I want to do both. An activist shines light on issues that are happening. An advocate feeds off that energy, and brings it to the office space to talk with politicians about policy change. Because activists make the issue more relevant for the politicians. You can’t be an advocate if someone isn’t an activist in the first place.
You guys were very clear at the outset that your event was “not anti-police, it’s anti-racism,” and that you wanted no arrests and no violence. How did you interact with police at the rally?
Learning that [difference between activists and advocates] is what made yesterday so important. I shared that idea with the other three organizers. We were able to advocate with the police, we worked together with them. There was one officer, Officer Ryan, I think? He was really nice and understanding, and wanted to make sure we had control of everything. It wasn’t necessarily collaborating with police, because we don’t want the misconception that we were asking for permission—it was more so like a respectful interaction.
There’s a lot of misconceptions when it comes to [police] dealing with people. They think of Black Lives Matter and youth—they might think, ugh, they’re gonna be this, that, and the other. But [the negative perception] was off when it came to us. They said they were impressed and they told us that we were gonna go places, that they wouldn’t mind [working a protest] again. Because we didn’t have a single arrest, and we kept things under control, especially being so young.
Have you been to protests in the past?
When Trayvon Martin was killed, that was the first time I realized the stuff in the history books was present day. My mom and I, we protested together. It was on Michigan [Avenue]. We were protesting gun violence and police brutality and general violence. It was my first encounter with activism, right before I started high school.
What do you remember most about that?
There was power in people’s voices. That solidarity, that love, that sense of community, and that sense of hope. It really resonated with me. There was also a shock when he died. Everyone in my generation was like, oh my god, the Civil Rights movement isn’t over. It was scary. I knew racism was a thing but it hadn’t resonated that it was a systemic thing. To get that shock at 14 years old … I dunno how to describe that. It hurt. Especially when Zimmerman got away with it.
Back to Monday’s protest: Who else helped you with the organizing? Did you work with BYP100 or other groups that have been hosting rallies lately?
We did it with no adult help. Someone from BYP100 contacted us the day before and asked if we wanted help—they told us about lawyers and [provided] the medics [for the day of], but that’s it. We talked to one of the organizers of the CPS protest, Nidalis Burgos, she’s 18. She helped us borrow megaphones from the Chicago Teachers Union, who stood in solidarity with us. So now we know connections. They showed up to support us, and they offered to mentor us. But we don’t have any adult partners right now.
How about the day of? What did it feel to see so many people show up?
Me and Maxine were the last organizers to arrive, because we were finishing our interviews with PBS. Just seeing all those people sitting silently, and those posters—like Asian Americans standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter—and big banners, people of different races, different neighborhoods. I just started crying. It was so overwhelming initially. We thought it would be big because of all the people on social media, but it hadn’t resonated. Because we’re like, small—we’re 16 and 17—it just hadn’t resonated that we could do something like that. And then we did.
After such a big day, what did you guys do afterwards? Did you celebrate?
[Laughs.] This will just prove that we really are teenagers. We all went to Maxine’s house and we ate pizza. We were on our phones looking at our social media blow up. We were trending—our hashtag was trending nationally on Twitter. We were like, what? Overwhelmed. Looking on Snapchat, seeing ourselves—it was a lot. We waited until the news came on at 9. We split ourselves up into different rooms to videotape ourselves on all the different news channels—2, 5, 7, 9, and PBS, and CNN had done an overview.
How do you feel about it now? What did you learn from it?
I learned a lot. Like with the idea of intersectionality. I live with that idea. That people can be affected by multiple -isms. I’m a black girl from the South Side. I was raised by a single mom because my parents are divorced. I understand what it’s like to be low-income, to be a girl, to be black, for three different things to be weighing on me. There’s lots of levels of oppression.
What’s next for the four of you?
We don’t know yet—nothing is set in stone. We want to set ourselves up as a group. All I’m gonna say is, follow the Twitter.
How about you, personally?
I’m a rising senior. I’m just trying to go to college. And my project—that’s my independent study for next year. [Proceeds from a Teen Artists Creative Oasis event July 22 will benefit The I Project, which focuses on intersectionality.] I want to double major in English and film. I feel like what I wanna do isn’t a job yet—I want to combine a whole bunch of jobs and make one job.
This week I had one of the most disturbing train rides of my life – and it changed my perspective on Black Lives Matter
I tune into the conversation around me and hear the kids. Let me emphasize KIDS. Kids making a game plan for what they will do if the police start to shoot them – because they are black
Protesters hold up a Black Lives Matter banner
Something entirely disturbing happened last night on my commute to rehearsal. It is a long tale. But one that is necessary to read and digest.
I was sitting in the corner of the Red Line T closest to the conductor when a group of about eight black kids from the ages of 12-16 entered.
I automatically noticed their presence because of how absolutely loud and rowdy they were being. Smiling to myself, because of how crazy they were all acting, I turned up the music in my headphones and bounced along with the train.
I noticed the boy sitting across from me. He entered the train with the other kids, and although also black and about their age, he clearly did not know them. From his body language it was obvious he had desperately wished he sat in another section.
At around the South Station stop, the conductor’s door swung open and through my oversized headphones I could tell she told the kids to quiet down. The kids mouthed off to her and she called the MBTA security.
At this point my headphones were off and I am listening with full intent. The MBTA guard, a white man, walks on and within ten seconds announces that he is calling the police and that the train will not move until they come. He is greeted with a resounding, “Are you kidding me?” from just about everyone on the train.
I automatically zone out and think about what I was doing from when I was 12-16. I think about breaking into my old elementary school and stealing ice cream. I think about joyriding my boyfriend’s lifted, bright green, Chevy blazer without a permit or a license. I think about getting caught drinking in a friend’s backyard. I think about trespassing on private property and swimming. I think about getting pulled over twice in the same month, on the same road, in the same place, by the same officer, in the same car, for the same reason, and waltzing away from the scene with nothing. And I mean nothing, but “a get home safe.”
I think about every single actually illegal thing I have ever done and realised one harrowing fact:
I have never been touched by a police officer, or been handcuffed or been to jail. I have never even gotten a ticket. I have never left an interaction with the cops with anything other than a “have a nice night.”
I wake up from my reverie and we are still parked at South Station. I tune into the conversation around me and hear the kids. Let me emphasize KIDS. Kids making a game plan for what they will do if the police start to shoot them.
I glance up at the boy across from me. He is squirming. He wants off bad. He is texting fiercely. I’m assuming he’s telling someone what we are both observing.
The girl next to me notices my presence and says “Sorry for messing up your ride.”
I say “Don’t worry about it.”
My voice catches on the last word. My throat starts to sear. She asks “Are you upset?”
I respond “Yeah, I guess I am. I just don’t understand why they are calling the cops.”
She says “Because we are black.”
The 12-year-old turns to the group and quietly says “Black lives matter.” They all murmur in agreement.
The police arrive and everyone remains very calm. Eerily calm. Everyone is walking on eggshells. The cops step on the train and tell the kids if they get off quietly they can get on the next one and go home. The kids accept the offer and begin to clamour off. At long last the boy across from me and I are left alone.
As I begin to put my headphones back on the police re-enter the car. They look at the boy and say,
“We said everyone in the group has to get off.”
The boy says “I don’t know them.”
The police say “It’s an order. Everyone in the group has to get off.”
I collect my bags. The police looks at me and says “Not you. You’re not in the group.”
The police places his hand on the boys shoulder and guides him off the train. In a moment of temporary rage blindness I stand up and scream, “He doesn’t f***ing know those kids.”
The police looks at me and says “Is that true?”
To which I say “Yes, and it was true when he said it too.”
The police release the boy and he sits down across from me again. We share a moment of blankness and then tears well in both of our eyes. He waves me over to the seat next to him. He says “That was because I am black. Wasn’t it?”
I nod. He looks down sheepishly at his shirt and says quietly “I’m just happy they didn’t hurt me. That would kill my mom. And she is not someone you want to mess with.”
I say the only thing I can think: “I’m so sorry.”
He says “With all that’s going on in the world I am so scared all the time.”
We sit in silence for a moment and I decide to change the subject. I ask him about himself. He tells me he is entering his junior year of high school and spending the summer working for an organisation that aims to help people learn how to have healthy relationships. He says he wants to help stop domestic abuse. He tells me he is passionate about gender equality. He asks me if I know there is a difference between sex and gender. He says he wants to educate the public on that topic.
The train rattles into my station and I shake his hand. He says “Thanks.”
I mumble “Don’t mention it.”
I exit the train and watch it pull away. And then I weep. I weep in a way I never have before. My breath shortens and I begin to crumble.
I weep for Trayvon Martin.
I weep for Mike Brown.
I weep for Sandra Bland.
I weep for Alton Sterling.
I weep for Eric Garner.
I weep for all of the names I do not know but should.
I weep for their families.
I weep for their friends.
I weep for the innocent blood shed all over this country.
I weep for that boy.
I weep that I cannot remember his name because it is not as familiar to me as James or Tim or Dave.
I weep for those kids. I weep for all of those kids.
I spend the night replaying the whole scenario over and over again in my head. And realise that three words keep running through my mind. Three words that until I heard a 12-year-old black girl say aloud to her friends as they awaited the police I did not understand. Three words that are so little but mean so much.
Black Lives Matter.
I stop crying. I become resolute. I make a pact with myself to help the world become better for those kids. I make a pact with myself to spread this story like wildfire. I make a pact with myself to be an ally to that beautiful boy. It starts here.
Before you read on make a pact with yourself to join me.
Before you read on commit yourself to this cause.
Before you read on openly admit that racism is alive and thriving in America.
Before you read on promise yourself you will say the following three words ALOUD:
* Jeff Leiper — the councillor for Kitchissippi Ward, where Abdi lived — released a statement shortly following news of Abdi’s death.
“This afternoon, I received word that Abdirahman Abdi passed in hospital. I cannot express fully my grief. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
“In the past hours, we have received numerous expressions and sympathy from Kitchissippi residents. They have made numerous offers of help, and I have passed on to the family the community’s willingness to help they and their neighbours at this very difficult time. My thanks to everyone who has written.”
More to come. Updates from earlier today and our story from Sunday are below:
* The Special Investigations Unit — the civilian oversight body that investigates police cases that result in serious injury, death or sexual assault — said Monday morning that they’ve designated two subject officers and five witness officers in their investigation. (A subject officer, according to the SIU, is the officer who may have caused whatever is under investigation. Witness officers are the other officers involved in the case under investigation, but who are not subject officers. Subject officers are not required to co-operate with the SIU; witness officers must give an interview to SIU investigators, and the police service must hand over a copy of their notes.)
* Ottawa police Deputy Chief Jill Skinner said Monday afternoon that police will not comment on an ongoing SIU investigation.
Bordeleau also said he stands by his officers and that the last thing any officer wants is to hurt someone. He would not say whether officers knew Abdi had a mental illness beforehand, but said that officers are trained to de-escalate.
* Our story from Sunday night is below, we’ll be updating this file throughout the day.
A 37-year-old man was in critical condition in hospital Sunday night after a police intervention that is being probed by the Special Investigations Unit.
The man was identified as Abdirahman Abdi by his sister, Hawa Abdi, who said she feared he would not recover. He was being treated at The Ottawa Hospital’s trauma centre.
The SIU, the civilian oversight agency that investigates cases resulting in serious injuring, death or sexual assault when police are involved said in a news release that a man attempting to elude arrest led police on a foot chase through Hintonburg in the Wellington Street West and Fairmont Avenue area around 10:30 a.m.
The SIU said police confronted a man outside 55 Hilda St. and that “at some point during the confrontation, the man suffered medical distress.”
However, witnesses who spoke with Postmedia said the man was beaten by multiple officers as he tried to run into an apartment building on Hilda Street. Witnesses said the man lay unconscious on the ground for about 15 minutes before paramedics arrived and began administering CPR.
“You can’t go against five cops at once,” said witness Asli Mohamed. “It was unnecessary.”
Mohamed, 20, a former resident of the apartment building, said she overheard police calling for backup before calling in paramedics. She said she saw blood “all over the place.”
“He looked weird — he looked dead,” she said. “It was weird that they didn’t (immediately) call paramedics. It took way too long. Everything was moving very slowly.”
Police were initially called by staff at the Bridgehead café on Wellington Street West, near Fairmont Avenue. Multiple people interviewed on scene said they heard Abdi had been “harassing” a woman at the coffee shop.
Witnesses said Abdi fled on foot, with police in pursuit, to the front of his apartment building on Hilda Street, about 250 metres away.
Abdi lived at 55 Hilda Street with his family, many of whom were at his hospital bedside Sunday.
Nimao Ali, a family friend and resident of the Hilda Street apartment building, who acted as a translator for the shocked family, said emergency room doctors were concerned with a “lack of oxygen to (his) brain.”
“The doctors said he’s not going to make it,” Ali said.
According to several witnesses, Abdi was taken down by several officers who then began to kick, punch and beat him with their batons.
After Abdi was subdued and handcuffed he lay bleeding on the sidewalk for more than 10 minutes before he was given medical attention by arriving paramedics, according to one witness.
A 27-minute video recorded by a witness and obtained by Postmedia, shows Abdi, his wrist cuffed behind his back and his pants pulled down, face down for nearly 10 minutes before paramedics arrived, examined the man, removed his handcuffs and started CPR. It is another 15 minutes before Abdi is loaded into an ambulance and taken to hospital.
Off camera, screams and yelling can be heard.
“I think he’s dead,” one woman can be heard yelling. “Where’s the ambulance, he’s going to bleed to death.”
Nearby, witnesses said officers attempted to seize cellphones from bystanders who were recording the incident.
One man who was said to have recorded the skirmish between Abdi and police did not want to make the video available to Postmedia out of respect for the family, said Mariam Ali, 18, a University of Ottawa student.
Zainab Abdallah, who lives in the building and knows Abdi, said she saw Abdi running toward the doors and the officers fast approaching and yelling at him to lie down.
When he didn’t comply, he was taken to the ground, she said. When they began beating him, she said, she tried to intervene.
“I told the police he’s a crazy man,” she recounted. “They hit, they hit, they hit, they hit everywhere. Then he was unconscious.
“Then I was scared. Then I’m shocked.
“It’s the first time in my whole life I see a human being hit by another human being.”
Abdallah, who has lived in the Hilda Street residence about six years, described Abdi as “a quiet, nice guy.
“He’s usually fine,” she said. “I don’t understand.”
Abdi was known by neighbourhood residents to be “non-verbal” and those who spoke to Postmedia said they believed him to be on the autism spectrum.
“I think we’re all just surprised because we live in Ottawa and we don’t really encounter these kinds of problems,” said Mariam Ali. “I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt, but the way that the situation played out it seemed like it was because we were like immigrants or we were black.”
Mohamed said that the community usually has a good relationship with police.
But in light of the recent instances of police brutality in the U.S. residents of the Hilda Street apartment are “sensitive” to what happened on their doorstep Sunday morning.
Abdi, an immigrant from Somalia, has lived in the building since 2009. Ali said she felt like Abdi and the rest of the community weren’t being treated “the way we were supposed to” and that they “weren’t being cared for the way (they) were supposed to” on Sunday morning.
Ottawa police wouldn’t comment on the details of Sunday’s incident since the SIU was still investigating. The agency has assigned five investigators and one forensic investigator to the case.
The SIU has urged any witnesses to contact the lead investigator at 1-800-787-8529.
The plan, introduced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) last week, would end the use of suspensions for young students, replacing them with “age-appropriate” methods. If the plan is adopted, New York City would join Minneapolis as a big district enacting a ban on suspending young students. The initiative would also increase funding for student mental health services and restorative justice programs, as well as call for increased transparency from the New York City Police Department about the number of students arrested at schools and how often they are handcuffed.
And ending suspensions, even for a small group of students, could also save money. For example, the cost of suspending 10th grade high school students reached $35 billion due to the costs of the criminal justice system, lost tax dollars, and public assistance needed later on in life for those individuals, according to a report released in June of this year by the University of California’s Civil Rights Project. The report estimated that California could save $3.1 billion if suspension rates were cut in half, while Florida could save $816 million.
Educational reform advocates such as Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) Coordinator Kesi Fosterpraised de Blasio’s initiatives in a press release, writing that they are “important measures that all stakeholders committed to ending the school-to-prison pipeline should embrace and support.” However, she also said “these recommendations will not eliminate deep and pervasive racial inequities in school discipline.”
Onyx Walker, a youth leader at the UYC, also said the plan doesn’t go far enough, stating in a press release that “Eliminating suspensions for K-2nd grade is progress, but we have much further to go if we are going to make school welcoming for everyone” and that we have to “expand that same compassion and understanding for youth of all ages, and sexual and gender identities, and we have to break this cycle of Black students being pushed into the criminal justice system.”
Autopsy: Man, 18, fatally shot by police died from wound to back; 2 cops relieved of powers
Two Chicago police officers have been relieved of their police powers after department brass made the preliminary determination that they violated policy when they fired their weapons in an incident that killed an 18-year-old man, a police spokesman said Friday night.
Three officers fired their weapons in the incident that left Paul O'Neal, 18, dead after police say he sideswiped a squad car and hit a parked car while driving a stolen Jaguar, injuring some officers about 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the 7400 block of South Merrill Avenue.
O'Neal died from a gunshot wound to the back, the Cook County medical examiner's office determined following an autopsy Saturday. The shooting was classified by medical examiner as a homicide -- meaning the killing of one person by another, rather than a shooting death in a suicide or accident.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson "spent most of (Friday) afternoon with top advisors and command staff reviewing the preliminary information from the incident. (Police) investigators determined 3 officers discharged their weapons in the course of their duties and given what is known thus far, it appears that departmental policies may have been violated by at least 2 of the police officers," said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi in an email Friday night.
"As of now, the two officers have been relieved of their police powers and will be assigned to administrative positions within the agency pending the outcome of (the Independent Police Review Authority's) investigation and our continuing internal administrative review."
The officers involved initially were placed on administrative duties for 30 days per department policy. They now will be on administrative duty but not have their police powers and not return to regular duty unless they are cleared in the IPRA and internal investigations.
After the fatal shooting of Quintonio Legrier and Bettie Jones in December, the department started putting officers involved in shootings on the 30-day administrative leave.
It also was instituted after the Department of Justice announced it was launching a civil rights investigation into the department; that probe was prompted by the Chicago Police shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
The policy was not seen as necessarily punitive but rather a way to allow supervisors time to evaluate how officers were reacting to the shooting and whether they were ready to return to street duty. During the time period officers were also expected to attend a class at the training academy and see a department counselor.
In this case Johnson has taken the additional step of stripping two of the three officers of their police powers, which means they can't carry their gun or badge. They will work in the department's call-back center until the IPRA investigation is complete.
Both officers have less than five years experience.
Friday night, a group of O'Neal's friends and activists held a vigil at the scene of the shooting in the South Shore neighborhood.
The candlelight vigil of about 200 people gathered near the scene of the shooting briefly became a chaotic scramble Friday night after one man ran through the crowd and pushed O'Neal's sister, Briana Adams, 23, who was quietly asking everyone to respect her brother.
The crowd ran in all directions, and more than a dozen officers rushed to the scene. No one was hurt.
Eventually the crowd reconvened and cheered loudly as one of the organizers announced on a bullhorn — incorrectly — that the officers had been fired for violating police policy.
Up until the point of the brief disruption, the crowd, gathered around votive candles shaped like a heart, listened as speaker after speaker called for justice.
"I lost my little cousin to police officers," Zhivago Short, a 20-year-old college student, told the crowd. "What are y'all going to do about it?"
He implored them to stay in school. Three people in the crowd held up stop signs, one saying, "Cops stop killing us."
The vigil was held about 24 hours after the shooting, which took place when officers stopped a Jaguar S-type convertible reported stolen from Bolingbrook, police said. Officers had stopped the car near the 7400 block of South Merrill after it had been spotted in other parts of Chicago earlier in the day, police said.
As the officers got out of their car, the driver of the Jaguar "put the vehicle in drive and literally forced his way out," First Deputy Superintendent John Escalante said at the scene. The car sideswiped a squad car and also hit a car parked on the street, he said.
Officers then fired their service weapons, according to police. One of the officers "continued to follow the fleeing offender," according to a statement later released by the department.
O'Neal, of the 1700 block of East 70th Street, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he died shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.
A 17-year-old boy who was also in the car was taken into police custody.
Some officers suffered "injuries during the vehicle apprehension" and were taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, the statement said.
The statement did not say a gun was recovered.
The officers involved in the shooting, as well as assisting officers on scene, were wearing body cameras, Escalante said. In-car video is also available, he said.
“This is going to be a very active investigation,” Escalante said. “It’s going to take a while to be able to view after downloading all the body camera footage as well as the in-car camera footage and whatever other video may be found during the canvass.”
Extra detectives were called to canvass the neighborhood, he said. Members of the Independent Police Review Authority were also on the scene.
Escalante did not take reporters’ questions.
“I also still have quite a few questions as to what exactly happened here, but it is still going to be a little while before we have our answers internally to those questions, as well as IPRA being able to have all of their questions answered as well,” he said.
The shooting was the second involving a Chicago police officer in 40 minutes. Shortly before 7 p.m. in Englewood, police shot a man while responding to a possible robbery. The man was reported in fair to serious condition.
The statements from Escalante and the department are not specific on when the officers began firing and when they stopped firing. They also do not say whether officers continued firing as the driver ran away — or if it was the driver who was killed.
Over 50 Black Organizations Released A Joint Platform That Goes Beyond Police Reform
The groups present detailed suggestions for tackling systemic racism.
SHANNON STAPLETON / REUTERS
Demonstrators protesting the death of Alton Sterling stand in front of the East Baton Rouge Parish City Hall doors in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 11.
WASHINGTON ― A collective of over 50 black activist organizations released a detailed policy platform on Monday outlining a plan to “advance black liberation” that includes education reform, reparations and abolition of the death penalty.
“A Vision for Black Lives” follows in the footsteps of Campaign Zero, a separate platform released last year that focuses on police violence, though policing is not its only concern. It also takes the proposed reforms a step further than the racial and criminal justice sections of the 2016 Democratic platform, by offering more detailed suggestions for tackling systemic racism based on discussions with black activists and community members.
“Our grievances and solutions extend beyond the police killing of our people; state violence includes failing schools that criminalize our children, dwindling earning opportunities, wars on our trans and queer family that deny them of their humanity, and so much more,” Montague Simmons of theOrganization for Black Struggle and the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) Policy Table said in a statement. “That’s why we united, with a renewed energy and purpose, to put forth a shared vision of the world we want to live in.”
Groups collaborating on this initiative include the Alliance for Educational Justice, Baltimore Bloc, the Black Lives Matter Network, Black Women’s Blueprint, Black Youth Project 100, BlackBird, the Center for Media Justice, the Dream Defenders and the Philadelphia Student Union ― to name a few.
The policy demands include ending the war on black lives, providing reparations, stripping institutions that criminalize black people, investing in education and health reform, fostering economic agency, allowing communities to have control over policies that impact black people and making black political power a reality.
Policy recommendations proposed by the collective include demilitarizing police forces, ending the money bail system and deportations, unionizing efforts for domestic and farm workers, decriminalizing sex work and immediately releasing people convicted for minor drug offenses. It also voices a desire for Congress to pass HR 40, a bill by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) that calls for in-depth research into the financial impact of African enslavement and the wrongdoings of the Jim Crow era.
“We recognize that not all of our collective needs and visions can be translated into policy,” M. Adams, co-executive director of Freedom Inc. and member of the M4BL Policy Table Leadership Team, said in a statement, “but we understand that policy change is one of many tactics necessary to move us towards the world we envision, a world where freedom and justice is the reality.”
The M4BL invites individuals or organizations to join the movement. You can also find detailed — and downloadable — material covering its policy demands on its site.