Cambridge, MA: Police Brutality at Harvard University

This post is a copied and pasted letter found on  the website of  Harvard Black Law Students Association.

The letter is about police violence at Harvard.   Briefly, a naked Harvard black student was spotted on campus on April 13, 2018.  Harvard University Health  Services (HUHS) was called and turfed the call to Cambridge Police Department (CPD).

The cops arrived.  Three officers pinned the naked Harvard student to the ground, cuffed him and then proceeded to beat the hell out of him.  The Cambridge Police Department while violently assaulting the student prevented student witnesses from recording the incident. Later the officers issued a false report about the facts of the event.  They charged the student with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, assault, and resisting arrest.  The letter is in response to the CPD false report.

This event occurred at Harvard in front of black law students and many other Harvard student witnesses.  The event was videotaped.

Notable Points: 1.  Had the student not been naked would he be alive?   The officers might have mistaken a pen in his hand for a weapon and killed him.

  1.  Harvard University Health Services should be aware of police violence towards people of color.   To call the cops on an innocent black student or a mentally ill student might be a death sentence.  He hadn’t threatened anyone and appeared to be in need  mental help.   Shouldn’t Harvard University Health Services be on the scene to help/protect the student?  Certainly, students pay enough to attend the prestigious Harvard University to feel protected.   #policebrutalityatHarvard
  2.  The student was naked, cuffed and pinned, why did the Cambridge police officers proceed to inflict violence on him.  Was it necessary?   How were they threatened?  A pool of blood remained in the street after he was transported by ambulance.

The letter from BLSA follows:

 

Police Brutality at Harvard, April 13, 2018

To:     The Harvard University Community and the Broader Cambridge and Boston Community

From:    Concerned Members of the Harvard Community

Date:    April 14, 2018 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Firstly, we recognize the broader political implications of this incident for all of our students, and the broader Boston community. However, out of respect for the privacy and needs of the victim and his family at this time, we are not contextualizing this event in the broader instances of police violence.

Secondly, we must address the incorrect reports of the Cambridge Police Department (CPD) released today. On the evening of April 13th, a number of our current Harvard Black Law Students Association (HBLSA) members and admitted students witnessed a brutal instance of police violence at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Waterhouse Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A naked, unarmed Black man, stood still on the median at the center of Massachusetts Avenue across from Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church. He was surrounded by at least four Cambridge Police Department (CPD) officers who, without provocation, lunged at him, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. While on the ground, at least one officer repeatedly punched the student in his torso as he screamed for help. The officers held him to the ground until paramedics arrived, placed him on a stretcher, and put him in the ambulance. A pool of blood remained on the pavement as the ambulance departed. Shortly thereafter, firefighters came and cleaned up the blood with bleach and water.

This victim of police violence happened to be a Harvard student. The University has ample resources that could have, and should have, been mobilized to come to the student’s aid prior to CPD getting involved. Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) were the first to be called for help prior to the arrival of CPD. Instead of sending staff to support the student, HUHS transferred callers to CPD, who then responded as police often do whether cameras are rolling or not — by failing to appropriately respond to the individual needs of the person concerned and resorting to violence unnecessarily and with impunity. By involving CPD, HUHS put this student at great risk of being killed by the police.

Again, we are interested in protecting the privacy of this victim of police violence. We ask that those who know the victim’s name not share it with others, that his name not be included in internal or external conversations about this incident and that, in response to this letter, our conversation be focused on the broader issues of police violence against Black and Brown people and the following demands, and not this particularized incident, which is a symptom of a larger, systemic problem.

For Harvard University, HUHS, and HUPD:

We demand that Harvard University create an internal crisis response team to support students, faculty, and staff that does not involve CPD.

We likewise will require support from the school, fellow students and our instructors to put pressure on the CPD for the following.

For the CPD:

We demand that the officers who assaulted this man while he was naked, fully subdued and bleeding on the ground be investigated and held accountable.

Additionally, we demand that CPD respect the rights of civilians recording police conduct. The CPD policy recognizes that ‘individuals have the right under the First Amendment to openly record police activity in public in a peaceful manner’ and that ‘[o]fficers shall not under any circumstances threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement of activities or operations, or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices . . . .’ It was clear to our Harvard BLSA members that CPD officers were not following these procedures. But for our members’ persistence in defying police attempts to obstruct videotaping this incident, there would be no record.

The conduct of the CPD on the evening of April 13, 2018 was unacceptable. We are reminded, as soon-to-be-graduates of an elite law school that we cannot protect our bodies with our degrees — and that is why we also call our current students and alumni to embrace these demands as inclusive to all Black people, not just Harvardians.

We imagine a world where the most marginalized people in our society are not subject to systematic violations of their bodily autonomy and civil rights, and the CPD has failed the Cambridge community in this regard.

For any further media inquiries regarding this response, please contact hblsapresident@gmail.com or 2017-2018 HBLSA President Jazzmin Carr (601.937.0665) and 2018-2019 HBLSA President Lauren Williams (631.942.5211).

Sincerely,

Concerned Members of the Harvard Community

Supreme Court: It’s Legal For Police Officers To Kill Americans When They FEEL Threatened

Some days it’s not worth getting out of bed. The news always seems terrible, and as a woman of color, I feel estranged from the greater society.

The stories I read are insane. This morning I read a story that the Supreme Court made it legal for trained cops to murder unarmed civilians if a cop feels threatened. Cops only need to utter the words without proof. Cops cannot be sued and officially have a license to murder innocent people by just uttering the phrase, ‘I felt threatened.’ Police officers are public servants trained and paid by tax dollars to protect and serve the public not themselves. Do you think the supreme court made the right decision in giving police officers the right to murder Americans at will?

Do you think self-defense can be employed to protect Americans against police violence?

How can an armed and trained cop feel threatened by a kid running away from him? How can an armed and trained cop feel threatened when they outnumber the suspect? Why are armed and trained cops mostly threatened by unarmed POC and not by armed whites?

If armed and trained cops can feel threatened by an unarmed black man, can you imagine how threatened an unarmed black man feels when he sees a cop? Can a black man who feels threatened by a white police officer murder him in self-defense? Wouldn’t that equal justice?

Easter: How Many Churches Will Admit Jesus Christ Was Black?

Let me start by saying I mean no disrespect to those who are genuinely religious but how many Churches will tell the truth about a Black Jesus Christ? How many will confess and correct history? How many churches will admit Jesus Christ was Black?

Today is Easter Sunday, my least favorite holiday. As a child, I remember being tortured by what seemed like all day sermons of weird scents and boring hymns. It’s the day to reset your sins and start from scratch. Isn’t it wonderful to do so once a year? That may explain why it’s the only day most people attend Church.

I grew up Catholic and was the youngest in a Catholic boarding school run by nuns (mean ones too). That meant mass every damn morning before breakfast with Easter service lasting hours. It was pure torture for a 5-6-year-old. (I may have been a year younger or older)

As an adult, what I most resented about Easter was the inaccurate portrayal of a white Jesus that never existed. All over the world, Churches have images and statues of a blonde hair blue eyes white Jesus Christ. Such a creature did not live in the area during those times.

In fact, the earliest Christians pictured both Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary as dark-skinned Africans with woolly hair. Isn’t Easter about confessing sins? When will churches confess their sins of hypocrisy and lies told over the last few centuries? When will religions and churches stop selling a myth that Jesus was white? How many Churches will this Easter glorify a white Jesus? How many will tell the truth?

Funny how the erasure of black culture changed the entire complexion and story of Jesus Christ. Why did that happen? How can one continue to pray to a God whose history man desecrated with lies?

Easter lost its significance years ago for me. What will you do this Easter? Will your Church tell the truth that Jesus Christ was black?

 

Image of Black Jesus Christ
Image of Black Jesus Christ

FFT: Does White Privilege Mean Unfettered White Arrogance?

Today I liked a tweet that referred to South Africans reclaiming their land from white colonists. Almost immediately I received a tweet reprimanding me, No Vengeance; it’s Palm Sunday. The tweeter went on to imply POC were ‘useful idiots’ for not thinking like him.

Now I mean no disrespect, I only want to understand. Is it white privilege or white arrogance or both that make white people, in general, feel they can not only dictate morality but control the voices of other groups?

South Africans want their land back. If they can find a way to do so, I applaud their efforts. But to call that genocide is a lie and an attempt to erase history. Wasn’t it through genocide that white colonists in South Africa stole land from South Africans?

Why not tell the truth? Instead of race baiting and using #whiteprivilege to silence others from speaking out why not write about the real genocide that occurs daily in the US and in Palestine.

Israel is not only taking land by brute force in Palestine but also murdering women and children to get that land.  In the US,  a similar outcome using #policebrutality as the means.

Why is the truth so challenging for the prevailing culture?

Questions Remain In The Aftermath Of The Conservative White Christian Terrorist Bomber

Mark Conditt, the terrorist bomber from Texas, blew himself up as a SWAT team surrounded him. We know little about him except he was a  conservative white Christian man who harbored antiabortion views yet murdered two African Americans from prominent families and injured multiple others.

  1. Why didn’t the bombings receive widespread coverage, despite Austin Police asking for the public’s help,  until two white men were injured last Sunday?
  2. It appears Mark Conditt had ties to Austin, Texas, what were those ties?
  3. Who was the package or packages addressed to that exploded at the FedEx facility in Schertz, Tx?
  4. Can his friends or family tell us more about him?
  5. Was he employed, unemployed or a student?
  6. Did he belong to a radicalized far-right group?
  7. Is there evidence he was not working alone?
  8. How could a person who claims to be pro-life murder innocent people?

America is at a crossroads. Do we make America white by minimizing the crimes of white men and incarcerate people of color?  Or do we make America great by labeling African countries “shitholes”  or the Muslim religion terrorist?

Why do we label members of #BlackLivesMatter who protest violence terrorists or Black Identity Extremists? Why do we continue to label white conservative Christians, the overwhelming perpetrators of domestic terrorism,  mentally ill or lone wolf members of a hate group?   Why aren’t conservative white Christians labeled terrorists when they terrorize Americans?  

We need a national discussion of these double standards.   We need to break down the barriers that separate us and recognize most of us yearn for the same things:  peace and love as well as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What do you think?

Round Rock, Texas: Serial Bomber A Conservative Christian Blew Himself Up

March 21, 2018, Mark Anthony Conditt, the suspected serial bomber or domestic terrorist who killed two African-Americans and injured four to six people, blew himself up as law enforcement surrounded his vehicle.  He was identified  by The Austin American Statesman as a conservative white male who wrote about his opposition to gay marriage and abortions.

Surveillance videos from a FedEx store in Austin, Tx helped identify Conditt. Multiple tips and surveillance teams located his vehicle at a hotel in Round Rock, Tx.  As SWAT officers surrounded his vehicle, the suspect, Mark Conditt,  detonated a bomb that killed him.   A SWAT officer who fired on the suspect is now on administrative leave.  It’s unclear why?

Police, confident Conditt was the perpetrator, said they do not have a motive for the bombings and remained vigilant that the now deceased suspect may have other bombs out there.

We have little information about Conditt except that he was anti-gay, anti-abortion and supported the death penalty.   He was also sympathetic to pedophiles and felt the sex offender registry should be abolished.

AUSTIN BOMBINGS: Suspect Mark Conditt argued against abortion, gay rights | All Ablog Austin)

“So you have a guy who committed a crime. Will putting him on a (sex offender) list make it better?  wouldn’t this only make people shun him, keep him from getting a job, and making friends? Just for a crime that he may have committed over 15 years ago as a adolescent? On a side note, one fifth of all rapes are committed by a juvenile,” Conditt wrote.

On abortion, Conditt  wrote: “First, if a women does not want a baby, or is incapable of taking care of one, she should not participate in activities that were made for that reason. Second, if we are going to give women free abortions, why not give men free condoms, or the like?  Is it not up to the couple to take these preventive measures?”

Arguing against gay marriage, he wrote that homosexuality is “not natural.”

“Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple. The natural design is apparent. It is not natural to couple male with male and female with female. It would be like trying to fit two screws together and to nuts together and then say, “See, it’s natural for them to go together.”

Conditt is dead, but it’s crucial we know his motives.  His ideology was reminiscent of the ideas spewed on Fox and other conservative news outlets.   At what point will Americans acknowledge we have an enormous domestic terrorism problem?  And the perpetrators are not Muslims but white conservative Christians.

 

Schertz, Tx: Serial Bomber May Have Struck Again This Time At Random Targets

A suspicious package bound for Austin, Tx exploded at a FedEx distribution facility in Schertz, Tx shortly after midnight on Tuesday, March 19, 2018, according to San Antonio Texas Fire Department.    One FedEx employee suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

FBI agents believe Tuesday night’s explosion was possibly connected to four other bombings that occurred in Austin, Texas since March 2nd.  The package that exploded at FedEx  was not only bound for Austin, Tx, it was mailed from Austin.

Investigators are analyzing the explosive device to see if the ingredients or “signature” link this package to the four bombings in Austin.  It is too early to make any definitive statements as Police and investigators are no closer to solving this case. The FBI and ATF are involved. We will continue to update you as this story unfolds.

Two African Americans killed after parcel bombs left on their doorsteps exploded.  The first explosion occurred on March 2 followed by two more bomb explosions ten days later.   The fourth bombing occurred on Sunday, March 18, 2018, injuring two white males when they encountered a suspicious package on the side of the road.  Their injuries were not life-threatening.

Package meant for Austin blows up at FedEx building near San Antonio — live updates – CBS News

An FBI spokeswoman, Special Agent Michelle Lee, said it is still early in the investigation into the Tuesday bombing at the FedEx facility, but she said “it would be silly for us not to admit that we suspect it’s related” to the four Austin bombings that have killed two people and injured four others since March 2. She didn’t have details about the size, weight or description of the package.

 

Authorities repeated prior warnings about not touching unexpected packages and also issued new ones to be wary of any stray object left in public, especially ones with protruding wires.

 

Police originally pointed to possible hate crimes, but the victims have now been black, Hispanic and white and from different parts of the increasingly diverse city. Domestic terrorism is among the variety of possible motives investigators are looking at.

 

“We are clearly dealing with what we believe to be a serial bomber at this point,” Austin police Chief Manley said, citing similarities among the four bombs. He would not elaborate, though, saying he didn’t want to undermine the investigation.