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?

Silence

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -Martin Luther King Jr.

In the US, we have many living dead and their silence deafening in the midst of cries for justice.  Fortunately, not everyone is silent.

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Winning

Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. -George Orwell

They always do until time works its magic through nature or exposure.

Now, big corporations’ powerful partnerships with government including the criminal system of LEOs, prosecutors and judges seem invincible, the ultimate organized crime ring.  Emboldened by a corrupt judicial system of bias, murderers are set free to commit more crimes while victims are defamed and blamed for their deaths using government-supported mainstream media.

Seems impossible to get justice when selling 50 cent cigarettes on a street corner or stealing a can of soda is justification for a death sentence.    In seconds without evidence, cops decide who lives and who dies without regard to human rights or guilt.

Corruption is the undisputed declared winner today.  Wall Street stock markets surging to new highs as more and more groups targeted for marginalization are gunned down by cops, the media and politicians. PoC, people with mental illnesses or developmental delays, the poor and the homeless are, in plain sight, discarded in graves or prisons, whichever more profitable.

How will those marginalized groups ever defeat such power?   Greed and corruption create a culture that is unsustainable. Time and solidarity are the underdogs’ friend. What do you say?

 

Freedom 

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows. -George Orwell

Freedom to speak the truth is tempered by etiquette  and strangulated by censorship.  Why is freedom to lie not?  #TrumpLies

 

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Nationalism 

Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. -George Orwell

Nationalism  is patriotism. The term patriotism triggers feelings of loyalty, integrity, selflessness and a committment to a ‘higher’ cause, country.

But is patriotism a noble or higher cause than human rights?

The War on Blacks!

Was the War on Drugs Successful?

The War on Drugs was a successful war, but not on drugs. What the War on Drugs was successful at was imprisoning young black youths, removing them from schools and making schoolwork more challenging and frustrating for children who were already stigmatized.

Imprisoning children destroys families, by trapping them in a vicious cycle of poverty where they lose the constitutional right to vote, lose the ability to get an education (since they are denied access to federal financial aide for college), plus a history of imprisonment makes most decent paying jobs inaccessible to them. What a way to begin a life!

This has created a cycle of ex-convict and delinquent youths robbed of their “manhood” while imprisoned, trapping them in a world of violence, environmental toxins and isolation that inevitably leads to more violence, premature death, imprisonment, drugs and unfulfilled dreams.

Society does not recognize its role in this targeting of communities of color. Every time a black youth ventures outside his invisible fence of concentrated poverty, and gets harassed or murdered, it has a profound and pervasive impact. Perhaps this is why such news is not covered; only black-on-black crime is covered.

Until a few years ago, I had no idea of the magnitude of structural racism destroying families in communities of color. Blacks are 14-15% of the US population yet about a 1/3 of the prison population. This is not because Blacks are more violent, but rather because of racial profiling that targets them, especially while they drive or when in school.

Seen from the eyes of Black youths, the world is not a hospitable place. Black youths are viewed suspiciously and deemed criminals by society. Black youths and communities are aware of these beliefs.

Imagine Black youths out to have “fun”, yet can’t, because White adults stare, show fear at their presence, stare past them, clutch their handbags, follow them into a store and even arrest or murder them while buying perfectly legal items at a retail outlet.

How would you feel if your children shared such experiences?

Black youths cannot go to a convenience store without being accosted, followed or watched by store staff. Perhaps some of this suspicion is justified, but most is not.

Solution:

As adults show Black youths the same respect you show other youths: start with a genuine smile and be prepared to be amazed at the results.

Many children from communities of color lack exposure, making communication difficult. Definitions and non-verbal cues have different meanings for them.

Was the War on Drugs Successful?

The War on Drugs legalized racial profiling in the minds of law enforcement officers and the justice departments. A brief review of articles noted in the US Citizens database gleaned many established and new observations. Granted, these observations are anecdotal; therefore these are areas for further investigation. Racial profiling targets Black persons, especially the youths. Racial profiling equals police harassment, with attendant police brutality and violence.

The magnitude of the devastation caused by the War on Drugs on communities of color added exponentially to the psychological trauma of slavery, chronic discrimination and an inferiority complex.

Many communities of color live in a state of dysthymia (chronic low-grade depression) with many folks feeling helpless and hopeless about the future. Many search for meaning through religion, others through gangs, and still others through living in isolation. Remember about one in three black males have a loved one in prison. That is disruptive and defeating.

The War on Drugs has resulted in mandatory sentencing of poor drug offenders. For example, possession of five grams of crack – a cheaper form of cocaine – carries a five-year sentence, while cocaine carries a five-year sentence if the equivalent of 5,000 grams is in a person’s possession. Similarly, stiff sentences apply to marijuana, which is now legal in a few states and has medicinal uses. Where did this all begin you might ask?

The War on Drugs started in the Richard Nixon era. The privatization of prisons took off with the Justice Department collaborating with private prisons after Bill Clinton reduced the budget for law enforcement and the Justice Department.

Since then, explosive growth in prison populations suggests that private prisons have successfully rounded up the criminals from the War of Drugs. However, that was not the case, as it was just a smokescreen of stereotypes. Closer inspection of data refutes that claim by the demonstration of disparities in the justice system and law enforcement.

Private prisons and the Justice Department have a lucrative partnership (paid for by taxpayers) that arrest targeted individuals despite known innocence. These innocent victims, usually challenged in self-defense, are subjected to repeated adult bullying by police officers, correctional officers, judges and prosecutors. They become the main pool or source of income for private prisons and judges.

One wonders if police officers and correctional officers are selected for their brutality and, perhaps, their affiliation with ‘White Supremacy’.

New York City charges about $168,000 per year for each prisoner. This sum does not include benefits and other essentials. New York City does well, considering the accommodations at Rikers. States get more taxpayer dollars to warehouse prisoners than they receive to help poor families. $168,000 a year! Let that sink in while absorbing the landscape of American police state.

Could the above serve as an incentive or driver behind the rise in incarceration rates and prison populations? The United States is 5% of the world’s population, yet it has 25% of the world’s prison population (that is 2.2 million prisoners).

If prisons are packed with low offenders, how is crime controlled?

“Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

My thoughts: Police officers take the easy way out to increase their statistics and make themselves look like crime fighters. However, police officers surreptitiously frame innocent victims while leaving gang members undisturbed to wreak fear and oppression in communities of color. #BlackonBlack Crimes

Police Officers choose victims rather than finding criminals.

Associate Editor’s comments: I share the same thoughts on the war on drugs as it too has ruined many families and communities that are White, Black and Hispanic. This especially true in the poor sections of cities and communities where all those races are targeted.

As a side note, the irony in all of this is that the Government created this mess early on in the Iran-Contra Affair, when the government willingly flooded Black neighborhoods with cocaine in order to fund Nicagua’s Manuel Noriega, which in turn spiked drug related arrests even more.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Contra_affair

Please share your thoughts… I am interested as I continue to do research.