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?

#TweetBStorm Planning Committee Meeting | Minutes Updated 09/15/14 3:28PM

#TweetBStorm Planning Committee Meeting

Upcoming #TweetBStorm  on Solutions To Violence In Communities of Color

Synops: Yesterday’s planning meeting held at 1:00PM central time was attended by 2 identities @TweetBStorm and @astronglady.

Understandably last minute meetings are never successful; however what if we needed to meet quickly? How could that be accomplished? What are the communication channels used by different groups, gender and ages to gather immediate support and action?

So….

What is #TweetBStorm?

#TweetBStorm s are Opportunities for change.

#TweetBStorm open dialogue sessions to exchange knowledge and ideas through interaction with each other using twitter. #TweetBStorm will occur on @TweetBStorm using hashtag #TweetBStorm, starting this Thursday at 7:00PM (Eastern)

What is the purpose of #TweetBStorm?

1. To organize communities of color around shared concepts of human rights using sustained dialogue to share views, and understanding over time. Constructive Interactions lead to creative solutions, uniting and empowering we, the people. In addition,

An informed and engage public, using technology, will oppose corruption and keep our elected representative honest. Reap the value of diversity by using transparency to find justice and maintain the integrity of natural or inalienable rights. All people have The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

2. Another goal of #TweetBStorm: a digital forum for cultural solutions employing diverse sustained dialogue strategies.

Will open with Dialogue on violence in communities of color on:

Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 7: 00PM (Eastern time USA) #TweetBStorm @TweetBStorm

Dialogue will focus on prevention and solutions using diverse media and formats.

3. I believe opportunities to sponsor, mentor and employ will become available as discourse draws out resources within communities of color.

4. News stories that value differences will report on issues afflicting communities of color through blogs, videos and local radio.

#TweetBStorm will be the storm that empower people with strong voices that demand justice for all.

#TweetBStorm

#Diversity

#Transparency

Discussed at the meeting:

Vision:   Different sides coming together for sustained dialogues around real issues of conflict and mis-information.

Outcome:  A digital network able to mobilize people in real life for social justice deploying social media

Rules of conduct:  covered by twittered…Trolls will be dealt with expediently.

Disclaimers members views are diverse and their own….Topics discussed determined by the audience’s urgency and priorities.

Infrastructure comes from participation….those who participate form the infrastructures

Metrics;  Need  short-term feedback loop

Intermediate 2-3 years:  Without leadership, Diverse grassroots active participation of  communities of color in all facets of government  including policy, programs and appointees

Long Term:  Unbiased Media depicting all people with  appreciation and value with truth and without labels.

What is Probable Cause? | Fourth Amendment

The recent epidemic of police violence aroused my interest in the law. My interest peaked when I noted specific instances of police officers making medical decisions. In reviewing the law, in particular, probable cause, I found nothing granting law enforcement medical licensure or the right to practice medicine. Therefore, I went deeper into what probable cause is and the Fourth Amendment, which has been forgotten in the midst of justifications for multiple warrants, police violence, and murders, as well as unlawful detention of innocent people.

What is probable cause?

Probable cause is the the burden of proof police officers and courts must demonstrate to make an arrest. Judges sign arrest warrants before an arrest, but often do so within 48 hours after the arrest to prevent unreasonable delay and not be in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Probable cause is based on suspicion that an accused person is more likely to have committed a stated crime based on information gathered. Videos suggest there is no information gathering, and police officers have overstepped their bounds tremendously. Law Enforcement no longer abides by the rules of the law or the Constitution.

The following images around the web suggest police often have no probable cause for many arrests and also document their excessive use of force. More often than not, this force is violent, and it causes irreparable physical harm, mental disabilities, and even death.

Law enforcement professionals are violating Americans’ Constitutional rights. At minimum, they have opened themselves up to additional liability by making medical decisions. So, why is there not more outrage being expressed by our politicians? Where are the checks and balances of American government—the lifestyle that we arrogantly ram down the world’s throat?

There are many cases in which families seeking help for their loved ones who struggle with mental illness end up seeing those loved ones incarcerated or murdered by local police on arrival to the scene.

What probably cause existed  for this officer to repeatedly punch this middle age woman in the face?  Or taser a baby? Or murder Eric Garner? Or repeatedly shoot and murder an acutely suicidal unarmed teenager? Or shoot Mike Brown when his hands were in th air?


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References:

FOURTH AMENDMENT

Fourth Amendment

All the activities in this section are based on the Fourth Amendment.”The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

FOURTH AMENDMENT

http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/get-involved/constitution-activities/fourth-amendment.aspx



What is a probable cause hearing?

Justification for Arrest

The Fourth Amendment requires courts to confirm that an arrest is supported by probable cause either before or shortly after officers take a suspect into custody. A judge or magistrate’s signing an arrest warrant serves this purpose, but most arrests don’t involve warrants.

No Unreasonable Delay

As a general rule, a probable cause determination within 48 hours of arrest satisfies the Fourth Amendment. (County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991).)

of an arrests, if not the fourth amendment was violated.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-probable-cause-hearing.html



Investigating rape crimes, Part 2: Evidence collection and analysis

http://www.policeone.com/police-products/investigation/evidence-management/articles/139768-Investigating-rape-crimes-Part-2-Evidence-collection-and-analysis/

However, even if investigators know the victim’s assailant and make an arrest shortly after the crime based on probable cause, it’s still critical all evidence protocols described in this article be followed. Arrest only requires probable cause. Conviction in court requires a much higher standard: proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Experienced investigators know the variables under which an arrest is initially made can change for various reasons: the evidence does not support the initial claims of the victim or witnesses, people change their versions of what they initially say occurred, the perpetrator claims sex was consensual and so on. Our system of justice relies heavily on tangible evidence, because emotion or perception does not affect it and logical conclusions can be drawn from the science supporting what the evidence represents.

For Full Article:    Investigating rape crimes, Part 2: Evidence collection and analysis

http://www.policeone.com/police-products/investigation/evidence-management/articles/139768-Investigating-rape-crimes-Part-2-Evidence-collection-and-analysis/



The Evidence Needed Before a “‘True
Bill” May Be Voted
It is the responsibility of the grand jury to
weigh the evidence presented to it. This
is usually done without any explanation
offered by the person being investigated
by the government, in order to determine
whether this evidence persuades that
there is probable cause to believe that
a crime has been committed and that
the person being investigated was the
person who committed it. Remember
that the grand jury is not responsible for
determining whether the person being
investigated is guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt, but only whether there is sufficient
evidence of probable cause to justify
bringing the that person to trial. Only the
evidence presented to the grand jury in
the grand jury room may be considered in
determining whether to vote an indictment.

grand-juryhandbook

seizure of property