CHICAGO, ILL: The second day of the National Forum on Police Crimes began with a report back from all of the workshops. The workshops were:
- The National Movement to Stop Police Crimes Against the Undocumented and other Immigrants
- The National Movement to Stop Police Crimes Against the Labor Movement and Working People
- The National Movement to Stop Police Crimes Against the LGBTQ Community
- The National Movement to Stop Police Crimes Against Peace and Solidarity Movements
- The National Movement to Stop Police Crimes Against Women
- The National Movement to End Police Crimes based on Institutionalized Racism
- Police Crimes in a Prison Nation
The Forum organizers were careful to point out that it is police crime to be addressed, not police brutality. The distinction is that these events are not just brutal, but crimes committed by law enforcement against civilians. And, that these crimes should be prosecuted as crimes.
Many excellent ideas were presented on how to address police crime. The most interesting to me included:
- Build support for a Citizens Police Accountability Council, including building support from labor unions and community groups.
- An all-out effort to support Rasmea Odeh, and to attend her trial beginning June 10 in Detroit.
- Stop the arrests of children in schools. In the “good old days”, bad behavior from children in school may have resulted in standing in the corner. Today, with the presences of police in the schools, a child may be arrested instead. This must stop.
- Implement the use of cameras for police to both wear, and for cameras that can document events happening in police cars.
- Allow only tazers to be used, no guns.
The Forum Program book listed many victims of police crime. The reading of this list brought home to me how real people suffer at the hands of police crime. Each story was more shocking and sad than the next. The mother of one victim told the story of how her son, Stephon Watts, was shot by the police in front of her in her own home. A brief description of Mark Clements‘ story (a victim of Jon Burge’s torture) was read. Unfortunately, the list of victims of police crimes was long.
Many presenters explained that though these crimes are perpetuated by individual police, that the crimes are a result of institutionalized brutality. That though individual police may (rarely) be prosecuted, that police crime is a result of the structure of the system.
I was pleased that so much support was shown for Rasmea Odeh. She is listed in our Project SALAM database of preemptive prosecution defendants. Though the name of the conference was “National Forum on Police Crimes”, the FBI was clearly included in the definition of “police”. Though people attending the forum mostly represented groups targeted by the police including people of color, labor, immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community, peace and solidarity movements, and political prisoners, everyone there recognized the targeting of the Arab and Muslim communities.
The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression is 41 years old. The history of the struggle against racism and political repression is long. Some of the leaders of this Forum were founders of the NAARPR, and knew police crimes first hand. I felt inspired by the people who spoke, and feel inspired to keep fighting against the targeting of people because of their color and/or political beliefs. We are all in this together.
On the lighter side, I was delighted to speak with Stephanie Weiner, one of the peace activists raided by the FBI. She runs the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand and sells shirts and bags with a message. Of course, I could not resist buying a bag from her. Check out her wares – merchandise with a message:
The last evening of the Forum ended with a rally at which Angela Davis spoke. The rally was the highlight of the Forum, and I hope to write about the rally in the next day or two.
Posted by Lynne Jackson, May 19, 1014