The Path to the Boiling Point

By Julissa Catalan

The deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown have finally focused nationwide attention on a long-standing issue in our countryBlacks are disproportionately targeted as criminals by law enforcement.

While we are making progress in the media to cover these storiesand society is taking a stand with mass protestswe have to ask ourselves, why did it take so long

In the months surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brownthe Black unarmed teen who was killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo.similar stereotyping and violence was taking place in Beavercreek, Ohio, as well as in Los Angeles and Victorville, Calif.

John Crawford

On Aug. 5, Beavercreek police officers responded to a Walmart customer’s call accusing a Black man of waving a firearm in the store. Police almost immediately shot and killed the 22-year-old upon arriving at the scene.

While the officers insisted that John Crawford was only shot after being asked to put the “gun” down multiple times, surveillance footage proved that Crawford was not carrying a firearm, nor was he pointing it at children.

He had picked up a BB gun from the store’s shelf and carried it around the store while on his cell phone.

LeeCee Johnson, who was on the phone with Crawford at the time of the shooting, further validates what was seen on the footage.

“We was just talking,” Johnson said. “He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And the next thing I know, he said, ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said, ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him.”

But even with the video evidence, a grand jury decided not to charge police officers with any crimes.

Ezell Ford

The events that took place on Aug. 11 between 25-year-old Ford and the LAPD remain unclear as officers tell a vastly different story than multiple eyewitnesses.

According to the police department’s detailed account, officers attempted to stop Ford while he was walking down the street but he “continued walking and made suspicious movements, including attempting to conceal his hands.”

“When the officers got closer and attempted to stop the individual, the individual turned, grabbed one of the officers, and a struggle ensued,” the report said. “During the struggle, they fell to the ground and the individual attempted to remove the officer’s handgun from its holster.”

The other officer, the report said, “fired his handgun and the officer on the ground fired his backup weapon at the individual.”

Ford later died at the hospital.

Ford was known in the community to have mental problemshe was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.

Many have said that the Los Angeles police were aware of this, as he had been convicted in the past of marijuana possession as well as for illegally carrying a loaded weapon.

According to family friend Dorene Henderson, who witnessed the incident, there was “no struggle between the officers and Ford.” She also said that neighbors began yelling at the officers, “He’s got mental problems,” before the police put him on the ground and shot him in the back two times.

It has never been established why Ford was stopped in the first place.

Dante Parker

A Victorville resident contacted local police on Aug. 14 saying that a robbery suspect had fled on a bicycle.

Officers detained Dante Parker, a Black 36-year-old pressman for the Daily Press newspaper and a father of five. Parker had a clean police record, but was considered a suspect for riding a bike.

According to officers, a struggle ensued before police used a taser gun on Ford, who began sweating profusely and having trouble breathing after being arrested. The officers on the scene called for medical help, but Ford died while receiving treatment.

“He had been trying to lose weight,” Daily Press coworker Ronald Bantug said. “He asked me how to do it and I told him to get on a bike. He had been riding his bike for years with his wife or one of his kids; he lived [around Luna Road] and would always ride in that area. He’d do jumping jacks on breaks out by the freeway or run laps around the building.”

Another coworker, Richard Loredo, added, “That whole story is totally wrong. Dante’s not a burglar. … You can see how well his kids were raised; he was a good dad. For the police department to portray him like that is … unfair.”

Three cases of police using excessive force on unarmed Black men within just two weeksthat we know about.

NYPD’s Track Record

Meanwhile, the NYPD is currently under the microscope for racial profiling after the death of Eric Garnerthe Black man who died from asphyxiation as a result of an officer putting him in a chokehold for suspicion of selling loose cigarettes.

The NYPD has quite a record with racially charged crimes.

Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly caused much outrage during his tenure for his militant approach, from defending his department’s use of Stop and Friskto the killings of unarmed Black menSean Bell,Tamon Robinson, Alberta Spruill andRamarley Grahamunder his watch.

The 1999 shooting of unarmed Amadou Diallo reminds many of the killing of Sean Bell. Diallo, a 23-year-old Guinea native, was shot at 41 times outside his home by four different plainclothes police officers; 19 of those shots hit him.

All four officers where charged with second-degree murder but were acquitted.

In 1997, Abner Louima, a Haiti native, endured what could be one of the most horrifying documented cases of police brutality. The 30-year-old Louima and several of his friends attempted to stop a fight between two women at a nightclub. A scuffle ensued when officers arrived. One of the officers identified and arrested Louima for punching him during the fightalthough the officer later admitted that he had wrongly identified Louima. At the 70th Precinct, Louima was badly beaten and sodomized with a broken broomstick as the officers yelled, “It’s Giuliani time!”

Louima was taken to the emergency room the next day, and escorting officers told nurses his injuries were a result of “abnormal homosexual activities.”

The attack left Louima with a ruptured colon and bladder. He required three major surgeries and was hospitalized for two months.

There is alsothe notorious Louis Scarcella, the former NYPD detective who is connected to71 cases currently under investigation. Scarcella, once celebrated for sweeping New York City streets clean during the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, has since been implicated in coercing unreliable witnessesincluding a crack-addicted prostitute who served in multiple unrelated casesinto false admissions in order to expedite police work and convictions.

In 1976, Randolph Evans, an unarmed 15-year-old, was killed by NYPD officer Robert Torsey outside his home on Thanksgiving Day.

Torsey reported to the Cypress Hills housing projects after a call about a man with a gun came in. Instead, the officer encountered a group of teen boys. After a short conversation, the officer shot Evans point blank in the head.

Torsey was indicted by a grand jury on second-degree murder charges and was later found not guilty by reason of insanityfor what his defense team called a psychotic episode due to an epileptic condition.

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