Michael Brown commemorated, Ferguson, USA people speak


By Zac Corrigan in the USA:

Voices from Ferguson, Missouri five years after the police murder of Michael Brown

22 August 2019

Five years ago this month, the attention of the world was focused on Ferguson, a small, working-class suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Night after night, workers and young people filled the streets to demand justice for 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times and left to die on the concrete by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Scenes of riot police and National Guard troops in riot gear using military vehicles to attack peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas and arrest journalists will be remembered for decades as a symbol of the disdain of the ruling class for the lives and concerns of impoverished workers and youth.

Despite a wave of protests across the country—not to mention a damning autopsy which showed that Michael Brown was shot in the top of the head—a grand jury refused to indict Wilson and President Barrack Obama’s Justice Department declined to bring federal civil rights charges. Five years on, over five thousand more people have been killed by the police in the United States.

This week, World Socialist Web Site reporters returned to Florissant Avenue in Ferguson—the scene of the murder as well as the protests—to speak to residents about life in a country where the police kill with impunity to defend a capitalist social order based on historic levels of inequality.

Kelly, a mother of two adolescent sons, was at work at a barbershop on Florissant Avenue the day Brown was murdered. “We were working. It was a normal day. And yeah…then that happened.”

“The protests came a few days later. It wasn’t violent, it was a peaceful protest. I feel like it started to become violent, or it seemed violent, when they started bringing in all the troops. It made everyone tense and made them feel like they had to fight back,” she said.

She explained that the murder of Brown was just one more horrible injustice piled on top of a lifetime of injustices for Ferguson residents. “We’re angry because we don’t have that job, or we don’t have food in the house.”

Kelly

“I have a fifteen-year-old and a ten-year-old. Boys. [Comparing] when I was younger and now in the school systems, there’s a lot of things they don’t do for the children, as far as music, arts, even sports”, she said, adding, “and they’re taking away history itself! They’re not educating the children on what their real culture is. They aren’t teaching them about Martin Luther King, about what protesting is about, and what it’s really for… These kids don’t know what that is, and what it meant to the world!”

Kelly was incensed when WSWS reporters raised the ongoing campaign to erase murals from a high school in San Francisco, which depict the history of the United States including slavery and Native American genocide.

“Why do they coddle these people so much!” she exclaimed. “It’s horrible! If you hide that from your children, or from yourself, how will you be able to handle it when it comes in front of you? How will you be able to respond when you do see something like that? That’s a major part of life, to struggle. And I feel like that’s another reason why so many people are killing themselves, and [have] depression. At the end of the day, how do you know who you really are if you don’t know what made people stronger, and what made people fight harder?” she concluded.

Tremier Floyd, now thirty years old, remembers the suppression of the protests in 2014. “I was here a couple of nights. But I really didn’t want to stick around for what was about to go down,” he said.

“This was an area I frequented,” he explained. “I was very active in music and I was out here all the time with my own personal CDs [for sale]. I encountered the police in negative ways on many occasions, just for that alone. The treatment was really unnecessary.”

Tremier was in real danger. Less than a month before the killing of Brown, Eric Garner was choked to death by police officer Daniel Pantaleo while allegedly selling loose cigarettes on the street in Staten Island, New York. Alton Sterling was killed by police in 2016 as he was selling CDs outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Tremier

Tremier said that the fact that police have killed 5,000 more people in the last five years “really shows how the average citizen is looked at in this country. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white—I mean, it matters, but not only black people are killed by the police. So, it just shows how much we mean to the higher-ups. Not enough. We don’t mean very much.”

Both Kelly and Tremier said that they didn’t see any point in appealing to the government to stop police killings or solve any other social problem.

“They don’t listen to us in the first place!” said Kelly, “So what is the point? They’re up there, and we’re down here. It’s just like in the corporate world. The President‘s up there sitting in his big office, and we’re down here making him more money.”

Tremier explained that the experience of Obama’s first term had taught him a lesson. “When I voted for Obama [in 2008] it was because of history—him making history, and us making history. So many young people went out and voted for Obama. But after time, we all figured out that he was just what all the others are. He’s a face. He’s a puppet. He’s a politician. He proved to not be what he said he was going to be. And that’s why I didn’t vote for him a second time.

WSWS reporters raised with Ferguson residents the emergence of working-class struggle around the world: the Yellow Vest protests in France; the wildcat strike of sweatshop workers in Matamoros, Mexico; the hundreds of thousands opposing government oppression in Hong Kong; the ouster by mass protest of two governors this month in the US territory of Puerto Rico. By and large, residents were not aware of these developments due to a general media blackout but were very excited to learn about these developments.

“We need to rise up!” Tremier explained. His message to workers internationally: “Keep pushing and keep fighting! We are the vast majority, and if we were to rise up, we would make a great change throughout the world. So, don’t give up.”

The author also recommends:

Five years after police murder of Michael Brown: Police have killed 5,000 Americans since Ferguson protests
[10 August 2019]

Police killed Michael Brown, five years ago


This 17 August 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Ferguson, Missouri residents determined to fight police violence

In this video, St. Louis residents speak to the World Socialist Web Site about the implications of police violence amid the ongoing protests against police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

Five years after police murder of Michael Brown

Police have killed 5,000 Americans since Ferguson protests

10 August 2019

Friday marked five years since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, including once through the top of the head, and left for four-and-a-half hours to die in the street by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s father, Michael Brown, Sr. used the grim anniversary to call for a reopening of the investigation into his son’s death. The killer cop has never been charged.

“Justice has not been served”, Brown, Sr. said at a press conference Friday morning outside the St. Louis County Justice Services Center, not far from where Michael Brown was killed. “My son deserved to live a full life. But a coward with a badge… chose not to value his life. My son was murdered in cold blood, with no remorse and no medical treatment.”

Brown’s killing on the afternoon of August 9, 2014 sparked popular protests in the small working class suburb of St. Louis, which were met with a paramilitary police occupation and deployment of the National Guard by a Democratic governor. The scenes of riot police with body armor and military grade weapons, backed by armored vehicles with mounted machine guns and military helicopters, facing down peacefully protesting men, women and children shocked the whole country and the world. Protestors were shot by rubber bullets, bean bags and flash bang grenades. More than a dozen journalists were arrested as they attempted to cover the police crackdown.

Despite volleys of tear gas and the imposition of a curfew, protests continued night after night, demanding that Wilson be charged and arrested for the murder of the African American teenager.

Four months later a grand jury delivered its decision not to indict Wilson, reigniting protests that were again met by a police crackdown and the deployment of more than a thousand National Guard troops. This was followed by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department announcement in March 2015 that it would not bring federal civil rights charges against Wilson, completing the whitewash of Brown’s murder.

The killing of Brown, along with the police murder of Eric Garner, choked to death less than a month earlier on Staten Island in New York City, sparked a nationwide wave of protests demanding an end to police violence. The popular slogans “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” and “I Can’t Breathe!” were taken up by crowds across the country protesting one police killing after another.

Despite popular protests and increased scrutiny in the aftermath of Brown’s killing, US police officers have continued to kill at a rate of more than 1,000 people every year, amounting to more than 5,000 since Brown was gunned down. According to data collected by Mapping Police Violence, police officers were charged in less than 2 percent of all 6,836 killings recorded between 2013 and 2018. In only 0.4 percent of cases (28) during this period was an officer charged, convicted and sentenced.

Police murders that have provoked significant protests since Brown’s death include:

  • The murder of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice (November 2014): Rice was shot within two seconds of police arriving at the park gazebo in Cleveland, Ohio where he was playing with a toy handgun. He died the following day in the hospital. Neither officer involved in the shooting was ever charged.

This 22 November 2019 video shows a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

  • The death of Freddie Gray (April 2015): Gray died after being given a “rough ride” in the back of a Baltimore police van. His killing sparked a social eruption that was suppressed by 2,000 National Guard soldiers. While six officers were charged in his death, none was convicted.

This 27 April 2015 video shows Freddie Gray being placed in the police van where he was killed.

  • The shooting death of Philando Castile (July 2016): Castile, 32, was shot and killed during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. His murder was live-streamed on social media by his girlfriend to the horror of millions. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was charged with second degree manslaughter but found not guilty at trial.

This 7 July 2016 video shows a Facebook live stream of the Philando Castile shooting.

  • Little more than a year later, on July 15, 2017, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed 40-year-old Justine Damond in the alley behind her home. Officer Mohammed Noor, who had fired his gun from the passenger seat of the squad car his partner was driving, was found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced in April to 12.5 years in prison.
  • Stephon Clark was shot at least seven times, including multiple shots in the side and back, in his grandmother’s backyard by two Sacramento, California police officers on March 18, 2018. While Clark was holding only a cell phone, the district attorney declined to bring charges and determined that the officers were justified in using deadly force.

This March 2018 video shows police body camera footage of the shooting of Stephon Clark.

The reign of terror has continued this year with at least 544 people shot and killed by police, according to the latest tally by the Washington Post. Under Trump, the police operate without even the fig leaf of federal oversight provided by the Justice Department under Obama. Trump has counseled the police not to be “too nice” when arresting people. …

What unites all of those who are killed or wounded by the police is that they are working class or poor and among the most vulnerable elements in society, including the homeless and those suffering from mental illness.

Since the urban rebellions of the 1960s, police forces across the US have been militarized, with the establishment of SWAT teams and the deployment of armored vehicles to crush any sign of opposition from the working class. Under Obama, record amounts of weapons and equipment were doled out to local police forces by the Pentagon under its so-called 1033 program, which was established by another Democrat, President Bill Clinton.

The fundamental cause of endless police violence is the capitalist system, which the police operate to protect and serve, along with all of the dire conditions it produces for the working class—poverty, social inequality and war. Police killings can be fought only through the unification of the working class in the US and internationally, across all artificial racial, ethnic and national lines, in the fight for a socialist society based on human need and not the profit interests of a rapacious ruling elite, which controls the entire political system and both big business parties.

On Thursday, the Colorado Springs Police Department released bodycam video footage of the police murder of 19-year-old De’Von Bailey. By Friday, a police department spokesperson announced that the two officers responsible for his death will return to active duty, indicating that it is unlikely that any charges will be brought. Bailey was shot to death on August 3. He was the 537th person to be killed by police in the US in 2019, according to records collected by the Washington Post. Thirty-three more people have been killed by cops in the two weeks since his death, bringing the total up to 570: here.

OFFICERS WON’T BE CHARGED IN BLACK TEEN’S DEATH A grand jury found that two Colorado police officers were justified in killing a black teenager who was shot multiple times in the back during a foot chase. As a result, no criminal charges will be filed against the officers involved in the Aug. 3 death of De’Von Bailey in Colorado Springs. [AP]

USA: Police violence the sixth leading cause of death for young men: here.

Feeding homeless people, criminal in Missouri, USA?


This 5 November 2018 video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

Kansas City Health Department throws away food prepared for homeless

Ilus Davis Park is one of three places where the Health Department stopped a group called “Free Hot Soup.”

By Josh Varlin in the USA:

Founder of Kansas City group whose food for homeless was destroyed by police speaks out

30 November 2018

On November 4, police and health department officials in Kansas City, Missouri, carried out a coordinated series of raids on four picnics hosted by Free Hot Soup Kansas City, a Facebook community that organizes picnics where hungry people can eat food and converse in a friendly, public environment. The Kansas City Health Department, aided by police, threw away edible food and bleached a portion of it, claiming that Free Hot Soup was an “organization” and that the picnics were “food establishments” that needed permits.

The raids followed a neighborhood association meeting that had as its first action item “Remove KC Free Soup at the park.” Police spied on the group using social media to determine the distribution locations.

After video of the health department’s actions went viral on social media and sparked international outrage, Kansas City officials let subsequent distribution events go forward. Nellie McCool, who founded Free Hot Soup Kansas City in 2015, recently spoke with the WSWS about the incident.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Josh Varlin: Can you describe what happened November 4? Were you at Prospect Plaza Park when the police and health department came?

Nellie McCool: I was not, I was called while it was happening and I rushed over there right after it happened. The normal crew went out to all their different sites where they like to hold picnics with their friends, and Prospect Plaza Park was met with an inspector who immediately asked to destroy the food.

We’ve been at that park three years, every Sunday we’ve gone and had picnics there, so we’ve gotten to really know the community. We aren’t a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, we aren’t an organization or any kind of establishment. We don’t accept any funding or do any fundraisers as a single entity. A Facebook community is the only way we actually exist as an entity, Free Hot Soup.

There are several communities all over the country. I was involved in one in Portland, Oregon, that started in 2013, and then joined the one in Vancouver, Washington, when it started in 2014. I came back and started one in Kansas City when I moved back in 2015.

JV: You mentioned the legal issues. Would you be able to expand on what Free Hot Soup is and why it’s not a “food establishment”?

NM: Free Hot Soup is a Facebook community that recognizes socioeconomic disparity. We recognize that there are underprivileged populations in certain parts of our city, in this case in Kansas City, and we don’t believe that organizations can be the entire solution.

For instance, Prospect Plaza Park, which is ZIP code 64127, has a household median income of roughly $21,000, which is less than half of the median income statewide. It’s 54.7 percent black, and Kansas City has an extensive history of racial segregation. Developer J.C. Nichols wouldn’t allow blacks to get mortgages in certain parts of the city, so blacks and any non-white ethnic group were basically cornered into really poor-quality parts of the city. Though those laws don’t exist anymore, it’s obvious when you go to those parts of the city that segregation is still alive.

When you go to this public park, normally people in the community don’t feel safe bringing their kids there. There was a boy who was killed in the park in spring 2017. For the short amount of time we are there, we bring food, we use the food to strike up conversations with people, and for that one hour, we’re told, families in the surrounding community feel safe bringing their kids to this park.

It’s much more than a public food service. It’s an activist project taking poverty and violent crime and looking these issues in the face and saying, “What can I do to help?” There are individuals where I’ve set up ways for them to get their bills paid through my Facebook community, or get their homes furnished, or get their birth certificate, or take them to the hospital or shelters, or set them up for other families who would like to sponsor them for Christmas.

JV: Free Hot Soup is organizing on social media, using Facebook groups to coordinate distribution of food to people who need it. The authorities were essentially spying on these Facebook groups to do this coordinated wave of raids. What do you think about that?

NM: There are so many different communities who use Facebook groups to coordinate events among themselves. This was, I would say, harassment and stalking. If they knew where we were, why did they not have a conversation beforehand? But they came in and, in the case of Prospect Plaza Park, they came in knowingly about to bleach the food. They had the report written prior to beginning their protocol, which they didn’t even follow, because they bleached baked goods, which are considered a nonhazardous food and therefore are not regulated by the Health Department. Then they left it in the park, a public park, for the general public to scavenge through. We saw people scavenging through it when we came back later with 41 Action News and other reporters to discuss what had happened at that park.

JV: What do you think about the involvement of the North Blue Ridge Neighborhood Association and Democratic State Representative Ingrid Burnett?

NM: Their first action step on their minutes was “Remove KC Free Soup at the park.” Not even trying to give us permits. It’s not about public health. It’s absolutely, “We don’t like having you here.”

JV: What services, if any, does Kansas City provide to homeless people?

NM: They continue to toot their horn about the 43 organizations that help the homeless, so I guess that’s their goal.

Kansas City is tearing down low-income housing projects all over the city and they’re not replacing them. You’ve got a limited amount of shelters for single adults. Families with children get priority at low-income housing and shelters. When you tear down these huge low-income apartment complexes, those families are now going into those shelters. So, everybody else who is trying to get on their feet or needs to use the shelter is now put at the very bottom of the list.

These neighborhoods have very limited employment options. Prospect Plaza Park, that ZIP code, the unemployment rate is 46 percent. You’ve got tons of people who are working for Jackson County, Missouri, but they’re only making $10/hour.

If they’re living on the street, they are likely using public transportation, which costs money. If they want to take a shower or have a bed to sleep in, they have to pay for a motel, which costs money. Otherwise they’re going to sleep at bus stops or at public parks on benches, which exposes them to theft and other types of harassment, so a lot of them will lose their IDs, Social Security cards and birth certificates and suddenly they don’t have any form of identification anymore. For them to get a car or get a home or get a job if they don’t have one, they are now 10 steps behind. You have people out there who are homeless and are working but they can’t get to where they need to be. The minimum wage in Missouri is one of the lowest in the entire country.

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Kansas City health officials, police destroy food meant for homeless
[14 November 2018]

America’s Thanksgivings
[22 November 2018]

United States police destroy homeless people’s food


This 6 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Kansas City Health Dept Poured Bleach On Food Intended For Homeless!

By Josh Varlin in the USA:

Kansas City health officials, police destroy food meant for homeless

14 November 2018

Health officials in Kansas City, Missouri sparked national outrage when they poured bleach on food meant for homeless and hungry people. The Kansas City Star described Kansas City Health Department (KCHD) raids on food giveaways as “[a] coordinated wave”, stopping food distribution at several parks in Kansas City on November 4.

KCHD officials monitored social media groups to determine the locations of the food distribution sites. Together with police officers, they confiscated soup, sandwiches and chili dogs, throwing the food out and pouring bleach on some of it.

The food was being distributed by Free Hot Soup Kansas City, a group of people who cook food and host potluck dinners for those in need. They were also preparing to distribute coats, toiletries and first aid supplies.

After video of edible food being thrown out circulated on social media, KCHD was forced to justify its actions.

KCHD officials claimed that the gatherings were “food establishments” and Free Hot Soup KC was an “organization”, which required a permit to distribute food. Kansas City Director of Health Rex Archer said the food was destroyed to protect public health and mitigate the risk of food-borne illness.

Despite claims to be looking out for public health, however, KCHD cracked down on Free Hot Soup at the instigation of the North Blue Ridge Neighborhood Association and Missouri Representative Ingrid Burnett, a Democrat.

Such neighborhood associations generally represent the interests of property owners, who view homeless people as eyesores and threats to their property values. North Blue Ridge Neighborhood Association President Julie Boye said, “We don’t want to be run over with homeless people.”

Eric Garbison of the Cherith Brook Catholic Worker house described KCHD’s actions as being “about the criminalization of people who are homeless and the people who support them”, and noted such attacks escalate during the winter, when homelessness becomes more visible. Kansas City has repeatedly attempted to ban street panhandling and shopping carts.

Tara McGaw, who helps organize Free Hot Soup in nearby Belton, told the Star: “This is scaring all of us. We’re not an establishment. We’re not a not-for-profit. We’re just friends trying to help people on the side.”

Free Hot Soup founder Nellie McCool has also argued along these lines, emphasizing her friendship with many of the people who eat food with the group and the damage done by KCHD on the pretext of protecting public health. “We’re a community of people who feel it’s their passion to share with the most vulnerable people in our community”, she told the Star .

In a widely shared Facebook post, McCool wrote that KCHD “illegally searched cars, disposed of baked goods, bleached home cooked food, and accused my friends of being an establishment due to using social media to communicate and plan our events. They shamed and dehumanized our friends who were excited to share a meal with us, some housed and some unhoused.”

A subsequent distribution event by Free Hot Soup was not disrupted, no doubt due to public outrage. Volunteers came with food thermometers to demonstrate the safety of the food and were prepared to show their food handlers’ licenses.

Mayor Sly James, a Democrat who was elected in a nonpartisan election, having been promoted by the Obama White House, tweeted, “Regarding the incident involving Free Hot Soup & @KCMOHealthDept: Rules are there to protect the public’s health, and all groups must follow them, no exceptions.”

City officials and others involved in the efforts to shut down the food distributions claimed to be concerned about the public welfare as well as the plight of homeless people. North Blue Ridge Neighborhood Association President Boye said she was concerned “about how best to help”, while Representative Burnett said, “We all know that we are one catastrophe away from being in the same boat.”

Putting aside the fact that a state representative is hardly as economically vulnerable as the average Kansas City resident, there have been large numbers of homeless people in Kansas City for years and the government has done next to nothing to provide them with decent shelter and nutrition. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Point in Time” census, which substantially underestimates homelessness, counted 1,671 homeless individuals and 1,248 homeless households in the city last year.

Kansas City’s median household income is $51,235, about $4,000 less than the national median. The city is a major Great Plains economic center, having rebranded itself as “Silicon Prairie.” It hosts meatpacking, dairy and auto facilities. Nevertheless, Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, and both of the states that are home to the Kansas City metropolitan area, are notoriously anti-worker.

An editorial in the Star, “Why Kansas and Missouri are lousy places to live if you’re poor,” noted that a study ranked Kansas the fourth worst state and Missouri the fifth worst for impoverished people. Missouri’s Medicaid income cutoff is 22 percent of the federal poverty line, and its income tax code is “particularly regressive.” Kansas’ minimum wage is at the federal level, $7.25 an hour.

These are the top 10 food searches on Google in 2018.

St Louis, USA police and Ku Klux Klan


This video from the USA says about itself:

St. Louis Police Department Is Built On KKK Roots

16 October 2017

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton spoke with Tory Russel, the chief of staff to St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, about the troubling ties that the St. Louis PD has to the “Veiled Prophet Ball,” an event that has been linked to the Ku Klux Klan.

This video from the USA says about itself:

St. Louis Protests: What a Police Cover Up Looks Like

16 October 2017

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton spoke with Brother Anthony Shahid, a St. Louis resident who has pushed for transparency from police in the killing of 24-year-old African American Anthony Lamar Smith at the gun of white officer Jason Stockley.

Ku Klux Klan leader shot dead by wife: here.

St Louis, USA protests against police brutality


This video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

12 October 2017

The REAL reason St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson doesn’t care about cops arresting protesters and press. Cenk Uygur breaks it down on The Young Turks.

“On Tuesday, September 19, Mayor Lyda Krewson postponed her three remaining townhalls across the city. This followed four days of protests met with aggressive police force after the acquittal of former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Jason Stockley.

She wrote, “[Townhalls] are happening in the streets and in my inbox and on social media right now. We are listening.” Despite her assurances otherwise, many residents interpreted this as their mayor dodging venues meant to hold her accountable to their serious concerns and pain.

So, in this pivotal moment, if Mayor Krewson won’t listen to her constituents in townhalls, who is she listening to? Perhaps it’s her donors. After all, the protests financially impact many of them. For example, both St. Louis Union Station and its parent company Lodging Hospitality Management, which operates hotels and restaurants, made significant donations to Krewson during her campaign.

LHM’s leadership team spoke to the Post Dispatch about significant lost revenue from downtown concerts cancelled in response to the protests around the verdict. Bob O’Loughlin, Chairman and CEO of LHM, also told the Business Journal, “The most important thing is to mobilize the city, county and state to work to carry on with these events and provide safety for people going to them.” Here, it is worth also noting that O’Loughlin sits on the board of the St. Louis Police Foundation along with a handful of other Krewson donors”.

Read more here.

This video from Missouri in the USA today says about itself:

St. Louis Protests In Front of Ferguson Police Department

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton reports from St. Louis, Missouri.

St Louis USA police oppression


This 27 September 2017 video from Missouri in the USA is called St. Louis police suppress protests against police brutality.

Anthony Lamar Smith killed in St Louis, killer scot free


This 22 September 2017 video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

“That verdict was a travesty”

Watch: St. Louis workers denounce acquittal of killer cop, crackdown on protests

By Genevieve Leigh and George Gallanis reporting from St. Louis

23 September 2017

Protests in St. Louis against the acquittal of Jason Stockley, the police officer who shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith on camera in 2011, have now entered their second week. Police in riot gear have arrested hundreds of mostly peaceful protesters and journalists in what amounts to a military-style lockdown of the city using pepper spray and tear gas.

WSWS reporters spoke with protesters and St. Louis workers about the verdict and the suppression of protests by the police.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA, 23 September 2017:

The 2011 killing of Anthony Lamar Smith by St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was an open-and-shut case of police murder.

Smith was a 24-year-old African-American who was driving away from police after they burst in on what they claim was a drug deal. Stockley, who is white, was recorded on a dashboard camera saying, “I’m going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.” Less than 45 seconds later, his partner Brian Bianchi rammed their police SUV into Smith’s car. Video of the incident shows that Smith remained in the car and made no attempt to flee.

Stockley jumped out of the SUV and shot Smith five times. Forensic evidence revealed that Stockley fired the “kill shot” from six inches away. The officer then returned to his vehicle, rummaged through a duffel bag and returned to Smith’s car to plant a throwaway gun on the dead victim. Tests showed the gun had only Stockley’s DNA on it.

In addition to his police-issued handgun, Stockley was carrying his personal AK-47 in violation of official department protocol.

St Louis protests: Journalists say they were beaten and arrested by police while covering demonstrations. Exclusive: Journalists tell The Independent about being kicked, pepper sprayed: here.

United States police kill LGBTQ student activist


This video from the USA says about itself:

17 September 2017

Scout Schultz Georgia Tech student KILLED by campus police:

Georgia Tech police killed the president of the Pride Alliance student group on Saturday. Police encountered Scout Schultz after someone

the ‘someone’ was Scout Schultz

called 911 to report a person with a knife and a gun.

Scout Schultz a 21-year-old computer engineering student didn’t appear to be holding a gun

and had only a small pocket knife, which Schultz never opened

in video recorded from a window above the parking lot. Scout Schultz was taken to hospital early Sunday and died there. Almost 700 people have been shot and killed by police in the United States in 2017.

United States campus police have military grade weapons for violence against demonstrating students or university workers. Recently, United States President Trump decided to militarize police even more.

From the Oslo Times in Norway:

US campus police shoot and kill 21 year-old LGBT activist

09:04 AM, Sep 18,2017

Sept 18, Washington DC: A student and LGBT activist Scout Schultz has been killed after the US state of Georgia opened fired on the 21 year old.

According to reports, Schultz was the president of the Pride Alliance at the Georgia Institute of Technology. …

The police had encountered Scout Schultz at a campus in Atlanta after a call about “a person with a knife and a gun” late on Saturday, officials say. …

Schultz’s mother said police should not have used lethal force. …

Schultz’s mother Lynne later said Scout, who was born Scott Schultz, was politically active in progressive causes, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. She added that Schultz had numerous medical issues, suffered from depression and had attempted suicide two years ago. “Why didn’t they use some nonlethal force, like pepper spray or Tasers?” she was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Schultz was the president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech. “We are all deeply saddened by what has occurred,” the group said in a statement.”They have been the driving force behind Pride Alliance for the past two years”, the group said, using Schultz’s preferred pronoun. “They pushed us to do more events and a larger variety events.”

By Trévon Austin and Patrick Martin in the USA:

Protests continued in St. Louis as police kill eight more in US

19 September 2017

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Justice Center in downtown St. Louis Monday night in a show of support for those who remained jailed after police arrested 123 people on Sunday night during protests over the acquittal of a white St. Louis cop who shot a black man to death in 2011. They chanted “free our people,” denouncing police and prosecutors for keeping people in jail for more than 20 hours when they were arrested on misdemeanor charges of “failure to disperse.”

The Sunday night mass arrests, all but three on the failure to disperse, came as police carried out the “kettling” of protesters, surrounding them, trapping them so they could not escape, then arresting them for their alleged refusal to do what had become impossible—to disperse. St. Louis city officials would not reveal how many of those arrested were still in custody nearly a day later.

Protesters march through downtown St. Louis

One of those arrested was a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mike Faulk, who was covering the protest when he was pepper-sprayed and taken into custody after midnight, early Monday morning. Others arrested included legal observers, a doctor, a photojournalist and people who were simply passers-by, but trapped by the police cordon.

The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Tony Rothert, told the Post-Dispatch that kettling was unconstitutional because it “caused people who were doing nothing wrong to be detained and arrested along with those who were breaking the law.” He added that it had been used against Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and against protesters during the inauguration of President Donald Trump last January.

He said the tactic had not been used by police during the protests three years ago in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, after the police murder of an unarmed 18-year-old black youth, Michael Brown. “It’s really a military tactic for controlling crowds and controversial because it leads to constitutional violations,” he said.

Protests spread Monday to a high school in the suburb of Kirkwood, where more than 100 students walked out of first-hour classes and marched to the school’s football stadium for a rally. A school spokeswoman said the students were organized and orderly, and notified the school in advance about the protest. Another 250 students protested at a high school in Webster Groves, another St. Louis suburb, in an action that the school superintendent described as “peaceful.”

A racially mixed crowd staged a silent march to city hall Monday morning, marking the fourth day of protests over the acquittal of former policeman Jason Stockley, cleared by a judge of all charges in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley can be heard on a police dashcam telling his partner, “We’re going to kill this (expletive),” in reference to Smith. He planted a gun on Smith that was later found to have only Stockley’s DNA on it. Yet he was found guilty of no wrongdoing.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson told reporters Monday morning that “the days have been calm and the nights have been destructive” for three straight days. She called that pattern “unacceptable” and warned “destruction cannot be tolerated.” The Democratic mayor also tweeted, “Thank you to police & first responders for the outstanding job you have been doing.”

The actual level of violence by anti-police protesters has been remarkably limited given the outrageous character of the acquittal and the belligerence shown by the police as they have been massively deployed against demonstrators.

The police have been heavily armed, with full riot gear and shields, and backed by National Guard troops ordered into the city by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, but not yet deployed against the population. The riot police have conducted themselves with considerable arrogance and aggression, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”, in what amounts to a declaration that the police call the shots.

“I’m proud to tell you the city of St. Louis is safe and the police owned tonight,” Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said at a news conference early Monday.

This rhetoric is reflective of the nature of police violence in the United States and efforts by the ruling elite to implement a police state. The use of violence to shut down peaceful opposition and escalation of police violence flows directly from the policies and aims of the ruling classes.

In July, during a speech on Long Island, Trump essentially told police to have no concern for arrestees, telling them, “Please don’t be too nice.” The supposed purpose of his speech was to “declare war” on the Salvadorian gang MS-13, calling them worse than Al-Qaeda, but Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric is an attempt to justify police violence and promote an atmosphere of nationalism and militarism.

Under Trump’s authority, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has carried out a reign of terror against the immigrant population. In March, ICE agents terrorized residents of northwest Chicago when an agent shot and seriously wounded a man in a home where eight family members were present, including a child as young as one.

Today, police within the United States act as a combination of militarized occupation forces and state-sanctioned death squads. They have been given a green light by the fascistic Trump and receive no serious criticism from the Democratic Party, which falsely claims to represent the interests of working people and the poor who are the main targets of police violence.

Both capitalist parties support the escalation of police violence in America. The American ruling establishment sees implementing measures of a police state as necessary to suppress the mass opposition developing within the American working class against unemployment, poverty, the decay of social infrastructure and the growth of economic inequality.

The death toll from police violence continues at the pace of more than 1,000 a year, with the tally maintained on killedbypolice.net reaching 857 on Monday. During the four days of protests against the whitewash of a police murder in St. Louis, eight more Americans were killed by police.

The most harrowing of these deaths was the Saturday night shooting of Scout Shultz, a student at Georgia Tech who suffered from mental illness.

Shultz phoned the police, giving them a description of an individual resembling their self—young, white, with long blonde hair—armed with a knife and possibly a gun. They left three suicide notes in their room, then went out to meet the police, sure that they would be killed. Despite the fact that the “knife” was a utility tool with a small blade, which Schultz never even opened, and there was no gun, the police riddled the young person with bullets.

Dozens of students and supporters who marched Monday night to protest Schultz’s killing were attacked by Georgia Tech police officers who fired at least one smoke bomb. Three protesters were arrested; all have been charged with inciting a riot and battery of an officer.

Other police killings since Friday’s verdict in St. Louis include a 15-year-old youth shot to death by police in Fauquier County, in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, who allegedly threatened them with a crowbar; a man wandering in the I-5 Freeway in Los Angeles brandishing a knife, clearly disturbed; an inmate at Angola State Prison in Louisiana, who was unarmed but supposedly charged an armed prison guard; another unarmed man who was fleeing police in his car in Hollywood, Florida, near Miami; and three separate instances where police claimed to have shot armed fugitives—in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; West Milford, West Virginia; and East San Jose, California. Details and even the names of the victims have not yet been made available in most of these cases.

St. Louis Police declare “We’re in control” as crackdown on protests enters fifth day: here.

Hundreds of riot police descend on peaceful protesters in St. Louis: here.

Deaf man [Magdiel Sanchez] shot dead by Oklahoma police as neighbours scream ‘he can’t hear you’: here.

Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was sitting on his porch Tuesday night when he was approached by Lieutenant Matthew Lindsey of the Oklahoma City Police Department. Lindsey had received reports that a vehicle driven by Sanchez’s father had been involved in a hit-and-run accident earlier that night and had arrived at that address: here.

Kshama Sawant, a Socialist Alternative member who was first elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013, is the target of a defamation lawsuit filed by police after she publicly denounced two officers for murdering Che Taylor, a 42-year-old African American man, in February 2016: here.

Police impunity for killing Anthony Lamar Smith in St Louis, USA


This video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

No Justice for St. Louis Black Community

17 September 2017

Protests have been taking place in the wake of a not-guilty verdict delivered to former St. Louis cop Jason Stockley, who was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

By Ben Chacko in Britain:

US: Protests carry on after ‘not guilty’ verdict

Monday 18th September 2017

PROTESTS in the US city of St Louis continued for a third day yesterday following the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley for killing Anthony Lamar Smith there in 2011.

Mr Stockley was found not guilty of murder on Friday, six years after having shot 24-year-old African-American Mr Smith five times after a car chase, on the grounds that he believed he was reaching for a weapon.

A gun was found in Mr Smith’s car after the event but the prosecution alleged it was placed there by Mr Stockley, who predicted the shooting during the car chase with the words: “Going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.”

But Judge Timothy Wilson said the court could not say it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the killing was not self-defence.

The ruling sparked immediate demonstrations in St Louis on Friday evening and a march of thousands on Saturday.

Some protesters attacked police vehicles and buildings on Friday night while “a few dozen” did not disperse after Saturday’s march and then clashed with riot officers who moved against them.

Electrician Damone Smith told reporters as his car was rerouted away from the demo that he was “proud” of protesters against a “disgusting” verdict.

If you look like me, then you feel like there is no other way to express yourself. Time and time again, African-American men are killed by police and nobody is held accountable”, he explained.

This video from the USA says about itself:

US: St. Louis protesters extend demonstration over Anthony Lamar Smith murder

17 September 2017

Protests in the US city of St. Louis … for a third night following the acquittal of a white former police officer over the shooting of a black motorist.

Six years ago, police officer Jason Stockley shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith after a car chase.

Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Stockley, who is white, with first-degree murder, alleging he planted a gun in Smith’s car.

On Friday, Stockley was acquitted of the crime.

At least 47 people have been arrested since Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

Over forty arrested in St. Louis as demonstrations continue against acquittal of killer cop

18 September 2017

Police intensified their crackdown on protesters in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday as demonstrations against police violence continued into the third day.

The protests erupted Friday afternoon following the announcement that police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2011 killing of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

Stockley, who is white, fired five bullets at point-blank range into Smith, who was African-American, while the victim was seated in his car after a three-mile chase. A police car dashcam recorded Stockley telling his partner in advance of the shooting, “We’re killing this motherfucker, don’t you know.” An FBI firearms analyst testified at the trial that one shot was discharged from only six inches away.

After the murder, video recordings show Stockley going into his police car to get a gun, which he then planted in the car of the dead victim. Only Stockley’s DNA was found on the gun.

Considering the precedent upheld across the board by both Democrats and Republicans of blanket immunity for killer cops it is hardly a surprise that Stockley was acquitted. However, the sheer amount of evidence and the blatant murderous character of the event makes his exoneration particularly egregious.

Demonstrations erupted immediately following the announcement and attracted as many as one thousand people at their peak. Protests were held outside of police department headquarters and numerous marches took place throughout the city Friday evening. On Saturday, hundreds held demonstrations in West County Center shopping mall in the city of Des Peres, west of St. Louis, and at Chesterfield Mall in the suburb of Chesterfield. Saturday’s demonstrations culminated in a gathering at the home of Democratic mayor, Lyda Krewson, where at least one window was broken after something was thrown at it.

St Louis police in riot geat walk over protesters

With the memories of the massive upheavals which erupted in Ferguson in 2014–only a 20-minute drive from St. Louis–state and local authorities had anticipated protests over the exoneration of yet another killer cop. Officials spent the past week preparing to impose a virtual lockdown on the city. Barricades were erected around police headquarters and the courthouse, among other sites, and Republican Governor Eric Greitens activated the National Guard on Thursday ahead of the announcement.

As early as 6:30 p.m. on Friday the St. Louis Police Department had determined that the protests were “no longer considered peaceful”, which they announced in a tweet. They claimed that demonstrators were ignoring commands to leave the streets, making all of those in the area subject to arrest.

Reports indicate that at least thirty-three people were arrested during Friday’s protests and an additional nine Saturday night through Sunday morning. According to officials, four of the nine people arrested will face felony destruction of property charges. Among those arrested were two minors and the other seven ranged in age from 22 to 37 years old.

The St. Louis Police Department took to Twitter to justify their actions throughout the weekend.

On Friday they posted pictures of rocks and water bottles that they claimed had been thrown at officers throughout the day adding that “officers showed great restraint.”

These photos stand in sharp contrast to the videos and photos posted by the protesters of hundreds of police officers dressed in riot gear and armed to the teeth with military-grade weaponry attacking protesters.

Their “restraint” included firing pepper-spray balls and tear gas against the overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrators. In one instance police in riot gear marched over a woman after she was knocked to the ground. When several people rushed to her assistance they were also knocked to the ground by police officers armed with shields and large bats.

Krewson and Geitens were also active on their Twitter accounts throughout the weekend making veiled threats to the protesters and offering their full support for the police force.

Greitens publicly bolstered the law-and-order campaign, tweeting praise of the police actions and posting videos of himself shaking hands with law enforcement. Bragging in a Tweet on Saturday, he wrote “some criminals broke windows & thought they’d get away. They were wrong. Officers caught ‘em, cuffed ‘em, and threw ‘em in Jail.” The video posted along with the tweet shows five officers hauling away a cuffed young man who appears to be unconscious.

Greitens' tweet

The brutal murder of Anthony Lamar Smith and the subsequent violent crackdown on protesters by the political establishment are, in a very direct way, the product of twenty-five years of unending US wars abroad, with the same military gear and tactics being against the working class at home.

The officer responsible for the killing, Stockley, is a West Point graduate who served with the Army in the Iraq war. He carried his personal AK-47-style rifle with him as an officer in St. Louis, and noted in the trial that he felt that his life and the life of his fellow officers “depended on it”–a perspective likely ingrained in him throughout his time around the various military institutions.

Greitens, the most enthusiastic cheerleader of the St. Louis police force through the weekend, comes out of a long career in the military establishment, having served for years as a Navy Seal, the most notoriously brutal arm of the United States military Special Forces.

President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been vehement defenders of killer cops and violent police forces. Speaking for police officers in August, Trump encouraged them to be “rough” with those they were arresting. Later that month, he signed an order reinstituting the federal program that supplies military weapons and equipment to local and state police forces.