Revolution #164, May 17, 2009

Justice for Malika Calhoun! Stop Police Brutality and the Criminalization of a Generation!

Last November 29, Malika Calhoun borrowed the car of a friend's mother—a family she was living with. Pulled over by King County deputies near Seattle, she and another friend were arrested and charged with stealing a car they had simply borrowed without permission. That night, Malika Calhoun, a 15-year-old African American girl, was brutally beaten in a jail cell at SeaTac city hall. A jailhouse videotape shows Deputy Paul Schene slam Malika into a concrete wall, throw her to the floor by her hair and repeatedly punch her in the head and face. Another deputy, Travis Brunner, assists Schene in the attack, helping him pin her to the floor.

After carrying out the assault, Schene and Brunner filed reports lying that it was Malika who assaulted Schene—claiming a tennis shoe Malika flicked off her foot toward Schene caused "bruising, bleeding and pain." Schene and Brunner suggested she be charged with assault on Schene, in addition to auto theft. How many times have Black, Latino and other oppressed nationality people seen this picture? Assaulted, brutalized and even murdered by police, who then claim they were the victims.

And what does it show that the police, knowing full well everything they do in the jail cell is videotaped, felt the complete freedom to viciously beat Malika and then lie in their official reports? It shows that they know such attacks are allowed and will not be punished by this system.

No doubt none of this would have even come out and been made an issue, except that the jail video was released in late February 2009 when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (PI) [and other media] asked a judge to release it through state records. King County prosecutors and Schene's attorney both tried to prevent the video's release. The video was picked up by various national news media causing widespread shock and mass outrage ( Describing what happened, Malika said on the CBS Early Show, "I just want justice, I don't want this to happen to anyone else."

But what will it take to get justice and stop this police brutality? The police department refuses to discipline Schene until "a criminal investigation is complete," and have placed him on paid leave. Schene is pleading innocent to 4th degree assault, a minor charge. Brunner, who backed up Schene's lies and assisted in the assault, is not being charged or disciplined in any way. Meanwhile, Malika faces auto theft charges and, in the wake of the video going viral and calls for punishment of the cops, the authorities have charged her with felony harassment in another unrelated case. In other words, the power structure is on course to punish Malika while setting the stage to let Schene off and continue to unleash the police to attack and brutalize the people.

It has also come out that Deputy Schene has previously shot two people, including killing a mentally ill man named Pedro Jo in 2006. The word of this cop, who did the shooting and is now exposed for his false report justifying assaulting Malika Calhoun, was accepted as the truth in the Jo case. An inquest jury ruled justifiable homicide. And since then Schene works as a field training officer which means he trains new police.

The beating of Malika Calhoun is just one of a number of cases of police brutality recently exposed by Seattle PI articles involving King County Sheriffs. None of these have resulted in any justice or punishment of the cops involved.

Nationwide, a 2007 report by the government's own Bureau of Justice Statistics documents over 2000 people died during their arrests by state and local law enforcement from 2003 to 2005.

And police continue to murder people with impunity. One of the sharpest and most important struggles vs. police brutality is taking place in Oakland, CA. On Jan. 1, 2009, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police murdered Oscar Grant, a 23-year-old Black man in cold blood. Oscar's murderer, Johannes Mehserle, was only charged after people in Oakland righteously rebelled. And since then the police, politicians and officials have gone full throttle to try to suppress the growing resistance to Oscar's murder while maneuvering to create public opinion to blame Oscar and let Mehserle off the hook. (see Revolution #161 and Revolution Online).

All of this—from the beating of Malika Calhoun and other cases in Seattle—to the cold-blooded murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland and many more killings, to the stats of the U.S. government itself, show the unrelenting epidemic of police brutality and murder aimed at the oppressed, particularly Black and Latino people.

What kind of a system unleashes police to drag young girls by their hair, punch them in the face and kill mentally ill people? What kind of system time after time lets these murdering abusers off the hook and justifies their crimes by blaming the people who they attack and murder? The unjust system of capitalism, the system killing people, the system we need to get rid of through revolution.

The handling of the Calhoun case by the authorities—refusing to punish Schene or Brunner despite the clear video evidence of assault; filing only minor charges against one of the officers while filing new charges against Malika; and all the past history of letting killer and brutalizing cops off—demonstrate the only justice in this case will come from mass and uncompromising resistance from the people. And as we fight the power, we need to spread revolution, and transform the people for revolution to get rid of the system that is the source of police brutality.

It's crucial that the outrage coming out after people viewed this video be turned into many more people joining in with and spreading the demand for justice for Malika Calhoun and wider resistance to police brutality and the criminalization of a generation.

On March 12, the Seattle chapter of the Oct. 22nd coalition to Stop Police Brutality mobilized people to speak out about the Calhoun case at the King County courthouse. Oct. 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, distributors of Revolution newspaper and Revolution Books in Seattle, and the National Action Network are taking this case out to the masses, organizing people to develop more opposition and resistance to the brutality against Malika and to demand justice.

Join the resistance. Call 206-325-7415 for more information.


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