14 seconds—12 bullets—0 charges
St. Louis Prosecutor Says Police Murder of Kajieme Powell Was “Justified”

November 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us



From a reader:

On November 3 the St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce (the city prosecutor) announced that there would be NO charges against the two cops who cold-bloodedly murdered Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old Black man. Kajieme Powell’s life was stolen by the police on August 19, 2014—just 10 days after and 3 miles away from Michael Brown’s murder by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson.

In Kajieme’s case—as with Eric Garner and Walter Scott and many others—a cell phone video captured the murder. The video shows a disoriented Powell wandering around in front of a market in North St. Louis. You hear Kajieme tell the cops who arrive, “Shoot me, shoot me.” These are clearly words of someone in severe mental distress and in need of urgent help. But just 14 seconds after arriving on the scene, two cops shoot Kajieme 12 times, killing him.

In the video you hear the videographer’s voice turn from a light-hearted tone to horror as a minor incident (alleged theft of energy drinks from a corner market) turns into a man being gunned down in a hail of bullets. The voice says, “They puttin’ him in cuffs. He’s dead, oh my god. They just killed this man. He didn’t have a gun on him. Now they’re cuffin’ him, he’s already dead. The man is already dead. How the hell can a dead man be of ANY threat to anybody?!”

The St. Louis prosecutor claimed that the two police cops had “reasonable” belief that Kajieme Powell posed a mortal threat when the cops shot him. Mildred Powell, Kajieme’s grandmother, said: “There’s so many cases that’s like Kajieme where guys have gotten killed. They said they were afraid for their lives. Are they just afraid of Black people, is that it?” There is a deep truth in Mildred Powell’s bitter words.

Jennifer Joyce is the same prosecutor who announced in May that no charges would be filed against the cop who, working as a security guard, murdered 18-year-old VonDerrit Myers Jr. in October 2014 (see “A Year After Police Murder, Lies and Coverup: Justice for VonDerrit Myers NOW“). And as in that case, the decision not to charge the cops who killed Kajieme Powell is an official green light for cops to murder more Black people, as well as Latino and Native American people—and get away with it.

Lies and Bullshit

After Kajieme’s murder, the authorities rushed to the scene to immediately begin the lies and cover-up and efforts to suppress the people’s righteous anger. St. Louis Police Chief Dotson arrived with a detachment of cops and, faced with an angry group of people, he claimed that the officers were forced to fire when Kajieme Powell came to within three or four feet of them holding a knife in “an overhand grip.” The cell phone video released later contradicted his claims—showing that Kajieme had not come as close to the cops as claimed, had his hands at his sides, and was walking sideways and looking backwards. The safety of the cops was not in question due to the presence of Kajieme Powell. And in any case, what about the safety and welfare of the young Black man, in obvious mental anguish, who they so ruthlessly gunned down?!

Also at the scene of Kajieme’s murder along with Police Chief Dotson was St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, trying to cool down people’s righteous anger at injustice and convince them to put their faith back into the system. It should be remembered that when Kajieme was murdered, the authorities were reeling from the uprising in Ferguson during the prior 10 days. After Dotson went through his lies while promising to get to the truth, the people were still unconvinced and angry. There were chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot!” French had been put forward as a voice of the protest movement following the murder of Mike Brown—but in reality, from the very first days of Ferguson uprising, French collaborated with the authorities, trying to get angry youth to back off and slandering and attacking revolutionary communists who stood with the people rising up. (See “Antonio French—Bootlicker Supreme“)

French said to the crowd at the scene of Kajieme’s murder: “It goes down in Ferguson because they don’t have any Black folks in power... a chief that doesn’t listen to the people. We are different here.... We will get justice here... We’re gonna be patient in our neighborhood. Because you got people that got your backs here. You ain’t the law like they are in Ferguson. Let’s be patient. The last thing we need is violence in our neighborhood. No silliness over here.”

It would take a dump truck to carry all the lies, false promises, and general bullshit put out by French to shut up and mislead people and quell the resistance to Kajieme’s murder. But to start with, what exactly has been the upshot for people in St. Louis who supposedly have “Black folks in power”? St. Louis police have gotten away with murder after murder of Black people: Kajieme Powell, VonDerrit Myers, Terrell Beasley, Isaac Holmes, LaDarius Williams, Mansur Ball-Bey... They have repeatedly brutalized, tased and tear gassed protesters and bystanders. At least six people killed by police in St. Louis North County over the same 15 months. There’s a whole brutal, white-supremacist system at work, not a few rogue cops or a few bad people in high places.

French, and forces like him, are still actively working to divert people’s struggle back into the deadly embrace of the system. This is not just “past history.” They continue to work to derail the righteous struggle that broke out in Ferguson and spread across the country—”silliness” as French calls it. French is a highly visible spokesperson in “police accountability” efforts, including through his role on the St. Louis City Council and in connection with the Civilian Review Board. French’s goals are now the same as the job he was doing in Ferguson and in north St. Louis where Kajieme Powell was murdered: keeping the people from rising up and keeping them locked into relying on the same system that is carrying out a genocidal program, with police terror and murder as the spear point. Peddling illusions and false hopes like French is doing actually protects the murdering cops by diverting people away from struggle that has real potential to rock the enforcers and those who oversee them back on their heels.

Today the struggle against police terror and murder is at a critical crossroads. As Revolution/revcom.us said in the editorial that came out after the October 22-24 Rise Up October demonstrations in NYC, “The thousands who testified, resisted, and marched through the streets made clear that there was a force, a movement, that is determined to draw a clear line, challenging everyone, throughout the country, to RISE UP against this.” On the other side is the continuing, unrelenting murders and brutality by police, and a campaign to make heroes out of cops and slander and suppress the people’s genuinely heroic struggle. Which side are you on?



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