Revolution #230, April 24, 2011

From A Reader in Seattle:

Call to Counter Protest at Support Rallies for the SPD
Stand Against the Justification of Police Brutality and Murder!

I wanted to share with Revolution newspaper this response to the "rallies to support the SPD" that are being organized by policemen's wives—partly (or mostly) in response to the outrage that hundreds of people expressed in protest after the inquest decision came out that former Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer Ian Birk would not be charged with anything in connection with the murder of John T. Williams that he committed.

O22 [October 22 Coalition Against Police Brutality] Seattle is calling for people to come out to stand against this justification of police brutality and murder...there are 2 more rallies planned. So far the side opposing police brutality and murder has been very small—less than 10, while the side supporting the SPD has remained steady at around 20-30, including their kids, some look as young as 7 or 8. Many of the same people in "support of the SPD" are in attendance at the different rallies—it was reported that some of them aren't actually residents of Seattle. More work is needed to build resistance to the next two rallies, and there is a need to spread this call.

Call to Counter Protest at Support Rallies for the SPD
Stand Against the Justification of Police Brutality and Murder!

Seattle has drawn national attention for its epidemic of police brutality. There has been the unjust murder of native carver John T. Williams, the murder of unarmed 23-year-old David Young, the brutal beating of Chris Harris—cops body-slammed him, headfirst, into a wall; he was left with permanent brain damage, and in need of lifelong care. Videos circulating on YouTube show the SPD beating black girls, SPD officer stomping on the head of a Latino man while yelling racial slurs, cops stomping on a man's head in Ballard, and a black teenager being punched in the groin by a cop. For most of these instances the police officers involved have not been charged with any crime, even with the video documentation, which clearly show brutality being committed by police. And that's not all—the people of Seattle are not the only ones to be murdered and beaten at the hands of the police. This is a nationwide epidemic of police brutality and murder, the Stolen Lives Project estimates that there is an average of 1000 people killed every year by police, and many, many more people repressed and brutalized.

Protests against police brutality erupted in Seattle in February and March, raising the call for the murderer of John T. Williams, former SPD officer Ian Birk to be prosecuted. People have been speaking out all over Seattle to call for an end to police brutality and many people need to confront the fact that this is an epidemic that reaches across this country.

The powers that be want to de-legitimize these protests against police brutality and murder, and suppress the cries of the people. They want to be able to kill and brutalize people with impunity. Washington State prosecutor Dan Satterberg refused to bring charges against Ian Birk. Peaceful protests made up of high school youth, community members and those under the gun of police brutality everyday have been met with tear gas and police mounted on horses, using their horses running crowds of protestors over. Some reported being beaten and others arrested for marching ON THE SIDEWALK. Protesters who have called-out the police have been followed and harassed by the Seattle Police Department, including being taunted with racial slurs and threats of murder. One protester was told by a police officer that he was going to "Go Ian Birk On His Ass."

Some people in the Native American community have said that treatment from the police has intensified, including one woman being shoved down on the ground by a SPD officer.

Over the past couple of weeks, a group of wives of police officers have organized support rallies at the Seattle Police Department precincts. These rallies have had the support of the SPD, and it isn't clear how deep the relationships go, beyond the family ties, but in protests against police brutality and murder, the people protesting were prevented from reaching the east precinct on more than one occasion, and their voices stifled. Contrast that to the support rally at the east precinct on March 28, when demonstrators in the support rally were welcomed into the precinct afterward.

These rallies have been under the guise of "police are humans too," but if this is true, then why is it that a person who shoplifts could spend time in jail while a police officer who has murdered another human being walks free? The fact is that most of the people who have organized and attended these support rallies are some of the most vicious supporters of police brutality and murder, and they think that anybody killed by a police officer "had it coming." They defend the actions of police and outright say that Ian Birk did the right thing in murdering John T. Williams. They insist that if the police can't kill and brutalize people at their own discretion than Seattle will be in chaos. When police murder is intensifying, with black and Latino people taking the brunt of it, it is right to characterize these forces as nothing less than defenders of a modern day lynch mob.

Those who think that the Seattle Police Department has backed down on their brutality, or are on the defensive, are wrong.

These support rallies need to be met with much more opposition. In a time when killer cops walk free, why should defenders of police brutality be the ones who are most visible in the streets? We have not forgotten the grief and tears of the families who have had their loved ones lives stolen by the police. We know being visible makes a difference and we know that it is outrageous to stay on the sidelines as these people insist that they hold the moral high ground. It is righteous and just to fight for a world where people are not gunned down, degraded and brutalized by the police on a daily basis. It is righteous and just to fight for a world in which all people from all backgrounds are treated like human beings. Be out in force to tell the truth and to show the world that Seattle does not support police brutality. Might does not make right! In fact there were far more people out protesting against police brutality, not that long ago, and we are calling you out to the streets again, to oppose the justification of police brutality and murder.

We call on everyone who has lost a loved one, or is outraged by police brutality to be out there to speak the truth. Bring signs that shine a light on this epidemic and stand-up to say NO to Police Brutality.

Friday, April 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm: South West Precinct, 2300 S.W. Webster Seattle, WA 98106

Friday, April 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm: South Precinct, 3001 South Myrtle Street Seattle, WA 98108

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm: North Precinct, 10049 College Way North Seattle, WA 98133

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