Friday, November 23, 2007

Rally Against Police Abuse on Saturday 4:00PM. 4 Dead in 19 Days.


In just 19 days, 4 unarmed Black men died at the hands of one department: Miami-Dade Police. And they want the right to carry shotguns.

On Saturday, November 24, 2007, beginning at 4:00PM, the community will rally for justice and against police abuse at the Miami-Dade Police Intracoastal Station, located on Biscayne Blvd. and 156th St. in North Miami. The rally will follow the funerals of Michael Knight and Frisco Blackwood, two men shot dead by Miami-Dade Police on November 12.

Virtually anywhere else, the violent deaths of four unarmed people by one police department would trigger headline news and federal investigations. However, in 2007's Miami-Dade County, the deaths have not been tied together by the media or even elicited any public statements by elected officials, not even the Black ones. The shocking silence of the elected officials and the unwillingness of the media to ask questions, speaks volumes about the state of Black people in this part of the United States.

However, in a real demonstration of people power, the Haitian-American and African-American communities, along with people of good will of every race and nationality, are joining for a single rally for justice for all victims of police brutality. This rally might usher in a new day in communities fighting injustice together, rather than separately.

Over the past few months, Miami-Dade Police have launched a series of aggressive police sweeps, targeting Black communities and people. These aggressive police units- locally known as the "jumpouts"- feature police jumping out of unmarked cars with guns drawn and pointed while barking orders to scared and confused people. Men, women and children in Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown, North Miami and other Black communities are forced to lay down on the ground, take off their shoes and socks and endure disrespectful treatment, even when doing nothing wrong at all. The end result was predictable: the same police encouraged to and rewarded when engaged in overly-aggressive police tactics, killed four unarmed Black men in 19 days.

On October 25, 19 year old BG Beaugris talked with his younger brother and two friends a mere 100 feet from his own apartment, having just completed his father's laundry. Undercover "jumpout" Christopher Villano saw four Black men and, according to Villano's lawyer, considered them "suspicious." Villano jumped out of his unmarked car, gun drawn, and ordered the young men against the wall. After finding nothing illegal or dangerous, Villano engaged in a verbal argument with BG before jumping on him and placing him in a headlock. With his free hand, Villano drew his weapon and shot BG once. As he lay on the ground injured, Villano shot BG twice more, killing him.

On November 7, Roger Brown was apparently driving erratically before being stopped by school and Miami-Dade police. Several cops jumped on the 40 year old Brown, claiming he was resistant, behavior typical of individuals suffering a mental health crisis. According to witnesses, after tasing Brown, police kicked him in the face and beat him with night sticks before placing him in a "hogtie" position and throwing him in the back of a cruiser. Brown stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

On November 12, Frisco Blackwood and Michael Knight were dropping a friend off at her Little Haiti home. A marked Miami-Dade police car followed them and eventually pulled them over, allegedly for running a red light. The rented SUV pulled into a dead end- leaving the three with nowhere to run, even if they wanted to- and the police jumped out of their cruiser with guns drawn on the car, all for running a red light. The guns and barked orders made Blackwood nervous and police open fired when the vehicle did not do exactly what the cops wanted it to. After getting hit by multiple bullets, Blackwood's body convulsed uncontrollably, throwing the vehicle into reverse. The female passenger in the back seat was shot in the leg and survived watching her friends die at the hands of the police.

These deaths would not happen in wealthy white neighborhoods, not because there are no criminals there, but because police do not jumpout with guns drawn on traffic stops or on white people doing their laundry. We urge all people of justice to demand an end to the unfair police practices in the Black community.

Attend the rally on Saturday, November 24, 4:00pm at the Miami-Dade Intracoastal Station, Biscayne Blvd. and 156th St. We also urge you to attend services for Frisco and Michael.

Services for Michael Knight
Viewing • Friday, November 23 • 6:00PM-9:00PM • Poitier Funeral Home • 2321 NW 62nd St. • Liberty City, FL
Funeral • Saturday, November 24 • 10:00AM • Jordan Grove Baptist • 5946 NW 12th Ave • Liberty City, FL

Services for Frisco Blackwood
Viewing • Friday, November 23 • 9:00AM-9:00PM • Wright Funeral Home • 15332 NW 7th Ave. • Miami, FL
Funeral • Saturday, November 24 • 2:00PM •  Westview Baptist • 13301 NW 24th Ave. • Opa-Locka, FL 

CopWatch • Haitian American Grassroots Coalition • Power U Youth • Miami Workers Center • Haiti Solidarity Committee • Bolivarian Youth • Veye-Yo • South Florida Peace & Justice Network • Miami-Dade NAACP


Max Rameau
a project of the Center for Pan-African Development


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