Sunday, December 23, 2007

Community Calls for Freedom for Liberty City 7

Press Release
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Community Activists Demand Freedom For the Liberty City 7
for immediate release

CopWatch and other community organizations, led by CopWatch, are calling for the Justice Department to drop all charges against the Liberty City 7 and to release all seven men so they can spend the holiday with their loved ones. The press conference will be held on Monday, December 24, 2007 at 10:00AM in front of the warehouse used by the group on NW 15th Ave. at 63rd St.

Following the highly publicized arrests in the summer of 2006, including a press conference by then Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, community members and legal experts raised questions about the quality of those arrests, given the dubious charges and claims by prosecutors that seven impoverished and unarmed black men concocted a viable plan to overthrow the United States government.

Days after the arrests, CopWatch organized a press conference raising questions about the political nature of the charges, rhetoric and timing of the raid, set to coincide with an appearance of the FBI director on the Larry King show. At the time, the New York Times was set to release a story about the Bush Administration spying on the financial transactions of millions of American citizens. Subsequent media coverage of seven "home grown terrorists" easily outpaced that of stories recounting government spying on US citizens. Since then, the Justice Department has been hammered with accuasations of politically motivated investigations and arrests, ultimately resulting in the resignation of Attorney General Gonzalez.

Since then, the seven men faced prosecutors and a jury which could not find six of the men guilty, but did acquit one defendant, Lyglenson Lemorin, outright. In spite of his acquittal, Lemorin remains in the custody of federal immigration officials and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, even though he is a legal resident found guilty of no crimes. Community organizations argue that the arrests were motivated by political considerations, not national security. The men are no threat to anyone, and, therefore, all charges should be dropped.

"In this political climate, the fact that a jury refused to convict a group of men charged with terrorism speaks volumes about the weakness of the case against them," says Max Rameau of CopWatch. "The US government is using the 'war on terror' to advance a domestic political agenda. In addition to costing time and money, in addition to ruining the lives of these men and their families, this is not making anyone safer."

The groups are calling on the Justice Department to drop all charges and cancel the upcoming new trial set for January 7, 2008.  Community organizations and individuals will speak at the event.


Max Rameau, CopWatch

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Killer cops back on the street

In the midst of what Miami-Dade police cynically call an
"investigation" into whether cops unlawfully shot and killed two men
and injured one woman, those same two cops are back on the street
where they can shoot even more unarmed people in cars- and they did.

On November 12, 2007 Officers Michael Mendez and Ryan Robinson killed
Frisco Blackwood and Michael Knight, and injured a female passenger,
in a barrage of bullets targeting the SUV in which they sat. Less than
30 days later, the pair was at it again, this time shooting, but
fortunately not killing, Robert De Armas, who was in a car as well, on
23rd St. and NW 18th Ave.

This means that two police officers, under an ongoing investigation
ostensibly designed to determine if they murdered two civilians, were
allowed back on patrol, this time under the auspices of an aggressive
police program, the RID, commonly known as the "jumpouts."

The development is disturb ing on many levels, none so more than this:
Miami-Dade blatantly disregards community will, outrage and the
possible wrongdoing by officers in the line of duty. Top brass
continues blind support of cops who commit wrongdoings under the color
of law, as the Black community continues to bury young men killed at
the hands of police.

The community is outraged and hurt by the rash of police shootings and
the police responds by putting the cops at whom the outrage is
directed back on the streets in our community. During an ongoing
investigation of wrongdoing.

The harsh truth is that there is no credible investigation of any of
the deaths at the hands of police being conducted either by Miami-Dade
police or the State Attorney's office. They are not investigating
Christopher Villano, the cop who killed BG Beaugris in North Miami.
Nor the cops who tased, kicked, beat and hogtied Roger Brown prior to
his death. And, obviously, there is no serious investigation of
Michael Mendez and Ryan Robinson, together shooting at Michael Knight
and Frisco Blackwood over 20 times.

It appears as if when a cop is involved in the shooting of unarmed
Black people, a shooting invoking controversy and outrage in the
broader community, Miami-Dade police take those cops off of uniformed
duty and place them, instead, on undercover duty, as "jumpouts," in a
Black or Latino community, from where they can shoot, and possibly
kill more Blacks and other people of color.

The Black and broader community must understand that when the police
say they are conducting a thorough investigation of their own, they
are lying. There is no good faith investigation or even intent to
conduct a thorough investigation. Now it is evident that there is not
even an attempt to pretend as if there is an ongoing investigation.

Equally as important, after police complete an "investigation" of
other police and clear them of all wrongdoing, they are lying.

We are not children and have no interest in being humored or
patronized. The police regularly lie to us about fair and thorough
investigations, and that practice must stop. Instead of lying before
the community and the media about intentions to conduct an
"investigation," the police should simply state the truth: police are
allowed to shoot Black people virtually at will, and, therefore, there
is no need for an investigation.

This honesty will improve police-community relations as the community
realizes the police are no longer lying to us. In addition, the move
will save countless administrative hours and money currently wasted on
fake investigations and meaningless reports on behalf of the police
and the state attorney's office.

In the mean time, there is a fundamental unfairness in forcing members
of the Black community to pay taxes for a police force unwilling to
adhere to our demands and cries. The fundamental power relationship
between the police and the community is askew. The Black community
must, therefore, develop alternate means of securing our communities,
including against out of control police forces with no respect for our


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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Umoja Village Photo Book


I am proud to announce the release of the Umoja Village Photo Book and invite you to purchase your own copy at:

The book tells the story of the Umoja Village Shantytown, from the frantic first days all the way through the fire- and the protests which followed. This photo essay includes 25 pages of professionally shot photographs donated by Jhon Luna, Rolfe Ross, Cindy Karp and Noelle Theard.

See the shanties, the residents, the victories and the results of the devastating fire, all in a full color 9 x 7 photo book. The story is compelling and the photographs are beautiful.

The Umoja Village Photo Book is just $30 (plus shipping) from and a portion of the proceeds will go to Take Back the Land to continue our great work. Thank you for your interest and support.


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

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Community Outraged at Police Beating 74 year old Activist into a Coma

CopWatch and other community organizations and individuals are holding a press conference to condemn the beating of 74 year old Bernie Dyer by the Miami Beach Police. The beating takes place shortly after Miami-Dade police killed four (4) unarmed black men in 19 days. The press conference will be held on Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 2:00pm in front of Bernie's apartment building, 1745 Marseille Dr. in Miami Beach.

On Friday, November 23, Dyer was suffering a mental health crisis in his Miami Beach apartment. When his family heard the news, they came to explain to police Dyer's history of mental health crisis, dating back to his service in Vietnam. The family explained Dyer was of no threat to anyone, and that if allowed, at 74 years old, he would eventually wear himself out and fall asleep. After assurances that the police understood the situation, family members left the scene. Police then lobbed several canisters of tear gas into the one bedroom apartment before storming in and beating Bernie Dyer.

After more than a week, Bernie Dyer remains in a coma at Mt. Sinai Hospital. At the press conference, Bernie's family will speak about his condition and prognosis.

After organizing in Harlem, NY, Bernie Dyer moved to Miami in the mid 1960s, eventually directing the Liberty City Community Council, an organization financed by the Christian Community Service Agency, located on 62nd St. and NW 12th Ave. in the heart of Liberty City. Dyer played a significant role in restoring calm following civil unrest in 1968 and 1980. His role in calling out injustice was so controversial that his family was forced to flee the country, briefly, in order to avoid persecution by the police and others in positions of power.

Dyer also played a significant role in building the community, helping to found a number of organizations, including the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation.

The attack on Bernie Dyer raises serious questions about the actions and attitudes of police, such as why Miami Beach police required several cans of tear gas, a swat team  and physical brutality to "subdue" a 74 year old man; what are appropriate responses to people enduring a mental health crisis; and is this beating part of a larger trend of police abuse, one which already has taken the lives of 4 black men in 19 days in Miami-Dade County.

Several community members and organizations will speak at the event.

To reach the location from Miami, take 79th St. across the causeway and into the Normandy Isles neighborhood. At the light, turn LEFT at Esplanalde and then another LEFT at Marseille Dr.


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