Deep-Rooted Tears: Mothers and Activists Talk About Police Brutality Against Disabled People of Color

POOR correspondent - Posted on 22 June 2010

Tiny Sunday, October 31, 2004 "I am the mother of 2 African American young men - one of them is Bipolar …what am I going to do the next time my son gets a manic attack? As this mother spoke her voice trembled with deep rooted tears born form the ongoing assault by the police on the civil and human rights of disabled people of color all over Amerikka who live day to day in trepidation and fear of the next "search and seizure", harassment or like this mother, murder. This tearful mother spoke at the Q&A section of one of the most powerful "panels" I have attended this year; The War on the Disabled, people of color, speak out, fight back against police brutality, sponsored by The Freedom Socialist Party, Race and Disability Consultants Inc, and POOR Magazine. The panel was moderated by revolutionary poet, race and disability consultant, and PNN's own illin and chillin columnist Leroy Moore and included the mothers of police shooting victims Cammerin Boyd and Idriss Stelly, Marylon Boyd and Mesha Irizarry, as well as, Nellie Wong, from Comrades of Color, Malaika Parker for Bay Area Police Watch, and, Labor activist and mental health worker with The City and County of San Francisco, Roland Washington "Its not about whether you committed a crime - its about an out of control police department- in fact a lot of out of control police departments- but its also about officers not being trained, but even more clearly its about not enough resources in our communities, police officers should not be responding to medical emergencies" After Malaika presented the cases of disabled folks of color who had been the victims of fatal police shootings, including Joseph Timms and Cammerin Boyd, she got the root of these senseless crimes, i.e., the fact that police officers should NOT be called out on 911 emergencies that are really 5150 ( ie mentally ill) emergencies. "They are trained in combat, and that is not appropriate training for someone suffering from a mental health crisis." Malaika concluded with calling out for the need for "Real training in mental health crisis for cops and most importantly, discipline, cause without that the training means nothing" Readers of PNN and the SF Bayview, are well aware of the current fatal shootings of Young African Descendent citizens of the Bay Area, i.e., Cammerin Boyd, Idriss Stelly, Joseph Timms and at least 26 others in the last four years but one of the reasons this panel was so important is the not so well- known factor of these young brothers disability, and when the corporate media reports on these shootings, its reported as the shooting of "a Black youth, or Asian Female" or other media sponsored stereotypes, which in its depiction automatically releases the cops of the culpability for the death of not only another man or woman of color but of the shooting of a Disabled man or woman. "As a mental health worker who works specifically with homeless Black mentally ill folks in San Francisco, all I can say is, this has got to stop, just stop" Ron Washington, who spoke as a scholar from so many fronts made a point of connecting the dots of his work as a Labor organizer, housing advocate and mental health activist, " I have worked on these police training's, and they only go so far, so maybe we need to do something pre-emptive as a community when we know folks have a problem," Roland described how he personally has been "touched" by the Police departments profiling of African Descendent males as a standard procedure and how it just made him all the more dedicated to seeing the end of this kind of murder. "I'm already Black, do you think I need a double diagnosis" The next inspiring speaker was human rights activist, advocate, writer, and mother of Idriss Stelly, African descendent youth of 23 who was shot in the Metreon Theatre in 2002 by police, who quoted her multi-talented son, Idriss, who as well as being a teacher, activist and actor in his own right was also very aware of all of the dangers of being a young Black man in Amerikka with a psychological disability. Mesha outlined the entire story of her son's tragic case including the way that the police interrogated her and Idriss' girlfriend to cover-up the accountability of the police in the death of her son. "It is very important for folks to come to the Police Review Commission hearings" She concluded her compelling story with the plea that we must attend the commission hearings and that if we don't keep holding these public officials accountable they will drop the ball. Which this PNN writer would also urge, seeing as the people, led in large part by Mesha and her tireless work for justice for parents who have lost their children to this kind of violence, were able to get the police review commission to actually be a more community led body rather than the puppet body that it was before the ballot initiative prop H. "More money for War means less money for domestic violence at home, and as a disabled elder of color I am acutely aware of this kind of police violence" the last speaker of the panel was the poet, writer, vibrant fighter for justice and representative from the Comrades of Color Caucus of the Freedom Socialist Party who connected the larger illegal wars on poor people all over the world as well as the civil rights crimes of the so-called patriot act and other attacks put into full effect by Real Terrorists The Bush administration and its troupes. As well, Nellie brought out the issues of capitalism and the root causes of violence against poor people of color by police. Finally, The floor was opened up to a very powerful Q&A session in which there were many more voices of scholarship from folks who are resisting these abuses everyday including the announcement of the Bush Administrations October Plan which aims to turn the streets of Amerikka into a pseudo state of Martial Law in October in honor of the upcoming election and how we as people must answer back by getting involved in the organizing work that is struggling to resist these oppressive realities including the work of the October 22nd coalition which will lead a march against police murder and abuse, The Million Worker March, and The Cammerin Boyd Action Committee which will have its first meeting Monday, October 11th at 6:00 pm at 54 Mint street in San Francisco. Through the work of all these wonderful folks and through the one on one work of mothers everywhere maybe we can solve these senseless crimes and in turn come up with real solutions for mothers and fathers of youth of color everywhere.


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