Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Community Protests Detroit Police Shootings and Arrests

Community Protests Police Shootings and Arrests

Escalation in brutality met with growing activism

by Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Over a hundred people gathered on Detroit's west side at Euclid and Holmur on May 31 to protest the shooting of three African American youth earlier in the month. Residents of the community and relatives of the victims say that the shooting was unprovoked.

On May 20 witnesses say that Detroit police officers walked onto a porch on Montgomery street and then shot three people, one of which, Antonio Jennings, 24, was critically wounded.

Jennings' mother, Titania Ship, said that her son was shot five times. His wounds were so severe that he was revived twice at the hospital.

Jennings is in police custody and is being charged with attempted murder, felonious assault and carrying a concealed weapon.

"I have no information on the circumstances surrounding the shooting of my son. I was not allowed to see him at the hospital. Due to the intervention of his lawyer, I was able to speak to him once over the telephone," Shipp said.

Jennings' attorney, Gordana Misovski, also attended the rally. "In my years as a practicing attorney I have not seen anything of this magnitude," Misovski told the Pan-African News Wire.

Christopher Norman, 19, who was slightly wounded in the shooting incident, was arrested on May 30 for allegedly standing on a corner. His mother, Teenica Banks, chaired the rally on May 31. She told the Pan-African News Wire that the shooting had taken place at her mother's home.

Members of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality helped organize the rally and issued a list of four demands which are as follows: "an apology from Detroit Mayor David Bing and Police Chief James Barren on the officer's conduct and the payment of restitution and repair of damage that police inflicted on the home at which the shooting took place."

Two other demands called for an "investigation of the incident in question by the Detroit City Council, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and the U.S. Department of Justice along with the charging of the officers by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office."

During the May 31 rally, police pulled up to a group of African American youth near the location of the gathering. The cops jumped out of their vehicles and ordered the youth against a fence.

The police were dressed in riot gear and wore masks. Several rally participants walked over to the area of the police stop and inquired as to whether the officers had warrants. The police then backed off and left the scene.

The wounding of these youth follows a pattern of increased police misconduct and brutality in Detroit. On April 10, Robert Mitchell, 16, of Detroit was chased back into the city and tased by the Warren Police. Mitchell later died from his injuries.

The mother of the deceased 16-year-old, Cora Mitchell, attended the rally on May 31 and expressed her concern for the three youths and their families. On May 21, 300 people demonstrated in the northeast Detroit neighborhood and in Warren against the failure of the Wayne County Prosecutor to file criminal charges against the police officers involved in Mitchell's death.

Representatives of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions attended the rally on May 31 and encouraged the participants to attend the upcoming People's Summit that will be held in Grand Circus Park from June 14-17. The Summit has been endorsed by over 40 organizations and people from various parts of the United States are planning to attend.

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