Monday, July 30, 2007

Sacramento and the Struggle for Citizen's Control of Law Enforcement

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,

The struggle for Citizen control and accountability of law enforcement in California is a 24/7 one. The latest attempt by members of the California Legislature and others to bring more accountability and transparency to law enforcement, SB1019, has been held up in committee after the June 26th hearing.

On May 5th we saw the need for this accountability plainly demonstrated by the outrageous actions of the LAPD’s unnecessary and excessive use of force against the lawfully gathered citizens who they attacked after the May Day Rally there. Well today I come to you with another incident to report.

My oldest daughter, Halima, a beautiful young actress, was falsely arrested and physically assaulted by LAPD officers who failed to identify themselves or marandize her properly on the evening of July 4th. They had no reason to arrest her, and they used excessive force on her, also without reason.

I have attached her initial statement, which explains the situation much better than I can here. She was traumatized by the situation, but with our help and the power of the Most High she is recovering. She is still bruised, sore, and dismayed that this happened. The manner in which it happened clearly shows the need for better over-site and training of the LAPD. It also shows that not much has changed with the LAPD.

In addition the subsequent actions of the LAPD after she was booked, show that there is an extreme disregard to procedure and records when it comes to Black and Hispanic people.

We are planning to file official complaints against all officers involved, and the LAPD. I’m contacting you because we will need help with notifying the press in LA, and contacting organizations and activists like yourselves to help with pressuring LAPD and the City to hold the officers accountable for their actions. So please read the attached document, and if you feel as angry and disgusted as we do, contact me. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. We must put an end to police officers feeling they are above the citizenry and can do whatever they feel because they aren’t being held accountable.

Aluta! Continua!!

Rev Ashiya Odeye
Justice Reform Coalition
900 G ST., Suite 302
Sacramento, CA 95814
916 452-1293
916 267-4199 c

It was late. I was coming home from work, looking for parking, and my mind was on getting home, walking the dog, and going to bed. I made the left-hand turn from -- to --scoping the area for parking along the way. I don’t normally like parking on this street because it’s a really shady area (dark, loads of break-ins, etc.)

About half-way down the block I noticed shadowy figures in the middle of the street with flashlights looking down at the ground. My best guess, considering all the used fireworks on the ground was that these people were just lighting more fireworks.

I moved to drive around them, one of them flashed a light in my eyes so I couldn’t see who it was and yelled for me to stop. But I was NOT going to stop for some random guy yelling at me in the street! Guys try to stop you all the time and talk to you but you have to just ignore them for the sake of safety.

I stopped my car and he lowered his flashlight and approached me. He told me to back up the car. I looked around and noticed loads of people milling about on the sidewalk and the surrounding areas.

I tried twice to ask him what was going on but his only retorts were for me to follow his orders and then simply because he said so. At the time I found that remark to be a bit funny and chuckled because only my mother has ever successfully said that to me.

Well I didn’t want to reverse all the way back up the block especially when I was already on the corner. He told me to get out of the car and I remember looking up at him and his face…he looked so sinister to me! His face seemed swollen with hate and anger and his eyes were squinted and just piercing. So I told him no thank you.

I was NOT getting out of the only protection I had against him I didn’t care WHO he was or what badge of power someone had given him! While we were talking, another cop came in through the passenger side window and turned off the car and put it in park. I was scared and I just wanted to get out of there. I offered to finish pulling around the corner.

I was very terrified of this man and confused and had no idea what was going on. The officer who was talking to me reached into the car through the window, grabbed my wrist and yanked it out the window trying to pull me out and I guess give me an Indian burn.

I took my arm back and checked on it and the bracelet I was wearing and he repeated the action of reaching into my car through the window, grabbing my wrist, yanking it out the window to pull me out and give me an Indian burn.

His partner unclipped my seat belt, unlocked the door and from there things got really rough, crazy and confusing. I’m not as clear about the details but I’ll do my best. I was ripped from the safety of my car by three or four cops, forced over to a police car that was parked just behind my car. They wrenched my hands behind my back, and pushed them way far up my back, passed where they normally go on their own.

They kept telling me too relax but the "resistance” they felt was my body’s natural resistance to my arms being so twisted. But they just kept right on shoving! My cell phone dropped on the ground and my stylus fell out, by bracelet had broken and fallen off my wrist and my shoes were hanging on by only their ankle straps.

I remember asking them to put on my shoes and being ignored. My mind was just as jumbled as my body and in trying to straighten things out I guess I got a bit fixated on two things; getting my shoes back on and getting my WHOLE bracelet back.

Well, while the left handcuff was overly tight and cutting off my circulation the right one was really loose and it didn’t take hardly more than a shake and a pull to get out of it.

I got one shoe on but before I could get the other one on three or four more cops yanked me from the car, pinned me too the ground with their knees in my back and tied up my ankles with a nylon strap which was then shut in the door.

No one said anything to me for a long while after that. I struggled in the back seat very angry and even more scared. I saw him out there talking to the others and glancing back at me.

I think they were calling a female cop over to the scene in order to search me and getting their stories straight. I began yelling at him to give me my bracelet back. Over and over again I said this but no one acknowledged I was even there.

Finally someone acknowledged me and said he was going to get it and asked me to please calm down. I was getting more and more upset (anger, fear mostly) as time went on. I was very frustrated and had lost all respect for these men, and the original policeman in particular.

Someone came back with some pieces of the bracelet but he didn’t have the stone. He went back out and found it. He wouldn’t let me hold it but said he would put it in a bag for me. I watched him do it.

I stayed in the car watching the cops just outside talk about me. I remember that at some point during this time a cop came and yanked on the strap a couple times looking angrily at me before putting the strap back in the door and closing it.

I also remember trying to get my shoe on and the nylon tie came off my left foot. I figured I’d better not let the cops know about that one or they might try to kill me or break a bone or something. A big fire truck came and some firemen got out but they didn’t stay long and soon continued on.

Then a girl police officer came and they took me out of the car. I was hoping they wouldn’t hurt me for the loose nylon strap. They didn’t and the girl told me to spread my legs. She patted me down and as she did she asked me some questions about concealed weapons, drugs and stuff. They took my flashlight and sharpie.

Another cop came to the door. This one was an older white man who said he wanted to ask me some questions to. He asked for me driver license which was given to him. He asked for my name and I pointed out that it was on the DL. He asked me if I lived around here and I said yes, I was just looking for parking.

He asked for my address and I asked him why he wanted to know and he explained that he was the senior officer or something and was going to be the one filing this report. He told me to stop asking questions that he was going to be the one asking all the questions and that it would be better for me to just answer them. I felt threatened by that statement.

I said that I thought I was allowed to ask questions and he nodded and said I could ask questions after he was done and tell my story and he would put it in the report. I didn’t believe him but I answered his questions anyway since I had no way of defending myself.

All he asked anyway was stats like height and weight. Then he told me to sit in the car and he put all his writing pad and stuff away.

He told me to get back in the car all the way and I asked him if he was going to listen to my story. He said yes but as I was talking I could tell that he was not that interested because he mostly kept his eyes on the surrounding commotion and would glance back at me and chuckle from time to time.

Finally he cut me off and asked if I’d “slipped my cuffs.” I told him it was to put my shoe on and was about to say more when he cut me off again to tell me that I was not allowed to do that and basically scolded me.

He said I was probably going to be arrested but when I asked for what he kept talking saying they were going to take me down to the station and could ask more questions there.

I guess that was all he was concerned about because then I was put back in the car without the strap. I got the impression from everything that had happened so far and from little snippets of conversation that there had been a shooting and that they were calling in another female cop to take me to the station.

One showed up, I saw her talking to some of the other officers. She came over, opened the door asked me my name and I asked hers, Cisco, and she said she was going to take me to the station to book me and so I could get arrested.

She told me I was to be arrested for not doing what the other guy told me to do. I told her that I was simply asking why and she explained that sometimes officers tell you to do stuff for your own safety. I told her how I’d offered to go around the corner and she said that it was possible that there was still some danger over there and that they may have needed to clear the area.

I told her about how there were all these people milling about the area and how the cops themselves were completely unconcerned with what was or wasn’t around the corner until just now and still hadn’t cleared the area for public safety and why didn’t they block the street? Cisco offered that maybe they didn’t have enough time.

He asked if I understood what was going to happen to me. I said yes got out of the car, and her male partner grabbed my arm roughly and pulled me away. I told him I wanted to wait for her and he said she was right behind us and kept pulling.

I said I would be more comfortable if she were there and stopped to which his response was to ask me if I was crazy and if I was taking medications or drugs. I asked him if he was. He didn’t reply.

He asked if I’d ever been arrested before. This guy was a real sarcastic smart-ass so I asked if he had ever been arrested. He said “yeah,” chuckled and said that you don’t get to be a policeman if you’ve been arrested.

That was news to me! Finally she came over and we walked to the car and I was put in.

I remember my handcuff was still really tight and my hand was starting to be affected. They took me and put me in a cell. I tried to calm myself down with some meditation. I kept expecting them to read me my rights since I was getting arrested but I guessed that would happen later.

Cisco took a few of my things off me, my belt and my other bracelet. Gamble talked to me about the charges I would be arrested for and asked me if I understood them. I understood what they said I did but I told him I’d done nothing wrong.

I’d told everyone I’d done nothing wrong but no one seemed to care. I didn’t want to be arrested and I tried to talk to someone who could help me. Cisco said that the decision had already been made to arrest me by the original policeman. She said that they had to take me somewhere else to book me.

So we got back in the car and when we got to the station, she had me sit on a bench outside the station in the parking structure, she asked me some questions, including what sexual orientation I am. Took me inside the station put me on another bench and waited.

She by then my left hand was in a great deal of pain. I was trying to rub it to get some circulation back into it as it seemed to be turning colors. Cisco finally took the cuffs off me.

I tried to meditate to calm myself down but by then I was too frightened and couldn’t calm down. Plus there was another cop there with some guy in handcuffs who asked what the “Dali Llama” was doing and that upset me. I saw a nurse and a doctor, they took me into another hallway and fingerprinted me, they had me walk through a metal detector, and then they put me in a cell.

As the cell door closed I hear Cisco say “Good Luck.” From then on out I had no track of time. I made several phone calls. I had to glean information off of the other prisoners that were there to even figure out where exactly I was! I must have been there for several hours before they moved us upstairs.

I fell asleep in one of the bunks not knowing if anyone was out there for me. When I woke up the first time I was in great pain. My wrists were swollen to where on my left hand you couldn’t even see the bone. I found that I couldn’t squeeze my fists tight.

I could hardly bend my elbows without feeling intense soreness and the same was true for my back and shoulders. I couldn’t even easily open or hold a door open without wincing from the pressure of those heavy doors.

I used my hips where I could. Sleeping was my only solace and even that was hard because it hurt to lie in any position or to switch position because of the pain in all the joints of my arms and the intense soreness of my back.

I slept as much as possible and tried really hard not to cry when I was awake. I didn’t know what to do or what options I had or what. I got a hold of my boyfriend and he said he was on his way to get me out. I felt a little better after that.

Mostly I was just scared and tried not to talk much since I didn’t know who these ladies were and what they were capable of.

Some of them seemed crazy, some were on some serious drugs, and others seemed very tough! I thought if I just stayed quiet and harmless they would leave me alone. All I wanted was to get out of there.

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