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September 2014 M T W T F S S « Aug 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
- Chicano Moratorium Press Conference–From the Frontlines of Ferguson
- Government Sanctioned Murder by Cop
- St Louis, Ferguson, Michael Brown and Why I’m Not Surprised
- LinkedIn stats on Chicano/Hispanic/Mexican American/Puerto Rican Studies grads
- Bring Hollywood Home News Release on Outsourcing Legislation
Government-sanctioned Murder by Cop – in Sonoma County and Beyond
by Elbert “Big Man” Howard August 19th, 2014
It is late at night and I am watching the 24-hour coverage by the major television news media stations of the murder of Michael Brown and the goings-on in Ferguson, Missouri. I am very tired but still I watch, transfixed. Once again, a young, unarmed Black man, an 18-year-old child really, had been gunned down by a cop in broad daylight, for all to see. Brown was not shot during the commission of a crime but in a position of surrender with his hands held up. Yet, still he was shot, at least six times, including once in the top of his head.
The news media reporters in Ferguson are now being charged by law enforcement with making actions by “outside agitators” worse and many of them have been tear-gassed , and some arrested, along with peaceful protestors, who have not been allowed to stand still and have to keep moving. Now the people are told to disperse or be arrested, although the two-day curfew has been lifted. The images of the multitude of combat-ready, armed-to-the-teeth, totally militarized law enforcement officers, including the National Guard and the arrests occurring before my eyes, the tear-gassing and the anger, are all too familiar to me. I am now seventy-six years old, and still here, despite being one of an “endangered species” both as an African-American male, and also as one of the original six founders of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which formed in October 1966, originally for the purpose of ridding our communities of police brutality and murderous, racist, bullying cops.
The murder of 13-year-old Andy Lopez on October 22nd, 2013, and the decision, so many months later, by Sonoma County D.A. Jill Ravitch, to clear Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus of the crime, is still fresh in my mind. I think of the mind-boggling, insulting, reprehensible decision to send Gelhaus back out this week to patrol and terrorize the Latino community members and others – no surprise to me, but sickening all the same. It was a bright and sunny day that October 22nd, recognized as the date for all to stand up against police brutality, when Gelhaus, a “trained weapons instructor and firearms expert”, spotted Andy, who was carrying a toy gun and was on his way to a friend’s house. Within seconds, Gelhaus fired eight shots, seven of which struck and killed 13-year-old Andy.
So many other victims come to mind, like Oscar Grant, the young Black man who was shot down and killed while handcuffed, defenseless and on the ground, by a Bart policeman in Alameda County. An unarmed young Trayvon Martin in Florida was returning home when an armed security guard decided to follow him because he “looked suspicious” and then killed him. Eric Garner, 43, died on July 17th, after an officer put him in a choke hold while other officers held him down,during an arrest on Staten Island. No first aid was administered to him by either the police or the EMTs. In Santa Monica, on the side of a freeway, this past July, we saw on video, 51-year-old grandmother Marlene Pinnock being held down on the ground and beaten by a uniformed cop, without apparent reason.
No cop has ever been arrested for any of these crimes, except for Oscar Grant’s killer, who was incarcerated for a few short months. Why? It could be said that law enforcement organizations make large contributions to select political candidates and leaders which keep them in control and in power. When public protests against police brutality occur, the police roll out their military dress and hardware, which include automatic guns, armored personnel carriers and tanks. Most of this hardware is issued to the state and county by the US Department of Homeland Security.
As we have seen in Ferguson, Missouri, military force is now what meets those engaged in peaceful protests. All human and civil rights appear to be null and void, as does the Constitution. Yet we continue to elect officials who trample on our rights and allow killer cops to shoot down our children of color, and others, in cold blood. Make no mistake about it – what we are seeing here is a POLICE STATE.
I am reminded of what James Baldwin said in 1966, “The law is meant to be my servant, not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer.” If we, as a society, are judged by how humanely our governing bodies and their hired “enforcers” treat human beings, in this country and abroad, we have absolutely devolved and failed our children and the generations to come, miserably.
Elbert “Big Man” Howard Santa Rosa, CA
Elbert “Big Man” Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party and is an author, lecturer, volunteer radio DJ and community activist in Sonoma County.
February 8, 1968, South Carolina State University at Orangeburg, 3 killed and 23 wounded by police while protesting racial segregation.
May 4, 1970, 4 killed, 9 wounded by Ohio National Guard at Kent State University during Vietnam War protest.
May 8, 1970, 11 students and journalists bayoneted at University of New Mexico by New Mexico National Guard during Vietnam War Protest.
August 29, 1970, journalist Ruben Salazar and two members of the Brown Berets killed by Los Angeles Sheriffs at then-Laguna Park (now Salazar Park) when law enforcement attacked a peaceful anti-war/Chicano Power demonstration of 30,000 people in East Los Angeles.
August 13, 2014 IN ST. LOUIS/FERGUSON: Demonstrator shot and two reporters (Washington Post and Huffington Post) arrested; media ordered by police to turn off their cameras before they attacked both demonstrators and journalists. An Al Jazeera news crew was attacked by police with tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bags.
Sound like a pattern?
Why am I not surprised?
I happen to love St. Louis and Missouri. I was there in 1972 and 1975 for the People’s Party (Peace & Freedom Party’s national affiliate) national conventions where we nominated Dr. Benjamin Spock and Black Panther Education Minister Margaret Wright for President in those years. Missouri geology reminds me in a strange way of California; because of major geological faulting and earthquakes, the strata is usually on a 25% slant, similar to the way that strata along California roadways is never lying straight and very unlike most of the rest of mid-America.
Years later I returned to St. Louis to work some cases there as a private investigator (before Missouri had its own licensing law). What I learned about Missouri politics, law enforcement and sociology makes me as jaded about that State as I am about government corruption and law enforcement misconduct in Los Angeles, California and for that matter, about most of the world.
Several things you have to understand about St. Louis is that St. Louis City is NOT part of St. Louis County. Usually in America all cities are part of counties and some, like San Francisco are a combined City and County, St. Louis City is one of only two cities in the United States that aren’t part of a county. The other city with this status is Baltimore, Maryland.
The City of St. Louis is a Democratic Party controlled town. No Republican has represented any significant portion of the City since 1953 in the House of Representatives, as just one example. While in 1940 only 13% of the population was African American, as of 2010 the census showed it to be just under 50% black, 3 ½% Hispanic, and just under 3% Asian.
St. Louis County on the other hand is around 70% white and about ¼ of the population is African American. It was a bastion of Confederate support in the civil war, as opposed to St. Louis City which even then had significant abolitionist sentiment amongst the German American immigrant population. Inspired by Karl Marx’s call to support the Union cause, three brigades of German Americans enlisted, one known as the Karl Marx Brigade and another named the Carl Schurz Brigade after their German American abolitionist U.S. Senator.
If you live in one of the old Confederate strongholds in Missouri you pronounce the state’s name “Missoura” and you’ll grow up officially taught that Jesse James was not an outlaw but a Confederate guerrilla that never surrendered and as such, a hero of the State of Missouri.
United States vs John Gipson
I could give you the long story or the short story, but frankly, the long story is best told orally by me over drinks as some of the ways that I investigated for the defense of John Gipson and his attorney, Roger Rosen, were pretty dramatic. This however will be the short narrative….cutting to the chase so to speak.
John Gipson was set up by the St. Louis Metropolitan (City) police. They got a snitch to convince this black heroin dealer called “Process” that John Gipson was setting him up for the police. Process called Gipson about the rumors he’d been hearing so John agreed to come over and clear things up.
The police got a search warrant, ostensibly to raid Process’s apartment and then sat on it while staking out Process’s pad. When I read that in the police report that stuck out like a sore thumb because the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist once described search warrants as becoming “stale” if you don’t promptly serve them. The police waited to serve the warrant until conveniently, about a week after it was issued, John Gipson just happened to show up.
Just as John Gipson got into the apartment, a call comes in on Process’s answering machine yelling “John Gipson just set you up, John Gipson just set you up.” Then the police are breaking down the door. Process runs to a window and sets out on the window sill a pill container with capsules of heroin in it, trying to hide it, but it falls off the window sill (I had this on tape from surreptitiously recording a conversation with Process using a back-electret microphone concealed under my sweater).
The police then slap Gipson around (confirmed along with the fact that the heroin was his, by a polygraph by a retired St. Louis police officer), arrest both him and Process and then, with 11 (eleven) police alleged eyewitnesses to the events, here’s what you’d have to believe after listening to all the testimony in court. One key point: the police had to have an explanation for why they didn’t attempt to get fingerprints off the plastic pill container since that would have conclusively shown whether Process had tossed the evidence or Gipson. I found the only honest fingerprint expert in Missouri who was willing to testify for the defense or for the prosecution, truthfully, Sgt. Jan Vassal of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Her testimony about how it should have been standard procedure to test for prints on a plastic container really put the Metropolitan cops between a rock and a hard place.
Taking all the police testimony and piecing it together, the United States Attorney (the local City prosecutors wouldn’t try to get a City jury to convict on this evidence because too many black people would have been on the jury) wanted the 11-1 white jury (with 70% of the jurors having police friends, relatives, and/or neighbors; the one black juror had a sheriff for a brother and two cousins on the Metropolitan Police Force) to believe was that:
1. Sgt Doumakes of St. Louis’ finest is right handed;
2. Sgt. Doumakes was holding his gun in his right handed pointed at the second-story apartment window where Process lived above a bail bond agency;
3. Within five seconds Sgt. Doumakes observed and did the following:
(a) Supposedly observed a black male open window up a few inches and put his hand out and toss or drop the plastic container with the heroin capsules in it;
(b) Opened the window up far enough for him to put his head out, since it would have been problematic to identify one black male over another just from seeing a hand;
(c) While observing all this within the same five second period Sgt. Doumakes miraculously caught the plastic container with his left hand while continuing to hold his gun with his right hand aimed at the second story window!
As we later argued to the jury, not even Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals could have made that catch.
In the meantime in between time, what do you think happened to the tape recording on Process’s answering machine that the police promptly seized during the raid. Supposedly, it was missing about fifteen minutes of recording and was supposedly blank where Gipson claimed he heard the guy calling and accusing him of setting up Process.
We never actually used this fact in the trial, but it was obvious as to why the tape was supposedly blank at that point. Instead of actually erasing the tape, the idiot cops turned the volume down completely and recorded over it, but all that did was re-record the background noise in what they thought was a quiet room. We brought it to a sound lab at a local radio station and boosted up the background noise to the point where we could clearly hear the police dispatcher taking and making dispatch calls.
The jury deliberated three days and came back with “NOT GUILTY” on all counts.
Now if the United States Department of Justice in St. Louis had been honest and committed to the Constitution of the United States of America, they’d have prosecuted the St. Louis Metropolitan police for Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights, tampering with evidence, and perjury amongst other things. They might also have looked into the pattern of civil rights lawsuits I found against the officers in charge of the operation who been repeatedly sued for breaking into homes, shooting people, and all sorts of cash seemed to conveniently get reported as missing after the raids. It also seemed that the officers took turns each year vacationing in Hong Kong….Speculation: were they taking turns as bag men depositing stolen cash into numbered and secret Far Eastern accounts? Hmmmmmm!
None of these officers were ever called to account for their obvious frame up or any of their other civil rights violations.
So ask me if I’m surprised that Michael Brown was shot and everybody from a Ferguson State Senator to journalists have been tear gassed and/or man-handled and arrested by Missouri law enforcement…..I’m not surprised in the least.
Friday, August 1st 2014
BRING HOLLYWOOD HOME FOUNDATION URGES
AMENDING AB #1839
THE ASSEMBLY BILL IS DISCRIMINATORY AGAINST INDEPENDENT PRODUCTIONS
AND ISN’T BIG ENOUGH TO STOP JOB OUTSOURCING AND SAVE JOBS IN CALIFORNIA
(CALIFORNIA HAS LOST MORE THAN A BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF JOBS BECAUSE OF LIMITED TAX CREDIT INCENTIVES PASSED SINCE 2009)
Sharon Hardee Jimenez Founder President Bring Hollywood Home Foundation & Bill Duke Secretary Bring Hollywood Home Foundation
raising awareness of lost jobs due to runaway production urging new tax credit incentives
Director/Producer/Actor Bill Duke urges amending AB #1839 to make the bill competitive with other states and countries
Bill Duke says independent artists deserve the tax credit incentives as much as anyone else. “We must be with the future. We must support our young people. We need you to help us.” Bill Duke Secretary Bring Hollywood Home Foundation.
Raising awareness of the limited legislative effort in AB #1839, a bill that favors the special projects of members of the California Film Commission and leaves out independent producers has been a focus of Video logs online informing voters of the discriminatory nature of the special interest bill and urging reform of the California Film Commission, lifting the cap on incentives, lowering the production budget necessary to qualify for tax credits, and most importantly giving investors a reason to support independent productions in California in the same way they are supporting productions in state’s with better tax credits including New York, Louisiana, Georgia, and other destinations that have lured billions of dollars of jobs out of California benefiting the special interest groups who have lobbied the legislature on behalf of AB #1839.
Hollywood has many special interest groups that are profiting from job outsourcing. To truly Bring Hollywood Home the lawmakers must amend their special interest bill, end the discriminatory lottery, lift the cap, lower the budget amount to qualify for tax credits, increase the percentage of tax credits to support job grown in all the counties of California, and bring new transparency and accountability to the California Film Commission.” Sharon Hardee Jimenez President Founder Bring Hollywood Home. “We have been working to outreach to lawmakers, we’ve testified in Sacramento on behalf of our own bill that was killed by only one NO vote while leading lawmakers used their power to abstain from voting to kill the higher tax credit incentive bill that had no cap.” reports Jimenez. “We met with the Governor’s legislative deputy and we urged new leadership to oversee the tax credit incentives, an increase of the incentives to at least 1.4 billion (New York has a 400 million dollar cap and California has four times the economy of New York), and a lowering of the budget ceiling and expansion of other media that would be included in the tax credit incentives to new media, music video, and video game production. “Online video production from many major publications are the future and other states are leaving us behind because of the limited legislative leadership supported by the big special interest lobbyists in Sacramento.” emphasizes Jimenez.
IN MEMORY OF ANDY LOPEZ – TURN A NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE
Elbert “Big Man” Howard July 17, 2014
Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez was an aspiring musician when he was shot and killed on October 22, 2013 by Sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus. Andy played the trumpet. Unfortunately, the world will never have the opportunity to see what he could have become or how far his talent might have taken him. However, rather than just bury his memory, those of the living, including those responsible for his loss of life because they work in some capacity in this injustice system, can make his memory mean something, especially to young people as they struggle towards adulthood.
I am proposing that a fund or funds be set up in his name to help students, especially Latino students and other disenfranchised students of color, who are in need of financial support and are struggling to achieve the goal of higher education. I strongly urge that the District Attorney, the Sheriff, the City Council and the Board of Supervisors, as well as all Law Enforcement agencies contribute to these efforts. At this point, none of them have publicly expressed any meaningful regret that Andy was shot and killed under their watch, nor have they accepted any responsibility for his senseless killing. The public has a right and also a responsibility to be outraged by all of this.
However, over time, even the deepest outrage tends to subside and many tire of going to rallies and taking part in protest marches. No one wishes for this, but human nature and time being what they are, this just happens. I say that before this occurs, before coalitions and committees start to disband, I am hoping that they evolve into constructive organizing. People would have to be willing to do the consistent hard work involved in order to organize events, such as concerts, scholarships and other events which would create lasting monuments and programs in the memory of Andy Lopez. How about focusing on getting serious about the Memorial Park and playground? These efforts could achieve a lasting legacy and some kind of Justice for Andy.
I also propose arranging a Jazz Festival which would consist of local high school and college jazz bands, and include student musicians such as those from Healdsburg High, El Molino High, Santa Rosa JC and others. Ask venues to donate their facilities; ask local businesses to donate goods and money. Ask local media to donate ads in papers; ask DJs to make announcements on local radio and television programs. Ask local printers to donate posters and flyers. Promote these events locally and throughout the Bay area heavily so that this event will be successful and so that no one will ever forget Andy Lopez.
Funds which are raised can then be utilized to help young people in need of help – with educational assistance , legal defense needs, and with basic needs for shelter, clothing, food and medical and dental care. They need help – we could make a difference in their lives. What has happened to young Andy Lopez has created a tragedy, not only for his family and friends, not only for the community in which he lived, but for so many of us in so many communities. It is time to focus on taking actions which will allow us to start the healing process. I feel there are many ways to start this process, including the ones I have suggested here. In order to achieve our goals and create positive and lasting change in our struggle for freedom and justice, it would require each of us to take an evolutionary leap into consciousness and recognize the need to commit to each other as human beings. We must set the example – our children and grandchildren are depending on us.
Elbert “Big Man” Howard Santa Rosa, CA
Elbert “Big Man” Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party and is an author, lecturer and community activist in Sonoma County. For more information about Big Man:
For background on this issue, see my blog on the Conspiracy In Restraint of Trade in the Boxing Industry:
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Here are some choice quotes from my commentary on the Sonoma County District Attorney report on the shooting of Andy Lopez:
By reason of the Government Code Section 3307, Peace Officers cannot be required to take polygraph examinations, a privilege that does not exist for the FBI, CIA, or any other State of Federal employee. Their “Methodology” begins as inherently flawed as arbitrarily limited by the Government Code for strictly political reasons. That the report fails to note such limitation represents a gross disregard of epistemology.
As a member of the MAGNET team did he ever testify as a gang expert in court to get a “gang enhancement” charge or conviction? If so, did they review his testimony? So-called law enforcement “gang experts” are frequently liars and/or idiots who might technically meet “Frye” standards but could not possibly meet the more stringent “Daubert” standards in a federal court proceeding.
Remember, supposedly this is happening with a 10.5 pound weapon. There is an obvious difference between a kid with a replica and a kid with a 10.5 pound real weapon in how they will handle it.
For them to editorialize like this they should have been tested to detect deception in investigative interviews and found competent. Were they tested? What were the results?
A test needs to be performed re-enacting the difference with several males of similar stature and size to Andy Lopez of doing this with the replica weapon and with a real AK 47. This is obvious and nobody should have drawn this conclusion without doing such a test.
So click below for the keyword searchable report in three parts, with my side note PDF commentary: