For more information about the killing and the vigil, please see:
Entries Tagged 'Police Violence and Killings' ↓
All of seven officers are on paid leave for the Taser and beating death of an unarmed man, while the Mayor is in favor of a “resolution that will calm the community”. Community pressure remains the most effective site for accountability. For the full story, see:
This is a reminder that Berkeley Copwatch will be hosting an event this coming Sunday, April at the Grassroots House. This is the second part in our Civilians’ Investigation Series:
Conducting Reliable Investigations: Workshop with Ali Winston.
12 noon to 2pm.
What are some ways that civilians can research police? When we witness brutality or misconduct involving law enforcement, are there empowering and credible ways to follow up on these incidents? What are effective methods and practices for gathering information and learning about relevant laws and policies? Can we initiate civilian investigations into police department practices? Can we access information or records on individual officers? What are the legal boundaries that need to be acknowledged when doing this kind of research? In this workshop, journalist Ali Winston will discuss the current climate that allows departments and individual officers to act under a cloak of legal and procedural protections. He will go over effective investigation strategies towards collecting evidence and following up on police misconduct. This will lead into a discussion about these issues, and next steps forward.
The Berkeley Copwatch Civilian Investigations workshop series is collectively imagined with numerous activists and stakeholders. We hope these conversations will generate new ideas and strategies for holding police accountable, and to build civilian power to address policing issues in all of our communities.
Ali Winston is journalist who has reported extensively on law enforcement in the Bay Area. His work addresses misconduct, corruption, brutality, racism, surveillance, gang injunctions, federalization, use of force, the Occupy movement, and other policing issues, both spectacular and every day. His work in Oakland draws important connections between the police, city hall, and business owners, and he also addresses the role of federal law enforcement in local policing issues. Ali currently writes for the East Bay Bay Express, and his work has appeared across many papers and sites. For a serious stretch of cutting edge reporting for The Informant, he wrote almost exclusively on local policing issues, creating an archive of policing practices that included original raw documents–policies, memos, reports and other documents directly from the departments that use force against us. This work has had a significant impact on public awareness, understanding, and action in the Bay Area, and we are delighted Ali will be joining us this Sunday.
Hope to see you there.
Grassroots House is located at 2022 Blake Street, 10 minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART
See Ali’s work in Colorlines:
Interview with Denika Chatman on her son’s recent killing by San Francisco Police Department for not paying his $2.00 train fare. His slow death, and the lack of medical assistance provided, was well documented on civilian video recordings at the scene. His mother recounts her son’s life, and her relations with the police, including a SWAT team that was sent to her house following the killing:
“The way that the police have been talking to me, degrading me – they feel like they have the right to do it to me.”
Interview by Natasha Reid for the SF Bayview Newspaper:
Willie Ratcliff reports on the SFPD killing of 19 year old Kenneth Harding on 3rd Street between Palou and Oakdale in Bayview Hunter’s Point on July 16th:
Ratcliff quotes Sister Halimah Allah from Los Angeles: “As I watch another Black man – shot down in the street like a mad dog by occupation forces paid for by our tax dollars and 456 years of dehumanization – I read accounts of the incident and wonder: What is this young man’s name? Who are his people: family, friends etc.? Does he have a mother? Does she know her son is dead? (Peace be upon him.)”
Ratcliff also writes:
“The San Francisco Municipal Railway, known as Muni, has followed up major rate increases in recent years with greatly intensified police fare enforcement, imposing heavy fines and even jail time for riders who are unable to prove by showing a paper transfer that they paid their fare.”
See the SF BayView Newspaper, July 17th, 2011
From June 8th to June 20th, 2011, the case Jacqueline Alford v. Jamie Barney was held in the San Francisco Federal Court at 450 Golden Gate Avenue. This case involved the death of Peter Stewart, a young Hupa man, at the hands of law enforcement.
Jacqueline Marshall-Alford, a Hupa Tribal Member, is the mother of Peter Stewart who was killed on June 4, 2007 and Jamie Barney is a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy who threw a pyrotechnic device in the window of a house while Peter Stewart was inside.
Jacqueline Marshall-Alford tells the story of her son, a generous and kind young man: “On June 3rd, an ambulance was called to take my son Peter back to Semprevirens Mental Hospital in Eureka…an ambulance never came, what happened was police came flying into the yard where Peter was, brandishing weapons and holding a gun to his head.”
“The witness said Peter said, ‘What did I do?, the officer said, ‘nothing’.”
At that point Peter ran back inside. The incident took place at a rural residence on the Hoopa Tribal Reservation.
Jacqueline Alford continues, “More and more Sheriffs came, along with the Eureka Police Department and Pelican Bay SWAT team, it was scary, I know my son was scared to death seeing 100 armed officers pointing guns at the house, with his disorder, of course he wouldn’t come out…June 4th came, they began shooting tear gas in the home, they shot 50 rounds of tear gas in the home, we heard it, and the entire Hoopa community heard it on their scanners and counted them.”
Jacqueline Alford was not allowed to approach the home to speak to her son. There was no attempt to give Peter a cell phone to speak with his mother, or anyone else. Instead the “negotiations” were carried on by loudspeaker.
The pyrotechnic device was thrown in the window of the home after more than forty tear gas canisters had already been deployed with as many as 50 law enforcement officers present, representing many different agencies. After the house caught fire, the Pelican Bay SWAT team did not allow the three fire trucks from the Hoopa Fire Department to enter the scene, even as the house was engulfed completely by fire.
Peter Stewart died of smoke inhalation, and his body was found naked and wrapped in wet sheets in the bathtub. His body was covered in tear gas burns.
The trial took place at the Federal Building in San Francisco, because it is a constitutional rights case, argued by lawyers Dale K. Galipo and Brian Claypool, and based on the 4th and 14th Amendments. The argument is that Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Barney violated the constitutional rights of Peter Stewart and his surviving family members, specifically his mother. It was not a criminal case—in other words, the Sheriff’s Deputy was not on trial and faced no criminal justice reprimand; it was a trial to determine whether to award the victim’s mother damages. The 4th Amendment argument was based on the violation of Peter Stewart’s constitutional rights, and the 14th Amendment argument is based on whether the actions of law enforcement in this case “shock the conscience”, meaning that the officer acted with deliberate indifference, and that his acts were not done to carry out a legitimate law enforcement duty. It was argued that because Deputy Barney had training in pyrotechnics that qualified him to make decisions about the provided pyrotechnic arsenal, and because Deputy Barney had ample time to approach the window to throw in the device and was not rushed in his actions, that his actions amounted to excessive force.
There was testimony from various law enforcement officers present for the incident, testimony from Ms. Alford, testimony offered by experts paid by the Deputy’s defense team. Many members of Peter Stewart’s family traveled from Hupa to be present for the trial. After two and half days of deliberation, the jury voted unanimously that the level of force was not excessive.
Berkeley Copwatch was present for most of the trial. We continue to see cases throughout Northern California where law enforcement take the place of trained mental health workers, and respond to people experiencing mental instability with force. This force is often at deadly levels. We review the facts of barricading a person inside a residence for two days surrounded by armed force, shooting canister after canister of tear gas into a residence, deploying a pyrotechnic device by a trained officer (who thus was aware of its potential) knowing the home was full of tear gas, and obstructing family and local fire department from entering the site. If this is not excessive force, what should we call it?
We would like to thank to Redwood Curtain Copwatch, who has helped organize the community to respond to three vicious law enforcement related deaths in Humboldt County in the summer of 2007. This includes Peter Stewart, Hans Peters, and Martin Cotton. The case of Martin F. Cotton II, who was severely beaten by seven Eureka Police Department officers and who two hours later died in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility, will begin on September 12, 2011 in the Bay Area.
Berkeley Copwatch also extends its respect and solidarity to the Jacqueline Alford and the family of Peter Stewart, as well as the Hoopa Community, for standing up to such brutality and for the strength of their struggle for accountability.
Please join us, and Redwood Curtain Copwatch, in organizing locally against rampant police violence in Humboldt County. For updates and information see Berkeley Copwatch’s website, and Redwood Curtain Copwatch at www.RedwoodCurtainCopwatch.net
Mesha Monge-Irizarry of the Idriss Stelley Foundation speaks out on the latest BART police killing. This is the fifth killing by BART police, as detailed by Mesha.
See SF BayView Newspaper, July 15, 2011
The case is actually called JACQUELINE ALFORD v. JAMIE BARNEY. The trial will continue on Tuesday 6/14/11 @ 9:15 am
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco (Federal Court)
Police Murder of Hupa Man, Peter Stewart:
Trial in SF started Wed,June 8th
Judge Samuel Conti, presiding
Alford v. County of Humboldt et al.
Trial in Oakland starts Wed, June 8th
Judge Claudia Wilken, presiding
WHAT HAPPENED TO PETER STEWART IN HOOPA, June 4, 2007
A mentally ill man WHO COMMITTED NO CRIME,
Peter Stewart, was murdered on June 4, 2007 by out of control police who shot 50 rounds of tear gas into
his house and then when one of the rounds caught
on fire, watched the house burn down with Peter in it. Fire trucks were sitting in the driveway and Peter’s friends from school who are firemen begged the SWAT team to allow them to put out the fire. Peter was found dead in the bathtub naked and wrapped in sheets where he had apparently tried to ease the pain of the burns from the teargas. His family was never allowed to talk to him. Keep in mind that Peter Stewart had committed no crime, nor was he accused of a crime.
Remarks made by Jacqueline Marshall-Alford
Grieving Mother of Peter Stewart
Hupa Tribal Member
at Sept 7, 2007 Rally at the Capitol, Sacramento
Hello, My name is Jacqueline Marshall-Alford, I am a Hupa Tribal member, I reside on the Hupa reservation. I want to talk about what happened to my son Peter Stewart on June 4th on this year, in Hoopa.
Peter was harmless he was loved by all, he would give the shirt off his back, and money in his pocket to anyone that needed it. He gave food and a place to stay for any one in need. His death was a heart breaking shock to the entire community and many other communities as knew him.
On June 3rd an ambulance was called to take my son Peter Stewart back to Sempervirens mental hospital in Eureka, he had been released two days early and was not stabilized. An ambulance never came, what happened was police came flying into the yard where Peter was, brandishing weapons and holding a gun to his head, the witness said Peter Said “What did I do”, the officer said “nothing”, Peter got scared, he threw out a butter knife in the dirt and ran back inside. Peter has Bi-Polar 2, which is Bi-Polar with Schizophrenia. The officer continued to use brutal language, by the time I was called by a neighbor, I drove up to Bald Hills, the sheriff’s from Eureka were there and refused to let me in, I pleaded with them “Please all Peter needs is to hear my voice, he will be okay”, they refused and made me back my car down the driveway. That is where I stayed for that day, that night and the next day.
More and more Sheriffs came, along with Eureka Police
Police Department and Pelican Bay SWAT team, it was scary, I know my son was scared to death seeing 100 armed officers pointing guns at the house, with his disorder, of course he wouldn’t come out, he knew they would gun him down, and make up a lie of why they had to shoot him. During the night SWAT team made comments on their radios in which we heard that they seen Peter making a sandwich, drinking juice and watching T.V. and falling asleep around 5a.m This to me is no one who is going to harm anyone. June 4th came, they began shooting tear gas in the home, they shot 50 rounds of tear gas in the home, we heard it, and the entire Hoopa community heard it on their scanners and counted them.
While they were shooting off the tear gas, I told my niece who was with me, my husband and my youngest son-they are shooting off guns too, I can hear it, when they shoot off the tear gas they are shooting off rounds of ammunition. About the 40th round was when that tear gas was more flammable, it is the one that caught the house on fire. They stood and watched the house burn up with my son in it. Standing by was three fire trucks from Hoopa Fire Department, but the SWAT team refused them entrance. While the house was burning the SWAT team that was brandishing weapons on me and my family laughed while the house was burning.
My son Peter was found after the fire trucks were finally admitted in towards the end of the fire. He had taken his clothes off to get wet in the bath tub to get the tear gas burns off of him, Peter wanted to live, I know my son, he wouldn’t [hurt] anyone, not even those evil people tormenting him on that awful day. Peter was found wrapped in wet sheets in the bath tub. The SWAT team, Sheriffs, and Eureka Police Department tried to cover it up and say Peter started the fire, but we all know that is a lie. Peter wouldn’t have been trying to save himself and get the burns from tear gas off of him if he built the fire. After my son was taken by the coroner, friends looked through the remains of the home, they found the bullet holes riddled through the home. I was never given the opportunity to speak to my son, nor was any negotiator, they lie about that, it was heard all over Hoopa on the scanners their evil language to my son.
STOP POLICE TERRORISM
Please contact Redwood Curtain CopWatch
March 31, 2011 (MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press):
NEW ORLEANS – Calling the crimes inexcusable and barbaric, a judge sentenced two former New Orleans police officers to prison Thursday for their roles in the shooting death of an unarmed man whose body was later set on fire in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina….