By John Parker
At a Dec. 3 Denver news conference, more than 60 supporters of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) organizers Larry Hales and Melissa Kleinman gathered in front of the Denver Police Station at night despite cold winds to protest the brutal beating, terror and arrest of Hales, who is African American, after police broke into their home Nov. 30.
WW photo: John Parker
Shareef Aleem, a Black Denver activist who was himself a victim of police brutality and helped organize the news conference, said, “In the last couple of years many of us involved in police accountability work have been attacked by the police and we know that when it happens we all have to stand up.”
Aleem noted that part of the motivation for this latest act of police brutality was to begin the process of neutralizing activists like Hales who will be involved in helping to organize the Democratic National Convention protests.
Hales also noted that the attack was aimed at both his activism around police brutality and the fact that he was helping a Black youth on parole who had filed a civil case against the Denver police. At the time of the Nov. 30 police raid that parolee was living at the home of Hales and Kleinman.
Since the police attack, this young man is no longer permitted to stay at that residence. He must also pay $100 for an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor his whereabouts.
After hearing this and the fact that a hefty bail was paid for Hales’ release, the attendees at the news conference immediately took up a collection for the youth, Hales and Kleinman.
In addition to Aleem, other supporters there had been victims of police brutality.
Loree Mcormick Rice and her daughter Cassidy bravely stood in solidarity despite the terror they have endured. Cassidy’s collar bone was broken during a police beating in June 2006 when she was 12 years old.
Julie Winby also stood strong in the crowd. Her son Allen Kerford faces a 30-year sentence after being framed by police to cover up a severe beating by them.
Community demands that were given out at the news conference are: “That all charges be dropped immediately and that an official apology to Hales and Kleinman be given; that the names of all officers and Parole Officers on the scene for the incident that happened Nov. 30 at approximately 10:30 p.m. be given; that the records of abuse any of the officers may have on file be made public; that Denver take steps to enforce the policy which requires all officers to carry business cards and surrender them upon request and that any records of abuse related to an officer’s refusal to surrender said card and subsequent retaliation upon the subject who may have requested a card be especially scrutinized; that the officers responsible for the act on Nov. 30 against Hales and Kleinman be suspended without pay pending an investigation; that a People’s Review Board, comprised of civilians from communities of color, be allowed to decide the fate of the officers involved; that a real Independent Monitor position, one with the power to prosecute and beholden to a People’s Review Board, be established; that the rights of parolees be respected and that they be allowed to enjoy their full rights without harassment from officials, this includes the ceasing of parole sweeps which are designed to harass and which violate the constitutional rights of and criminalizes not only the parolee but those she or he may be living with.”
If this news conference was any indication, it seems that the terror tactics of police brutality and fear are beginning to inspire less fear and more determination to fight back.
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