Activists turn up heat over slayings by police
By OLU ALEMORU, Staff Writer
INGLEWOOD — Decrying what it calls an “epidemic” of law enforcement killings of unarmed suspects, an umbrella group of anti-police misconduct organizations staged a Monday press conference in this embattled city to announce a massive rally for their cause later this month.
The announcement by the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, which puts on a yearly demonstration on the date from which it takes its name, comes as activists in Inglewood are expressing mounting outrage over city officials’ refusal to make public a recently-completed report on a string of heavily-criticized fatal shootings by its police department.
In recent weeks, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has also come under fire for its own practices, now under official review, following the shooting of an unarmed Black man in Athens.
These incidents are all but certain to be on the minds of demonstrators who plan to meet at noon on Oct. 22 at Crenshaw Boulevard and Florence Avenue, before marching north for a rally in Leimert Park.
“These are not isolated cases, said coalition spokesman Aidge Patterson. “There is a nationwide epidemic of police brutality and murder. There was Sean Bell in New York, the killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland. His brutal murder was captured on tape by dozens of people.”
He added: “It’s almost certain, if that hadn’t have happened that officer would have been let off. As it is, they are trying to move it out of the Alameda County to an area where people will maybe more forgiving for what happened and don’t really have a full understanding of the police repression that people in Oakland are facing.”
Patterson noted an increasing community suspicion and mistrust over a growing number of incidents in which officers have wrongly claimed that suspects were armed.
“It’s become the catchphrase of the last two years,” he said. “They thought there was a gun, when it was actually a wallet or cell phone like in the case of Amadou Diallo in New York, who was shot more than 40 times.”
Kim McGill, of the Youth Justice Coalition, called for the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate all police involved shootings.
The suggestion was part of a six-point plan that also included a call for the U.S. Attorney General to “immediately” investigate the use of deadly force by police departments throughout Los Angeles County and one percent of all law enforcement dollars to be transferred to a fund for youth development.
“It’s time L.A. County catches up with the rest of the country and the world,” McGill said, “in giving young people a future beyond a lifetime of prison or the grave.”
Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, a senior minister at the KRST Unity Center, summed up the Monday’s mood. “We speak for those who have no voice,” he said.
“Those that have been murdered by police misconduct that never gets brought to the fore. Murdered in the prime of their lives without their voices having an opportunity to be heard.”