Community Groups Demand Police Accountability
By Mike Rhodes
The video of a Fresno police officer beating Glen Beaty, a homeless man, has been shown around the world. The image of the officer pounding Beaty in the face, over and over again, is now etched in our collective minds. The show of excessive force, seen in the video, has pushed the need for police accountability to the top of this city’s agenda —community groups, the mayor, and the chief of police all agree that it is time to establish an Independent Police Auditor (IPA).
On February 13, a coalition of 20 community groups came to Fresno City Hall, demanding police accountability. Bill Simon, chairperson of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union — Northern California stated the groups demands as:
1. An immediate Pattern and Practice Investigation of the Fresno Police Department by the Federal Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
2. The City Council, with the support of the Fresno Police Officers Association, take immediate action to support Mayor Swearengin’s direction to the city manager and the Police Chief to establish an IPA
3. The Mayor, City Council Members, Chief of Police, and President of the Fresno Police Officers Association set up and participate in a meeting or series of meetings so that community members can come and voice their concerns
4. Culture and sensitivity training for the Fresno Police Department
5. Full implementation of a Community Based Policing Program
Simon said “the immediate implementation of all five of these actions is essential both for the protection of the members of the community and for the protection of those police officers who are dedicated to serving the public.”
Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin reasserted her support for an IPA. She said she has received a preliminary draft of the IPA plan, but is still “looking for input from the City Council, the City Attorney’s office, and from the community.” A recent poll conducted by KFSN ch 30 indicated that 84% of Fresno residents want an IPA.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer said that Internal Affairs was investigating the beating incident and that a report will be completed around March 1. Dyer said that the DA’s office would be conducting their own independent investigation, looking at all criminal aspects of this case. He said this investigation “will include the actions of the suspect in determining whether or not those rise to the level of criminal activity.” No mention was made of any investigation into the actions of the police officer, who has not yet been identified.
Attorney Rick Berman, according to a February 13 article in The Fresno Bee, says he has been asked to represent Beaty. The Bee quoted Berman as saying that it is “ludicrous” that the police would pursue criminal charges “against the guy they beat up.” In the article, Berman was also quoted as saying that the officers involved “did not follow accepted or proper procedures” and that “they brutalized a mentally disturbed old man who was just sitting under a tree.”
Beaty is now in the Fresno County Jail, charged with “deterring an officer by threat/violence,” which is a felony. In other words: the victim of this beating, Glen Beaty, is being charged with a no bail felony and nobody (at least as of February 22, when this article was written) has demanded that the police officer who attacked Beaty be prosecuted.
Rev. Floyd D. Harris organized a group of volunteers with video cameras to go into the community on the Saturday following the attack on Beaty to film what happens when people come into contact with the police. The project is called Copwatch and Harris is a founding member of that organization.
IVAW Fights Back
By Wendy Barranco and Marshall Blesofsky
In December of 2008 the Los Angeles IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) began a National Awareness Campaign geared at bringing attention to the suffering caused by the War in Iraq, both to our returning soldiers and to the Iraqi people. Using the upcoming Presidential Inauguration as a launching pad for its National Awareness Campaign, IVAW reached out to millions on this historic day with the airing of its message on national television on Inauguration Day. The well-done 30 second spot was produced in L.A. by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Devon Read, former USMC infantry and Iraq veteran, formulated a campaign that consists of a commercial that was successfully aired during the president elect’s inauguration on January 20th. IVAW raised thousands of dollars to air this commercial.
Wendy Barranco, the president of the L.A. chapter, summarized the development of the organization:
“Since January 2008, the members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have held
a series of meetings around the country where they have formulated a strategic campaign to bring the Iraq war to an end. IVAW members studied successful mass movements in order to determine the most effective strategy to bring the troops home now. We determined that IVAW has a unique role to play. Without the support of the military, the Republicans and Democrats will be unable to continue this war. By weakening support for this war from within the military, IVAW will also deprive many other sectors of their central justification for continuing the war. The President, politicians, and media pundits continually suggest that they defer to the military on decisions about the war. We will expose the opposition to the war within the military and undermine the “We must support the troops” argument. We are the troops, we know that there is no military solution in Iraq and we know that the policies of our government are hurting the troops, destroying the military and violating the Iraqi people.”
IVAW HAS A STRATEGY
TO END THE WAR
IVAW is leading a renewed anti-war movement that will directly confront our government’s ability to continue the Iraq War, using direct action, education, and media. The main objective of our strategy is to mobilize the military community to withdraw its support for the war and occupation in Iraq. We have a three-pronged campaign to bring our brothers and sisters home from Iraq now:
1. IVAW is organizing on and around military bases to bring this war to an end.
2. IVAW is supporting members of the military who resist this war.
3. IVAW is spreading the truth about recruiting and military service.
Responding to the deteriorating military situation in Afghanistan and the promise by President Obama to shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, IVAW members recently voted for the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from both Iraq and Afghanistan. Our globalized capitalistic, profit-driven economy survives on military world domination by the ruling class of this country. These veterans have had the first hand experience being the pawns and suffering grave consequences of these policies to secure oil and political domination for a small class of billionaires. IVAW members have been educated to bravely carry out complex missions in a very disciplined manner and now they are using those skills to spread the word to millions of people.
To see the IVAW commercial go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWKXJmIJpTM
Wendy Barranco is president of the IVAW LA Chapter. She joined the military at 17 and trained as a combat medic. She deployed to Iraq from October 2005 until July 2006, and worked as a combat medic and anesthesia technician. Marshall Blesofsky is an educator, physician assistant, and producer of Peoples’s Tribune Television. He is involved in movements for peace and for free and universal heath care.
This article originated in the People's Tribune
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