A Photographic Description of Police Killing Unarmed People All Over The World
J'ACCUSSE. I Accuse.
An Open Letter to the World Regarding the Worldwide Police Killings of
As I wrote this letter, I had difficulty breathing, I cried, and then I wiped my eyes and I pulled my self together to try to sound coherent, to write clearly and civilized... civilized.. so surreal... about the police officers shooting and killing Oscar Grant, a completely unarmed, handcuffed Black man who was down on the ground while other police
officers held him down...and the entire event was captured on not one, but several different videos that i just saw, so there is no mistake of the events. At least two of the videos are now here: http://aworldbeyondcapitalism.org/onlinevideo.htm
or here http://www.peacecommunities.org/onlinevideo.htm
It was no isolated incident, because I later found out that within hours of the Oscar Grant atrocity, in a different part of the country, Bobby Tolan, the world famous World Series winning baseball player, was helpless as his son, Robbie Tolan, was also shot by Police...in front of Robbie's mother, uncle and friends on the steps of his home.
After much thought, I then realized I wanted to not only write this open letter but also to organize an international non-violent writers movement to encourage you, the reader, to write an open letter. So I did a little research. For those unaware, as I was unaware, J'accuse ("I accuse") was
one of the most famous open letters in history written about the Dreyfus Affair. The Dreyfus Affair was a political scandal which divided France from the 1890s to the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery
officer of Jewish background who was wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's island. Two years later, in 1896, the real criminal was identified: French Army Major Esterhazy. The Open Letter was published on January 13, 1898, on the front cover of the newspaper
L'Aurore by the influential writer Émile Zola. Most of the work of exposing the errors in Dreyfus's conviction was done by Dreyfus's brother Mathieu, a Jewish journalist and anarchist Bernard Lazare, who first used the word J'accuse in a different publication and two others who included a
French army officer and the Vice president of the French Senate.
The letter was addressed to the President of France and accused the government of antisemitism. The ramifications of the open letter continued for many years; among other things it prompted legislation such as a 1905
law separating church and state; on the 100th anniversary of Zola's article, France's Roman Catholic daily paper, La Croix, apologized for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus Affair. As Zola was a leading French thinker, his letter formed a major turning-point in the affair.
Zola was brought to trial for criminal libel on June 9, 1899, and was convicted, sentenced, and removed from the Legion of Honor. Zola fled to England. After his brief and unhappy residence in London, from October
1898 to June 1899, he was allowed to return in time to see the French government fall. As a direct result of the Open Letter, In 1906, Dreyfus was completely exonerated by the Supreme Court
Writing open letters and telling the truth to those in power takes courage, and has the power to change the entire world, even though much like most of you reading this, I am not an influential writer like Émile Zola. I am a severely disabled, financially disadvantaged, Black feminist
living on the West coast who happily writes with lots of typos and a blatant disregard for the grammatical rules of the Colonized English language. I woke up this morning, did some work for the Freeschool Community, then logged in to a wonderful online, Progressive community
called Peace Communities, a beta project of the Mutualist project, and I read a news article on a RSS feed about a Black Man being killed by Police Officers while other police officers held him down. I then watched the video and what I saw was far more chilling than watching Rodney King being
beat by Police Officers, in which Rodney King was fortunate to live through his hellish ordeal.
I considered Rodney King "lucky", because I used to live in Portland, Oregon, where three unarmed African-Americans were actually killed... by Portland Police within 25 months; Byron Hammick in 2002, Kendra James in May 2003 and James Jahar Perez shortly afterwards. James Philip Chasse, Jr. was not African-American, but he was part of a marginalized community due to his mentally challenged condition, and was yet another unarmed person who was literally beaten (not shot) to death and killed by Portland
Police officers in September 2006. According to the website titled “What Happened to James Chasse” that has information Collected and presented by the Mental Health Association of Portland, “James Chasse was attacked and beaten to death by Multnomah County Sheriff deputy Bret Burton, Portland Police officer Christopher Humphreys and Portland Police Sargent Kyle Nice. Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk failed to secure indictments against the officers. The officers involved are all back on duty. Since his death, several people have come forward to file tort claims and lawsuits alleging they have been beaten by sheriff's deputies—and, occasionally, cops too—in holding cells and the booking area, where James was held for 31 minutes before dying ”
Many of you will never know what it feels like to be an African-American, financially disadvantaged, disabled person and walk the streets of a city knowing at any time you might be the next unarmed African-American male to be killed by Police. Its like the Black man's lottery that none of us wants to win. The only way that we, people from all backgrounds win in this crisis is join together to solve
this crisis that divides us and speak out together. That is why I made a point to describe in detail how there were members of the writers community, anarchist community, members of the military and members of the
Senate who all worked together to find justice in the Dreyfus Affair in order to have the Open letter published.
You see, it is not just a West Coast America issue, not just a race issue,
more importantly, it is an issue about our failed systems that allows
police to carry guns in our community. We not must not let gender, age,
race, mental or physical disability, class or region divide on us these
And then in August 1997Abner Louima, a male, unarmed immigrant, was assaulted, brutalized and forcibly sodomized with a broken broomstick by a number of New York City police in a bathroom at the 70th Precinct police station house in Brooklyn. They did all this while Louima's hands were cuffed behind his back and they sodomized him with a broomstick in a manner that caused severe internal damage to his colon and bladder that required several operations to repair. Volpe, one of the police officers involved, then walked through the precinct yelling he had "broke a man down."
Yes, strangely enough, I agree that statement is correct, because from what we can see the police are slowly breaking us all down to the point where we blindly continue to allow them to carry guns despite their escalating and more frequent atrocities against unarmed citizens. Louima was tortured while handcuffed, and officers said he faught them, but Oscar Grant was seen on video handcuffed and begged for his life by saying 'please, I have a 4 year old daughter' and was still murdered by the police. In every way, the problem is getting worse.
When I first heard about Louima in 1997, I recall thinking to myself, "I can barely think about that, let alone talk about it to anyone." Even now I hesitate to write about it. But I realize, that is the #1 reason why these crimes occur. Because we all refuse to think about it or speak up about it or take action to stop it. But still, I thought, it could not get worse than that...and then came the Diallo case in 1999 that changed everything.
Long ago, I researched every aspect of the 1999 Amadou Bailo Diallo killing, in
which an unarmed Black man was killed in a barrage of 41 bullets fired by
Police officers while he stood on the doorstep to his own home, and yet I still can't makes sense of it and I still can only remember. But I told myself it couldn't get worse than that. After all, the police said it looked like Diallo drew a gun, but it turned out
he pulled out his wallet to show them the Photo ID because they requested
to see it even as their guns were drawn. Whenever police harass me with
racial profiling and ask me for ID, I move slowly, carefully and remember
And then, less than a year later, came the murder of Patrick Moses Dorismond in March 2000, an unarmed man, also in New York. Over three thousand mourners showed up for his funeral. And then came Sean Bell, an unarmed New Yorker was killed just hours before his wedding. I thought to myself, surely it couldn't get worse that...it'll get better. The police said they thought a fellow police office yelled 'Gun' but it was just a mistake.
But it is not just an American issue of social class of our failed system.
On Saturday December 6th, 2008 at around 10pm, two Greek policemen were in
patrol in a central street and according to press reports, two Special
Guards (a special category of the Greek police personnel, originally meant
for guard duties on public property) had been engaged in a verbal argument
with a small group of teenagers in a main street of Exarchia square, in
the center of Athens. They had a verbal argument with some young people
who were there. During the argument, one of the cops pulled his gun and
shot 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.
The victim was moved to a Hospital to be found dead. As is typical in
shootings of unarmed people, the police issues press releases trying to
describe the boy to the public as a trouble maker but his family, his
private school and many others released press releases to say otherwise.
Riots broke out across Greece and the world from the event. The police
always cite mistakes being made.
With Oscar Grant, there was no mistake of someone thinking they 'heard'
the word 'gun' from fellow officers as with Sean Bell. With Oscar Grant,
there was no mistakes of someone thinking they even 'saw' a gun as police
claimed with Diallo and police have said in countless other unarmed
incidents when unarmed people are killed by police....because Oscar Grant
was handcuffed and face down. I saw a video with a police officer stand above a man who was handcuffed and on the ground and pull out his gun and shoot the man.
I know it is not about social class because when I first saw the video
with Oscar Grant after being in Awe for many hours and talking with my
friend about it for a long time, I went to do an Internet search for it to
learn more and I found another story involving a young Black Texas man who
was shot in his own driveway by a white police officer.
Wikipedia states the following: "Bobby Tolan was a reserve outfielder
during his years with the Cardinals, with whom he won a World Series title
in 1967... and batted second behind Pete Rose in the Reds lineup. Bobby
Tolan is married to Marian Trahan and they have a son Robert (Robbie)
Tolan who plays professional baseball in the Washington Nationals
organization. On December 31, 2008, Robbie was shot by a Bellaire, Texas
policeman. Robbie Tolan was unarmed and driving his own vehicle. The
bullet lodged in (Robbie) Tolan's liver; the injury may have ended his
professional baseball career. An investigation into the shooting is
on-going." I researched further and learned that according to Robbie
Tolan's family members, Robbie Tolan and his cousin were returning to
Tolan's home in the primarily white Houston suburb of Bellaire in the
early hours of December 31, when they were approached by officers who
suspected the SUV they had just gotten out of was stolen. Tolan's parents,
the owners of the SUV, came out of the house to explain everything to the
police. An altercation occurred and Robbie's mother was slammed against
the garage door by an officer. According to Tolan's uncle, "Her son was on
his back at the time, and he raised up and asked, 'What are you doing to
my mom?' and the officer shot him -- while he was on the ground." Tolan's
uncle, Eddie Tolan, was a sprinter who won two Gold Medals in the 1932
It is worth noting that these two killing of unarmed men by police officers took place in two different parts of the country but they happened within mere hours of each other. Please don't let anyone convince you these are infrequent, isolated shootings. They are growing more frequent and happening everywhere in all social classes of our society to the unknown and to the famous, to the poor and to the well off, to men and women.
Some people would like to convince you that Oscar Grant being killed by police while while handcuffed was an isolated incident or it was only because he was not an upper class citizen. That is false, especially when considering the following:
Jonny Gammage was an unarmed black motorist who died on October 12, 1995, after he was stopped by police from the nearly mostly-white Pittsburgh suburbs of Brentwood, Baldwin Borough and Whitehall in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The car that Gammage was driving, a Jaguar, belonged to National Football League (NFL) player Ray Seals, Gammage's cousin. Gammage was ordered out of the car, police officers Vojtas and Sgt. Keith Henderson tackled Gammage and wrestled him to the ground and eventually handcuffed him, at which time Sgt. Keith Henderson and Patterson remained in contact with him, one sitting on Gammage's legs, another holding his upper body. Within just seven minutes, Gammage lay dead. The coroner's report showed his cause of death to be asphyxiation due to pressure applied to the chest and neck. His last words were alleged to be "Keith, Keith, I'm only 31."
Sgt. Keith Henderson and all of the officers had all criminal charges dropped against them despite the fact that after an inquest, a coroner's jury recommended homicide charges be brought against all of the officers. Officer John Vojtas, was found not guilty by a jury with no minority members. He was permitted to return to work as a police officer in the Brentwood department and received a promotion.
Ousmane Zongo was a Burkinabè arts trader living in New York City. He was shot and killed by a New York City Police Department officer on May 22, 2003. The shooter, officer Bryan Conroy, was disguised as a postal worker and shot Zongo four times, twice in the back. Conroy was convicted of criminally negligent homicide but did not receive any jail time. Zongo is survived by a widow and two children.
In October 2008, the associated press ran a story with the title: “Newlywed Julian Alexander killed outside his California home by police in mistaken identity” [quote] “A newlywed killed by police after he stepped outside his home to confront suspected burglars was shot in a case of mistaken identity, police said. Julian Alexander died after being shot twice in the chest by a police officer who was chasing four burglary suspects early Tuesday morning. Police Chief John Welter said the officer ran into Alexander, mistook him for one of the four juvenile suspects and shot him. "The last thing we ever want to do, No. 1, (is) take somebody's life," he said. "And we certainly don't want to take the life of someone who is mistakenly believed to be involved in some criminal activity." "He was a good kid, trying to protect his house," said Alexander's mother-in-law Michelle Mooney. "And the police, instead of asking questions, they just shot first. Somebody has to be held responsible for this." Welter would not release the officer's name, but said he was a 10-year veteran of the department. "It's mistaken identity, but that doesn't bring my son back," said Alexander's father Jerry. He said Alexander got married last weekend and his 19-year-old wife is expecting a baby in December.” [unquote]
Alexander's wife and also her 15-year-old sister looked out the window during the incident and saw the police flip Julian’s limp and bleeding body over... and then handcuffed him. Julian's family then made an attempt to rush to Julian’s side, but the police yelled at them to get back…or else. Julian stayed out of trouble as a student and won the title of outstanding defensive linebacker in 2005 and 2006. He also was the defensive player of the year in 2007—before he graduated from Riverside's Notre Dame High School. Now a life of achievements, and staying out of trouble, has been cut short... by police with guns who shoot first and ask questions later..
Many people would like to tell you it is a race issue or a social class
issue or some other issue. We not must not let gender, age, race,
mental/physical disability, class, region, sexual orientation or any other
characteristic divide on us the need to solve this crisis of armed police
in any of our communities, anywhere in the world!
Perhaps I have had a lack of desire to get completely and thoroughly
involved because paying rent, paying for food, paying for healthcare,
trying to find a way to get two worsening, agonizing, excruciatingly
painful cavities removed with a special, expensive surgery needed with no
dental coverage because the AK arthritis in my neck doesn't permit my
mouth to open wide enough for standard tooth repair... and simply existing
is a full time job for me and it seems to gets harder everyday. Many of
you face the same exact hurdles and much worse, I know. But today my
excuses and reasons end. Today, I send out this open letter to encourage
everyone to write an open letter about unarmed people who are being killed
by police officers. Blog about it, send out emails, website post it, hand
write it with sloppy handwriting in crayons and post it everywhere any way
that you can. It doesn't even need to cost you money, just a few moments
of your time. Because with the Oscar Grant killing I must accuse myself
just as I accuse the world... of being too quiet, because I must admit
that the cop killings of unarmed people, all over the world, is getting
much, much worse everyday and as we see Peak Oil and the worldwide economy
collapse we must realize it will get far worse if we remain silent.
I have been wondering what those of us who are poor or physically
challenged or struggling just to exist could do to help solve this crisis.
After much thought I am writing to you because I (representing no
organization or entity) am encouraging an international non-violent
writing movement to begin immediately called J'ACCUSSE (I accuse) that I
hope spreads all over the world. You can participate in this event from
anywhere in the world and all that you have to do to participate is one
simple thing, just one simple thing: Tell someone how you feel about any
unarmed person being shot by police anywhere in the world in an Open
Letter. You can choose to write about one of these people I have mentioned
or sadly, you may know someone who was unarmed and was shot by police. You
can circulate my open letter, which is copyleft, or shorten it, or you can
feel free to write your own open letter... even if the entire open letter
is only four words:"J'ACCUSSE (I accuse)". Write your thoughts in a open
letter and share it with at least one person... even if its only four words.
Thats all I'm asking. Is that too much? You think it won't make a
difference, but it will. It has made a difference to me just writing this
open letter and opening my heart and sharing this with you now even as
tears pour down my face. I haven't cried this hard in over 10 years and
typically admitting to crying would feel like a weakness but today it
feels like a strength.
I was born in Philadelphia and I have been a victim of crime many times
and had a mugger's gun put to my head but there will always be crime. The
police have bullet proof vests, tasers, pepper-spray, rubber bullets,
dogs, riot gear, batons, handcuffs, smoke grenades, the ability to asphyxiate people to death and a few dozen other kinds of unethical forms of hand-to-hand killing techniques and weapons, some of which are even against the Geneva Convention, at their disposal so why must they carry guns to continue killing unarmed people? Even if you hand write "J'ACCUSSE (I accuse)" with sloppy handwriting in crayon and post it in one place it will make a difference because you will let yourself and others know that you will not remain silent about police
killing unarmed people anywhere in the world and you will let people know
that the system of armed police in our communities needs to end.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter." Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968)
It is time to start working on a new way of life for people worldwide.
J'ACCUSSE! I Accuse!
I love you all,
Love for the people!
"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul.!" — Émile Zola, "J'accuse!" (1898)
For many of you, all that I have written will be too much information, too unthinkable, for you to take action at all and you won't even write an open letter. If this is the case then with all my heart I recommend that you at least see the graphic documentary by PBS titled "The Murder of Emmit Till." For after you see that documentary, which has proven at great length that it was an unthinkable atrocity that helped to launch the Civil Rights movement, you will quickly realize that without solutions things will only get worse. We have the ability to solve this crisis. There is hope for a better world!
If you intend to circulate this open letter, but desire a short, less graphic version...you will find a 997 word version at either of the below websites. Even though many of you may feel this letter was too long or too graphic, what you really need to understand is that each and everyone of the victims I described were only the “fortunate” ones that made international, major media headlines and their crisis was not ignored so I do not offer apologies for the long or the graphic nature of this letter but rather, I offer my apologies to the mothers and fathers who have sons and daughters who fall into the most ignored and unheard categories: the undocumented immigrants, homeless, those forced into sex-trade and those who are victims in the Prison Industrial System around the world who are among the countless male and female that never make the news when they are completely unarmed and killed by police with guns. Your pain is no less important I assure you, Thank you to everyone. Please keep in mind this is copyleft and I give everyone permission to edit all of it or part of it, and use it, without permission from me and without credit to me needed. The important thing is to get the word out, speak out, and stop the police from shooting unarmed people and turning our world into a police state... a police world. We can change things, one movement at a time, one crisis at a time, with action, hope, unity and real love for all people and for a better world. http://aworldbeyondcapitalism.org/onlinevideo.htm http://www.peacecommunities.org/onlinevideo.htm
"Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and left-wing, have taken to mindlessly... glorifying the police and the army, and virtually asking for a police state. It isn’t surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of “pickings” is long gone. We’re now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way." [The quote is from 'Monster in the Mirror', written on December 30th, 2008 by Arundhati Roy]
Julian Alexander, killed by police at age 20, is pictured with his pregnant wife of a few weeks, Renee. Alexander was dead shot by Anaheim police in what is believed to be a case of mistaken identity.