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Readers write about their experiences with police
by Karen Saari
|There has been an positive response to this police
brutality column and some readers have written to us at Sonoma County
Free Press with stories from other parts of the country. I would like to
present these anecdotal accounts here on the web page.
If you have experienced police abuse, write in and tell us about it at the Sonoma County Free Press. We may have to edit it to 200 words or so. We will not include your name but we would like to include your county and state. Stay tuned.
I received this communication from Pierre, an African American living in New Jersey, in May 1998. He asked that we use his real name.
On March 14,1996, I was subjected to false arrest, false imprisonment, brutality, torture, false charges levied against me and attempted murder by the police department of Pennsauken, NJ. The officer involved, Patrolman William Monroe, even drew his gun with intent to use it, only to be impeded by other officers present in police headquarters.
Since that time, I and my family have been subject to daily and unrelenting harassment by the police department.These criminal acts include:
car stops with unnecessary searches, and
constant intimidation with the threat of physical violence should any of us respond to it.
On a daily basis police cars drive past my parents' home (although they along with myself live in the adjacent city of Camden) and use their sirens at an annoying and unnecessary level. Every time any of my family including myself drive through Pennsauken, we are stalked by police cars and almost routinely are stopped for no reason with hostility and our cars searched. My parents are elderly and should not have to live out the last years of their lives with such criminal harassment being inflicted.
This situation has caused much consternation in my family with my parents suffering extremely. My brother and myself have terrible and, at this point, unrevokeable animosities toward each other. And my sister and I do not speak to each other anymore as well. My family, for the most part, are in denial with some blaming me for the criminality inflicted upon us. I don't have an acumen in the psychology of victims, however, this is not uncommon.
My mistake was to not to do anything about the situation at first. I thought that by distancing myself from the situation would help it to go away. But what happened is that the harassment by the department has become firmly entrenched. I now expect to encounter criminal harassment each time I leave my home, and I do. The department now feels that they have impunity to do whatever they like. This has spilled over to where private citizens who live nearby feel free to engage in harassment against my family and myself.
In the last few months I've begun to take action on behalf of my family and myself. I've had contact with the FBI, written to my congressman, spoken to individuals from my local prosecutor's office, and sought out organizations that deal with fighting against police misconduct.
With all that I've done, the harassment against me and my family continues. Hopefully if I remain consistent in fighting it, it will cease in time.
This contribution comes from "L" in Cherokee County, Georgia:
What gives the police the right to enter a home because a husband who can not handle his problems calls them every time he and his wife argue?On December 22, 1997, the husband called the police and said his wife hit him. When the police arrived, the little cop was kind to the wife while the big cop talked to the husband. Then the cops switched places and the big cop started to verbally abuse the wife, stating he was going to end all this tonight.
The wife said, "Excuse me" very calmly and told the officer she was going to record the conversation. The big cop picked up the wife by her T-shirt and threw her on the bed. He slammed his knee into her back and began to pull her arms up to almost breaking them. When she tried to get up, he pushed her down again and pulled her arms tighter and put handcuffs on her.
The wife only had on the T-shirt and nothing else through this whole embarrassing event. The big cop summoned the little cop and her husband and said, "Bring her some pants." The wife never argued, never protested or raised her voice the whole time.
When the big cop put her in the squad car, he said her cuffs were not tight enough and tightened them to a point of cutting into her. Then he jabbed a sharp object into her palm. He never would tell her why she was being arrested.
I am that woman. I have called an attorney and would like to press charges. I have already filed a complaint. My left arm is badly in need of examining. What bothers me and hurts me the most is that my husband and the other officer were in the next room when the big cop was doing his damage neither one of them bothered to stop the brutality.
Editor's note: We understand that "L" is now in the process of divorcing her husband and becoming an activist to stop police brutality. We wish her the best in both endeavors.
Remember when the S.F. police beat the spleen out of Dolores Huerta?
I was there. (I'll be writing about it on my web page soon.) Huerta's lawyers showed me videotape shot at the same time:A black woman nearby was not taking part in any demonstration, merely windowshopping along Powell Street. A cop came up behind her and pulled her sweatshirt back over her head, exposing her breasts and rendering her incapable of defending herself. She never even saw him coming. She was assaulted and arrested for nothing, absolutely not a goddamn thing. The lawyers concluded: "We're representing her now too." (Thus are radicals born, I suppose.)
As disgusted as I am to even suspect it, I doubt the cops would have harassed her like that if she'd been a lighter shade of pale.
Unfortunately I have learned of police brutality in a town I currently hang around in. I am very disappointed to learn that officers of the Keansburg police station located in Monmouth County, New Jersey took it upon themselves to assault a man in a public bar, in the bathroom. While this is not an everyday occurrence and I am not sure of the consequences, I am very disappointed that such an act would even come to be heard of.
I would like to remain anonymous as I have written a letter to their captain regarding this occurrence. I think it is horrible that the conduct of officers on duty and off is kept quiet. Quite frankly, I don't know how the moral values of others can let this occur. Their code of silence and the threat to citizens lets these things go on. They are bad cops who consider themselves above the law and give other cops a bad name. Something should be done and, as a citizen, I feel that writing a letter is my responsibility and duty as a resident.
Sincerely, A citizen participating in the community
I agree with the writer that we have to do everything we can to expose police brutality. KS
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