POLICE BRUTALITY HEARING - Kim Farley

07/21/03

On Saturday, the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg held a hearing to gather evidence documenting crimes regarding police brutality against African-Americans. This evidence will be taken to the World Tribunal on Reparations for African People in Philadelphia November 15 & 16.

The World Tribunal was first held in 1982. It found that the United States was guilty of breaking international law and owed 4.1 trillion dollars in reparations to people of African descent living in the USA. Around the country hearings are being held to gather evidence that will be taken to the next World Tribunal.

All of the testimony from the hearings in St. Pete came from people who feel they have been a victim of police brutality, or from people who feel that police brutality is a problem in the St. Pete/Tampa Bay area. There was no one there to argue the other point of view. Peoples Advocate Chimurenga Waller: (SB 1, OQ: …no they were not invited.) This lack of opposing voice made it inevitable that the outcome of the trial would find that police brutality is a problem in the designated areas.

Peoples Advocate Waller went on to explain that the event was a legal proceeding based on Article 8 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights. (SB 2, OQ …to take testimony)

Of the roughly half dozen people scheduled to give testimony, only two appeared. Some were unable to attend based on family tragedy or fear of repercussions from speaking out.

To hear the testimony, there was a panel of three judges, Adeleke Mpango, a graduate student and activist at USF, Anne Hirsch, a leading member of the Citizens United for Shared Prosperity in St. Petersburg, and Kiambe Mudada, executive Director of “My Brothers Keeper� substance abuse program.

The justices had four questions that they would deliberate on and answer. 1: Is police brutality a problem in the Tampa Bay area, 2: Is the evidence presented justify a case for reparations from the local gov’t of the area to the African people, 3: Does the testimony and evidnce clearly show violations of int’l law, and 4: Should the evidence and testimony be presented to the 12th World Tribunal for Reparations to African People.

Connie Burton, the host of WMNF’s Sunday morning show “Straight Talk,� and former employee of the Housing Authority, was one of the few scheduled to testify who appeared. She testified on her problems with the housing authority and police in her area. (SB 3, OQ …police aggression)
Testimony went to include the Precursor Drug Laws, which were recently passed in Tampa, that states people who are jumping in and out of cars, passing small objects in a “furtive� manner, or any other behavior which can be viewed as pertaining to drug dealing, can be arrested even if no crime has been committed.

Attorney Paul Rebein (Ray-bun), member of the Board of Directors for the Florida Chapter of the ACLU, was called as an expert witness about the Precursor Drug Laws. He believes that the biggest problem with this ordinance is that it gives police a license to arrest anyone and is thus subject to abuse. (SB 5, OQ …drugs on you)

Connie Burton voiced her displeasure that people in the African community such as ministers and advocates have praised this ordinance that many see as an easy way for police brutality, harassment. and discrimination. It is basically viewed as an anti-black policy. (SB 4, OQ … harass and arrest)

WMNF spoke with Capt. Bob Guidara of the Public Information Department of the Tampa Police. He said that there have only been 5 arrests in the Tampa Bay area as a result of the Precursor Laws. According to the law, a person is to be warned and educated that their action could be viewed as drug-related. It is rare for a second offense to occur which would result in an arrest.

Kelvin White testified that the police do not treat people the same depending on skin color and place of residence. (SB 6, OQ…designated neighborhoods) He also testified that while in prison for possession, he saw white people that got out of jail earlier than he did for what he deemed worse crimes. (SB 7, OQ… front of everybody).

More testimony was given about police brutality against the African Community. The judges convened to discuss their decision and to no surprise, they found that police brutality was a problem and that the African Community was owed reparations.

For WMNF News, I’m Kimberley Farley

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