In 1986 Ojore Lutalo, a black revolutionary in the Trenton State Prison — now the New Jersey State Prison — wrote to Bonnie Kerness’s American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in Newark. His letter described the extreme isolation and other brutalities in the prison’s Management Control Unit, which he called a “prison within a prison.”
“I could not believe what he was telling me” about the MCU, she says. She reacted by becoming “this lunatic white lady” calling New Jersey corrections officials about Lutalo.
Kerness immediately went to work trying to stop MCU guards from harassing prisoners by waking them at 1 a.m. to make them strip in front of snarling dogs leaping for their genitals — to arbitrarily have them switch cells. She got this practice stopped.
Lutalo’s letter also began to open her eyes to the torture of solitary confinement, which in the mid-1980s was just starting to spread across the country as a mass penological practice. Coordinator of the AFSC’s national Prison Watch Project, Kerness had worked on prison issues since the mid-1970s. Now she became an anti-solitary-confinement activist. In 2012, she has been one longer and more consistently than, possibly, anyone else.
Posted by copwatch | Sat, 02/11/2012 - 11:00pm story
Killer Cops Aren't Heroes: We Need Police Who Think Like Firefighters, Not Like Soldiers in a War Zone
By Dave Lindorff Created 01/07/2012
The tragic slaying of troubled eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez in Brownsville, Texas by trigger-happy local police illustrates the sad an dangerous state we have arrived at as we turn our local police forces into SWAT team soldiers up-armed with assault rifles, black facemasks and stun grenades.
Posted by copwatch | Wed, 01/04/2012 - 8:41pm story
by Bay of Rage Saturday Dec 31st, 2011 2:15 AM
Over the past few years, a skeptical optimism began to emerge among those in this country who had defined themselves in open antagonism towards capital and the state. It seemed possible that maybe, just maybe, the terrain of struggle was finally shifting and the balance of forces would slowly tip in our favor.
Posted by copwatch | Fri, 09/16/2011 - 11:50pm story
Closing Arguments on Thursday, Sept 22nd!
Currently, the civil rights trial about the August 9, 2007 police murder of Martin Frederick Cotton II is in its last few days. The Eureka Police beat Martin Cotton brutally- in fact- beat him to death in broad daylight, in front of the Eureka Rescue Mission and many (other) houseless people. The civil trial, brought by Martin Cotton's father, Marty Cotton, and Martin's young daughter, Siehna Cotton.
Posted by copwatch | Sat, 01/08/2011 - 2:36pm story
SF police shooting of wheelchair user questioned
Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer / Thursday Jan 6, 2011 Paul Chinn / The Chronicle
An officer examines the scene where police shot a man in a wheelchair who had allegedly stabbed an officer Tuesday.
Use-of-force experts who viewed the video recording of San Francisco police shooting a man in a wheelchair questioned why officers moved dangerously close to the knife-wielding suspect and said an electronic Taser would have been the ideal weapon to use in that confrontation.
Tuesday's shooting outside the city's Department of Public Health building on 10th and Howard Streets occurred moments after officers responded to a 10:18 a.m. report of an agitated man puncturing car tires.
Police Chief George Gascón said the suspect, who remains at San Francisco General Hospital recovering from non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, had stabbed a responding officer in the upper left shoulder before a passer-by began video-recording the incident. Gascón also said officers used pepper spray on the man in a failed attempt to subdue him before the video started.
David Klinger, an expert on police use of force and an associate professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, cautioned that the video offers a two-dimensional glimpse of the incident and that it remains only "one piece of the investigation."
Yet Klinger, a former Los Angeles patrol officer, also wondered why officers closed in on a man who had already stabbed one of their own and continued to behave erratically.
"Given that officers are trained to give distance between themselves with suspects who are armed and dangerous, at first blush I'd want to know why they were getting in that close," Klinger said.
We have been getting together with groups and individuals in the Bay area to spread the word about Martin Cotton and the trial. Also, we've been connecting to strategize and talk about how our communities are struggling against police violence. And how we can strengthen our efforts. So far, while the situations we are dealing with are so intense, our encounters in the Bay area have been enriching experiences!
Posted by copwatch | Wed, 11/24/2010 - 11:11am story
The civil trial in Oakland: Siehna Cotton et al. v. Eureka Police Dept. and Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept. has been POSTPONED. Please keep your eyes and ears out for the new date, some time after February!
A couple of us from Redwood Curtain CopWatch want to travel to the Bay Area (and points between and around here and there) to talk to groups of people about what happened to Martin Cotton, to invite people to the trial, and to help connect the conversations and struggles that our communities are engaged in regarding police brutality. [See below for links about events planned so far] We are looking for ideas, suggestions, and help in our organizing to make presentations and participate in gatherings and conversations regarding state violence, in these days leading up to the trial. Beginning on December 13th and probably running for two or three weeks, we want to have a full schedule in the Bay Area and thereabouts. Can you help? Perhaps, for instance, you could book us to make a presentation where you live, publicize our visit and the upcoming trial, and/or inform us of events and discussions already planned in your area.