Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Newark, NJ: People vs. Police Terror

By staff

Interview with Parents of Police Murder Victims

Banner: "Stop police brutality"

Fight Back! talked on May 8 with Elizabeth (Bonnie) Moore, whose son Rasheed, 26, was killed in January by Newark, NJ police officer Thomas Ruane (see Fight Back! March/April 2005.) Fight Back! also talked with Earl Williams, whose son Earl Faison was killed by Orange, NJ policemen in April of 1999. After a struggle of five years, led by the Faison’s family and by the People’s Organization for Progress, four cops were sentenced to terms of 33 months each for violations of the victim’s civil rights. One officer was sentenced to nine years.

Earl Williams is the grandfather of one of Rasheed Moore’s children. He and Mrs. Moore have known each other for years.


Fight Back!: What was the official story you were told when your sons were killed?

Earl Williams: We were told my son died from heart attack or something like that. They had no idea he had asthma. Come to find out he died from asphyxiation. They beat him unconscious, then they sprayed him with pepper spray, which caused his respiratory system to shut down. I call that murder. Talk about a hurtful loss.

Elizabeth (Bonnie) Moore: The police didn’t talk to me at first. They talked to Odie’s [Rasheed’s] cousin because the car he was in was registered to her. We were at home waiting for him to show up and she called. She said, “He died.” I was sure it was a mistake. It was like it wasn’t even true.

We had to go to Homicide. Detective Sabur told me it was a shooting. I asked who shot who – this kid [Rasheed] doesn’t mess around with guns. They said the cops shot him.

The police said he had rammed their cruiser. It had just snowed. You couldn’t even move through the streets. There isn’t a dent in that car other than the bullet holes. The other cop said the car was dragging him down the street. How could they be dragging one cop down the street and the other one was shooting in the window!

The cops claimed Odie hit their car and knocked it out of control. Pete [a co-passenger shot in the same incident] said the cop kept shooting and even reloaded. The cops told Pete, “You’re supposed to be dead like your partner.”

Earl: Why did they shoot? Where were they gonna go in all that snow?

Bonnie: All they told me was Rasheed had got shot in an altercation. But this boy will walk away from a fight. He had no record at all. They couldn’t find anything at all.

Earl: I can endorse that. This kid wasn’t violent at all. They couldn’t find anything on him. If they can find anything at all on a kid they will bring it up. Like they don’t have kids of their own.

Bonnie: They really messed me up. He took care of me, paid my bills, watched out for me. Now I’m here all by myself. His older girl is starting to miss him now but she doesn’t really know what’s going on. I just can’t believe it. I sit in the kitchen waiting for him to show up. The guys stand out there talking and he’s supposed to be there. I keep telling myself he’s gone away and he’ll be back. I could be sad and he could always say something to cheer me up.

Earl: I was like that for years. You can sit in your house and wait for him to show up. Earl was the same way. Both kids were like that. Earl could bring a smile to your face in the saddest situation.

Bonnie: I didn’t know how many elderly people he knew until they all showed up for his funeral because he had helped them. This is the same way he is.

Earl: As a parent we tend to dread that phone call late in the night if the kids aren’t in the house. But I didn’t worry about Earl at all. He knew how to stay out of trouble out there. In his situation they just snatched him out of a car and beat him up. It got sadistic to the point they took him to the station house and beat him to death.

Bonnie: I still haven’t heard from [Newark Mayor] Sharpe James.

Earl: I didn’t even hear from the mayor of Orange for two years. When he finally tried to reach me I just walked away from it. If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything. Don’t worry yourself sick like I did.

Fight Back!: How much justice did you get for Earl, and how?

Earl Williams: We went through five years of pure h-e-l-l to get what justice we did. After the cops got convicted, good old [trial] Judge Lifland tried to drop the charges. We had to go to Philly to reinstate the convictions. Four cops got 33 months and one got nine years. He [son Earl Faison] had asthma but that had nothing to do with his death. They beat him to death. If I had done that I would have gone to jail immediately and not for just nine years. Justice is not blind. These guys pick and choose.

Bonnie: The same two cops shot two other kids after they shot Odie. I thought they were supposed to be on desk duty.

Earl: Why sit back and get killed just because? If we got murderers running around out there we got to do something about it. If somebody did something, apprehend them, arrest them. You don’t have to kill them. The cops sit around in the bars and brag about how they beat people.

Bonnie: That’s why I had to quit working for the Irvington Police Department.

Earl: They try to buy you off. I took pictures to [then-Essex County Prosecutor] Patricia Hurt and she was gasping. They got rid of her – they said she was too extravagant spending but just the other day the Star Ledger said they dropped her because of the case. That was supposed to have released Essex County from responsibility some kind of way.

Bonnie: It seems like they don’t have no remorse, it’s just another notch on their trigger fingers. I saw them beat a girl on Bergen Street. They beat her like an animal.

Earl: It was senseless. The city was in a state of emergency with the snow. He couldn’t ever have gotten away from them. There wasn’t any excuse for that. I remember that day two detectives came to our house and told us a young man was deceased. They asked me about a tattoo and I told them no. I’m going, “They made a mistake.” But he had a tattoo he hadn’t told me about. They showed me some pictures but they were from angles. They didn’t show they had beaten Earl so bad his eye was hanging out.

Bonnie: I told myself it wasn’t him. They just showed me a picture.

Earl: Once they finally released his body I spent an hour with my son. I took pictures because I wanted everybody to know what the police can do to you. Things continue to go the way they do because people don’t know the lengths to which the cops will go.

Bonnie: I saw one cop pick up a girl and take her to the side and do what he wanted to do. They rob and take drugs.

Earl: A lot of them feel like a badge makes them super-citizens.

Fight Back!: What does all this say about the social system we live under?

Earl: The social system these days is not too social, especially for black folks. Or Hispanic folks, or poor white folks. Things need to change as far as the social system goes. Mr. [Michael] Chertoff, who is now the head of Homeland Security, was one of the lawyers for the cops in Earl’s case. I could murder everybody in this room and this guy would have you thinking it was your fault.

Elizabeth (Bonnie) Moore, right, mother of Rasheed Fuquan Moore

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