Newark community continues struggle against police brutality
Newark, NJ – On May 15, 2009, Basire Farrell, 30, was mercilessly beaten to death on the street at 2:00 a.m. by five Newark cops. He was dead, murdered, at the scene. Nothing has happened since to the killers because they are cops.
“He was calling out to everyone to come help him,” said his aunt, Sharonda Smalls. “He was calling out, Mommy, Rhonda, come help me. When he died he had a look on his face like he was in pain. He wanted justice.”
She was speaking to a May 15 protest to commemorate the second anniversary of the murder, called by the family of the victim and the People’s Organization for Progress. The family of Dawoo Culver, 16, killed by a Newark policeman on April 2 of this year, also spoke. With extraordinary courage, Cynthia Johnson told of being raped by a Newark police officer, only to be treated as a criminal when she sought justice.
“This makes two years,” said Sharonda Smalls. “We need to fight back. They want us to give up. They want us to live in fear. Don’t give up because that’s what they want.”
The rally then marched to Newark’s infamous Fifth Precinct station house. Cynthia Johnson told of the assault on her by a police officer. “I feel sick to my stomach to stand in front of a police station knowing my rapist is free,” she said. She told of going to Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Councilman Ronald C. Rice, who represents the ward where the assault took place. She went to Internal Affairs, the police agency responsible to look into police misconduct. Nothing came of any of it, she said.
She was herself charged with resisting arrest and other charges. She had to hire an attorney to get the charges dismissed. Courts would not listen her complaints. “I have PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder],” she said. “It’s easy to say I’m crazy.” She vowed to “put on my big yellow POP shirt” and continue the struggle. During the day other victims said they were only able to survive and continue the struggle because of the support of POP.
“Once we rise up and take charge of our community we will not have another Basire Farrell or Cynthia Johnson,” said Bertha Smalls, who raised Basire Farrell. “We got to hold Obama accountable,” she said. “We put him in there but he hasn’t done a damn thing for us.”
Fuquan Culver told of the killing in the West Ward of his nephew, Dawoo Culver, 16, on April 2 by a Newark cop. He said no other people are brutalized by police the way Black people are brutalized. “Our leaders when they get to a certain level get pacified,” he said. “We’re headed in the right direction now, but we need to get more people,” he said. He announced a protest march around the killing of his nephew for May 20.
POP Chairman Lawrence Hamm said the Department of Justice needs to come in and investigate the Newark Police Department, noting that the ACLU has filed a case for an investigation. He said the development of modern police forces parallels the experience of black people after emancipation. They were based on state militias that existed to protect against slave rebellions in southern states. “That’s why it’s so hard to break police brutality, that’s why we need to keep up the fight,” he said. “This wicked system is held in place by the most naked brutal force imaginable. We need a revolution. There’s a time for thunder and lightning in the United States of America in the struggle for justice, and the time is now.”