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Newark, NJ: Justice for Police Murder Victim Basire Farrell

By David Hungerford

Photo of the People's Organization for Progress holding protest signs.

He was “unarmed, brutally assaulted and murdered, kicked and beaten on the ground while he was handcuffed, tasered, placed in a body bag but not zipped up…”

Is this a story from the Third Reich? The old south? Iraq’s occupied Abu Ghraib? No: it was the May 15 killing of Basire Farrell, 30, African-American, by white officers of the Newark Police Department, as related by the aunt of the deceased, Sharonda Smalls. She spoke at an Aug. 8 street protest outside the headquarters of the Newark Police Department. The protest was called by the Farrell family, the People’s Organization for Progress and the New Black Panther Party, among others.

Sharonda Smalls raised demands for an investigation by the New Jersey attorney general, prosecution of the killers, creation of a civilian police complaint review board and an end to genocide and police brutality against black people.

The protest reflected a volcanic anger rising in Newark’s African-American community. Speaker after speaker compared the situation today with the conditions that led to the great Newark Rebellion of 1967. They demanded that killer cops be jailed and raised the cry, “Power to the people!”

People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Lawrence Hamm said, “You talk about Guantanamo, we got torture and murder right here. Cops think they are judge, jury and executioner. Nothing in the training manual says when you arrest someone you have to hit him with a car, beat him so bloody you have to wash his blood off your hands.”

He recalled the savage beating in 1967 of cabdriver John Smith by Newark police. “The Fourth Precinct is notorious for torture and murder,” he said. “People thought he was dead. That’s what touched off the Rebellion. If you’re serious about preventing future rebellions you got to fire those cops right now.” He added that Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy also needs to be fired.

Earl Williams, the father of Earl Faison, also spoke. The killing of Earl Faison, 26, by Orange, New Jersey cops led to an epic five-year struggle that finally sent five of the killer cops to jail for civil rights violations.

Speaking rhetorically to the police, Williams said, “We used to look up to you and respect you, but who knows the pain especially if it’s someone right in your family who’s been killed and it’s been done by those who are supposed to protect you. How can we look up to you now?”

Of the 1967 events, Williams said to call it a ‘riot’ is a “word game – it was a rebellion, but just a dress rehearsal of what is to come if this continues. This ain’t no game and people are getting tired of it. I got mad love for some of you guys but there’s a flip side and it’s a rifle with sights on it. You don’t know what can happen. Newark 67 signs are all over the place. Things can get a hell of a lot worse very quick – to this day there have been no murder charges against the cops who killed my son.”

“We ask why life in the black skin is worth less than life in the white skin,” said Sharonda Smalls.

Long ago Karl Marx raised the same question to the entire working class when he said, “Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin while in the black it is branded.” The working class and all progressive people must unite in the struggle to end racism and police brutality. Only then can a better society for all be built.

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