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Newark protests police murder of Michael Brown

By David Hungerford

Michele Kamal speaking a Newark rally against police terror

Newark, NJ – Hundreds turned out for an Aug. 20 rally here to demand justice for Michael Brown. The protest was sponsored by the People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, NJ.

POP Chairman Lawrence Hamm told the gathering, “Justice is the arrest of the police officer who killed Michael Brown. That is the only standard of justice.”

He also demanded the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case of Michael Brown, charging that county prosecutors are “too cozy” with the police. Other demands were that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder investigate all cases of Black people killed by police, and that police officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose chokehold led to the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, be arrested.

“They want people in Ferguson, Missouri to be quiet,” he said. “We say to the people of Ferguson, stand up for justice!”

In contrast, New York Mayor Bill deBlasio calls for nothing more than “peaceful means” at a protest scheduled for Aug. 23 in Staten Island. Rev. Al Sharpton, organizer of the march, has said “We want the DA to say that he is either going to make an arrest on probable cause or give the case to the feds.”

Three parents of victims killed by police also attended: Earl Williams, father of Earl Faison, killed in Orange, New Jersey in 1999; Tawanna Graham, mother of Jacqui Graham, killed while in custody by East Orange police in 2009; and Michele Kamal, mother of Abdul Kamal, killed by Irvington police in 2013. The march was dedicated to the memory of POP member and fighter for justice Mary Weaver, recently deceased, the mother of Randy Weaver, killed by East Orange police in 1999.

“My son did not deserve to be shot down in the street like an animal,” said Michele Kamal. She said she can only bear the pain because she has so much support from her church, POP and others. “It’s so hard every day to go over and go over and go over what happened to my son. New Jersey needs to take this case to the grand jury in a hurry,” she said.

“My son was arrested [on a misdemeanor] and three days later he was dead,” said Tawanna Graham. “His body was found naked in his cell. It was three weeks before I was allowed to see his body. I could not recognize him from him being so beat up. All I ever got was a $500 bill for transfer of his body from the jail to the morgue.”

“It’s a physical pain,” she continued. “It takes you down. I’m in this walker because of it. I’m hanging on to see something better happen for my other son.”

“Police need to be rigorously trained to serve us,” said Earl Williams. “Instead a lot of them seem to go out there to make somebody’s day miserable. We raise our children to be good citizens. You can’t just up and take a life!”

The time when police can take a Black person’s life with impunity is over.

Marching for justice for Mike Brown in Newark

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