Volume , Number 0
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Jeffrey j. Weiss
Paul von Blum
Silja j.a. Talvi
On Second Street
Stolen lives Project
Activist Priorities 2000
Slippin' & Slidin'
Gay and Lesbian Community Notes
Jan knippers Black
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By Stolen Lives Project
Review by Larry Everest & and the staff of Revolution Books, Berkeley
Crime has been dropping for a number of years, but youd never know it from the capitalist press, which is overflowing with crime coverage and reality-based cop shows. Yet theres one crime wave the media rarely touches and never seriously examines: the epidemic of killings by law enforcement.
Indeed, the U.S. Department of Justice has been required since 1994 to gather and disseminate statistics on the number of people killed by law enforcement. But its done nothing other than to report that about 350 cases of justifiable homicide occur by the police annually.
Stolen Lives: Killed by Law Enforcement is a powerful antidote to this official and media silence. Published by the Stolen Lives Project, a joint effort of the Anthony Baez Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild, and the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, its dedicated to all those who have lost their lives at the hands of brutal law enforcement officers and to the families of victims who have inspired a movement to fight for justice and demand that police brutality stop.
This unique, on-going project attempts to expose the true circumstances and magnitude of law enforcement killings and to put a human face on a horrifying epidemic. Gathering information from newspaper articles, reports from families of the victims, eyewitnesses, activists against police brutality, and other sources, Stolen Lives paints a devastating picture of the extent and impact of state violence.
This second edition of Stolen Lives presents an updated accounting of those killed by law enforcement since 1990. Over 2,000 cases are listed. Their stories vary from one or two sentences, for which little information is available, to much more detailed accounts of well-known cases, such as Amadou Diallo, shot 19 times by New York police. Stolen Lives also includes more detailed narratives of 40 individuals killed by law enforcementwho they were, what they meant to their families, and the impact of their deaths on loved ones.
Karen Saari, chief researcher for the Stolen Lives Project, estimates there are at least three police killings every day in the U.S., and sometimes as many as ten a day. While researching Stolen Lives, she found that:
- while police killings increasingly occur across a broad range of people, over three-fourths of the victims are people of color
- when police arrive on the scene of an incident, they often escalate the situation, rather than diffuse it, with SWAT-style actions
- many police killings occur within minutes or even seconds after police arrive on the scene
- in most cases victims are unarmed and/or have committed no crime, or were involved in a situation that could have been resolved without the use of deadly force
Stolen Lives shreds the usual story-line presented by TV news and cop shows when dealing with police killings: courageous cops forced to defend themselves after being assaulted by hardened criminals, drug addicts, or vicious gang members. While Stolen Lives provides the details of well-known police killings such as Anthony Baez and Tyisha Miller, it also includes many stories that never make the evening news:
- Harold Shover, who was shot twice by a Phoenix police officer from within two feet. Cops claim that Harold was advancing on them in a threatening manner with a whiskey bottle held over his head.
- Mario Paz, shot twice in the back by an LA SWAT team looking for drugs and money. The person named on the search warrant did not live at the house and had moved out of the neighborhood years earlier.
- Adrian Reynolds, who died after being beaten and brutalized by more than six corrections officers in a Kentucky jail. The officers claimed they were trying to prevent Reynolds from committing suicide. His family believes he was targeted because he was planning on filing an excessive use of force complaint against Louisville officers who initially arrested him.
The father of Jerrold Hall, shot in the back of the head by a Bay Area Rapid transit officer in 1992 on suspicion of stealing a Walkman, said, All over the country. I go to different places and I hear these horror stories. And what happens? DAs dont indict, some people dont even get that farthey dont even get to a grand jury. We cant slack off. Were going to have to continue to push, and make things happen for ourselves...No justice, no peace. Indeed, one of the goals of the Stolen Lives Project is to broaden and strengthen this movement, and compel people from all walks of life to act to stop police brutality.
Stolen Lives attempts to speak for the victims of police brutality who can no longer speak for themselves, and to inspire a movement to demand that police brutality stop. It is an invaluable tool for anyone organizing against or seeking to expose police brutality and state violence in the U.S. Z
Larry Everest is a correspondent for the Revolutionary Worker newspaper and author of Behind the Poison Cloud: Union Carbides Bhopal Massacre.