“Being Black…Should Not Be A Crime”- Hundreds Rally In Michael Brown Shooting

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Being Black Is Not A Crime Sign

Bill Sorem

Sign at a Minneapolis rally supporting Michael Brown who was gunned down by police in Ferguson Missouri

The police killing of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, has rekindled a simmering debate over how to deal with police violence in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Hundreds of people representing a rainbow of races, ages and ethnic groups rallied in solidarity for Michael Brown and all victims of police brutality at the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza Thursday. They carried signs saying, “black lives matter”, “all crimes don’t carry the death penalty” and “being black is not a crime”.

“I’m just here tonight to bring awareness that being black in America should not be a crime”, said a woman with a hand-drawn sign. “Police are not above the law. If the police are policing us, who is policing the police?”

“No justice, no peace. Prosecute the police”, chanted the crowd of about 400. Some were seasoned peace demonstrators, but most were regular people gathered to seek a solution to a very serious problem.

Minneapolis has seen a string of police actions that many in the crowd would argue are police brutality — most aimed at minorities and the poor. A group called Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPD) maintains a list of nearly 200 Minnesotans it says were police brutality victims, including Terrance Franklin, a man who Minneapolis police shot and killed last year. A lawsuit brought by Franklin’s family said he had his hands up and had surrendered when he was gunned down by police. A grand jury cleared the police officers, but a $1 million civil suit against the Minneapolis police was filed in May.

Brown also reportedly had his hands up when a Ferguson police officer shot him six times. The similarities in the cases are all too familiar for many at the Minneapolis rally.

“Black people have been murdered by government officials since the day we were no longer property, so please don’t talk to me if you believe this is just a coincidence,” said a poetess addressing the crowd. “Why is it so hard to believe that black men are innocent?”

“This is what fed up looks like. This is beyond race. This is beyond a rant”, she continued. “I’m tired of being divided and unequal.”

Using the marketplace to curb police violence

Police watchdog group Committee for Professional Policing, the political arm of (CUAPD), says Minneapolis has paid out $20 million in police brutality lawsuits over the last seven years. The group says that’s a huge burden taxpayers are forced to bear because city officials won’t take action to boot bad cops. Michelle Gross, President of Communities United Against Police Brutality, suggests that insurance companies would act much faster to solve the problem if cops were forced to buy their own liability insurance.

“The city could pay the base rate of the insurance, but officers would have to pay any differences in the rate, based on claims and judgements. And therefore those officers who engage in police brutality would have higher premiums, eventually get priced out of the market and maybe not even able to get insurance which would be just great so we could get rid of the bad ones.”

The group has been gathering signatures to put such a proposal on the city ballot this November. But it apparently did not gather enough signatures in time for this year’s election.

Others in the crowd said it would take more than just booting out a few bad cops to solve the problem.

“It’s a systemic problem”, said Linda Hoover of Women Against Military Madness who supports the CUAPD insurance premium initiative. “It’s not just a few bad cops. It’s not going to help fundamentally to have just a few more women cops or a few more cops of various colors and various nationalities. We really need an overhaul of the whole system.”

Another sign offered up another possible solution. It read “Know justice, know peace.”

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

6 thoughts on ““Being Black…Should Not Be A Crime”- Hundreds Rally In Michael Brown Shooting

  1. Just to be clear, when I spoke I also stated that it is not about a few bad cops but about a bad system that validates and rewards brutal policing. However, our charter amendment campaign is one way to get at the systemic problem that the city government refuses to address.–Michelle Gross, President, Communities United Against Police Brutality

  2. And, to clarify further, Committee for Professional Policing is the political committee of Communities United Against Police Brutality that is working to get the professional liability charter amendment on the ballot. By law, ballot initiatives require a separate political committee.

  3. My name is Alistair Hosie. I live in Scotland.UK this incident in the USA is just the last straw this has got to end.Youtube is full of police brutality,It has happened many times also here in the UK Black people are taken into police custody and die whilst there. I suspect Black people (if you believe the police )are very clumsy, they fall down the stairs in police stations time after time and die.Even when pathologists say in a subsequent report that the men and women died from being held around the neck with a baton,no action is ever taken,repeat never.We pople need also to stand up and tell the political leaders enough is enough.Alistair ps please excuse my typing as I have parkinsons disease

  4. I believe this should happen nationwide, but let’s face it:
    it doesn’t have a chance of being passed in Congress. We have to start at the
    local level. If we can help the Committee for Professional Policing get their
    Police Insurance Amendment passed in Minneapolis, hopefully the idea will
    spread across the country.

    Here’s a link to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CommitteeForProfessionalPolicing)
    and here’s a link (http://www.insurethepolice.org) to their website that has
    tons of information about the Police Insurance Amendment, as well as ways to
    support the campaign.