Police impunity in the news

Askia’s beating and the ensuing protests took place in the shadow of a number of other highly publicized moments of State violence.

A little over a year ago, the Daily News reporters broke a story on a series of robberies by a gang of cops, who entered Dominican corner stores, flashed their badges and subsequently cut cables to security cameras before making off with the contents of the cash register.

Police thief Joseph Sulpizio on the Narcotics Strike Force made the front page of the Daily News on December 10th, in a report which cited numerous accounts of the cop robbing homes and individuals in Kensington. After numerous accounts of money being stolen by Sulpizio were reported to the police, he was put under investigation by Internal Affairs only to be released back onto the streets after being interviewed. Instead of charging him with theft (the original charge) Sulpizio was charged with “neglect of duty” for not following proper procedure when detaining someone he had robbed. Sulpizio drives a cruiser marked N142.

West Philly Uprising

On September 3rd police approached Askia Sabur in the doorway of a Chinese Restaurant at 55th and Landsdown where he was waiting for food. Police threw Askia to the ground and subjected him to a storm of violence. For nearly 3 minutes, 6 cops swung down on him with clubs, cracking his skull and breaking his arm in the process. A video recorded from a cell phone shows Askia on the ground, handcuffed by one hand, blows raining down with no indication he was even physically resisting the abuse, let alone attempting to fight off the cops. One cop in an apparent frenzy of rage and violence pulled his gun and pointed it at individuals in the crowd including the person filming. Police then did what they always do after sending someone to the hospital: they pressed charges. For being a victim of the beatdown, Askia was charged with assault on an officer as well as attempted robbery (of the cops baton).



Philadelphia – Members of AIDS activist groups ACT UP Philadelphia and Proyecto Sol, along with graduate students in the University of Pennsylvania’s Urban Studies Program and medical school, met with Mayor Michael Nutter on Monday, November 8th. Readers of The defenestrator will recall that ACT UP has been engaged in a long campaign to ensure housing for people with AIDS in Philadelphia and have been repeatedly denied the opportunity to even meet with Mayor Nutter. (see “Over our dead bodies,” fall 2010).

Over Wo(my)n’s Dead Bodies: On Surviving ‘Liberation’

It was a vivid autumn evening. Americans were still grieving from the stun of 9/11, and the only entity that dared punctuate the eerily quiet streets of New York were the lurid faces of the missing, plastered across a thousand white pages on everything that could still stand in lower Manhattan. It was under this tense and mournful atmosphere that first lady, Laura Bush, took to the airwaves. It would be the first solitary address of any president’s wife in U.S. history, and Mrs. Bush would use her airtime to bolster her husband’s military campaign, Operation Enduring Freedom. Just six weeks after the US invasion of Afghanistan, Mrs. Bush spoke with confidence and pride as she described the rejoicing felt across Afghanistan with the fall of the Taliban. ?

Strauss Group Revises Website as Hummus Boycott Campaigns Spread to Campuses

Strauss Group, the Israeli company that co-owns the Sabra Hummus brand, softened language on its website relating to its support of the Israeli Defense Force elite unit, the Golani Brigade.  The Jerusalem Post reported last week that Strauss support for Golani had been deleted entirely from its English site (but kept up in Hebrew) in response to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement (http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=195963).    This stirred up a maelstrom of controversy for Strauss, with boycott threats from Zionists in and out of Israel, furious that Israel’s second largest food and beverage company would bow to the global BDS movement.

Violence is a Small River: To be with Society is an Ocean.

An Interview with Athens Anti-Authoritarian Movement Comrades

This August I interviewed three comrades from the Athens section of the Anti-Authoritarian Movement of Greece (Alpha Kappa/AK in the Greek acronym). The folks I interviewed live in Exarhia, a neighborhood with a massive anarchist population in central Athens where the December 2008 Greek Uprising began, around which 200 police maintain a permanent security perimeter.

Community radio jumps through final hoops

After 10 years of tactical begging, cajoling, harassing and embarassing DC politicians to pass the Local Community Radio Act, the Prometheus Radio Project took to desperate hip oscillating measures in their quest for community radio. Targetting the National Association of Broadcasters (nab), whose own lobbying efforts upheld the bill's passage, Prometheus and other low power radio extremists took out their hula hoops in protest.

Book review: Take Back the Land, Give Root to Democracy

Take Back the Land:
Land, Gentrification and the Umoja Village Shantytown
by Max Rameau
Nia Press, 2008

Review by Alex Knight, endofcapitalism.com

I first heard about a group called Take Back the Land, which was illegally moving homeless families into empty homes in Miami, in a study group about the Civil Rights movement and the grassroots organizing that made it so powerful. The reference was highly appropriate. In many ways, Take Back the Land is a direct heir of that bottom-up, Black self-empowerment, civil disobedient, movement-building tradition, and is one of the most inspiring examples of a group renewing and developing that tradition today.

Philly Casino Update: SugarHouse Opens, Crime Goes Up, Asians Wanted

asians wantedIt's finally happened. In September, SugarHouse Casino opened its doors in the Fishtown area of Philadelphia to the dismay and continuing protests of community activists.

Last year, 14 demonstrators from Casino-Free Philadelphia were arrested for blocking access to the construction site. The group has continued to hold vigils up until the casino's opening day. Though it has now been open just three months, there have already been reports of violent casino-related crimes. In November, three women were robbed as they left the SugarHouse parking lot. One of them was treated at the hospital for injuries from being pistol-whipped in the head.

France Protests Austerity

Riots in Greece, militant student mobilizations in Great Britain, general strikes in Portugal and Spain, Ireland on the edge of financial collapse: this is the emerging face of Europe under the threat of economic crisis.  And in France over the past few months, millions of workers and students took to the streets to protest the French government’s proposed pension reform bill, disrupting transit and nearly crippling its oil industry.  Battles around pensions in France have erupted at key moments over the last 15 years, often resulting in the withdrawal of proposed reforms.

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