police brutality

Judge Sentences Serial Rapist Daniel Holtzclaw to 263 Years

Daniel Holtzclaw after 18 guilty verdicts were read. Screenshot via @BillSchammert/Twitter

The former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw has been sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting eight women and girls. Holtzclaw, who is white and Japanese, intentionally sought out black women in poor areas as his victims.

Breaking Through Systems of Injustice

My earliest encounter with law enforcement was when Kern County sheriff’s deputies pulled my cousin and me over in the fall of 1993. They pulled us out of vehicle in middle of nowhere and pushed my face in the gravel. I could taste the bits of rock pushing on my lips and teeth as the deputy asked, “Where is the knife?” And for the third time I assured him that I didn’t have a knife. We were eventually released that night and drove home, but that would not be my last encounter with the sheriff’s department.

Protesters Shut Down Streets in Chicago, Demand Emanuel Resign

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

Hundreds of protestors have flooded streets in downtown Chicago, demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel resign.

The protests began after Mayor Emanuel publicly apologized for the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot and killed by police in 2014. The Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives retired suddenly Dec. 7.

I Was Officer Ben Fields' Basketball Coach. How Do I Reconcile My Friend With His Actions?

Image via /Shutterstock.com

I remain deeply disturbed by the visual of the small, black girl being tossed across the classroom by a “man” in a police uniform. Intellectually, I am aware that what appears to be an act of senseless violence is yet another contribution to a mountain of overwhelming evidence that black lives do not matter in our society. But I also know Ben as a loving human being, filled with a deep sense of compassion and justice. How do I reconcile the two?

I must step back and look more closely at the roots of his behavior. What led him to such force? Was it a trained response? Was there a personal antecedent? … Does it matter?

On the occasion of Martin Luther King’s assassination, Robert Kennedy spoke to an audience of black people in Indianapolis — one of the few major cities not to erupt in violence. Kennedy implored the audience to not react in anger at the “awful grace of God.” My friend Ben Fields is currently caught up in such a moment and I would like to help him navigate the treacherous waters where he has suddenly found himself.

3 White Men Arrested After Minneapolis Shooting as Protests Continue

Twitter / Unicorn Riot

The mother of a victim of the Nov. 23 shooting in Minneapolis marches with protesters on Nov. 24. Image via Twitter / Unicorn Riot

After what is being described as "a group of white supremacists" opened fire on protesters near a Black Lives Matter camp in Minneapolis, leaving five wounded, local police are still trying to identify the shooters. On Nov. 24, police took three white men into custody, two of which turned themselves in voluntarily. A fourth suspect was also released, after investigators found the man was not present at the scene of the shooting.

Chicago Police Officer Charged with First-Degree Murder in Shooting of Black Teen

Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder, one year after the shooting and killing of Laquan McDonald, 17, in October of 2014.

This is the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality in nearly 35 years, according to The Chicago Tribune.

South Carolina Sheriff Fires Officer After Violent Arrest, Places 'Some Responsibility' on Student

YouTube / Magic Storm Media / CNN

Screenshot via YouTube / Magic Storm Media / CNN

South Carolina sheriff Leon Lott announced Wednesday afternoon that Ben Fields, the police officer who violently arrested a 15-year-old black female student at Spring Valley High School, has been fired.

"It's not what I expect from my deputies, and it's not what I tolerate from my deputies," said Lott.

Although Lott removed Fields from his police force, he also commented on the behavior of the student.

School Police Officer Assaults 15-Year-Old Black Female Student in Classroom

Screenshot via Heavy

Screenshot via Heavy

On the morning of Oct. 26, a student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina was flipped out of her desk and tossed across the room by school resource officer Ben Fields.

Fields is already facing an outstanding lawsuit filed against him for "recklessly targeting African-American students with allegations of gang membership." But in 2014, Fields received a "Culture of Excellence" award for being "an exceptional role model to the students he serves and protects."


Image via /Shutterstock

As Mariame Kaba of Project Nia notes, police violence is not simply just the killing of peoples. It includes the every day forms of harassment, surveillance, and profiling that support both gender and race hierarchies.

The campaign to #sayhername is not simply about remembering and organizing around black women and other women of color who have been killed by the police. It is about re-conceptualizing what police violence means. When we center women of color in our analysis, we see that police violence is much more than individual acts of police brutality. It is an entire system of harassment and surveillance that keeps oppressive gender and racial hierarchies in place.

We are then left with the task of not just holding individual police officers to account, but re-conceptualizing what justice, safety, and accountability should be.

The Prophetic Preaching of Sandra Bland

Image via SandySpeaks/YouTube

There is a long pause near the end of Sandra Bland’s first # SandySpeaks video, made in January of 2015. It lasts almost five seconds, and in that pause my calling resides. There is no other moment I identify with more solidly.

Near the end to her video, Sandy says, “It’s time for me to do God’s work…”

Then the pause comes, with a sigh in the middle.

Then, “I know everybody don’t believe in God, which is fine. But I want you to know that on Sandy Speaks, I’m gong to talk about God, because for me has truly opened my eyes and shown me that there is something out there we can do.”