Tag Archives: justice

Report From “Justice for Africa” Protest at LAPD HQ (Update with Video)

LAPD Shooting Africa**Note** This is another update to previous posts on CopBlock.org (here, here, here, here, and here) featuring photos and video from the “Justice for Africa” protests in Los Angeles over the killing of yet another unarmed person: This update includes additional video, as well as commentary from Jason Nellis, who blogs at “The World as Seen by Jazoof” and has also been involved with Nevada Cop Block and other Las Vegas area groups. Jason, a native of Los Angeles, who now lives in Las Vegas, was present during the initial protests at the LAPD HQ, after the very public murder of a man initially known only as “Africa,” who has since been identified as Charley Keunang.

Once again, if you personally have any video, photos, or experiences to share from the protests (or any previous incidents with the LAPD) you can share them via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In addition, included at the bottom of this post is a list of California-area Cop Block groups that you could connect with if you want to promote police accountability in your area and help protect your neighbors from police violence.

“Justice for Africa March to LAPD (with videos)”

UPDATE: “Africa’s” name is Charley Keunang.
More videos may be added…

On March 1st, 2015 in downtown Los Angeles, a homeless Skid Row resident, who went by the name “Africa,” was attacked and shot to death by police, and it was all caught on video that went viral almost instantly, enraging the nation once again. As usual, I shared and ranted about it, but this time it had the uncommon element of propelling me to go out there (not that easy for me, but at least just in the next state over, and LA is my hometown – last time a video called for me to come was Bundy Ranch), and when I heard there was going to be a protest on the morning of Tuesday March 3rd, I took the bus out there Monday night just before midnight.

As soon as I got to Grand Central Station at 6:20am, I sat down and overheard people near me playing the video on repeat, loudly. Others commented on it and this brought to the forefront how real and big this had gotten so quickly. I told them about the protest and they said they would try to go.

I got to the protest site at 6th and San Pedro about 7:45 (AM), and at least 50 people surrounded the memorial where he had been killed in front of a tree. It quickly grew to over 200 people, and the energy maintained by songs, speeches, chants, and drums was very palpable. We began marching up San Pedro around 8:30.

We turned on a street towards the LAPD Headquarters and at I believe Temple, a line of bicycle cops awaited us. After a few moments of being surrounded (mostly by press), they dispersed and took off on their bikes to let us through. Instead of continuing straight up the hill, we turned and marched behind them, onward to LAPD HQ.

When we arrived at the behemoth LAPD Headquarters around 9, there had to be well over 300 people in the open area. The energy was kicked up even more with powerful speeches breaking out everywhere, chalking, a die-in, song and dance, chants, and so on. Police taped up the side entrance we came in and another set of stairs next to it, but the front facing City Hall behind us remained open. Some protesters went in to give comments at the Police Commission meeting, but cameras weren’t allowed to go in.

Around 10:45-11 I had to recharge my phone and tablet. When I came back, after about 30 minutes, most of the protestors were gone. I got a couple videos of young people angrily speaking to the cops and then found out their friend, and well-known activist and Anti-Media writer Lissa Bissa (Twitter: @pentagonista also seen in videos I shot) was arrested when trying to walk into the hearing, without being given a reason. I interviewed her friends, two girls and a guy (the girl speaking being Evelyn Vanessa Aparicio Chavez). I asked the cops on camera, as well, and they would give no answers. She wasn’t even taking any pictures or video or holding a phone the times that I saw her before that. (Update: Anti-Media article on Alissa’s arrest can be found here: http://t.co/EJIzoEi6OB)

My battery ran out again, and I charged from maybe 11:45-12ish, and returned to only the male friend, Amari Shakur (aside from Adam Kokesh and his assistant), who informed me the two other female friends had been arrested as well. The one who talked to me in the prior interview, Evelyn, was attacked by five cops. I started an interview with him (Shakur), but got cut off after 16 seconds. He pointed out and shouted at the cops who took her down as they left the building, holding old-looking riot gear. I barely got a picture as they exited the premises. So, yes, I missed THREE arrests. Fortunately, Adam Kokesh (Twitter: @AdamKokesh) got the footage and I imagine it should be up soon. (Note: Adam’s video of those arrests can be seen here.)

I also asked Captain Graham, the one cop who seemed to have slight conversational ability, why she was arrested, and he said for trespassing, even though I pointed out and he confirmed that the Police Commission held a public meeting. This video also cut out halfway through my questioning.

After that I charged again, returned around 1pm when the rest were leaving the LAPD HQ, to walk over to the city jail and find out where their friends were. On the way off the premises, one protester started speaking about their friend just getting beat up and some production guy tried to grab or push the girl who was speaking. It conflated quickly and the guy backed away and said he was calling the cops (started video then), and they moved the camera away, but then moved it back to record the girl yelling. It dissipated as quickly as it heated up and the group continued on to the Los Angeles Detention Center.

We went into the jail visiting lobby and P.M. Beers and Cassandra Fairbanks (Twitter: @CassandraRules and @PMBeers) asked the cop for info on Lissa, and he eventually said she was being booked there and gave the code of her offense- said she must’ve asked the cop to fight her- to which Cassandra replied there is no way that happened, she was right there. I got some of this on video and then they told me cameras weren’t allowed. So, I put it down and got the second part on audio. I believe they then got the info of the second girl, while I once again had to recharge.

On the way back around 1:30-2, as we headed out, a protester told another rehearsing mainstream media reporter about the 5 cops beating up a young girl, and he just kept a very smug smile on his face and repeatedly said “thanks for your opinion” and such, very snarky and fake.

I returned later that day around 9pm, told there’d be more protesting, but it may have been too late and all I saw was lots more chalking (Las Vegas’ Sunset Activist Collective member Ballentine paid a visit that I didn’t even expect), and barricades just brought out by police since the protest. I suppose in preparation for following days. There is another bigger march planned for Saturday March 7th, which I will likely make, but I encourage everyone to go who can.

Facebook Gallery for photos (The photos are also available, on previous CopBlock.org posts, here and here):

https://www.facebook.com/jason.nellis.3/media_set?set=a.10153617700228625.1073741918.658073624

Add Jason on Facebook at http://facebook.com/jason.nellis.3 or follow him on Twitter @jazoof and read his blog to keep up on updates, as well as future activism in and around Las Vegas (or possibly LA).

Additional Resources:

CopBlock Groups Page: Connect with others in your area or start a group/chapter.
Know Your Rights Page: Get tips, tactics and knowledge to help yourself during a police interaction.
CopBlock Network: Support the great folks who make CopBlock.org possible by contributing $1/month to our efforts.

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Nevada Area Cop Block Groups/Allies

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WILL THERE EVER BE JUSTICE? by Rondha Gibson

Justice

Justice?

Can there ever really be justice? I never thought I would question this

Really never cared or had a reason to give it too much thought before

 I arrived in Las Vegas in 2000 due to the passing of my father

It was  a sad time for me reconnecting with my little sister

Who I hadn’t seen in many years. This is how I met Stanley L. Gibson

My brother in law and him were friends and he had come over one day

And that basically was the day we started our life together

For the next 12 years it was just Stan-N-Rondha

Two orphans against the world, but we had love

We shared a love that no-one could ever understand

But it was our love and then in one quick instant it was gone

By the hands of the people that say they are here to serve and protect

What they don’t tell you is they only serve and protect each other

They say if you are robbed you should call the police but

I ask you who do I call when Metro was the one who robbed me

This power LVMPD has to kill without consequence needs to end

Too much blood has been spilt due to their actions

Too much innocent blood has been shed

Stand beside me and let our voices be heard

NEVER FORGET!  NEVER FORGET!

by

 Rondha Gibson

Widow of Stanley L. Gibson

And victim of

 The actions of LVMPD & Jesus Arevalo

Justice Denied

Will Justice be Denied Yet Again in Las Vegas?

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Justice for Stanley Gibson or Just an End-Around Coroner’s Inquest Reforms?

Stanley L. Gibson

Stanley L. Gibson, a disabled Army vet, was murdered by Ofc. Jesus Arevalo on Dec. 12, 2011

Within the last few days, it’s been reported that Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson is close to reaching a decision regarding the murder of Stanley L. Gibson by a member of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Additionally, reports have stated that Wolfson is “99% sure” that he will seek an indictment against Jesus Arevalo, the officer that fired 7 shots from an AR-15 into the Gibson’s back as he sat unarmed and clearly visible inside his car, which had been pinned and immobilized by several police vehicles. While there has been no official statement regarding what exactly this imminent decision might be or what charges may be sought, informed sources have indicated that within the next sixty days Wolfson will make up his mind whether the case will be put before a grand jury for a possible indictment against Arevalo.

At first glance, putting things in the hands of a grand jury would seem to be a step forward, in that it at least presents a possibility of Ofc. Arevalo being held accountable for his actions that day. Las Vegas police have a long and storied history of avoiding any sort of consequences for their heavy-handed tactics, no matter how blatant and deadly they have been. Steve Wolfson himself hasn’t exactly risen to the occasion when given the opportunity to make Las Vegas area law enforcement pay for their misdeeds.

A large part of the blame for this lack of accountability can be attributed to the long standing practice of determining whether police shootings were justified through the quasi-judicial Coroner’s Inquest process. Badly weighted in favor of exonerating the police rather than investigating the circumstances involved, the Coroner’s Inquests functioned more as a dog and pony show to construct a cover story than a fact finding  effort. As such, it should come as no surprise that only one single police killing was ever found to be unjustified (the DA still declined to prosecute the cops involved). The sheer odds of that being true over the course of 40+ years, including 378 shootings since 1990 alone, attest to the imbalance inherent in such a system.

William Mosher testifies during Coroner Inquest into the shooting of Erik Scott

Accelerating rates of officer involved shootings, many resulting in killings, along with outrage generated by the subsequent questionable exoneration of the police, led to demands to amend the Coroner’s Inquest. An overhaul of the Coroner’s Inquest was approved by county commissioners, including provisions to have victims represented by independent council in order to make the process more fair. However, this revised system of investigating shootings has never been implemented, due to the union representing Las Vegas area police (who not coincidentally believe Arevalo did nothing wrong) has advised them not to participate in Coroner’s Inquest proceedings because of their “adversarial nature.”

However, many of the original flaws within the Coroner’s Inquest system continue to exist and in some cases are even worse when grand juries are used to determine whether police and other officials should be prosecuted for questionable actions. Like the Coroner’s inquest, grand jury proceedings are conducted exclusively by the District Attorney’s office, who works closely with, and is often dependent on the cooperation of, police officers in order to secure convictions in cases they bring to trial. It is entirely up to them what evidence will be presented, who is called to testify, and how those witnesses  are questioned. In the past, prosecutors have often displayed a tendency to construct their cases in such a way so as to paint police in a favorable light. This conflict of interest was one of the most cited issues with the Coroner’s Inquest.

When the Government Prosecutes One of Its Own, the Scales of Justice are Tipped Heavily Against the Truth Coming Out

Even worse is the secrecy of grand juries. Nevada conducts their grand jury proceedings under what amounts to a full gag order. Nobody involved in a grand jury may  publicly disclose any of the evidence presented to the jury, information obtained by the jury, events or statements occurring in front of the jury, or even the results of an investigation by the grand jury. The lone exception to this is individual witnesses, who are limited to discussing their own personal testimony. Breaking these restrictions is a criminal act.

What this effectively means is that the DA’s office and the courts have complete control over what information goes before the jury and what is disclosed to the public afterwards. As lopsided as the Coroner’s inquest was, at least it was a public spectacle that was available to be scrutinized by the community at large. No such transparency exists with grand juries. Basically, a prosecutor can call only sympathetic or unconvincing witnesses and do a half-hearted  effort while questioning them to ensure the jury doesn’t find enough evidence to support a criminal charge and then hold their failure to issue an indictment up as  proof that a shooting was justified. Nobody outside of the grand jury room would be able to refute this assertion since everything took place behind closed doors and none of them are allowed to speak about what they saw.

Fact is, using a grand jury to determine whether police shootings should be prosecuted violates pretty much every aspect of the proposed reforms (from the Nevada ACLU) for the Coroner’s Inquest:

  • Allow the attorneys for both the officers and the victims to participate directly in the process and ask questions during the inquest;
  • Have a neutral presenter of facts that is not the District Attorney’s Office;
  • Be limited to relevant questions about the decedent and the involved officers;
  • Make determinations of fact and leave decisions about whether criminal charges should proceed to the District Attorney;
  • Follow the same Rules of Evidence used in courtrooms (this is one singular exception); and
  • Be fully transparent and open to the public.

Historically, indictments of police through the grand jury have been hard to come by. In general, bringing cases before the grand jury are the exception rather than the rule and there’s a reason for that. As stated by the attorney for the family of a man murdered by police in White Plains, NY after the grand jury decided not to indict the cops:

“…the grand jury is often used to cover politically for a figure, for a district attorney. So if the grand jury indicts, it’s not the district attorney’s fault. They simply presented the evidence, and the grand jury indicted. If the grand jury chooses not to indict, well, then the grand jury essentially is blamed, but that’s an anonymous group of 23 individuals.”

Nor is the idea that grand juries might be used as a smoke screen to protect rather than punish police a new concept. Just a few months ago Albuquerque, NM. suspended the use of grand juries to investigate police shootings after criticism of their use and the fact that (like Vegas) not one single shooting has ever been ruled unjustified:

For more than two decades, police officials have countered criticism of dozens of officer-involved shootings in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County by noting that every case is reviewed by a grand jury…

No one involved in the process can recall a single “unjustified” finding since the process was put in place in the late 1980s in response to criticism of police shootings at the time — even in a case in which the officer was fired and the city paid big bucks to settle a civil lawsuit.

Critics say that’s by design.

“It looks to me like a device that’s designed to give police a pass on shootings,” said Ray Twohig, a longtime civil rights attorney. “The public should have no confidence whatsoever in this process — there’s no independent investigation … The goal is: ‘Let’s not indict any cops…’ ”

Attorney Shannon Kennedy said…it is designed to treat officers differently from ordinary citizens.

“They are basically operating above the law,” she said. “Officers in APD know about this process; they know they will be exonerated. This contributes to more and more police shootings, because there is this culture of no accountability.”

District Attorney Wolfson himself hasn’t exactly inspired a lot of faith that he will do the right thing in cases of police abuse. In “DA statements” that have taken the place of the Coroner’s Inquest since they were put on hold, Wolfson has determined that cops shouldn’t be punished for kicking a restrained man suffering from diabetic shock in the head first because it “wouldn’t be in the community’s best interest” and later because Henderson cops are trained to kick people in the head while arresting them.

That there is enough evidence to support charges shouldn’t be in doubt being that there is a video of the shooting clearly showing that Stanley Gibson didn’t represent an imminent threat and statements by sources within LVMPD have confirmed that Jesus Arevalo knew about the plan to force Gibson from the car without using deadly force. If there was a video of anyone else unnecessarily shooting an unarmed person, that person would be sitting in jail awaiting a trial, not sitting at home on paid vacation like Jesus Arevalo is right now.

To ensure that there isn’t even the appearance of any sort of official favoritism being extended to police officers (or other government employees) Wolfson needs to do the right thing by charging Arevalo directly and placing this case in the hands of a trial jury, rather than gambling on a grand jury issuing an indictment first. A gamble that members of this community aren’t so sure he is willing to go “all in” on. Furthermore, any charges brought should include charge of murder, since that’s what truly happened that day.

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