The following is a statement by the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality regarding the continuing harassment of Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was killed by NYPD on March 1, 2000.
In the Aftermath of September 11,
EVEN MORE POLICE HARASSMENT OF THE FAMILY OF MALCOLM FERGUSON
On March 1, 2000, unarmed Malcolm Ferguson was shot and killed by police and became one of thousands of Stolen Lives documented in the Stolen Lives Project*, days after taking part in protests against the not guilty verdict for the cops who killed Amadou Diallo, and only blocks from Amadou Diallo's home.
DARES TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Juanita Young, Malcolm's mother, and other members of Malcolm's family have since then dared to fight for justice, for Malcolm, and against police brutality in general. Juanita has joined the community of parents of Stolen Lives who have courageously stood up for justice, through threats, harassment and attacks from media and authorities, including police and mayors. She works with the October 22 Coalition, Parents Against Police Brutality, and the Justice Committee. Juanita Young, like these other parents, are living indictments of the national epidemic of police brutality that is stealing the lives of our youth.
In mid-April, at least six of Juanita's neighbors informed her that a warrant squad came around knocking on doors of the buildings on her block with a photo of Malcolm, asking for where he was, connecting him to a shooting incident in the neighborhood, and asking if his family still lived in the neighborhood.
The week before, after having been told that she needed to bring her older daughter (a minor) into the local precinct "for questioning," Juanita did so, and then her daughter was arrested on the spot. Police at the precinct claimed that someone filed a robbery complaint against her. When the arresting officer realized that he was dealing with the mother of someone killed by police, his attitude immediately changed and he said to Juanita that if it had been a white cop that had made the arrest, the white cop would have run her daughter all the way through the system. Her daughter was brought to the courthouse hours later, and than let go before even seeing a judge.
The shootout for which the warrant squad was allegedly linking Malcolm to was also used against another member of Malcolm's family. Juanita's nephew, who has a limp due to a bad knee, was picked up by the cops because they found his limp "suspicious" and figured he was connected to the shooting somehow.
JUANITA YOUNG STANDS HER GROUND
Since September 11th there has been an air of heavy-handedness under the cover of a so-called "war on terrorism." Critics of police brutality had to defend ground as the authorities and the media seized the moment to whitewash police brutality and racial profiling. In this climate of intimidation where political dissent and criticism has been ruled out, Juanita Young refused to be intimidated. Within the month after September 11th, she spoke out at the October 22 Coalition press conference, and only a month after September 11th, she spoke at the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality on October 22 itself. The New York Post took particular offense in Juanita and subjected her to ridicule and insults. Juanita refused to buckle. She stepped out in support of the February 20 National Day of Solidarity with Muslim, Arab and South Asian Immigrants. She continued to represent at various functions and events, speaking out against police brutality. She monitored and attended the trial of drunken cop Joseph Gray, who mowed down a woman, her sister, son, and unborn baby. Around the time that she and her family were visited by a resurgence of harassment, she had spoken at an all-day college event organized against police violence; and spoke at the Black Panther Party reunion and in the anti-war demonstrations in D.C. on April 20th. She also protested at the Bloomfield, N.J. precinct with family and friends of recent Stolen Life, Santiago "Chago" Villanueva.
At her son's memorial on March 1, 2002, in front of the police precinct in Soundview, the neighborhood where her son was killed, the police hauled out 30 riot-equipped cops to intimidate the march and rally of approximately 40 peoples, which included other parents of Stolen Lives: Margarita Rosario, Iris Baez, Maria and Jose Santos, and Saikou Diallo. In the previous year's (2001) memorial, the police physically assaulted Juanita in attempts to prevent her from demonstrating. Juanita is well aware that the neighborhood police keep tabs on her, especially when she gets off the train and she is subjected to unsavory commentary by neighborhood cops who recognize her.
In the month of April 2002, we witnessed four more Stolen Lives in the New York area: Jose Colon, Santiago Villanueva, Ricardo Carlon, and Egbert Dewgard. Police brutality did not die on September 11th, and we cannot allow the powers-that-be to act as if it had. It's more important than ever to stand up and fight for justice and to defend brave voices like Juanita Young's.
POLICE CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO HARASS AND ASSAULT THE FAMILIES OF STOLEN LIVES
Almost all the families who have continued to fight for justice for their loved ones, and who have joined the fight to stop police brutality, have faced harassment and worse. Mayor Giuliani, live on the air of his radio talk show, told Margarita Rosario that her son and nephew were killed by police because she was a bad mother. Her car, which has a beautiful mural of her son and nephew, was purposely torched outside her home in January 1999. Lillian Flores, the mother of Frankie Arzuaga, who was killed by police, received a gloating, nameless call from the local precinct on Mother's Day 1997. Early in the morning before emceeing the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, October 22, 2000, Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward Jr. who was killed by police, was arrested supposedly on a warrant for walking his dog without a leash.
* A joint project of the October 22 Coalition, the National Lawyers Guild and the Anthony Baez Foundation, the Stolen Lives Project has accumulated the names and stories of thousands of lives stolen by law enforcement. It is both a living memorial and indictment of the epidemic of police brutality and murder in this country. The project has produced a book, Stolen Lives, Killed by Law Enforcement, that has documented over 2,000 names and stories of those killed by law enforcement in the 1990's. Stolen Lives has recently been translated into a Spanish language edition, Vidas Robadas. Both may be obtained through the website of the October 22nd Coalition, www.october22.org.
STOP POLICE BRUTALITY, REPRESSION AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF A GENERATION
POLICE HANDS OFF THE FAMILY OF MALCOLM FERGUSON!
Come to the monthly meeting and forum on every last Saturday of the month, 2:00pm at Project Reach, 1 Orchard Street bet. Canal and Division Streets (F train to East Broadway)
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