Working for Peace on Earth and Peace with Earth since 1952
On a very hot July 5 there was a protest march to the police station. About 60 people took the street and after a while a West Haven police vehicle escorted them. There were angry speeches at the police station and then several score people went back on the street to their cars. The was no police escort. A woman drove her car right into the line of march. People dove out of the way, but she clipped a couple of people. She was chased down and police arrived. According to an eyewitness speaking on Fox 61 she yelled a curse and said "All Lives Matter". If the eyewitness was correct the assault was a hate crime. But the police did not arrest her. They escorted her home! They arrested some of the people in the street, forcibly. They brought out police dogs, police dogs! Two protesters were injured. One suffered a fracture of the spine. The police levied a bevy of charges and at least in one case the court required a $10,000 bail.
About 20 came on the 7th to the Board of Police Commissioners meeting to express their anger. The five member board has been holding meetings inside the police station. The people were locked out. The head of the board, Ray Collins III, said the Board had no idea that so many people wanted to speak to them. He was asked why not put the meeting on Zoom. He said the Board was unable to do that and that the meeting had already been adjourned.
On the 10th the New Haven paper said the meeting had been rescheduled for Tuesday the 21st. People could come in one by one and give their opinion. This is inadequate. How is it safe to meet in an enclosed room? No other West Haven public body is doing so. The meeting should be on Zoom and not just the public portion. We need to know what the commissioners are saying. Believe it or not according to the minutes of the Board, the commissioners have never talked about the incident where Soulemane was killed.
So many African-Americans, Native-Americans and Latinos have died wrongly at the hands of the police. The uprising of people in the streets of the country must not be squandered.
Here are the ideas of the people camping in front of the Bridgeport, CT police station.
Consider seriously the ideas of Defunding the Police and abolishing the present police and prison system. Read this article about taking away guns from most police.
African-Americans are outrageously treated, but don’t forget the mistreatment of Native Americans and Latinos. Let’s insist that all the nasty Indian mascots to be replaced. Call on your legislature to outlaw them. And have the politicians replace Columbus Day with Native American Day or Toscanini Day or something that doesn’t celebrate mass murder and colonialism.
#WakeUpNedLamont and get him to call for the firing and punishment of his State Trooper Brian North who shot 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane (read about the case below). Contact the CT governor on Twitter @GovNedLamont and by web email at https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/Contact/Email-Governor-Lamont
Find out who is on your board of police commissioners and write to them often. If they’re not response to community concerns call for their dismissal.
Make a state law that bans police exchanges for training with any foreign country (like Israel) without a public hearing and vote by the legislature.
Write to your local school superintendent and members of the Board of Education. Call them to replace police with school personnel actually trained for guidance duties. Insist that armed police only be called to school buildings in grave circumstances. Have them have their staff examine texts for white supremacy, issue reports and make changes.
More ideas coming.
Hundreds take over New Haven streets on June 6 calling for "Justice for Mubi" Car Caravan of 20+ cars travels with the young people. Police maintain low profile, only on bicycles. TSVN video coverage here. Opinion piece in the New Haven Register a week earlier. On the same day 1,000 people gathered in West Haven, heard from the mother of Mubarak Soulemane and marched to the police station.
May 28. More than four months have gone by and nothing has been done to advance the cause of justice in the trooper/police killing of Mubarak Soulemane. The monstrous murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis reminds us that those cops who are brutal or trigger happy have not been deterred by the public exposure of police misconduct. While the Mayor of Minneapolis condemned what happened in his city, neither Gov. Lamont or West Haven Mayor Rossi have criticized troopers or police for Soulemane's killing.
To bring the case alive again there will be a car caravan on Saturday June 6. At 3 p.m. there will be a press conference on the steps of New Haven City Hall. That will be followed by a car caravan around the New Haven Green and to various points around the city. The caravan is sponsored by the FB page "Justice for Mubarak". Until the event do some of the things suggested below.
Ideas on What Can Be Done
Obviously with the Coronavirus crisis and the impossibility of physical meetings our work is going to be far different, but there are things to be done.
Examine the list of all police killings in CT since 2000 to see how many ended with police punishments
2. Make this a national issue. Get something in The Nation, the New Republic, Democracy Now!, The Blavity, The Grio, etc. and eventually to reporters of corporate media.
3. Write to the politicians and demand they speak out: Governor Lamont, CT Attorney General Tong, West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi, members of the West Haven City Council, CT state representatives and state senators.
4. Can we learn from the exoneration on March 18 of a policeman in the killing of a young Latino man https://www.mail.com/news/politics/9806138-officer-justified-fatal-shooting-driver-18.html#.7518-stage-hero1-1 The man was shot April 2019.
"A peace officer. . .is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person for the purposes specified in subsection (b) of this section only when he reasonably believes such to be necessary to: (1) Defend himself or a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force; or (2) effect an arrest or prevent the escape from custody of a person whom he reasonably believes has committed or attempted to commit a felony which involved the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury and if, where feasible, he has given warning of his intent to use deadly physical force."
Pursuant to subsection (1), a police officer may use deadly physical force when he reasonably believes the use of such force is necessary to defend himself from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force. The test is both subjective and objective. First, the officer must believe that the use of deadly force is necessary to defend himself from the imminent use of deadly physical force. Second, that belief must be objectively reasonable. See State v. Prioleau, 235 Conn. 274 (1995).
The test is not whether it was in fact necessary for the officer to use deadly physical force in order to defend against the imminent use of deadly physical force. The test is whether the officer believed such to be the case, and whether such belief was objectively reasonable, based on the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time the decision to use deadly force was made. See State v. Silveira, 198 Conn. 454 (1986); State v. Adams, 52 Conn. App. 643 (1999).
The United States Supreme Court explained this test in detail in a civil rights action.
"The reasonableness' of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. . . .The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance of the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments----in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving----about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation." Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 109 S.CT 1865, 104 L.Ed. 2d 443 (1989).
Statement by Stanley Heller to the West Haven City Council 2_10_20
I was told that the incident on January 15 which ended with the homicide of Mubarak Soulemane was not a city council matter, that I should bring it up with the West Haven police, so I did.
I emailed the department asking for a report or statement about the incident. I called the police, got as far as the chief’s office and was sent to the answering machine of a sergeant who I believe is in charge of public affairs. I’ve received no communication at all from the West Haven police department. I’m hoping you can talk to the police with better results.
To review, Murbarak Soulemane likely carjacked an auto and drove it to exit 43 and drove onto Campbell Avenue. In about a dozen seconds the car stopped and was surrounded by police cars. About 15 seconds later a passenger side window was bashed in and a taser was shot. About 15 seconds later a state trooper shot him with 7 bullets and Mubarak Soulemane died.
It’s been three weeks now since Soulemane’s death. These are the questions that you all should ask our police
Did a West Haven police officer smash the passenger window of the car Soulimane was driving?
Did a West Haven police officer fire a taser at him?
Has that officer or officers been suspended or punished for this improper action?
Is this rapid and aggressive action the accepted protocol in West Haven for police when dealing with an uncooperative driver in a closed car, blocked in by police cars?
There’s also the matter of the shooting of Soulemane on one of our main streets without warning while he was in car with the windows up by a state trooper. Shouldn’t that be criticized by city officials? The mayor of New Haven did just that.
Again, I maintain that the troopers and police should have waited minutes or even an hour or more until Soulemane realized that he was blocked in and had to give up. His family or a minister or imam could have been called to talk with him. …You all know of the horrific killing spree by a soldier in Thailand in which he killed 29 people. In the middle of that, after a score of people were dead authorities brought his mother to the shopping center to try to speak to him. Unfortunately the effort failed. That incident was infinitely more serious than what happened in our city, but even there authorities tried measures other than force in dealing with the offender.
The City Council should discuss and protest what happened during the incident on January 15 and the council and police department should hold a public meeting to explain West Haven police policy and you should react to the march starting at 4:30 on Friday, February 21 starting on where Soulemane was killed on Campbell Avenue.
Stanley Heller and Carroll Brown (West Haven Black Coalition) and Rev. Boise Kimber spoke in the public session of the City Council. Two TV stations covered. You can see what they said from 9:33 to about 25:27 on this video
Two from the public spoke against us. Steve Mullins said the West Haven police did everything properly and that we should be talking about the homicide to the Governor or a state agency. A man said that he himslef had been drunk years ago and led police on a long highway chase and it ended in West Haven and the police beat him up and that he had “deserved it”.
My name is Stanley Heller. I’ve lived in Allingtown (West Haven) since 1978. I taught school in our city for 40 years and I work for human rights and peace groups
I’m speaking to you about the killing in West Haven of Mubarak Soulemane. Allegedly he carjacked a car at knifepoint and drove at dangerously high speeds on the highway trying to escape state troopers. If that was true, he definitely needed to be punished or given psychiatric care.
But what is very troubling is what happened in West Haven after he left the highway and his car was boxed in. I very carefully looked at the released body- cam footage (here and here). According the video at 5:04 and 42 seconds he hits a parked car and stops. Seven seconds later (5:04 49) five police and state trooper cars box in the car Soulemane.
Then within a few seconds police officers walk up to the car, draw guns and one yells at him to get out of the car. 17 seconds later, on the opposite side of the car an officer starts smashing in a window
A few seconds after that at 5:05 and 17 seconds a trooper tells someone to fire a taser. At around 5 minutes 24 seconds that trooper shoots into the car 7 times. Then he yells out loud, “He’s got a knife” and to Soulemane he yells, “Drop the knife.”
By my calculation 30 seconds after the 5 police cars blocked him in, Mubarak Soulemane was fatally wounded.
That doesn’t make sense. He was blocked in. He had nowhere to go. He was in the car with the windows up. He could have been talked to through a bull horn. Police could have waited for minutes or even an hour and eventually he would have come out. How many times have we seen incidents where police surround someone and wait for hours and successfully negotiate a surrender?
This is a West Haven issue because one or more West Haven police were involved in the hasty and in the end deadly action.
I emailed the mayor and each of you a suggestion that the city government do two things. One create an independent “blue ribbon” panel to investigate what happened that night, that it be composed of city officials and local people of known integrity and that the West Haven Police Department be instructed to cooperate with the panel and two, hold a public hearing to talk about West Haven police procedures in dealing with suspects, especially after car chases, and its obligations to cooperate or right not to cooperate with state police.
I don’t see killing of Soulemane on the agenda tonight. I hope you can make it an emergency special order of business.
Lastly, we need to think about new models of policing. In England and Wales most police do not carry guns nor want them and over the last decade British police shot to death less then 10 people a year in the entire country.
BTW a few days after the killing the Justin Elicker, Mayor of nearby New Haven said,
“I saw the video and I’m outraged by the video. And I’m not a law-enforcement officer but I can be pretty confident that actions taken by the officer were not what should have been done."
Outrageous defense of white nationalist ideas
By Stanley Heller
I was stunned to see Hearst Connecticut Media print a veiled defense of the ideas of the El Paso killer. In his opinion piece, attorney Norm Pattis questioned whether the views in the “manifesto” (likely written by the alleged killer) were those of a “white nationalist.” Pattis quotes from the manifesto the sentence “if we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable” and he wonders if “defending your way of life” is really white nationalist — that is, an idea that there is some race of whites who deserve to rule over society or the world.
What is this “way of life” that is under threat? Desperate Latinos come to the U.S. to find jobs, decent housing and a society ruled by laws. How is that a threat to anyone? They take the worst jobs for the longest hours and lowest pay with a goal of sharing the American Dream. How is that a danger to anyone?
Pattis quotes the Italian writer Machiavelli, “When an entire people aims to possess itself of a country and to live upon that which gives support to its original inhabitants it must necessarily destroy them all.” I haven’t read the “Discourses” so I don’t know the original context, but Pattis’ meaning is clear. He’s dignifying the paranoid notion that Latinos are coming to take over the U.S.
This is a classic white nationalist lie, a version of the fear of “invasion” by immigrants that was sprinkled throughout the killer’s manifesto along with other nonsense like his hatred of “race mixing” and his fear the country was losing “genetic diversity.”
Pattis sneers that anyone owes anything to the “historically disadvantaged.” “History” didn’t disadvantage anyone. It was people with power who looked down on what they called “lower races” and who enslaved blacks, exploited Italians and Jews and other ethnics and preyed on Latin America to steal its resources.
Patis says, “If Crusius raises questions about these new and novel claims of social justice, he is labeled a supremacist.” The sentence is staggering. Did Crusius “raise questions”? Did he challenge someone to a debate or did he blow people to pieces with an AK-47?
“I don’t owe you a thing on account of my race,” says Pattis. No you don’t, not because of your race, but there is a real question of whether the United States owes a debt to certain ethnic groups and nations for decades of U.S. enforced mistreatment, slavery, Jim Crow and imperialism.
“I doubt that Crusius is a white supremacist. I suspect he is scared,” says Pattis. Someone who writes that he supports the Christchurch (New Zealand) shooter and that fool’s hate-filled manifesto isn’t a supremacist? Is he really just fearful, just a worrier? He’s scared, scared that his supposed race won’t be a majority and that the cops will treat his word just like everyone else’s.
We do need to unite and build bridges, but that won’t happen if real grievances of past ill-treatment of ethnic groups are dismissed as “identitarian.” Unity must be built upon justice.
Stanley Heller, of West Haven, is administrator of Promoting Enduring Peace, a peace and environmental organization founded in 1952.
The decades after Reconstruction were brutal to U.S. Blacks. Blacks men were rounded up and jailed for bogus reasons and enslaved. See the PBS video