I Call It Murder

They shot this Black man in his genitals and in his back. It sounds like a hate crime to me. How else could one describe it?

Well, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it was self-defense. But how many times have we heard self-defense by cops used as a cop out?

Well, what about Amadou Diallo? Amadou Diallo was murdered on February 4, 1999 by New York Police Department (NYPD) cops who mistook a wallet for a gun. They claim that they thought he was going to shoot them and so they shot him in self-defense. One officer fell as if he had been shot. 41 bullets later, Amadou Diallo had been shot 19 times. Young Amadou was only 24 years old. He could survive the itinerant life of an African trading family, moving from Africa to Asia, but he couldn’t survive the mean, racist streets of America. And the killer cops went free. Diallo’s mother and step-father settled with the City of New York for $3 million in a lawsuit alleging wrongful death, racial profiling, and violation of Amadou’s civil rights.

Kathryn Johnston was 92 years old when she was murdered by Atlanta Police Department (APD) officers who claim that they shot her in self-defense after narcotics officers broke into her home on November 21, 2006 using a “no-knock” warrant. Police forced their way into Johnston’s home and claimed to have found a stash of marijuana there. The APD officers claimed that she had injured them with her rusty revolver. Sadly, it was all lies. Later, it was learned that the Atlanta Police officers were actually injured by friendly fire after discharging their firearms 39 times; that they planted marijuana in the Johnston basement; lied on the drug warrant authorizing the raid; invented an informant justifying the raid; and pressured an actual drug informant to lie for them. Atlanta’s lying, killer cops did serve time–either for manslaughter, conspiracy to violate Johnston’s civil rights resulting in death, or perjury. The three officers were also required to reimburse the Johnston estate the $8,000 cost of her burial.

In the wee hours of November 25, 2006, Sean Bell was murdered in a hail of 50 bullets fired by officers in the New York Police Department. Bell was celebrating his upcoming wedding and was leaving the club where he had just held his bachelor party. Police opened fire after they suspected the victim had a gun. Bell was struck 4 times in the neck and torso and died from his wounds. When no gun was to be found, they concocted a mystery witness who could possibly have had a gun. New York’s killer cops were acquitted on all charges.

Although Diallo, Johnston, and Bell were Black, Blacks in the United States are not the only ones who can be victimized by murderous U.S. law enforcement. While on a visit to Cuba, I had the opportunity to meet and apologize to the widow of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, a leading Puerto Rican Independentista. Wanted by U.S. authorities for actions stemming from his belief that Puerto Rico was a U.S. colony that should be independent, Ojeda Rios was murdered on September 23, 2005, shot by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at his home. An FBI press release stated that Ojeda Rios opened fire on the FBI and that the FBI retaliated, but that claim was not substantiated by an Inspector General’s report that noted that the FBI opened the attack on Ojeda Rios with a “flash bang” device. Ojeda Rios shot 10 times and the FBI fired one hundred times. Ojeda Rios was struck in the lung by a single sniper’s bullet, fell to the floor, and bled to death over 12 to 15 hours with no medical help allowed to save his life.

The United States government wanted to investigate the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist organization in the United States, and solicited Randy Weaver to become an informant. He turned them down. After a series of incitements and retaliations, Federal agents trespassed on Ruby Ridge, Weaver’s home in Idaho, incited a response from the Weavers, two of whom left the house to see what was happening, and by the end of the ordeal, Weaver had lost two family members–his wife, Vicky and his 14-year-old son, Sammy; his dog; while another family member, Kevin Harris, had been wounded. Randy Weaver was shot in the back. Justifying its attack on the Weavers, the U.S. government claimed that Weaver and Harris had fired at a government helicopter. At trial, the jury believed that Federal Agents shot and killed the Weaver dog, then shot and killed Sammy, prompting Harris to shoot and kill one of the agents. The government awarded Randy Weaver $100,000 and one million dollars for each of three children. Although Harris had killed a U.S. agent for which a jury had acquitted him of murder charges because he had fired only after having been fired upon, the federal government awarded him $380,000 in settlement.

Now, although examples are rife in the Black and Latino communities of ordinary citizens finding themselves at the wrong end of a police muzzle for minor or no infractions, it should be clear that as long as government officials are out of control, no one is safe. That’s why we all should be outraged and public about excessive force no matter where it happens or who the victim might be.

That’s why I support the young people who are still facing charges from the fallout from the Oscar Grant New Year’s Day murder. Remove police violence and one would not even have an Oakland 100. And quite frankly, with Oakland under the leadership of my former colleague, Ron Dellums, I’m surprised that this issue had not been more forthrightly dealt with prior to Grant’s murder.

This all brings me to the January 30 report on the murder by the FBI of a Detroit Black man who was also an Imam. The case seems to have all of the ingredients of the worst of the above cases: the use of informants, law enforcement claims of self-defense or firing in retaliation for being fired upon, and failure to call for medical assistance after a fatal shooting. The FBI also refuses to release what kind of weapon the Imam had. And more troubling is the autopsy that reportedly shows that Imam Abdullah was shot in the genitals–a vintage, racist attack on black men used by White men during the days of U.S. slavery and even after the U.S. Civil War; and in the back–I suppose that was self-defense, too. Imam Abdullah, with the help of an FBI informant, was led to a warehouse where he was shot by the FBI 21 times. At a press conference, FBI Special Agent Andrew Arena commented, “I take full responsibility for what occurred that day. And I have to be judged: I’ll be judged by you. I’ll be judged by the community. I’ll be judged by my bosses in Washington D.C. as far as the Justice Dept., and quite frankly, God someday.”

The sad fact of the matter is that too many killer cops are still walking around free. Sadly, many continue to serve as law enforcement officials, able to carry out their crimes against the community again and again. Yes, they all will face God’s judgment when they die, but it would be nice to get some justice here on earth, too. The Obama Justice Department has the opportunity to exact justice on behalf of communities besieged by rogue, killer cops. The verdict is not looking good, unfortunately, on whether the Obama Justice Department will serve the American people much-needed, long-delayed justice or whether certain perpetrators and their law enforcement departments will be given yet another White House pass.

Cynthia McKinney was a presidential candidate for the Green Party in the 2008 election. Read other articles by Cynthia, or visit Cynthia's website.

27 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on February 1st, 2010 at 10:49am #

    Well, cynthia, i am proud of blakcs because if they hadn’t survived in afrika i wldn’t be here.
    Anf if everybody thought this way and wld show respect for all people, discrimination-racism wld wane and eventually disappear.

  2. lichen said on February 1st, 2010 at 4:22pm #

    Yes, it is incredibly unfortunate that serial killers mask themselves under the word “cops” or “soldiers” and go around murdering at will while at the same time acting like they hold some sanctimonious position. It is disgusting. Any time you kill a human, it is murder.

  3. Rehmat said on February 2nd, 2010 at 7:34am #

    Violence is usually based on hatred, fear and greed. Close to 100 million Africans were snatched from their homelands in Africa by the Judeo-Christians colonialists with the blessings of the relicious establishment – as part of cheap labor and expansion of Chritianity. 90% of those ‘captured’ died during voyages to Europe and Americana. It’s only after the industrialization of the West, anti-slavery movement was coined because then human labor became more expensive than machine.

    Rev. Martin Luther once explained the American society: “The hatred in the US is at the peak at 11:00 am on Sunday”. What he meant was that less than 10% of White churches allow the Christian Blacks to attend Sunday Mass in their churches.

    Since 9/11 – the Jewish lobby groups, for the benefit of Israel, have succeeded in turning Muslims into Afro-Americans in the past.

    Violence in the name of God

  4. kalidas said on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:01am #

    Violence has a place.
    Its place is to confront and defeat violence.

    lichen, your murder comment nonsense is pathetic.

    Do you say it is murder to kill a violent criminal who is intending to kill an innocent person?
    That is simply absurd.

    As for the increasingly lethal cops, how long before the millions upon millions of gun bearers, upon seeing the cops coming, just start shooting and consider it self defense?

  5. commoner3 said on February 2nd, 2010 at 5:05pm #

    Rehamat wrote:
    “Close to 100 million Africans were snatched from their homelands in Africa by the Judeo-Christians colonialists with the blessings of the relicious establishment – as part of cheap labor and expansion of Chritianity.”

    Why do you bring religion into a discussion about discrimination and injustice toward the black people.
    Exploitation and cruelty toward fellow human beings exist in all religions and many times against their own for example Protestants and Catholics during the reformation wars in Europe, Shia and Suni in Iraq and Pakistan and Bengladesh
    etc etc.
    Don’t discredit yourself and your opinions by inserting religion into each discussion.

  6. lichen said on February 2nd, 2010 at 5:28pm #

    kalidas, yes, there are nonviolent ways of dealing with all people; the death penalty and the cop-killers are committing murder. Further, these supposedly “violent criminals” are made that way by the unequal, rights-less social conditions they are forced to live under. So yes, not only should “criminal justice” be turned into humane, gunless rehabiitation, the social conditions at the cause of what turns people towards violence (which is the violence and abuse they were subjected to as children by those adults and violent society actors) must also be altered. Cops and soldeirs very often are disgusting violent criminals; are serial killers themselves. They must be stopped through nonviolent eradication.

  7. kalidas said on February 2nd, 2010 at 6:30pm #

    lichen, please, can the sophistry and try to answer in real life, reality based words.

    Supposedly violent criminals???!!!

    Once again, if a cop/gangster/gangbanger/biker/preacher/butcher/baker or candlestick maker is shooting at me, attempting to kill me for reasons unknown, malice, or just plain meanness, I’m not supposed to defend myself, my neighbor, OR YOU?

  8. bobo said on February 2nd, 2010 at 7:18pm #

    commoner3 said:


    Exploitation and cruelty toward fellow human beings exist in all religions

    I agree! I checked Mr. Rehmat’s blog. He states unmistakably Israel is a racist MARXIST state!


    How on earth Israel can claim to be a Marxist state. With that kind of hateful comment, Mr. Rehmat is going to win no friend.

  9. lichen said on February 2nd, 2010 at 7:49pm #

    Kalidas, your claim of supposed “real world” situations is an entirely abstract one in which you reveal your underlying approval of violence, oppression, and murder. You are disgusting if you own a gun, and yes, there are nonviolent and social change ways and means to deal with everything. Cops and soldeirs are serial killers; prison is a crime in itself.

  10. kalidas said on February 2nd, 2010 at 8:20pm #

    More sophistry, but I realize your intense angst at the human devolution occurring as the root cause of your disconnect, and I understand.

    Yet, to call the approx. 20,000 human beings murdered in the US last year and every year, “abstract,” is quite honestly sad and pitiable.

    Hopefully you’ll never be in a position to either act or not act in defense of an innocent person being threatened with death.
    Believe it or not, people have actually confronted death in defense of animals. I have, and it sure wasn’t philosophy class or a satyagraha moment.
    Neither was it abstract.
    In the end the threat of violence indeed prevented violence. Whew…

    Also, I guess you didn’t notice my completely open and honest, as opposed to “underlying,” comment as to the purpose of violence. (to defeat violence)

    There are some things which are bigger than us, lichen.
    Bigger than you and bigger than me.

  11. lichen said on February 2nd, 2010 at 8:30pm #

    Well Kalidas, you can defend yourself and others much of the time without pulling out a machine gun, or a taser. I think often times pulling out a deadly weapon becomes a philosophy for people’s lives, overruling any attempt to campaign for social justice or just talk. I have been in dangerous situations too, but my ability to defuse and my lack of any violent inclination myself has prevented escalation. In the sense of the military and the police, which was my main focus, these institutions protect the status quo with deadly force, and in many unethical situations.

    I certainly do stand by my point that every single human the US military has killed in the war on terror has been a murder–and the fact that they are supposedly staying in Afganistan and Iraq to “train” the already highly corrupt, oppressive police forces in those two countries (who are put in place to hold up the puppet governments and prevent a revolt at the crimes that US/Nato have committed there) is very telling. I certainly don’t support the practice of killing someone because you thought they were going to steal your tv, either.

  12. kalidas said on February 3rd, 2010 at 9:02am #

    That’s better.
    You know I agree with you on the big picture and certainly as pertains to the brutal state enforcer types, whether civil or military.
    To condone violence or maximize it as a tool is anti human and offensive to every sense of decency.

    But, once again, “much of the time” sure isn’t much consolation to those 20,000 people who can’t offer their opinions anymore, neither to the people who love them, the people to whom the misery of the undeterred violence still hurts.

    Not to sound NRA-ish, but the truth is the truth and the truth is there would be 50,000 or even more murdered if not for the deterrent of, as some call it, “instant karma.”

  13. bozh said on February 3rd, 2010 at 10:53am #

    This simplicity may throw some light on how we became to behave as we do now or even since at the latest 10k yrs.
    For sanity sake and an enlightenment, let us assume that 50k yrs ago we lived in a more or less idyllicly structured groups of people.
    World pop being around less than, let’s say 5 mn people living in clans of 200 to 1 k people.
    Let’s further assume that in order to survive and increase in numbers we had to live in a society where everybody was equally valued.
    Then, let us say, 15 k yrs ago, some people started teaching people that that was wrong way to go; we needed to compete; needing to let the strongest-wiser accumulate more wealth and power.
    Convincing people that some of them are less valuable and needed leadership may have taken millennia.

    However, one now can see with naked eye what that kind of social order had produced-caused: slavery, torture, exploitation, at least a mn wars, serfdom, ‘nobilty’, hobos, wife beating, rape, pedophile, anger, hatred, cults, priests, pols.

    So why not change such inhumane structure with any whatever, but preferably a more or much more egalitarian one, that wld not wage wars but wld spend oodles of money on study of socalled criminal minds and all aberrant behavior.
    Alas, high criminal minds [not the low ones] wld scream in murder even ab what i just wrote let alone begn to set up an humane society.

    There is a show on tv ab ‘profiling’ criminal minds. But, of course, the ‘profilers’ [read snake oil salespeople] shun the study or profiling the causative factors in becoming a ‘criminal’ mind.

    Why? Such a study wld quickly reveal that the greatest factor in all ills that befall us is wickedness of present structure of society. And so evasion of the sane approach.
    How can people miss the obvious? More ab that some other time. By all means let’s also study why we cannot see what can be seen with a naked eye and why we evaluate brilliant-feel good talk as meaningful?

  14. lichen said on February 3rd, 2010 at 3:50pm #

    Comparable places which have banned guns (or simply never started them) are much safer, with less violent crime, less murder. And indeed, it is unfortunate that the billions of people wrongly killed by handguns can’t give you their opinion about it.

  15. kalidas said on February 3rd, 2010 at 4:05pm #

    I can’t argue with that!

  16. Danny Ray said on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:00pm #

    Really safe places that have banned handguns are Boston, Mass, Chicago, Il, and Washington DC. not to mention the really safe international places where you can’t have a hand gun like Belfast Ir, Anywhere in England or Lebanon, and not to mention Lagos Nigeria.

  17. Melissa said on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:21pm #

    Yes, Danny Ray,

    And how ’bout the disarmament of the Armenian people immediately preceding the genocide of Armenians?

    Or the disarmament of Chinese and the tens of millions that Mao cleansed?

    Or the swords turned to plowshares followed shortly by the violent deaths of millions in old U.S.S.R?

    And Hitler, didn’t he do something similar?

    Violent people do violent things to fellow human beings, but never on the scale that governments sponsor violence upon their people.

    Involuntary disarmament is a very bad omen for societies. Governments that want a complete monopoly on arms are not working for peace, they are working to enslave and terrorize the humans they leave completely defenseless.

    I don’t like knowing that criminals use handguns on innocent people, either. But I am completely opposed to governments not allowing non-criminals to defend themselves.

    Removing handguns won’t solve the systemic issues of why we create criminals. In my city angry, violent kids are stabbing each other on school buses with pencils. Can’t see banning pencils in our city, though.

    Wage peace, but don’t fall for the gun ban that only applies to citizens.


  18. Danny Ray said on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:29pm #

    God did not make all men equal, Col. Samual Colt did. Properly armed a fourty kilo woman is a match for a hundred kilo rapist. or if you wish Armed you are the equal of the goverment, unarmed you are a serf.

  19. lichen said on February 3rd, 2010 at 9:30pm #

    Yes, places with better gun control laws such as DC are safer (or were before congress tried to strip their laws); and the residents of these cities have appreciated it, as have those cities in foreign lands without guns where people can’t be swiftly, en masse killed on the street. And it really is pathetic that you didn’t understand my point was that no one should have guns–soldeirs, police, citizens, cia, presidents, or not; but I’m sure you can sit on your porch with a gun and ward off them darn feds when they come to perform the evil census to control ya’ll.

    Let’s drum up the ignorant support for death machines and the reactionary statements that protect idiotic scumbags when they randomly murder their fellow human beings for spacious and non-reasons. The serial killer, the violent criminal, the despotic invader trying to control, is you. Thanks so much for joining a conversation you didn’t read through, understand, or even want to. Thankfully, there is a citizens movement in the world to stop violent, murderous, raping people like you.

  20. scott said on February 3rd, 2010 at 10:06pm #

    Lichen, you’re wrong. I was against the concealed carry permit law that then Governor Bush was pushing here in Texas. My attitude was more in line with yours. However, I have to say that I was wrong.

    I know many people who are really into guns. I am not one of them. I have a couple of shotguns, a 12 and 20 gauge. Do you know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun?

    Further, ol Danny ain’t right either. Perhaps you missed it, but if you bring a gun to a police stand off, you’ll soon be facing armored vehicles. Samuel Colt didn’t level that playing field.

    That said Lichen, you should learn to appreciate your libertarian gun toting neighbors. They are like rattlesnakes, which never strike unless you tread on them.

    I don’t know if any Cracker would have listened to MLK if Malcolm X hadn’t been bringing up an army of fearless brothers willing to find justice by any means necessary. If you read “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, who died just this week; you will read an account of history whereby the elite whites were ever worried about the blacks, poor whites and middle class all uniting.

    There won’t be a big fight, if we ever get together the forces will stand down. Not that the police won’t kill a few citizens before they put down their guns.

  21. lichen said on February 3rd, 2010 at 10:21pm #

    Yes, if we join together in direct, radical nonviolent action, we can win; that is how the civil rights movement gathered pace and won it’s victories. But of course in an era when the elites talk about invading and bombing other countries in the name of democracy and women’s rights, many people lose sight of the fact that real social and political change in this country have not come from militias. I won’t be ‘getting to know’ arrogant violent losers who think they have a right to murder others once their overblown egos feel “treaded upon,” just like the IDF and US military at their “checkpoints” where they kill any Iraqi or Palestinean that moves.

  22. Deadbeat said on February 4th, 2010 at 1:19am #

    I don’t think it’s and either/or matter. It took the Civil War to abolish slavery while “non-violence” ended Jim Crow. In South Africa it took an armed resistance movement along with a boycott to end apartheid. In Palestine clearly the Israeli government has responded with brutality against any non-violence resistance forcing the Palestinians to pick up arms for self defense and resistance.

    It would appear that many fronts are needed. What really matters is how the oppressors choose to respond to resistance and revolution.

  23. scott said on February 4th, 2010 at 7:30am #

    “Yes, if we join together in direct, radical nonviolent action, we can win; that is how the civil rights movement gathered pace and won it’s victories”–Lichen

    I disagree, the elites don’t give a shit if you protest. It is only when there is violence in the background, that threatens to come to their door that caused them to relent. Of course they won’t negotiate with the rabble, they then will look for the “peaceful” ones to talk. They go to the lesser of two evils.

    When MLK went off where there was no support of radicals or militants–Vietnam and Trash workers, he became dispensable. That’s when James Earl Ray shot him. I’m telling you that the best way to reform would be for the masses to go on an arson binge, burn the houses of the wealthy. They love materials, take their material away. Let them fight us directly.

    Lichen, you don’t pay attention to their arguments. They believe in might makes right. They have the guns. If we ever get the numbers we win. But, we are too busy, broke and complacent to really raise a ruckus. If you really want something, you have to fight for it.

    You may disagree, but you listen to peaceniks. You need to listen to the elites, they will cordon you off and let you protest yourself hoarse. We start to truly threaten them, they will relent.

    Read the Declaration of Independence. It says people won’t rise up for transient and light grievances. But, once those grievances amount to a usurpation of the social contract, once the people find themselves under the yoke of tyranny, it is our right, nay our duty to fight those tyrants and oppressors. Those are the words of Jefferson. They indict us in the eyes of foreigners under our boot and ourselves, wincing under the boot of monopoly and collusion.

  24. Danny Ray said on February 4th, 2010 at 2:08pm #

    Well Said Scott

  25. bozh said on February 4th, 2010 at 3:14pm #

    Ok now! Nobody get mad at me! Or better yet don’t read what bozhidarevski writes!
    For one thing my diction, grammar, sintax, spelling, etc. is often almost bad.
    I don’t do that to irk the well-educated. Remember, i finished last in my class; so take it easy on the old man!

    Now, some grit for u! How ab the show called “criminal minds? Well, i think that the scribes of that show are selling us snake oil.Why i say that?
    Well, they never profile the biggest criminal minds such as kings, dukes, lords,ceos, bankers, boyars, aghas, beys, amirs, earls.
    Not only that, but they do not study how once innocent children that kings, et al once were, became the greatest criminal minds.

    How do i know [know, yes! Not believe!] that ‘nobility’ are much greater criminals than berkowiz, dahmler, jack the ripper, et al?
    Well, one can only get rich or super rich by robbing peasants. Forget ab doing well if u work honestly; one gets rich only by deceiving- and legally to boot.
    Does one think that we haven’t lived in lawless societies for the last several k yrs?
    All US laws were written by the ogerish THEM against meekish US. These ‘laws’ led us to ca 100k wars, slavery, serfdom, imprisonment, torture, poverty for many, wealth for few, abuse, exploitation, etc.

    Berkowitz and other small criminal minds are insane; thus, unable to exploit, abuse,cheat, lie or wage wars. But the unsane criminal minds do that and with great pride as well.
    We shldn’t call jefferson, adams, roosevelt, clinton, bush, BHO, et al insane; that wld amount to an insult to the really insane people.
    Btw, sartre was wrong when he said that people are hell. I emend that by asssserting that some people are hell on earth!
    I thank my devil for telling me this. Now i give u my promise that u’ll [not ever] hear from me again! tnx

  26. lichen said on February 4th, 2010 at 5:32pm #

    I agree, bozh; and that was largely my original point. We allow politicians, soldiers, and police to behave the same way, or thousands times worse than serial killers on the street do. Just like we allow little children to be tortured by their parents through corporal punishment, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse and do nothing to protect them or sanction the parents, but then expect these people to magically turn into nicer human beings. No, indeed–the elites are the real criminal minds, and so are those of most parents, teachers, who employ cruelty and hatred against children. As Cynthia said, murder is murder.

  27. bozh said on February 4th, 2010 at 6:04pm #

    Lichen, yes,
    i wrote above post be cause ur post prodded me into that tyupe of thinking! danke