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Soulvine: police activity in Los Angeles

Columnist Betty Pleasant on police activity in Los Angeles and other cities

Recent police activity in Los Angeles, New York and Cleveland paint vivid pictures of law enforcement’s intent to kill unarmed black and brown people for any reason

COP CHOICES — The actions of cops throughout the country have been vying for America’s attention with the deadly weather hitting the Southern states for some time now. It has been nip and tuck between bad news about cops and bad news about the weather. While the Soulvine sympathizes with and prays for our citizens who lost their lives, loved ones and homes to the raging floods, nothing commands our attention more than the actions of law enforcement officials and the country’s judicial system as implemented from state to state.

ComptonHerald.com | Betty Pleasant

“Soulvine” is commentary by Betty Pleasant

Recent police activity in Los Angeles, New York and Cleveland paint vivid pictures of law enforcement’s intent to kill unarmed black and brown people for any reason they can concoct and sell to judicial officials. Cops don’t kill armed people even when they are in the process of committing a crime. Cops merely wound them and send them to the hospital where they are treated and allowed to live whatever life they had. For example:

Just before Memorial Day, Tegan James Stephens, a 33-year-old man from Las Vegas got into an altercation with three or four men in a Hollywood parking lot. According to the police report, the LAPD cops, attracted by the noisy row, watched Stephens go to his parked SUV, retrieve a handgun and proceed to follow the men with whom he argued. The cops told him to drop the gun, but he pointed it at the men instead, and, as they say: “a police involved shooting occurred.” The cops wounded him and got him to a hospital. If Stephens had been black, he’d be dead. In fact, the cops would have killed him the minute he reached for something in his car.

Then there was that crazy woman who held police at bay in a Calabasas mobile home park the other day. When the cops first arrived at the scene, the woman waved a gun at them and they took cover and evacuated the area. Not only did she engage in an armed standoff with the LAPD that lasted for 22 hours, she actually shot at the police robot the cops were using to try to convince her to give herself up. She finally gave up at 3:30 a.m.the next day and she was hale, hardy and hospitalized for an unspecified medical condition. If the woman had been black, she’d be dead. Black people with medical conditions (specified or not) are sitting ducks for LAPD cops — you know it’s true.

And then there was that really egregious encounter in New York between NYPD cops and an armed black man, 30-year-old David Baril, who was actually caught in the act of committing a crime. It seems that Baril, who was known to have a history of paranoia and schizophrenia, was walking around Manhattan randomly hitting people in the head with a hammer. The cops came upon him and tried to arrest him, but he turned and grabbed a female cop and began hitting her in the head with the claw end of his hammer. The cops shot him three times, but they didn’t kill him. They wounded him and carted him off to Bellevue Hospital in “serious” condition and he lived to be formerly charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

That simply amazes me. Almost daily cops execute unarmed black and brown people who have done nothing wrong, yet when they encounter people who are brandishing and firing guns or beating one of their own in the head with a hammer, they shoot to wound! Which brings us to our greatest outrage of the year: the acquittal the other day of Cleveland cop Michael Brelo of manslaughter charges in the slaughter of two unarmed black people: Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, who were fired upon three years ago by Brelo and 11 other Cleveland cops a total of 137 times! Added to that is the killing in November of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland cop who mistook the child’s toy gun for the real thing.

I don’t get it. How is that cops all across the country can shoot and kill a frightening number of unarmed black and brown men and boys and women who have done nothing criminal and yet, shoot and wound armed malefactors they see are holding weapons and are in the act of committing crimes! And that’s if they decide to shoot at all, which the LAPD cops passed on despite the fact that the crazy Calabasas white woman shot at them! They didn’t even wound her. Did they choose not to shoot her because she had mental problems? They shoot and kill unarmed mentally challenged black and brown people for doing nothing all the time. But this white woman opened fire on the cops and held them at bay for 22 hours and didn’t get a scratch!

Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the practices of the Cleveland Police Department such as the one they conducted of the Ferguson, Mo. I think the DOJ needs to conduct a similar investigation of our Los Angeles Police Department. Why? Because we still don’t know what mentally challenged black Ezell Ford was doing as he walked along Florence Avenue that caused two LAPD cops to stop him and kill him. Nor do we know what is on the LAPD videotape of the cops’ killing of homeless black Brendon Glenn that causes Chief Charlie Beck unease. The common denominator here is “black” and we have to deal with that — all of us.

REST IN PEACE — A memorial service for Brad Pye III, the only son of famed newspaper editor and sportswriter Brad Pye Jr., will be held Saturday, May 30 at 11 a.m. at the New Vision Ministries, 2400 Southwest Dr. in Inglewood. “Little Brad,” which is what we all called him, died of a heart attack on May 17 at age 61. He was a graduate of Crenshaw High School and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. In addition to his parents, Brad and Eunice Pye, Little Brad is survived by his three sisters: Jan Pye, Jill White and his twin, Jenice Conrite.

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.

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