A largely white mob of Philadelphia police officers were caught on videotape yesterday kicking and beating a black man. Police said they believed Thomas Jones had been involved with a carjacking. During a high-speed chase, Jones’s car reportedly slammed into another vehicle, and police said they soon found themselves in a gun battle with him. Police say that after wounding an officer in the thumb, Jones allegedly jumped into a police car and drove off with officers in hot pursuit.
The cruiser, its rear window shot out, came to a stop a mile away. There, with a news helicopter recording the scene, more than a dozen police officers, some of them in civilian clothes, surrounded the cruiser with guns drawn, pulled the man from the car, kicked and beat him on the ground, and then led him away in handcuffs. Jones was later hospitalized in serious condition.
Philadelphia Mayor John Street and other top city officials scrambled to contain the situation, which has already drawn comparisons to the Rodney King beating. Police Commissioner John Timoney said three police investigations are under way: one by homicide detectives, who review all shootings of officers; a second by the internal affairs division into the possibility of excessive force; and a routine probe conducted whenever an officer fires a weapon.
Philadelphia police conducted a cloak-and-dagger surveillance of demonstrators at a May Day rally in New York, possibly violating a 1985 consent decree designed to protect people’s privacy. At the May 1st rally, undercover Philadelphia police snapped photographs of about twenty demonstrators dressed in black and covering their mouths with bandanas, the same outfits protesters wore in the rally at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. According to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, John Timoney, who comes from the New York Police Department, it was part of Philadelphia police strategy to identify troublemakers who have said they plan to attend the Republican National Convention. We’ll have more on that story later in the program.
The vast majority of cancers are caused not by inherited defects in people’s genes, but by environmental and behavioral factors such as chemical pollutants, this according to the largest cancer study ever to enter the “nature versus nurture” debate. The Washington Post quotes Paul Lichtenstein, head of the Karolinska Institute study in Stockholm, who said environmental factors are more important than gene factors, and that’s important to remember, especially since everyone thinks that everything is solved now that we have the human genome in our computers.
Scientists have long recognized that environmental factors play a notable causal role in many cancers. People from rural Asia, where breast and colon cancers are rare, gradually grow more likely to get those diseases after moving to the United States, the result of mostly unidentified environmental factors.
This news from Oregon. A black railroad worker who found a noose suspended above the train tracks where he worked is charging Union Pacific with subjecting him to a hostile work environment. Terry Hill, Sr. and two other black employees say they repeatedly reported racial slurs and racist graffiti at the shop to Union Pacific supervisors before and after the noose appeared there in April of 1999. Hill, Roosevelt Scott, and Vince Revels, the only blacks in the railroad’s eighty-worker shop, have filed separate complaints with the Oregon State Bureau of Labor and Industries. The agency reviewed the charges and forwarded the case to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Puerto Ricans, angered by the US Navy’s bombing exercises on Vieques, took their protest to the United Nations yesterday, demanding that Washington halt its military maneuvers and recognize Puerto Rico’s right to independence. Puerto Rican Independence Party Vice President Fernando Martin demanded an end to what he called the grotesque repression that Washington unleashed on the people of Puerto Rico when US marshals arrested demonstrators who occupied the firing range in an effort to halt the Navy’s live fire exercises.
At least fifty people are dead and thirty-eight injured after a rain-soaked hill collapsed on tin and mud huts in Bombay, India. Officials think another fifty people may be buried under the debris. Survivors say the death toll is high because most people had stayed indoors due to the monsoon rain.
Acknowledging that German churches used forced laborers during the Nazi era, the Evangelical Church in Germany pledged $5 million to a compensation fund recently established by government and industry.