Police Brutality Topics

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Democracy Now! has documented scandals of police brutality across the country. Scroll through the stories below to see our coverage of the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and protests calling for the arrest of the officer who shot him. In New York City we reported on the death of Eric Garner after police placed him in a chokehold as he repeatedly told them, "I can’t breathe!" The encounter was recorded by an onlooker using his smartphone. We have also documented the killing of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a 68-year-old Marine veteran shot by police inside his own home after he mistakenly set off his LifeAid medical alert pendant. In 2011-2012 we covered the police crackdown on the Occupy movement, and spoke to Scott Olsen, who survived two tours in Iraq but nearly died when he was hit with a police projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest. We also interview loved ones of police victims, and feature conversations with advocates like Michelle Alexander, author of the best-selling book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

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  • A grand jury has indicted three police officers in the killing of Sean Bell. Bell was killed in November on his wedding day when police fired 50 shots at a car carrying him and two friends. All three men were unarmed. Sources say two of the officers will be charged with second-degree manslaughter. A third officer will be charged with reckless endangerment. [includes rush transcript]
    Mar 19, 2007 | Story
  • Thousands of lawyers, human rights activists and journalists were tear-gassed, beaten and arrested Monday for protesting what they describe as nothing short of martial law. We go to Pakistan to speak with journalist Farzana Fiaz. [includes rush transcript]
    Nov 06, 2007 | Story
  • On the eve of their wedding day, Nicole Paultre Bell lost her fiancé Sean Bell in a police shooting. The unarmed Bell was killed in a hail of fifty police bullets as he left his bachelor party. Paultre Bell will lead a vigil this Saturday to mark one year since her fiancé’s killing. She joins us to talk about the vigil and her lawsuit against the New York Police Department. [includes rush transcript]
    Nov 21, 2007 | Story
  • In New York, a coalition of civil rights advocates are calling for a permanent state-level special prosecutor to handle police brutality cases following the acquittal of three NYPD detectives in the killing of Sean Bell. The twenty-three-year-old Bell died in a hail of fifty police bullets on the morning of what would have been his wedding day in November 2006. Two of his friends were also injured in the shooting. All three men were unarmed....
    Apr 28, 2008 | Story
  • A former transit officer in Oakland, California has been arrested on murder charges in connection to the killing of Oscar Grant, an unarmed African American man who was shot dead while he was lying face down on the ground on the train platform. The shooting gained international attention after cell phone videos of the killing were posted on YouTube by train passengers. The killing sparked a series of protests in what has been described by some...
    Jan 15, 2009 | Story
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    A new book by legal scholar and civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander argues that although Jim Crow laws have been eliminated, the racial caste system it set up was not eradicated. It’s simply been redesigned, and now racial control functions through the criminal justice system. [includes rush transcript]
    Mar 11, 2010 | Story
  • Handsbarsweb_ok
    Part II of our interview with legal scholar, civil rights advocate and author Michelle Alexander. Her book is The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Alexander argues that although Jim Crow laws have been eliminated, the racial caste system it set up was not eradicated. It’s simply been redesigned, and now racial control functions through the criminal justice system. [includes rush transcript]
    Mar 12, 2010 | Story
  • Aiyana-jones
    In Detroit, a funeral will be held on Saturday for Aiyana Jones, the seven-year-old girl who was shot dead by police while she was sleeping in her own home. On Tuesday, a lawyer for the Jones family filed a pair of lawsuits against the Detroit police for the killing that has sparked outrage in the Motor City. The attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, says video of the incident shows police opened fire before they had entered the house. We speak to Ron...
    May 19, 2010 | Story
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    A former police commander accused of overseeing the torture of more than 100 African American men goes on trial today in Chicago. Former Lieutenant Jon Burge is accused of lying when he denied in a civil lawsuit that he and other detectives had tortured anyone. He faces a maximum of forty-five years in prison if convicted of all charges. The accusations of torture date back forty years, but Burge has avoided prosecution until now. For nearly...
    May 24, 2010 | Story
  • Abu Ghraib has nothing over Chicago. Forty years ago, Jon Burge returned from Vietnam, joined the Chicago Police Department and allegedly began torturing people.
    May 26, 2010 | Columns & Articles