Incidents of police brutality captured on videotape are sweeping the country.
Last Saturday, a black man, Coby Chavis, and his 16 year old son Donovan Jackson-Chavis, stopped for gas in the small city of Inglewood, California, outside Los Angeles. Two white Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies followed them into the station, alerted by the expired tags on the car. Donovan went inside the station and the officers started questioning his father.
When Donovan came out, eating a bag of potato chips, officers told him to put down the chips and handcuffed him. Then, without any warning, officer Jeremy Morse slammed Donovan hard in the face. Coby Chavis was handcuffed. He watched as his son was punched in the head and eyes, body-slammed to the ground and choked by a silver chain he was wearing until he was unconscious.
The officers’ version says the boy was slow to follow their instructions. Donovan is a Special Education student who suffers from a hearing disability that makes his responses slow.
It is the kind of incident that happens all over the country. But this time, it was caught on video, sparking outrage around the country. And it is not the only example of "excessive force" by a white police officer against a black man caught on videotape this week. A videotape released on Tuesday showed two white police officers in Oklahoma City striking an unarmed man with their hands, knees and tactical batons during an arrest.
After the Inglewood video was released to the press, Officer Jeremy Morse was suspended. The Inglewood police department and the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department opened investigations. And the FBI said it has opened a civil rights investigation.
Protesters surged through the city and descended on Inglewood City Hall on Tuesday. The mayor of Inglewood, Roosevelt Dorn, declared that Morse should be fired and charged with assault. Representative Maxine Waters is one of the people calling for an investigation by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Earlier this morning, I spoke to Representative Waters.
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), US Congresswoman from California.
- Talibah Shakir, cousin of Donovan Jackson-Chavis, the 16 year old boy who was beaten in Inglewood, CA. Shakir is a sixth grade teacher in Los Angeles. She spoke at the press conference yesterday held by the Coalition Against Police Abuse and the Donovan Jackson-Chavis Justice Committee held a press conference in Los Angeles.
- Ron Hampton, executive director of the National Black Police Association. He was a Washington DC cop for 24 years. He just got to in LA this weekend from the NAACP conference in Houston.