On May 9, Assistant Attorney General
Thomas Perez held a press conference to
announce the Department of Justice’s intention to aggressively
pursue civil rights cases involving police brutality. Just five days
earlier, the DoJ decided not to press charges against three
Pittsburgh police officers who brutally beat 18-year-old Jordan Miles
to the point that his own mother did not recognize him in the
On Jan. 12, 2010, Jordan was attacked
by three undercover police officers while he was walking to his
grandmother’s house in Homewood, one of the most oppressed
neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. The officers, Richard Ewing, David Sisak
and Michael Saldutte, punched and kicked Jordan and even ripped the
dreadlocks off of his head.
Ewing, Sisak and Saldutte did not
identify themselves as police officers. Instead they shouted “Where’s
the drugs,” “Where’s the gun,” and “Where’s the money?”
Assuming that he was being robbed, Jordan tried to escape but fell,
at which point the officers began beating him.
The three cops claim that Jordan
appeared to be carrying something heavy, which they thought was a gun
but turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. As ridiculous as this
excuse is, the three officers could never produce the bottle and
Jordan maintains that his pockets were empty. It is clear that Jordan
Miles was targeted simply for being a young Black man.
The Justice Department’s announcement
comes after well over a year of struggle. Shortly after the beating,
outraged community members and organizations, including the Party for
Socialism and Liberation, formed an organization called the Alliance
for Police Accountability. The APA has organized marches, teach-ins
and rallies demanding the prosecution of the three officers.
The day after the DoJ’s decision,
Police Chief Nate Harper, accompanied by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl,
announced that the three officers, who have been on paid
administrative leave, would be reinstated. Allegheny County District
Attorney Stephen Zappala, however, is yet to officially decide
whether or not to press charges.
To reject the Department of Justice’s
decision and pressure Zappala to prosecute the three officers, the
Alliance for Police Accountability held a series of emergency
demonstrations. Two days after the announcement, 150 people gathered
outside the District Attorney’s office at the Allegheny County
The next weekend, a protest was held in
front of the Pittsburgh Police Department headquarters. A week later,
protesters converged on the city’s Office of Municipal
Investigations, and finally another demonstration took place in front
of the Courthouse on May 28, again drawing 150 people.
Organizers are now preparing for a
march to the District Attorney’s office on June 25. Demonstrators
will gather at the historic Freedom Corner at 1:00pm.
The brutal beating of Jordan Miles
highlights the true nature of the police force. In a tremendously
unjust, capitalist society, the police are tasked with maintaining
the status quo by way of racist terror and harassment.
Whenever working people organize and
stand up for our rights, the police are ready to arrest, beat, or
even murder us. Other victims, like Jordan Miles, are selected at
random. The Party for Socialism and Liberation will continue to be on
the frontlines of the struggle against police brutality.