Syracuse police brutalize disabled man

Community groups in Syracuse are organizing a rally and press conference outside of Syracuse Police Department headquarters to protest a recent case of police brutality against a disabled man. The police attack was documented by a surveillance camera and posted on

On May 3, Brad Hulett was riding on a Centro bus. Because of back pain stemming from two herniated discs, Huelett was standing up while holding onto a safety pole. The bus driver, Lester Wallace, ordered Hulett to sit down. When Huelett politely refused, Wallace called in William Coleman, an off-duty cop working security for Centro, who then called Sgt. William Galvin Jr.

Galvin ordered Hulett to get off of the bus. Having done nothing wrong, Hulett asked, “For what reason?” Galvin responds, “We’re conducting an investigation. Get off the bus.” Again, Hullet asked, “For what reason? I haven’t done anything that’s not in my right to do.” As soon as Hulett mentioned his rights, the cops attacked.

The cops lifted up Hulett’s shirt and hit him with a taser. Next, they dragged him off of the bus and onto the pavement, where they taunted him, screaming “You want it again!?”

Next, the officers arrested Hulett for “resisting arrest” and “disorderly conduct.” Prior to tasering him, at no point did officers inform Hulett that he was, or might be, placed under arrest. But bogus charges like “obstructing governmental administration” almost always accompany instances of police brutality. The hope is that victims of the police will plead out and waive their right to seek recourse against the cops.

During the attack the cops broke Hulett’s hip. Yet instead of taking him to a hospital they took him to the Onondaga County “Justice” Center, where the brutality continued. Although Hulett was brought into the jail in a wheelchair, a jail guard twice tried to make him stand on his broken hip to pass through a metal detector. Hulett fell both times.

Hulett wasn’t given any treatment in the jail. Instead, he was forced to sit in a cell with his broken hip overnight. The next day, he was able to seek treatment at a local hospital, where doctors cut a seven-inch incision into his leg and placed three pins in his hip.

Syracuse fights back against police violence

Police brutality is an everyday reality facing poor and working people in the United States, and Syracuse is no exception. But there is a growing fight-back movement being organized in the city’s streets.

The movement started in 2010 after Raul Pinet Jr. was beaten by city cops and then killed in the jail. In response to the murder, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), held a community organizing forum at which plans for a march were drawn up. Together with the NYCLU, NAACP, National Action Network, Disabled in Action, and other community groups, the ANSWER Coalition formed the United as One Coalition, with the explicit goal of fighting law enforcement misconduct and brutality in Syracuse City and Onondaga County.

Since 2010 we have held numerous marches, demonstrations, and public forums. We have also fought alongside victims’ families while they struggle for justice in the courts. In 2012, we won a new Citizen Review Board, and in 2013 we launched a campaign to bring independent community oversight into the jail.

On Aug. 7 at 1:00 pm there will be a press conference and rally in solidarity with Brad Hulett in front of SPD headquarters downtown. The action is being organized by Disabled in Action, NYCLU, and ANSWER Syracuse.

On Aug. 21 at 6:00 pm the United as One Coalition is holding a speak-out against police brutality at the Southwest Community Center. We are calling out police chief Frank Fowler for refusing to comply with the CRB. Out of all of the cases in which the CRB recommended disciplinary action be taken against Syracuse cops, Fowler only disciplined one officer. What’s more, he is refusing to comply with a law that requires him to justify in writing his decision not to discipline an officer upon CRB recommendation.

The Syracuse police are well-funded and they have the courts and Common Council on their side. But together the people are stronger. Please join the struggle by attending these important events this month. And if you are already involved in the struggle, then take the next step and become an active organizer. Together we can unite and fight back against this violence, and together we can win.

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