Militant Journalism

Syracuse town hall takes aim at police brutality

At a meeting at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse on Aug. 25, stories of police brutality, misconduct and harassment merged with calls to organize and fight for justice. The town hall meeting was organized by the newly-formed Syracuse chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and sponsored by the Syracuse ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). While it was organized several weeks in advance, it was made all the more necessary after the public was prevented from speaking at a meeting on police brutality at City Hall last week.

Rev. Dr. L. Micah Dexter, president-elect of SCLC Syracuse opened and emceed the meeting. He shared that, in January of this year, he and his wife were assaulted and arrested by police after they called the police to their home in response to a potential burglary.

Several other people spoke out about injustices that they had suffered at the hands of local police. Louise Thompson, a 76-year-old woman, told the crowd how she was handcuffed and shoved in a police car for simply asking a cop a question. They injured her elbow when they pushed her into the car and then took her to the local jail, where she sat in a cell for 33 hours. All of her charges were dropped, she said, “But I went through hell down there.”

The theme of police targeting individuals for speaking up was a thread that ran throughout the evening. Kimberley Freeman, a 52 year-old woman, told the crowd how the police have arrested her for speaking out about how the police behave in her neighborhood.

Derek Ford, representing ANSWER Syracuse, called on those present to join up with the groups that are organizing. “Ultimately, only an organized fight-back movement can put an end to police brutality once and for all,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed when Dexter closed the meeting, saying “Don’t wait for the politicians to do something, we have to come together.”

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