This panel took place at the Left Forum in 2015.
All forms of media have increasingly been moving online over the past two decades and that trend is not likely to stop anytime soon. So how should grassroots media makers respond to both the opportunities and challenges posed by this situation. And while it may be counter-intuitive, is there a potential upside to going against the grain and not fully embracing the digital age? Three grassroots media activists will discuss these questions in conversation with Todd Wolfson, author of Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left, a history of the rise and fall of Indymedia, a global network of more than 200 locally-based media collectives that was an early pioneer in digitally-based media activism.
Sponsoring Journal: The Indypendent
John Tarleton is the executive editor and co-founder of The Indypendent. He also served as an editor on the nyc.indymedia.org website from 2001-2008.
Todd Wolfson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University. Trained as a socio-cultural anthropologist, his research focuses on the convergence of new media and social movements and he is author of the recently published book Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left. Todd is also a co-founder of the Media Mobilizing Project.
Milena Velis is the Media Production Director at the Media Mobilizing Project (www.mediamobilizing.org), which uses media and communications as a core strategy for building a movement of poor and working people in Philadelphia and beyond. Milena has worked as a local news reporter for Al Día, a Philadelphia-based Spanish-language weekly newspaper. Previously, she worked with the Prometheus Radio Project to build new community radio stations around the US.
Mario A. Murillo is a journalist who has worked in commercial, public, and community radio for more than a quarter century. He is also an associate professor of journalism at Hofstra University. Last year, he returned to his roots in community radio by agreeing to serve as program director at WBAI-99.5 FM where he is actively looking for ways to strengthen the station’s digital presence.
Susan Galloway is a member of the Rochester Indymedia collective since 2006. She does videography, editing and writing for their website. She participated in produced, filmed and edited a Rochester Indymedia cable access show for several years.
Jason Ware has been a member of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) for about six months and a member of We Charge Genocide (WCG) for over a year.
He's done organizing against police violence/police brutality including campaigns around Rekia Boyd, LaQuan McDonald, and the Police Torture Reparations Campaign. He has also worked on the campaign to save Dyett High School in Chicago.
Jason came to an Enough Is Enough meeting on December 29, 2015 to share his police accountability experiences and insight with the Rochester community. He also spoke about abolitionist organizing in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Enough Is Enough was delighted to host him!
Related: Gordon's motions denied by judge in police violence case | From inside Attica: Interview with Jalil Muntaqim | Community Rallies to Stop Eviction of Elizabeth McGriff | Mental Health: A juxtaposition of Rochester police tactics | Rev. Hagler's U of R speech and an interview with student organizer Hijazi | Civilian Review Board built to fail Benny Warr and other complainants | Dentzel Carousel protest at the Monroe County Building | 52 years ago today a Black church was bombed and four little girls were killed
Scean Gordon, represented by Public Defender Christine Seppeler, stood tall wearing his Black Panther t-shirt and navy blue button down as city court Judge Ellen Yacknin hemmed and hawed while she considered each of Ms. Seppeler's well-argued motions before denying each. The January 5, 2016 hearing was a last attempt for Mr. Gordon to take a plea deal before trial preparations commenced. Seven supporters of Mr. Gordon sat in court.
Mr. Gordon was brutalized and arrested by Rochester Police Department officers Nicholas Thomas and Christopher Kosch after video taping them mis-identifying and arresting his neighbor Daryl Appleberry on November 9, 2015. Mr. Gordon pulled out his cell phone and started recording the scene immediately after police said that his neighbor was under arrest. Officers at the scene were uncooperative with Mr. Gordon's questions as he tried to identify them. He was able to record some of their name plates, badge numbers, and car numbers. He told Mr. Appleberry to remain silent and maintain his rights.
As the cruiser was pulling away to the right with Mr. Appleberry in handcuffs in the back seat, officer Thomas stopped the vehicle—telling his partner officer Kosch “I have to get this guy for something [referring to Mr. Gordon],” according to Mr. Appleberry. Officer Thomas jumped out of the cruiser, told Mr. Gordon he was under arrest, and proceeded to tackle him, threw him into the pavement, used a Taser on him, pepper sprayed and choked him. Mr. Gordon was eventually handcuffed and put into the back seat of a different cruiser and taken away.
Mr. Appleberry was released shortly after Mr. Gordon was removed from the scene. When Mr. Appleberry asked to see the photo of the suspect, the officers remained silent. An unknown officer said, “Oh, you all look alike,” according to Mr. Appleberry.
Ms. Seppeler laid out a strong defense of her client. She entered motions to dismiss the disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration charges arguing that there was “insufficient” evidence for the charges to stand. She also entered a motion to dismiss the charges in the furtherance of justice after reviewing two videos of the incident in question. Her final motion asked the court to grant a jury of Mr. Gordon's peers from within the boundaries of the City of Rochester rather than Monroe County.
With regard to the first motion, Ms. Seppeler questioned the allegations stating that Mr. Gordon had blocked traffic. She said the allegations were “not serious interferences with traffic.” She also said that part of the disorderly conduct statute required an indication of public inconvenience. The allegations in the arrest report gave no indication of inconvenience.
Grafton Street, where Mr. Gordon was arrested, is a quiet, residential street off of Portland Avenue and not a heavily trafficked road.
The assistant district attorney simply re-stated the police report saying that it, “indicates that he prevented a police car from leaving and that he caused another car to stop. He was told several times to get out of the street.”
Judge Yacknin agreed with the prosecutor and stated that the law allows for the charge to stand. “I'm denying the motion to dismiss because the people say [Mr. Gordon] was alleged to have run away in addition to the OGA—standing in front a police car.”
Ms. Seppeler then agued the motion to dismiss the OGA based on a lack of evidence showing that Mr. Gordon had physically interfered with the arrest of Mr. Appleberry. Mr. Gordon would have had to have had physical contact with the officers while they conducted their investigation for an OGA charge to stick. She also requested to know specifically—as the OGA charge is a vaguely written laundry list of things one can be charged with—what government function her client was alleged to have interfered with.
The judge denied this motion stating that Mr. Gordon was alleged to have blocked a police car from leaving the scene, which constituted physical contact. Stills from the video taken at the scene clearly show Mr. Gordon in a driveway near the curb as the police vehicle operated by officer Thomas started to pull away and then stop.
[Mr. Gordon and Mr. Appleberry have recently stated that it was officer Nicholas Thomas who was driving, not officer Kosch.]
At this point, the judge noted that Mr. Gordon had refused the plea deal offered to him on December 7, 2015: four work weekends at the jail and a guilty plea to a misdemeanor.
Judge Yacknin asked Mr. Gordon if he would accept the previous offer with a reduction in the number of work weekends: three work weekends rather than four and a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor. Mr. Gordon, once again, refused the offer.
Ms. Seppeler then argued her second motion: dismiss the charges in the furtherance of justice. She argued that “one of the most compelling factors [for dismissal] is the public's confidence in the criminal justice system.”
She explained that there was were two videos of the incident—perhaps 10 minutes total—and asked the court to review the videos before making a decision on whether to grant or deny the motion to dismiss in the furtherance of justice. Based on that video evidence, by not dismissing the charges, the public's confidence in the criminal justice system would be shaken.
“There was some misconduct on the part of the police and some excessive force used on Mr. Gordon,” said Ms. Seppeler.
Judge Yacknin asked if there were any cases Ms. Seppeler could cite that would tell a judge to review video evidence in determining whether or not charges should be dismissed in the furtherance of justice.
“Judges are to look at words and documents [referring to the police reports], not video,” said the judge. Judge Yacknin stated that looking at the video would put her in a position of acting as a jury instead of allowing a jury to review the video evidence so that they could make their own determination about what happened.
The judge, during this exchange, looked toward Mr. Gordon and said, “I'm not saying what the police allege is true. According to the report, your conduct at the scene was evocative—not that of an upstanding citizen.” She continued, “That's what the allegations were—you do have a criminal history and perhaps there was misconduct on the part of the law enforcement officers.”
Regarding the video evidence and the motion to dismiss, the judge said, “A jury will have to take this into consideration. In any event, I'm going to deny the motion to dismiss in the furtherance of justice.”
Ms. Seppeler stated that while she didn't have specific case law that told judges to review video evidence from the scene, she did cite People v. Clayton which grants for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether “the dismissal would in fact be in the 'interests of justice',” according to Wikipedia.org.
Judge Yacknin affirmed her previous decision and denied the motion.
Ms. Seppeler's last motion was, that in the event of a trial, all the members of the jury be pooled from the City of Rochester rather than Monroe County. The subtext of this motion, from an observer's position, was that Mr. Gordon was worried about having a fair trial—one where he would be judged by a jury of his peers (Black, low income, from the city) rather than by a jury comprised of mostly middle-class, white people who live outside of the city.
“There is a historical under-representation of [Black] city residents who appear on juries,” said Ms. Seppeler.
The assistant district attorney argued that the charges were not unique to city residents and asked the judge to reject the motion.
“I cannot grant the motion. The commissioner of jurors makes that call,” said Judge Yacknin.
The judge then cited IN RE: Sidney OGLESBY where a Syracuse city court judge ordered that a jury be pooled from the city. The judge's decision in that case was eventually overturned on appeal. Judge Yacknin followed precedent. (Read A Jury of One's Peers? by Charles A. Keller, III. Esq. for more information regarding the Syracuse case that Judge Yacknin cited.)
She continued by saying that there had been a “180 degree turn around in the last two years of city residents sitting on juries for city cases. The motion is denied.”
A Huntley Hearing was scheduled for Mr. Gordon's case on February 9 at 10:30am. All community support is welcome.
Enough is enough.
Related: Two Black men, one falsely arrested & the other brutalized by RPD, tell their stories | REMOVE THE CLOAK OF SECRECY! POLICE TRANSPARENCY NOW! | Civilian Review Board built to fail Benny Warr and other complainants | Your Friendly Neighborhood Police State -- a reading for EIE
This interview was originally published by the Party for Socialism and Liberation at: http://www.liberationnews.org/from-inside-attica-interview-with-jalil-muntaqim/
Solitary confinement, brutality
and beat downs—prisoners
toe the line doing the time
for being Black in America,
the legacy of slavery, Black
Codes and Jim Crow.
Do Black Lives Matter?
Excerpt from Jalil Muntaqim’s poem “Apartheid Attica”
In the Rochester and Buffalo, NY, communities there is a growing campaign to support Jalil Muntaqim, Black liberation activist, revolutionary, writer
and political prisoner.
Known as Anthony Bottom at the time of his arrest, Jalil Muntaqim is currently incarcerated at Attica Correctional Facility, or as he calls it, “Apartheid Attica.” He was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. He was arrested in 1971 along with Albert “Nuh” Washington and Herman Bell (who is still incarcerated in NY state) and convicted on largely circumstantial evidence. Their arrests occurred only a week after the assassination of Black Panther Party field marshal George Jackson by state authorities.
Muntaqim has been locked up the vast majority of his life. He was 19-years-old at the time of his arrest. He is now 64-years-old and eager to be released on parole. His next parole hearing is scheduled for June of this year.
Muntaqim was arrested and sentenced in conjunction with the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), which targeted revolutionary liberation movements in the U.S., especially the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. His arrest and conviction followed a string of arrests, convictions and assassinations of Black Panther Party leaders, most notably Fred Hampton in 1969 and, as mentioned above, George Jackson in 1971.
Muntaqim is inspired by the developments in the current struggle against racism and police violence that continues to take to the streets around the country.
“As you may know, October 2016, will be the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party. I encourage activists across the country to recognize the celebration. However, it is important that this era that activists have some understanding of that history as has been written in these books. It was a youth movement, and there are lessons for today’s youth as they figure ways to rebuild a serious and durable challenge to the system of racism and exploitation. So, I hope you’ll make copies of these and send to others letting folks know I urge them to learn and prepare to support the 50th Anniversary of the BPP,” Jalil Muntaqim told Liberation News in a recent interview at Attica Prison on his thoughts on linking the struggle from years past to the current struggle.
Some prominent individuals have come out publicly in support of his parole including former Harlem Councilman Charles Barron, who has called for his
release, in dissent from the former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-cop statement to urging that Muntaqim remain locked up.
Building support for the June parole hearing is key in winning Muntaqim’s release. His release would strike a blow against the history of repression against the Black Liberation movement; the victory would be part of the Black Lives Matter struggle today:
“My parole hearing is scheduled for 2016. It will be the 9th parole hearing, and this time I’m going all out to counter to the PBA’s [ Police Benevolent Association’s] influence over the Board of Parole. Naturally, the more folks that support my release on parole, the more I am able to persuade the parole board to grant my release. Last time I had one out of three votes for release, if I can get two – I win!” Muntaqim wrote in a recent correspondence.
The time now is key to build support for Jalil Muntaqim’s release. He is up for parole in June and letters to the parole board are greatly encouraged, especially since the Police Benevolent Association is quite mobilized to oppose his release.
Jalil Muntaqim has recently released a book of poetry and essays entitled Escaping the Prism: Fade to Black and it can be purchased here.
Visit his official website here.
Jalil Muntaqim urges the people to continue the struggle, not only on his own behalf, but on behalf of all oppressed and exploited peoples: “Know my freedom will only come when the progressive community demand I be free. This is the meaning of Power to the People, for it is only the people who are the motive force in creating history.”
Related: Jalil Muntaqim Is Still In Attica! | Rally! Demand Parole for Black Panther Cointelpro Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim | A Mother's Cry | Blog #19: Targeted Killing | Jalil Muntaqim: Blog #20 Blow-Back?! | From Jalil Muntaqim: Blog #21 Ballot or Bullet | Blog #22: The 13th Amendment—Prison Slavery and Mass Incarceration | Blog #24: The Parole Travesty
In the spring of 2013, our old video channel host--Blip.tv--decided that our content didn't fit in with their new make-over of being the place to go for fictional video webseries. So, Rochester Indymedia was given a week to download all of our content before it would be deleted.
Needless to say, we got our content. Re-uploading it onto our YouTube.com channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/RochesterIndymedia) has been a much slower and tedious process.
On top of that, many of the people who have participated with the IMC over the years have content that was never published. This content comes in the forms of video, audio, written work, and still photography.
From the Vault! is a new type of feature where we can unearth some of our old and unpublished stuff and put it out there for our (new) audience. Other feature types we've used in the past and might be used in the future again are IndyTV (our interview show at Rochester Community Television) and Indymedia Uncut (a feature usually showcasing a lengthy interview or lecture).
Aside from letting folks know about the vault, we wanted to actually share some footage that has just been transfered to our Youtube.com video channel. (Mind you, we are not going to republish the hundreds of videos we've already uploaded to the channel.)
The first videos we wanted to highlight were shot by Al Brundage. Resident of Turtle Island and peace activist Jimmy Johnson gave a lecture titled From Disney to drone wars - Settler colonialism, militarism and empire in the United States and Israel at the Flying Squirrel in Rochester on March 21 2012. The lecture was followed by an hour of question and answer.
The original article can be found here: From Disney to Drone Wars - a critical settler perspective.
The second video we wanted to share from the vault was an interview conducted by Dawn "the Barefoot Host" Zuppelli and produced and shot by the Rochester Indymedia collective: Indy TV #22: Making Sense of Gaza: A conversation with Aunali Khaku and Imran Rafi.
You can find the original article here: Indy TV #22: Making Sense of Gaza: A conversation with Aunali Khaku and Imran Rafi.
Enjoy! And please check out our Youtube.com channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/RochesterIndymedia) for more amazing content over the last 13 years. Want to get involved? Please come out to a meeting!
On the FIRST WEDNESDAY of the MONTH, the collective is meeting from 7:00PM - 9:00PM at Rochester Community Television (21 Gorham Street Rochester, NY 14605).
On the 2ND, 3RD, 4TH, (and sometimes) 5TH WEDNESDAYS of the MONTH, the collective will meet 7:00PM - 9:00PM at the Flying Squirrel Community Space (285 Clarissa St., Rochester, NY 14608).
Or email us: email@example.com
Don't hate the media, be the media!
Over 400 people attended the Rochester March for Global Climate Action on Sunday November 29 2015. The event coincided with United Nations Climate Summit beginning that day in Paris, France. President Obama and 140 other world leaders are attending the summit. A large march in Paris had to be cancelled due to the recent armed terror attacks on November 13. But people turned out in solidarity in over 2200 cities around the world including Rochester. The event was organized by the Rochester People's Climate Coalition, formed in 2014.
We Are Marching for our Mother Earth
It began with a rally which packed the church of Saint Luke and Saint Simon Cyrene. It then followed a route around downtown Rochester with stops at City Hall, the Liberty Pole, Rochester Gas & Electric headquarters and the offices of the Democrat & Chronicle. To their credit, the newspaper ran a story on the march, as did the New York Times. Local TV stations had camera crews on the scene but scant footage was actually aired.
Climate change has been named the biggest threat to our world by scientists, heads of state including Pope Francis, and enviornmentalits. Even the US Department of Defense calls it the biggest threat to national security. It is a major factor in the crisis in the Mideast. Over 60 percent of Syria is experiencing severe drought, causing mass migration to overcrowded cities and refugee camps. Rochester is feeling the effects itself, as explained by city Environmental Services director Norman Jones. Rochester just experienced two of its severest winters in history, in a row. Climate change was a contributing factor. This is affecting our local food supply as well. New York just had one of its poorest ever apple harvests, as anyone who has purchased apple cider recently knows all too well.
There are solutions out there to this problem. The UN Summit is scheduled to last 12 days. So here's a song with 12 suggest solutions. (there are a whole lot more too) With the Dady Brothers on guitar and fiddle.
On the 1st day of Climate my conscience said to me, “This news needs to be on TV.”
On the 2nd day of Climate…, “Call Congressmen.”
On the 3rd day…, “Divest now.”
On the 4th day…, “NY State should lead.”
On the 5th day…, “Learning is key!”
On the 6th day…, “Kids are our future.”
On the 7th day…, “It’s a moral issue.”
On the 8th day…, “Eat more plant-based foods.”
On the 9th day…, “Stop trains exploding.”
On the 10th day…, “How’s Paris going?”
On the 11th day…, “Renewables are better.”
On the 12th day…, “Gifts can be greener.”
November 10, 2015.
On November 10th, Take Back the Land and community members rallied outside Ms. McGriff's home to stop the eviction. As a result, the eviction was called off.
Back on September 2, Liz and her supporters were victorious against a similar threat. Take Back the Land and other community members rallied in her front yard and MidFirst Bank called off the eviction that was planned for that day.
On October 15, 2015. two men representing the bank broke into her home, even though her neighbors attempted to stop them. The men broke a window and the lock to her front door, entered the home and left a note saying the bank sent them there to "winterize" the home. They claimed they were surprised to find that the house was occupied despite the fact the neighbors had told them before they broke in. It was an obvious attempt at intimidation by the bank.
After the incident, Ms. McGriff filed a report with the Rochester police. However, according to Ryan Acuff, an organizer for Take Back the Land Rochester, there was no police report filed.
Elizabeth McGriff is able to make payments and has tried repeatedly to get MidFirst to negotiate a solution. Instead, MidFirst has resorted to questionable and legally shady tactics to gain ownership of her home in order to collect FHA
backed mortgage insurance.
On November 9, 2015, at around 11:30am, Scean Gordon and Daryl Appleberry were the victims of racial profiling, wrongful police arrest, and brutality—amid corporate media carelessness and police lies.
According to Mr. Appleberry, police had a description and picture of the man they sought. However, Rochester Police Department officers continued to arrest Mr. Appleberry before and after he, his family, and his friends informed the police of his identity. Mr. Gordon began filming the situation as soon as he could on his cell phone.
As Mr. Gordon and Mr. Appleberry greeted each other in the middle of a quiet Grafton Street and began crossing, a police cruiser rolled up on them and two cops jumped out yelling at the Mr. Appleberry, “What's your name!” according to Mr. Gordon.
Before Mr. Gordon began filming, Mr. Appleberry had identified himself twice to the police.
“When they first jumped out and yelled 'What's your name?! We can make this easy,' I told the them my name was Daryl Appleberry twice,” said Mr. Appleberry.
Mr. Appleberry then identified himself in Mr. Gordon's video before he asserted his right to remain silent and his refusal to be searched.
Mr. Gordon did the only thing he could do at that moment: he documented the scene with his cell phone. He and Mr. Appleberry's family became frustrated and angry when police refused to identify themselves and proceeded to handcuff and arrest Mr. Appleberry—forcing him into the back seat of the cruiser.
Video from Scean Gordon
The video above shows Mr. Gordon moving closer to the officers in order to get their images, name plates, and badge numbers after they refused to identify themselves. He also went into the street briefly to capture the license plates of the cruisers. As he did this, he also reminded Mr. Appleberry of his rights. Seeing the police as apparent kidnappers who wouldn't identify themselves, Mr. Gordon refused to comply with their orders.
Video from D. A.
As the cruiser was pulling away to the right with Mr. Appleberry in handcuffs in the back seat, officer Christopher Kosch stopped the vehicle—telling his partner “I have to get this guy for something [referring to Mr. Gordon],” according to Mr. Appleberry—jumped out, told Mr. Gordon he was under arrest, and proceeded to tackle him, threw him into the pavement, used a Taser on him, pepper sprayed and choked him. Mr. Gordon was eventually handcuffed and put into the back seat of a cruiser and taken away.
Mr. Appleberry was released shortly after Mr. Gordon was removed from the scene. When Mr. Appleberry asked to see the photo of the suspect, the officers remained silent. Officer Kosch's partner said, “Oh, you all look alike,” according to Mr. Appleberry.
Mr. Gordon was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. After going to the hospital for treatment, where he was further taunted and humiliated by officers, he was booked downtown, spent the night in jail, and arraigned the following morning before Judge Ellen Yacknin.
Watch the full Rochester Indymedia interview with Daryl Appleberry and Scean Gordon below
Katherine Denison, a member of Enough Is Enough, was able to attend Mr. Gordon's arraignment before Judge Yacknin. Here's what she saw:
[photo: Judge Ellen Yacknin from the Democrat & Chronicle] Always enlightening, sitting in the shining presence of American justice. Gleaming pink and pale staff directing and berating brown and black accused. Gum-cracking, belligerent cop calling for respect for the judge as he smirks and flashes pink wads of gum at us. Yacknin looking haggard and disinterested, mumbling, refusing the mic, hand over her mouth as she rests her chin in her palm. She was only loud enough and lively when she was lecturing teenagers or reprimanding drunk drivers.
Mr. Gordon was dignified. He has a previous arrest for photographing a police interaction but faced no charges. DA pointed out he has no convictions, has just finished an audio engineering course with shining grades, is father of 2, has a lovely wife. Yacknin let him go on his own recognizance.
Talked with Scean and his wife after. Sweet, both of them, very surprised at the support, and very grateful to learn they're not alone dealing with the photography issue.
Carelessness or lies? Police and corporate media accounts of what happened
Since November 9, the police and a couple of corporate media outlets released their stories about what happened to Mr. Appleberry and Mr. Gordon. Not surprisingly, two outlets—the Democrat & Chronicle and WHEC Channel 10 took on the police narrative also known as “The Truth”—the monumental, fundamental, singular, and True account of what happened. Incidentally, these two corporate news outlets were the only ones that picked up the story.
Three points need to be addressed with this so-called Truth: 1) the description and justification for the use of force on Mr. Gordon; 2) that Mr. Gordon was arrested because he was standing directly in front of a police cruiser preventing it from leaving; and 3) that Mr. Gordon was not tasered by the police.
Let's take a look at the first point regarding excessive use of force. On November 9, independent journalist David Vara put out one of the first—if not the first—story about what happened. Here's how he reported what happened:
After Rochester, NY cops place Appleberry in the cruiser and begin to pull off, the officer driving the cruiser abruptly stops the vehicle, gets out, and does a bee line straight to Scean Gordon, who is standing on private property, and tackle him.
"He wasn't dong anything wrong," Gordon's wife, who didn't want to be identified, out of fear of retaliation by the RPD, told me.
"He was simply video recording what was happening to his friend because the police had the wrong person."
"My husband suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from being beaten by police in New York City years ago, but he didn't do anything wrong."
Rochester Police officers tasered Gordon, and assaulted him, even slamming him on the driveway of the home.
Gordon was charged with resisting arrest and "O.G.A", or obstruction of governmental administration.
Both bullshit charges which police use when they have to come up with something to try and justify their illegal, unconstitutional actions.
Gordon was taken to Rochester General Hospital for his injuries.
Mr. Vara was straight to the point and right on. He didn't mince words. He stated what happened (a link to the video of the brutality is on his site) and then he called out the charges brought against Mr. Gordon as “...bullshit charges which police use when they have to come up with something to try and justify their illegal, unconstitutional actions.” Mr. Vara didn't make excuses nor did he question the language or anger expressed by Mr. Gordon in the video; this was illegal, unconstitutional, and completely bad policing.
Now let's examine how the Democrat & Chronicle reported on the use of excessive force. Jon Hand and Will Cleveland wrote about the incident in an article published on November 10:
A second video taken by Appleberry's sister, shows officers pulling away with Appleberry in their car.
Gordon, police said, at that time is standing in front of the police cruiser.
The video shows the cruiser travel just a few feet, then the driver's side door opens and an officer exits. As he walks to the front of the car, Gordon appears in the screen.
The officer says "you're under arrest" and reaches for Gordon, who evades him and begins to run. The officer and Gordon struggle and other officers join the arrest, pinning Gordon down and using pepper spray to subdue him. Appleberry said officers also used a Taser on Gordon but the videos do not show that, and police said it did not happen.
[Clinton Section Capt. Korey] Brown said his officers showed restraint throughout the arrest while several people were screaming at them while they did their investigation.
In the Democrat & Chronicle account, more detail was offered about the excessive force used against Mr. Gordon. However, the journalists relied on the police to explain away the brutality and misconduct of the officers instead of making their own, independent assessment of the situation based on the officers' accounts, the accounts of the victims, and the videos.
Gordon, “police said,” was standing in front of the cruiser, blocking it from leaving. While Mr. Appleberry, who was sitting in the back seat of the cruiser observing the actions of the officers, told the Democrat & Chronicle that he saw officers use a Taser on Mr. Gordon, the reporters retorted, “the videos do not show that, and police said it did not happen.” Thus, Truth was restored because the police said it was. And in case there was any doubt, because there never seems to be any doubt in the mind of a police officer, Clinton Section Captain Korey Brown said “his officers showed restraint throughout the arrest.” Case closed.
On November 10, WHEC Channel 10 reporter Berkeley Brean produced, perhaps, the very worst piece of chastising—I mean reporting—about the incident. Watching Brean's piece is a telling example of bad journalism and shoddy video work when looking at the use of excessive force on Mr. Gordon:
Moments later -- with Appleberry still handcuffed in the car -- the police car stops suddenly and police get out to arrest Gordon. Family members are hysterical. We met Appleberry and Gordon at the scene and reminded him police said he could record from the sidewalk.
The text for this article is actually a make-shift transcript for Brean's produced video. The video connected to the voice over of the above text showed Mr. Gordon being chased, tackled, and dragged with Brean's voice overwhelming the audio in the video stating, “We met Appleberry and Gordon at the scene and reminded him police said he could record from the sidewalk.” Brean used quick and specific cuts of the two videos Mr. Gordon and Mr. Appleberry gave to him, in order to paint the officers as reasonable people who made a simple mistake and Mr. Gordon as an angry, out-of-control Black man, who was swearing at the cops.
There was no description of what Mr. Gordon experienced and no attempt to convey to the audience what they were watching. Brean drove home the point that if Mr. Gordon had just been more compliant and less vulgar with his language then he might not have been beaten up.
Berkeley Brean's WHEC News Channel 10 segment
There was condescension for Mr. Appleberry and Mr. Gordon throughout Brean's nearly three minute segment. Mr. Appleberry didn't even make the cut to represent himself in the WHEC Channel 10 reporter's piece, even though Brean met with the two men and discussed what happened.
Berkeley Brean's full interview with Appleberry and Gordon [poor audio quality]
Let's move onto the second point: that Mr. Gordon was arrested because he was standing directly in front of a police cruiser preventing it from leaving.
According to a statement released on November 10, 2015 by the Office of the Chief of Police, Michael Ciminelli, "Mr. Gordon was standing in the street and refused to disperse so that motor vehicles could pass. Officers even attempted to move their marked police vehicle and Mr. Gordon refused to step away from the front of the vehicle."
The interesting thing about this statement is not that it can be contested using the video and statements from Mr. Gordon; the interesting part about this police narrative is how little time it took the corporate news media--in this case the Democrat & Chronicle and WHEC Channel 10--to adopt it as the one True account.
The Democrat & Chronicle parroted the police narrative perfectly. Unlike WHEC Channel 10, the paper didn't go so far as to say that Mr. Gordon wasn't in the video. Here's what the paper reported:
A second video taken by Appleberry's sister, shows officers pulling away with Appleberry in their car.
Gordon, police said, at that time is standing in front of the police cruiser.
Here's what WHEC Channel 10 reported in print with Brean's video:
Gordon was arrested after he refused to get out from the front of a RPD police car.
Police say they arrested Gordon because he was blocking the police car in the street. Gordon says he was standing in the driveway. The video does not show him.
Brean in print and video, stated, “Police say they arrested Gordon because he was blocking the police car in the street. Gordon says he was standing in the driveway. The video does not show him.” The WHEC Channel 10 reporter parrots the police line just like the Democrat & Chronicle reporters.
A minor bit of investigating on the part of Brean could have gone a long way. Contrary to the police narrative and Brean's declaration that “The video does not show him,” the video clearly showed Mr. Gordon's leg, foot, and shadow, which was consistent with the statement that he made in our interview above. Mr. Gordon explained that he was standing with Mr. Appleberry's family with his body in the driveway angled toward the leaving police cruiser so that he could get a side-angle shot when officer Kosch stopped the cruiser and got out.
At the end of the day, both the Democrat & Chronicle and WHEC Channel 10 did sloppy-to -zero investigative work and took on the police narrative as fact. Brean went a step further in his bad reporting by declaring that "The video does not show [Mr. Gordon]," when, in fact, it does.
Let's move onto the last point: that according to the police and the corporate media, Mr. Gordon was not tasered by the police. According to the Democrat & Chronicle,
Appleberry said officers also used a Taser on Gordon but the videos do not show that, and police said it did not happen.
Regarding the use of a Taser on Mr. Gordon, Cleveland and Hand write, "...but the videos do not show that, and police said it did not happen." In the video above of Mr. Gordon getting brutalized, an officer drew his Taser at around the 1:08 minute mark. While the Taser prongs may not have been fired into Mr. Gordon's body, the possibility does exist that the charged prongs may have touched his arm or torso, stunning him. The reporters at the the Democrat & Chronicle fell back on the police statement, writing, "police said it did not happen."
"I was in the back of the squad car [and saw] where the officer actually pulls out--reaching, pulling out the stun gun, and the stun gun put to Scean Gordon," said Mr. Appleberry in our interview.
WHEC Channel 10 didn't report on the Taser use at all.
The last sentence of the first page of the statement from the police said, "Mr. Gordon was never Tased during this incident." If it never happened, why comment on it? The police do acknowledge that Mr. Gordon ran head first into a utility pole. In the video of Mr. Gordon getting brutalized, (picture 4 in the meme below) Mr. Gordon is very close to a utility pole when it appears he is Tasered. He might not have "ran head first into a utility pole" but rather been jolted into the pole after being Tasered. Again, if it never happened, why comment on it?
"Cops lie. Record everything."
David Vara has apparel branded with the phrase above and it couldn't be more true. It's vital, regardless of whether or not there are police body worn cameras, dashboard cameras, or surveillance cameras, that civilians—everyday people—continue to record and publish their interactions with the police on blogs, YouTube, and elsewhere. In New York State, it is completely legal to take video of police doing their jobs in public. The democratization of video technology in cell phones means that we all have greater power to hold police accountable.
Eye-witness and civilian video can make transparent that which police would rather keep secret. In Scean and Daryl's case, police came up with a narrative, made explicit statements that appear false, and then gave the story to the corporate media to report in full. The last step for the police, is letting the story fade from existence where it will whither under the proverbial rug.
The idea of police lying is open to interpretation. It depends on where your sympathies lie and how much time and effort you are willing to put into scrutinizing police and corporate media claims. For those that doubt that police lie, there are plenty of examples that show police lying, trying to stymie the public's right to know what happened, and covering their blue crimes.
For a very recent, national example, take the case of Laquan McDonald. Mr. McDonald was a 17-year-old Black teenager who was gunned down by Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke with 16 bullets--many of them entering his body after he was wounded and on the ground. (Read the original Chicago Tribune report here from a year ago.)
Journalist Jamie Kalven was interviewed by the Chicago Reporter about the cover-up of Mr. McDonald's murder by Van Dyke:
Kalven calls [Mayor of Chicago Rahm] Emanuel’s “reframing” of the narrative “essentially false.” He points out that “everything we know now, the city knew from Day One. They had the officers on the scene. They knew there were witnesses. They had the autopsy, they had the video.... They maintained a false narrative about those events, and they did it for a year, when it could have been corrected almost immediately....They spent a year stonewalling any calls for transparency, any information about the case.”
To make matters even worse, it came out that Chicago police went to a nearby Burger King in proximity to where Mr. McDonald was murdered and deleted 86 minutes of security camera footage. The dashboard camera video released on Tuesday showed the murder of Mr. McDonald and clearly refuted statements made by the department and the police union.
Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder and is sitting in jail awaiting a bond hearing.
In New York State, a story of national prominence is the case of Eric Garner. Mr. Garner was selling loose cigarettes and, for doing so, was strangled to death by officer Daniel Pantaleo. Pantaleo was not indicted by the Staten Island grand jury for the murder which sparked off countless Black Lives Matter protests and actions across New York City and the country. Without the civilian video recording of what happened, the police could have made up any story they wanted. In fact, as of December 2014 Pantaleo still claimed that he never choked Mr. Garner.
The case, however, isn't over. In February 2014, the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit in Supreme Court in Manhattan demanding that the Civilian Complaint Review Board release "a summary of Daniel Pantaleo's employment history, including complaints, charges, and number of allegations brought against the officer," according to Silive.com.
The organization, in demanding these files, stated that they could "help evaluate the potential weaknesses associated with the city's police investigation and disciplinary system," as well as offer some parity of history between Pantaleo and Mr. Garner as the day after his murder, Mr. Garner's criminal record was broadcast publicly.
The CCRB denied the initial Freedom of Information request under the auspices of New York Civil Rights Law 50-a. After the denial and no response to the appeal, the Legal Aid Society filed suit. Civil Rights Law 50-a, a law unique to New York State, says,
All personnel records, used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion, under the control of any police agency or department of the state or any political subdivision thereof...shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without the express written consent of such police officer, firefighter, firefighter/paramedic, correction officer or peace officer within the division of parole except as may be mandated by lawful court order.
Currently, the city and the police are appealing a lower court ruling that agreed with the Legal Aid Society that told the CCRB to release the information. Civil Rights Law 50-a gives officers an overwhelming amount of protection in New York State--especially in the case of blue crime--from the very people who pay their salaries: the public.
Finally, looking at Rochester, there are plenty of cases where police have tried to obfuscate the truth or flat-out lied about what happened. For instance, Emily Good was arrested for videotaping a racially-motivated traffic stop in front of her home on Aldine Street in May 2011. Ms. Good released the video of her arrest in mid-June and it went viral. Her story was picked up by the Huffington Post and CNN. Eventually, amid public outcry, the district attorney decided to withdraw the charges against her.
A few days later, after the charges were dropped, Michael Mazzeo, Rochester's police union president of the Locust Club, lied directly to nearly every single news outlet except Rochester Indymedia as the union barred our entry to their "public" press conference. Specifically, he wanted to correct some "misconceptions" about Ms. Good's case: 1) she knew the people in the vehicle that was pulled over, and said, "These are my friends, what's going on?" thus making the officers fearful, 2) that fear is what caused her arrest when she refused to comply with an order to go into her house, and 3) that videotaping was not the reason she was arrested.
On point one, it was the officer who engaged her and her friend standing in her lawn videotaping the traffic stop when officer Mario Masic said, "Hey, you guys need something?" On point two, according to Rochester Indymedia, "the video and the police report clearly contradict that she was in any way obstructing the officers from doing their jobs and by extension that the order was unlawful." Specifically,
According to Masic's arrest report, that has been widely reported on, the officer wrote that Good was at least 15 feet away. She was not antagonizing officers; she was in her pajamas, barefoot, standing on the far side of the sidewalk on the edge of her front lawn. It's curious that Masic in his opening salvo acknowledges that Good is standing with someone else and that Ryan Acuff, the person standing next to Good during this whole experience, is never questioned at all--he seems completely ignored by police. Acuff was in his regular clothing standing next to Good when the arrest happened. He's also a bit taller than Good and would appear to be the bigger threat if indeed officers, as they've been claiming, felt unsafe.
Regarding point three, all evidence indicated that no one else was told to go in their houses including her friend standing right next to her. It appeared that Masic was targeting her because he didn't want the incident taped. What's incredible is that Mazzeo felt the need to even call a press conference after the charges against her were dropped.
Another case where the police narrative was floated that didn't correspond with what people heard or saw was the police murder of Hayden Blackman on October 13, 2011, by officer Randy Book.
In this case, there was a domestic dispute and police were called. Things settled down and then later in the night, the police were called again for a domestic dispute. The Democrat & Chronicle explains the police narrative of what happened:
Sheppard said officers found Blackman, who lived in the upstairs apartment, holding a six-inch folding knife and threatening his 16-year-old stepson. The officers remained in the doorway of the apartment and directed Blackman to drop the knife several times, Sheppard said.
Blackman refused and turned toward the officers, Sheppard said. One officer fired multiple times, after which Blackman was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 12:34 a.m. Sheppard declined to say how many times or where in the body Blackman was shot.
The paper interviewed Mr. Blackman's neighbor, Darryl Phillips Jr., who stated that "less than two seconds passed between the time the officers ascended the stairs to the second-floor apartment and the first gunshots." Police claimed Mr. Blackman was ordered multiple times to drop his knife. The neighbor claimed that within two seconds, he heard five gun shots and no commands from police when they entered the apartment.
I spoke to another source recently who was there the night Mr. Blackman was murdered, and he corroborated Mr. Phillips version of events. Police ran up the stairs, the door was forced open, no commands were given, and then shots were fired. After a protest on October 20 denouncing Mr. Blackman's murder, no other statements were made about his murder or the "investigation." The case literally disappeared over the course of two weeks.
Rally Demanding Police Accountability for the Murder of Hayden Blackman
Finally, there's the case of Benny Warr. On May 1, 2013, Mr. Warr was talking to some friends on Jefferson Avenue when police rolled up and started telling people to move on. Mr. Warr, seeing the cops, decided it would be best for him to catch the bus and get out of the area. As he was waiting for the bus in his motorized wheelchair, officer Joseph Ferrigno approached Mr. Warr and said, "Y'all move along!'
Mr. Warr responded, “Sir, I'm catching a bus. I'm going down to the other end.”
The officer's response was, “I told you to move the fuck on!”
Mr. Warr repeated, “Sir, I am catching a bus and I am going to the other end,” at which point, officer Ferrigno pepper sprayed Mr. Warr in the face and officer Anthony Liberatore rocked and threw him out of his chair where he was kicked, punched, and kneed all over his body and head by police while on the ground. According to one witness, Sgt. Mitchell Stewart arrived and gave Mr. Warr a few hard kicks to the head.
Mr. Warr was put in handcuffs for nearly two hours until he received care at Strong Memorial Hospital for his injuries. The attack left him with nightmares, flash-backs, short-term memory loss, a change in personality, and physical mobility issues such as being unable to use his prosthesis.
In police reports, Mr. Warr was misidentified as "Benny Webb." He was also misidentified as a known "associate of the Chalk 'Em South gang." Simply put, the police narrative and (mis)identification of Mr. Warr is not corroborated by the facts: statements from witnesses, the videos from civilians, and the police's own surveillance camera footage.
Benny Warr attacked by police
Surveillance footage from police camera
Mr. Warr is currently fighting for discovery documentation from the City of Rochester for his civil lawsuit in federal court. When the city refused to hand over documentation for over a year, his attorney, Charles Burkwit, filed a motion to compel against the city. Part of the discovery he is seeking could fulfill a Monell claim--where Mr. Warr. would have the right to explore whether the city has tolerated a custom or pattern of excessive force on the part of its officers. While the city has started to comply with Judge Marian Payson's orders to release the information, she is considering granting Mr. Burkwit the ability to depose the Civilian Review Board panelists who heard his client's case--and exonerated the officers--because of strange comments left on their tally sheets at the conclusion of their deliberations.
The lengths that police, and the municipalities in which they work, will go to obscure, stall, and lie in cases related to officer misconduct is horrifying. And it continues with impunity. This isn't the case of a few bad apples, but a system rotten to the core.
Court Support and Demands
Mr. Gordon has court on December 7, 2015 at 9:30am before Judge Ellen Yacknin. He has asked for court support: please show up! Because of the way Rochester City Court operates, he may not appear at 9:30am when he is scheduled. His case may not be heard until later in the morning. Please come if you can. He is being represented by the Public Defender's Office.
Mr. Gordon has (at least) three demands:
- Drop the charges!
- An apology from the Rochester Police Department for the wrongful arrest of Mr. Appleberry and the brutality that he suffered.
- Discipline officer Kosch and the other officers who participated in the racial profiling, false arrest, and brutality.
Enough is enough!
Mental Health: A juxtaposition of Rochester police tactics | From Ferguson to Palestine to Rochester: the truth perseveres! Rev. Hagler speaks! | REMOVE THE CLOAK OF SECRECY! POLICE TRANSPARENCY NOW! | Civilian Review Board built to fail Benny Warr and other complainants | Your Friendly Neighborhood Police State -- a reading for EIE | Coalition praises council on body cameras; demands a voice in policy decisions
Apostle Nina Warr to be honored and celebrated at banquet recognizing her 16th ordination anniversary
In recognition of her good work in the community and her many years of spiritual service to the people, Apostle Nina Warr will be honored at a very special banquet recognizing the 16th anniversary of her ordination. The banquet is being organized by members of her church, Inner Faith Gospel Tabernacle.
Sister Felicia Abrams said of her pastor, “Pastor Warr is an exceptional woman of GOD. Her servanthood for the people comes from a loving heart that seeks the will of GOD diligently.
Apostle Warr was born and raised in Elmira, NY. At age 12, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, she accepted the Lord as her personal Savior. She was a member of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church where the Lord commissioned her to preach the gospel to a dying generation. She began to ful fill this mission under the pastoral-ship of Reverend Harry Morgan. While in this ministry, she served as president of the Junior Usher Board, vice-president of the Junior Missionary Board, and started the Youth Prison Ministry. The Youth Prison Ministry was the first to visit surrounding correctional facilities and sing the praises unto the Lord.
She attended Buffalo State and Corning Colleges with a focus in business administration. Throughout her years in college, she continued to serve faithfully in the ministry until she moved to Rochester, NY. In 1985, she fellowshipped with and eventually joined Guiding Light Spiritual Church, under the leadership of Elder Jack Rice. Under his leadership, her anointing made room for her many gifts which manifested themselves during this ministry. Those gifts included: preaching, teaching, speaking in tongues, discerning of spirits, and healing through the laying on of hands. Apostle Warr continued to serve God in whatever capacity and wherever her services would be needed. She served as superintendent of Sunday School I and II for five years, Bible schoolteacher for seven years, and Missionary Board president for three years, during which she founded the Young Adult Committee.
In February of 1993, Apostle Warr accepted the chair to lead and serve God's people. On June 9, 1993, she received her ordination from Bishop Elle Granger of Calvary Spiritual Church. In November of 1999, Pastor Warr, along with the Holy Spirit, established Inner Faith Gospel Tabernacle then located at 615 Portland Avenue in Rochester, NY. The church moved from Portland Avenue and is currently housed at 32 York Street. In June of 2013, she helped found and organize Enough Is Enough, an anti- police brutality organization after her husband was assaulted by the Rochester police. In 2014, she was voted in as the fourth vice-president of United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western NY.
Her sister, Cathy Ross, spoke of the love Apostle Warr carries with her: “We are daughters of a mother, Loretta Ross, whom loved us unconditionally and always said to look out for one and other. She showed us that no matter where you come from there's always love for others.” Ms. Ross continued, “Apostle Warr has taken up the cross and continues to carry this love for all forward.”
For the past 13 years to now, Apostle Warr's Outreach Ministry is continually blessing the community through its clothing and food distribution efforts. Those efforts occur now nearly every week at the church. Inner Faith Gospel Tabernacle has been hosting a free GED/TASC course through BOCES II, which has become highly successful. Apostle Warr has worked hard to forge partnerships in Rochester in order to better serve the needs of the community. Some of those partnerships include Rochester Works, the Department of Social Services (WEP program), Fidelis Care Insurance, the Rochester Probation Department, Wegman's Surplus, and the Flying Squirrel Community Space.
Apostle Warr continues to build on the wall, believing that taking both physical and spiritual responsibilities is what promotes the growth of individuals into their lives' missions.
The banquet was put together to recognize her continued commitment and love to bring forth the gospel to everyone. Inner Faith Gospel Tabernacle invites everyone to come celebrate and honor this remarkable woman. Gladly, tickets are sold out!
Related: Strategies for Fighting Police Brutality - Socialism 2013 | Inner Faith Gospel Tabernacle (on Facebook) | I Declare War Documentary | Video Reportback! Enough Is Enough! Community Rally and March! | Civilian Review Board built to fail Benny Warr and other complainants