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News :: Human Rights : Organizing : Race
Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
26 Feb 2005
Once again Springfield cops have been let off after brutally beating a Black man. But, as this outrage resonates in the community and more police terror is brought to light, a multi-faceted campaign led by oppressed communities and their allies are fighting back. The Springfield Police Commission voted 3-2 on Jan. 31 to let off four white cops accused of beating and choking Mr. Douglas Greer, a principal at a local charter school Nov. 4. According to Greer, principal of Robert M. Hughes Academy Charter School, he was viciously beaten by the cops Nov. 4. Greer, who has diabetes, drove his car into a South End gas station after feeling ill. A worker at the gas station called police after he failed to rouse Greer, who had lapsed into the early stages of a diabetic seizure.
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Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
Actions promised to protest increasing police terror

By Bryan G. Pfeifer

SPRINGFIELD, MA -- Once again Springfield cops have been let off after brutally beating a Black man.

But, as this outrage resonates in the community and more police terror is brought to light, a multi-faceted campaign led by oppressed communities and their allies are fighting back.

The Springfield Police Commission voted 3-2 on Jan. 31 to let off four white cops accused of beating and choking Mr. Douglas Greer, a principal at a local charter school Nov. 4.

According to Greer, principal of Robert M. Hughes Academy Charter School, he was viciously beaten by the cops Nov. 4. Greer, who has diabetes, drove his car into a South End gas station after feeling ill. A worker at the gas station called police after he failed to rouse Greer, who had lapsed into the early stages of a diabetic seizure.

When the cops arrived, according to multiple eyewitnesses, they smashed Greer’s window, dragged him through it and beat him unconscious on the pavement. Greer said he repeatedly attempted to tell the cops about his medical condition, but the four cops accused him of being "on drugs" and used this as an excuse to beat him.

Greer needed 18 stitches to close lacerations in his head. The police report on the beating claims Greer became violent and they had to use force and pepper spray. The cops also claim that while police were subduing Greer, he smashed his own head on the pavement.

At least two of the cops have long track records of racist terrorist activity in the Black and other oppressed communities. Jeffrey Asher was suspended from the police force for a year in 1997 after a a videotape showing Asher kicking an African American man broadcast on local tv.

James Shewchuck, another cop involved in the Greer beating, has been accused of organizing a "welcome back" party for the cop who shot and killed Ben Schoolfield, an unarmed Black youth, during a traffic stop in 1994. Although Schoolfield’s family, after years of litigation, won some minimal monetary compensation due to a civil suit, all the cops involved in this murder were let off.

Greer is exploring legal and other avenues for justice with Springfield's Nation of Islam, among others.

Two days after the commission’s decision on the Greer beating, a videotape obtained by local media showed three members of a Black Springfield family being beaten and arrested in the Springfield police headquarters lobby in September 2004. While filing a complaint at the lobby window, the family, which has a long history of being harassed by the Springfield cops, was descended upon by at least 10 cops coming from two side doors. The video shows police swinging batons and placing one of the family members in a choke hold.

Resistance

"Pastors have always been in the forefront when it comes to seeking justice," said the Rev. J. Williard Cofield, president of the Pastors’ Council of Greater Springfield at a press conference Feb. 9 announcing the council’s complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The council, with about 30 mostly Black pastors as members, filed the complaint concerning the Greer and family members’ beating and as a response to the increasing complaints of police terror issued by their parishioners (masslive.com).

"We have heard the cries of our community, and it is our business to speak up so the truth can come forward," said Rev. Cofield.

A probable-cause finding by the commission would force a public hearing. If the commission’s investigation renders a lack of probable cause the complaint will be moot.

The U.S. Justice Department has requested that the FBI investigate the complaint. Since this is like asking the fox to guard the chicken coop, independent community organizations like the Springfield Technical Community College-based Urban Awareness Group is planning more independent actions like the Nov. 20 demonstration the group sponsored after the Greer beating.

The STCC students, with other community residents and organizations, hope to engage in anti-police brutality actions this spring and to conduct a people’s commission to investigate and protest police brutality, terror, and occupations of oppressed communities in the city.

And, humorist, social commentator and activist Dick Gregory who spoke at STCC in early February denounced the Springfield police department’s racist actions.

In the progressive communities in Western Massachusetts there’s a dawning awareness that the anti-war movement must connect the U.S. war in Iraq with the war on working-class and oppressed communities in the U.S.

A central component of these struggles must be anti-racism especially in the struggle against the cops, the courts and the prison-industrial complex which affects the oppressed communities most directly.

– 30 --

Nick Camerota, Springfield Technical Community College professor and member of the Western Mass International Action Center, contributed to this report.

(c) 2005 Bryan G. Pfeifer. Article may be printed in full or in part provided full attribution given to author.

Union labor donated

-- END --
See also:
http://www.october22.org
http://www.troopsoutnow.org

This work is in the public domain.
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Comments

Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
27 Feb 2005
Nice icons posted with the article but that is not what you will ever find in Springfield. I am from there and I see those pictures as an attempt to glamourize a horrible situation. Struggle is not depicted by icons Mr. Camerota.

Great articles though, thanks for keeping us updated out here.

You all coming up to Boston for March 20th? WMass should definitely come out to the commons as well as have a speaker or two.
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
01 Mar 2005
seriously, the Black Panthers have nothing to do with this. The closest way to connect them would be to say that the Nation of Islam is in the article, which Malcolm X was in, who inspired the panthers, but still, what are you talking about? More simply you are suggesting that because the victim and the BPP are black that they are connected, which is offensive. even if they both oppose police brutality, so what? put my picture in the article- i oppose police brutality too!
To tony, the article was mostly written by bryan.
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
02 Mar 2005
It's interesting that you use the words terrorist and rascist conbined with photographs of armed Black Panthers. The Panthers were equal only to the Klan in their terrorist ways and rascist views.
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
02 Mar 2005
Sid, I seriously considered hiding your post as racist, but I have decided to give you the benefit of a doubt and assume you spoke out of ignorance. There certainly is a lot of misinformation about the Black Panthers out there. Comparing the Black Panthers to the Klan is abusrd. I certainly wouldn't want to defend everything about the Panthers, but racists and terrorsist they were not. They believed in black nationalism, comparing the plight of black people to colonized people in third world and arguing that blacks needed to come together and work collectively for their liberation from the US's system of internal colonialism, as they called it. They did not think that blacks were somehow superior to whites. They were in fact perfectly willing to work with white activists, particularly those who were committed to building a broader movement committed to ending poverty and fighting racism. You may not agree with their analysis, but the argument that blacks are a colonized people with the right to liberate themselves through armed struggle, as recognized in international law, is not racist. And the armed struggle thing was more rhetoric on their part than anything else. Primarily, they armed for self defense against police brutality in their neighborhoods and they spent a lot of time doing things like organizing free breakfasts for poor children. If there are any terrorists in the history of the Black Panthers, it's the FBI, who gunned down Panther leaders in staged "shoot-outs"--shoot-outs in which the Panther leaders were asleep in their beds. The rhetoric about armed struggle may not have been wise (it made it easy for the FBI to frame them like they did), but it certainly wasn't terrorism by a long stretch.
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
06 Mar 2005
Nice weay to give yourself the last word Matt. So much for free discourse.
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
06 Mar 2005
As I said, I almost hid your first post as racist, but decided to give you the benefit of a doubt. With your second post, you lost that benefit of a doubt. Given the degree to which you smeared the Black Panthers, it was clearly racist and we have a policy of hiding racist posts. (Anyone who wants to judge for themselves can go to the hidden posts page and take a look at Sid's' post.)
Definition of Racism
08 Mar 2005
Main Entry: rac·ism
Pronunciation: 'rA-"si-z&m also -"shi-
Function: noun
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
- rac·ist /-sist also -shist/ noun or adjective
JUST THE FACTS
08 Mar 2005
The Black Panthers were criminals. This is not a matter of controversy between credible scholars. It is a fact. The infamous New Haven trial of Panther leaders for the torture and murder of Alex Rackley all by itself establishes this, since nobody inside the Panther organization or arguing for the Panther organization denied (or has since denied) that torture of alleged police informers was a Panther practice. In 1970 Edward Jay Epstein wrote an investigative article for the New Yorker and reviewed 348 felony charges against Panthers for crimes ranging from wife-beating to armed robbery. Kate Coleman and Hugh Pearson have written about the beatings, the drug dealing and the murder in particular of Betty Van Patter -- although there were roughly a dozen murders that can be traced to the Panthers. All of these crimes were committed by Panther leaders using the apparatus of the party for their deeds. Those are the facts. Plain and simple
Bobby Seale's Confession
08 Mar 2005
Bobby Seale one of the Black Panther founders acknowledged in a 2002 radio interview that the Panthers were a criminal organization but he contended that it was all Eldridge Cleaver's fault and/or that he (Seale) knew nothing about it at the time. Seale stated that when Newton, Elaine Brown and other Panthers murdered Betty Van Patter, he was no longer a member of the party. He had been beaten up and sodomized by Newton and had disappeared for more than a year because he was afraid for his life.

At the 35th reunion of the Panthers at the University of the District of Columbia Seale addressed some of the crimes committed by his fellow Party members. Seale declared, "I love Huey, but Huey used to do some crazy stuff." Seale recounted how Newton used to lurk for prey outside of the emergency room of an Oakland hospital. When patients were rushed into the emergency room from cars, Newton would steal from the abandoned vehicles.

Seale stated that things were getting out of hand in the Party by the mid ’70s. "I wanted to stop the Black Panther Party," the graying radical confessed. "I had stumbled on Huey Newton abusing cocaine at the time viciously. I stumbled on him trying to take over the drug trade operation in Oakland, California." Seale admitted that Newton attempted to shake down pimps and drug dealers. I can not understand why Indy Media would legitimize such a group by posting Panther photos as part of this story.
What a clean commentary!!!
10 Mar 2005
Wow! To read this commentary you would think that nobody contradicted Matthew. People who disagree with Matthew disappear faster than a Chilean college student. Do you also torture people on the genitalia, or will that only take place after you and Boston ABC blow up Raytheon and Fidelity?
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
11 Mar 2005
It is very easy for Matthew to throw words like "racist" around to justify his blatant censorship of those with whom he disagrees. This demonstrates what a sham Indy Media actually is. It's the choir preaching to itself. Say something anti-American, anti-police or anti-establishment and you're in!! Tell the truth about a criminal organization like the Black Panthers and you're a racist. The true racist is Matthew. He apparently judges groups by the color of their skin. How else is it that he can ignore the crimes of the Black Panthers?
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
25 Mar 2005
Black panthers are a racial terrorist orginization who advocated the rape of white women and murder of white police officers publicly whose many original members died of drug od's and fund raised through selling drugs.they have nothing to do with cival or human rights they are a street gang like skinheads and aryanbrother hood
Re: Springfield communities respond to police commission decision in Greer police brutality case
25 Mar 2005
it's a matter of public record what cleaver said about raping White women.ignorance is people trying to hid the truth there is nothing wrong with black or white nationalism I am al for it,but leave terrorism out of it.oh,but its ok the panthers started the free lunch program in schools