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News :: Human Rights : Race
Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
09 Jun 2005
“Are we going backwards?”

This was the question asked at a June 5 news conference in Dorchester, Mass., held to publicize the demand that five Somerville African American youths be immediately reinstated as students at Somerville High School near Boston and that trumped-up police charges against them be dropped.

The Somerville 5—Calvin Belfon, 17, Cassius Belfon, 15, Earl Guerra, 16, Isiah Anderson, 17, and Marquis Anderson, 16—were victims of racial profiling and a brutal, unprovoked attack by Medford police on April 20. The five have been indefinitely suspended from school. And they face false charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, assault and battery, and disorderly conduct.
somerville5.jpg
Somerville 5 case: Racism!
0062_NOI_1.jpg
Somerville 5 case: Racism!
0042_NAACP_1.jpg
Somerville 5 case: Racism!
The news conference was held on the steps of the Greater Love Tabernacle Church. Congregation and community members filled the church steps and immediate sidewalk. Speakers included the Rev. William Dickerson, pastor of the church; Leonard Alkins, president of the Boston NAACP; Minister Rodney Muhammed, Nation of Islam; Robert Traynham of the International Action Center; and a representative of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers.

Speakers put out a call for Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Albert Argenziano to immediately reinstate the youths in school; for Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley and Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Riley to thoroughly investigate the Medford Police Department; for Gov. Mitt Romney to effectively respond to the police misconduct charges; and for the U.S. Justice Department to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the incident.

Various speakers compared this case to the recent trial held in Milton, Mass., involving five white men at Milton Academy who were charged with sexual assault. They were “sentenced” to 100 hours of community service, counseling, and two years of probation.

This obvious slap on the wrist is the sort historically given to white men in the rac ist, sexist criminal justice system. Pointing out this racial disparity, Minister Muham med said, “Everything bad in society gets dumped on the Black community.”

The Somerville 5 case is of national importance. It exposes the ongoing crime of racial profiling by the police, and police brutality—both faced every day by communities of color in the United States. The question remaining, as asked at the news conference, is whether there can be “a new day in this old town.”

-- 30 --

What you can do to support the Somerville 5:

Call or fax Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley and demand that all charges be dropped immediately!
Phone: 617-679-6500
Fax: 617-225-0871

Please call, fax or email Superintendent Argenziano & the Somerville School Committee to demand that these students be reinstated immediately!

Dr. Albert Argenziano
Superintendent, Somerville School Department
Phone: 617-625-6600 x6005
or 617-625-6600 x6000
Fax: 617-625-4731
aargenziano (at) k12.somerville.ma.us

Somerville School Committee
617-625-6600 x6000

Ward 4 - Charlene F. Harris - Chairperson
charris (at) ci.somerville.ma.us

Ward 1 - Maureen Bastardi - Vice Chairperson
mbastardi (at) k12.somerville.ma.us

Joseph A. Curtatone, Mayor
jcurtatone (at) ci.somerville.ma.us

Bruce Desmond - President, Board of Alderman
bdesmond (at) ci.somerville.ma.us

Ward 2 - M. Teresa Cardoso
tcardoso (at) k12.somerville.ma.us

Ward 3 - Roberta Bauer
rbauer (at) k12.somerville.ma.us

Ward 5 - Megan Foster
mfoster (at) k12.somerville.ma.us

Ward 6 - Carolyn Taylor
cataylor (at) k12.somerville.ma.us

Ward 7 - Mary Jo Rossetti
mrossetti (at) k12.somerville.ma.us

-- END --
See also:
http://www.iacboston.org
http://www.finalcall.com

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Somerville 5 case: Racism!
09 Jun 2005
This is not racism, this is justice.

These kids launched an unprovoked attack on officers after they refused to leave an area which was being closed down. The cops were justified in the force used against them. No long term harm physical harm was done.
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
09 Jun 2005
this is a good article but it should say what the deal is with the somerville 5 is (how they were viciously attacked by racist pigs) so that readers get the other side of the story than pete's comment above. fuck police brutality. how long do they have to destroy before we question their right to rule us?
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
10 Jun 2005
Cops just beamed down and attacked these kids?
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
11 Jun 2005
http://www.authoritarianopportunistswhocozyuptogenocidaldictators-forpeace.org/

Is this an ANSWER thing. It is generally impossible to get the true story when ANSWER/IAC is reporting it.
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
12 Jun 2005
I wouldn't doubt it if most of the above posts were cops posting on here trying to save their ass. Or white folk defensive and in denial about racism because they don't have to deal with it everyday. At the very least everyone but Artful Dodger is supporting racism in our society by denying it or trying to justify it.

Pete: you're sending out false information... just like the cops do to try to save their asses. hmmm...

Coo-coo: Are you that ignorant of what cops do? Are you serious? There's no "beaming" about it... that was just weak. You think that you cops could come up with a better disinformation post than that.

[Editor's note: These next two responses are to now hidden or deleted comments.]

blackinboston: "perceived racism against them by whites"? There's nothing "perceived"l about it. Racism exists and it actively benefits whites over people of color. You- as a white person- obviously don't experience it directly... so quit trying to act like you're black.

Enlighten1: Amen to what? To racist apologists? You must be a white racist too.

C-sharp: It doesn't matter if answer posted it or not. These kids got beat up by racist power-tripping cops. The c stands for "cop" right?
editor's note
12 Jun 2005
Please refrain from personal attacks against other posters--you can make any point you want about what they said (as long as what you say isn't prejudiced), but please say it without insulting them. Posts that include personal attacks tend to really degrade the quality of the comments on this site, leading to nasty back and forths, rather than meangingful dialogue. As a result of this, we're going to begin hiding posts that include serious personal attacks. Critiquing other people's ideas is, of course, fine and we want to encourage more of that sort of exchange.
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
13 Jun 2005
I get so sick of hearing "racist this," "racist that" everytime blacks get in trouble in school, or with the police. I happen to be Jewish by the way. I stopped whining about the "holocaust" long ago...after I read "The Holocaust Industry" by Norman Finkelstein. Can't you blacks just get a job and stop WHINING? GET OVER IT ALREADY!
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
13 Jun 2005
Here's what the cops should've done to them! You MUST watch both videos to fully appreciate what cops have to put up with on a daily basis.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/video/taser_video2a.html

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/video/taser_video3a.html
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
13 Jun 2005
@narchist - It's also possible that blackinboston is... gasp.... a middle or upper class black who doesn't directly experience classism on a daily basis and thus is unaware; or conversly feels directly threatened by the actions of poor blacks who white yuppies percieve to "make blacks look bad" .

It's also possible (you @anarchist) that your politics are weak as shit and that your a racist for lumping all blacks into one category and assuming that they all have similiar experiences regardless of circumstance (which of course is no different than the racism that blackinboston fears). Let the liberal guilt flow.
To @narchist
13 Jun 2005
And most anarchists are rich white kids who are pissed at their parents. Don't make accusations about other posters just because you disagree with what they say. This is a supposed to be an open forum.
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
13 Jun 2005
Just because "@narhcist"'s comments were out of line doesn't mean that you (enlightened1) need to feed into it by calling anarchists rich white kids pissed at their parents... that's just straight bullshit. Rich white kids may try to identify as anarchists in their "rebellious" stage before "settling back down" and reflecting on those days the same if they were in a frat. But most rich white kids are republicans or democrats... just take a look at the college population. I don't know the class status of every anarchist group. But the one's I do know (although predominantly white) are also predominantly working class.... especially the folks who are actually in it for the struggle and ideals not the identity and image; which means you don't SEE a lot of them because they're not doing the glamourous, flamboyant protest politics shit.... but are working 40+ hours a week, and doing real anarchist work that's building towards real fundamental change: building counter institutions, working on popular education of real problems with real analysis, working on the nuts and bolts of social movements, labor unions, tenants associations, book stores, etc. (yes "reformist" ones), working towards greater equality of social relationships, and building towards attack strategies that aren't in the spotlight of major protests or in front of large groups of people, or in the media.

And "another local (a)", even if it wasn't right for "@narchist" to deny someone's identity, don't feed into it. Who says that "@narchist" is an anarchist or even living locally (afterall this is an accessible internationally)? They could be just trying to stir up shit for some reason... I don't know. Althought "@narchist" could be inspired by "liberal white guilt", there's nothing inherently "liberal white guilt"ish about saying that "racism is a system". "@narchist" oversimplified the issue, and I agree with you that there is a difference in poor or working class black experience with racism and middle and upper class experience with racism. But even though they may experience racism differently, it still exists in all class levels. I do think "@narchist" was out of line ; but I do think that racism is a system of advantage.... overt acts of racism such as police brutality aren't even the brunt of it. Most systemic racism has to do with issues of ability to get jobs because of skin color, how much confidence and trust is placed in your abilities by school teachers because of your skin color or because of stereotypes and how that influences your own confidence levels or abilities or how much time teachers and others spend to help and guide you towards your goals, media that only depicts white people in positions of power and thus reinforces that that's a white thing, anger and distrust- and therefore exclusion and fear from poor whites- like my family- who are oppressed by the capitalist system and don't want to be on the bottom rung and have been instilled with a culture of racism to feel better than the most oppressed (that shit dates back before the break from the british... the rich instilled racism in poor whites so that poor whites would side with rich whites instead of joining with native americans and black servants and slaves to challenge the fucked up system of economic exploitation that oppressed them all (I'm not trying to justify poor white racism; but people need to understand where it's coming from if it is going to be combatted)... etc., etc.

And Sholomo, just because you're jewish doesn't give you the right to invalidate other people's experiences. "Get a job?" I've heard that one before; it's empty rhetoric and slander. But what are you trying to say? Are you talking about the kids? I don't know if they have a job; but more black kids that I know are working or looking for work than white or jewish kids (although looking for a job usually has more to do with class status than race). And if poor black youth are unemployed more, maybe it's because they aren't trusted as much by their employers to get hired because of their skin color and stereotypes their employer has, maybe it's because they're growing up with worse school resources/ schools, maybe it's problems at home or in the neighborhood they disproportionately have to deal with (shit like police harassment and brutality, that grinds people down everyday). Everyone's experience is different; but there people not working or wanting to work are mostly rich, they're called "capitalists" or the wife or husband of a capitalist. Everyone else works so that capitalists can sit back and reap the benefit from "their" investment. Also, there is a general culture of overt racism and subconscious racism of stereotyping and assuming that goes on. And noone, regardless of race, should "get over it" if kids are beat up by cops using excessive force. Especially in this case, when the cops were making racist remarks as they were beating the kids up... how is that not racist if the cops anger is expressed through racist remarks as they're beating them with excessive force? And how is it not wrong and fucked up that there were consequences for the kids at their schools before finding out all the facts without even a pretension of "innocent until proven guilty".
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
29 Jul 2005
It's one thing to disagree with anarchist. It's another thing to attack him personally. And so what if a rich white kid is an anarchist? It's a free country. Let them be.
Re: Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
08 Dec 2005
Medord police are not just rasist to the black community they are rasist to Somerville youth in general. As a white Somerville teen I am in full support of the Somerville 5. I myself have been a victom of the Medford police and there hatefull ways. On one night I was walking home on Mystic ave and saw 3 Medford police fly by. I guess they where looking for a group of men who just assulted someone and then next theing I know they pull up next to me. They serched me with out a cause and, when they saw I had nothing but, was from Somerville they told me to go back to the slums and if they ever see me in Medford again they wouyld arest me.The Medford police should have charges brought agains them and, the charges agains theses boy who I know as good kids should be droped.
depression
30 May 2006
Very interesting website. Keep up the outstanding work and thank you...