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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A PhotoJourney of Pain: Our World of Dreams Does Not Include Police Carrying Guns

Or this title: Time to feel the Momentum of the Movement: We Must Unite to Stop Police From Carrying Guns

or The Breeze of Revolution... No More Cops With Guns

An Open Letter to the World Regarding the Worldwide Police Killings of Unarmed People

To print out the 10 page PDF version of this article please click here.

By T. Love

As I wrote this letter, I had difficulty breathing, I cried, and then I wiped my eyes and I pulled my self together to try to sound coherent, to write clearly and civilized... civilized.. so surreal... about the police officers shooting and killing Oscar Grant, a completely unarmed, handcuffed Black man who was down on the ground while other police officers held him down...and the entire event was captured on not one, but several different videos that i just saw, so there is no mistake of the events. At least two of the videos are now here: or here

These were Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police but they still has guns and were every bit as lethal. Was this an isolated incident? No, because just a few hours before Oscar Grant was killed in California, another unarmed African-American, Bobby Tolan, was gunned down by police in Texas.

I feel the momentum, like a breeze of revolution, of people all over the world who are tired of police carrying guns! It is a breeze that cannot and should not be ignored. There is a storm coming. All over the world people are taking action as a result of Police killing unarmed people. In Greece there were riots for weeks, in Oakland the people took to the streets for many days and even here in Olympia, the heavily policed capital of Washington state, activists have dared to take to the street.

In January 2009 in Olympia, about 45 people came together and wanted to show solidarity with the actions with Greece and Oakland. At first, the torch lit march against the police killings was silent and full of quiet emotion and anger about the increase in killings; then after walking around downtown Olympia some folks joined in and began playing the banjo, singing action orientated songs and Woody Guthrie songs. Several people pulled out road flares, held them up and then threw them onto the street and flipped over dumpsters to block police cars that began tailing them. Some held signs that said "Fight Back", "Fire All Cops" and much more. Some of the marchers screamed "Beneath the Concrete Lies the World of Our Dreams" and "Destroy Misery" and instead of fading off into nothingness as many marches often do, after looping around the downtown Olympia area, picking up more people, the march then headed towards the police station on the Westside of Olympia! The police quickly dispersed them with 3 people arrested and over 9 people detained. These are actions people are taking to let the world know: people are fed up with police carrying guns.

It does not take great skill and resources to show your opposition to police carrying guns. Much like most of you reading this, I am of few resources as I am a severely disabled, financially disadvantaged, Black feminist living on the West coast who happily writes with lots of typos and a blatant disregard for the grammatical rules of the Colonized English language. I watched the video of several different angles available online and what I saw was far more chilling than watching Rodney King being beat by Police Officers, in which Rodney King was fortunate to live through his hellish ordeal.

Kendra James

I considered Rodney King "lucky", because I used to live in Portland, Oregon, where three completely unarmed African-Americans were actually killed... by Portland Police within 25 months; Byron Hammick in 2002, Kendra James in May 2003 and James Jahar Perez shortly afterwards. James Philip Chasse, Jr. was not African-American, but was a mentally challenged unarmed person who was literally beaten (not shot) to death and killed by Portland Police officers in September 2006.

Many of you will never know what it feels like to be a disabled, financially disadvantaged, African-American person and walk the streets of a city knowing at any time you might be the next unarmed African-American male to be killed by Police. It's like the Black man's lottery that none of us wants to win. The only way that we, people from all backgrounds win in this crisis is join together to solve this crisis that divides us and speak out together.

Long ago, I researched every aspect of the 1999 Amadou Bailo Diallo killing, in which an unarmed Black man was killed in a barrage of 41 bullets fired by Police officers while he stood on the doorstep to his own home, and yet I still can't makes sense of it and I still can only remember. But I told myself it couldn't get worse than that. After all, the police said it looked like Diallo drew a gun, but it turned out he pulled out his wallet to show them the Photo ID because they requested to see it even as their guns were drawn. Whenever police harass me with racial profiling and ask me for ID, I move slowly, carefully and remember Diallo. Learn more here: ]

3000 mourners at Patrick Dorismonds Funeral

And then, less than a year later, came the murder of Patrick Moses Dorismond in March 2000, an unarmed man, also killed by Police in New York. Over three thousand mourners showed up for his funeral. And then on November 27th, 2006 Sean Bell, an unarmed New Yorker was killed just hours before his wedding. I thought to myself, surely it couldn't get worse'll get better. The police said they thought a fellow police office yelled 'Gun' but it was just a mistake.

But it is not just an American issue of social class of our failed system. On Saturday December 6th at around 10 pm, two Greek policemen engaged in a verbal argument with a small group of teenagers in the center of Athens. During the argument, one of the cops pulled his gun and shot 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos (Greek: Αλέξανδρος - Ανδρέας Γρηγορόπουλος). Riots broke out across Greece and the world from the event. The police always cite mistakes being made.

15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos (Greek: Αλέξανδρος - Ανδρέας Γρηγορόπουλος) seen on a sign held up by a man in a protest.

Robbie Tolan

Bobby Tolan was a reserve outfielder during his years with the Cardinals, with whom he won a World Series title in 1967... and batted second behind Pete Rose in the Reds lineup. Bobby Tolan is married to Marian Trahan and they have a son Robert (Robbie) Tolan who plays professional baseball in the Washington Nationals organization. On December 31, 2008, Robbie was shot by a Bellaire, Texas policeman. Robbie Tolan was unarmed and driving his own vehicle. The bullet lodged in (Robbie) Tolan's liver; the injury may have ended his professional baseball career. An investigation into the shooting is on-going." I researched further and learned that according to Robbie Tolan's family members, Robbie Tolan and his cousin were returning to Tolan's home in the primarily white Houston suburb of Bellaire in the early hours of December 31, when they were approached by officers who
suspected the SUV they had just gotten out of was stolen. Tolan's parents, the owners of the SUV, came out of the house to explain everything to the police. An altercation occurred and Robbie's mother was slammed against the garage door by an officer. According to Tolan's uncle, "Her son was on his back at the time, and he raised up and asked, 'What are you doing to my mom?' and the officer shot him -- while he was on the ground." Tolan's uncle, Eddie Tolan, was a sprinter who won two Gold Medals in the 1932 Summer Olympics..

In October 1995. Jonny Gammage, a 31 year old African-American was driving in the mostly-white Pittsburgh suburbs of Brentwood, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The car that Gammage was driving, a Jaguar, belonged to National Football League (NFL) player Ray Seals, Gammage's cousin. After a routine traffic stop Sgt. Keith Henderson and Patterson asphyxiated Gammage, who was completely unarmed during the entire incident, while he begged for his life. Court reports state his last words were: "Keith, Keith, I'm only 31." Officer John Vojtas, one of the police involved in the traffic stop, was found not guilty by a jury with no minority members. He was permitted to return to work as a police officer in the Brentwood department and received a promotion.

In May 1997, Shiloe Johnson was walking his bicycle across a bridge late at night. He was unarmed and wearing a Walkman and could not hear what was going on around him. A police offer approached his friend and started yelling. The cop then jumped Shiloe from behind and several seconds later the cop shot Shiloe point blank in the head. The cop had been dismissed from the LAPD for brutality. At last record, he is still employed as an officer in Napa, CA.

Abner Louima

And then in August 1997 Abner Louima, a male, unarmed immigrant, was assaulted, brutalized and forcibly sodomized with a broken broomstick by a number of New York City police in a bathroom at the 70th Precinct police station house in Brooklyn. They did all this while Louima's hands were cuffed behind his back and they sodomized him with a broomstick in a manner that caused severe internal damage to his colon and bladder that required several operations to repair. Volpe, one of the police officers involved, then walked through the precinct yelling he had "broke a man down."

Yes, strangely enough, I agree that statement is correct, because from what we can see the police are slowly breaking us all down to the point where we blindly continue to allow them to carry guns despite their escalating and more frequent atrocities against unarmed citizens. Louima was tortured while handcuffed, and officers said he faught them, but Oscar Grant was seen on video and begged for his life by saying 'please, I have a 4 year old daughter' and was still murdered by the police. In every way, the problem is getting worse.

Salimata Sanfo, Ousmane Zongo's Widow. Zongo is survived by a widow and two children.

In May 2003, Ousmane Zongo a Burkinabè arts trader living in New York City, was completely unarmed and yet shot and killed by a New York City Police Department officer in a case of mistaken identity during a botched police sting. The shooter, officer Bryan Conroy, was disguised as a postal worker and shot Zongo four times, twice in the back but did not receive any jail time. Zongo is survived by a widow and two children.

Julian Alexander, killed by police at age 20, is pictured with his pregnant wife of a few weeks, Renee. Alexander was dead shot by Anaheim police in what is believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

In October 2008, the associated press ran a story with the title: “Newlywed Julian Alexander killed outside his California home by police in mistaken identity.”
“A newlywed killed by police after he stepped outside his home to confront suspected burglars was shot in a case of mistaken identity, police said. Julian Alexander died after being shot twice in the chest by a police officer who was chasing four burglary suspects early Tuesday morning. Police Chief John Welter said the officer ran into Alexander, mistook him for one of the four juvenile suspects and shot him."

"The last thing we ever want to do, No. 1, (is) take somebody's life," he said. "And we certainly don't want to take the life of someone who is mistakenly believed to be involved in some criminal activity." "He was a good kid, trying to protect his house," said Alexander's mother-in-law Michelle Mooney. "And the police, instead of asking questions, they just shot first. Somebody has to be held responsible for this." Welter would not release the officer's name, but said he was a 10-year veteran of the department. "It's mistaken identity, but that doesn't bring my son back," said Alexander's father Jerry. He said Alexander got married last weekend and his 19-year-old wife is expecting a baby in December.”

Alexander's wife and also her 15-year-old sister looked out the window during the incident and saw the police flip Julian’s limp and bleeding body over... and then handcuffed him. Julian's family then made an attempt to rush to Julian’s side, but the police yelled at them to get back…or else. Julian stayed out of trouble as a student and won the title of outstanding defensive linebacker in 2005 and 2006. He also was the defensive player of the year in 2007—before he graduated from Riverside's Notre Dame High School. Now a life of achievements, and staying out of trouble, has been cut short... by police with guns who shoot first and ask questions later. Julian's family saw the police flip Julian's limp and bleeding body over... and then handcuffed him while he bleeding, in the exact same manner that Oscar Grant was handcuffed after being shot by the Police.

Many people would like to tell you it is a race issue or a social class issue or some other issue. We not must not let gender, age, race, mental/physical disability, class, region, sexual orientation or any other characteristic divide on us the need to solve this crisis of armed police in our communities.

Perhaps I have been too busy paying rent, paying for food, paying for healthcare, trying to find a way to get two worsening, agonizing, excruciatingly painful cavities removed with a special, expensive surgery needed with no dental coverage because the AK arthritis in my neck doesn't permit my mouth to open wide enough for standard tooth repair... and simply existing is a full time job for me and it seems to gets harder everyday. Many of you face the same exact hurdles and much worse, I know.

Because with the Oscar Grant killing I must accuse myself just as I accuse the world... of being too quiet, because I must admit that the cop killings of unarmed people, all over the world, is getting much, much worse everyday and as we see Peak Oil and the worldwide economy collapse we must realize it will get far worse if we remain silent. Oscar Grant complied with all police commands and begged for his life saying: "Please, I have a 4 year old daughter," and what did he receive for it? A BART police officer bullet that reports state say entered his back and ricocheted to his lung area, and as he began to die...the police then placed handcuffs on him just as police did with Julian Alexander while he died.

Being unarmed and killed by police didn't just happen to Oscar Grant, Julian Alexander, Jonny Gamage, Diallo, Kendra James, James Philip Chasse, Jr., Alexandros Grigoropoulos or all the countless other unarmed people all over the world killed by police... it is happening to people as a whole, everyone of all backgrounds in our society, who are more frequently being placed into a position where we are being killed by police... even after begging for our lives.

It is time to stop begging for justice! It is time to rise to action!

I was born in Philadelphia and I know there is crime and I have been mugged many times and had a mugger put a gun to my head... but the police have tasers, pepper-spray, rubber bullets, dogs, riot gear, batons, asphyxiation and a few dozen other kinds of unethical forms of weapons that are even against the Geneva Convention like broken broomsticks at their disposal so why must they carry guns to continue killing unarmed people? If authorities can use tranquilizer guns to stop wild animals why are we as humans literally executed by police with guns and bullets?

Police killing unarmed people has become so routine that people ignore it and try not to think about it. I am hoping that you will not remain silent about police killing unarmed people anywhere in the world and you will take action and let people know that the system of armed police in our communities needs to end.

It is time to start feeling the momentum of action, the breeze of revolution, and start working on a new way of life for people worldwide.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968)

“Non-violent Direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue."
Martin Luther King* (1929 – 1968)

It is time to start working on a new way of life for people worldwide.

You don't need courage to take action, you just need to care about human beings.

"The non-violent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had."
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I love you all,

Love for the people!

-T. Love
Freeschool Community Collective Member and Board Member

For many of you, all that I have written will be too much information, too unthinkable, for you to take action at all and you won't even write an open letter. If this is the case then with all my heart I recommend that you at least see the graphic documentary by PBS titled "The Murder of Emmit Till." For after you see that documentary, which has proven at great length that it was an unthinkable atrocity that helped to launch the Civil Rights movement, you will quickly realize that without solutions things will only get worse. We have the ability to solve this crisis. There is hope for a better world!

If you intend to circulate this open letter, but desire a short, less graphic will find a 997 word version at either of the below websites. Even though many of you may feel this letter was too long or too graphic, what you really need to understand is that each and everyone of the victims I described were only the “fortunate” ones that made international, major media headlines and their crisis was not ignored so I do not offer apologies for the long or the graphic nature of this letter but rather, I offer my apologies to the mothers and fathers who have sons and daughters who fall into the most ignored and unheard categories: the undocumented immigrants, homeless, those forced into sex-trade and those who are victims in the Prison Industrial System around the world who are among the countless male and female that never make the news when they are completely unarmed and killed by police with guns. Your pain is no less important I assure you, Thank you to everyone. Please keep in mind this is copyleft and I give everyone permission to edit all of it or part of it, and use it, without permission from me and without credit to me needed. The important thing is to get the word out, speak out, and stop the police from shooting unarmed people and turning our world into a police state... a police world. We can change things, one movement at a time, one crisis at a time, with action, hope, unity and real love for all people and for a better world.

2008: The Oakland police killed Casper Banjo, 71 years old. Unarmed.

 2008: Jose Luis Buenrostro,  15 years old.  Unarmed.

2008:  Jody Woodfox, 27, unarmed.  Killed by Police Office Hector Jiminez.

2007: Gary King Jr., 20 , unarmed.

2007: Andrew Moppin, 20, unarmed.  Killed by Police Office Hector Jiminez.

Photo Caption “These children, a racial cross-section of Oakland, standing with a sign during the protest regarding the Oscar Grant protests, seem determined to stop the police' open season on young men of color before it's their turn. The sign on the left reads, "Sunset 2008-09 RIP Oscar Grant III, Casper Banjo Jose Luis Buenrostro, Jody Woodfox, Gary King Jr., Andrew Moppin and others at the hands of Oakland police." - Photo: Demondre Ward

"Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and left-wing, have taken to mindlessly... glorifying the police and the army, and virtually asking for a police state. It isn’t surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of “pickings” is long gone. We’re now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way."

-The quote is from 'Monster in the Mirror', written on December 30th, 2008 by Arundhati Roy


  1. right on T. thanks for putting that out there for those who have been asleep to this issue.

  2. Dear Mothers of Black/Brown Babies (M.O.B.B.),

    Thanks for the compliment. It is not taken for granted. I checked out your blog and website and it is very beautiful. I feel the struggles you went through. Slingshot, a radical newspaper and zine, published a shorter version of this article found here:

    You can contact them and they will send you copies to distro free. Info here:

    Solidarity for a better world,

    Love for the people,

  3. It's the most clear show up, so everybody's review. It's evading on like being liable to break. The more reruns they delineate, the more individuals watch. My mother can't quit seeing. I think she has an issue.
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