Cynthia McKinney Statement on the Sean Bell Verdict

Cynthia McKinney
Statement on the Sean Bell Verdict
April 26, 2008

“[T]he legislation and histories of the time, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument. . . . [A]ltogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

And with that, the United States Supreme Court ensured that the 20th Century would be defined, as W.E.B. DuBois wrote, by the color line. So, while we might be outraged at the Sean Bell decision itself, it comes directly from the flawed jurisprudence that gave us the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Bakke in 1978, Croson in 1989, Adarand in 1995, Gratz in 2003, and all of the Ward Connerly-inspired attacks on the very same affirmative action hard won by students facing water hoses and dogs; men and women facing jail, lynch mobs, and death.

Interestingly, according to Attorney Roger Wareham of the December 12th Movement’s International Secretariat, the criminal justice system in this country “always finds a rationale for letting off cops who kill black and brown people.” Indeed, police officers seem to know that they can kill certain people with impunity.

Just in New York City alone, Wareham rattles off the murders that have defined police-”communities of color” relations over two generations:

Clifford Glover, 1972
Louis Baez, 1978 shot (22 times)
Randolph Evans, 1979
Eleanor Bumpers, 1985 (a grandmother)
Amadou Diallo, 1999
Patrick Dorismond, 2003
Sean Bell, 2006

Sadly, New York City isn’t the only city, with this plague. In 2001, the Dayton Daily News reported that Cincinnati topped the list of police killings of Blacks, having had 22 people shot, 13 fatally. All black men. Three unarmed. Plus two additional deaths due to police use of chemical irritants.

The 2001 “Cincinnati Intifada” lasted for three nights after a white police officer murdered an unarmed black teenager. Timothy Thomas was the fifteenth black male killed by Cincinnati police over a six-year period. I traveled with Ron Daniels and others to Cincinnati to support the call by black residents, including Reverend Damon Lynch III and 36 other ministers, for a boycott of that city. Still reeling from the effects of the boycott, Cincinnati made headlines again in 2003 when the world watched as one black and five white police officers repeatedly beat Nathaniel Jones with batons and then left him in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, only to be pronounced dead later at the hospital.

The “Benton Harbor, Michigan Intifada of 2003” lasted two nights after the murder of an unarmed black motorcyclist by white police officers. Adding insult to injury, the residents of majority-black Benton Harbor are reeling under an attempted takeover of the last “undeveloped” beachfront property on Lake Michigan. The residents are under attack by the Whirlpool Corporation, that wants to develop “Benton Shores” and move all of the residents completely out of the town. The purported goal of the development is to turn Benton Harbor into one of the “hottest vacation destinations in the country,” to include a members-only indoor water park, and a Jack Nicklaus golf course. According to Reverend Edward Pinkney, the valiant leader who is trying to save Benton Harbor for the people, Harbor Shores will result in a complete takeover of Benton Harbor, a city that is 96% Black. Reverend Pinkney has been in jail since December 14, 2007 on trumped- up charges including violation of probation, for writing an article calling the chief judge racist. Mrs. Pinkney called the Office of Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee to ask for justice for the residents of Benton Harbor and for her husband. Shockingly, Chairman Conyers refused Mrs. Pinkney’s plea to get involved in this heroic struggle of a 96% Black community in his own state. When I visited Benton Harbor, it was clear to me that Reverend Pinkney has the full support of the area’s residents, black and white, as they struggle to maintain the character of their community. Reverend Pinkney is recognized by the people as true hero and occupies a jail cell because of it.

Finally, however, someone broke the silence and admitted it. Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper wrote in his book, “Breaking Rank,” that white police officers are afraid of Black men. He develops this theory in a chapter of the book entitled, “Why White Cops Kill Black Men.” Finally: a hint of truth coming from the other side. In a June 16, 2005 interview with the Looking Glass News, Stamper says that he personally believes “that white cops are scared of black men. The bigger or darker the man, the more frightened the white cop. I can’t shake that; it’s a belief I will take to the grave.”

So while the corporate press would have us believe that reporting on what a former Vice Presidential nominee says about a Presidential candidate is a discussion of race, the prospects are that black and brown men and women will continue to be murdered by police officers who, fundamentally, seem scared of black people. That fear apparently extends to the larger community because juries construct ways to let murderous police officers escape just punishment.

Roger Wareham, and the December 12th Movement International Secretariat raise, inside the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, the details of the type of police abuse in which a 92-year old grandmother, Kathryn Johnston, is murdered by police in Atlanta, Georgia and her family still has not seen justice or been made whole. Or where a young black male, also in Atlanta, can be sitting in his mother’s car and is murdered because the police presume that the car is stolen.

The December 12th Movement has asked for United Nations Rapporteurs to come to the U.S. on fact-finding missions so that the U.S. can finally be listed as a major human rights abuser and a Rapporteur assigned to this country.

Already, the Special Rapporteur on Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is coming to the U.S. from May 18 - June 6 and will be in New York City on May 21st and 22nd. The December 12th Movement is scheduled to have a hearing for him at the Schomberg Center where the issue of police killings will be raised. The Rapporteur is also scheduled to visit DC, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, and San Juan.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Summary and Arbitrary Executions, Mr. Phillip Alston, is conducting a Mission to the U.S. in June. The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is also interested in reports of police abuse. If a consistent and systemic pattern of abuse exists (which it clearly does in the United States), the United Nations General Assembly can pass a resolution which helps creates international public opinion and perhaps the political will to stop it.

Certainly, doing the same thing—a cycle of protest without punishment—will net the same results. Something different must be done. That’s why I authored legislation to deny federal funds and the use of federal equipment to any law enforcement unit found to have violated the civil rights of the people it is organized to protect and serve. Imagine if we had the laws on the books and the apparatus of enforcement. Imagine if juries wouldn’t grant impunity to killer cops.

Some of you have written to me suggesting that we do something different: perhaps a full-scale boycott. Perhaps a full-scale, all-out political response—something many in this generation have never done before.

Bobby Kennedy always said, “Some men dream of things that are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not.”

It is not impossible for us to have justice. We don’t have to lose any more people to police abuse, brutality, or murder. But, in order to change things, we’re going to have to do some things we’ve never done before in order to have some things we’ve never had before.

Are you willing to entertain that idea? Today? Right now? If we demand more of our elected representatives, I’m convinced we will get it. And it should be clear exactly what is needed if we don’t get what we demand.

22 Responses to “Cynthia McKinney Statement on the Sean Bell Verdict”

  1. Jim Lesczynski Says:

    Patrick Dorismond, 2003

    Patrick Dorismond was murdered in 2000, Giuliani time.

  2. Steven R Linnabary Says:

    Kudo’s to the Cynthia McKinney campaign. Whether one agrees with the NYPD or not, this IS an issue for millions.

    I hope that this release gets some traction.

    One more instance where an opposition party campaign has found a parade and got to the front of it.


  3. Kelly Parker Says:

    Cynthia McKinney is a disingenuous opportunist. I lived in Cincinnati in 2001 and used to drive through the riot zones to and from work. Timothy Thomas was not some innocent kid. He had outstanding warrants for his arrest. When police tried to arrest him, he ran into a dark alley. A cop doesn’t know if a suspect is unarmed or not in a dark alley and they are not likely to take chances. If Thomas hadn’t run he would likely be alive and well right now. He created the circumstances that lead to his death, not the police. Don’t make a saint out of a sinner.

  4. death by cop Says:

    Even a “private” police force would have shot him. Am I correct anarchists?

  5. Steven R Linnabary Says:


    Timothy Thomas did have a number of warrants. For really minor things, a seat belt violation being one of the worst. At least he wasn’t charged with having baggy pants.

    When we live in a country where you can get several tickets after being pulled over for having an overinflated tire, you can expect people to run.

    If the cops hadn’t piled on the charges, he might have paid the fine. As it was, he knew he couldn’t get any sympathy from a judge from the suburbs. With all the charges, he probably would have to spend time if he couldn’t afford the numerous fines.

    Don’t make a sinner out of a kid with normal tendencies. And feel lucky we haven’t experienced more riots over typical cop behavior.

    Not to say McKinney isn’t an opportunist. She wouldn’t be much of a politician otherwise.


  6. Chris Bennett Says:

    Maybe so but a “private police force” setting there would be no “immunity” for them in a civil trial. Because these “piggies” have immunity they don’t have to think before they react so they can go on shooting rampages and kill innocent people without repercussions.

  7. Paulie Says:

    Chris is correct!

  8. Braden Says:

    This is ridiculous. Just more race-baiting. Two of the three officers that got off were black. Did she mention that part?

    They didn’t get off because they killed a black man. They got off because they killed a civilian. Look around you at the people dying daily from assault, tasering, etc. They’ll shoot ANYBODY who isn’t one of them. Color is not an issue—black, white, asian, hispanic, whatever—we are ALL slaves to the pigs.

  9. The Observationist Says:

    That is the problem, law enforcement officers are not trained to think, they are trained to react and when their robotic impulse is set to fear black men in their line of duty, rather than protect and serve, they simply cower and abuse peoples rights, without even recognizing what their harmful actions can do, not only to their victims, but themselves and the rest of society. Jehovah will deal with these idiots, soon!

  10. Paulie Says:

    Black police shooting black civilians is nothing new.

    Especially when they have a white partner.

  11. G.E. Says:

    “but don’t let it be a black and a white one/ cuz they’ll slam you down to the street top/ black police showin’ out for the white cop.”

  12. G.E. Says:

    Have the Statotarians and tReasonistas had much to say about this? LRC certainly has.

  13. jack booted thug Says:
    1. death by cop Says:
      April 27th, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Even a “private” police force would have shot him. Am I correct anarchists?

    Are you serious? I work for Blackwater Ops, we’re a private army sub-contracting to the U.S. government in Iraq. That man would’ve been killed ten times over if he’d a screwed with us. Our scope of operations are unlimited and we operate without any form of oversight or official authority.

  14. CopsGoneBad Says:

    This is a growing problem and everyone should know their rights and how to react to cops.

  15. Nexus Says:

    Excuse me Mr. Linnabary, but that is BS. I don’t care how ‘minor’ the charges are, you don’t run from the cops. If he had just gone quietly and paid his fines he would likely still be alive today. I’ve been given BS tickets by cops before to. What do you suggest I do, refuse to pull over and run from the cops? All that does is create circumstances that endanger the public and me. What do you suggest the cops do? Just let him go? Do you really want to create precedence where it’s ok to run if the warrants are for something ‘minor’? No sir. There are avenues to fight a BS ticket, but a dark alleys isn’t one of them.

  16. neKKKsus Says:


  17. Paulie Says:

    Ice T - Bitches 2

    I knew this guy
    That was never that fly
    Couldn’t act cool
    Even when he tried
    When we played rough
    He always cried
    When he told stories, he always lied
    A Black brother
    Who was missin’ the cool part
    He had the color
    But was missin’ the true heart
    When we would fight
    He would always go down quick
    So he took karate
    and he still got his ass kicked
    But now he’s married
    And he kicks his wife’s ass
    Says it comes from problems
    That he had in the past
    Doesn’t like Blacks
    Claims he’s upper class
    Joined the police, got himself a badge
    Now he rolls the streets
    and he’s cut to jack
    Doggin’ young brothers
    Cause they usually don’t fight back
    Got a White partner
    And he asked for that
    and every night
    Another head they crack
    So now he’s big man
    But he really ain’t shit!

    Yo, how did he go out?
    He went out like a bitch!
    So ladies
    We ain’t just talkin’ bout you
    Cause some of you niggas
    Is bitches too!

  18. shady lady Says:

    Will someone please provide the list of white civilians who have been shot down by cops—white, black or polka dotted—in any city in the U.S. (or all the cities in the U.S.)? I’ve been yearning to see this list for so long.

  19. Shawn G. Says:

    This from a woman who thought it was okay to assault a Capitol Hill Police Officer for asking to see here identification that she actually was a member of Congress? How does anyone take what she says seriously?

  20. disinter Says:

    This from a woman who thought it was okay to assault a Capitol Hill Police Officer for asking to see here identification that she actually was a member of Congress?

    Yes, everyone should show their papers everywhere they go. Hitler would be proud.

  21. G.E. Says:

    Hitting a cop shouldn’t even be a crime. Cops commit violence against taxpayers by their very existence.

  22. swift kick in the nuts Says:

    simple. run from the cops, threaten the cops, point something at the cops, the fkn cops are gonna throw down. didn’t your mom tell you not to play with fire dumbasses? and this “it only happens to black people” shit is for the birds. go watch any number of “cops”, “true stories of the c.h.p”, “worlds wildest police whatever”, WHITE PEOPLE ARE SHOT BY WHITE COPS TOO. why? because they are doing dumbshit. very simple. now stop your bitchin.

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