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Deaths of two black men in Louisiana at the hands of police.
Ä  ANEWS (1:375/48) ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ ANEWS Ä
Msg : #3730 
From : email@example.com 1:343/70.10 Sat 02 Apr 94 22:04
To : All
Subj : 2 Die in La.Sheriff's Custody
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (NY Transfer News)
Date: Sun, 3 Apr 1994 01:04:52 -0500 (EST)
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
TWO BLACK MEN DIE IN LOUISIANA SHERIFF'S CUSTODY
By Elisa Waingort
People in Jefferson Parish, La., showed on March 26 that they
refused to stand by after two young African American men died in
the custody of the sheriff's office.
In the face of intimidation and repression, the Citizens Action
Committee of Marrero, Jefferson Parish, organized a march that
date through the town of Gretna to the Parish courthouse. The
march culminated at Sheriff Harry Lee's office.
The march of about 70 Black, Latino and white people called for
the indictment and conviction of Lee and the Jefferson Parish
The events leading to this protest began the week of March 7,
when, in separate incidents, two Black men died in custody in
Jefferson Parish. Located across the Mississippi River from New
Orleans, this is the parish that elected fascist David Duke to
the state legislature.
In the first and widely publicized incident, Jefferson Parish
reserve police stopped Michael Simmons because his car had a
loose license plate. Police claim a routine check revealed an
unspecified outstanding drug charge.
Robert Lestrick said he was standing on the sidewalk watching
when a deputy began to handcuff Simmons.
"At first, he was letting the man cuff him," Lestrick said.
"Until the other man came around and hit him with a flashlight.
He wasn't causing any problems or nothing." (New Orleans
Times-Picayune, March 9)
Simmons ran to a neighbor's house to avoid being beaten. His
mother, Marion Simmons, arrived at the neighbor's home and saw
"He came over and laid his head on my shoulder and told me,
'Momma, they beat me. They done cut me, beat me with a
searchlight.' " Michael had blood all running down his face. They
took him from me. I was holding him and didn't want to turn him
loose." She said a deputy pushed her hard and took her son away.
(Times-Picayune, March 9)
The following day, Simmon's lifeless body was identified by his
brother, who said Simmon's face was swollen and bruised and that
his head was fractured. Under pressure from Sheriff Lee's office,
the coroner delayed his report for a couple of days. It stated
that the cause of death was not established but that it could
have been caused by drugs.
A few days later, a second young African-American man, Rene
Alexander, also died while in Jefferson Parish police custody.
Again, his death was attributed to drugs. Its circumstances were
A HISTORY OF DEADLY BRUTALITY
A 1991 federal study cited Jefferson Parish police as being seven
times more likely to use deadly force than the national average.
Similar studies showed the parish ranks third in the country in
the total number of police brutality complaints, trailing only
New Orleans and Los Angeles, though its population is less than
Sheriff Lee has his own history of blatant disregard for human
life and blatantly racist mouthings.
In December 1986, he made the following statement regarding a new
policy to routinely stop Black people in white neighborhoods:
"Two young Blacks driving a rinky-dink car in a predominantly
white neighborhood ... they'll be stopped."
In January 1994 when responding to criticism of a deputy who shot
a Black teenage shoplifting suspect, Lee said, "I would have shot
the little bastard myself." (Times-Picayune, March 16)
Lee has no official budget limitation, spending money as he
pleases. He promotes officers, by his own admission, based on
what they are willing to do for him. He considers himself beyond
reproach and above the law.
But that doesn't put him beyond the reach of the people.
Plans are being made for a boycott of Jefferson Parish businesses
by the same forces that backed the March 26 demonstration. Dana
Andrus, a spokesperson for the Citizens Action Committee stated,
"We live in a capitalist society. Let's hit them where it
hurts--in their pocketbooks."
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