Police departments across the United States engage in extrajudicial killings of unarmed, innocent men, women and children ever single day. But some of these cases receive significantly more attention than others. Oddly enough, the stories that make the biggest headlines are not always the most egregious instances of abuse, injustice and brutality. Some stories just happen to get swept under the rug, or are overshadowed by one thing or another that dominates in the news cycle on the mainstream media. But some of these untold stories are are crying out to be told, and in two of the worst cases we have ever encountered, police are still refusing to give us any satisfactory answers about why officers pulled the trigger on these two women and an infant.
The Police Murder of Sheneque Proctor
A young African American woman from Brighton, Alabama recently died in police custody. Police have still refused to provide any reasonable explanation for the cause behind her death.
We were among the first and only news sites to report on the death of Sheneque Proctor. But we honestly expected mainstream coverage of the tragic death of this 18-year-old woman to follow, especially given how widely our report on her death circulated.
We are used to being among the first to cover cases of police brutality and injustices, only to see the mainstream, corporate media catch on weeks or sometimes months later. But this time something is different. Unlike our early coverage of John Crawford, or Tamir Rice, the story of Sheneque Proctor continues to be ignored by the mainstream media, in spite of the numerous similarities to high profile cases like that of Eric Garner.
A new petition has begun circulating in response to Proctor’s death at the hands of police officers. Many have begun referring to Proctor as the “female Eric Garner,” not to diminish her unique live, personality and death, but instead to highlight how the media is ignoring the death of an African American woman with asthma in police custody.
The petition demands a federal and state investigation into the death of the 18-year-old, who died in the Bessemer City Jail after she was arrested on November 1st. She was at a Bessemer hotel at a party with friends when police arrived and arrested her for “disorderly conduct,” according to her aunt, Tracy Rodda.
Early the next morning, Proctor was found dead in her jail cell, after having complained of problems with asthma which police apparently refused to take seriously.
Bessemer City Attorney Shan Paden commented, “I know the case. I know we had a death in the jail. Erring on a conservative side, not to protect the city but to protect the rights of an 18-year-old, the city of Bessemer will not disclose any information.”
The petition was created on Change.org last Monday, but has received relatively little attention. The petition explains the following about Sheneque Proctor’s death and links it to unrest throughout the nation.
“The death of Black Men like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice is a clear indication that Black Lives are in jeopardy from Police who have declared it open season on Black Men,” Karen Jones of Montgomery Alabama writes, in her description of the petition.
“Insult over injury, no indictment and a video which clearly shows officers using a choke hold on Eric Garner who loudly and clearly stated that he could NOT breathe was not enough to save his life,” according to the online petition.
“Yet in Alabama where most of the historical landmark Civil Right Movements…we have lost an 18-year-old Black young woman under the hands of Bessemer Police,” the petition continues.
Proctor’s family says that she suffered from asthma, and had complained of being treated violently by Bessemer Police officers who made the arrest.
After Proctor made complaints, she was found dead in her jail cell the next morning, but Bessemer authorities refused to comment on the case. All media inquires have been referred to the State Bureau of Investigations, which spokeswoman Robyn Bryan said “is looking into the case.”
“This family deserves some answers,” the petition declares. “We don’t need another ‘I can’t breathe’ story. Her life mattered and still matters to her family. They deserve answers from the State Bureau of Investigations and the FBI.”
The petition demands that State Senator Quinton Ross, State Representative Alvin Holmes and U.S. Representative Terri Sewell “request both State and Federal investigations in the death of this 18 year old Black female.”
“We don’t know what happened,” said Proctor’s mother Scherita to reporters. Her family is encouraging people to sign the petition and help put the pressure on for a thorough investigation.
What is going on with the police in Ohio? From the looks of things with the shooting deaths of John Crawford and 12-year-old Tamir Rice, you would think that the state recently lost its mind. But if the FBI’s recently-released report on the rampant corruption of the Cleveland Police Department is any indication, dirty cops shooting innocent, unarmed people in Ohio is far from new.
Some stories make national headlines, but many do not. One of those that was swept under the rug and ignored by almost all of the national mainstream media, was the shooting of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson and her 14-month-old infant child. Now, community activists are calling for this case to be reexamined and brought into the national spotlight on police brutality and extrajudicial killings.
“This thing just stinks to high heaven, and the police know it,” Jason Upthegrove, the president of the Lima chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. said. “We’re not asking for answers anymore. We’re demanding them.”
That was 7 years ago to the month. No answers ever came, in spite of the demands. So much of the corporate media ignored this blatant story of police abuse and murder. But with many high profile cases like those of Crawford and Rice at the tip of the nation’s collective tongue, some believe that maybe now the rest of the country will listen about this assassination that was carried out by Ohio police officers.
Back in 2008, a SWAT team showed up at Wilson’s house in Lima, Ohio’s Southside neighborhood. It was early in the evening on January 4th. The warrant the SWAT cops had was part of the failed so-called “War on Drugs.”
But it was not Wilson who was named on the warrant, it was her companion Anthony Terry. Without any warning, officers smashed her door down and entered with machine guns drawn, according to neighbors who witnessed the raid.
In just seconds, SWAT officers shot and killed Wilson, 26, and wounded her 14-month-old son.
The shooter, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a 31-year veteran of the Lima police force, was placed on paid administrative leave.
The New York Times reported that “Black people in Lima, from the poorest citizens to religious and business leaders, complain that rogue police officers regularly stop them without cause, point guns in their faces, curse them and physically abuse them.
“They say the shooting of Ms. Wilson is only the latest example of a long-running pattern of a few white police officers treating African-Americans as people to be feared,” the paper added.
“There is an evil in this town,” C. M. Manley, 68, pastor of New Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church told reporters. “The police harass me. They harass my family. But they know that if something happens to me, people will burn down this town.”
As you might have expected, an internal investigations said that they found “no evidence of police misconduct,” according to Chief Garlock.
Junior Cook, a neighbor of Tarika Wilson, said that he saw the whole thing from his front yard, as he raced over. He watched police emerge from the house carrying the bleeding infant.
“The cops in Lima, they is racist like no tomorrow,” Cook said. “Why else would you shoot a mother with a baby in her arms?”
That’s a good question.
So far, the police have given no answers and the courts have provided no justice for these crimes. If you believe that it is past time for there to be justice for Tarika Wilson and Sheneque Proctor, then help us SPREAD THE WORD!
(Article by M. David and Shante Wooten)