And the Boston chief of police has the AUDACITY to say that this was a fluke. Arming cops with projectile weapons and giving them permission to fire hard plastic shells indiscriminantly into a paniced crowd is not something that happens by accident and when it does happen it is not a fluke if someone dies. It is to be expected.
Here are some words I wrote on the notesfiles about this:
the shooting was a tragic fluke. They said the victim, Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old Emerson College student, was struck in the eye socket, the only part of her body where the pepper spray round could penetrate and cause a fatal injury.
This is not a fluke. When you fire small hard projectiles indiscriminately into a large enough crowd, you WILL hit someone in the eye, in the temple, in the ear. If they are screaming in panic, you may hit someone in the open mouth. You will cause bleeding and buises. Blindness, hearing loss, concussion, and death are highly likely.
If cops don't understand this and think these things are flukes then they are being negligent in their duties.
I will note that Police Chief Timoney, the guy who presided over the brutal and bloody attacks on protestors in Philadelphia in 2000 and Miami in 2003 (not to mention a drastic increase in NYC police brutality), was a paid advisor to the city of Boston regarding security for the DNC.
He's the same guy who ordered the weapons they used to shoot at me. It sounds like the weapons that killed this girl were the same that were being shot at us in Miami. I have some of those pepperballs in a baggy in my bedroom. They are just slightly smaller than an eyeball.
After all the documentation of the bloody effects of these weapons in Miami, I don't know how any police department could continue to use them in good conscience.
I'm actually starting to shake with outrage the more this sinks in. How can the person in charge of this make excuses for killing someone? This is time for deep deep apologies. People are not supposed to die at baseball games. Any crowd control tactict that ends in death is NOT excusable. Ugh. If they didn't have these weapons, that girl would still be alive and police departments all over the country are buying these weapons with federal money. Fuck! Fuck. Damnit.
Zach, weren't you part of a group that was fighting for oversight over what weapons the police in C-U can be armed with? What is the status of that issue in the country, generally? Is there any recourse citizens can take to dictate what they do and don't want in squad cars?
I was peripherally involved in the fight to keep the Champaign City cops from using a federal grant to purchase tasers for all officers. The fight was successful. The chief backed down and canceled his request to city council for the weapons. The huge coalition that was born from that struggle really took the city by surprise and the momentum from that organizing is what is behind tomorrow's Unity March in Champaign which will bring together folks from north and south of University (the effective dividing line between predominantly white and predominantly black CU, between upper middle class and working class CU).
I am part of the fight to create a civilian police review board for each of the city and county police deparments in CU. It is my number one campaign issue.
Another thing to organize around is community policing.
But whatever you do, the right thing to do is to organize. Forge an alliance with existing organizations like NAACP, Urban League, ACLU, etc. Create mailing lists and websites and calling trees and action networks so people can be mobilized when neccessary. Pay attention to city council. Draft some proactive proposals. Campaign for them. There's many fronts on which to wage the fight but the first thing to do is to make those mailing lists and have those meetings. It's important to organize watchdog groups for the police because even if they aren't buying deadly "non-lethal" weapons, they're almost certainly doing SOMETHING unjust while no one is watching.
The purchase of these weapons is generally done quietly in the budget process without anyone ever noticing. It's just routine equipment procurement. Generally cities never turn down a federal grant, even if it's for equipment they don't really need.
It's interesting that you should ask this just minutes after I finish writing the speech that I'll be giving tomorrow morning at the Unity March.
Here's just a few of the many relevent UCIMC stories about this kind of stuff:
This is an excellent read that I stumbled across while researching my speech. This summarized a lot of the early percolation organizing that has been done over the last several years leading up to the big push that we're kicking off tomorrow at the Unity March.