Tuesday, August 30, 2005

LAPD Accused of Unprovoked Attack at Vigil

NATION OF ISLAM minister Tony Muhammad, standing in front of Muhammad Mosque

US: LOS ANGELES - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promised an investigation last Friday into claims that a Nation of Islam minister was beaten by Los Angeles police during a vigil for a shooting victim.

Supporters of Tony Muhammad, western regional director of the Nation of Islam, are calling for tougher scrutiny of a police department that has repeatedly faced allegations of using excessive force.

Police said Muhammad was "very belligerent and uncooperative'' when officers asked that two vehicles to be moved on the Thursday night during the vigil. They said two of Muhammad's bodyguards also began fighting with officers, who called for backup.

Muhammad was arrested on suspicion of committing battery against a police officer.

In a series of news conferences last Friday, the mayor, police officials and religious leaders called for calm, and Villaraigosa and Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell promised an investigation.

"We will hold anyone accountable for breaking the law,'' Villaraigosa said.

Community activist Danny Bakewell, president of the Brotherhood Crusade, said he believes Muhammad was "battered brutally in an unprovoked attack by the Los Angeles Police Department.''

Unless the department is reformed, "We all walk in danger,'' he said.

Muhammad, his lip appearing badly swollen, told a group of supporters earlier Friday: "Nothing's changed in 40 years. We are at the bottom and we might as well stand the hell up today.''

The vigil Thursday night was for Nahun Beaird, 21, who was fatally shot the night before. Some area residents didn't believe paramedics did enough to try to save him and had accused them of covering his body with a sheet while the victim appeared to still be alive.

When members of the crowd demanded paramedics remove the sheet and attempt to revive him, the paramedics, who had been loading a second victim into an ambulance, complied but were unable to resuscitate him.

Fire officials said Beaird was dead when paramedics covered him. Doctors at California Hospital Medical Center said Beaird had died at the scene.

McDonnell said Beaird was another needless victims of violence that grips the South Los Angeles neighborhood where he died. The area, just 8 percent of the city, has had 42 percent of its homicides this year, McDonnell said.

He implored residents not to let differences with the Police Department divide a mutual effort to reduce crime.

By Injustice posted 30 August 05


Community Forum on Law Enforcement Violence
Don't miss an opportunity to join a diverse group of community members, organizations, students, workers, activists, organizers, artists, educators, experts, and spiritual leaders for a community discussion on organizing a grassroots movement to end law enforcement violence in our communities, on Saturday, July 16, 2005 from 9:00 am -- 12:00 pm at the TremZ Community Center, 900 N. Villere St. (at the corner of N. Villere and St. Phillip St.).

Racial Justice Day 2005
Religious congregations across the city will have services of remembrance & resistance, as a reminder to us all that police violence & brutality are real and continuing threats to the safety of communities throughout NYC and the nation.