Retired Oakland principal and long-time Substance writer and friend Susan Harman roughed up by police during Oakland protest

Susan Harman (left). Retired Oakland California public school principal and long-time Substance friend Susan Harman was roughed up and injured by Oakland police recently during a protest against police brutality following the conviction of an Oakland police officer on a less than murder change after he had killed a citizen. Harman, who was playing chess at the time she was arrested and injured, was charged with "suspicion of failure to disperse," according to one press report.

Following a week of discussions on education blogs around the USA, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the story in a brief article on July 14, a week after the incident:

Protesters say Oakland police mistreated them, Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer, Thursday, July 15, 2010, (07-14) 16:05 PDT OAKLAND

Nonviolent demonstrators were roughed up by police during last week's protest in downtown Oakland over the involuntary-manslaughter conviction of a former BART police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed rider, civil rights attorneys said Wednesday.

Some of those who clashed with law-enforcement officers were among the 78 people arrested July 8 during a protest in which downtown businesses were looted, had their windows broken or were damaged by anti-police graffiti, authorities said.

But Carlos Villarreal, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, said officers had attacked people who did not engage in the rioting that broke out after a peaceful protest at 14th Street and Broadway.

Among those victimized by police were disabled and elderly people, attorneys monitoring the protest and other observers, Villarreal said.

"They assaulted nonviolent protesters and generally acted unprofessionally and carelessly," Villarreal said at a news conference at the same corner where the protest degenerated into rioting.

Officer Holly Joshi, a police spokeswoman, said that officers had issued lawful orders to disperse and that those who had failed to obey were arrested. The department has received only one complaint of excessive force, she said.

"Whoever they are and whatever walk of life they are, they were given a chance to disperse, and once that dispersal order is given, it is now an unlawful assembly and everyone has to go," Joshi said. "The way the law is written, it's supposed to be equal. We're supposed to apply it equally across the board."

The protests started hours after a Los Angeles jury convicted former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Day 2009. The jury rejected the more serious options of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.

On Wednesday, Alameda County prosecutor Bob Hartman said he had filed felony burglary and possession of stolen property charges against two more protesters, Amber Martin and Sylvester Moreno, bringing to nine the number facing felony counts. Their ages and residences were not available.

Two others were charged with failure to disperse and engaging in a riot, both misdemeanors. One of them, 26-year-old John Osburn of Salt Lake City, sported a bandaged left hand at Wednesday's news conference, saying it had been injured when an officer arrested him.

Osburn said he had traveled to Oakland from his Utah home for the protest because "I felt that the murder of Oscar Grant was completely unjustified and I didn't want the police to get away with it."

Susan Harman, 69, a former East Oakland school principal, said she still has a lump and a headache after being hit with a police baton as officers overran a group of people who had staked their claim to the street by playing chess. She and Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, one of the chess players, were arrested on suspicion of failing to disperse.

"The whole thing was very frightening in a country that is using security as an excuse for increasing oppression," Harman said.

Also arrested for allegedly failing to disperse was Walter Riley, an attorney who said a California Highway Patrol officer had choked him and prevented him from entering his office near 14th and Broadway.

"I was handled in a way I don't appreciate," Riley said. "We cannot have police determining the outcome of our (assembling). Freedom of assembly requires a lot more than that."

Harman, Hodge and Riley have not been charged. Prosecutors could still file cases against them and the 64 others who were arrested but have not been accused of crimes., This article appeared on page C - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle


July 21, 2010 at 10:36 PM

By: John Whitfield

Torture 'Chicago Style'

LOCAL News :: Crime & Police

Burge guilty in torture caseAuthor

ICAT: Illinois Coalition Against Torture

This work is in the public domain. In an historic development in the decades-old effort to win justice for dozens of police torture victims in Chicago, former police commander Jon Burge was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. In order to find Burge guilty of the perjury/obstruction charges, the jury clearly had to find that Burge lied when he claimed he and his henchmen were innocent of torture.

In an historic development in the decades-old effort to win justice for dozens of police torture victims in Chicago, former police commander Jon Burge was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. In order to find Burge guilty of the perjury/obstruction charges, the jury clearly had to find that Burge lied when he claimed he and his henchmen were innocent of torture.

Here is the press release from the Illinois Coalition Against Torture:

“Partial Justice” -- Coalition Calls for Further Action after Burge Guilty Verdict

CHICAGO – Today’s guilty verdict in the trial of former Police Commander Jon Burge was greeted with satisfaction by members of the Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT) gathered outside the Dirksen Courthouse.

But attorney Joey Mogul, a spokesman for the group, stated that justice had been only partially served.

"Burge’s conviction for lying about the tortures he and his squad committed is just and righteous, but he was not convicted of the tortures themselves," said Mogul. "The expiration of the statute of limitations unfortunately prevented him from being charged with the violent crimes the jury found he and others committed."

ICAT is calling for:

> State and federal legislation criminalizing acts of torture by law enforcement officials, not subject to any statute of limitations.

> Fair hearings for the approximately two-dozen men still languishing in Illinois prisons based upon confession obtained under torture.

> Reparations for freed torture survivors including payments for medical treatment and psychological counseling.

If such anti-torture legislation already existed, Burge and his accomplices could have been prosecuted for their actual acts of violence – which included suffocation, mock executions, and administering electric shocks -- instead of false statements made during a federal civil rights case in 2003.

In addition, such a law would send a clear signal that torture and abuse by law enforcement officials anywhere in the United States is tantamount to a crime against humanity, like genocide and slavery, and other profound violations of internationally recognized human rights.

Any new law however, would not be retroactive, so it would not affect the additional police officers implicated in the Burge case, such as former Chicago Police Sergeant Jack Byrne and former Chicago Police Lieutenant Peter Dignan, who have been repeatedly accused of similar allegations.

Stephen Eisenman, an ICAT member, argued today that the verdict provides a powerful rationale for new hearings and restitution for torture survivors. He cited the cases of at least twenty-three Burge victims who remain incarcerated awaiting new trials, in addition to many exonerated survivors who spent decades in prison but lack any clear legal path to financial restitution.

ICAT is asking the City of Chicago to follow the lead of many other countries that compensate the survivors of state-sponsored torture.

In a written statement, coalition member Mary Fabri, Director of Torture Treatment Services at the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center, emphasized the need for the City of Chicago to take responsibility for these crimes.

"With 23 years of experience working with torture survivors, my colleagues and I can attest to the courage required to confront the devastating consequences of torture for each individual survivor," said Fabri. "We as a city need to support survivors so they can recover from the dehumanizing effects of torture."

The demonstration today at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago was held just a short time after the verdict was announced. Among the speakers was Jonathan Jackson from Rainbow Push, who supported ICAT and demanded that Burge's guilty verdict open the doors of justice for other torture survivors, and that the City of Chicago not consider these issues resolved until there are laws bringing torturers to justice.

To that end, U.S. Congressman Davis recently introduced federal legislation to make torture by law enforcement officials a federal crime not subject to the statute of limitations. ICAT is currently in discussion with legislators in Springfield concerning a parallel bill at the state level.

The Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT) is opposed to state-sponsored torture wherever it occurs, and has initiated an educational and legislative campaign with the goal of ending impunity for torturers.

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Re: Burge guilty in torture caseCurrent rating: 0

28 Jun 2010

by Padraig

Reply to this comment

do not celebrate, not yet,

only when he turns himself in

to the federal prison [period]

Re: Re: Burge guilty in torture caseCurrent rating: 0

05 Jul 2010

by Jesus of Suburbia

Reply to this comment

Dam right... Even if this old bastard goes to prison he will be treated with kid gloves by the guards. Those bastards look after their own.

This thing with Burge is not a waste of time, but the role of the States Atty. is to prosecute criminals, not cover up for them.

Until we have States Atty's who will be tough on crime and prosecute torturers rather than defend them, all we are doing is putting a band-aid on a tumor.

By not focusing on this it has cause many more lives and a lot more injustice than if it had been the focus as it should be. Now we are all watching our backs because there are criminals who want vengeance working in the States Atty's Office and some have become Feds.

It sounds like hindsight but it is not, BECAUSE THERE WERE PEOPLE TRYING TO TELL YOU and work on this.

Glad they got that weak statement from Devine about the death penalty in exchange for capitulating with the cover-up. Hope it was worth it. Hope you they some grant money or a job or something out of it.

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