California City Was Accused of Police Brutality Weeks Before Cop Beat Black Teen

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federal lawsuit alleging that the California city of Rancho Cordova “fostered a culture of violence” among local police was filed just weeks before videos showing a white Rancho Cordova police officer pummeling a Black teenager sparked national outrage on Monday. Local law enforcement officials are investigating the latest incident, which reportedly began when the officer stopped a 14-year-old boy for buying a cigar. The encounter escalated, and now-infamous videos circulating widely online show the officer pinning the boy to the ground and punching him several times.

For many, the videos are just the latest example of how people of color, particularly Black and Native people, must turn to social media to seek accountability for acts of racist police violence. Moreover, a lawsuit filed by two brothers arrested in March claims Rancho Cordova has “fostered a culture of violence” that allows its police officers to use excessive force against the public. Together the two cases raise important questions about race and police accountability in the diverse, working-class suburb of Sacramento — and around the country.

Last month, twin brothers Thomas and Carlos Williams filed separate lawsuits in a California federal court alleging that they were wrongfully arrested and violently beaten by three Rancho Cordova police officers on March 23. The two brothers were doing yard work outside Carlos Williams’s new home in Rancho Cordova when a white neighbor mistook them for burglars and called 911, according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Thomas Williams. Without warning, the officers busted into the yard yelling expletives with their guns drawn.

The Williams brothers, who are Black, tried to tell the officers that they were residents, but the officers “did not care,” the lawsuit claims. Thomas Williams, an education professor who founded a school for children with disabilities, told local reporters that he was “kneed in the head and elbowed on the side of my face.” The officers later accused the brothers of resisting their orders, but the brothers say their hands were in the air. One officer held Thomas Williams in a chokehold for over a minute until he became unconscious, according to the complaint.

“I said, ‘Man he’s not going to make it.’ I saw the veins and the officer just squeezing him tight,” Carlos Williams told CBS Sacramento.

While Thomas Williams was collapsed on the ground in handcuffs, the officers searched the two brothers and found Carlos Williams’s driver’s license, which made it “plainly obvious to the arresting officers that Carlos was not burglarizing his own home,” the lawsuit claims. Still, the officers searched the home and property before arresting the two brothers and holding them in custody for 20 hours. Neither has been charged with a crime, and the lawsuit alleges the officers have since made numerous false statements to justify the excessive use of force.

Now, five weeks later, a controversy over police violence unfolding in Rancho Cordova has ignited social media across the country. On Monday, 14-year-old Elijah Tufono was stopped and aggressively detained by a Rancho Cordova police deputy identified as Officer Brian Fowell in local reports. On the evening news, Tufono said he had just bought a cigar off a stranger when a cop pulled up and asked him what was in his hand. Tufono said he handed the cigar over to the officer right away, but the officer continued to ask him questions. Frightened, Tufono tried to talk his way out of it and the situation escalated into a scuffle as Fowell tried to put him in handcuffs.

In the video, Fowell is seen wrestling Tufono on the ground and throwing punches into the boy’s abdomen. Tufono was arrested and cited before being released to his family. Videos of the arrest posted by friends and family quickly went viral, drawing condemnation from thousands of viewers as well as former Democratic presidential candidates Julian Castro and Kamala Harris.

While law enforcement officials in Rancho Cordova say they are investigating the use of force against Tufono, it remains unclear if the use of force against the Williams brothers is also being investigated. The Rancho Cordova Sheriff’s Department, which contracts with the city’s police department, did not respond to an email from Truthout. Unlike the arrest of Tufono, it appears that no clear video footage has emerged of the Williams brothers’ arrest, and the plaintiffs are not certain of the officers’ identities. A dashboard camera in one of the police cars was turned off shortly before the incident, and at least one officer repeatedly turned on and off a microphone attached to his body, according to the lawsuit.

Source: California City Was Accused of Police Brutality Weeks Before Cop Beat Black Teen

How the South Won the Civil War | The New Yorker

“. . . As Stevens pointed out, the reasoning that says that no states seceded because the Constitution won’t allow it would also say that no man can ever commit murder because the law forbids it. “Black Codes” were put in place in most Southern states that, through various means, some overt and some insidious (anti-vagrancy statutes were a particular favorite), limited the rights of blacks to work and to relocate. The legislative reconquest was backed by violence: the Ku Klux Klan, formed as a terrorist organization by ex-Confederate officers, began murdering and maiming assertive black citizens. In 1877, after a mere dozen years in which black suffrage and racial equality were at least grudgingly accepted national principles, the federal government pulled its last troops from the South and, in what could be called the Great Betrayal, an order of racial subjugation was restored. . .”

Source: How the South Won the Civil War | The New Yorker

Remembering Ancestor Mother Susie Jackson : A Pillar of Faith and History

Tomorrow at Mother Emmanuel Church, Charleston SC the life of Mother Susie Jackson, one of the 9 murdered in that cSusie Jacksonhurch will be celebrated. She particularly of all the victims have been in my thoughts.

Can you imagine what she has seen, how much she knew from 87 years of living Black in Amrerikka? We all know this woman. She arrived at this time, in Faith and believing that there is a Balm in Gilead. In the last moments of her life, I imagine her whispering, “Dear Jesus, oh my God”. A prayer she might have uttered many times in her life. I think about her, fearing for her nephew, Tywanza Sanders,26 sitting at that same table. He, in his youth and Faith, brave enough to plead for their lives to an unmoved monster.

I want to remember her as I imagine her preparing for Bible Study. Picking up around the house, having an early dinner and clearing and cleaning the dishes. Maybe even visiting that day with a friend. Ensuring that she studied “the word” of the week, marking a small tablet with her impressions and questions for the evening session. Making sure to put some mint candy in her purse and a handkerchief or tissue. I know she was not thinking too much about that “crazy girl trying to be Black”. I imagine she might have been singing or humming some old hymn, giving her lift to her step as she advanced to the time. Maybe “A closer walk” or ” faith of our fathers”. Getting a ride or even walking to the church, participating in a bit of chatter once seated. We all know who she was beyond the oldest of the victims. One of the Mothers of the church, having survived and found sanctuary in her Black life.
Tomorrow there will be no President with a eulogy for her. Her one spiritual leader and confidante is gone as well. So who will witness her life, her deepest victory over a moment’s fractured faltering Faith, her fear of Black night terror and the wonderment of her journey ? We will Mother Susie, we will. All respect for your life of prayer and purpose. We who understand and rejoice for you. You who sought in this time in your life, one thing – A Closer Walk with Thee. Your life’s journey and what you chose as your comfort lifted you in the church you loved and served. Rest well Mother Ancestor.

I imagine her smile, listening to something like this.