Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vigil for 2 Killed by Miami-Dade Police Monday

Candlelight Vigil for 2 Men Shot Dead by Miami-Dade Police

Once again, community members and organizations join a grieving family to remember an unarmed person shot and killed by Miami-Dade police. The candlelight vigil will commemorate the lives of Michael Knight and Frisco Blackwood, both killed in a hail of Miami-Dade County Police bullets. Another passenger was shot, but survived. The vigil will be held on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 6:00pm at the location of the killing, 65th St. and North Miami Avenue in Little Haiti.

Police were conducting a traffic stop on the evening of Monday, November 12. After the car pulled over without incident, police surrounded it with weapons drawn. The driver followed police orders to lower his window, but when told to put the car in park, he accidentally shifted into neutral instead. As the vehicle re-settled from the gear shift, police opened with a barrage of shots, mortally wounding both men.

While police claim they fired because the vehicle backed up into a police car, witnesses believe the vehicle did not move backwards until after the shooting began, raising the possibility that gunshots forced the driver into shifting gears and accidentally hitting the gas pedal.

The killings mark the third and fourth deaths at the hands of Miami-Dade police in less than 20 days. On October 25, Miami-Dade "jumpout" police stopped and searched an unarmed 19 year old Gracia "BG" Beaugris, who stood 100 feet from his own front door talking to his brother and two friends. After finding nothing, officer Christopher Villano shot Beaugris three times, including twice while Beaugris laid on the ground. On November 7th, Miami-Dade police surrounded 40 year old Roger Brown on 95th St. and NW 17th Ave., for acting "erratically." According to witnesses, Brown was tasered, kicked in the face and beaten with night sticks before being hogtied and thrown into a police car. Brown died at North Shore Medical Center.

The men killed by Miami-Dade police were unarmed and no drugs were in the vehicle. Michael Knight celebrated his 21st birthday on Friday.

The vigil is being organized by CopWatch, which is not only concerned about this shooting, but the aggressive police tactics police are employing in Black communities. Liberty City, Little Haiti, North Miami and other Black communities are flooded with cops behaving aggressively as they pull over cars for minor, or no, infractions and force men, women and children onto the streets at gun point. These tactics are not being employed in wealthy white neighborhoods.

These types of shooting deaths are the direct result of the public policy of aggressive police tactics. Jumpouts and other aggressive forces are encouraged to make large numbers of arrests and are rewarded for abusing the rights of the poor and the Black. Because the victims are poor and Black, neither internal affairs nor the state attorney nor the courts nor the media believe them when they complain of police misconduct.

As these police tactics continue- in fact they seem to be escalating, not declining- there will be more unarmed dead Black men across Miami-Dade County and no cop will ever be punished, and certainly not by Katherine Fernandez Rundle. We must take to the streets and demand justice for the victims and their families. Equally as important, we must demand an end to the aggressive police programs which generate those victims.



Max Rameau

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