Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Community Outraged at Police Beating 74 year old Activist into a Coma

CopWatch and other community organizations and individuals are holding a press conference to condemn the beating of 74 year old Bernie Dyer by the Miami Beach Police. The beating takes place shortly after Miami-Dade police killed four (4) unarmed black men in 19 days. The press conference will be held on Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 2:00pm in front of Bernie's apartment building, 1745 Marseille Dr. in Miami Beach.

On Friday, November 23, Dyer was suffering a mental health crisis in his Miami Beach apartment. When his family heard the news, they came to explain to police Dyer's history of mental health crisis, dating back to his service in Vietnam. The family explained Dyer was of no threat to anyone, and that if allowed, at 74 years old, he would eventually wear himself out and fall asleep. After assurances that the police understood the situation, family members left the scene. Police then lobbed several canisters of tear gas into the one bedroom apartment before storming in and beating Bernie Dyer.

After more than a week, Bernie Dyer remains in a coma at Mt. Sinai Hospital. At the press conference, Bernie's family will speak about his condition and prognosis.

After organizing in Harlem, NY, Bernie Dyer moved to Miami in the mid 1960s, eventually directing the Liberty City Community Council, an organization financed by the Christian Community Service Agency, located on 62nd St. and NW 12th Ave. in the heart of Liberty City. Dyer played a significant role in restoring calm following civil unrest in 1968 and 1980. His role in calling out injustice was so controversial that his family was forced to flee the country, briefly, in order to avoid persecution by the police and others in positions of power.

Dyer also played a significant role in building the community, helping to found a number of organizations, including the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation.

The attack on Bernie Dyer raises serious questions about the actions and attitudes of police, such as why Miami Beach police required several cans of tear gas, a swat team  and physical brutality to "subdue" a 74 year old man; what are appropriate responses to people enduring a mental health crisis; and is this beating part of a larger trend of police abuse, one which already has taken the lives of 4 black men in 19 days in Miami-Dade County.

Several community members and organizations will speak at the event.

To reach the location from Miami, take 79th St. across the causeway and into the Normandy Isles neighborhood. At the light, turn LEFT at Esplanalde and then another LEFT at Marseille Dr.


Max Rameau
a project of the Center for Pan-African Development

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