Friday, July 25, 2008

Don't Kill Me Bro: A Police Murder In Central LA

I hope this evokes the same type of response as the injustices in Jena 6. I'm not looking forward to driving all the way to Winnfield, Louisiana, but I will.

At 1:28 p.m. last Jan. 17, Baron "Scooter" Pikes was a healthy 21-year-old man. By 2:07 p.m., he was dead.

What happened in the 39 minutes in between--during which Pikes was handcuffed by local police and shocked nine times with a Taser device, while reportedly pleading for mercy--is now spawning fears of a political cover-up in this backwoods Louisiana lumber town infamous for backroom dealings.

Even more ominously, because Pikes was black and the officer who repeatedly Tasered him is white, racial tensions over the case are mounting in a place that's just 40 miles from Jena, La. Jena is the site of the racially explosive prosecution of six black teenagers charged with beating a white youth that last year triggered one of the largest American civil rights demonstrations in decades. And in a bizarre coincidence, Pikes turns out to have been a first cousin of Mychal Bell, the lead defendant in the Jena 6 case.

This happened in January. It is only now beginning to generate steam as a result of foot-dragging by the justice department. This week it was picked up by CNN. This story has been kept alive by Tony Brown, a prolific radio host in Central LA that should be given more credit for the Jena 6 mobilization. He is interviewed about this case here. It upsets me that I didn't pick up on this sooner, that the national media was faster than the NOLA blogosphere on such an obvious case of injustice occurring so close to home. I was lucky enough to have had the gas money to drive up to Jena for the mobilization back in September. I thought that it was one of the most fascinating protest mobilizations in America in a decade.

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