On Nov. 30, African-American anti-police brutality and anti-war activist
Larry Hales was arrested after 10 cops illegally busted into his home without a
warrant and without permission, physically attacked him and handcuffed his
partner to a chair. He is facing frame-up charges of “interfering with
the police” and faces extended jail time for being the victim of a police
Hales has been a primary organizer of a number of anti-imperialist and
anti-racist events in Denver. He is a leader of the youth group
FIST—Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; a founder of Colorado United
Communities Against Police Brutality; and an organizer with the International
Action Center and the Troops Out Now Coalition.
Hales is also a principal organizer in the Recreate 68 Committee, which is
planning protests to counter the Democratic National Convention to be held in
Denver in August.
At the time of the police attack, Hales and his partner Melissa Kleinman were
housing a survivor of police brutality who was on parole. The man had been shot
in the back by police and had filed a civil case against the Aurora police
department. Hales had previously agreed to house visits by the man’s
parole officer, but only when the man was home.
However, when Hales told the police officers at his door on Nov. 30 that the
parolee wasn’t home and asked to see their business cards that because of
a city ordinance Denver police must carry and surrender upon request, he had
badges stuck in his face and was told that they didn’t have to give him
their cards. Hales told them that they didn’t have permission to come in,
that the parolee was not home, and that he wanted their cards. One of them
scoffed and pushed the door open and pushed him out of the way.
The cops charged into his apartment and ransacked his house. When Hales
expressed concern that his cats would escape, he was shoved. When he asserted
his rights, the police told him to shut up and violently attacked him, twisting
his arm, grabbing him by the back of the neck, ripping out several of his
dreadlocks, throwing him against the wall, and tearing off his shirt. He was
pushed down the stairs of his apartment building, against the wall and railings
and out into the cold night with a half-ripped shirt, in socks and thin sweat
pants. One officer squeezed his cuffs and the two had an exchange, where the
officer asserted that more could be done and that Hales could end up face down
on the ground, and then he was hit in the stomach and thrown into the car.
The officers rolled the front windows down, left Hales in the car, told him he
looked like he might hurt himself, and that he would be booked as a “John
Doe” and have to spend 72 hours in jail before anyone could find him. He
spent the night in a freezing jail cell.
Police brutality is rampant in Denver, and this attack is part of the ongoing
attacks nationally on Black youth, from the Jena 6 to Sean Bell and countless
cases of police brutality and repression throughout the country.
In addition, the police violence against such a well-known activist can only be
seen as part of a continuing attempt to stifle political dissent. At a press
conference following the attack, Denver police brutality activist and survivor
Shareef Aleem noted that police were attempting to neutralize activists related
to the DNC protests. He stated, “In the last couple of years many of us
involved in police accountability work have been attacked by the police, and we
know that when it happens we all have to stand up.”
Hales now faces a pretrial hearing on Feb. 29 and trial on March 12 on police
“interference” charges. During the arraignment, the state’s
attorney suggested that more charges from the incident may be pending. For the
city attorney to continue to prosecute these charges would constitute a serious
miscarriage of justice and state harassment, standing justice on its head by
blaming the victim of police misconduct and brutality. It could be seen as an
illegal, politically motivated abuse of process to chill political protest both
against police brutality and at the upcoming DNC.
We demand that ALL charges against Larry Hales be dropped immediately, and that
there be an immediate investigation into the police misconduct and violation of
Larry Hales’ and Melissa Kleinman’s rights.
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