Somerville meeting reveals widespread racial profiling
Published Oct 14, 2005 11:38 PM
police assaulted five Black youth last April in this Boston suburb, they struck
a rock of resistance. The five young men, all high school students, have
endured, along with their families, unjust expulsion from school even before
their cases are heard and have had to spend thousands of dollars for lawyers to
rebut a racist frame-up by the police.
Somerville 5 youth and their parents
at Oct. 7 meeting.
But the community fightback
organized by the Somerville 5 Defense Committee has resulted in the struggle
against police violence becoming something more. A Community Speakout Against
Racial Profiling and Police Brutality was held on Oct. 4 at the Somerville
An overflow audience of people of color and working class
whites filled the room. One by one the stories of racial profiling and police
brutality and frame-up were told by youth and families.
The meeting was
chaired by Bob Traynham from USWA Local 8751 Boston School Bus Drivers Union. A
featured speaker was Brother Rodney X from the Nation of Islam in Boston, who
spoke of the link to New Orleans. He stated, “Katrina was racial profiling
of a whole people. All great movements like yours start small. The system of
white supremacy comes out of poisoned minds and it can be
The two sons of Carol and Ralph Ander s on were among the
five youth falsely arrested on April 20. Their parents told the audience,
“Our normal family life became a living nightmare overnight.... It [racial
profiling] can happen to anyone. My sons’ story is another story for
thousands, maybe even millions of young men of color in this country. We must
unite and fight back and keep fighting.”
Somerville resident Jenny
Rodriguez spoke out about how her husband was falsely arrested in 2000 in front
of their children and charged with drug dealing. The family had to sell their
house to pay for legal defense and subsequently had all charges overturned. The
family is now suing the police.
A young Haitian man told how, of a group
of 15 Haitian friends, he was the only one left who had not been arrested or
deported in the past two years because of false police charges. A 17-year-old
African American told of being expelled from nearby Watertown High School on
unproven police charges and forced to search for months for a school that would
According to police statistics, over 1,700 youth were expelled
last year in Massa chusetts, merely on the basis of being charged with a felony.
Of this number, 300 never went back to any form of school.
The mood of the
room was summed up by Josephine Brown, president of Local 381 Laborers Union and
one of only a handful of African-American union presidents in Massachusetts:
“The prison system is a business, a pipeline from the streets to the
jails. They make it easier for kids to sell drugs than to lead a normal life.
We’ve got to fight back. Oppression anywhere is oppression
The meeting ended with organizing to picket Cambridge
Superior Court and to plan future meetings.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE