Somerville 5 youth tells WW
‘Racial profiling is growing’
Published Sep 21, 2006 10:25 PM
In April 2005, five Black
Somerville High School athletes were racially profiled, attacked and beaten by
white Medford, Mass. police. The cops, courts, media and school officials
carried out a campaign to frame and vilify them. The youth, however, were seen
as heroes by many in the working class and oppressed communities for defending
themselves against a brutal, unprovoked attack.
For the past 14 months,
important mass organizing by the Committee to Defend the Somerville 5 has been
crucial in exposing the racist lies and fabrications. The Somerville 5 became a
symbol in the Boston area for the need to stand up and fight back against
rampant police terror.
This past June, two of the five, Calvin Belfon and
Isiah Anderson, were tried by a jury of 11 whites and one African American.
Belfon was found not guilty of five assault and battery charges but guilty of
disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Anderson was found not guilty of seven
charges that included assault and battery but guilty of two charges of assault
and battery and one each of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Both were
sentenced to two years’ probation and some community service.
next scheduled hearing for the remaining Somerville 5 members—Earl Guerra,
Cassius Belfon and Marquis Anderson—will begin on Sept. 26 at a Cambridge,
Mass., courthouse located at Third and Thorndike streets.
the Somerville 5 will be demanding “Drop all charges NOW!” and
“Stop the Racist Frame-up!” at a picket line beginning at 8:30 a.m.
outside the courthouse.
This past August, Workers World interviewed Calvin
Belfon, who is 19 years old. He grew up in Dorchester, Mass., and his family is
from Trinidad/Tobago. He is currently in his first year of college and is a
WW: What is your view of the verdict and
Calvin Belfon: It was unjust for the simple fact
that we did not do anything. But I am also grateful that it turned out the way
it did because it could have been a lot worse. We could have been found guilty
of more serious charges and possibly face jail time.
What is your view
now of the so-called justice system?
It is hard to believe in it now.
Sitting there watching the police lie and fabricate things, it made me think how
many times has it happened and who could I turn to if the cops lie and they are
supposed to be protecting you.
What impact do you think community
support and the work of the Committee to Defend the Somerville 5 had on your
It had a great impact on our case. I am not the only one who
noticed it, the judge noticed it also—all the support from family, friends
and the community. I feel that people would not have put themselves out there
and put their reputation on the line if we were that bad. It helped us a lot.
Looking around and seeing people packing the courtroom motivated me. It
took some of the fear away, knowing that they were there to support me and
knowing that I did not do anything. I’m glad I did not have to do it
alone, although I could have.
What would you like to tell your
supporters across the country?
Thank you for believing that we did not
do anything. My gratitude will always go out to the people who helped and were
there in spirit even though they could not really be there. I know that the
verdict would not have come out in our favor if they were not supporting
What would you say to other youth of color caught up in the dragnet
of racial profiling and police brutality?
First and foremost, I would
say your reputation can’t help you but it can hurt you. Be aware of your
surroundings and know who you are with, keep yourself around good company. My
mother says, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you
[Racial profiling] is a growing pandemic because I was
sitting with my father and he said that every Black person will have a profile
by the time I am his age. [It’s] sad because if you really did not do
anything and try to live a straight life, they have something on you. You
can’t do anything to further yourself in society because the cops are
going to continue to harass you. They mess up kids’ lives. I could not go
to school or see my friends, or go to the prom or finish my senior year of
football—all this for allegations of me attacking the cops late at night
while I am walking home. Even the dumbest fool would not do something like that.
What happened to us was worse than a nightmare. I’ve had nightmares that
were better than this.
Communities of color in Boston are being
occupied by the cops; millions of dollars are stolen every day from jobs
programs, hospitals, recreation centers, financial aid and schools and funneled
to the U.S. war on Iraq and Lebanon. Youth of color are being sent to the front
lines to die. What do you say about this?
Give the community more
options; the options are so limited. Compare the classes we had at SHS [a
majority white school-WW] to East Boston High School [majority [email protected]] that I
attended in my senior year. SHS had sociology, history, child development,
vocational education. SHS had so many classes. East Boston had none of these. It
was so demeaning and degrading to see. At SHS they would tell the kids,
“You can go to Boston College, or BU or Ohio State or Harvard,” but
at East Boston they would tell you to go to a community college. They set the
standards so low. They were constantly trying to get you into the Army. The Army
and the Navy Seals were in the cafeteria every week. You could see what they
were trying to do. It was real sad. People of color want to do better things
with their lives but can’t because of what happens to them in the streets.
People are asked to phone and/or fax Middlesex County District
Attorney Martha Coakley and demand all charges be dropped immediately against
the remaining three defendants. Call 617-494-4300 or 617-679-6500 or fax
617-225-0871. Call the Committee to Defend the Somerville 5 at 617-522-6626 to
confirm the trial date and time beforehand, as they are subject to change.
Eckfeldt is an organizer of the Committee to Defend the Somerville 5.
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