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Campaign demands justice for Larry Hales

Published Feb 27, 2008 11:01 PM

Following is a statement demanding justice for Workers World Contributing Editor Larry Hales. Visit troopsoutnow.org to sign the petition and get involved or call 212-633-6646.

Shareef Aleem, Larry Hales, Melissa Kleinman
at Dec. 3 news conference.
WW photo: John Parker

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 attack.

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.