The Big Cover-up

by Tiny co-editor and JJ/Youth in media intern at PoorNewsNetwork on July 29, 2004

The Office of citizens Compliant releases an incomplete investigation on The Thurgood Marshal Incidient of 10-11

“We haven’t found anything to prove police misconduct so far.”
-Director of the Office of Citizen’s Complaints

“A lot of my friends who were African American and who were Latino were thrown to the ground with the police’s knee in their back and a baton over their head..some sort of a police “take down” -Omani Williams, Thurgood Marshall High School Graduate

On Wednesday , July 14th PNN reporters and media organizers went to the San Francisco Police Commission hearing on The 9-11 incident, oh excuse me, The 10-11incident, i.e., The October 11, 2002 brutal, police take-down of Thurgood Marshall High School students. The reason for this reporters “confusion” about the differentiation between the 9-11 and 10-11 “hearings” is that when I first received information about the hearing from Bay Area Police Watch Director Malaika Parker I chuckled about some clever persons word-smithing, but then when I read on further only to discover that it took the
Office of Citizen’s Complaint (OCC) a whole year and a half to
essentially create a carefully worded cover-up for the San Francisco Police Department with a few findings of so-called”policy failure” by the school administration and the police but nothing else..well, doesn’t that sound like another carefully worded cover-up of another incident’s real perpetrators.

“Over a year ago, scores of parents, students and community members went to the police commission to ask for a public hearing of the brutality and violence that happened to students on October 11, 2002 at Thurgood Marshall and finally we are getting that opportunity”, As OCC director, Kevin Allen, droned on in the hearing room I spoke to a weary Ntanya Lee from Coleman Advocates about her expectation for today’s hearing, ” we’re hoping that despite the fact that the OCC found no specific charges against individual police officers the Police Review Commission will take the communities recommendation to
conduct our own investigation seriously as well as adopt new policies for police conduct with children in schools “

As I walked back into the hearing to join PNN YouthinMedia reporter, JJ, I reflected on why, 55 minutes later, we were still listening to the OCC Director, who was talking about “some” policy failures of the SFPD and how perhaps, we as a community should adopt the more well orchestrated police policies of the San Jose school district as his solution to avoid future problems.

“It was encouraging that The Police Review Commission held a meeting about this issue, but it wasn’t encouraging that there were no time restraints on the Police or the OCC,” After the “hearing” I spoke with Malaika Parker from Bay Area Police Watch who along with the community members present was unsatisfied with the OCC report ( read; cover-up) Malaika continued, ” They (OCC) presented a Summary report that was Not thorough and NOT complete and their was no adoption of policy or anything, so in my opinion it wasn’t really a hearing. ” Malaika went on to criticize the fact that the police and OCC had no accountability for the horrendous events that occurred on 10-11 and was looking foreward to the next hearing scheduled by the Commission on September 22nd.

” What my officers did was as good as it (police work) gets in the
US” After more “official-speak” from OCC we got to hear the ultimate in Big Cover-up; Deputy chief Greg Suhr’s whose frightening comments were met with boos from the audience, he then went on to further underscore the Thurgood Marshall brutality by saying, “pointing firearms at the students was within the (SFPD) legal policy and procedures.”

“There was a fight that broke out in the office between students, the police didn’t know who was involved so they physically pulled everyone out and placed them on the ground with authrotiy and anyone who came into the office was thrown down on the ground with a baton in their back, it was terrible – just terrible” To get some levity in light of Deputy Suhr’s “opinions” we spoke to witness and Thurgood Marshal high school senior Omari Williams, who didn’t hold the same opinion of the situation, ” I believe it was about racial profiling, a lot of my friends who were African American and Latino were on the
ground, and if any individual talked back or asked them a question – they were immediately put in handcuffs” Omani concluded with the words of scholarship that the police should have really “heard” ” its important to know what happened from all the people involved, the students who were involved, the teachers and the police, so that we can truly learn how to deal with anything if it ever happens again.”

And in fact what is wrong with a so-called “public” hearing on an act of violence against youth of color perpetrated by police where the police and the OCC are the main speakers i.e., who is listened to and who is really heard around issues reflecting flagrant examples institutional racism such as what happened at Thurgood Marshall.

Finally , as PNN writers and organizers left the meeting we were
happy that the vocal community members present continued to demand redress and accountability and most importantly an independent investigation to really bring out the truth of what happened on 10-11.

To read more work on issues of poverty and racism by youth who have experienced these positions personally go on-line to and click on Youth at POOR

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