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#5240: This Week in Haiti 18:29 10/4/2000 (fwd)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Haiti Progrès" <email@example.com>
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
October 4 - 10, 2000
Vol. 18, No. 29
BROOKLYN COPS ABUSE TWO HAITIAN-AMERICAN BROTHERS
Officers from Brooklyn's infamous 70th Precinct brutalized and
arrested two teenage Haitian-American brothers during a melee in
the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn on the morning of Oct. 3,
angry witnesses to the incident told Haïti Progrès.
Christian and Jean Seraphin, age 17 and 16 respectively, were
arrested in front of 2004 Glenwood Road, at the corner of Ocean
Avenue, after police responded to a call from Christian's
girlfriend, a 28-year-old woman named Dana who lives in the
building, that he was trying to throw her out of a window.
"When the police arrived, his girlfriend tried to tell the police
that she didn't want Christian arrested, that she had been
exaggerating and just trying to scare him," said Becky Seraphin,
23, the brothers' older sister who lives with them at 1198 Ocean
Avenue, directly across the street from where the incident took
place. "But the cops said that they didn't care, they didn't come
out here for nothing and that they were going to arrest somebody.
Those were their exact words."
As the incident escalated at around 8 a.m., Jean Seraphin, who
was on his way to school, tried to find out what was happening to
his older brother. About 15 police cars screeched up to the scene
and a large crowd of onlookers gathered.
Meanwhile, from the family's apartment, Becky heard her brother
calling for help and ran across the street. "I saw them holding
Jean and said 'please let him go to school so he doesn't miss a
day,'" Becky said. "They said 'he isn't going anywhere.' Then as
I was talking to one of the police officers, a female police
officer came up behind me and put me in a choke hold. I asked her
what she was doing. She said I was interfering with police
Soon there were over 50 officers in the street. "When the back-up
cops arrived, they threw Christian up against the car while they
held Jean over by the fence," said Natasha Jemott, a social
worker who watched the whole incident from her window in the
building across the street. "Cops started pushing the sister
[Becky], just knocking her out of the way. Then things got real
The cops threatened to arrest Becky but ended up just arresting
the two brothers. "After they had arrested Christian, the captain
told the cops to grab Jean. They had let him go since he hadn't
done anything," Natasha said. "About eight cops grabbed him, this
little skinny boy. They had him face down on the ground with
their feet on his back and his head and the whole nine yards.
That's when I ran away from the window to try to call the news or
As the cops put the teenagers in their squad cars, outcry arose.
"People were hanging out of the windows of the buildings saying
'Get your hands off them, leave them alone,'" Natasha explained.
"So they didn't want to do too much to these boys. Still they
beat them up while putting them into the cars."
The brothers were taken to the 70th Precinct and then to Brooklyn
Central Booking where Christian was charged with Assault 3 and
Jean with obstructing governmental administration, both
Both brothers, born in New York to Haitian parents, are high
school students. Christian also works installing home security
Becky and another older sister, Evelyn, who rushed back from work
in Manhattan, went to the 70th Precinct to try to get the names
of the arresting officers. "If I see the faces, I'll know who did
what," Becky said. "When I asked for the arresting officer's
name, the cop at the desk said they didn't know and to sit down.
When I turned around, there was the arresting officer laughing,
the same one who said he was not leaving without arresting
Evelyn tried to approach him. "I'm not going to speak to you.
Just sit down," the cop ordered.
"It's clear that police brutality is still alive and well at the
70th Precinct," said Ray Laforest of the Haiti Support Network
(HSN), which fights police brutality in New York. "One would have
thought that after the torture of Abner Louima only three years
ago it would be a long time before we heard about such things
from that precinct. This arbitrary and vicious attitude of the
police is what results in tragedies like Louima, Dorismond, and
Diallo. But it's also clear that our communities won't take it
DEATH THREATS IN PHILADELPHIA
On the evening of Monday, Sept. 18, 2000 at about 6:30 p.m.,
Ernst Ford had just parked his pickup truck in front of his home
in the Kensington neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia. He was
returning from a demonstration in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the
journalist and former Black Panther now on Pennsylvania's death
row after a sham trial. In the back of his truck were dozens of
posters with slogans like "Don't lynch Mumia" and "Mumia was
As he began unloading the vehicle, a police cruiser pulled up
alongside him. "Mumia is dead, and so are you," one of the three
cops in the cruiser shouted before they sped away. Many
bystanders witnessed the threat and hurled epithets at the
departing police car with markings from Philadelphia's 24th
Ford, who is Haitian, is a prominent member of "International
Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal"headed by well-
known activist Pam Africa. He had noticed the cruiser following
him for several blocks as he returned home.
"I could have been another Patrick Dorismond that night," Ford
told Haïti Progrès. "I have demanded these cops' badge numbers
because I am going to file a criminal complaint against them.
Imagine, if I had made threats against these cops, I would be
brutalized, jailed, and maybe even killed." Ford says that he has
witnesses who will testify that they too heard the threat from
The Philadelphia police have said they want two weeks to
investigate the matter and claim that they have not been able to
determine which car and officers were involved. "Saying it will
take them two weeks to look into the matter is ludicrous," Ford
said. "If I was the one who made the threats, it wouldn't even
take them two days to conduct an investigation and find me
Police brutality and misconduct has been on the rise in
Philadelphia in the past year. During protests outside the
Republican Convention in August, where calls for justice for
Mumia were in the forefront, hundreds of demonstrators were
arrested and dozens brutalized. The police even made "pre-emptive
arrests" -- which is completely illegal -- of several protest
leaders, and held them in jail on bail of $1 million. The police
also illegally infiltrated spies into protest organizations,
while denying they were doing so.
Meanwhile, in July, a TV helicopter news crew videotaped four
policemen shooting and beating up a car-jacking suspect, Thomas
Jones, who had to be hospitalized. In a similar incident in
September 1999, police brutalized a Latino minister, Frank
Buelna, and his son who were mistakenly stopped as car-jacking
suspects. "The police commissioner offered an apology and said
the department would investigate the matter, but one year later,
no light has been shed on this incident," Ford said. "I don't
want to get the same bluff."
Two days after the incident, the police again visited Ford's
neighborhood. "They were knocking on peoples' doors and, I heard
but can't confirm, beating up people," Ford said. "There is some
drug activity in the area so I can't rule that out, but it looked
more to me like intimidation of witnesses."
"Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia-Abu Jamal" have called a
demonstration for Saturday, October 7, 2000 at 12 noon at the
corner of Kensington and Allegheny Aves. in Philadelphia. They
will march to the 24th district precinct. The march will demand
that the police immediately identify and bring charges against
the cops who made the threats against Ernst Ford. Organizations
such as the Haiti Support Network (HSN) and International Action
Center (IAC) are supporting the demonstration. For more
information, call the Concerned Family and Friends office at
ROSIE DOUGLAS, PREMIER OF DOMINICA, DEAD AT 58
Roosevelt "Rosie" Douglas, one of the Caribbean's leading
progressive anti-imperialist voices and prime minister of
Dominica, died at his home in Portsmouth on the morning of Oct.
1. Reports are that he died from a heart attack, but an autopsy
has yet to be done.
Douglas led the the Dominican Labor Party (DLP) to victory in
Dominican elections last February. He faced daunting challenges
giving new direction to the island nation of about 80,000 plagued
with 20% unemployment and a severe drug trafficking. With a GDP
of only about $234 million, the country is saddled with a mind-
boggling $200 million in debt.
Douglas, a socialist, had launched several initiatives during his
brief 7 month tenure, such as developing the island's crayfish
industry and joining the European Union. He had also signed a
bilateral agreement with his long-time ally Cuba increasing Cuban
scholarships for Dominican students and enlisting Cuban
technicians to help diversify the Dominican economy, which is
mainly reliant on tourism and bananas. About 200,000 tourists
annually visit the 289-square-mile country, which is the
Caribbean's most mountainous.
Rosie was also a close friend of Libya and several African
liberation movements, including South Africa's African National
Congress (ANC). For fifteen years, he headed Mataba, a
Libyan-based organization which aided liberation movements across
Africa. In 1992, he took over the leadership of the DLP after the
death of his brother, Michael, in 1991.
Douglas had also visited Haiti on several occasions, both
individually and as a member of the Dominican Parliament. In
1989, he toured the country, meeting with different bases of the
National Popular Assembly (APN), and in 1991 met with President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He attempted to visit Haiti in 1993
during the coup d'état, but was arrested at the airport and
expelled from the country.
Douglas' anti-imperialist credentials earned him a 15-year ban
from the U.S.. In 1976, he was expelled from Canada as a
"national security risk."
Douglas was radicalized as a student attending Sir George
Williams University (now part of Concordia University) and McGill
University in the 1960s. In 1969, he led one of Canada's most
famous campus protests against racism at Sir George, for which he
spent 18 months in a Quebec prison.
"I learned a lot about the injustices in Canadian society when I
went to jail," Douglas said in a recent interview. "I met a lot
of ordinary Canadians and I set up a literacy class for prisoners
who couldn't read or write. The truth is that I didn't become
committed to the fight for equality in Dominica. I became
committed to the movement in Canada."
On Oct . 3, Pierre "Pierro" Charles, the DLP number two, was
sworn in as Dominica's new and sixth prime minister since the
island's independence in 1978. Charles said that "Rosie
sacrificed his life for the under privileged and poor," not only
in Dominica, but also throughout the Caribbean and the world.
"His life was really for the people."
In addition to a Dominican pathologist, a professor of pathology
from Trinidad is being flown in to participate in the autopsy.
Some observers in Dominica and abroad have called for the measure
to assure that Douglas' death was from natural causes, as it
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