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#3381: This Week in Haiti 18:6 4/26/00 (fwd)
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"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole,
please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax)
718-434-5551 or e-mail at <email@example.com>.
Also visit our website at <www.haiti-progres.com>.
"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
April 26 - May 2, 2000
Vol. 18, No. 6
APRIL 20, 2000:
ALL-DAY DEMONSTRATION SLAMS POLICE BRUTALITY AND GIULIANI
With flags flying and chants ringing, about 10,000 Haitians and
other New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday,
April 20 to demand an end to police brutality and the resignation
of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the wake of the killing and
vilification of Haitian-American Patrick Dorismond, who was
gunned down by a New York City policeman Mar. 17.
The thousands of demonstrators marched from Grand Army Plaza in
central Brooklyn, all the way down Flatbush, receiving a warm
reception from on-lookers. "I would be with you if I could get
off of my job," one black construction worker yelled as the
demonstrators marched by. "Those Haitians sure know how to make a
demonstration," he said, turning to a grinning co-worker.
After crossing the bridge, the marchers surged into lower
Manhattan and rallied along Broadway in front of City Hall, where
a series of speakers denounced Giuliani as being ultimately
responsible for a rash of police shootings and for creating an
atmosphere of racism and violence in New York.
The march marked the tenth anniversary of the first time when
tens of thousands of Haitians flooded across the Brooklyn Bridge
to protest the Food and Drug Administration's classification of
Haitians as a high-risk group for AIDS. In the wake of the
protest, the classification was rescinded.
Other huge marches -- in 1991 following the coup d'état against
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and in 1997 following the police
torture of Abner Louima -- helped established the bridge crossing
as the signature of Haitian protest.
This year's march was organized by the Haitian Coalition for
Justice, a grassroots alliance of Haitian community groups and
activists which came together on Mar. 20. Through marathon
meetings and late night "koumbits" (work sessions), a rag-tag
army of volunteers pooled their limited time and money to make
banners and posters, distribute press releases and flyers, secure
police permits, vehicles, and sound systems, and mobilize turn-
out on radio and television shows.
Despite some community apprehension after clashes with police
during the Mar. 25 funeral for Dorismond which left 27 people
arrested and dozens hurt, the April 20 march was both spectacular
and peaceful. Young people dancing to the beat of rara bands,
senior citizens hobbling with canes, and families with small
children all turned out, many with Haiti's red and blue flag tied
around their head, draped around their shoulders, affixed to
umbrellas, or waved on little sticks. The flags of Trinidad,
Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Panama were also sprinkled through the
giant throng. Many stayed from the opening rally at Grand Army
Plaza at 8 a.m. until the march dispersed at City Hall about 5
The police were also out in force. Hundreds of cops in riot
helmets, with clubs and plasic flexicuffs in their belts, marched
in a tight formation columns along either side of the
demonstrators, while police helicopters droned overhead
throughout the day. But the Coalition's own marshals - all in
white T-shirts marked "Santinel" - provided a buffer between the
annoyed protestors and police, and there were no conflicts
throughout the march.
As they marched across the bridge, however, demonstrators did
take note of close to 200 officers who were massed on an off-
ramp. "Brooklyn Bridge is falling down, falling down, on
Giuliani," some demonstrators chanted to the tune of the
children's rhyme as they crossed.
Dozens of demonstrators carried cardboard crosses with the names
of young people gunned down by the NYPD under Giuliani. Other
signs in the crowd read "Guilianism = Fascism," "Giuliani Rache
Manyòk ou (Uproot yourself)," and "Stop and Frisk Giuliani, Book
Him for Racism." There were many portraits depicting Giuliani as
a devil or as Adolph Hitler.
When the thousands rolled off the bridge into Manhattan, the
demonstration had its tensest moment. The police had erected
barricades at the corner of Chambers and Broadway into a
bottleneck only about 15 feet across. For close to half an hour,
the demonstrators refused to advance through the choke point.
Finally, police widened it a little, and the crowds surged
"There are people here as far as the eye can see," shouted the
Rev. Herbert Daughtry from the microphone on the Coalition's
flatbed truck, which served as a stage. "There is a sea of
humanity all the way back to Chambers Street. Whenever you touch
a Haitian, you evoke the spirit of Toussaint, of Dessalines, of
Christophe. You evoke the spirit of revolution. When Haitians
move, they move in great masses, they move united, they move
determined, they move as winners, and they will win."
Emcees Daniel Simidor and Yvon Kernizan of the Coalition
introduced many other speakers, including representatives of the
Dec. 12th Movement, the Oct. 22nd Coalition, Youth Force, the New
Black Panther Party, and District Council 1707.
Among the most moving addresses of the afternoon was that of
Marie Dorismond, mother of the late Patrick. "The killed my son,
the only son I had, they took him," she said in emotion-choked
Creole. As she spoke, Haitian men and women in the crowd wept
openly, a communion of pain and resistance. "But I know you all
are there for me. You help to soak up my tears. In doing this to
me, they are asking why I am black. I know I am descended from
slaves, but I also have the blood of Jean-Jacques Dessalines in
my veins. He says to me, 'They killed Patrick, you have lost your
son, but you have not lost the battle.' I sometimes feel small
and alone, but I become as strong as one million people when you
all stand there before me. Then I know I am bigger than the earth
Other members of Patrick Dorismond's family also spoke, as did
Abner Louima, who said: "We come here to say no to police
brutality. We are tired of being portrayed as drug dealers, as
Also warmly received was the presentation of Paul Jean-Maurice
François (Mèt Paul), the voice of community-based Radio Lakay,
which helped mobilize the Haitian community for the march. "March
16 Patrick left his home, and that was the last time he was
seen," Met Paul said in Creole. "His family found him lifeless in
the hospital. The police shot him like a rabbit, like a dog, like
a bird. Someone is responsible and his name is Rudolph Giuliani.
We have come here today to tell Giuliani that we are not
defenseless. He has knocked on the wrong door. Because we are a
people with a tradition of struggle. Our ancestors have been
fighting since 1789 and we will continue that fight whenever
dictatorship threatens our freedom. And we say to Giuliani that
we will not rest until he is out of office. We will continue to
occupy the streets until he is pulled up by the roots."
"This is about our survival," declared Larry Holmes of the May 7
Mobilization for Mumia. "Any one of us could have been Patrick
Dorismond. Anyone of us could have been out there that night in
front of that bar, trying to get home. But Patrick never got home
because they killed him and they are criminals. That kind of
police force needs to be abolished. We need to replace it with
something which at least is not at war with the people." Holmes
encouraged the demonstrators to to continue their battle against
police brutality by attending the giant rally for Mumia Abu-
Jamal, the well-known U.S. political prisoner, to be held at
Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on May 7.
The New York Times and other mainstream media could not ignore
this massive and noble march, but they tried to minimize it by
quoting the police who said only 2,500 people took part. (The New
York Post said 5,000). But the Haitian community denounced these
lies on their community radios as did the Coalition on
progressive English-speaking radios like WBAI.
As the demonstration was winding down, plainclothes police
officers, who had been plying through the crowd with pictures of
demonstrators from Mar. 25, ambushed a Haitian demonstrator,
Evans Sanon, pushing him through the gates of City Hall. A crowd
of people gathered at the gates, demanding to know why he had
been arrested. "He is suspected of assaulting a police officer
during the funeral march," responded Det. Serge Pierre-Louis, who
stood behind the gate with City Councilwoman Una Clarke and a
phalanx of cops.
Members of the Coalition, wanting to avoid any more
confrontations and arrests, calmed down the angry crowd in front
of the gate and led a delegation, accompanied by official legal
observer Joel Kupferman of the National Lawyers Guild, to the
67th Precinct in Brooklyn, where Sanon had been taken. The police
later released Sanon when they determined he was not the man in
police photos. Sanon insists he wasn't even at the Dorismond
"It just shows how vindictive and stupid Giuliani is to arrest
someone like that and for that," said Coalition leader Ray
Laforest. "He is clearly trying to intimidate us."
But the Haitian community will not be intimidated, and it showed
once again that that it can unite and help lead the many
communities of New York in the struggle against police brutality.
Towards this end, the Coalition plans to build its links with
other anti-police brutality coalitions and work toward uprooting
Giuliani before he can go on to campaign as the Republican
candidate running against Democrat Hillary Clinton for New York
As one demonstrator cried out as he passed by City Hall: "We are
going to flush this mayor before he can do any more damage!"
IMMIGRANT WORKERS PLAN MAY DAY MARCHES IN US
by David L. Wilson
A coalition of labor and other groups representing tens of
thousands of immigrant workers is planning marches in New York
and other US cities on May 1 to demand a new amnesty for
immigrants living in the US without documents. The marches are
sponsored by the National Coalition for Dignity and Amnesty for
Undocumented Immigrants, which includes groups ranging from the
American Friends Service Committee in Texas to the Pacific North
West District Council of Carpenters in Washington state and the
Farm Labor Organizing Committee in Ohio.
"We have a unique opportunity for winning the general amnesty
now," says Haitian activist Ray Laforest, an organizer for
District Council 1707 AFSCME in New York, which has endorsed the
marches. The movement has gotten "fresh energy" from a general
amnesty resolution the executive council of the AFL-CIO passed in
February, he said. In the past the labor federation had backed
anti-immigrant measures like the employer sanctions in the
immigration act of 1986.
Laforest noted that some immigrants have pushed for status
adjustments for special circumstances, like NACARA, which is in
effect an amnesty for Nicaraguans who left their country during
the US-sponsored contra war of the 1980s. "The weakness is that
these measures affect only a small number of workers," Laforest
says. But in fact the vast majority of undocumented workers "are
forced to leave their country because of US government policies
destabilizing the country," whether the policies are military or
economic. "The only solution is a measure that recognizes that
all these workers are productive" for the US economy, according
The marches are being held on May 1 -- international workers' day
-- in order "to recover the historic date... and to commemorate
the struggles in Chicago through which workers [eventually]
achieved the eight-hour workday, and to connect this date with
the situation of today's immigrant workers," explains Monica
Santana, a member of the National Coalition's Executive Committee
and director of the Latino Workers Center in New York.
Organizers recognize that it will be difficult for many immigrant
workers and their supporters to take time off from work on May 1,
which falls on a Monday this year. But they feel that the only
way to move US politicians around the issue is for a large number
of people to demonstrate their commitment. Laforest noted that a
march by more than 10,000 amnesty supporters last October in
Washington, DC was one of the factors in winning the AFL-CIO's
support for amnesty, since the demonstration showed the labor
leaders "the strength and potential of the movement."
The National Coalition is also hoping to internationalize the
struggle by asking unions in other countries to include in their
own May 1 marches signs and slogans supporting the demand for
general amnesty in the US.
In New York, the marchers will gather at Union Square Park (14th
Street and Broadway) at 1 pm, and then march downtown to the
Federal Building and City Hall. Help is needed to put up posters
and fliers for the march -- to get involved, call 212-633-7108 or
212-473-3936 or see the National Coalition web site at
http://www.tepeyac.org/amnistia. For French or Creole, call Ray
Laforest at 212-219-0022 x113.
DEFEND THE PEOPLE ARRESTED AT PATRICK DORISMOND'S FUNERAL!
Drop the Charges Against the Protestors - Jail the Killer Cops!
by the October 22 Coalition
On March 25, thousands of people attended the funeral of Patrick
Dorismond, an unarmed 26-year-old Haitian-American man who was
shot to death by an undercover cop because he didn't have any
drugs to sell. He is one of four Black men murdered by the NYPD
in March. His death on a street corner in midtown Manhattan came
less than a month after the four cops who murdered Amadou Diallo
were acquitted. This verdict gave the cops the green light to
keep on murdering people. And we've all seen the results.
Police disrespected Patrick Dorismond, his family, and the
community at his funeral. Cops were out in force at his funeral
- after killing him, they wanted to control his funeral. As
Nicholas Heyward, Sr., whose 13-year-old son was shot to death by
a NYC housing cop in 1994, said, "I went to the funeral to pay my
respect to Patrick Dorismond. And once again I was confronted by
police. I was in the church before the service began and was
ordered out by police who said they had to search the church.
They put up steel barricades in the street and on the sidewalk.
This was a funeral. I wasn't allowed to park my car near the
church. Police wanted clear access and control of the area. If
the police were there to 'protect and serve,' who were they
protecting? Not Patrick Dorismond. They'd already killed him.
Not the Dorismond family. They'd already killed their son. Not
the people at Patrick's funeral who police beat, bloodied, maced
At least 27 people were arrested at the funeral, and some are
charged with felonies. Many of the people arrested were Haitian,
many were injured including a young pregnant woman. Activists
from the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality were at
the funeral, carrying the Stolen Lives banner and distributing
the Stolen Lives : Killed by Law Enforcement book. Stolen Lives
documents over 2000 cases of people killed by law enforcement
agents throughout the US since 1990. An Oct. 22 activist with
the Stolen Lives Project was yanked from the crowd by police and
arrested. Also among those arrested was Errol Maitland, reporter
and producer at WBAI radio. After being arrested, Errol had to be
hospitalized in the Kings County Hospital's critical coronary
care unit. Errol's whole career in broadcast journalism has been
about getting the truth out, at no small risk to his himself.
Last year while reporting on the IMF protests in Seattle, Errol
was teargassed (along with many others). In 1998, Errol recorded
a reading of Stolen Lives by actors Ossie Davis and Melvin Van
Peebles, film maker Michael Moore and poet Jerry Quickly that
airs every year on Oct. 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police
Brutality on Pacifica's Democracy Now. Among the names in Stolen
Lives is Errol's son, Douglas Fischer, who was choked to death by
security guards at a Best Buy store in Spartanburg, SC, for
allegedly trying to use a bad credit card.
Those arrested on March 25 will be in court on Monday, May 8 and
Thursday, June 1. We need to fill the courtroom to show that the
community supports people who stand up and speak out against
police brutality. Be in the courtroom! Monday, May 8 (Part AP1 -
9:30 am) and Thursday, June 1 (Part AP3 - 9:30 am), Brooklyn
Criminal Court, 120 Schermerhorn St., 6th floor, Brooklyn, NY.
(Take A, G trains to Hoyt St./Schermerhorn St.; F train Jay
St./Borough Hall, or 2, 3, 4, 5 trains to Borough Hall,
Brooklyn). For more information, call 212-477-8062.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progrès, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progrès.