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a249: Louima joins fight for police review panel (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Published Sunday, January 6, 2002

In South Florida
Louima joins fight for police review panel
Abner Louima, who in 1997 became one of the country's most famous victims of
police brutality, has joined a coalition of community groups in Miami
fighting for a strong Civilian Investigative Panel to look into police
misconduct allegations.

Louima, a Haitian American who was beaten and then tortured by New York City
police officers in Brooklyn's 70th Precinct station house bathroom, plans to
attend a meeting in Miami Mayor Manny Diaz's office Wednesday with several
other community groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union,
Brother of the Same Mind and the NAACP, activists say.

The groups are trying to get Diaz to support strong investigative powers for
the panel, which was approved in overwhelming numbers by voters in November.

``Anyone who suffered what [Louima] has suffered would feel very strongly
about police brutality,'' said Jean Robert Lafortune, head of the Haitian
American Grassroots Coalition. ``He sympathizes with the struggle Haitian
Americans are dealing with here in Miami.''

Louima was arrested four years ago in a brawl outside a Brooklyn nightclub
and taken in handcuffs to a police station. Officer Justin Volpe -- who
apparently mistakenly believed Louima had punched him -- sought revenge by
sodomizing Louima with a broomstick. Louima suffered a ruptured bladder and
colon and spent two months in the hospital.

Volpe pleaded guilty and is serving 30 years in prison. Another officer,
Charles Schwarz, was convicted of pinning down Louima. Four other officers
were found guilty of lying about what happened. Charges against Louima were

After winning several million dollars in a lawsuit against New York City,
Louima moved to Miami Lakes last year.

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