Allegations of racial profiling, brutality
A still from the videotape that documents
the arrest of Ismael Hassan by officers of the Asheville Police
By Shawn Gaynor
Asheville, North Carolina, Aug. 5 (AGR)— Two African-American
Asheville residents, Khalid Saadiq and Ismael Hassan, both 31
years old, are voicing allegations of police brutality and racial
profiling over an incident on the night of Sunday, July 21.
The two say Hassan was beaten by two white Asheville police
officers, and a videotape of the incident supports their claim.
Saadiq is a former Asheville police officer and Hassan is a
current youth corrections officer.
These allegations come at a time of heightened national awareness
of police brutality due to the recent events in Inglewood, California
and Oklahoma City.
According to Hassan the two friends were returning home from
their place of worship, along with his 5-year-old son Elijah.
Upon arriving at Hassan’s home on Blanton St., an Asheville
Police Department (APD) cruiser pulled up in front of the house
and turned on its lights. According to Saadiq, by this time
the three were on the front lawn.
Saadiq said the officers told them to get back in the car,
approaching the two men on the lawn. Saadiq began asking for
what reason they are been detained, and at this point officer
Breneman grabbed him.
“I told him that I did this [police work] for seven years,
that he didn’t know what he was doing. I told him to take his
hands off of me, that I was not resisting [arrest], and that’s
when he dropped his hands, turned me around and handcuffed me.”
Witnessing Saadiq’s arrest, Hassan, wearing his Swannanoa
Youth Corrections Officer uniform, approached Breneman.
“I dropped my son off at the porch and told him to ring the
doorbell. Then I walked back up in a calm manner and asked ‘what’s
up, what’s the deal,’ and that’s when he [officer Maltby] pepper-sprayed
me twice,” said Hassan.
“From there I turned around with my back to the officers and
squatted down. Maltby ordered me to go prone, and I did. He
started to bring my arm back to cuff me and he twisted it the
wrong way. I say ‘you’re breaking my arm’ and he started to
beat me.” Breneman, who had just finished loading up Khalid
into the car returned and joined in, Hassan said.
A neighbor from across the street, alerted by the police lights,
grabbed his camera and began to videotape.
The tape begins as Breneman is closing the door of the car
with Saadiq in the cruiser. All appears calm. Then, without
any discernible verbal orders on the part of the officer, or
verbal resistance from Hassan, a physical confrontation can
be heard breaking out in the yard. Several blows can be heard
on the videotape. “You stop hitting him! You stop hitting him,”
pleads Hassan’s sobbing mother, rushing onto the lawn.
As the camera comes across the street and gains a clear view
of Hassan’s lawn, both Breneman and Maltby can be seen on top
of Hassan, who is prone on his stomach. Maltby knees Hassan
in the back, and strikes him.
“I’m not resisting arrest,” says Hassan, “this is my lawn.”
Then Hassan gives his hands to Maltby to be cuffed.
The evidence of the beating can be seen on the back of Hassan’s
youth corrections uniform shirt: knuckle marks in blood.
“They hit me repeatedly with quick punches to the head and
back, Maltby kneed me in the back,” Hassan said. “When they
were hitting me Breneman cut his hand.”
On the tape, Breneman can be seen coddling his injured hands
as he gets up off the now cuffed Hassan.
“You don’t hit him any more. He’s in cuffs, don’t you hit him
anymore,” says Hassan’s brother Isaac, who had also come out
onto the lawn.
Then for the first time Maltby calls in the incident…as a
Other officers arrive and officer Eberthart opens the back
door to the cruiser after recognizing Saadiq, his former colleague,
in the back seat.
“‘What are you doing in here,’ he asks me. That’s exactly
what I want to know,” recalled Saadiq.
The officers huddle, and begin treating Hassan for pepper spray.
Hassan is then taken from the site to the hospital, examined,
and then taken to the county jail where he and Saadiq are booked.
Why the two were initially stopped by police is still a matter
of disagreement. On Hassan’s arrest record he is charged with
being stopped for running a red light on Coxe Ave.
“I never ran a red light,” Hassan said. “He claims that we
ran a light on Coxe but we never came that route.”
Both men assert they were stopped only because of the color
of their skin.
“They could have simply avoided this by calling in our tag,
or they just could have answered the question when we asked,”
said Saadiq. “We asked them ‘why do you want us to get back
in the car. We haven’t done anything wrong.’ They could have
said we want you to get back in the car because of whatever.
It’s that simple — if they had a reason. They didn’t have a
reason, that’s why they didn’t say anything. In my estimation,
they see two black faces in a halfway decent-looking car with
rims and they figure we’re drug dealers or whatever and they’re
gonna make a quick name for themselves by busting us. If they
violate rules and go against procedure, and violate laws, it’s
OK because we’re two ‘niggers’ and who’s gonna believe us over
two white police officers, and that’s what took place.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Saadiq continued, “there are a lot of
good officers out there. There are a lot of guys who are professional…
but then you have those who think you’re nothing, and ‘I’ll
do what the hell I want to do because I’m the police and I can’.”
Saadiq said that because of a recent change in Asheville Police
Department policy in regards to officer training, both officers
Maltby and Beneman were relatively inexperienced. It was previously
required that an officer have three years minimum service to
train a rookie officer. That limit has been reduced to one year
of service, leaving rookies to train rookies, Saadiq said.
Asheville Police Chief Will Annarino said an internal investigation
of the incident is being conducted. While the investigation
is pending, Annarino said he would not answer any questions.
Hassan has been charged with running a red light, improper
right turn, disorderly conduct, assaulting a government official,
and resisting arrest. Saadiq is facing a single charge of resisting
a public officer, a misdemeanor.
They are due to appear in court on Aug. 19. Both men say they
have no previous criminal record.
The two men have begun circulating a petition demanding their
charges be dropped and the APD reformed.
Regional economic crisis
Thousands of people marched to protest the
closing of emergency room services at the Hospital de Clinicas
and against the economic policies of the government of Jorge
Batlle and the IMF, on Thursday, July 25, 2002 in Montevideo,
Photo courtesy of Indymedia.
Compiled by Sean Marquis
Aug. 7 (AGR)— Argentina’s economic meltdown has spread
to its neighbor Uruguay which saw bank closures, supermarket
lootings, and a general strike last week.
There were outbreaks of looting in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo,
as workers held a general strike in protest at the country’s
worsening economic crisis.
During the past few months, deep recession in Argentina has
knocked confidence in the economies of Uruguay and Brazil.
Currencies in the region have taken a nose-dive as investors
are increasingly concerned that Argentina’s problems have been
exported to neighboring countries.
Three years of recession in Uruguay have left one in four people
unable to meet basic food needs or pay home bills.
Most recently, concerns that a leftist could win Brazil’s presidency
in October and push the regional giant to default on its $250
billion public debt have added to Uruguay’s problems.
The financial crisis in Uruguay is manifest in the rapid decline
in Central Bank reserves, which plummeted from $3.1 billion
at the end of 2001 to $725 million last week. At least $50 million
were withdrawn last Monday alone. The month of July saw capital
flight totaling $746 million.
Fears that the Uruguayan financial system would repeat the
Argentine scenario of a government-ordered freeze on bank deposits
increased last week.
The nation’s president, Jorge Batlle, decreed a bank holiday
Tuesday and gave his word that the bank holiday would last only
24 hours, but then extended it through Friday to prevent the
continuation of massive withdrawals.
The recently appointed Economy Minister, Alejandro Atchugarry,
reported that 40 percent of the total deposits had been withdrawn
from the country’s banking system since January.
The government decision to close the banks came after weeks
of massive capital flight from the nation’s banks, as Uruguayans
and Argentines withdrew money they had deposited when Argentina’s
economy collapsed last year.
Uruguay’s once strong financial system fell victim to the lack
of confidence caused by the recession begun in 1999, the contagion
of the Argentine financial collapse, and the alleged fraud committed
by the owners of two private banks — one of which was taken
over in June by the Central Bank.
President Batlle reported Thursday on the negotiations under
way with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a potential
Uruguay is asking the IMF for the immediate disbursement of
the $1.5 billion remaining in a contingency loan of $3 billion
that the multilateral institution approved in May.
The partial immobilization of the fixed-term deposits in the
state-owned banks would be one of the IMF’s conditions for freeing
up the funds Uruguay is requesting.
According to an article in Newsday, Atchugarry has acknowledged
that no “Plan A” exists, only “Plan B,” which consists of immediate
foreign financial aid. Government sources say that if such assistance
does not arrive, Uruguay would likely default on its foreign
debt, according to Newsday.
Chanting, “There is hunger,” hundreds of Uruguayans looted
or attempted to loot nearly 30 supermarkets on Aug. 1, mostly
in poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of Montevideo, the capital.
Crowds that included youths with their faces covered and women
with children succeeded in looting at least 13 supermarkets.
Uruguayans looted supermarkets on
Aug. 2, 2002, driven by hunger and
the fear of “another Argentina.”
Photo courtesy Indymedia.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to keep the crowds
out of the other supermarkets. In some cases, looters and neighborhood
residents threw stones at police and at reporters covering the
incidents; at least 34 people were arrested and four police
officers and one civilian were injured.
State prosecutor Enrique Moller said he would pursue charges
of criminal association against many of those detained, a serious
offense punishable by up to eight years in prison.
Interior Minister Guillermo Stirling insisted that the looting
was organized and coordinated by groups from the “extreme left”
and “anarchists,” though he admitted he could point to no specific
A statement by the Federacion Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU) said
that the state’s answer to people stealing food was “repression”
with police “brandishing clubs against young kids and women
who run off with a package of flour, noodles or rice.”
According to the FAU, “Hungry children in rags are found throughout
the country. Begging for a coin, cleaning windscreens, stealing
someone’s wallet…eating rubbish, forming bands to steal from
other poor…seeing the aggressive and hostile opulence of a few.”
A series of telephoned false alarms on Aug. 2 were the work
of “a little bin Laden,” Stirling said, referring to Osama bin
Laden, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks
on the United States.
That same day, thousands of police guarded Uruguayan shops
to avoid renewed looting.
“We have mobilized 5,000 police officers and two air force
helicopters,” said Stirling, vowing to deter any repeat of Thursday’s
looting, but there were still signs of unrest.
In a poor neighborhood on the capital’s outskirts, about 500
people gathered outside a supermarket demanding food.
An Associated Press photographer watched as supermarket employees
loaded a truck full of bags of sugar, cooking oil, bread and
noodles and drove it out to the crowd. People swarmed the truck
and battled over the foodstuffs.
Workers demand employment, pay raise
On Friday, Aug. 2 thousands of Uruguayans staged a four-hour
general strike to demand wage increases and public works projects.
“The strike was unanimously approved by the 42 unions we represent,”
said union leader Juan Castillo, a member of Uruguay’s largest
labor movement umbrella group, Inter-Union Workers Plenary-National
Workers Convention (PIT-CNT ).
Workers in most sectors except health, education and some bank
employees walked off the job, in Montevideo, a city of 1.5 million
people — nearly half of Uruguay’s 3.1 million population.
Union leaders were due to meet Economy Minister Atchugarry,
who took the post two weeks ago after a split in the coalition
government forced his predecessor and the Central Bank president
to step down.
One union demand was for the government to approve a pay raise
to compensate for the fall in value of the peso, which has raised
the cost of basic imported goods like wheat and sugar.
Unemployment is at a 30-year high, with 15.6 percent of the
work force out of a job. Talk of spending cuts in a country
that has one of South America’s largest public sectors and a
minimum monthly wage equal to $50 are drawing sharp criticism.
“People here don’t earn much, the economy is in terrible shape,
and the peso is really low, so the government should not be
talking about more austerity,” said a mother of four.
Sources: Associated Press, BBC, Newsday, IPS, Sky News (Britain),
Weekly News Update on the Americas
Alarm raised over issue of
mercury in vaccines
By Elizabeth Allen
Aug. 3 (AGR)— Recently, concern has been on the rise
that mercury in childhood vaccines may cause autism.
Mercury poisoning can display outward traits, a neuroanatomy,
neurotransmitters and biochemistry similar to autism. A major
source of mercury -- second only to uranium as the most toxic
metal known to humans -- is Thimerosal, used in vaccines as
a preservative. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) determined that on an individual
and cumulative vaccine basis the amount of mercury injected
into young children exceeds government safety standards.
Data collected from the US government and medical literature
suggests Thimerosal has induced many cases of idiopathic autism,
which represents an unrecognized mercurial syndrome. Observations
are based on the existing similarities between mercury poisoning
and autism and the known exposure to mercury through vaccines.
The connection also reflects a causal relationship with, among
many other factors, symptoms appearing shortly after vaccination,
increases in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cases corresponding
to increases in vaccinations, and parental reports of children
with autism as also having elevated levels of mercury.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder conceived primarily
of a psychiatric condition with a threefold diagnostic criteria
including social impairment, communication impairment, and preservative
or stereotypic behaviors, or a need for sameness. Autism may
have differential diagnoses including obsessive-compulsive disorder,
depression, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. Mercury vapor
poisoning shares autism’s characteristics of neurosis, problems
with inhibition of preservation, stereotyped behaviors and,
as in the case of one twelve-year-old girl, eye contact. Symptoms
of both conditions have a lot of inter-individual variation
but disorders of physical movement are present in nearly all
cases of ASD and mercury poisoning. Also common to both conditions
are a general aversion to touch and heightened sensitivity or
insensitivity to pain.
Parents can request vaccines that do not contain Thimerosal,
whose production was halted a little over a year ago but without
recalling existing products. Government committees, under pressure
from the AAP, ordered pharmaceutical companies to stop using
Thimerosal by March of 2001, but as far back as 1982 the FDA
said Thimerosal is “not safe for ‘over-the- counter’ topical
use because of the potential for cell damage.”
Organic mercury readily crosses the blood/brain barrier and
targets nerve cells and fibers. Primates are shown to accumulate
the highest levels of mercury in the brain as opposed to other
body organs. Further highlighting the link, autistic brains
and those with mercury poisoning show virtually identical types
of neurotransmitter irregularities.
Epilepsy is another possible consequence of both conditions.
One study estimates that 3445% of autistic people develop epilepsy
and another study found that half of the participating autistic
children who experienced epileptiform activity during sleep,
another trait that is shared with mercury poisoning.
The amount of Thimerosal exposure found in babies more than
doubled in the early 1990’s when government regulators added
the Hepatitis B and HiB vaccines to the roster of mandatory
immunization requirements for children entering school. Mercury
expert Dr. Boyd Haley, who has testified before Congress and
the Pentagon as a leading expert on Thimerosal and mercury poisoning
explains, “If you take a ten pound baby in, and it gets four
shots in one day, which is common practice, that’s equivalent
to giving a one hundred pound person forty shots that day.”
There now are a greater number of individuals with autism
than with Downs Syndrome, childhood cancer, and childhood diabetes
Studies show that in 1992 one in ten thousand children had
developed autism, in 1998 one in five hundred, in 2000 one in
two hundred and fifty and most recent studies are estimating
one in one hundred fifty children have autism. Over a five-year
period Florida and Maryland have had, respectively, a 571% and
513% increase in statewide autism rates. Autistic children require
specialized care, which California’s Department of Developmental
Services estimates will cost taxpayers two million dollars for
every child who has autism until they turn twenty-one. The study
does not include projections for the amount of money needed
after the person turns twenty-one. The financial burden is likely
to strain Social Services.
Thimerosal is controversial because alternatives to it have
been known for years. Eli Lilly is a pharmaceutical company
that is currently being examined for its use of Thimerosal in
vaccines. Despite evidence dating back as early as the 1960’s
that the company was aware of Thimerosal’s toxicity, they continued
to produce the metal until as late as 1999. That year they changed
their packing insert to identify Thimerosal as “toxic” and warned
it may cause “fetal changes, decreased offspring survival and
lung tissue changes.” Children have a predisposition to Thimerosal’s
adverse effects based on genetic and non-genetic factors.
Marleen Gaynor, autism expert with many years of experience
working with special education children, commented, “Remember
there are undoubtedly a combination of causes for autism, with
mercury in inoculations possibly being a part of the puzzle.
Also of concern is the MMR vaccine. Some argue that cases of
autism increased drastically when the three components of this
inoculation were combined into one vaccine. The MMR vaccine
does not have mercury in it as a preservative.” Currently, Congressional
Committees are scheduled to be hearing debate on the use of
Thimerosal in vaccines.