Houston Mayor Parker And Police Chief McClelland Referring Possible Cases Of Houston Police Abuse To Federal Government For Investigation—This Is The Correct Course
The Houston Chronicle reports that the federal government is investigating 6 incidents of Houston Police shooting or otherwise allegedly abusing unarmed persons. The Chronicle reports that 3 of these matters were referred to the feds by Houston Police Chief Charles McClellend.
( Picture above is of Houston Mayor Annise Parker in front of an airplane.)
I have made posts on the blog about two of the incidents that the federal government is investigating.
Unarmed teen Chad Holley was beaten in 2010 by a number of Houston police officers.
Earlier in 2012, a double amputee in a wheelchair named Brian Claunch was shot and killed by Houston police.
There is no way the Chief is referring multiple cases of possible police abuse and misdeeds to the federal government without the approval in one form or another of Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
Mayor Parker and Chief McClelland should be commended for this course of action.
In the past the Mayor has addressed racism and sexism within the Houston Fire Department.
While our safety forces do many good and brave things, it is also so that some of them engage in wrong actions.
It is good for Houston that Mayor Parker has been willing to confront this fact.
A Houston police officer shot and killed double amputee who was threatening to stab an officer with what turned out to be a pen.
The dead man is Brian Claunch. Above you see a picture of Mr. Claunch.
The name of the officer who pulled the trigger was Matthew Marin.
“A schizophrenic double amputee waving a writing pen from his wheelchair was fatally shot early Saturday by a Houston police officer, authorities said….Police were called to the East End personal care home around 2 a.m. because resident Brian Claunch had become agitated after his caretaker refused to give him a soda and a cigarette…. ”He was approaching them aggressively,” said Houston Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva. “He was attempting to stab them with what is now found to be a pen.”..Claunch, who had been living at the home for the past 18 months with two other men, ignored officers’ commands and made threats against them and other occupants of the home… Claunch trapped one of the officers in a corner, authorities said…Claunch told him that he lost his right leg to just above the knee and all of his right arm when he was hit by a train… The victim, who was in his mid-40s, came to the East End personal care home more than a year ago, as part of a placement by the Harris County guardianship program. …Claunch liked to “doodle” and two days ago…(was) given…a black felt pen to draw with.”
I am not in the shoes of the police officers involved in the incident. There should be a proper investigation. There are times in life when we call police officers and they are helpful.
At the same time, this case should be out there and not forgotten. Police officers can kill a person and get away with it even if what they have done is wrong.
It does seem possible that a double amputee in a wheelchair waving a pen could be have been dealt with in a manner other than shooting him.
Mr. Claunch could not have been tasered?
The Associated Press story about the incident says that the officer who shot Mr. Claunch had in 2009 shot and killed a person who had stabbed someone and who would not put down his knife.
It would be interesting to know what mental health assistance the Houston Police Department offered the officer after that shooting. It would also be interesting to know the quality of the facility where Mr. Claunch was staying.
From the Chronicle—
“Advocates are calling for better training and more discipline after a Houston police officer fatally shot a mentally ill double-amputee in a wheelchair on Saturday, the third unarmed person police have shot in less than three months.”
Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s Police Reported To Be Ticketing People For Horn Honking In Support Of Striking Houston Janitors—Mayor Parker & Houston Council Democrats Can’t Be Looked To For Very Much That Is Hopeful Or Progressive
(Update 7/21-12–Mayor Parker has spoken out strongly in favor of the strking janitors. Let’s hope this is the beginning of consistent support for working people in Houston from Mayor Parker.)
There are reports that Mayor Annise Parker’s police are writing tickets for illegal horn honking for people honking in support of striking Houston janitors.
This horn honking is taking place as people drive past protests by the janitors.
From Occupy Houston—
“So, in the latest attempt to stifle political dissent the Houston Police Department is now ticketing people for honking their horn in solidarity with the Houston Janitors. Way to go Annise Parker, guess you’ve got to have something to do when you’re not drafting legislation that will result in starving the local homeless population. Please show support for the Houston Janitors……”
In addition to the ticket above and the report from Occupy Houston, I’ve read another account of a ticket for the same “infraction” that was written by an acquaintance.
Each of these reports is about a pro-janitor protest that took place yesterday in Downtown Houston.
Below is a picture of the janitor’s protest yesterday in Downtown Houston. The picture is from the janitors Facebook page.
Here is the Houston Chronicle report on this protest. There were 15 arrests at the protest.
Below is Mayor Parker yukking it up Stephen Colbert. This photo is from Mayor Parker’s Facebook page.
Mayor Parker was the guest on The Colbert Report last night.
Everything is so funny!
I saw Mayor Parker’s interview with Mr. Colbert. Mayor Parker talked about how Houston is a place where you can get a job.
What the Mayor failed to mention is that Houston also appears to be a place where you can get a ticket from the police for supporting the efforts of people to be paid a living wage while working in Houston.
Burning the flag is protected speech in the United States. It seems though that honking your horn in support of a cause is a problem in Houston, Texas.
In addition to the prospect of a ticket for horn honking , there was the unnecessary and violent arrest of a pro-janitor protester at an otherwise peaceful march last month in Downtown Houston.
Mayor Parker and Democratic members of Houston City Council are no place to be found in support of Houston janitors.
If we don’t publicize these concerns of police overreach, and if we don’t ask more of the elected representatives who should be standing up for working Houstonians, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
The work of freedom is up to each of us.
Every Houstonian, every Texan, and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.
Chad Holley Verdict By All-White Houston Jury A Source Of Concern For All Houstonians Concerned With Justice—An All-White Jury In The Most Diverse City In America?
(Above–A scene from the 2010 Chad Holley beating.)
I was not a juror in this case and I did not hear all the evidence.
I can say that it is frustrating that the jury was all-white in what is by some measures the most diverse city in America.
Given our national history, our local history here in Houston and Texas, and the fact of strong divisions of all kinds in America, it is a given that an innocent verdict in the case from an all-white jury would provoke a strong reaction.
Given the present day role of our so-called justice system as a new Jim Crow that incarcerates black men at an alarming rate, it is a given that an innocent verdict in this case from an all-white jury would provoke a strong reaction.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Republican Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos disagree with the verdict.
Some local black activists and local black ministers have reacted angrily to the verdict.
Just imagine if these leaders spoke up consistently on a broad range of issues of justice that impact all people and not just one group of people in Houston.
If they did, they would be listened to with greater respect when issues seen in a conventional and narrow sense as mostly impacting black folks were before the public.
At the same time, where are the voices of people of all kinds in voicing concerns on this matter?
If a broader cross-section of Houston white and Latino progressives and liberals would speak up with concerns about the verdict of an all-white jury in this trial, maybe this would help lay the groundwork for a more energetic and hopeful progressive coalition in our city.
The freedom of all people is connected.
Three former Houston Police officers are awaiting trial for their roles in the Chad Holley beating.
Blogger’s Note—-Below is a post I made last September about comments that did not seem very nice about gay people made by former Houston Councilman and current right-wing KTRH talk show host Michael Berry. (The picture above is of Mr. Berry at the microphone.) In my September post I said that Mr. Berry was making a clear expression of his views. This is a right that we all should have as Americans. Mr. Berry has been in the news in recent days for alleged involvement in a hit-and-run incident outside a gay bar in Houston. Here is a link to a report on this matter from Houston TV station KPRC. The KPRC report has video that the station asserts is of Mr. Berry inside the gay bar. The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston Police are looking into the incident again after an initial determination not to press charges. I don’t know what exactly took place the night of the alleged hit-and-run, or why it may be that Mr. Berry was in the bar if what KPRC says is correct. I’d ask folks to read the stories about the concern and to reach their own views. Just as the post below may tell a story about Mr. Berry’s nature, the facts of this more recent development may also offer insight into the life of this well-known public figure in Houston
“Lindsay Grahamnesty is on Fox right now. Acting gayer than hell as usual. He grates on my nerves. Liberal Lindsay. Squish.”
I’m appreciative of people like Mr. Berry who tell us exactly who and what they are.
There were a number of comments after Mr. Berry’s Facebook post that appeared to suggest a measure of agreement with his views.
“Posts like this are why I love you. In a non gayer than hell way of course.”
Or this view expressed by a fellow citizen of our nation–
“He needs to go. I can’t stand this man. Lindsay, is that like Pat- is he a man or a woman?”
People are free to believe what they want to believe, and they are free to express themselves.
I encourage all people to speak their minds and to be involved with the issues of the day.
The facts are out there for all to see and consider. We can decide to make clear our own views to the contrary, or we can allow people such as Mr. Berry to have a free run.
Black Justice Tuesday Coalition Protest For A More Accountable Houston Police Department—Remember Chad Holley
To mark the one year anniversary of the release of the Chad Holley police beating video tape, the Black Justice Tuesday Coalition will be holding a protest from noon until 3 PM at the Harris County Criminal Courthouse located at 1201 Franklin Street in Downtown Houston.
( Above–A scene from the Chad Holley tape.)
Here are details of this protest from the Black Justice Tuesday Coalition—
Black Justice Tuesday Coalition. National Black United Front and New Black Panther Party One Year Police Brutality Vigil. Black Justice Tuesday Coalition started its journey on February 8, 2011 after the release of the Chad Holley tape with a protest on the steps of City Hall. Please understand though that The Coalition is not subjectively organized solely for Chad Holley but against any and all police brutality. Chad Holley was just one incident of how “the Brotherhood of Paternal Order” operate in communities of Black and poor communities. This fight is for those who don’t have tapes and those that have not received justice: Bobby Joe Conner, Jose Campos Torres, Ida Delaney, Byron Gillum, Robbie Tolan, Rodney King, Abner Louima, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, and countless others.
Black Justice Tuesday Coalition has prepared a petition against police brutality in order to receive a NO COMPROMISE! NO SELLOUT! civilian review board with proper funding, prosecutorial rights, & subpoena power.
Citizens of Houston and people from all over the nation will recall that Chad Holley was a young person who was beaten by a number of Houston Police officers. The beating ended up on video tape. While not all Houston police officers would engage in such conduct, the tape was disturbing.
It is good that this issue is being kept alive, and that folks in Houston are using it as a spur for a more accountable Houston Police Department.
Occupy Houston and Occupy Austin protestors are facing felony charges for taking part in civil disobedience earlier this month outside the Port of Houston. The felony charges had at first been dismissed by a judge, but have now be reinstated by a Harris County grand jury empanelled by the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
There is little doubt in my mind that these charges are about scaring off further acts of protest in our county. This is an issue that should be of concern to politically involved people on all sides of the aisle. The rights of all are at risk when any group of people is singled out for excessive punishment by those in power.
These excessive charges should be recalled when anybody gets to thinking that incumbent Harris County DA Pat Lykos is somehow more moderate or reasonable than others who have held her office in recent years.
While we are all busy with the holidays, we cannot forget these Occupy patriots who are now facing serious jail time for charges that were at one point dismissed.
Now that we’ve hit national news, thanks to MSNBC, I believe it’s worth collating some pieces of reality together for anyone confused about the happenings of GULFPORT ACTION and #D12 here in the mighty H-Town.
The inspiration came from the first of recent port shutdowns in Oakland. In Houston, though less fierce, we were still interested in getting noticed. Interestingly, it may make for different news than we originally planned for (which is okay). For both Austin and Houston, on December 12th, Occupy Gulf Port day, arrestees were detained and jailed for “use of a criminal instrument” (according to legal record), something that didn’t get reported by Oakland or the other port occupations across the nation. The schedule for the day was set down like thus.
If you aren’t yet familiar with this “criminal instrument” in reference here, the tactic is called the “sleeping dragon.” Protestors on #D12 used this to stay chained (voluntarily) by PVC pipe, arm by arm, while laying down in the road. This way, they make it much harder to individually zip-tie and arrest in isolated fashion.
All things come to a close; in this case, the doors were literally closed. In the midst of the human mic loud at work, HPD officers block off the crowd from the people in the street and erect an inflatable red isolation room, as seen in this video. Interestingly, this was also the first example, at least in Houston, of the Police and Fire Dept working together to erect an inflatable tent (ah the irony). Why?
According to John Cannon, HPD Spokesman, it “was placed over the protesters to prevent sparks” while Houston Fire Dept. cut through the PVC links. Really? I feel like there’s more to it than that. This is a great tool for crowd control and privacy from the omnipresent electronic eye, determined to record every piece of the happenings of the day, bound to wind up on the internet for thousands to view and rally next to. It’s a shiesty method to block off news cameras–even the choppers in the sky had issues seeing in. I can’t help but remember Nov. 15th, the night #OWS got ousted from Liberty Square and the NYPD literally corralled the media crews to prevent them from seeing the whole scene. Hey, even a woman got punched that morning, after they already had a court order to come back into the park. I was listening to my police scanner app and tweeting until 3am CST. Continue reading
There was gunfire yesterday at Occupy Houston in Tranquility Park.
At first report, the gunman had nothing to do with Occupy Houston or with any ideological motive opposed to Occupy Houston or Occupy Wall Street.
Nobody was hurt except for the gunman who was wounded by Houston police.
Thank you to Houston police who risked their safety to apprehend the gunman. I hope the shooter gets the help he needs. The Houston Chronicle reported that he was 21 years old. I hope he can find his way at some point.
At Occupy Houston, there was still some press around in the evening after the shooting.
But the nightly general assembly went on as usual.
I was at Occupy Houston in the evening, but not at the time of the shooting.
Occupy efforts across the country are meeting in their home cities, and are sharing ideas online for the next round of the movement.
Please consider supporting Occupy as they speak on behalf of the 99%. We all have the ability to advocate and speak up for ourselves
A number of people were arrested at Occupy Houston last night.
They were arrested for having a tarp out in the rain and for jaywalking.
If members of Occupy Houston could come up with a lot of money and bundle it into large anonymous donations so as to legally bribe politicians, that would have been protected speech under the Citzens United case.
Also–correctly–protected by the Supreme Court are the anti-gay protests of the Westboro Baptist Church at military funerals.
In Houston however, the presence of a tarp during rain and jaywalking merits arrest.
It would be great to see conservatives speak up about the use of state power to stifle First Amendment protections.
The office of Houston Mayor Annise Parker released following on November 4—
“Here’s a statement Mayor Parker tweeted last night regarding Occupy Houston: “There has been misinformation spread regarding the Occupy Houston protests. We have not made plans to ‘evict’ the participants. The City and Occupy Houston have a working relationship to allow protesters to exercise their first amendment rights without endangering public health or safety”
Occupy Houston held a press conference this morning about the arrests and I attended.
I took some pictures at the press conference to run here on the blog.
Below—The press conference. Many Houston media outlets were interested in what had taken place.
Below—Two Occupy Houston participants being interviewed. In the background is a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King that reads—“Reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced“
Below—A member of the National Lawyer’s Guild speaking to the press. The Guild has been helping Occupy efforts across the nation with legal issues. The building is the foreground with the American flag on top is Houston City Hall. City Hall is dwarfed by the corporate tower in background.
My understanding is that the interactions with Houston police will be YouTube at some point soon.
Houston police officers are everyday working people no different from anybody else.
You can also find Occupy Houston, Occupy Wall Street and many other Occupy efforts on Facebook and on the web.
The placement of tarps and the actions of peaceful protesters were the most important things that Houston police had to deal with last night?
Occupy Houston protestors merit jail while the bank and financial executives who did so much to cause this recession with lies and fraud run free?
How can any person of any ideological viewpoint not be concerned with what is taking place with the arrests in a number of cities of Occupy protestors?
First it will be somebody else. Next time it will be you.
Pictures From The First Day Of Occupy Houston—Learn About The Occupy Effort On Your Own And Determine What You Think
Today I attended the Occupy Houston event in Downtown Houston.
(Update 10/7/11–Here is an update on day two of Occupy from the Houston Chronicle.)
Though Houston police estimated the crowd to have been about 200, I think the crowd was larger than that. It may have been closer to 500 at the beginning.
In any case, the event had some energy and it felt like a good start.
Houston police officers were helpful. They helped the march run well.
In Ohio, the Republican governor and the Republican state legislature essentially ended the right of police officers to collectively bargain. Police officers are working people just like anybody else.
If the Tea Party/Republican Party will mess with politically popular police unions, what chance do other working people have with wages and worker’s rights?
Below are some pictures I took of Occupy Houston —
Below are folks this morning organizing for the day ahead at Market Square Park.
From Market Square Park, people walked to the Chase building Downtown and rallied there for a time. Below are people at the Chase Building.
From the Chase building, people went to Houston City Hall. Below are folks in front of Houston City Hall.
Here again are Occupy Houston backers at Houston City Hall.
This fellow citizen you see below took the work of freedom and democracy into his own hands. This is the type of effort that reflects well on free citizens of any ideological leaning.
Below are some of the signs from Occupy Houston.
The plan is for Occupy Houston to camp out at Hermann Square in front of Houston City Hall.
Over time I imagine there will be public speakers and other events at that location.
What will constitute success for this effort?
This is not clear as of yet.
The Occupy Wall Street effort and other such efforts across the nation, have helped put issues of corporate greed and the declining condition of the American worker back on the table.
These are the issues we need to be discussing rather than more cuts and austerity.
Occupy Houston is taking donations to keep the operation going for the long haul.
There are also Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Houston pages on Facebook. There are Occupy pages for many cities on Facebook.
Take the time to look around the web for yourself to see where this cause is headed.
It may flame out or it may last for a long time.
From Bloomberg Businessweek–
“The Occupy Wall Street protests came to Washington today, as marchers gathered near the White House and President Barack Obama said the demonstrations are “giving voice” to frustrations with the financial system. “The American people understand that not everybody’s been following the rules, that Wall Street is an example of that,” Obama said at a White House press conference. He stopped short of endorsing the movement that began three weeks ago in Lower Manhattan and has spread to cities from Houston to San Francisco with the help of postings on Twitter and websites.”
Mother Jones magazine has a great interactive map of Occupy events across our great nation. This link also includes a timeline of the Occupy protests.
The issue is not resentment of the rich. The issue is the ability to get a good job in America. The overwhelming number of people in America just want to work and be able to earn a decent living.
The crowd in Houston today was good-natured and hopeful. The police were helpful. More passing motorists honked in support than yelled out something nasty.
If you are in the Houston area, go down to Hermann Square and see what is happening. Follow Occupy Houston on the web and on Facebook.
No matter where you are—You can learn about this movement on your own and determine what you think.
My own view is that it is great to have a possible counterweight to the Tea Party, and it is great that everyday people are getting involved in the work of taking back our country from big money.
The Houston branch of the NAACP will be holding a community meeting this evening–February 8– to discuss the video-taped beating of 15 year-old Chad Holley by some members of the Houston Police Department.
The Houston NAACP says—
“City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Houston Police Chief, Charles McClelland and District Attorney, Pat Lykos are invited to address the community’s concerns….”
I don’t know if these leaders are attending, but they have been invited.
The meeting will be held tonight at 7:00 PM at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Good Hope is located at 3015 North MacGregor Way in Houston.
Here is the web home of the Houston NAACP. The Houston NAACP also has a Facebook page.
The beating of Chad Holley is a matter of concern for people in Houston. What happens to one person can happen to anybody.
It is good that after many months the video of some Houston police officers beating up Chad Holley has finally been released.
(Update 2/8/11—The Houston NAACP will be holding a community meeting on this subject on 2/8 at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church at 3015 North MacGregor Way in Houston. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM.)
(Update 5/17-12—My reaction to the innocent verdict in the first Holley beating trial.)
The people of Houston have the right to see this video.
(Above–Frame from video of Chad Holley beating.)
Here is the link to the video. Also at this link is the reaction of Houston Mayor Annise Parker to the showing of the tape. Mayor Parker had not wanted the video to be released.
Mr. Holley, who was 15 at the time, has since the beating been convicted of burglary.
Mr. Holley had clearly surrendered to police when he was violently punched and kicked by Houston police officers.
Here is what Mayor Parker said after the video was shown for the first time on Houston television station KTRK—
“…. In fact, it will probably go worldwide. it is not reflective of the men and women who serve the city of Houston, that we took action to remove those officers immediately from the Houston Police Department and we will fight to keep those officers from ever coming back to the Houston Police Department”
Well…Maybe the tape does not reflect Houston police conduct. But there do seem to be a number of officers in the tape who were willing to behave in an unnecessarily violent fashion.
From that report—-
“Seven of the Houston police officers on the tape seen beating Chad Holley were fired for what the police chief saw… But in Houston, firing a police officer doesn’t always mean they stay fired…”
Most Houston police officers are good people and dedicated public servants. People owe police officers every measure of respect.
At the same time, citizens have the right to know when public employees are not doing the job they are paid to do in a correct fashion.
Mayor Parker was wrong from the start to oppose release of the tape.
The video may “go worldwide” as the Mayor says she fears, but she has had every opportunity since she became Mayor in 2009 to address the underlying social and economic conditions in Houston that help propel young people in our city towards crime.
To my recollection, the Mayor has never taken up that subject.
Let people see the facts as they are in Houston.
Public Servants And Right-Living Folks Need A Government Strong Enough To Protect Them From The Large Numbers Of Violent, Law-Breaking & Nutball Fellow Citizens
We hear often about that the people need protection from government.
We often hear this from folks who make use of government programs in their life, but who don’t want to pay for these programs and who don’t want others to be helped.
Such as—The disproportionately white, affluent and older membership of the so-called Tea Party movement.
In any case, the fact is that public servants often need to protected from the general public.
In today’s Houston Chronicle there is an article about Houston police officers writing tickets on the side of the road who are being struck by passing motorists.
From the article—
“Last year, 26 HPD units were struck by motorists, a 37 percent increase from the 19 incidents the year before, said Capt. Carl Driskell, who heads HPD’s traffic enforcement division. Driskell said two officers and a motorist were injured in the 19 incidents in 2008. In 2009, four officers and four motorists were injured in roadway crashes involving HPD vehicles. Drunken driving was involved in 17 of the 45 wrecks during the two years, he said. ”Just those two numbers would indicate we have a problem, and we have to educate the driving public,” said Driskell, who added there does not seem to be as big a problem on rural roadways. Last week, an HPD officer writing a ticket on a roadway was hospitalized after being struck by a tire that flew off an 18-wheeler. Police do not know if the vehicle was in the lane next to the officer, but they say the enforcement operation already was planned because of the growing number of incidents. In October 2007, Pct. 5 Deputy Constable Jason Norling, 38, had pulled over to issue a traffic citation when he was struck and killed by a distracted motorist.”
There is a law in Texas regarding this subject. Again from the Chronicle—
“The state law went into effect in 2003 and requires motorists approaching an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing to vacate the lane next to the vehicle or slow to 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
We all know that millions of our fellows in the general public are out there driving drunk, driving crazy, packing guns, shooting guns, ignoring jury notices, not voting in most elections, and cheating on their taxes.
Government officials and right-living persons need protection from these people.
I want a government strong enough to protect public servants and all the decent folks in our communities from all the nutballs and wacko people.
All people matter and have value, but there is no inherent virtue in the conduct of the people taken as a whole. Virtuous conduct comes from the personal decision to be a good person and a good citizen.
If Houston Can Find $24 Million For More Police, Maybe We Can Also Find Money For More Library Books
The City of Houston has somehow found $24 million dollars for more police and for more overtime for police.
If I suggested Houston find some extra money to give people health insurance or buy some more books for the library, I’d be told we don’t have the money.
I’d have somebody like the depressing, imagination-stifling Annise Parker, our City Controller, tell me to be “realistic.” She’d tell me we have to focus on what we can get done. That we must be “pragmatic.”
But we sure did find money for more police.
Maybe we need more police. Fine.
We need a lot of things in Houston.
Now let’s find money for health insurance for Houston residents, more books in the library, more and better parks and better wages for city employees.
Government and politics are at core about imagination. Let’s imagine something more than just a wild west city full of cops.
The above picture is of a police car of the Devon and Cornwall Police in England. It looks like a fuel-efficient Ford Focus. Maybe HPD could ditch the use of SUV’s and use these little cars instead. That would save some money.