Rest In Power Michael Marshall – The Latest Victim of Denver Police Violence

From Revolution News:

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The Denver Sheriff Department has murdered again. Michael Marshall passed away as a result of injuries sustained at the hands of Denver sheriff deputies around 6:30pm on November 20, 2015, after over a week on life support.

What does a community do in the absence of official channels to seek justice? What does a community do in the face of killers who operate with impunity—backed by the State? Killers who, to add insult to injury, pass on the monetary and emotional costs of their brutality to the very city they brutalize.

This is the challenge facing some communities in Denver, and many communities across the United States. But it’s a challenge they’ve faced before.

In 2010, Denver sheriff deputies pummeled, tasered, and beat Marvin Booker to death in the Denver jail. Why? Booker was a 50-something, Black, slender, unhoused, and beloved street preacher, who dealt with mental health challenges, and he didn’t want to give up his shoes.

Marvin Booker wasn’t a threat. He wasn’t violent. And he didn’t need to be separated from his shoes, which were one of his only possessions.

But in the milieu of discipline and punishment, control of bodies, and the breaking of human spirits, Denver sheriff deputies used such force to separate Booker from his shoes that he subsequently died.

Nobody was reprimanded. Nobody was held to account. If you spend time in Denver’s jail today you may be held under guard by some of the same people who murdered Marvin Booker.

Ultimately, it was Denver taxpayers who forked over some recompense as they had to cover the $6 million payout made to Booker’s family.

So goes the cycle of brutality, impunity, and taxpayer burden. And now it begins anew, with a strikingly similar case of brutality to the one that stole Marvin Booker’s life. Michael Marshall, a 50-year-old, Black, unhoused, slender man, who also described himself as a street preacher and dealt with mental health challenges, lost his life at the hands of Denver sheriff deputies trying to restrain him.

Why they were trying to restrain him isn’t entirely clear, but reporting from the Colorado Independent indicates that video footage shows Marshall posed no physical threat to the officers who killed him.

After over a week on life support following his beating at the hands of three deputies, Marshall passed away.

His killers remain unidentified and will likely receive little more than a paid vacation as a result of their actions. But one thing is for sure—the community of Denver will respond.

Following Booker’s killing hundreds of Denverites took to the streets in multiple protests. Marshall’s killing will likely prompt a similar response.

Indeed, concerned citizens already rallied for a press conference and a chance to mourn with family outside the jail in which Marshall was killed.

My question: Isn’t an even stronger response warranted?

At what point does Denver rise up as we’ve seen Baltimore, Ferguson, and other cities in the face of routine police violence? And who will throw the first brick, stone, or Molotov cocktail?

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Because something needs to change.

And in spite of recommendations from independent parties, and a newly appointed sheriff, the jail’s use of force policy remains the same. And now it has again led to the killing of a harmless Black man.

Michael Marshall’s killing happens at the intersections of oppression: Racism, classism, and ableism. A paranoid schizophrenic who may or may not have been able to recognize commands coming from sheriff deputies or police officers, Marshall was held on a bond of only $100 for an alleged minor offense.

If our inJustice System wasn’t racist, classist, and ableist, Michael Marshall would’ve never found himself trapped within the cold concrete halls of the Denver jail where he would be murdered.

If our inJustice System wasn’t structured around the control of bodies, using violence to instill docility, and compelling people to follow rules structured to protect elite interests through arbitrary discipline, Michael Marshall would still be alive.

If our inJustice System truly presumed the innocence of those forced through it, nobody would sit in jail over a $100 bond, and Michael Marshall would still be alive.

If our inJustice System was designed for the people who are most-often forced through it, then it would offer them services to improve their situations, not Tasers and violence, and Michael Marshall would still be alive.

It’s long past time for this to change. What will we do to make sure that happens?

Another world is possible, but it will only come if we fight for it. So, Denver, rise up. Fight for Marvin. Fight for Michael. Fight for all those who came before them, in the hope that fewer will come after.

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Repression in Denver

Defend Denver:

Over the last year there has been a strong resistance to police murder and terror across the city of Denver. This is only the most recent surge in resistance to police terror in our city, going back to the loss of Paul Childs in 2003 or more recently Marvin Booker in 2010.

Denver Police have been systematically targeting and arresting those actively involved in this organizing. Denver Community Defense Committee, a group which has organized extensive support for families of people murdered by police, has five of its seven members under prosecution or known to be under investigation by the Gang Unit of DPD. Prominent independent journalists, those with an expansive reach through social media, have been targeted and arrested while filming the police in Denver.

At a rally outside the statewide conference of Chiefs of Police on July 20th it was observed that DPD had a handbook with names, photos and details on local organizers or participants in demonstrations against the police. DPD has a history of this type of behavior with the “Denver Spy Files,” (http://articles.latimes.com/2002/sep/10/nation/na-spies10) where local law enforcement had kept files on those involved in social movements for decades. While it was found to be illegal by a federal court to compile such files on community organizers and activists, and while DPD settled with the ACLU and promised to cease politically motivated surveillance, it appears that they have picked up the practice once again.

Since Friday, August 7 at least three organizers in Denver have been visited at their residences by Denver Police officers. DPD has been asking for people by name and snooping around their homes. At least two activists have found out that police officers tried to enter their residences, without a warrant, while they were away from home. Others who have pending legal cases have had more charges added, many months later with no additional evidence, by the office of Mitch Morrissey, Denver District Attorney. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that after demonstrations were held in front of Morrisey’s home to protest his failure to indict killer cops, his office is maliciously adding false charges against police brutality protesters. There was also a petition to recall Morrisey as DA that garnered 20,000 signatures, a petition supported by the same protester community he is now targeting.

This morning two activists who have been targets of this harassment from DPD were taken into custody. A month ago they were detained while they were walking down the street and given a request to appear with a detective for an interview. They then were notified they were to be interviewed by the Gang Unit. Last Friday 8 officers came looking for them at a previous address. Today they chose to turn themselves in and are currently being held awaiting booking and the setting of bond. Please contribute to their bond fund at: Denver Anarchist Black Cross Bail Fund

Knowing your rights does not ensure that the police honor them. They do not care. They are legally allowed to lie to you, and will lie to you. However knowing your rights and methodically going through them might help you in your interacting with the police and might help you later if you end up having to go to court.

  • Anything you say will be held against you. Do not answer questions. Do not talk to the police.
  • If police come to your door, you do not have to let them into your house if they do not have a search warrant. You do not have to answer any questions. You can exercise your right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney. Videotape them from inside your home.
  • If you are stopped on the street ask if you are being detained. If the answer is no, ask if you are free to leave. If the answer is yes that you are free to leave, leave immediately. Get as far away as you can, call friends and comrades who you trust.
  • If the police are searching your belongings or home, say out loud “I do not consent to this search.” Keep repeating “I do not consent to a search without a warrant.” It will not stop them from searching necessarily but it may impact what is admissible in court.
  • If they do have a warrant ask to see it(they can show it through the screen or glass, or slide it under the door) verify that it has been signed by a judge. Make note of the items listed on the warrant of what they are allowed to search. If they attempt to search or take any additional items say out loud that you do not consent to items being searched that are not on the warrant.

Let’s keep our heads up and hearts strong. And remember always, Mitch Morrissey’s dog is an anarchist.

If you are an organizer or activist being harassed, detained or have officers come to your home let folks know at defenddnvr@gmail.com and people can be in touch as quickly as possible! 

Repression only makes us stronger! Haters make us love harder!