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Black Community Rises in Struggle against Police Murder

by David Hungerford |
June 26, 2009
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Marching down residential street
Marchers in Newark (Fight Back! News/David Hungerford)

Newark, NJ - Community outrage has broken out in here over the May 15 police killing of Basire Farrell. Over 100 people turned out when the victim's family and the People's Organization for Progress (POP) sponsored a protest march and rally on May 23.

Farrell, 30, was apprehended by officers of Newark's notorious Fifth Precinct at 2:00 a.m. as he was on his way home. Witnesses say Farrell, who was black, was beaten by as many as seven police, all of them white, while he lay on the ground handcuffed. He was beaten so badly an ambulance had to be called and he died on his way to the hospital. Police authorities denied any wrongdoing by officers, but the community said otherwise.

Racheim Farrell, the victim's uncle, told the protest rally Farrell was “treated like an animal, handcuffed and beaten and beaten.”

Linda Farrell, an aunt, said, “He had a great sense of humor, he was a great athlete. He never set out to hurt anybody. They called him an animal but he was a human being. They gave Michael Vick 28 months. What are they going to give them?” After mentioning the police involved do not live in Newark, she charged that, “They bring them in here and they think we're animals.”

Sharonda Smalls, another aunt, has suffered serious illness recently. She spoke with difficulty due to stress, but in spite of it she said, “I want justice for my nephew. Police are supposed to serve and protect but instead they serve and kill. We’re going to fight and fight and fight and when we get justice we're still going to fight. They don't even have a reason why they arrested my nephew. I'm going to raise hell. I want the mayor and the City Council and the Police Department to know we're not giving up.”

Another speaker was Earl Williams, father of Earl Faison, who was killed by police in neighboring Orange, New Jersey in 1999. In an epic struggle, the family and POP fought for justice for more than four years and eventually five police officers went to prison for the crime. It was the first time in the history of New Jersey that police officers went to prison for killing a civilian. Mr. Williams told the rally, “They're going to turn the victim into the perpetrator. That's what they did to my family. I hate to say it but this family will go through the same thing. We never would have made it if not for POP.”

The rally marched to the nearby address where Newark Mayor Corey Booker is supposed to live, although residents say he is very seldom seen. At that point Emily Reid, who had heard an uproar on the street and opened her door to witness the beating of Basire Farrell, said, “People in the neighborhood need to open their mouths. In our country the color of your skin determines the kind of justice you receive. Get involved.” Police intimidation keeps many people from saying what they see, but Ms. Reid shows the right way to go.

The march then proceeded to the Fifth Precinct station house for a final rally. The struggle for justice for Basire Farrell will continue.