BY DEAN PEOPLES
SEATTLE - "What do we want?" yelled Oscar Eason, of the Seattle NAACP. "Justice!" came the loud response from nearly 200 people who rallied at Denny Park April 3 to protest police brutality in the death of yet another Black man in police custody, Michael Ealy. Ealy died, Eason said, while being restrained by Seattle police as he was driven to a hospital in an ambulance. An inquest has ruled that police did not use "excessive force."
The Seattle protest was part of a National Day of Protest Against Police Violence called by the NAACP to demand justice for Amadou Diallo in New York, and other victims of police brutality.
"Michael was a loving and caring person, and he was my best friend," Keith Lowe, Ealy's cousin, told the rally. "He was not a criminal, not a suspect; he did not deserve to lose his life. Enough is enough! Justice must prevail!"
Martin Lawson, another cousin of Ealy's, explained that Ealy had asked police for help that night, and that cops had said he was drunk.
Rev. John Wyatt chided the local big-business media for trying to turn Ealy "from a patient to a perpetrator." The "police used excessive force," said Wyatt. "He did not die due to clogged arteries or cocaine. Too many others have died in police custody."
Jackie Larrienzar, an immigrant rights activist, pointed out the recent acts of brutality, arrests and firings of Latino immigrants in eastern Washington State by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). "Police are targeting anyone who looks Latino," she said, "including Native Americans and African immigrants." Larrienzar said her group is bringing a resolution into the Seattle City Council to halt city cooperation with recent INS activities.
Norma Kelsey presented greetings on behalf of the King County Labor Council Executive Board. "We attended the inquest," said Kelsey, "What happened to the police motto `protect and servé?" Ealy was alive when he was picked up by police and put in the ambulance, but he ended up dead at Harborview Hospital, she said. "We know what it means today to be Black, Native American, or Latino. It's a question of which side are you on."
The rally, chaired by Rosalinda Aguirre from Jobs With Justice, also heard José Perry, from Carpenters Union, District 44, Will Perry, for Puget Sound Senior Citizens Council, and Harriet Walden, from Mothers for Police Accountability, who sponsored the rally.
Walden said her group wants President William Clinton to hold up funding for police departments that brutalize people. "We don't need 100,000 more cops," said Walden.
Dean Peoples is a member of the International Association of Machinists.
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