New Orleans cops assault Black man
Airing of video forces officers suspension
Cops beat 64-year-old Robert Davis, a retired school teacher, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans October 8. Brutal beating was caught on videotape by Associated Press Television News reporters. The AP producer on the scene was also roughed up by a police officer.
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
New Orleans police officers brutally beat Robert Davis, a 64-year-old man, in the French Quarter of the city October 8. Another cop roughed up an Associated Press Television News (APTN) producer for filming the assault. The videotape of the cops actions quickly hit television screens around the world. Three of the officers involved were suspended from the force without pay, after being charged with battery.
The incident is the latest example of police brutality and racism that working people in New Orleans were subjected to before, during, and after Hurricane Katrinaand then Ritadevastated the city. A number of cops were also involved in looting sprees, according to other video and eyewitness accounts.
The APTN tape shows a cop striking Davis, a retired New Orleans school teacher, at least four times in the head as he stood on Bourbon Street. Davis, who is Black, was dragged to the ground by four policemen who punched and kicked him in the face. The footage shows blood streaming down his body onto the sidewalk.
A fifth officer ordered APTN producer Rich Matthews and the cameraman to stop recording, reported the Associated Press. When Matthews held up his credentials and explained that he was working, the officer grabbed the producer, leaned him backward over a car, jabbed him in the stomach and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade.
The cops charged Davis with public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer, and public intimidation. After being treated for possible skull fractures at a hospital he was put in jail. Davis is suing the police department for his injuries.
The following day, three copsStuart Smith, Lance Schilling, and Robert Evangelistwere arrested and charged with battery. They were released on bond after their trial date was set for January 11, and suspended without pay.
In an interview aired October 11 on the ABC-TVs Good Morning America, Davis said that he was not intoxicated and never resisted arrest. I havent drank for over 25 years, he stated. Davis said he had returned to New Orleans to check on his familys property and had just asked a police officer about buying cigarettes. The cops responded by attacking him, he said.
I do remember there was a white lady in the crowd screaming, The man didnt do anything. The man didnt do anything. Stop! Davis told the ABC news program. I would like to thank her for her intervention.
State authorities announced October 7 they were investigating allegations that New Orleans cops looted a car dealership, taking nearly 200 carsincluding 41 new Cadillacsas Hurricane Katrina approached, AP reported.
Stacy Rosa, a paramedic from Columbus, Ohio, traveled to Louisiana to help out after Katrina hit.
One of the worst experiences I had was being assigned to respond to 911 calls at a police station in New Orleans, Rosa told Militant reporters in an October 1 interview. An emergency call would come in and we would jump up to go but the cops wouldnt let us. They would say it was after curfew or it was too dangerous. We knew what we needed to do but they wouldnt let us.
Rosa described how cops would walk into the police station with garbage bags full of cigarettes and liquor, They would brag about how they got the stuff, she said. It was sick.
Workers who stayed in the city said some police were looting unoccupied homes, CNN reported. At the Amerihost Inn and Suites, where cops were stationed during the storm, hotel owner Osman Khan said he saw police steal a generator from Tulane University Hospital next door. As part of their looting spree, a group of eight cops would leave [at] 9 or 10 at night and come back 4:30 in the morning with everything from Adidas shoes to Rolex watches, Khan told the news agency.
Meanwhile, it has now become clear that some working-class neighborhoods of the city, like the Ninth Ward, were so heavily flooded and polluted that they may have to be razed entirely. As of October 7, the confirmed death toll in Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina is 1,021 state officials said. Of these only 93 have been publicly identified. More than 200,000 homes have been destroyed in the city of New Orleans alone.
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