Thanks for joining us for another edition of “On The Block Radio,” the show that takes a critical look at the criminal justice system.
On tonight’s show, we will speak with Seattle activist, Fern Renville, about John T. Williams.
On August 30, 2010, John T. Williams was shot and killed as he walked down a Seattle street. He was a well-known woodcarver in the Seattle area, and minutes before he was killed, he was holding a knife that was 3 inches long–less than the minimum length that a knife needs to be to be considered illegal to carry in public.
He was 50 years old, a Native American, homeless, deaf, and many people believe a fatality of police brutality. Aspects of the incident were captured by a police car video camera. (Video of parts of the incident can be seen HERE.) On that video tape are heard shots being fired only four seconds after Williams was directed to drop the knife he was carrying. And according to Fern Renville, a community member actively involved in bringing about justice in this case, a medical examiners’ report states that Williams appears to have been shot from the side, not from the front as one would have expected if he was lunging towards the officer with the knife.
An inquest into the case is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 10th.
Then, we will talk with Brandi Fisher of the Alliance for Police Accountability about Jordan Miles.
On January 12, 2010, Jordan Miles, an 18 year-old senior at CAPA high school in Pittsburgh, where he was an honor student, was beaten up by police as he walked to his grandmother’s house. Over the course of the attack, he was hit with a tree branch and patches of his neat locks were pulled from his hair, according to Brandi Fisher of the Justice for Jordan Miles Campaign and the Alliance for Police Accountability.
According to a statement published by Jordan Miles’ family and posted on the Justice for Jordan Miles Campaign website, the police officers jumped out of their car near Miles, yelling, “Where’s the gun, where’s the money, where’s the drugs?” Because the officers were in plain clothes and their car was unmarked, Miles did not immediately assume that they were cops. Instead, he thought he was being robbed and began to run. When the cops overtook him, he was beaten, arrested and subsequently charged with 2 counts of aggravated assault, loitering and prowling at nighttime, escape and resisting arrest. Although all charges were subsequently thrown out, his face was badly swollen and he faces permanent nerve damage, and according to Brandi Fisher, still struggles emotionally as a result of what happened that night.
The one year anniversary of his brutalization by police will be marked by a vigil at 7:00pm at the site of the police attack: Tioga and Rosedale Street in Pittsburgh.