Three-hour standoff between cops in riot gear and Queens residents after drug bust
A drug bust outside a Queens housing project erupted into a tense three-hour standoff Friday night as dozens of angry residents marched on the 113th Precinct and cops in riot gear stood guard over their stationhouse. Shocked witnesses said police officers pounded on brothers Raynard Fields, 27, and Corey Crichlow, 33, outside the Baisley Park Houses during the 7:45 p.m. arrest on Foch Blvd.
“The cops came up to the car and dragged (Crichlow) out and started beating on him,” said witness Gary Frazier, 22. “When (Fields) tried to calm the situation down, they beat him down. Cops came from everywhere.” About 50 incensed residents protested the arrest and what they call a pattern of brutality by the NYPD by marching down Guy R. Brewer Blvd. to the Baisley Blvd. stationhouse.
They ran through the streets, knocking garbage cans over during their 6-block trek, witnesses said. “I am sick of the 113th Precinct harassing the young black men in the Baisley projects,” said marcher Kathy Moore, 40. Cops responded to the impromptu protest in riot helmets and batons, forcing protesters onto the sidewalk. “They were wilding out here,” livery cab driver Danny McLennon, 42, said of the residents. “The cops shut down Guy Brewer Blvd. Not even the buses could get through.” More cops in riot gear met protesters at the 113th Precinct, where Fields was being treated inside an ambulance parked next to the stationhouse.
Sources said he suffered a deep gash to his face during the brawl. He was expected to be taken to a hospital, a relative said. Police sources said officers spotted Crichlow with drugs, but he swallowed them as they approached. The officers were arresting Crichlow when Fields interjected and a fight broke out, sources said. At least one officer was injured in the fight and was taken to an area hospital with neck and back injuries. Other cops had to evade a barrage of garbage and bottles that witnesses were throwing at them. “(Residents) were throwing things from windows,” a police source said. According to court records, Crichlow did two years in prison after being convicted on drug charges in 2001.
He’s currently engaged to a correction officer, family members said. But the Rev. Richard Hogan, the respected pastor of the Divine Deliverance Ministry in Jamaica and the uncle of Crichlow and Fields, said Crichlow is always being stopped by the police. “My nephew was driving a gray Chrysler with tinted windows when he was stopped on this occasion,” said Hogan. “(Cops) said they thought they saw him make a transaction. They didn’t find anything on him.” Hogan said officers had pulled Crichlow out of the car when witnesses ran to get Fields, who was playing basketball nearby. “Raynard was still 80 yards away when he was pushed down by a police officer,” Hogan said.
“He’s a polite kid, never had a problem with police, he was just running over to see what happened to his brother and he was attacked.” Crichlow’s cousin said she tried to record the arrest, but a cop snatched her phone. “(Cops) were kicking (Crichlow) in the face, stomping him, leaning on him with their knees,” said cousin Tyniera Hogan, 32. “He was trying to get up, but they kept pushing him back down . . . it didn’t look like he was resisting.” Hogan said Crichlow was taken to a hospital with bumps and bruises. “Some officers don’t have the respect to serve,” Hogan said of the cops who arrested his nephews and sparked the outrage. “Kids got mad and the community got mad.” Police said no arrests were made at the stationhouse. Charges against Crichlow and Fields were pending.
Protests erupt in Brazil after landowner Jose Rodrigues Moreira is acquitted in Amazon activists murder case
A Brazilian landowner accused of ordering the murder of two activists who campaigned against illegal logging and evictions in the Amazon has been acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Jose Rodrigues Moreira was said to have hired two hit men to shoot Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria in 2011 after they opposed the eviction of three families who lived on his farm.
The two men who carried out the killing, Lindonjonson Silva Rocha and Alberto Lopes do Nascimento, were found guilty and both sentenced to more than 40 years in jail. But the majority decision by seven jurors to clear Moreira sparked angry protests outside the court in Marabá, Pará state, where powerful landowners have often been able to kill enemies with impunity.
Activists had hoped the case would prove to be a watershed moment in Brazil, where dozens of activists are murdered each year, after President Dilma Rousseff ordered a Federal Police investigation. Instead, friends and fellow activists left the courtroom in tears. Outside, around 100 campaigners waved wooden crosses and chanted while others defaced the court building with red hand prints.
Other threw stones at riot police and blocked a stretch of the Trans-Amazon highway. Mercedes Queiroz, a friend of the couple, told Al Jazeera English: “Everyone is upset with the verdict. Once more there is a feeling that impunity reigns in the Amazon region.” The couple, who had been campaigning in the Amazon for decades, were gunned down on a bridge near a jungle reserve in Nova Ipixuna, where they taught farmers how to use the land sustainably.
After the murder, other farmers also received threats and Brazil’s National Security Force was brought in in order to protect them. Ten people had to be evacuated, including five children.
Thousands of teachers protest in Mexico against reforms
Tens of thousands of teachers in two major Mexican states have staged protests to oppose the new educational reforms imposed by President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government. The rallies took place on Wednesday in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca in the southern parts of the country. Union leaders say that the government-imposed reforms will lead to students having no guarantee of free public schooling, and that the education system is turning into a business. Local media reported that in the Guerrero capital of Chilpancingo de los Bravo armed teachers with stones, sticks and tomatoes entered four radio stations and attacked headquarters of the state congress.
Meanwhile, in the state of Oaxaca, reportedly tens of thousands of members from the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) blocked the entrances to shopping malls and declared the reforms as a part of the “privatization of education in Mexico.” Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed an education reform into law on February 25, which moves the control of the educational system from the teachers’ union to the federal government.
The new law allows teachers to be hired on the basis of professional qualities, rather than by the designation of unions. There have also been reports of teaching positions being sold or inherited by the unions. This comes as Nieto warned on Wednesday that the government “will not allow setbacks in the implementation (of the reform) or any attempt to pressure or jeopardize the initiative.” Further protests are planned by the teachers’ unions, who are calling for the occupation of public buildings.
Mexico breaks up teachers’ blockade of highway
ACAPULCO, Mexico Hundreds of federal police forced protesting teachers off the main highway between Mexico City and Acapulco Friday after the demonstrators blocked the roadway for hours, causing a huge traffic backup. The teachers were protesting an educational reform that will submit them to evaluation and loosen union control over hiring and firing. Teachers had blocked the four-lane highway at least twice for before, starting in March.
A photographer on the scene said helmeted police with shields pushed into the crowd of teachers, who fought back with pointed staves. Police responded with tear gas. Deputy Interior Secretary Manuel Mondragon told local media that four police officers had been injured, none seriously. Mondragon told the Milenio television station that the police did not used guns during the operation, but that protesters had gasoline bombs, sticks and staves.
The government of Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, said in a statement that traffic was flowing freely on the highway by late Friday. Gov. Angel Aguirre had previously held talks with the protesters, and asked them to stop blocking highways because of the damage it was doing to the tourist resort.
During previous blockades, some Acapulco-bound tourists had cancelled hotel rooms and vacation plans because of the highway blockades. Hotel owners and business groups had filed legal complaints against the teachers because of the lost income.
Farmer bodies protest arrests, ‘Punjab govt repression’
Protesting against mass arrests in March — ahead of the proposed protest by farmer union — a state-level rally was organised by Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and Khet Mazdoor Union in Barnala on Friday. Farmers had gathered in Fatehgarh Channa village, where they had started their protest against land acquisition, a few years back.
The farmers announced they would protest against the ‘repressive’ attitude of the state, because last month, the government had arrested more than 2,500 farmer union leaders against their proposed rally in Chandigarh regarding their pending demands. Union chief Sukhdev Singh Khokri Kalan said, “We are against the Centre and state government regarding the land sealing act and also oppose the decision of the state government that village panchayats need to give 5-acre land to private schools in their respective villages,” Kalan said.
Israel police clash with Palestinian protesters injuring 35
Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators injured 35 people on Friday, Palestinian sources said, as protests sparked by the death of a Palestinian in an Israeli jail went on for a fourth day. Around 10 demonstrators suffered minor injuries when police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a protest in the Issawiya neighbourhood of annexed Arab east Jerusalem, an AFP correspondent reported.
Police made three arrests, a spokeswoman said. In the Hebron area of the southern West Bank, 19 Palestinians were wounded, medics said. North of Ramallah, four Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, while a fifth was injured at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. One Israeli soldier was slightly hurt by a stone near Ramallah, an army spokeswoman said.
Herders face eviction from ancestral lands to make way for Dubai hunting firm
Tanzania announced last week it plans to evict 30,000 Maasai herders from a hefty swath of their ancestral lands in order to create a game reserve offering exclusive access for a Dubai-based hunting company. Maasai activists say the proposal, which reduces their space here by 40 percent, will destroy their traditional cattle-herding livelihood.
But their attempts earlier this week to hold a mass protest fell apart — causing Maasai women to organize their own sit-ins, with as many 1,000 camping out in one town. The government says the corridor is a necessity for conservation in the northern Loliondo region bordering the Serengeti, and charges that Maasai cattle are overgrazing the land. The Maasai once ranged across northern Tanzania and southern Kenya, following seasonal rains with their cattle. But over the years they have slowly been fenced into a few areas like Loliondo.
Now, they could be losing some of that land, too. According to the proposal, they would be locked out of the planned corridor, while Ortello Business Corp. (OBC), a Dubai-based hunting outfit that has operated in Loliondo since 1992, would be granted access. Maasai tribe members resent the prospect of soldiers and foreigners roaming fenced-off pastureland. During a 2009 drought, violence broke out between Maasai and the OBC staff, who reportedly burned houses and livestock.
An attempt this week at a mass protest rally, where some 50 local politicians threatened to resign from office, ultimately fell apart. The local politicians reneged on their promise to resign and local police outlawed public gatherings in the district, scaring many people away.
Trucks of soldiers dispersed many of the demonstrators. “I lost my faith in my government,” said one local woman, Napano Koyan. Maasai women, dressed in traditional red shukas with shining jewelry, are now resisting on their own. Defying both the ban on gatherings and the patriarchal Maasai culture, by midweek they began holding small sit-ins under wiry acacia trees in villages across Loliondo, where they debated whether they should go to court or march on OBC’s camp.
Soldier killed in guerrilla attack in southeastern Peru
A soldier was killed and another was injured Friday in an attack by snipers of the Shining Path guerrilla group against an Army brigade counterterrorism in the province of the Convention, department of Cusco (Southeast), informed the Joint Command of the Armed Forces.
“The sniper attack terrorists struck at 13H00 local (18H00 GMT) on Friday against the 33 Brigade Army counterterrorism district Echarate, Cusco,” the statement said. Consequently died from gunshot wounds Sózimo Army Sergeant Morales was injured Malpartida and Huaycana Sergeant Wilson, the report added.