The Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter Coalition was relieved to find out that justice is being served for the brutal attack of Kevin Moore, a former inmate at Downstate Correctional Facility. The five officers are charged with violating Moore’s civil rights, and two have already plead guilty, for beating him with a baton, pulling out his dreads, kicking him, and then blatantly trying to cover it up.
We know that excessive violence in prisons by law enforcement is rampant. Just two miles from Downstate, Samuel Harrell was brutally murdered by up to 20 corrections officers at Fishkill Correctional Facility. It is so severe that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who announced the charges, stated “Excessive use of force in prisons, we believe, has reached crisis proportions in New York State.” This violence: physical, verbal, mental, emotional, is well documented in interviews by the Correctional Association, where incarcerated men and women detail the cruel attacks and extreme racism they witness in prison.
Most of time no one is held accountable when members of our black community are brutalized and killed at the hands of the state. This well known pattern is part of why Moore’s case is important. Moore’s case sets the precedent that officers can and will be held accountable for violent crimes.
Now HVBLMC would like to see justice for Samuel Harrell. Although Samuel Harrell was killed on April 21, 2015, and his death ruled a homicide, no charges have been brought against his assailants. These officers, known to inmates at the Beat Up Squad, are still on duty. We believe that the Beat Up Squad should be immediately suspended and that they should be charged with murder.
The recent murders of our black community members Tyre King (Columbus OH), Terrance Crutcher (Tulsa OK), Keith Lamont Scott (Charlotte NC) and Alfred Olango (San Diego CA) by police are deeply connected to our experience here in the Hudson Valley. In the multiple prisons located around this area, the targeted violence black people face everyday only concentrates.
Watching the news or going on social media has become a blur of one fatal gun shot after another. We cringe as we see the videos and news clips of our family dying on the streets while their murderers go free. We urge people to join the Movement for Black Lives to change this story and end the violence that black people are facing. All across the country we are rising, and we will not stop until #BlackLivesMatter.