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Vol. 76/No. 16      April 23, 2012

New Orleans cops to serve
time for Katrina slayings
(feature article)
NEW ORLEANS—“It was a long struggle. It took over six years of continuing to fight for justice,” said Romell Madison, speaking to a rally called by the New Orleans NAACP on April 7. “Now we can finally say that the New Orleans police officers who killed my brother Ronald along with James Brissette, and shot the four others on the Danziger Bridge will spend time in jail for their crimes.”

Five former New Orleans cops were sentenced April 4 to prison terms for shooting six people on that bridge Sept. 4, 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and then organizing a cover-up of their crimes.

A federal jury here convicted the police officers Aug. 5, 2011. Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso and former cop Robert Faulcon were convicted of federal civil rights violations for killing 17-year-old James Brissette and shooting four others. Faulcon was found guilty of shooting 40-year-old Ronald Madison. Bowen was convicted for stomping Madison as he lay dying.

The officers also shot at Lance Madison and Jose Holmes and then tried to frame them for shooting at the officers, a claim proven false in the trial evidence and eyewitness testimony.

Faulcon got 65 years in prison; Bowen and Gisevius got 40 years each; and Villavaso 38 years. Retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, who led the coverup, which included fabricating witnesses, planting a gun and falsifying reports, got a six-year prison term.

Speaking at the sentencing, Lance Madison said to Kaufman, “You tried to frame me, a man you knew was innocent, and send me to prison for the rest of my life,” according to AP reports. Lance Madison was arrested and charged with attempted murder as his brother lay dying on the bridge. He spent three weeks in jail.

“It won’t bring our brother back,” Romell Madison told the rally of 75 people. “But the sentencing shows that if you organize, and if you stick with it, it’s possible to get some element of justice.”

“That’s my advice for the Sipp and Allen families here,” he concluded. “Don’t give up.”

Justin Sipp and Wendell Allen, both 20, were killed by New Orleans cops last month.

Allen was killed March 7 when police stormed his mother’s home. Officer Joshua Colclough shot him in the chest as Allen walked across the room in his pajamas. The cops tried to justify their actions by saying they had gotten a tip about drugs at the location.

Sipp was going to work at Burger King with his brother Earl before 6 a.m. March 1. Officers stopped their car, shot and killed Justin, and wounded Earl. Police now claim that the two young men were actually the shooters.

Jason Giroir, one of the officers who shot Justin, was forced to resign from the force last week over racist comments he posted online in response to a WWL-TV article about a rally supporting Trayvon Martin. He wrote, “Act like a Thug Die like one!” After another reader, Eddie Johnson, criticized his comment, Giroir wrote, “Eddie come on down to our town with a ‘Hoodie’ and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories.”

Relatives of the two young men, including Earl Sipp and Wendell Allen’s mother Natasha, spoke at the meeting, appealing for support.

Sipp told the Militant that he was fired from Burger King after he got out of the hospital. “They dismissed me because they said I would have a ‘negative impact’ on Burger King. My brother and I are the ones who got shot for trying to go work, and they say I’m the one with a negative impact!”

“I didn’t know going to work was a crime for young men, punishable by a death sentence dealt in the street,” Earl’s father told the Militant.

Both families participated in a rally March 31 of several hundred people demanding justice, said Natasha Allen.

Also speaking at the meeting were other victims of police violence, including Robert Goodman, whose brother Ronald was killed by the New Orleans police department’s SWAT team at the family’s home in the Algiers section of town in May 2006.

New Orleans NAACP President Danatus King Jr. urged everyone to build a march and rally for justice for Justin Sipp, Wendell Allen, and Trayvon Martin April 21 at 10 a.m., beginning at Louis Armstrong Park in Congo Square and marching to City Hall. “We have a victory this week as guilty officers are headed to jail,” he said. “Let’s carry this forward to get justice.”

Latoya Lewis, who attends Southern University here, told the Militant that she will encourage other students to join the April 21 protest. “I was part of the March 31 rally. It was powerful. Everyone could see our signs and hear our voices. People are still getting killed so we need to be out there demonstrating.”

Michael Fitzsimmons contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Prosecute vigilante for lynching of Trayvon!
Newburgh, NY family vows: ‘cops will answer for murder’
Protest called against Chicago cop killing
Keep marching, keep pressure on!
NYC police spy unit targets Black, other political groups  
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