Friday, December 02, 2005

Police beat and jail Black and Muslim De Anza College students

(This post is being copied and pasted from an email forward. If you own the copyright and have concerns about the full text being published here, please email prisonsymposium at gmail dot come and it will be taken down accordingly.)

by Aman Mehrzai
Three of the Black and Muslim students shown here were later brutally
beaten and arrested.
Photos: tbg,
Muslim students of various hues were part of the protest.
These cops look hungry for action. Police from several jurisdictions
were present.
A Black student is thrown down and beaten by the police.
Another Black student is hauled off to jail. One white protester was
arrested, but only Blacks and Muslims were beaten and jailed.

Eight people were arrested, mostly college students, in a violent
protest against former Secretary of State Colin Powell Friday night.
Protesters gathered at De Anza College in the South Bay starting
Wednesday to kick off a three-day rally with visitors such as Cindy
Sheehan and Yuri Kochiyama present.

Chants such as, "Whose College? Our College. You get out," and "This
is what democracy looks like. This is what a police state looks like,"
were heard while police attacked and beat certain protesters.

Police have been accused of using racial profiling and excessive force
while arresting activists during the demonstrations.

Friday night's protest gained the most attention when protesters who
had not been there the previous days joined the rally, leaving damage
to police vehicles and school property in their wake. Police car
windows were smashed and symbols associated with anarchists were spray
painted on the back of some local media vans. The message, "Paris
Rising," was tagged on the back of one police bus.

In the process of dispersing the crowd, fully armed riot police in
multiple groups of 15 to 20 spread out and chased anyone who was
present, including reporters and legal observers. One group of riot
police moved the remaining crowd down the campus, pushing them through
bushes and assaulting them with their gear.

Another group of troops crossed the street into commercial property,
forcefully creating a corridor around the block in order to peruse and
arrest certain protesters they had spotted earlier in the crowd when
they were on their way to their cars.

Some of the protesters went inside a local coffee shop across campus
out of fear of the riot police who were quickly approaching them. "At
one point, the riot police surrounded the coffee shop, and one
undercover officer with an earpiece came inside and waited outside the
bathroom door and was staring at me when I was going in," said
protester Susan Barrientos. Barrientos is a Muslim convert who was
dressed in Islamic attire.

Some protesters who were arrested had previously been refused access
to their cars when they wanted to leave and were later beaten and
captured in plain view of many eyewitnesses and legal observers.

Out of seven of the protesters who were arrested outside of the Flint
Center, six were Muslims of Arabic and African descent. Some were
members of the Student Muslim Association.

"They [police] saw that we had the most energy and were not afraid of
them and were riling up the crowd," said De Anza student Hanni Zaki,
22, who was hospitalized for injuries to the head from police, who
stepped on his face and beat him with their batons. "They couldn't
stand that we were dressed in Palestinian and Arabic clothes and
weren't afraid of them.

"They wanted revenge, so they chased down every one of us who were
Muslim, until they could beat and arrest us. That's what they were
waiting for. That's why they wouldn't let me go to my car."

A member of De Anza Students for Justice, Mark Anthony Medeiras, asked
police for permission to go to his car and was allowed to leave
minutes before Zaki was beaten and arrested. Zaki, who parked in the
same garage as Medeiras, was refused access to his vehicle. And when
he asked how he was supposed to leave, he was told, "You should have
thought of that earlier," by one of the riot police, who leaned over
with his baton to start the attack by multiple officers.

De Anza student Abdul Kareem Al-Hayiek, 19, was chased by two officers
on their dirt bikes until they knocked him down and pepper sprayed him
in the face. Al-Heyiek began choking while officers jumped on top of
him; he soon after lost consciousness.

Another De Anza student, Aiman Eltilib, 17, who had just gotten out of
class that night, pleaded for the officer to get off of Al-Hayiek and
was also pepper sprayed in the face and told by an officer, "Do you
want to end up like him?" Eltilib responded by asking the officers to
let Al-Hayiek go, saying, "He didn't do anything."

The officer then put his left arm around the minor's neck and choked
his Adams apple with the fingertips of his right hand until he
collapsed to the ground. Shakir Eljurf, 19, who had attended the same
night class with Eltilib, walked towards his classmate in concern,
with books still under his right arm, when a third officer from behind
twisted his left arm behind his back without warning.

Suddenly, that officer was alarmed to find an angry mob pursuing them
from behind. All three were then quickly released, as the officers
retreated to take cover from the approaching mob.

Two other Muslim students, Mohammad Abdo, 23, and Adonnis Graves, 22,
ran towards the local media vans for safe haven after riot police hit
Graves in the face with a baton and forced him through a high bush,
only to be rescued by Abdo, who pulled him to safety.

The two nearly made it to the news reporters but were blocked off by
officers on motorcycles who told them to get off campus. They crossed
the street and walked through a public park to get to their cars,
where officers apprehended and arrested them both.

Elgrie Hurd, 24, an African American student from San Jose State
University was asked by officers to back off the edge of a street.
Although Hurd was complying, officers dragged him forward by his shirt
and arrested him in plain view. Many photographers took footage of the
incident. He was charged with battery on a peace officer and false
report of a bomb.

Protester Brian Helmle was the first to be arrested inside the Flint
Center earlier that night, during Powell's speech, and was charged
with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Helmle, who is 27,
stood up while Powell was speaking about the virtues of American
kindness and yelled out "Liar, liar, murderer, murderer," and blew his
whistle until officers carried him across the stands to arrest him.

Helmle, who later met with other arrestees, was shocked to find that
they were treated with such harshness and brutality and that he was
the only Caucasian to be arrested that night. "I think that this is
all about white privilege," said Helmle.

"I wasn't treated with any harshness whatsoever by the police. The
fact is that the eyes of the white crowd were on a white male doing
strange things inside. What happened to those outside in the protest
is ridiculous and racist. All they were trying to do was leave and get
to their cars. I was intentionally trying to get arrested."

Police released Helmle by 1 a.m. that same night without taking him
into custody. The seven others who were arrested outside the Flint
Center were taken into custody, including the minor Eltilib, and
detained overnight in harsh conditions. Al-Hayiek is the only one
still in custody awaiting an arraignment for bond.

In 1984, Santa Clara County was sued by the law offices of Carpenter
and Mayfield when police illegally detained a large number of
protesters at De Anza College during a demonstration against Ronald

One officer who was at the protests on Friday night said, "Although
profiling shouldn't happen, when certain people dress the way they do,
they become a target. It shouldn't happen, but the reality is that
when most officers see someone dressed in that kind of clothes [Middle
Eastern], they associate that with terrorism."

The officer said that they regularly attend terrorism training classes
and that many officers associate such garb with terrorists because of
the training videos they see in which "terrorists prepare themselves
for Jihad and martyrdom."

Multiple legal organizations are investigating the allegations that
police singled out the Middle Eastern and African American protesters
even though the majority of the violence was conducted by others.
Excessive force allegations will also be a focus of the

Email Aman Mehrzai of La Voz and the De Anza Muslim Student
Association at This story was written for La
Voz, the De Anza College student newspaper, and was also published by
South Bay Mobilization for Peace and Justice at
The Bay View thanks Junya for forwarding it. At, the story is posted with this note:

While the author's account of Friday night is more accurate than any
mainstream press coverage, it should be noted that the allegations of
rock throwing are as of now just that, allegations. It has been
established that someone, not an anrachist or a Muslim, was giving
out/throwing eggs. The difference between throwing an egg and a rock
is substantial both in motivation and legal consequence. No incidents
of rock throwing were directly observed by any of the demonstrators or
legal observers. In addition, it should be noted that the rally itself
was non-violent, and the alleged actions of a few should not be used
to characterize the intent of the many people who attended, chanted
and caused disruptions, which did not in any way threaten the safety
of either police nor the audience.


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