[R-G] Lackawanna Residents Speak Out
solrde at msn.com
Fri Sep 27 17:05:03 MDT 2002
Voice of Revolution - September 20, 2002
STATE TERROR IN LACKAWANNA
Residents Speak Out On
Police Terror in the Community
As part of the work to defend the rights of the people of Lackawanna, New
York, Buffalo activists and community members went door to door in the main
area where police raids took place. Speaking to many families of all
nationalities in the area and elsewhere, they provided numerous examples of
the terror imposed on the community by the FBI and police forces. Women and
youth were the most frequent targets. The terror of racist police profiling
was widespread. People of Arab descent, mostly from Yemen, bore the brunt of
On Friday night, September 13, when four of the arrests were made, whole
blocks in Lackawanna were cordoned off. Police and FBI, well-armed and
wearing bullet proof vests, sometimes with guns drawn, went door to door,
harassing and interrogating residents and often barging into their homes.
According to residents, police have been photographing young children and
youth and placing the photos into police data banks. Residents saw the
photos flash up on the computers in the state cars.
An elderly women reported that she answered the door to three large
flashlights shown in her eyes, with agents swarming into the house,
searching it and taking belongings, all with no warrant. Several other
families reported searches without warrants, with residents being forced and
frightened into giving "permission."
Another explained that a woman was at prayer in one house when agents barged
in, put a gun to her head and demanded information.
Another family said police broke down their door and ransacked the house
while they were away. When they returned, the husband, wife and children
A man explained how police surrounded the house he was in, then proceeded to
search it and interrogate him.
Others related the experience of another family. The family, with only women
and children home, saw an agent outside their home and went out to ask what
they wanted. The agent demanded information then quickly summoned over a
dozen more police to the scene. They insisted on searching the house. The
woman refused. She was then told they would do so by force. She insisted
that they had no right to interrogate her or her children. She succeeded in
working out a compromise where two agents came into the home for
interrogations. As in other cases, agents asked derogatory and irrelevant,
but emotionally hurtful, questions of the women.
One woman detailed how police had come into the community the Sunday before
the arrests were made and systematically searched backyards, without
permission and providing no explanations to residents.
Many explained how unmarked police vehicles have been in the area for
months, staying on various corners and cruising the community, contributing
to an atmosphere of uncertainty. Many also feel that their phones are tapped
and relate examples of being stared at and made to feel they are suspects by
the many police and officials in the community.
Given that thousands of people have been detained indefinitely on a racist
basis and that the FBI is now scouring the community for "co-conspirators,"
the continued racist profiling and branding everyone a potential terrorist
is extremely frightening, especially for the youth and young men. Add to
this the non-stop media harassment, especially of the young children and
high school youth, demanding "do you like to live with terrorists?" and
The fear and tension created for weeks in the community by the "covert"
police operation became open terror the night of the arrests and continues
now with the "public investigation" underway.
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