Sep 4, 2017
On August 25th, a Michigan State Police officer, “pursuing” a young teenager driving a toy car – an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) – aimed his Taser gun out the window of his car and fired. The electric shock and barbed hook of the Taser hit Damon Grimes, the 15-year-old. Seconds later the ATV crashed into a parked truck and Damon Grimes died soon after from blunt-force head injury.
According to a Michigan State Police spokesperson, the entire encounter between the officer “pursuing” and Damon took 49 SECONDS! For a cop to act like that, it is likely that he had been doing it and getting away with it in the past. Only this time, the response of the population brought the situation to light.
The state police officer, Mark Bessner, has had two separate excessive force lawsuits filed against him in three years – both involving Tasers. The officer is on paid leave, suspended for violating a state policy forbidding firing a Taser from a moving vehicle. Following the usual police tactic of dragging things out, the State Police, the Detroit Police and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office all say they are “investigating.”
Hundreds of Damon’s classmates, family, and friends gathered on Detroit’s east side for a candlelight vigil on August 30th. Senior citizens, adults, and children came out to honor him. But what began as a vigil ended up stopping traffic on Gratiot Avenue. When about 20 young people came out on their own ATV’s, a police car charged to the scene. The crowd surged and two men jumped on the squad car. Police made no arrests and backed off.
Mourners chanted, “It’s not right!” and “Power to the people!” Said one speaker, “The only way we gonna be able to beat it is if we organize.”
Yes, neighborhood by neighborhood, determined and relentless organizing is the only thing that CAN change the situation. Let it begin!