Police Brutality Activists Detained in Essex County Courtroom
Allowing police officers Gerald Fillipone, Frank Furfaro, Vincent DeFabrizio & Richard Chiarello indicted in the death of folklorist Santiago Villanueva a head start to escape community activists demanding their imprisonment Judge Harold W. Fullilove today detained the entire courtroom for 15 minutes after setting a Oct. 20 date to hear a motion for dismissal. Members of the People’s Organization for Progress, the Green Party of NJ, a representative of the Oct. 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality and family and friends of Santiago “Chago” Villanueva were ordered by the judge to remain in the courtroom while the police officers, their lawyers and supporters, including on woman dressed in a tee shirt that read, “ Bloomfield Police, Never a Doubt,” were allowed the leave the Essex County Courthouse building in Newark.
Gathering outside, the activists told the Spanish media outlets covering the case that the judge threatened them with being held in contempt of court if they disobeyed his order, then called for justice for Villanueva, the Dominican worker who suffered a seizure at work in Bloomfield and was killed when police responding to the call for medical attention reportedly sat on his chest and choked him.
Larry Hamm of the People’s Organization for Progress noted the tactics of delaying justice by comparing the case to the Early Faison case where police officers found guilty in December of 2000 have yet to face sentencing. Hamm promised that his group would remain vigilant on the case and gather before 9:00 am to oppose dismissing the case on October 20.
A statement distributed by the activist charged the police department with racism and called for continued protest about what they term brutality. “Their indictment by a Grand Jury of Second Degree Reckless Manslaughter is only the first step in our search for justice. As of this date they are free on bail. For them to be jailed we need to intensify our protests and be firm on the fact that over ten witnesses saw the abusive treatment that Chago was subjected to while he was suffering an epileptic seizure.” (read the full statement as .pdf "Why are Police Still Killing Immigrants and People of Color?")
Santiago "Chago" Villanueva
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