Family of Denver Homeless Preacher Killed by Deputies Awarded $4.6 Million

Dale Heckerman

Large payouts by Denver sheriffs in deaths of two Black men is tied to race/class structure of U.S. – Editors

F194158894Another chapter of what is now being called the “American Horror Story” by Ferguson protestors recently unfolded in Denver on October 17, 2014. These are two quotes from “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman: “Denver has been plagued by a string of police brutality cases, and this week a federal jury awarded an historic $4.6 million to the family of a homeless preacher who died when sheriff’s deputies used excessive force against him. Marvin Booker was a homeless street preacher from a prominent family of Southern preachers. In 2010, he was killed by deputies in the booking room of the Denver jail.” “In July Denver agreed to pay $3.3 million to settle another federal jail abuse lawsuit by a former prisoner over a beating. It was the largest payout in Denver history to settle a civil rights case—until the Booker case, which the city refused to settle.” Booker’s death was ruled a homicide but the five deputies involved with his murder were not indicted.

The full details of this story are very involved, so I recommend reading the full transcript from “Democracy Now” referenced in the above link. Here I want to pursue the fact that Marvin Booker was a Black man, Denver’s Mayor is Black, Denver’s Sheriff is Black, and another Denver official who would have weighed in on this case, the Manager of Public Safety, is Black.

The following is a statement by Reverend Reginald Holmes, who is pastor of the New Covenant Christian Church/Alpha and Omega Ministries, past president of the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance: “I think it’s disingenuous of our community when we would hold white politicians accountable, but would somehow give black politicians a free ride, in that we don’t speak out, we don’t say anything, that somehow it becomes OK for things to continue as usual because the politician is black.” I believe this underlines the need for all of us, white, Black, Brown and other minorities to focus our attention on the inter-relationship of “class” and “racism” that has characterized capitalism from its origins and the role the state plays in integrating the two. (See especially Kevin Anderson’s Marx at the Margins.)

I want to end with a quote from a very powerful letter from Ferguson protestors taking matters into their own hands in the following open letter, “Ferguson Protestors & Allies Describe ‘American Horror Story’ They’re Experiencing in Open Letter”.

“We are living an American Horror Story.”

“The unlawful slaughter of black bodies by the hands of power has continued day after day, year after year, century after century, life by precious life, since before the first chain was slipped around black wrists.”

“Black youth, brimming with untapped potential, but seen as worthless and unimportant. Black activists, stalwart in pursuit of liberation, but perceived as perpetual threats to order and comfort. Black men, truly and earnestly clinging to our dignity, written off as the ravenous, insatiable black savage. Black women, always unflinchingly running toward our freedom, dismissed as bitter and angry after long denial and suffering.”

Read the entire letter here.


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