Burning Spear News
Police take murder victim's brother from middle school class to intimidate
Fourteen-year-old Keon Dawson and his mother, Ollie Godfrey
ST. PETERSBURG, FL — On Tuesday, September 3, just three months after witnessing his 17-year-old brother’s murder by St. Petersburg cop and battle scarred, Iraq war veteran Terrence Nemeth, 14-year-old Keon Dawson was subjected to more abuse as he was taken from his class at Meadowlawn Middle School.
Keon was detained and subjected to search of his person and locker as a result of authorities’ claim that they got a tip from an “agency” that he had a gun. Even after it was clear that Keon didn’t have a gun, he was interrogated further alone with one cop who attempted to have him say he had a gun.
This is only the latest in a series of attacks against witnesses to the June 7 police murder of Javon Dawson. Several young witnesses who courageously came forward to testify to what they saw that night have been steadily harassed, intimidated, threatened and attacked by police. The parents of some of them have contacted the Uhuru Movement to report that the police have been phoning and coming to their houses to pressure their children to make statements to validate the police cover-up.
The police department, the state attorney’s office and some representatives of the media have explained witnesses’ hesitancy to make statements to the police as due to a so-called “no snitch culture.” In fact, the deep rift between the law enforcement agencies and the African community is a result of the ruthless code of intimidation and hostility carried out by the police department, sheriff’s department and state attorney’s office against the African community.
This popular police practice of violating the law to attack African people and then lying to cover-up their actions, was exposed by some media on August 21, 2008 when they reported the suspension of two St. Petersburg Police officers for illegally towing and defacing a memorial to Javon and then lying about it in their official reports.
In fact, the two cops, Courtney Zak and George Lofton, initially reported that they had towed the memorial and scraped the posters of Javon Dawson because it was a “community hazard.” After a citizen filed a complaint with photos of the police actions, the officers admitted to an internal affairs investigation that they acted because “they did not agree with the posters’ message.”
If the police lied in their reports to cover-up their illegal destruction of the Javon Dawson memorial, why should anyone believe the reports they have constructed about the night of Javon’s execution?
In a press conference on Wednesday, September 3, Uhuru Movement representative Kobina Bantushango stated, “These tactics will not work. The Justice for Javon Dawson Committee will not take a single step back. We continue to demand an unbiased, independent, transparent investigation into the execution of Javon Dawson.
“We do not believe that the FDLE investigation ordered by Governor Charlie Crist will be unbiased or fair. We know that Governor Crist, State Attorney McCabe, Mayor Rick Baker, the FDLE, the Sheriffs Department and the St. Petersburg Police Department work hand in hand to carry out a policy of heavy-handed policing designed to terrorize the African community.”
Cover-ups of police murders of Africans in Florida unspoken policy
UhuruNews.com learned that Bernie McCabe, Rick Baker, former Sheriff Everett Rice and current Sheriff Jim Coats were on Charlie Crist’s “transition team” for his role as Governor.
There are also close connections between Bernie McCabe, the FDLE and the key forces that orchestrated the cover-up of the brutal murder of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, beaten to death by guards at a Bay County Florida boot camp. Charles Siebert, the Medical Examiner who lied in his report stating that Anderson died because of a sickle cell anemia trait was the Pinellas County Medical Examiner under Bernie McCabe until 2003.
The head of the FDLE which conducted the official investigation of Anderson’s murder was Guy Tunnell. Tunnell was himself the founder of the boot camp where Anderson was murdered, responsible for hiring and training the guards that beat Anderson to death. Tunnell was also on the advisory board of Drug Free America, formerly known as the Straight Foundation, which has many lawsuits against it for its repeated abuses against young people who were part of the program.
The Straight Foundation was headed by Mel Sembler, who is the owner of BayWalk in St. Petersburg and a major campaign donor to George W. Bush, Charlie Crist and Rick Baker. Tunnell was fired from heading up the FDLE after the exposures in the Martin Lee Anderson case but has since been hired as an investigator for the Bay County State Attorney’s Office at $72,000 a year.
There is also the police murder of 18-year-old TyRon Lewis on October 24, 1996. TyRon was unarmed and murdered by St. Petersburg police officer James Knight who was with Sandra Minor. Knight shot Lewis with three shots of five fired during a traffic stop. The confrontation lasted 55 seconds violating police policy that a gun cannot be fired until all means have been exhausted.
Knight lied, saying he was “bumped” by the car driven by Lewis, which was disputed by witnesses and evidence that the car being driven by TyRon Lewis posed no threat. Witnesses also said that Lewis had his hands up. In 2001, Knight was suspended for three days after lying in his report claiming that he was “rammed” by a car in order to justify a police chase of the vehicle.
Then there is the brutal execution of 17-year-old Marquell McCullough in May of 2004 by Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies in a hail of 19 bullets. Marquell was unarmed and was shot through his car window. The deputies later admitted that Marquell was not even the person who they were looking for.
Such conduct is rewarded, to reinforce the policy of heavy-handed police aggression against African people. The murderers of Marquell, deputies David Antolini and Nelson DeLeon, were given exceptional service awards almost a year to the day after the murder. In fact, David Antolini was hired by Sheriff Rice even though he had been previously placed on administrative leave from his job with the Indian Rocks Beach Police Department in 1993 for lying about his role in a high speed police car chase in which a young Largo woman died. In 2007, Antolini was cleared by State Attorney Bernie McCabe in another fatal case in Clearwater where he tasered a mentally impaired 33-year-old man, and punched him repeatedly to death.
And then on April 12, 2005, Deputy Christopher Taylor shot in the back and murdered 19-year-old Jarrell Walker, who was sleeping on the couch when a flash bang grenade was thrown by the SWAT team into his living room. His 3-year-old son was sleeping in the next room. The 3-year-old boy was locked up, fingerprinted, given a mug shot and was not released to the mother until she took a drug test.
Taylor said Walker had a gun under the couch where he slept but other officers found no gun or weapon under the couch. One witness testified that those who were in the house with Jarrell at the time of the murder were ordered onto the floor and that he was threatened with having a foot put in his face if he looked up while the cops were cleaning up the murder scene immediately after the shooting.
This murder was declared justified. Deputy Taylor had been involved in two previous shootings and his supervisor stated that “Taylor sometimes becomes excitable and confrontational”, but he was allowed to stay on the force.
Javon Dawson murder case is clear cover-up
Now there is the case of Javon Dawson, murdered by St. Petersburg cop and Iraq war veteran Terrence Nemeth — two shots in the back as he was allegedly running away. State Attorney Bernie McCabe’s interdependent relationship with the murderer Terrence Nemeth is plainly seen in the fact that Nemeth has testified in cases for McCabe in over 90 cases during his short term with the local police.
So McCabe declared Javon’s murder “justified”, despite the fact that they produced no bullets, residue on Javon’s hands, fingerprints on the gun, gun registration I.D. or reliable DNA evidence. Disappointed in an initial finding that gave Dawson’s DNA profile a one in 7,000 chance of matching the mix found on a gun at the scene, McCabe turned to Bode Technologies, which returned results of a one in 30,000 possible match. According to a forensic science expert quoted in the St. Petersburg Times, "One in many trillions is considered a good match, so the numbers aren't strong."
Even the forensics testing in these cases is suspect, as it is carried out by the same incestuous family of law enforcement agencies and politicians united in their program of violent aggression against the African community. For example, the CEO of Bode Technology is Howard Safir, appointed as New York City Police Commissioner by Rudolph Giuliani in 1996, where he remained for four years, overseeing the police shooting of Amadou Diallo and torture of Abner Louima. In 2000, then-Commissioner Safir himself shot and killed an unarmed black homeless man as he and Mayor Giuliani left a press conference.
Police murders have become so pervasive that even in the white community there is outrage and deep concern about the wanton impunity of the police. The North County Gazette wrote on April 24, 2008: “The stench of Florida’s criminal justice system has reached pandemic proportions, especially in Pinellas County, the state attorney’s office of Bernie McCabe and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. There are an increasing number of suspicious deaths in Pinellas County. Alleged suspects and defendants are being shot or tasered or beaten to death by police. Time after time, the office of Pinellas County state attorney Bernie McCabe rules the case closed by a finding of justifiable homicide, finding that the police were justified in the killing of a man, often with a bullet in the back or sometimes ruling the death a suicide, even when the bullet that kills the man is from a police officer’s gun.” That same journal reported that McCabe’s daughter Jennifer works in the Sheriff’s Department, again demonstrating the kind of incestuous relationship that contaminates many of the conclusions drawn by McCabe’s office.
Bantushango said, “Today, we are more determined than ever to press the case against the City and County for reparations for the families of Javon Dawson, Jarrell Walker, Marquell McCullough and TyRon Lewis. Because we are aware of the corrupt cover-ups pervasive throughout the so-called criminal justice system, we demand a transparent investigation for all to see. Because we must put an end to unlawful, dangerous and deadly practices by those entrusted to uphold the law, we demand a community police review board with subpoena powers.”