Death of Anthony Anderson Sr. sparks outrage amongst community leaders who call for a federal probe into the practices of performed by Baltimore City police
The 16th century political philosopher and ‘prince’ Niccolo Machiavelli said that ‘a people oppressed by a ruler should not continue to live by faith in those who continue to act against their interests; as all men are not innately good but rather by nature are evil, and no matter how much they portray to have your best interests at heart, continuously degrade you and go against the very faith you place in them – therefore, you should not be bound by faith alone when actions speak louder than words!’
And yesterday, it seemed as though the citizens of Baltimore, and in particular the residents of East Baltimore, were seemingly fed up with the faith they have consistently relied on when believing that their police department would ‘protect and serve’ their interests; as many took to the streets to protest the latest incident of police brutality that seems to have led to yet another lost life of one of their own. Leading the charge against the actions of the Baltimore City Police Department was two of Baltimore’s most outspoken and vigilant community leaders, Cortly ‘CD’ Witherspoon and Sharon Black; as they led a march and protest that brought citizens back to the days of the civil rights era.
Starting at March’s East funeral home, immediately following the services of Anthony Anderson Sr. – who was killed last Friday in an incident that is still under investigation – the civil rights leaders led a rowdy protest and march down the streets of Charm City, stifling traffic and rousing citizens along the way who said they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Led by chants shouted by the 30-year old minister Witherspoon, a large crowd of supporters trailed along chanting, ‘What do we want? Justice… When do we want it? Now…’ along with other more directed chants like, ‘Justice, for Anthony now’ and ‘My son today, your son tomorrow’; as they preceded to educat those witnessing the growing march along its mile and half route.
“Today we are going to stand up to the constant injustices perpetrated by this police department and reclaim our city by taking back our streets,” yelled an impassioned Witherspoon. “Whose streets? Our streets. Whose city? Our city.” The group paused on multiple major intersections on their way to the corner of Montford and Biddle Streets were the fateful incident occurred, speaking directly to many business patrons and passer-bys that stopped to witness the events. “We are sick and tired of these officers, many of whom don’t even live in our city, taking our children’s lives – and in this case, our brothers life – and essentially receiving a paid vacation for such egregious actions that leave our families in mourning – without these officers ever receiving any real consequences for their actions!”
Joined by friends, family members and acquaintances of the East Baltimore resident Anderson, the group drew a large crowd of pissed off residents in the neighborhood in which the incident occurred. According to reports, the 46-year old Anderson was exiting a local business establishment at approximately 6:30p.m. on September 21, 2012, accompanied by at least five members of his immediate family – including his two-year old grandchild – when plain clothes city police officers known as ‘knockers’ approached him from behind.
Upon their approach, they reportedly hoisted Mr. Anderson up in the air by his legs, and slammed him down on the concrete – onto his head and neck – which caused him to shake profusely, going into convulsions, as reported by multiple witnesses; which apparently led to his untimely death. However, initial reports by these officers were that they believed Mr. Anderson choked to death on an unknown substance, possibly narcotics, he tried to ingest when he witnessed the officers approaching him. This report was later refuted by an initial autopsy report that dispelled the officers’ account, stating it was impossible for Mr. Anderson to have tried to ingest anything as they witnessed no airwave obstruction of any kind in their review of the body.
Thus, the initial media reports were backtracked by the police department, which led many in the community to believe that it was yet another example of an overaggressive police department, responsible for the death of at least 10-individuals this year alone – with approximately 14-officer related shootings citywide. “The fact that not one elected official, so-called city leader or community representative beside the citizens, CD and Sharon have spoken out about this atrocity, or even attended the funeral or protest; shows that we have those who don’t really care about the lives of those who elect them to represent their interests,” says former Examiner colleague and community activist, Kinji Scott. “We haven’t heard a peep from the Mayor’s Office, the Council President or the City Council’s offices, nor has any state elected representative weighed in on this case or the other multiple homicides by this department this year? That is the real crime, and people out here today look to have had enough?”
In fact, having no faith that the investigation into this case will be fair or accurate, based on the initial false reports given by these officers; Witherspoon and his group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore, have called on a federal inquiry into the case. In a detailed letter submitted to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Witherspoon contends that based on Mr. Anderson’s disability, and the fact that he walked with a cane, that he posed no significant flight or physical threat to these officers – both of whom are white. Witherspoon contends that the case seems to be one of racial profiling and articulates that he, nor the citizens of Baltimore, has any faith in the investigation being thoroughly adequate coming from city leaders entrenched in the continuing madness perpetrated by this department.
“Clearly Mr. Anderson’s brutal murder enrages us; however, that is not our only issue, because the police encounter precipitated the chain of events, we question the probable cause of the initial stop. Far too many African American men, are stopped, harassed, and murdered by the Baltimore City Police under the guise of public safety, but at the expense of black, brown, and poor people almost exclusively. The officers involved in Anderson’s murder were white, and he was an African American.
We request federal intervention into the investigation of Mr. Anthony Anderson, Sr.’s murder because there are far too many unanswered questions, and we have absolutely no confidence in the local authorities’ ability to conduct a fair, thorough and non-bias investigation. We believe that this investigation has been tainted, and there is strong need for a non-bias independent third party to easy restore the public trust.”
Also under question, in which Witherspoon detailed in a letter drafted and sent to the Mayor of Baltimore, is the continued harassment of Mr. Anderson’s family – especially that of his son Anthony Anderson Jr.; who was reportedly stopped and harassed by officers only days after his father’s murder. After an earlier press conference held by Witherspoon, Black and other groups, they contend that later that evening, at roughly 5p.m., officers returned to the block in which the Anderson family resides, and approached the younger Anderson and told him to, ‘drop the gun and raise your hands’. He in fact had no weapon, but rather the suit he was carrying to the funeral home for his father. Witnesses from the event took down the cruiser tag information, and reported the incident to Witherspoon, who drafted a letter to the Mayor requesting she directly intervene before actions escalated. Also copying incoming police commissioner Anthony Batts and Eastern District Major Melvin Russell in the letter, Witherspoon says that the community and the SCLC are ‘appalled by the officers’ actions, and that they hold these three individuals personally responsible for the actions of the officers.’
“We have already had countless complaints from residents of the East Baltimore community of police harassment, and the overwhelming large presence of police occupying the community. We are calling on the three of you who are the appropriate authorities to instruct police officers to cease and desist with this kind of harassment and intimidation. Do we need to call for a 24 hour watch of this family’s home and the members of the Anderson family? Do we need to call on members of the community to bring video cameras and phone videos and stand with the family day and night; to sleep outside their door? This family has already suffered deeply. Aside from losing a father, grandfather and loved one – the family actually had to watch the police brutalize their father and cause his death. Children as young as 9 years old have been traumatized. The entire community is traumatized! This must end now!” ~ C.D. Witherspoon letter to the Mayor
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