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Activists Demand Justice For New Orleans Man

Louisiana Weekly, News report, Posted: Jan 16, 2009

A coalition of community leaders, civil rights activists and ministers gathered last week to demand justice and answers after a fatal shooting involving police that left a 22-year-old New Orleans man dead.

Adolph Grimes III was shot 14 times by plainclothes police on January 1, Twelve of those bullets entered Grimes body from behind, the Orleans Parish coroners report said.

Police maintain that the officers involved in the shooting only fired on Grimes after he fired at them. Initially, police reported that a 9mm gun was found on the shooting victim but later added that two additional firearms were found in his vehicle.

The ministers and community activists were joined by members of Adolph Grimes IIIs family as they vowed to fight for justice.

You can see the pain this family is going through, said the Rev. Norwood Thompson with the New Orleans chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference We dont want to see trigger-happy police officers gunning down innocent young men.

Danatus King, president of the New Orleans branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, echoed the sentiments of other Black New Orleans residents Tuesday when he said that the January 1 police shooting draws a critical line in the sand in New Orleans.

We often hear a phrase about a tipping point, King said. Right now, we may not realize it, but were at a tipping point when it comes to race relations in the city. So, well be pushing to have a complete, open investigation.

Tempers have flared in the Black community over the past few years after the killing of a Black college student outside a French Quarter nightclub, the police killing of two unarmed Black men on the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans just days after Hurricane Katrina and an assault by police of a Black retired schoolteacher in the French Quarter that was caught on tape two months after Hurricane Katrina.

The FBI announced Monday that the Justice Department would investigate the case to determine whether the shooting victims civil rights were violated.

I think the FBI should investigate, NOPD Superintendent Riley said. I mean, the family certainly has that right. We want the absolute truth and the facts to come out and if the FBI adds to that, we welcome it.

What Im thinking is the police actually shot and killed an innocent citizen, Robert Jenkins, an attorney representing the Grimes family, said last week.

An attorney representing the police union disagreed.

The fact is, when confronted by police, he raised his weapon, fired it, said police union attorney Frank DeSalvo.

DeSalvo contends that Adolph Grimes III was sitting in a parked car matching the description of one leaving the scene of a shooting outside a nearby nightclub and nine narcotics officers in two unmarked cars rolled up to investigate.

When they pulled up an officer shined his flashlight in because as they pulled up he turned his dome light out, DeSalvo said. They had their blue lights flashing on both vehicles. Thats when he upped with his gun.

According to police, when Grimes shot at the officers, seven of them returned fire, hitting him 12 times.

Robert Jenkins says there is nothing to support claims that Grimes fired first and it is not known if the police identified themselves before the gunfire.

If youre sitting in front of your house, theres no crime to sit in front of your house in a vehicle, Jenkins said. So, where is the crime? Lets say it was even a traffic stop, how do you get shot 12 times?

The ministers and civil rights activists met briefly with Chief Riley Tuesday and said they were encouraged by the outcome of that meeting.

Were satisfied how this meeting went, Rev. Thompson told WWL-TV.

I am aware that there are tapes that exist, that relate to this incident and if those tapes, whatever those tapes reveal, those tapes need to be released, Danatus King said.

In a situation like this, we want the truth to come out, you know, this is no cover-up, Riley said. And we want that family to take every course that they can to ensure that everything has been done. Were going to do everything that we can.

The Rev. Raymond Brown, president of the New Orleans chapter of the New York-based National Action Network which is led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, encouraged New Orleans residents to stand up for themselves when they feel they are being wrongfully handled by New Orleans police. I tell people to be careful because the police are not there to protect you, but to oppress you in the inner city, he told The Louisiana Weekly. If a policeman is attacking you, show a level of resistance. I believe if a citizen is being wrongfully attacked by the police, they should show a certain level of resistance. Dont submit to abuse by the police. If you havent done anything wrong, resist arrest.

We say this is The City That Care Forgot, but we havent forgotten to care, Thompson said Tuesday. And we care about this family thats grieving right now.

Asked about Rev. Norwood Thompsons remarks about Black leaders having his back if New Orleans Police Department Supt. Warren Riley took steps to fully address the shooting incident, Rev. Brown said, What Rev. Norwood was saying was that oftentimes the white community rallies around white police officers accused of wrongfully killing Black people. He was simply sending a message to Chief Riley that community leaders and members of the Black community would support him in his efforts to get to the truth about what happened that day.

In an effort to gather information about the incident, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has set up a hotline that residents can use to share information about the January 1 shooting. The number is (504) 835-7252. Any information received through the hotline will eventually be turned over to local authorities and federal investigators.

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