Boston Herald - Boston, Mass.
Sep 19, 2002
In the wake of the latest police shooting, a modern-day incarnation of the Black Panthers met in a store-front church last night under the rallying cry of "Justice Now."
About 50 residents joined a handful of black-shirted members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in a closed-door meeting at the Amazing Grace Tabernacle Church in Roxbury, yards away from where a Boston cop shot a Roxbury man in the head Monday.
Authorities call the shooting justified because they say the man, homicide suspect John Powell, 30, fired first at Sgt. Detective Daniel Keeler.
While New Black Panther Party Chairman Jamarhl Crawford barred the media from the church, interviews with more than a dozen residents made it clear the police have a credibility problem on Humboldt Avenue.
Meeting attendant Laura Dickson said authorities automatically blame the person shot by cops.
"They always say that. The truth is never told," she said.
While the shooting has stirred dissent in part of the black community, the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers will issue a statement of support for police Commissioner Paul F. Evans at 2 p.m. today at Crawford Street and Humboldt Avenue, the scene of Monday's shooting.
Rivers criticized the New Black Panther Party yesterday, a group whose national founder Rivers called an "anti-Semite and racist."
He added, ". . . anger and frustration is now being exploited by demagogues, who have no track record of solid work in the black community and whose legitimacy is driven by a liberal media," Rivers said.
The New Black Panther Party was founded by Khalid Abdul Muhammad, a former lieutenant of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakahan. Abdul Muhammad was dismissed from the Nation of Islam after a 1993 speech in which he called the pope "a no good cracker" and Jews "bloodsuckers."
The Rev. Wilson Rodriguez, pastor of the Amazing Grace Tabernacle, said the problem is bigger than who shot at who.
"There's more at issue than just what happened (Monday). We need to figure it out. People have been getting shot. We don't want Humboldt Avenue to be an excuse," Rodriguez said.
A Boston father of two, who wanted to be identified only as "X," said, "I'm not justifying what this young man did or didn't do, but there are too many black deaths being done by officers.
"My concern is being a black man being stereotyped by police officers" of any race, he said.
Not far from many angry residents' minds was the shooting of Eveline "Angela" Barros-Cepeda. She was in the back seat of a fleeing car that allegedly struck a police officer. The mother of a 2-year-old was shot and killed when the officer's partner fired at the car. She became the eighth person killed by police in the past 22 months.