Funds raised for cameraman
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Waving four checks in the air, Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, announced Saturday that a coalition of Inglewood organizations and leaders is trying to raise $10,000 for the legal defense of Mitchell Crooks, the man who videotaped Inglewood police officers beating a 16-year-old boy last week.
Crooks was arrested Thursday on outstanding warrants for burglary and a 5-year-old hit-and-run accident in Placer County, Calif., where the warrants originated, after media attention for his role in bringing the police beating to light alerted authorities to his whereabouts.
Waters said that the group already had collected more than $3,000 for Crooks and hoped to collect the entire sum within 10 days.
"We are going to see to it that Mr. Crooks has a legal defense," she said. "We will go to Placer. We will stand with him. We will help to pay his lawyers. We will support his bail. We will do whatever is necessary to say to citizens, when you come forward, when you are willing to stand up, when you see abuse by the police department or anybody else, we are gonna honor you."
"We don't care what he's been accused of," she added. "Those are minor offenses, we have learned, and we are going to help him out."
Los Angeles sheriff's deputies have said that they were questioning Donovan Jackson's father about expired tags on his car's license plates when Morse and three other Inglewood police officers arrived and became involved in a confrontation with Jackson. Crooks, who was staying in a motel across the street from the gas station where the incident occurred, recorded two minutes of the confrontation. That video, which has been broadcast repeatedly on television news, shows Inglewood police Officer Jeremy Morse lifting a limp, handcuffed Donovan Jackson by his clothes, smashing his head on a car trunk and then punching him in the face. An Inglewood police report obtained by the Los Angeles Times revealed that Jackson was punched twice by another officer before the action on Crooks' tape begins.
Members of the newly formed coalition, which included Inglewood ministers, block leaders, the city's chief administrative officer and Danny Bakewell of the Brotherhood Crusade, met yesterday morning in private at the True Vine Baptist Church. At a news conference, participants said they discussed how they might monitor the investigations currently under way into the police officers' actions. The group is considering the need for a civilian police board, a review of police training and a re-evaluation of the responsibilities of the Inglewood police chief.
Also yesterday, members of the Inglewood-based National Alliance for Positive Action announced at a community round-table meeting that that organization is forming a blue-ribbon citizen's panel to make recommendations regarding the Inglewood Police Department. And Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, who previously had said that Morse should be fired and prosecuted, urged residents to allow the legal system to take its course. "I never suggested we should set aside due process," he said at the National Alliance meeting. Dorn, a former judge, wore a large belt buckle adorned with a judge's gavel over his blue jeans.
"My personal opinion hasn't changed" about the nature of the incident, he said, "but due process, justice, must be done."
At both morning meetings, community leaders emphasized that the residents of Inglewood were capable of conducting whatever reform might be required in wake of the Jackson beating.
"For now, we need to work with the Inglewood family to address a family problem," Daniel K. Tabor, a former Inglewood city councilman, said at the True Vine Baptist Church.