Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee
c/o The Cultural Café
76 Atherton Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Judge Janet L. Sanders
Cambridge District Court
40 Thorndike St
Cambridge, MA 02141
Fax # 617-494-4357
Dear Judge Sanders:
We are writing on behalf of Isaiah Anderson and Calvin Belfon Jr. We understand that they will be appearing before you for the purpose of sentencing on this Thursday, June 29th as a result of a jury verdict that we believe is flawed, contradictory and unjust. These two young men and their families have been the victims of a living nightmare since April of 2005 when Isaiah and Calvin were the victims of illegal racial profiling and outrageous and wanton police brutality. We are appealing to you to use the power and authority of your position as Judge in their case to prevent a most egregious travesty of justice and vacate the jury’s guilty verdicts against them.
The Rosa Parks Hunan Rights Day Committee is a broad coalition of organizations and individuals formed a year ago, dedicated to the objective of establishing a National Holiday in honor of Ms. Parks and the historic contributions that her struggle has made to the cause of freedom. We are elected officials, clergy, unionists, community leaders and activist for social justice.
Over this past year we have grown to know these two fine young men well. They have participated with us as youth organizers in the many community forums, rallies and marches. We know them as respected leaders of our community. Isaiah and Calvin possess a keen sense of justice, fairness, respect and social responsibility and have demonstrated their willingness to exercise their civic duty to practically apply those values in life. We are proud of them and believe that they set the standard for positive youth leadership. Many have come to recognize racial profiling and police brutality as an unlawful and vile cancer to our society. There have been countless articles, studies, debates and discussions. However it requires extraordinary courage and heroism to challenge these evils when actually confronted by armed uniformed men. We are also aware that the city of Medford has publicly had to address the question of racism within its local public safety institutions. In fact, one prominent Medford religious figurer, Rev. Gordon O’Neal of the Shiloh Baptist Church commented in the Boston Globe on May 21, 2006 regarding the situation with Medford police, he said “There needs to be training in terms of ethnic minorities so there can be peace and harmony. Too many officers have short fuses. It’s dangerous.” When the very police who are sworn to protect us have “short fuses,” especially in approaching or addressing “ethnic minorities” how can those who dispense justice overlook this?
On that fateful night in April 2005 the Medford Police racially profiled Isaiah, Calvin and their friends. In the finest tradition of the spirit of Rosa Parks they refused to submit and accept institutional racial injustice. When Calvin exercised his legal and constitutional right to question this police misconduct he became the victim of a groundless and unprovoked police brutality. Isaiah for his part witnessed and experienced this injustice. As his friend Calvin was being senselessly and viciously beaten, Isaiah sought help from other police on the scene to stop this unlawful police conduct. They refused. Isaiah, an unarmed 17 year old, acted to save Calvin from imminent and perhaps irreparable physical and psychological harm in what must have been the most difficult decision of his life. He then became the victim of this same police brutality. As has too often been the case, the police then sought to cover up their repugnant and reprehensible actions by charging the victims with a wide array of groundless charges. The charges in turn set into motion a nightmarish and tragic chain of events that have further victimized these fine young men and their families.
In April 2005 Calvin and Isaiah were respected and recognized model students with fine academic records and stellar athletic achievements. They were the pride of their families and their community. Their prospects for a bright college future including athletic scholarships seemed assured. As a result of the unjust frame up charges brought against them they were expelled from Somerville High School and lost irreplaceable time from building their academic and athletic records. They and their families had to wage a long frustrating battle to get into another school. It is a testament to the determination and fortitude of Isaiah and Calvin that they ultimately did succeed in getting into and graduating from East Boston High School. However they and their families have been denied forever the positive memories of senior year and the completion of their High School education. The Andersons and the Belfons have had to endure an excruciating 14-month ordeal that has posed undue and unjust practical, financial and emotional hardship to their respective families.
Many of us sat in your courtroom throughout this trial and are quite alarmed about several matters. The obvious or visual ones being white Medford police who are well armed and trained involved in an altercation with two Black teenagers who had no weapons and no drugs and where not involved in violating any laws, in a city with a public reputation of racial discrimination according to report by the Civil Right Project at Harvard University. We found the Commonwealth’s case to be contradictory, inconsistent and lacking in credibility. In sum we felt confident that the Commonwealth had failed to meet its burden of proof to support any guilty verdicts. In contrast we found the testimony of Calvin and Isaiah to be forthright truthful and credible. Accordingly we had hoped that the jury would render a just verdict of not guilty on all counts and in so doing send a clear message that racial profiling and police brutality in 2006 are unacceptable. Regrettable the jury did not and instead issued what we believe is a contradictory, flawed and unjust verdict based on considerations other than the facts. We would argue that a jury consisting of eleven whites and one African American was not a jury of Isaiah and Calvin’ peers. Further, we understand that one of the jurors’ father is a police officer and we have serious question as to the impartiality of that juror.
It is our view, this case should have been dismissed from the very beginning considering the matter that these Black youth violated no laws for which the police officer approached them in which at altercation followed. Why did the police pursue these young men when they were on they way home? What law did they violate for the police to have pursued them? Further, why would these young men, who were not on drugs or alcohol during this matter, have no record, are respected members in their community and have solid academic records, go after a trained and armed police officer? Are these young men insane or have a death wise? We believe neither.
We believe that the jury’s verdict in this case continues Isaiah and Calvin’s victimization and leaves an unjust and unwarranted blemish on them that will follow them through college and the rest of their lives. The guilty verdicts would criminalize these young men and would be a grave travesty against them for defending themselves against those whose job it is to also uphold the constitution of this nation. We believe this would be a mockery of the court and of justice. We hope that you will reverse this injustice.
In closing we appeal to you in the interest of fairness and justice to vacate the jury’s guilty verdicts against Isaiah and Calvin. It is time for the injustice against these young men and their families to end.
Sincerely for Justice,
Boston City Council, D. 7
Tony Van Der Meer
Adj. Professor Africana Studies
U Mass, Co-Chair BRPHRDC
Chair, New Mission High
School, Co-Chair BRPHRDC
President, United Steelworkers
M. Clemencia Lee
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OFSJC Bishop, Northeastern
Diocese, Saint Francis of Assissi,
Women’s Fight Back Network
International Action Center
Committee to Defend the Somerville 5
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Founder, El Encuentro
Felix D. Arroyo
Boston City Council, At Large
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