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Indybay Feature
Minorities Beat by Police at Powell Protest
by Aman Mehrzai
Thursday Nov 17th, 2005 7:24 AM
Subj: Minorities Beat by Police at Powell Protest - Please forward to blogs and lists -
Date: 11/15/2005 12:22:33 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: aman.mehrzai @
To: aman.mehrzai @

Police Beat College Students in Violent Protests against Powell

Eight people were arrested, mostly college students in a violent protest against former Secretary of State Colin Powell in the San Francisco Bay Area, Friday night.

Protesters gathered at De Anza College in the South Bay starting Wednesday, to kick off a three day rally with visitors such as Cindy Sheehan and Yuri Kochiyama present.

Chants such as; "Whose College? - Our College. You get out," and "This is what democracy looks like, this is what a police state looks like," were heard while police attacked and beat certain protesters.

Police have been accused of using racial profiling and excessive force while arresting activists during the demonstrations.

Friday nights protest gained most attention when certain groups and individuals joined the rally that left destruction to police vehicles and school property. Police car windows were smashed and Anarchy symbols were spray painted on the back of some local media outlet vans. A message that said "Paris Rising" was tagged on the back of one police buss.

In order to disperse the crowd, fully armed riot police in multiple groups of 15 to 20 spread out and chased anyone who was present including reporters and legal observers. One group of riot police moved the remaining crowd down the campus pushing them through bushes and assaulting them with their gear. Another group of troops crossed the street into commercial property forcing a corridor around the block, in order to peruse and arrest certain protesters they had spotted earlier in the crowd, who were on their way to their cars.

Some of the protesters went inside a local coffee shop across campus out of fear of the riot police who were quickly approaching them. "At one point, the riot police surrounded the coffee shop and one undercover officer with an earpiece came inside and waited outside the bathroom door and was staring at me when I was going in," said protester Susan Barrientos. Barrientos is a Muslim convert who was dressed in Islamic attire.

Some protesters who were arrested were previously refused access to their cars when they wanted to leave, and were later beaten and captured in plain view of many eyewitnesses and legal observers.

Out of seven of the protesters who were arrested outside of the Flint Center, six were Muslims of Arabic and African descent, some members of the Student Muslim Association. "They [police] saw that we had the most energy and were not afraid of them and were riling up the crowd," said De Anza student Hanni Zaki, 22, who was hospitalized for receiving injury to the head from police who stepped on his face and beat him with their batons. "They couldn't stand that we were dressed in Palestinian and Arabic clothes and weren't afraid of them. They wanted revenge so they chased down, every one of us who were Muslim, until they could beat and arrest us, that's what they were waiting for, that's why they wouldn't let me go to my car." De Anza's Students for Justice Member, Mark Anthony Medeiras, asked police to go to his car and was allowed to leave, minutes before Zaki was beaten and arrested. Zaki, who parked in the same garage as Medeiras, was refused access to his vehicle and when he asked how he was supposed to leave, was told, "You should of thought of that earlier," by one of the riot police who leaned over with his baton to start the attack by multiple officers.

De Anza student Abdul Kareem Al-Hayiek, 19, was chased by two officers on their dirt bikes until they knocked him down and pepper sprayed him in the face. Al-Heyiek began choking while officers jumped on top of him; he soon after lost consciousness. Another De Anza student Aiman Eltilib, 17, who just got out of class that night pleaded for the officer to get off of Al-Hayiek and was also pepper sprayed in the face and told by an officer, "Do you want to end up like him?" Eltilib responded by asking the officers to let Al-Hayiek go and that "he didn't do anything." The officer then put his left arm around the minor's neck and choked his Adams apple with the fingertips of his right hand until he collapsed to the ground. Shakir Eljurf, 19, who attended the same night class with Eltilib walked towards his classmate in concern, with books still under his right arm, when a third officer from behind twisted his left arm behind his back without warning, but was alarmed to find an angry mob pursuing them from behind. All three were then quickly released as the officers retreated to take cover from the approaching mob.

Two other Muslim students, Mohammad Abdo, 23, and Adonnis Graves, 22, ran towards the local media vans for safe haven after riot police hit Graves in the face with a baton and forced him through a high bush, only to be rescued by Abdo who pulled him to safety.The two nearly made it to the news reporters, but were blocked off by officers on motorcycles who told them to get off campus. They crossed the street and walked through a public park to get to their cars where officers apprehended and arrested them both.

Elgrie Hurd, 24, an African American student from San Jose State University was asked by officers to back off the edge of a street. Although Hurd was complying, officers dragged him forward by his shirt and arrested in plain view. Many photographers took footage of the incident. He was charged with Battery on a Peace Officer and False report of a bomb.

Protester, Brian Helmle, was the first to be arrested inside the Flint Center earlier that night, during Powell's speech and was charged for Disturbing the Peace and Resisting Arrest. Helmle, who is 27, stood up while Powell was speaking about the virtues of American kindness and yelled out "Liar - liar, murderer – murderer," and blew his whistle until officers carried him across the stands to arrest him.

Helmle, who later met with other arrestees, was shocked to find that they were treated with such harshness and brutality and that he was the only Caucasian to be arrested that night. "I think that this is all about white privilege," said Helmle. "I wasn't treated in any harshness whatsoever by the police. The fact is that the eyes of the white crowd were on a white male doing strange things inside. What happened to those outside in the protest is ridiculous and racist. All they were trying to do was leave and get to their cars. I was intentionally trying to get arrested."

Police released Helmle by 1 a.m. that same night without taking him into custody. The seven others who were arrested outside the Flint Center were taken into custody, including the minor Eltilib, and detained overnight in harsh conditions. Al-Hayiek is the only one to still be in custody awaiting an arraignment for bond.

In 1984 the Santa Calra County was sued by the law offices of Carpenter and Mayfield when police sweeped a large number of protesters on De Anza College and illegally detained them on a parking lot during a demonstration against Ronald Reagan.

One officer, who was at the protests on Friday night said, "Although profiling shouldn't happen, when certain people dress the way they do they become a target. It shouldn't happen, but the reality is that when most officers see someone dressed in that kind of clothes [Middle Eastern], they associate that with terrorism." The officer said that they regularly attend terrorism training classes, and that many officers associate such garb to terrorists because of the training videos they see in which "terrorists prepare themselves for Jihad and martyrdom."

Multiple legal organizations are investigating the allegations that police singled out the Middle Eastern and African American protesters, although the majority of the violence was conducted by others. Excessive force allegations will also be a focus of the investigations.


by more Thursday Nov 17th, 2005 7:26 AM
The press coverage of the events was minimal, ignoring most of the student and faculty organizing and educational efforts. Where there was coverage at all, it either focused on Cindy Sheehan as the national anti-war celbrity, or on allegations of violence by masked protestors. Students for Justice, and the concerned De Anza community will be continuing to work to alleviate this sad state of public communication. Regardless of what was reported about the demonstration, the facts remain: Colin Powell lied knowlingly about intelligence to make the case for war. The current adminstration, as well as the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations are respnsible for millions of Iraqi civilian deaths, through the course of two wars and a decade of santions which failed to weaken Saddam Hussein's control of the country, but nevertheless caused indecrisbable suffering to the people of Iraq. If any media/journalists would like to speak to someone about the message of the protestors during the three days of resistance activities (which included educational programs in addition to the night time demonstrations), they should contact:

Rich Wood (Sociology faculty at De Anza) - 408-864-8473
Jeremy Zimmer (South Bay Students for Justice) - 408-834-5483
Vida Shahamat (South Bay Mobilization) - 408-998-8504

Even more disturbing, the persons arrested and charged with crimes were predominantly Muslim youth of color. We are deeply distressed by the targeting of individuals for their skin color, attire, and/or religious/political beliefs (at least one of the arrestees was singled out because he had made statements at the open-mic to the protestors earlier that evening). Although there were incidents of grafitti and property destruction, none of the young men who were arrested were involved. We keep them in our thoughts and hope that justice will prevail.

If any media/journalists would like to speak with someone regarding the arrestees, or the racial profiling by authorities, they should contact:

Aman Mehrzai (La Voz, De Anza Muslim Student Association) - aman.mehrzai [at]
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
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G-d bless the De Anza copspork-eaters stand up!Saturday Feb 18th, 2006 8:09 PM
about those muslim youths...ObservateurSaturday Feb 18th, 2006 8:02 PM
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