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  Father's Love : Father's Loss
Column Written 6/4/2000 by Mumia Abu-Jamal - All Rights Reserved

...You can't explain how a cop can lock up a person on suspicion when it is the cops that are suspicous and not the person, just because a person look suspicious to a cop don't mean that the person is suspect of somethin', it only means the cop is suspect of that person...
- John Africa, The Judges Letter

It began, as do most family tragedies these days, with a phone call. Another Black father learned that his son was dead, after having been shot 5 times.

Bruce Waters, like far too many fathers of his generation, was forced to deal with members of the "Criminal Justice System": cops, DAs, and courts, as he tried to insure that the killer (or killers) of his son received punishment.

His initial contacts were promising, and he complimented law enforcement people on their work. A cop in Homicide told him that 2 men were arrested in his son's killing, and Waters warmly congratulated him. When he asked how the two were apprehended, Homicide's Jack McDermott explained that one of the suspects called him up with information on the killing, Waters said. This, he found curious. A guy calling up a cop, snitching on himself?

Well, that was odd enough, and then Waters was told that the number one suspect would call McDermott from time to time, but he hadn't heard from him in a while. When he did call, however, the suspect said he went on a "spree" and that he was sick from the "big one" (AIDS). "Spree?" Waters was stunned. Was this guy, who was a suspect in the murder of his son, not only confessing to that crime but to also going on some kind of crime spree? This thing that seemed so cut and dried became "curiouser and curiouser."

The killing of 23-year old Jerry Locke of North Philadelphia drew Waters into a world of intrigue and of utter disbelief. At the center of the case was one Mark White, a young man who was, in every sense of the word, a professional snitch. White was later convicted of second degree murder and other charges, and is now doing life.

What made Waters furious is finding out the fact that the person convicted of killing his son, had in fact been arrested over two dozen times on a variety of charges, and was let out again, and again, and again. How? Because White was let out over and over again, to snitch, to "testilie" on behalf of the police and the DA's office, to obtain convictions. He was used in more cases than this writer knows; but here is one of them: Commonwealth v. Malik Bowers and Rasheen Simpson (1996). Here, Mark told police that he heard a confession from Rasheen, and affirmed this story 3 different times. He said he saw Malik shooting at the intended victim, Tracey Postell. Both men were facing the death penalty in the case. Result? Malik was acquitted, and Rasheen's case was thrown out: nol-prossed. Why? In a statement given several years after the prosecution, White admitted to investigators that he lied:

Q: Why did you tell the police, and why did you testify in court that he did?
A: Because I needed help in my cases and Det. McDermott told me that if I testified for Bill Fisher I wouldn't have to go to jail. And, Bill Fisher knew that Rasheen did it and he needed a conviction, and that he needed something to back up what the other guy said about Rasheen...
[statement: 8/24/99 - Strohm Investigative Services]

White said he hadn't seen anything, nor heard anything. He just wanted out of jail. So he lied. How many more cases? How many other snitches?

Waters said, "The cops fumbled, they used Mark White. He should not have been involved, he should've been in jail." Of the judicial system in Philadelphia, Waters said, "Every citizen at one time or another, believes justice will prevail. I'm sorry to say, the system is flawed. Anytime a law enforcement official collaborates with criminals, the system needs to change." Of the Homicide dicks, he was critical: "Homicide detectives are manufacturing monsters. They make Mark Whites."

A father's loss. A system's failure.

İMAJ 2000

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