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Mar 30, 20

Protests and Rebellion Follow Police Killing in Newburgh, New York

Report on recent protests and rebellion following the shooting death of Tyrell Fincher at the hands of the Newburgh Police Department. Written by Newburgh Food Not Bombs.

On the evening of March 27, 2020, officers from the City of Newburgh Police Department murdered a man. Justifications are already being made by the police and their supporters, based on the man’s supposed connection to a previous crime and his alleged possession of a weapon.

Let us be clear: These are little more than excuses for a lynching.

Regarding the supposed crime: According to the laws that the police are “sworn to uphold,” all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. The police and their supporters will undoubtedly continue trying to connect the murdered man to the supposed crime, but the truth is he did not live to see his day in court. If he was guilty of anything, the Newburgh Police Department conducted a summary execution, nothing less.

Regarding the alleged weapon: Following the murder, the police released select images from an officer’s body cam footage supposedly depicting the man holding a weapon. If he was indeed holding a weapon, would this not be within reason for his own protection—especially if we are to believe the never-ending claims of Newburgh’s danger? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be reasonable to draw such a weapon when mobbed by three assailants, as the body cam footage suggests the police had done?

Perhaps a better question: If the police had nothing that they could use to allege the possession of a weapon, would they be sharing any body cam footage at all? Based on the routine withholding of footage by police across the United States, we think not. Thus, body cam footage can never be accepted as “objective evidence.” It will always be used to hammer nails into the coffins of those killed by police, but it will rarely be used to exonerate the dead—much less to hold the murderers accountable.

We do not use the word “lynch” lightly. Lynching was historically used by white mobs in the South to murder black men who were accused of some crime. Mobs hanged the men before they could stand trial—or after trial, if they were found innocent. Other black people who resisted the lynch mobs were also often killed.

Southern lynch mobs are frequently described as carrying out “vigilante justice,” but they were supported by, if not actually made up of, local police officers. In other words: Southern police officers lynched black men to rob them of justice and, ultimately, their lives. The events that transpired yesterday in Newburgh show us that police officers here are no different.

With that in mind, the demonstration of anger and grief that occurred later on the night of March 27th—replete with anti-police slogans and a fire set at an empty intersection—should come as no surprise. We do not presume to speak for those mourners, especially because they require no explanation. Anyone who has experienced loss knows that its language is not a well-articulated accounting, but a desperate howl. We hear it and understand.

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