DemocracyNow! on Marvin Booker, featuring Susan Greene

DemocracyNow! on Marvin Booker, featuring Susan Greene

DemocracyNow! host Amy Goodman in Denver this morning spoke with New Covenant Christian Church Pastor Reginald Holmes and Colorado Independent Editor Susan Greene on the historic verdict handed down on Tuesday against the city of Denver, which found sheriff deputies at the city jail used excessive force that resulted in the death of homeless street preacher Marvin Booker in 2010.

The city fought the case to the end, despite a trove of evidence, including jailhouse security video, that documented in detail the abuse that led to Booker’s death and the attempts by deputies involved to cover up that abuse.

Greene told Goodman that the sheriffs killed the wrong man. She noted how the city lawyers tried to smear Booker as a dangerous addict and vagrant, to portray him for the jurors as the same toss-away person the deputies clearly took him for when they piled atop him, choked him, Tased him and left him lying on his stomach, hands cuffed behind his back, to slowly slip into death. Greene said Booker was not that toss-away man. He was a beloved figure in the Denver community, a member of a prominent southern family of preachers, a man who had chosen a different and remarkable path. The federal court jurors came to their own similar assessment and on Tuesday awarded Booker’s family $4.6 million.

Supporters rallied on the city jail steps after the verdict was announced, vowing to work to make the Booker case the beginning of an end to the culture of authority in Denver where anyone ever can be treated as toss-away.

Note: The interview will also broadcast on KGNU, Friday at 3:30.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic | 720-432-2128 |


  1. Brillo on said:

    Dear Ms. Greene,

    I find it quite interesting that my comment on the Independent’s page about this story — the one right below Mr. Morrison’s, who commented about how “Cops do it, and it’s just another damned day on the job” and that armed resistance to the the police will be the result, and “There WILL be cop blood in the streets” — my comment, which contained no such inflammatory remarks, was deleted. Why? It can only be because it did not align with your company’s agenda to present only the perspective of the story that you want posted.

    I used no aggressive language, only pointing out very pointed and obvious things that were not presented, and questions that were never asked.

    If this is your organizations view of objective reporting, the right-wingers in America have no need to chisel out the the First Amendment — you’re doing a very nice job of it, covertly.

  2. Brillo on said:

    I agree with the essential points of the above comment by Mr. Morrison. I feel the police did use excessive force and should be properly and justly disciplined and/or prosecuted for their actions. However, there are some rather pointed observations to be made, and unanswered questions that have gone unanswered because they were never asked by the media. Why? Because the media is as clearly agenda-driven as any other biased organization.

    First of all, the media (whose veracity is certainly as questionable as that of the police), never once remarked about the obvious credibility gap between what was reported as Mr. Booker’s attempt to simply recover his shoes, and his ambling around the booking room (did he forget where he put them?); the wild gesticulations and waving of his arms, which clearly indicate a man who is angry and expressing that anger in a very animated manner. He is obviously yelling complaints or in some manner creating a disturbance, as indicated by the turning of heads in the room to look at him, even before the police began their assault. He clearly does not exhibit the deportment of someone who is intent on just retrieving his shoes; in fact, he never once appeared to be doing anything about that, since he did not seem to be looking for them; only waving his arms and yelling his displeasure – which, in a police booking room, where for the most part they are dealing with charged and often violent criminals, is tantamount to asking for physical intervention.

    Oh, and the argument that he was only 135-pounds? Bruce Lee weighed very close to that, and many drugs, such as PCP, give a man the ability to fight far beyond his weight. In this, I’m only saying that police have to deal with a violent segment of society of which the average citizen knows nothing. Is it too unreasonable to think that their mindset is calibrated toward minimizing threat to themselves?

    Secondly, where were these “loving relatives” who were so grief-stricken as to warrant a $4.6 million settlement when their “loved one” was homeless, living on the Denver streets? Where were they in providing for his needs, if they were that distraught over his murder to the tune of becoming millionaires? And to their expression that they were more interested in the officers being justly punished than in the money: what would be their reply – these absentee care-givers – were they offered a tradeoff for just and punitive prosecution against the officers, in exchange for the millions they’ll receive from the judgment? Wanna bet they’d take the money and let the cops go free?

    And here’s my final comment, from a native American: If Mr. Booker had been some white boy who died in such a manner, would there even have been a news story about the incident, let alone a multi-million-dollar settlement for wrongful death? “Whaddaya mean, you wanna sue for wrongful death,” responds the attorney, “you’re not a minority. Get outta my office, I have more lucrative – er – needy clients to service [“service” being used in every meaning the word implies].”

    Yes, racism is alive and well in America – just not always in the form most people think.

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