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Friday, November 20, 2009

Back-to-Back-to-Back Taser Deaths Kicks Off Crusade

TO: Media Networks
Release Date: December 4, 2009

Back-to-Back-to-Back Taser Deaths Kicks Off Crusade
By Eddie G. Griffin (BASG)

Since the maker of the 50,000-volt electronic stun gun control device (ECD), TASER International, issued a new directive and warnings in an October 12, 2009 memo, there has been six more death, three in a matter of four days this past week:

• 453. November 13, 2009: Herman George Knabe, 58, Corpus Christi, Texas
• 454. November 14, 2009: Darryl Bain, 43, Long Island, New York
• 455. November 16, 2009: Matthew Bolick, 30, East Grand Rapids, Michigan

The word about tasers is obviously not getting out. There is still a general public acceptance of tasers as an better alternative to more deadly force, and the common belief among law enforcement that the instrument saves more lives than are lost. But is it saving lives of officers in the field at the expense of the lives of innocent people and thereby endangering the general public’s safety?

Truth Not Tasers blogsite now list the names of 455 people in North America who have lost their lives by tasers.

In a continuing effort to raise public awareness about the deadliness of the weapon, and the memory of those who needlessly died, we are waging a blogging campaign on December 4, 2009. The purpose of the Stop Taser Torture Blogging for Justice Day is “to unite the world’s bloggers” in America, Canada, and throughout the world to join in on the effort to stop tasers.

[Blog Registration through]

AfroSpear Network Blogger, Eddie G. Griffin (BASG), has joined the campaign to register the grievances against TASER International on behalf of Fort Worth, Texas families who have lost love ones to the device.

• 424. April 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24, Fort Worth, Texas
• 228. August 23, 2006: Noah Lopez, 25, Fort Worth, Texas
• 138. June 24, 2005: Carolyn Daniels, 25, Fort Worth, Texas
• 116. April 3, 2005: Eric Hammock, 43, Fort Worth, Texas
• 86. November 2, 2004: Robert Guerrero, 21, Fort Worth, Texas

Eddie G. Griffin (BASG), an Adult Friend of World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child, Mariefred, Sweden, raise the issue of tasers used against children, contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Resolution 44/25, adopted by the General Assembly on 20 November 1989, which states in Article 6 that “every child has the inherent right to life”, and in Article 37 (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

These are children who died by taser.

• 7. December 15, 2001: Hannah Rogers-Grippi, 6 months fetus, Chula Vista, California
• 144. July 12, 2005: Kevin Omas, 17, Euless, Texas
• 249. October 29, 2006: Roger Holyfield, 17, Jerseyville, Illinois
• 351. March 20, 2008: Darryl Wayne Turner, 17, Charlotte, North Carolina
• 379. July 22, 2008: Michael Langan, 17, Winnipeg, Manitoba
• 408. January 8, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Martinsville, Virginia
• 417. March 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Bay City, Michigan
• 421. April 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16, Detroit, Michigan

Although the United States is not a signatory party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, these voiceless children have need of an advocate to speak on their behalf.

417. March 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Bay City, Michigan

Hello, my name is Bethany and I have been reading a lot about how to try and change the state laws in Michigan. I was very close to the 15-year old boy Brett Elder (Dewy). I think about him every day and there is nothing I can do to bring him back, but there is something I can do, and that is to start a Petition. As you may know there have already been two deaths of minors in the State of Michigan this year. I am currently in the process of creating a petition (Dewy’s Minor Taser Protection Act).

If you have any advice for me please feel free to e-mail me. I have also a myspace:

Bethany A. Schuster, Bay City, Michigan (

[Editor's Note: As I write, a 10-year old girl has been tasered.]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TASER WARS: Another Chapter

TASER International Zaps Non-lethal Claim with Video
By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who knows what Taser International chairman and co-founder Tom Smith was trying to prove when he zapped reporter Noah Shachtman with an X3 taser. What in the world was thinking when they allowed Shachtman to volunteer for a one-second jolt of 50,000 volts of electricity?

“It was brutal,” said Shachtman, “like sticking your finger in a socket over and over and over again. I screamed in pain as he zapped me. I screamed some more after it was over. Then I cursed, and put my fingers to the bridge of my nose.”

On the video, Smith and his assistant laughs lightheartedly. “Kind of like hitting a funny bone,” the chairman remarked. “Like a good workout.”

“Not exactly,” writes the reporter. “Five hours later, I was still tingling.”

It may have started out as a stunt to offset the rising negative image of tasers. But clearly in the end, the public relations repair backfired, as Shachtman became angry at the effects and after-effects of being tasered. That's when he began asking Taser International executives some hard questions.

“What I keep wondering is", Shachtman writes, "Who would inflict that kind of pain?”

So when we hear stories about grandmothers and kids and handcuffed prisoners and even runaway sheep getting tased, I asked Smith, what does that say about the stun gun’s impact?

He and his colleagues gently ducked the question, saying it was up to individual police forces and military units to teach their troops how and when to use the electroshock weapons. “All we can do is build in as many features as we can think of,” said Brian Beckwith, vice president of product development.

“Any new tool has to have good policy and good training,” Smith said. His VP of public relations, Peter Holran, added, “You’re not just going to give someone a BlackBerry and expect them to use it.”

My colleague Steven Levy then asked about that 72-year-old Texas woman who was tased during a traffic stop. “I felt it was justified,” Smith replied. “Just because she was 72 doesn’t mean she wasn’t strong,” one his associates answered.

Levy then tried to determine how old a lady has to be before she’s considered ineligible for zapping. Holran took it as an accusation. He said angrily that “we can’t change the U.S. Constitution.” After another minute or two, the question was repeated. Smith said there was no upper age — or a lower one, for that matter. The only guidance the company gives cops and soldiers is not to use the stun guns on pregnant women, or people with heart conditions or epileptics.”

By what notion does Peter Holran invoke the U.S. Constitution? The Eighth Amendment prohibits Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From Tasers to Homicide: The Dividing Line on Torture

U.S. Department of Justice
Community Relations Service
Harwood Center
1999 Bryan Street, Ste. 2050
Dallas, TX 75201
Tele. 214-655-8190
Fax: 214-655-8184

Attn.: Synthia Demons,
Senior Conciliation Specialist, SW Region

RE: From Tasers to Homicide: The Dividing Line on Torture

Dear Synthia Demons:

We are grateful to have the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice given in this matter of grievance against Tasers, and appreciate your appointment as Conciliation Specialist to help us reach a resolution with the City of Fort Worth and the law enforcement community.

As an advocate of peace, I published “Towards Closure and Resolution in Taser Death of Michael Jacobs Jr.”, August 29, 2009. But there is still a disconnection in communications with government, and an irreconcilable breach with TASER International, manufacturer of the taser device.

The company’s statement aired Saturday on 33 NEWS concedes that tasers are not “risk free”, but nevertheless claim that the devices provide a safer alternative to deadly force. (See Saturday demonstration and read TASER International’s statement at,0,5385639.story).

We contend that the taser is deadly force insofar as 50,000-volts of electrical output have the capacity to literally cook a person’s internal organs. If we can show that Jacobs was electrocuted, charred inside like fried chicken, the public would be horrified, and city leaders should be ashamed. This is why we are asking for public disclosure of the autopsy report.

For those who contend that tasers save more lives than lives lost, we do not see this as a trade-off. An innocent law-abiding citizen should not be subjected to the risk.

In May 2006, the Lake Como Church of Christ convened an education panel to discuss plans police officers had for using tasers in the schools. Panelist included FW Chief of Police Ralph Mendoza, school board members T.A. Sims and Juan Rangel, Judges L. Clifford Davis and Sharon Newman, FWISD representatives Loester Posey and Cecile Standfield, and Civil Rights lawyer Bobbie Edmonds.

It was then we publicly opposed using tasers on middle school age children.

In July 2008, Amnesty International USA announced that the U.S. Department of Justice was looking into 30 taser related deaths, and could possibly investigate up to 180 cases. Since then, there has been no progress report from USDOJ.

We are hopeful with a new administration and a new Congress that the issue will again merit attention.

On April 19, 2009, I delivered a Resolution to the Family of Michael Jacobs Jr. at the funeral on behalf the international blogging community.


Another Day of Blogging for Justice against Tasers is scheduled for December 4th. (See announcement:

In the meantime, we continue to circulate a petition to Congress. (See

Ms. Demons, it would be of great help if you would describe the function of your office and an update on your findings and how you would hope to reconcile city leaders with the families and friends who have been touched by tasers. As you know, whenever government no longer listens to the grievance of the people, we are forced to raise our voice to the next higher level, from national to international. Ultimately, our last appeal will be before the throne of grace, because TASER International will not heed our plea.

How does the USDOJ offer to reconcile this military contractor with those maimed, injured, and killed by its weapons?

An answer to these questions will go a long way in our understanding the role of federal authorities to redress the grievances of citizens whose right to life have been extinguished by the summary judgment of a law enforcement officer, acting as judge, jury, and executioner.

Eddie Griffin (BASG)
AfroSpear in the News

A copy of this correspondence is forwarded to the addresses below:

Committee against Torture
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Telephone Number (41-22) 917-9000
Fax Number (41-22) 917-9006
E-mail to

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mantel of Peace upon President’s Shoulders

By Eddie Griffin (BASG)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Today has been declared the day to Blog Blast for Peace. For us, it is a day to meditate the meaning of Peace within the context of a complex world at war.

President Barack Obama is between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, he contemplates sending more troops into Afghanistan. On the other, the world community has placed the mantel of peace upon his shoulders by awarding him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

It is an agonizing dilemma, a paradox in a box, a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t situation.

I remember the face of President Lyndon B. Johnson as he agonized over the war in Vietnam. It is a hard situation to be in, because there were forces on both sides: some for war and some for peace, the same as we have today.

The problem has always been our nationalistic pride versus the cost of war, not the mention the damn-it-hell at all cost dogmatic attitude. We have been groomed and conditioned to think that just because we are Americans, we are always right and we must always win. We are intolerant of our enemies. We will not even listen to what they have to say. We have no respect for their being.

If they have a grievance against us, we will not hear it, because we are Americans, and we are always right. Whatever grievance they have against us is unrighteous and false.

We have no respect for the world community. We hate the United Nations that we created, because most of the member nations do not agree with us, like the puppet governments of the past. We no longer dominate the world. We no longer control global thinking.

But our hearts are hardened like Pharaoh. We declared a war, when there was no war, only rogues who committed a horrendous act of terrorism on September 11, 2001. But our anger and thirst for hasty revenge led us into the quagmire that we are now in.

Before a leader goes off to war, he should first sit down and count up the cost. So says the bible, a copy of which should be at the right hand of any president.

But, in the current situation, we did not sit down and count up the cost. Some in the previous administration believed that we could dispatch with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, along with Saddam Hussein, in a matter of months. All we needed was a convenient believable excuse to start, and what could be more terrifying after 9/11 than to declare that the enemy had WMDs (weapons of mass destruction).

Off to war we go. Mistakes were made, we all admit. We were not as right or righteous as we originally thought in our collective nationalistic hearts. President Barack Obama inherited these messy wars. They are now his to conquer, or his to resign his forces. It is an impossible situation to be in. It will be impossible to please everyone.

No, this is not a decision to be made by consensus. The country is divided almost 50-50. This is a decision for the President and the President alone.

Those who will criticize him for not sending more troops are the very ones who will criticize him if he does. This is strictly partisans, after the vintage of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and FOX commentators, along with politicians who capitalize on this type of partisan divide.

That there is division is a fact of life in American. Some of us are sick of war and still have the bitter taste of the WMD fiasco in our craw. It is impossible to start an unrighteous war and win it in the name of God. There is something else at work here.

To date, I have allowed some of my children to pursue military careers without uttering a word of dissent, knowing that they would be sent to Afghanistan and Iraq. To serve one’s country is the highest honor a soldier can achieve. And, there is no more noble sacrifice than a man lay down his life for his friends, family, and nation.

But I question the nobility of the war itself. I feel as though the American people are left in the blind, as to what this war is all about. For those who believe that radical Muslims hate democracy are brainwashed. Everybody loves freedom. But the Taliban wants freedom on their term, in their own country, under their own sovereignty, whether America likes it or not. These are tribal people with tribal government. A central government means nothing to them, but a loss of autonomy.
This is an unconditional line in the sand.

It is rather late in the game to go back and sit down and count up the cost of these wars. We have already paid a heavy toll in the initial investment. But the cost of war must coincide with what we mean by the concept of “War”.

War, to me, is one thing. War, to the Taliban, is another. I cannot superimpose my meaning of war upon my foe, for he fights a “holy war” in his mind, a Jihad, something Americans cannot even phantom.

Only an insurgent understands the meaning of Jihad. It means fighting down to the last man, woman, and child. It is a generational fight, bred into the minds of the children of our enemy from birth.

Have we lost a page from history? The Crusade lasted 505 years. Did we factor this into the cost of our wars? Are we prepared even for a 100-year war? Only arrogant eyes are too short to see.

Now the Mantel of Peace is upon the shoulders of President Barack Obama. People of the world believe that he has opened up a new chapter in global relations. He is a thoughtful man and well spoken. He is considerate of his neighbors. Instead of talking at neighbors and talking down to our allies, he confers with them in earnest, and listens to and respects their views. He has extended an olive branch to our foes.

Though many hate him for this conciliatory attitude, insofar as he is not brash and abrasive as his predecessors, he nevertheless is wise enough to ponder rather than be pressured.

I am reminded of a prophet who was forewarned of God not to be troubled by the hard faces of his foes, whether they hated him, whether they were angry at him, or whether they were simply hard hearted against his word. The word is this:

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)

The President should listen to his enemies and weigh their words, in the light of day. If, for no cause, they fight us, and if it is war, down to the last man, woman, and child, then so be. And, God help us all.

Annihilation for the sake of peace is a valid option.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

March Against Tasers Targets City

FROM: Eddie G. Griffin 817-721-7439

March Against Tasers Targets City

FORT WORTH, Texas – On Saturday, November 7, people will march from downtown City Hall to the uptown County Courthouse, starting at noon, to highlight the increasing number of deaths related to tasing. The march dubbed as a March for Dignity is part of a growing movement around the country and the world to end the use of tasers deployed by law enforcement.

The Fort Worth demonstration is aimed to make a statement to city leaders and law enforcement.

The controversy arises at the same time the number of taser related fatalities approaches 500. At the same time, however, Taser International, the maker of the electronic control device (ECD), continually insists the weapon is non-lethal.

In Fort Worth, when Carolyn Daniels (#138) was died on the floor in the county jail after being tasered on June 24, 2005, hardly anyone paid notice. They said she had crack cocaine in her system. Had she not, we were led to believe, she would have survived the shocking.

But Michael Jacobs Jr. (#424) had no such foreign substance in his system when he was tasered and died on April 18, 2009.

As an emissary who stood over the coffin of the 24-year old young man, I delivered a Resolution to the family on behalf of the international community, and a network of supporters. From Amnesty International to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and bloggers around the world, we raised our voices against this form of torture and death.

I shed a tear for Michael. I shed a tear for Carolyn. I shed a tear for Deacon Fredrick William (#56) whose video electrocution was shown all over the internet, shocked repeatedly in the neck until dead. The remaining 22 minutes of the video was devoted to trying to bring him back to life, and the egg-look on the face of the officers.

But I shed more tears for the living and the unborn. When Valreca Redden was tasered by Trotwood police, she was pregnant. No one can imagine the trauma to the unborn fetus as his mother was being electrocuted with 50,000 volts of electricity. She was guilty of nothing except being distraught. The baby was completely innocent.

We are just now realizing some the lingering after-effects of tasing. Some who have been tasered in the past are now beginning to show signs of involuntary neuromuscular convulsions, what we otherwise would call the “twitches”.

Imagine, if you will, the last minute of Michael Junior’s life, for that is just about how long it took Officer Stephanie Phillips to summarily electrocute him and terminate his life.

For one minute, hold your breath, and close your eyes, and imagine sticking your finger into a light socket. Hold it there for one minute, while 240 volts of electricity race through your body. Are you still holding your breath?

That is what happened to Michael Jacobs Jr. But instead of 240 volts, it is 50,000 volts, blazing inside his body, for one whole minute. At the first jolt, the muscles contract and hold, and hold, and hold, until there is a release. If there is no release, the organ muscles shut down and organs began to pop.

Michael could not breathe, even if he wanted to. The lung muscles shut down. The heart muscle shut down. The bile burst, and the organs fried like chicken, for one eternity of a minute. Thus, what the coroner saw was ruled a homicide.

Consider the Poem by Willie Jolley:

I have only just a minute, only sixty seconds in it
Forced upon me, can't refuse it
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it,
But it's up to me to use it
I must suffer if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute
But Eternity is in it.

In memory of Michael Jacobs Jr. by Eddie G. Griffin (BASG)