Some of the strongest freedom fighters are the mothers of the sons and daughters that have suffered the harshest form of oppression under the US police and carceral state. One such mother is Dawn Renee Felton, mother of Kwadir Felton, a youth who was blinded for life by police bullet and who is now serving a lengthy sentence after a trial that can only be described as having occurred to cover up the police crime of his shooting.
A posting on Dawn Felton’s Facebook wall of a link to a recent New York Times article about outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder’s support for police every time matters have gone before the US Supreme Couty regarding police violence was much more than a random sharing by Ms. Felton. To her the matter, and Holder’s position on such issues is quite personal. Dawn Felton has recently written to the Justice Department asking for the US Justice Department to intervene on the side of justice for her son Kwadir.
Here is Dawn Felton’s letter:
Dawn Felton at recent Decarcerate Bridgeton / Southwoods Event on April 4:
Dear U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,
My name is Dawn Felton and I’m the mother of Kwadir Felton. On January 10, 2010 Kwadir Felton was shot in the head by Sergeant Thomas McVicar. He did survive. Now he is visual impaired for the rest of his life. Kwadir went to trial on November 14, 2013. He was found guilty of all charges. He was charged with fourth degree aggravated assault on a police officer, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and unlawful possession of a hand gun on three consecutive accounts, which McVicar put false charges on Felton to cover up the shooting as well as the sweep with out an arrest or search warrant.
There is evidence to suggest that Felton is telling the truth, his Fingerprints and DNA were no where to be found on the weapon in questioning. The police version of events is full of holes and discrepancies at every turn. However, it remains unclear whether McVicar was on or off duty that night. There was no physical evidence showing he worked that day, there was no timesheet and no dispatch.
Even more damaging is that McVicar did not immediately report the shooting, instead he reported that shots were fired sending the Jersey City Police Department and the State Police to a different location for twenty to thirty minutes where there was no shooting after Felton was shot. On the crime scene there was no gun photographed with his body. The crime scene was tampered with. McVicar pushed Felton down after he shot him, Felton sat up then McVicar was kicking Felton’s right leg. Also, called into question is McVicar’s claim that he shot Felton with his 4.5 caliber service weapon. Which on trial a sergeant directs an unnamed officer from the scene testified he went to the scene bagged the gun took it to the police headquarters for storage without registering it as evidence and brought it back two hours later to be photographed at the crime scene. The defense’s forensic pathologist, testified as an expert witness that it would have been impossible for Felton to survive a shot to the head with a 4.5 caliber with hollow point bullets at close range. Even though the bullet wound to Felton’s head was a through and through wound, meaning it entered one end and exited the other, the bullet was never recovered from the scene, leaving more questions than answers.
Sergeant Thomas McVicar testified he never wrote a police report on the shooting, he never filed a use of force or deadly force report, he never testify at his own excessive force hearing, he never filed an 802 report, he never testify in front of the grand jury. McVicar violates the Attorney General guide lines. McVicar also testified he was in his own personal vehicle and used his own personal weapon. McVicar is known to use excessive force in many many cases.
Kwadir is now housed at South Woods State Prison. My son is not getting proper medical attention that he needs. He suffers seizures from emotions, he is legally blind, his sinus cavity was shattered from the bullet and he gets lots of sinus infections, he suffers from severe headaches, he needs CT Scan on his head twice a year. Kwadir needs to see his eye doctor that he had since the incident happen. The Commission for the blind was teaching Kwadir how to
deal with being blind three times out of the week, now that he is in prison they do not fund him. This case needs to be investigated by a higher authority. “PLEASE HELP MY SON”
Sincerely, Dawn Felton
Ms. Felton received a response that the Department of Justice would look into it and get back to her in 60 days.
And now the New York Times has reported: “At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments. Even as it has opened more than 20 civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices, the Justice Department has staked out positions that make it harder for people to sue the police and that give officers more discretion about when to fire their guns. . . . Police groups see Mr. Holder as an ally in that regard, and that pattern has rankled civil rights lawyers, who say the government can have a far greater effect on policing by interpreting law at the Supreme Court than through investigations of individual departments.”
There are many mother warriors around the USA these days that have lost their sons, daughters, husbands, lovers to police bullets, to the swinging batons, to vicious beatings and even to dogs. Unlike many of the others, Dawn’s son Kwadir survived – not that the police and officials wanted it that way. Though he was shot in the head through and through – 3 days later he was moved out of the ICU and placed in a County Jail with a half a million dollars bail. Obviously it would have been more convenient to the system had Kwadir perished.
This is a case where they prosecuted the victim of police violence as part of a cover up. They charged him for a gun that had no DNA nor blood on it, that had left the site and come back to the site. The irregularities in McVicar’s behavior after he shot Kwadir in the head are staggering. Then they arrested Kwadir on trumped up conspiracy charges that had nothing at all to do with the police shooting of him and they allowed the charges to be combined into a single trial – clearly tainting any fairness for Kwadir in either of the cases.
The following are some links with more information:
The shame goes beyond the police department to the prosecutor and the judge that ruled against Kwadir on motion after motion and on the entire political establishment of New Jersey which sat silently as this prosecution and sentencing proceeded. And even we in the various justice and human rights formations – while we might stand and we might speak out for the myriad of justice demands including for Kwadir – we have been largely unable to successfully leverage our might into a force to be reckoned with to be able to impact for the cause of justice in Kwadir’s case and in so many other cases.
Like so many of the other mothers, Dawn Felton has a quest to see justice done. She is working with a legal clinic and they will soon assign an attorney to file an appeal which given all of the irregularities in this case as well as the disdain for Attorney General guidelines of Officer McVicar and the Jersey City police, it is likely that the appeal will prevail.
Dawn Felton has also had to withstand indignities from corrections authorities that originally denied Kwadir’s request to place her on the visitation list. Decarcerate theGarden State and other justice organizations conducted a pressure campaign to help allow her to be added to the visitation list.
She has also demonstrated leadership in the formation of Southwoods Family United which is working to unite families, friends and supporters of South Woods prisoners to improve conditions at the facility.
Kwadir Felton is another victim of the rampant police violence plaguing the streets of the nation right now – particularly in the Black and Brown impoverished communities. The toll of this violence is mounting almost daily.
We need to prepare . . . we will be working with Dawn Felton once the appeal is prepared to hold a hopefully large meeting in Jersey City to unify all of the justice forces of the region behind the demand to vacate the conviction, to free Kwadir Felton and to grant justice for Kwadir.
If you are interested in getting involved contact us at Decarc@DecarcerateNJ.org or contact Dawn Felton at <firstname.lastname@example.org> .
The mothers of the victims of police violence and others directly connected to these atrocities are the potential leaders of a no holds barred movement. Those that are so directly connected to the ultimate forms of oppression are not looking for political schemes . . . not looking to leverage the situation to get elected . . . less willing to compromise. Some of these mothers might not be Ivy League professors and masters of eloquent dialect . . . might not be read up on the volumes of revolution . . . but through their experience they have wisdom to recognize the system in all its wretchedness.
Let us rise with Dawn and demand freedom and justice for Kwadir and rise with all of the mothers that have seen their children beaten and broken and murdered by police, corrections and other operatives of the state apparatus!