By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM

FCN Full Coverage: Justice for Marlene Pinnock

Actress and activist T’Keyah Crystal Keymah (holding mic) speaks words of support love and solidarity at event for Marlene Pinnock. Photos: Charlene Muhammad

LOS ANGELES ( Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Attorney Caree Harper, and more than 60 Black women from local women’s organizations held a press conference and fundraising reception for Marlene Pinnock, the 51-year-old then homeless Black woman savagely beaten by California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Andrew.

During the Sept. 12 event at the Foundation Center in Los Angeles, Rep. Waters and the women leaders united with Ms. Pinnock’s Attorney Caree Harper to do all they could to not only keep her off the streets, but to seek justice.

Left to right, Rep. Maxine Waters, Marlene Pinnock and Atty. Caree Harper.

“As African-American women and in the absence of justice, we are left to live with the fear that what happened to Marlene Pinnock could also happen to one of us,” said Rep. Waters.

 “Ms. Pinnock should not be abandoned by our community while she is fighting for justice, especially given the health challenges she faces as a result of this brutal beating,” the lawmaker added.

Rep. Waters issued a call for CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow to meet with the coalition, mobilizing under the Black Women’s Forum Justice for Marlene Pinnock Coalition.   They want to know what his next steps are and whether Mr. Andrew will remain on paid leave or will he be fired.

Mr. Andrew was stripped of his gun and badge and the CHP has forwarded results of its criminal investigation to the Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, the first woman and first Black person appointed to the seat.

Atty. Harper has consistently called on D.A. Lacey to press charges against Mr. Andrew. The Justice for Marlene Pinnock Coalition issued the same call, Sept. 12.  

“In my personal opinion, having seen the video, I certainly do not believe he is innocent and our coalition is serving to demand the justice that Marlene Pinnock and our community deserve after having our trust so blatantly violated,” said Rep. Waters.

CHP is alleging Ms. Pinnock pushed the officer. Investigator Sean Taketa outlined the July 1 incident in a request to search Ms. Pinnock’s medical records. The narrative in the search warrant was made public in court documents last month and is the first detailed account of the incident since a passing driver released cellphone video that went viral. Several people made 911 calls saying she was walking barefoot on the freeway off ramp.

Ofc. Andrew arrived and told Ms. Pinnock she could walk off or have a ride away from the freeway, according to the warrant. She walked away without listening to his instructions and moved partially into traffic, so Andrew “grabbed her arm to prevent her from being struck by traffic. Ms. Pinnock resisted by pushing the officer,” the documents say.

Ofc. Andrew then straddled her on the ground as Pinnock resisted by “kicking her legs, grabbing the officer’s uniform and twisting her body,” the investigator wrote. Andrew “struck her in the upper torso and head several times with a closed right fist,” the records say.

The CHP said in its initial report that the officer arrested her out of fear for both of their safety and that the officer was trying to protect Ms. Pinnock.    

“That story about him helping her is not a credible story.   If you want to help me, don’t beat me up.   Don’t punch me!   Don’t straddle me with your gloved fist and pound me time and time again. That’s no help,” Rep. Waters told The Final Call.

She also said it is key to engage state legislators and for them to repeal the Policeman’s Bill of Rights which is a type of protection that allows cities to shield the names of officers and even to grant justifiable homicide rulings in most cases.

Rep. Waters cited data in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement “Every 28 Hours” report detailing 313 deaths of Blacks at the hands of police officers, security guards and vigilantes.

“We’ve heard it over and over again, the excuses that they use, they went for my gun or they charged at me. That’s old hat now.   That’s old hat, and I think now people know that this business of accusing everybody of going after their gun is a lie and it does not compute,” she said.

Rep. Waters added, “I know many of them may be frightened. They may be intimidated, but as they see and watch what is going on, somebody’s heart has got to be touched by what is happening and come forward to lead this effort.”

The women raised approximately $20,000 at the Sept. 12 event to help take care of Ms. Pinnock. Many pledged to give more and encourage others to donate.

T’Keyah Crystal Keymah, actress, director and writer, who lives in L.A. and Chicago, was pleased to stand with Ms. Pinnock at the gathering.   She said people in Chicago are supporting Ms. Pinnock. Ms. Keymah brought greetings from not just performers, but men.  

“Men watched that video and saw their mother being beaten.   They saw their daughter being beaten. They saw their wives being beaten,” Ms. Keymah said. As mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends, Black women are not going to let another sister fall she added.

“We’re going to stand up.   We’re going to fly where we have to. Show up where we have to. For every one of us that’s here, 50 of us are standing with you,” Ms. Keymah said to Ms. Pinnock.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)