Women have been killed by the police. The police are not the allies of women.
On Monday October 29, 1984 at 9:00 a.m., Eleanor Bumpers a black woman, a grandmother was shot to death by a S.W.A.T team because the police chose to kill her instead of managing to wrest a knife from an arthritic, elderly woman who happened to have mental problems.
On October 31, 1989, before dawn, 50-year-old Ida Lee Delaney was gunned down by three off-duty cops of the HPD who were on their way home after an all-night drinking binge. Apparently Ida Lee Delaney on her way work at the defunct Houston Post, had cut off Alex Gonzales on the freeway. In a fit of road rage, the men chased her down. Now this is Texas, SOMEBODY is gonna have a gun and Ida had one and began shooting at the car full of men trying to run her down not knowing that they were cops who also had guns.
After racing some 13 miles, Delaney finally pulled over. When she did, Delaney shot and wounded Gonzales; he, in turn, shot and killed her. A year later in Gonzales's trail, it would be known that after Delaney pulled over, an argument ensued between Alex and Ida provoking her into shooting him, before he returned fire and killed her.
The next City Council meeting, days after Delaney's death, hundreds of women gathered at the meeting and disrupted the session demanding that the council members talk about jailing the cops. This began before the public feedback part of the council session when Mayor Kathy Whitmire still sat at the council bench. This was the kind of organic response that long winded has-beens like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are never around for and it is also the kind of reaction that Jackson and Sharpton's detractors would never want to be caught dead at because there was no poised reenactment of
This was a council chamber full of howling angry women who remembered the 60s and 70s when cops harassed everyone; not just black men. I remember watching the disrupted meeting on local public access. For me at the time, I was taking a mid-day break before heading off to a meeting or something at S.H.A.P.E Center. At this point in my political and personal life, I was "down it" as far as community activism. I was a member of one of those Marxist-Leninist parties that sells newspapers, and although I will always believe (as I did then) that the organization I belonged to were closest to the definition of what a true socialist party is supposed to be (their members were actually workers), I was not exactly the example of the keeper of the party's norms. I wanted to be deeply involved with struggles that effected the black community and I wanted to do the work without having to hawk papers at gatherings and meetings. I was unemployed around this time, so most of my free time consisted of a two hour job search in the morning and the rest of the day was all about coalition meetings, hanging at the Library, etc. But now, I'm watching this event at the city council live and I'm thinking that if I leave my seat to get down there, I'm going to miss these women expressing their outrage of this murder committed by drunken cops.
When the broadcast ended, I began to prioritize in my mind about what should I do next as I was putting on my shoes. See, the major thing I was involved in was the Clarence Brandley coalition. This was a group joined in getting Brandley, who at the time was on death row for nine years for the rape and murder of a younger white woman in
Besides being a community center that served the youth of Third Ward in the way of after-school programs, the S.H.A.P.E center also served as a meeting place for grassroots organizations like the Clarance Brandley coalition. The center was founded and ran by Deloyd Parker Jr. My first visit to the center was at the old location on Live Oak for their Pan-African festival. There was always something going on there, so naturally, the first meeting of those who were outraged over Ida Lee Delaney's murder was at the S.H.A.P.E center.
The energy was palpable. The number of people there tripled the amount of Clarence Brandley members during mobilization periods before an action and the range of diversity of people there was also noticeable. There were plenty of younger, newer faces, women, people of color, old faces I new from Anti-Apartheid work and other movements. At this time, I was still nowhere near the cynical period (that was fast approaching) in my life, and neither were the majority of the young people at this meeting but that would all change as soon as the "leaders" of our infant movement began to rise and take center stage.
I only heard of Ada Edwards before the Delaney killing. I may have seen her before here and there in past political actions, but she usually gave speeches at rallies when speakers got up to talk, if they weren't the victims or eyewitnesses to something, then I'd zone out and acted like I was hawking the paper. Although I may not have actually seen Ada, I did hear her a day before the first Delaney meeting on KPFT talking about the case and the city council meeting; that's how I knew about the first gathering in the first place. Anyway,
Naturally Ida Lee Delaney's killing struck a chord with many women of color who felt that violence under patriarchy comes easily aimed towards women (their feelings were valid), so Ada took the leading voice and position around the organizing efforts to form a coalition. Little did people know that there was a gender battle brewing under the surface between the male leaders and
You see, members of the Clarance Brandley coalition assumed that they would organize around Delaney's case; fold her murder into the general stance of the Clarence Brandley coalition against an unjust "justice" system. A lot of the women who wanted the new organizing efforts around Delaney wanted an independent organization and have the efforts of the organization focused on other issues concerning women and violence. To me, it was logical and women should have had a voice and should have been at the lead of an organization that sought justice for Delaney.
There may have also been a valid concern that Delaney's case would no longer be a focus with Brandley's case possibly coming to a close. However, whispers to my ear at the time was that
A movement to seek justice against state-sponsored murder (when cops kill unarmed people) can only be as strong as it's members and "leadership". The excited young people and angry outraged women were soon quelled and ran off by those who shared a affinity with
End of Pt. 1