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Law power!

Top US attorneys join Mario Deane case

BY KARYL WALKER Editor - Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014    

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TWO prominent US-based attorneys, who represented the family of murdered Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, have joined forces with Miguel Lorne to represent the grieving family of Mario Deane to seek justice for his controversial death while in the custody of the Barnett Street police in early August.

Jasmine Rand, a civil rights attorney and human rights activist, and Benjamin Crump, president-elect of the National Bar Association and who represents the family of Michael Brown, who was killed under controversial circumstances by police in Ferguson, Missouri, have opted to join the legal team and lend their support.

Deane was beaten, allegedly by fellow inmates, after he was arrested on August 3 for possession of a small amount of ganja. He was denied bail after he voiced his dislike for the police and later taken to hospital after suffering severe injuries. He died three days later.

The police initially told doctors at the Cornwall Regional Hospital that Deane fell off a bunk, which led to his relatives and friends staging a massive demonstration in Montgo Bay to protest against his killing, which they blamed on the police.

Other demonstrations were staged by civil society groups and howls of condemnation rang out in the aftermath of Deane's demise.

His autopsy has been postponed until his relatives secure the services of an independent pathologist to oversee the examination.

Two of Deane's fellow inmates have since been charged with his death.

Trayvon Martin was killed in controversial fashion in the US by George Zimmerman, who trailed him and shot him several times even though he was unarmed, while Michael Brown is the latest in a long line of young black men who have died at the hands of the American police under controversial circumstances. His death has triggered a rash of demonstrations and rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, and forced the American Government to call out the National Guard to restore order.

"Human rights violations cannot be tolerated whether they occur in Sanford, Florida; in Ferguson, Illinois; or in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Human rights are universal, they are not a black thing or white thing, they do not adhere to only Christian, Muslim, or Rasta, and they do not start or stop at international borders. Humanity itself is universal, what happened to Trayvon affected Jamaicans, what happened to Mario Deane affects Americans. As a human family we must unite to fight injustice wherever it is found," Rand said.

Crump echoed Rand's sentiments.

"I am Mario Deane. I send my love and support to his family. We stand beside you in your fight for justice and equality for your son. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and everywhere we must fight the police brutality and misconduct that ravages the poor and oppressed in every nation," he said.

Lorne said Deane was viciously beaten while in police custody until his head was swollen to nearly twice its normal size when he died in hospital on Jamaica's Independence Day, August 6. Lorne alleged that the case clearly resulted from police brutality and/or misconduct.

"Whether or not law enforcement directly participated in the beating, they certainly turned a blind eye to Mario Deane's screams and cries for help. When the police agency arrested Mario Deane and placed him in custody, they assumed responsibility for his life. I hope that Jamaican citizens and the international community will listen to his family's cry for justice for Mario Deane," Lorne said.

Lorne will be hosting a press conference and a peaceful protest in front of the Jamaican consulate in New York this morning.

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