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Mar. 2 2010 - 11:54 am | 399 views | 1 recommendation | 3 comments

Mother of Jordan Miles, teen beaten by Pittsburgh police, speaks out

terez miles_post gazetteIn a recent letter to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers, Terez Miles (pictured above, center), the mother of Jordan Miles, the teen allegedly beaten by Pittsburgh police on January 11, speaks out in intimate detail about her son’s ordeal.

To provide some context, Miles’ letter is a response to a cartoon Rogers drew depicting Pittsburgh police as racists, a piece that generated considerable public backlash from Post-Gazette readers. Since then, Rogers has defended his cartoon on TV and radio, as well as on his blog:

Sure, editorial cartoonists like to stir things up. It comes with the job. We draw to get a reaction. But we also draw to expose what we see as abuses of power and to give a voice to the people. On February 3rd I published a cartoon about the Jordan Miles beating that angered Pittsburgh Police. I was on TV and radio defending the cartoon and explaining that I have a deep respect for the police and was not calling the entire police force racist.

The reaction Rogers’ cartoon elicited from the public echoes the same mixed sentiments of those outraged by the beating of Jordan Miles, and those who believe police acted properly. In other words, the public remains split on the issue. In her letter to Rogers, Terez Miles addresses public reaction, among issues such as racism and abuse of power. Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Rogers:

I am Terez Miles, Jordan Miles’ mother. A friend of mine made me aware of your cartoon, which blasts the three Pgh. police officers that brutally attacked my son. It was suggested to me by this same friend, that I contact Police Chief Nate Harper to let him know that I don’t condone the cartoon. I will not, and here’s why.

First of all, I am a huge fan of your work and have been for a long time. You certainly have every right to express yourself any way you wish and represent the public’s opinion and/or outrage on a topic as you see fit in the course of doing your job.

Secondly, no one, to my knowledge, much less you or I, have blamed the entire Pgh. police dept. or sought to demonize all cops because of the actions of a few. However, you wouldn’t know this by reading and listening to the crazed rantings of those determined to protect and defend the police. Despite what has happened, Jordan and I still have a great deal of respect for police officers and know that most are good. Still, we are amazed at the totally irrational inability of so many people to admit that SOME cops do violate the civil rights of citizens. SOME cops do operate as though they’re above the law. SOME cops are racists, and SOME do unfairly assume that all African American males who dare to emerge from their homes after dark must be up to no good.

Thirdly, on the topic of racism, I don’t believe that it should be overlooked as an issue in this case. While police brutality is a separate issue that does occur indiscriminately, there is no doubt in my mind that these three officers would never have behaved as they did on the night of January 12th in a white community, with a a young white man out walking after dark. Many people have spoken out with disgust over any attempt to inject racism into this incident, but I wish that those people were intelligent enough and open minded enough to see clearly the TWO important dynamics at work here: police brutality AND racism. At the very least, we should be able to see that Jordan was unfairly profiled and assumed to be a criminal due to his appearance–something that should be completely unacceptable to all. Furthermore, some have judged Jordan’s style of dress or choice to wear his hair long, in neat dreadlocks, as if these choices somehow made him deserving of that vicious beat-down. To those unfortunate souls, I ask a question: Who then, should be the arbiter of fashion and hairstyling? The answer to me is obvious: NO ONE. This was a free country, the last time I checked.

Finally, I wish everyone could know Jordan, and see for themselves just how genuinely good he is. He isn’t a fighter. He isn’t a criminal. He doesn’t run from cops. In fact, before he was assaulted, he was just naiive enough to truly believe that cops were honorable servants and protectors of the public. Why would he assume anything less? He’s NEVER had the type of lifestyle that would put him afoul of the police. Jordan has stated many times that had he known they were cops, he wouldn’t have tried to run, slipped on the ice, and gotten beaten so badly. Why would an innocent person run from who they know to be police? What those three thugs did to my son that night had nothing to do with legitimate police work. I know that they did NOT identify themselves and there are several plausible reasons why they might fail to do so: 1) They were operating as thugs, “bullies with badges,” and clearly without regard to laws, rules or regulations. 2) They were absolutely certain that even though they were breaking protocol, this black youth, out after dark, HAD to be guilty of something, and therefore their actions would be justified and the truth never known. 3) They’ve gotten away with it before. 4) the ARROGANCE OF POWER.

Mr. Rogers, thank you for taking the time to read this. I release you to share this e-mail with whom ever you wish. Keep up the good work. You have real talent and I love your cartoons.

Terez Miles

It’s been nearly two months since Jordan Miles was allegedly beaten and arrested by three undercover Pittsburgh police officers. Since then, little progress has been made in the case. Last week, Miles passed an FBI lie detector test. But prior to that, the only news to surface was the postponement of his preliminary hearing. As more time passes, Miles’ story continues to fade from headlines and public memory. Many have speculated that this is precisely what the Pittsburgh police are hoping, that time will erase the incident from memory. Hopefully that’s a cynical view.


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    Thanks Matthew, we are hearing about this story periodically in South Carolina and I have passed your blog to some friends who were interested. Keep up the good work and hopefully the “good” will win out over the evil in this tragic case.

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    I am a writer, editor, and blogger who lives and works in the once-decaying heart of America's Rust Belt (i.e. Pittsburgh, PA). My work focuses on subculture, crime, mental health, race, class, and creativity.

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