Jesse Jackson says Lima police should be prosecuted for death in raid

2/11/2008
BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks to students at Lima Senior High School today.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks to students at Lima Senior High School today.

LIMA, Ohio The Rev. Jesse Jackson said today that Lima police should be prosecuted for the shooting death of a biracial woman during a drug raid last month.

There must be a deterrent, not just for the man who pulled the trigger, but for those who planned [the raid], he told reporters at a news conference following a closed-door meeting with Lima and Allen County officials.

He called the shooting unnecessary force, excessive, and illegal.

Mayor David Berger said, while he welcomed Mr. Jackson to Lima, he was disappointed by his comments about the shooting.

It s inappropriate and unjustified. He doesn t have all the facts to make that kind of judgement, the mayor told The Blade.

Mr. Jackson this morning brought a message of hope and unity to about 1,300 students at Lima Senior High School.

In town to meet with community leaders in the wake of the Jan. 4 shooting by police of Tarika Wilson, he encouraged students to stay in school, avoid drugs, and learn to live with their neighbors.

If we don t communicate with each other, we become afraid of each other and then we fight each other, he said.

He asked how many students in the audience were 17 and were not registered to vote. When more than 100 stood up, he had them come down and register right on stage.

Young people have the power to shape the world in which we live, he said.

Mr. Jackson started his day in Lima with a private breakfast meeting with area clergy and is to meet this afternoon with community leaders for a roundtable discussion. He is to speak at a public meeting at 6 p.m. at a baptist church in Lima.

From previous editons of The Blade and toledoblade.com

LIMA, Ohio - The Rev. Jesse Jackson is to spend today in Lima, sharing a message of hope, healing, and reconciliation after Tarika Wilson, 26, a black mother of six, was killed by a white police officer during a drug raid at the home where she and her boyfriend lived.

"We must seize this moment," Mr. Jackson said last night in a phone interview with The Blade as he traveled from Chicago to Lima for what he said is his first visit to the city.

In his speeches and conversations, he plans to talk about economic security as well, addressing the impact of the subprime mortgage crisis.

That's part of the movement he describes as moving from a racial battleground to economic common ground to a moral higher ground.

His day in Lima is to culminate with a rally that is expected to draw 2,000 people to Philippian Missionary Baptist Church. That would be a standing-room crowd in the sanctuary with the overflow watching on closed-circuit television, the Rev. B. LaMont Monford, Sr., the senior pastor at Philippian, said.

Mr. Monford predicted audience members will be from throughout northern Ohio, including Akron and Cleveland, along with a broad spectrum of Lima-area residents.

"We definitely want this to be indicative of the rainbow," he said.

Mr. Jackson's day is to start with a private breakfast meeting with about 50 pastors at a Lima restaurant. Most of the pastors are expected to be from Allen County, but some are to come from as far as Akron, Columbus, and Fort Wayne, Ind.

Mr. Jackson is to talk about building bridges among churches and other groups.

From there, he is to go to Lima Senior

High School to address 1,300 freshmen through seniors on the importance of taking advantage of education and other opportunities.

"It's an honor to host someone who has made remarkable history," Lima City Schools Superintendent Karel S. Oxley said.

Mr. Jackson isn't the first well-known speaker to address the senior class. In their high school career, the seniors also have been an audience for President George W. Bush and former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

Mr. Jackson said he will advise the teenagers to "push for excellence and learn to live together."

Ms. Oxley said she hoped the weather is not so harsh that classes are canceled for students.

"I just hope they're really able to listen to the message of harmony and peace," she said.

After speaking to students, Mr. Jackson is to turn his attention to Lima and Allen County elected officials in a meeting at James A. Rhodes State College.

"We must find some way to get equal protection under the law," he said last night, adding that Wilson was thought to be unarmed on Jan. 4 when she was shot while holding her baby.

He also planned to talk about violence and its causes.

"Around the nation, there's just a rash of violence," he said.

The impetus for Mr. Jackson's visit today is a meeting he had with five black ministers in Memphis last month.

"We were seeking his wisdom," Mr. Monford said.

The fatal shooting of Wilson and the injury to the 1-year-old son she was holding - one of his fingers was amputated - sparked numerous protests in the city.

Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, the white officer who shot Wilson, remains on paid leave as the incident is investigated.

"The best advice he gave us was the absolute necessity of building coalitions that cross racial, ethnic, and religious lines," Mr. Monford said of the pastors' discussion with Mr. Jackson.

To that end, a group of local pastors has been holding weekly lunch meetings. The group is planning a Palm Sunday evening service in the Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center in Lima.

Similar efforts have happened on a smaller scale for years in Lima. But after Wilson's shooting, the urgency of such work increased, Mr. Monford said.

Enter Mr. Jackson, founder of the Rainbow Coalition and a former Democratic presidential candidate who has been a negotiator in hostile situations from Kenya to Kuwait.

"His life has been built around building coalitions," Mr. Monford said.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.