18 May 2007

Ron Pettaway Was Reared in an Impressive African-American Family

This morning, I spoke with Army Sergeant First Class Roy Pettaway, father of Roy (21), Cruz (18), and the late Ron Pettaway, and I also spoke with Sergeant Pettaway's wife, Shalonda Pettaway. It grieves me deeply that such a beautiful and upstanding Black American family has been the victim of such an intentional tragedy as the police execution of Ron on April 15, when police also shot Ron's brother Roy in the back.

The late Ron Pettaway came from an impressive family. Sergeant Roy Pettaway's youngest son, Cruz, was his brothers' designated driver on the night when Ron was killed by police at the Frozen Palace bar. Cruz is eighteen years old, a high school senior and "has always been an "A" student, 9th, 10, 11th, 12th grade. Cruz will graduate from Banneker High School in College Park, Georgia on May 25th with a 4.0 average. Cruz is a member of the National Honor Society, and the Future Business Leaders of America," said Shalonda Pettaway, Cruz' step-mother.

Cruz "is very special, very likable," says his father. "All of his teachers love him. He's going to do great things in the world. He wants to go to Georgia Tech University. He has been accepted at DeVry University. He has applied for several engineering scholarships and has received a $1,500 scholarship from. He gets a Hope Scholarship based on his GPA. He plans to be a computer engineer," said Mrs. Pettaway.

If Cruz has accomplished much in his first 18 years, it cannot be a mere coincidence that his father, Sergeant First Class Roy Pettaway, is a man with with 29 years of service to his country in the US Army , while his grandfather, the Rev. Roy Pettaway, is a minister in a Florida Church. Ron Pettaway, who was killed by police, was a member of the Powder Sprints Business Association and engaged to be married to his business partner, Lisa Sayer.

When I hear the details of a loving and highly functional Black family losing a member to an inexplicable act of the police, this is what grieves and angers me most: If Blacks like the Sergeant Roy Pettaway family are not safe from police violence, then who is safe?

17 May 2007

Sergeant Roy Pettaway Joins Afrosphere, Seeks Justice in the Police Execution of His Son Ron.

Cross-posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog.

“I’m willing to stand up and make change,” says Army Sergeant First Class Roy Pettaway, the deceased's father.

After 29 years in the military, Mr. Roy Pettaway is a lifetime military man, a Sergeant First Class who joined the US Army in 1978, and is stationed at Fort Gordon, in Augusta, Georgia. His father is the Rev. Roy Pettaway, a pastor at church in Milton, Florida.

On April 15 of this year, when two of Sergeant Pettaway’s sons, Ron and Roy, wanted to visit an Atlanta bar, Sergeant Pettaway asked his younger son, Cruz, to be their designated driver, chauffeuring Ron and Roy to the Frozen Palace bar.

Before they left that evening, Sergeant Pettaway’s son Ron, who was just six days shy of his twenty-eight birthday, looked into his father’s eyes and said, “God has a special job for you to do.” That was the last time that Sergeant Pettaway saw his son alive. Just minutes later, Fulton County police officers took Ron Pettaway outside the Frozen Palace Bar and shot him in the a back of the head, also shooting Roy (21) in the back when he tried to help his brother.

Now, Sergeant Roy Pettaway is speaking out and demanding justice. “My sons didn’t wear baggy pants,” says Sergeant Pettaway. “They had nice clean haircuts, but because they are Black men people saw them as a threat.” “I just want to find the facts. I want justice. The authorities haven’t said anything. Not even, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

In the days after the execution of Ron Pettaway, Francis L. Holland, a blogger from national group of Black bloggers called the Afrosphere, set up a Ron Pettaway Justice March blog to share information with Black people nationally about a march and funeral organized by the deceased family. Today, Sergeant Pettaway contacted Mr. Holland from Atlanta and said he wants to start blogging himself, to share information with the entire world and begin organizing a response to the excess use of police force that took his son’s life and that takes the lives of other Blacks daily.

“We have to come together and we have to join together,” says Sergeant Pettaway. “My son Roy, he lost his life. He had no weapons, no knife. My son Roy was shot down. “He was fun, cheerful, caring man. He would help anyone, he helped to take care of his mother. He and Lisa (Sayer) were engaged to be married. They had started a business together.” It’s been 32 days now, and the authorities have not said one word to my family,” about results of an investigation.

When you lose a son, “Your life is completely different,” says Sergeant Pettaway. “A piece of you has just been wiped out. It’s torn us apart, it hurts so much. And we just wait for an answer, a word or anything. They killed my son, but the law is protecting the police. Those police officers are on administrative leave with pay. They go home every night. If that were me or you right now who shot one man in the back of the head and another man in the back.”

Francis L. Holland and Sargeant Pettaway will now become co-administrators of the Ron Pettaway March blog, which in turn is a member of the Afrosphere’s Black Accused Support Groups blogs, guided by Eddie G. Griffin (BASG). “The Black Accused Support Groups is a national group of Black families, friends, co-workers and community members of Black people, sharing information and demanding equality of justice from the American criminal and civil (in)justice systems,” said Attorney Holland.

Sergeant Pettaway says there are his goals as well. “I want to find out what other families have done, what has happened in other families’ cases. We need to find out whether there is an ongoing investigation or whether these cases have just been pushed to the side. If we have officers shooting members of the public and the officers are wrong, then that needs to be addressed. It doesn’t matter if you are Black, white, Chinese or Hispanic. When we come together, we can make change. I’m willing to stand up and make change.”

At least four founding members of the Afrosphere blogs are Black lawyers, including the bloggers at the Francis L. Holland Blog, the Field Negro blog and the Make it Plain blog. Although they do not offer legal representation through the Afrosphere, they use their legal talents and training to orient the public through their blogs.

Although Sergeant Pettaway is angry, he says he wants justice, not vengeance. “I want everyone to love each other and to treat each other equally. We need justice in America and we need the legal system changed.”

Mr. Pettaway says that his superiors and his peers in the military have supported him and he notes that the Powder Springs Business Association of which his son was a member has started Ron Pettaway website to lend support to the Pettaway family.

“They shot down two unarmed men, not one but two,” said Sergeant Pettaway. “And they shot them in the back. How long does it take to figure this out? The police had the guns, they had the weapons and they shot my two unarmed sons from behind. That’s not a dark place. He knew my son was unarmed. The world is waiting for some answers.”

23 April 2007

Hundreds March Demanding Justice In Police Execution of Ron Pettaway

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On Saturday morning, hundreds gathered at Atlanta's Frozen Palace Bar, where an unarmed Black man, Ron Pettaway, was shot in the back of the head by police on April 15. His brother Roy was also shot in the back in the same police attack. Ron Pettaway was among a dozed people killed by area police in the last year, including a 92 year-old Black woman shot to death in a botched police raid. Atlanta Journal Constitution, cited at Pettaway Website

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, who organized the Pettaway March, said,

"The family of Ron Pettaway has made a determination that they are the last family to go through this. We are going to call for a major march in the city of Atlanta. We are going to shut this city down to make them stop killing our young men." AJC at Pettaway Website

Vivian Moore, President of the Dekalb NAACP, organized a witness debriefing session, saying, "We cannot allow our people to be killed without action." AJC

Ron Pettaway has been executed by police and none of us will let American forget it, particularly since any one of us could be next. The Pettway family has set up a Ron Pettaway website to publicize the case and build public pressure for justice, including a compendium of the media attention the case has received thus far. And now his friends in Florida and Georgia are speaking out:

In response to the new Ron Pettaway March and Funeral Blog that I started to notify Ron's community of the march and funeral arrangements, and to organize Blacks to protest Ron's execution, Tiffanie Sweetman-Delacruz said:

"My name is Tiffanie Sweetman-Delacruz. Ron and Roy are long time friends of mine. Ron was my best friend since childhood. We were inseparable until he moved away to Atlanta. But we never lost touch. He was the most caring, funny, and outrageous person I have ever known. Justice WILL be given to him and his family. We are putting together a vigil in his memory here in Pensacola, FL, the town where he grew up. The date is not exact. But we are hoping for the beginning of May. He will never be forgotten. He will always be loved and missed dearly. God speed. We love you Ron." Ron Pettaway Justice March Blog

Loni at SoulPhotoNet.com, a Black blog in the area, also vowed that Ron's community would seek justice for Ron's execution by police, saying:

"I don't think the family will let this rest and I plan on being at every rally, march or whatever it takes to ensure that justice is done. The family is being represented by the Cochran Law Firm and a march is being planned. Ron was more than just a friend to me he was like family and he was special and the type of person you would and will never forget. A great person was lost on April 15, 2007." SoulPhotoNet.com

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19 April 2007

Maps to Ron Pettaway March and Funeral, Saturday, April 21, 2007

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Ron Pettaway (born 04/21/1980 and executed by Fulton County police on 04/15/2007), and Roy Pettaway, shot while attempting to defend his brother. See Atlanta Journal Constitution

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Map to College Park, Georgia

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

Roy Pettaway, brother of the man executed, who was released from Grady Tuesday, has already hired a lawyer as his family completes funeral arrangements for his brother. A 10 a.m. service is scheduled for Saturday at Liveoak Baptist Church, 2601 Flat Shoals Road, in College Park on what would have been Ron Pettaway's 27th birthday.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a civil rights activist and Pettaway family spokesman, said there will be a march from the Frozen Palace to a church on Old National where the funeral will be held.

A special section in the church's sanctuary, Hutchins added, will be set aside for the families of other metro Atlantans allegedly victimized by police.

Afrosphere members now call upon Afrosphere members and readers who live in the Atlanta area, or anywhere in Georgia, to attend the march from the Frozen Palace in College Park, GA to the Live Oak Baptist Church where the funeral will be held. The funeral itself will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 10:00 a.m., on what would have been Ron's 27th birthday.

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Map of March Route, Saturday, April 12, 2007.

Here are printable directions to the march and funeral.

Jennifer & Scott Morgan have left a new comment on your post "The Afrosphere and Police "Excess Force":

This is such a tragic situation. The family just wants justice and answers. A web site, http://ronpettaway.com, has been set up for the family. The community is outraged by this crime. Ron Pettaway was NOT a violent man. He was quite the contrary. He was a respectable business man, neighbor and loving fiancé'. His smile entered the room before he did.

"Before he was executed, Ron and his wife Lisa ran a Floor Doctor carpet cleaning franchise in Marietta/Powder Springs Georgia, business listed as a member of the Powder Springs (GA) Business Association."

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Driving Directions to the March, Saturday April 21, 2007.

The Powder Springs Business Association, Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, SixCities.com and SSMorgan Enterprises, Inc have set up a Memorial Fund at RBC Centura Bank for his family and fiancé' Lisa Sayer. Ron and Lisa own a carpet cleaning company in Marietta/Powder Springs called the Floor Doctor, Inc. He will be greatly missed.

The Pettaway family has called on Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to intervene.

The family of two unarmed brothers shot by Fulton County police after a bar fight called on Gov. Sonny Perdue on Wednesday to declare a state of emergency for the numerous police-involved shootings that have happened recently in metro Atlanta.

"It is your responsibility...as governor of this state, to intervene," read the letter signed by the Rev. Markel Hutchins, spokesman for the Petteway family.

"We call on you to form a blue-ribbon panel to proffer substantive changes in public policy relative to how we train and regulate Georgia peace officers," Hutchins said. Examiner.Com

This Afrosphere blog expresses its profound sympathies to the Pettways and invites the Pettways to join the Afrosphere's Black Accused Support Groups (BASG), which is a national union of the blogs set up for Black people seeking justice from the American criminal (in)justice system. Black Accused Support Groups blogs are interlinked across America to provide support, lay advice and information to Black accuseds, victims of criminal system injustice, their families, friends and communities. When Blacks demand justice, we speak not as isolated individuals; we speak as "One Nation Under and AfroSpear."

We can only hope and pray that justice will be served and additional innocent lives are not lost due to the Police and "loose" firing.

Roy Pettaway, Ron's brother that was also shot, was released from Grady Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, April 17. He is recovering at home with his family.

"There is no justification for police to wound and shoot two unarmed men," the Rev. Markel Hutchins, a Pettaway family spokesman, said at a news conference while flanked by members of Pettaway's immediate family. "It's nothing short of murder. These young people were shot for no reason."

Dennis said the dispute began when Ron Pettaway told her another bar patron looked like dreadlocked rap star Lil Wayne. The patron took offense to the description, and the two men fought inside the club, Dennis said.

Bar security ushered the men outside, Dennis said, and when they returned, both were calm. Fulton police arrived a short time later and took Ron Pettaway outside, Dennis said. Neither Dennis nor other witnesses know what sparked the shooting.

Fulton County police and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents spent several hours at the bar Monday afternoon talking to witnesses and looking for evidence. Pettaway's father, Roy Pettaway Jr., watched from a parking lot across the street.

Hutchins, the family spokesman, promised additional action, including public protests, to deal with a climate in metro Atlanta and elsewhere in which, he said, "police officers are now shooting first and asking questions later."

Hutchins said the Pettaway shootings are another example of excessive police force by metro Atlanta police. Twelve people were shot by police in DeKalb County last year alone. Fulton County police last shot a person to death in June 2006. Atlanta Journal Constitution

The service will be held at:

Live Oak Baptist Church
2601 Flat Shoals Road
Atlanta, GA 30349

Clearly, the family and community are already organizing victims of police abuse. If you live in the Atlanta area or anywhere in Georgia, please go to the march and funeral and show that Blacks all over America are concerned with the needless execution of Blacks, no matter who does the shooting.