Homeless woman shot dead by LAPD - Online info & related questions

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 1 Jun 1999 12:16:11 -0700 (PDT)

Usenet and printed media are awash with conflicting accounts and opinions
on the recent LAPD police shooting death of MARGARET MITCHELL, a Black
homeless woman reportedly stopped for suspicion of possessing a stolen
shopping cart in a business district.

At least 70 Usenet letters on the case, many from cops and copwatchers, can
be found Online by searching <http://Deja.com>.

Particularly see:


<http://Dogpile.com> is another great search site for media and Usenet posts.

You could go to either Deja or Dogpile search engine and enter "homeless
AND police" in the search-line.  You'd find that such incidents are not
limited to Los Angeles, California, USA.

Sadly, police, military and vigilante brutality angainst the poor and
homeless is "alive and well" in many reaches of the world.

Police brutality in the USA is currently enjoying its 15 minutes of fame
between ballgames.  (Don't worry.  It could never happen in your
neighborhood. :)

*Is there room for hope about "equal justice for all" in this spate of

*Will the needless deaths of homeless people ever end?  How?

*Has push come to shove in the contest over downtown urban landuse where
you live?

*What can we do to nonviolently stop officially sanctioned, excused or
ignored violence against the vulnerable?

On the Mitchell case, see also the letters below, from the LA Times:

FWD  Los Angeles Times - Friday, May 28, 1999

     LETTERS to the Editor regarding:


Re "FBI to Probe Homeless Woman's Slaying," May 25: The story on
the shooting of Margaret Laverne Mitchell misses one important point. The
blame and the shame fall squarely on the state of California. Only a few
years ago she would not have been homeless. She would have been in a
state institution for the mentally ill. What has happened to the soul of
California that a person such as she must fend for herself on the city's


The treatment of Mitchell was critically flawed even before it
escalated to homicide. If the bike officer was new to our neighborhood (I
saw Ms. Mitchell daily when I walked my dog), why didn't he stop and say
hello to her, or see if she needed anything, or tactfully try to gauge
her mental status?

Instead, the officers hassled her about her shopping cart. What if it
was stolen? Were they going to take it away from her? Were they going to
humiliate her and dump her things out on the curb and take the cart back
to its rightful owner? All of the talk about LAPD reform and community
policing has been just that--talk.

Los Angeles

How quickly we condemn the police officer. Thousands of incidents
happen each day in a city our size that could go either way, depending
not only on the police but on the victim's or suspect's actions. It is so
easy to say what you would do if a woman is coming at you screaming,
"I'll kill you," holding a lethal weapon. Only the Lone Ranger can shoot
the gun out of the hand of the perpetrator.

A quick decision, a judgment call, then an action to live with.

Woodland Hills

Let's see now, where should I start: Eulia Love, Tyisha Miller and now
Mitchell, just to name a few. My question is why is it that African
American citizens are never shot and killed by African American
policemen? On the other hand, isn't it troubling that African American
citizens always seem to be shot and killed by non-African American

Whether it's for a shopping cart or sleeping in their own parked car,
Southern California police agencies' non-African American employees have
a tendency to be trigger-happy when African Americans are involved. May
those citizens rest in peace.

Los Angeles

I was outraged at the fatal shooting of the homeless woman last
Friday. Nobody will ever be able to convince me that two young officers
could not have handled the situation without having to use deadly force.
If that is typical of LAPD policy, then the policy needs to be revamped.

Los Angeles


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