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By Paul Hill

HOUSTON - On 11/16/04 Quanell X Abdul Farrakhan was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of fleeing a police officer in Houston. He was originally charged with evading arrest. Prosecutors preferred for the jury to consider a misdemeanor charge of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer rather than the felony charge of evading arrest.

Quanell X was arrested on 6/11/04 when Houston Police Department (HPD) officers said he refused to stop, even when surrounded by patrol cars using sirens and emergency lights. The interesting point is that the African American activist at the time of the arrest was attempting to bring a fugitive, who was wanted on suspicion of seriously wounding an HPD officer, to the downtown police headquarters.

A KHOU (CBS affiliate station) reporter testified that he had told HPD prior to the arrest that the activist would be bringing in the fugitive to police headquarters. An Executive Assistance Chief of HPD testified that he told the activist during the incident that he would instruct the officers to allow him to surrender the fugitive at HPD headquarters. According to testimony, the activist was instructed by the HPD Executive Assistance Chief to "keep going" in spite of the patrol officers' attempt to stop him.

The activist's defense attorney said that he risked his life to bring the fugitive to HPD headquarters. The activist testified that he thought police officers were escorting him downtown to HPD headquarters.

It should be pointed out that Quanell X had previously cooperated with HPD in turning in more than a dozen suspects without incident, according to former Police Chief C.O. Bradford.

A rally was held at the New Black Panther Nation headquarters on 11/21/04 to support Quanell X. He plans to appeal his misdemeanor conviction.

On 11/20/04 Quanell X continued his mission of surrendering fugitives. However, this time he surrendered a couple wanted for questioning in the death of an elderly woman during a purse snatching incident last month to the Harris County Sheriff's Department rather than HPD. Current HPD Chief Harold Hurtt has implemented a department policy to bar private citizens from bringing suspects/fugitives to police. Quanell X indicated fugitives fear being harmed while surrendering directly to HPD.
This writer was apprehended recently by HPD for driving with his headlights on at night. An HPD officer pulled this writer over and admonished him for having his high-beam headlights on. When it was explained to the officer that this writer only had his low-beam headlights on, but they were halogen headlights, the officer dismissed this explanation and shouted at this writer that he should have his headlights checked.

These are only small examples of the confusion among police officers in the climate created by the draconian Patriot Act. Officers appear to feel they are empowered to impose their will on innocent citizens who are merely minding their own business or may be attempting to assist the police. Such police outrages do not bode well for the immediate future of justice in our nation