Founder Of Mothers Against Police Brutality Speaks Up

Mrs. Collette Flanagan, founder of activist group, Mothers Against Police Brutality, speaks to us about her fight for justice.

Clinton R. Allen, an unarmed Black man, was shot seven times by Dallas cop Clark Staller on March 10th, 2013. After his death, a lot of questions went unanswered, and the family tried several different avenues to get the facts concerning his killing, including paying for independent doctors and toxicologist. This led to the founding of the organization, Mothers Against Police Brutality by Mrs. Collette Flanagan, Clinton’s mum. The aim of the group is to fight against police brutality and the use of deadly force against innocent people of color. Mrs. Flanagan talks to us today about Clinton, the Mothers Against Police Brutality group and what they’ve been doing to obtain justice for Clinton and other victims of police brutality.
Hello Collette, could you please tell us a bit about what happened on that dreadful day and what the official version of events was?
Collette Flanagan
I lost my only son to police brutality. His name was Clinton Allen, he was only 25 years old, he was unarmed as are a lot of Black men who are shot and killed by policemen. He was shot seven times, once in the back, and the version that they gave us was that he was high on PCP and fighting the police which we know was just absolutely absurd. No one will check into the story, we had to hire our own doctors, our own toxicologist, and when we got the results back – earlier we were told by police that he had been shot once or twice – it turned out he had been shot SEVEN times, and he was not of course, high on PCP. So the cop that killed my son, (I always encourage family members to say his name. We’ve been taught to have a certain reverence for cops, right? So we say the officer killed my son. But let me tell you, they are going to say your child’s name and they’re going to dirty him all up) his name was Clark Staller of the Dallas Police Department. He should have never ever been a policeman. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Brady list. It is a list that all attorneys keep nationally, and it’s tied to a case, Brady v. Maryland. Well, it’s a list that the worst of the worst cops are on, the cops that are untruthful, untrustworthy, that lie, and so the DA will never allow these cops to testify in their courts on any case. A gentleman in Austin, Eric Dexheimer, put it out a couple of years ago. None of the reporters would touch it but he did. And the list is astounding. So the cop that killed my son had been on this list 3 times. You have to be a special kind of deviant to be there 3 times, right? Before he killed Clinton, he had ran over a suspect with his squad car, he lied about it and changed the police report to reflect that. And so he did what his behavior dictated that he probably would do, which is graduate from excessive force to deadly force, and he murdered my son.
Is he still on duty after what he did?
Collette Flanagan
We managed to keep him off duty for like 3 years, and I’m told he just went back on duty like 6 months ago.
He’s back on duty? That’s quite absurd!
Collette Flanagan
Yeah. Well, usually they all go back on duty. For us, we kept him off duty for 3 years. That was just unprecedented in Dallas or any city for that matter. Usually when the cops kill, they go back on duty within 3-5 days. That’s what a lot of people don’t know. They go right back, and most times in the same neighborhood in the same community. That’s why the communities don’t trust the police, because they go right back to the communities that they killed in.
That’s one of the main reasons why we’re trying to get these stories out. It just seems like nothing’s being done, nobody wants to talk about this. Right now I think the time is just right for us to make people more aware of exactly what’s happening.
So could you tell us a bit more about your son? What kind of person was he? Would he resort to violence, did he have many friends, what sort of things did he like to do?
Collette Flanagan
Clinton was a very curious person, he came from a privileged background. And his friends used to call him Big Baby because they would say, “Hey boy, your mum just called!” His first car was a small Mercedes. It was used, it was the one I had when I was pregnant with him and I just saved it for him. But he was kind and he was generous and the way we thought him – to whom much is given, much is required – he lived by that. He was always sticking up for the underdog. He had wanted to enroll in Texas A&M School of Agriculture. He would’ve been fifth generation rancher in our family. He was an avid Dallas Cowboys fan, I mean, if the cowboys lost, you couldn’t talk to him. He’d loved the cowboys since he was 2 years old.
We’re very sorry for your loss. Were there any witnesses to the shooting?
Collette Flanagan
Yeah, there were witnesses. In Dallas, only once was a policeman indicted for shooting an unarmed and mentally challenged person, when Richard Nixon was president. That was in 1973. So the witnesses that were there signed an affidavit stating what they saw, but the DA’s office would not let them testify.
And what was the reason that they gave?
Collette Flanagan
That the grand jury didn’t want to hear it. But that’s not how it works. The grand jury doesn’t tell the DA what to do, the DA tells the grand jury what to do.
Have you done anything to get justice served?
Collette Flanagan
Well, you know I realized very early on that this was bigger than just one child. As much as I loved my only son, nobody cared about one little Black boy that was killed. Nobody cares that he was everything to me and losing him has changed my DNA. So I did the only thing I knew how to do, and that’s to keep my sanctity. So I put my corporate skills being an ex-IBM executive to work, and I started researching and analyzing police shootings in Dallas, and how they interact with the families because they treated us like rubbish. No one talked to us, we couldn’t get any information, couldn’t find his body, it was just awful, absolutely awful. And so that’s how Mothers Against Police Brutality was born. It was originally supposed to just be a local organization, but it quickly grew into a national organization because there were so many mothers in so many families hurting and there was nothing out there. They were going through the same thing. You can imagine having a thousand plus mothers feeling the same feeling that’s hopelessness and despair, someone’s killed your child and there’s nothing you can do about it. It is the saddest, most egregious thing you could ever feel in your life. And I feel that if even one mother is feeling this way, that is one too many, so we started out as a protest group. A year and a half ago we moved from protest to policy work, because we understood that more protesting is wonderful and it is needed because it brings awareness, it has its place and it does a lot of wonderful things too. I love the young people protesting, but we have to be at the table, we have to be working with the lawmakers and we have to make them do their job. Mothers Against Police Brutality came with 9 steps to fair and just policing and one of them is this and it’s getting national attention. In fact, I took it to the U.N on August, 4th. We have 9 authors that have taken each one of those policies that we’ve written and they’re going to write a white paper for each one, so each policy will have its own little book as to why it’s needed. We encourage people to share it and to read it and to get on board with this because the lawmakers are not going to write this for us. They’re going to write laws to protect policemen because that’s where their campaign contributions come from.
We understand that you filed a complaint with the Dallas Ethnic Advisory Commission. What were the results of that?
Collette Flanagan
I filed that complaint because they would not give me any information about my son’s case and a day before I learned and went, they released the shooting summary. But they wouldn’t release anything else, I couldn’t get the police report, I couldn’t get the shooting summary, nothing. Dallas claims that every police shooting is sent to the FBI, but the FBI didn’t have a record of it, they didn’t even know who Clinton Allen was. And so I knew that nothing had happened. That’s why I filed the ethnic advisory complaint to force them to give me some information. Of course it was just a minuscule amount of information.
Did they help with the investigation?
Collette Flanagan
Oh, absolutely not. They were hostile and very disconnected and they found a reason to dismiss the case. They dismissed it because I didn’t live in Dallas proper. So they dismissed the case but they didn’t know that I already had what I wanted. I showed it to them before I left and I told them, “Well, you’re looking for a lot of reasons to not help this family, but we’ve already gotten what we wanted.” Of course they were shocked.
Do you see any resemblance of what happened with your son to what happened to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile?
Collette Flanagan
Absolutely. People say you have to teach your sons how to interact with the police and teach them what to say. It doesn’t matter what you do when you run into a cop that has thrived in a culture of killing with no accountability. You can’t prepare your child for that, right? So everyone that saw what happened said, “Did Clinton comply?” Clinton did what he was asked to do. But this cop wanted to kill and he did, and that’s a hard pill for people to swallow. People don’t want to say that there’s a policeman on the force that will just kill you. I think it’s a bit naiveté for us to think that everybody on that police force is lucid and doesn’t do drugs. That’s why one of our 9 steps says that we want mandatory drug testing every time a police officer discharges his firearm. Whether it’s lethal or non-lethal, fatal or non-fatal, we want that officer to take a drug test because it speaks about their state of mind, right? The victim is always drug tested, so why can’t the police officer be drug tested? You can’t even drop fries in McDonalds without being drug tested, you can’t be a bus driver, a pilot, a construction worker without being drug tested, so we have to get these policemen drug tested. It has to happen, and we’re working towards that.
So do you think skin color is playing the main role with these killings?
Collette Flanagan
Oh, absolutely. More than that, some of the people using hate aren’t police officers. Hate is alive and well and there are police officers who say that white supremacists have infiltrated our police departments because they’re not vetting policemen. They just want bodies, they’re not vetting these police officers the way they should. So we have KKK, skinheads, and all types of white supremacist groups that wear uniforms and that’s just the fact.
Do you have any special events for his memorial? Do you organize some protests against police brutality?
Collette Flanagan
We started this year. It’s on our webpage, the first annual Clinton R. Allen Police Brutality Speak-out. It was citywide, and we got people to come from all over the city to talk about how they’ve been beaten and shot at. It filled a gap for people who don’t have an outlet to tell what happened to them. And when you suppress people that can’t tell you what’s happening to them, then you can’t have a movement. So we’re going to be doing that very year. You know, the first one or two years you’re in shock, there’s not much organizing. Clinton loved life, so I didn’t want to get into that. I wanted to do something that kids his age could not only take part, but that would also be a way to get people involved to fight police brutality. So we’re going to be doing that for a long time.

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