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Concerned Citizens Attend Alleged Brutality Hearing

MEETING A case of alleged police brutality during Mardi Gras was the focus of a special hearing Tuesday night.

“I look at this video and I see brutal force being used against these young men,” mother Hazel Sam-Newman said.

It is the video at the center of controversy; and the video which has launched a state and federal investigation of alleged police brutality, involving nine white undercover state troopers and two black teenagers.

“When I first learned that there had been an incident with Sidney Newman and his friend Ferdinand Hunt with State Police, I was shocked,” Newman said.  “My mind began to race as I saw images of Treyvon Martin in my head.”

The incident happened in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras celebrations.

The young men were reportedly waiting outside a restaurant on Conti Street when they were approached by the plainclothes officers.

The video appears to show the officers allegedly tackling the two young men.

“I have seen lynch mobs act just like that,”  said W.C. Johnson with United For Change.

A special hearing led by State Senator Jean Paul Morrell was intended to examine whether or not excessive force was used by the officers, and if there was a civil rights violation.

“I certainly didn’t see anything like that on the tape and I can assure you that in my 33 years as Louisiana State Trooper and my 5 years as Superintendent, I do not tolerate that; I don’t condone it,” Col. Mike Edmonson said.

“We also know that something went seriously wrong; and it’s not enough to say we don’t have a culture and I don’t tolerate it,” said Marjorie Esman with the Louisiana ACLU.

Representatives from several agencies, and dozens of concerned citizens attended the town how meeting.

Everyone seemed interested in the outcome; and worried about the possible long-term affects the case may have on the community already struggling to improve its relationship with police.

“It is extremely, extremely saddening and devastating to know that my son and other young African Americans in New Orleans have to have the same fear of the police in 2013 that they did in 1913,” Newman said.

State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson is promising a thorough and transparent investigation.

He hopes to conclude the investigation within 60-days.

Meanwhile, the officers involved remain on active field duty.

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