Saturday, February 28, 2009

A comprehensive article written in English

A friend of mine wrote this in depth article about the situation for the Vienna Review. One of the best English articles to date.

Vienna Review article by Colin Peters

Friday, February 27, 2009

All an act??? Then why does Mike have a fractured vertebrae?

I just got back from the hospital with Mike. They brought him in for more testing to see if there really was something wrong with him. Surprise, surprise!

Mike has a fracture of his L2 vertebrae, an injury that various doctors have said can only be caused by a strong force. Now the police witness who claims that Mike didn't need crutches is a moot point. Now, the way he recieved the injury must be explained as it is not on the end of his spine, rather one of the middle Lumbar vertebrae, which is part or the lower spine.

according to:

"In young adults, lumbar spine fractures are commonly associated with multisystemic blunt trauma...Injuries are most common in patients aged 30-39 years and least common in persons younger than 18 years. Compression fractures are the most typical injury in the lumbar spine."

Mike is out of work for another 3 weeks at least, and his going to therapy to get back in shape.

Don't believe the lies coming out of the police department! Don't believe one word they say!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Critique of Mike's stay in the hospital

This is a part of the story that has not been printed anywhere, but that I think is just as sad as what the police did to Mike. I wanted to tell it last week after I talked to Mike, but I wanted to make sure I had all the details right. So I talked to him about it again on Monday. Mike was admitted into the hospital on Wednesday, February 11th, after the attack. In my opinion, he was not treated very well. The staff at the hospital told him to walk to different places, which he could not do without support from someone else. And when he said he couldn't walk, they did not believe him. After a while they brought him a wheel chair, but still wanted him to walk. When they released him they told him there was nothing wrong with him and that he could  walk, to which he repsonded, "I can't walk". He had to ask for crutches which were then brought to him sometime later. They released Mike within 24 hours of admitting him the first time. When the KURIER came to interview him at his house on Thursday they asked why he was out of the hospital. He told them the hospital said there was nothing wrong with him. So the KURIER picked him up from home and drove him back to Spittellau to get the, by now famous, picture of Mike on crutches in Spittelau, and then on to the hospital. Mike was readmitted to the hospital on Saturday and stayed there until Tuesday of the following week, because there  OBVIOUSLY  was something wrong with him. He said he got the  feeling that everyone was trying to get him out of there as fast as they could. The doctor vehemently denied TV cameras  from filming in the room or in front of the hospital, as the story should not get so big in the media. 

Statement from Mike Brennan

I would like to say thank you to all the people, friends, and colleagues who are supporting me in this difficult time. It really makes a difference when I read and see how many people care about this terrible incident that I have experienced. I also want you to know that I am trying to stand up for my rights and the rights of mankind. Even though we come from many different places we are all are special in our own way. And we should never allow racism or mistreatment of our human rights in anyway, shape, or form.

Mike Brennan

Sunday, February 22, 2009

English translation of the KURIER interview with Mike Brennan from Feb. 22

Supported by a pair of blue crutches, Mike B. steps out of the Taxi, he makes his way to the Cinethek “Oz” in the 7th district of Vienna with crooked, slow steps. “I am still in a lot of pain,” the P.E. teacher says, as he tries to make himself at least half way comfortable in the gold, upholstered, 50’s era seats.

It has been 10 days since he was the victim of a mix up at the subway station Spittelau in Vienna. Two men in plainclothes jumped him on that Wednsday afternoon as he was changing public transportation lines on his way to work at school. Mike B. thought we was being robbed. What followed went from the Sunday edition of the KURIER across the world. The African American, teacher at the Vienna International School, was beaten and injured, because drug agents thought he was a dealer.

Mike B. talks softly with a sunken look. He has already told his therapist a lot. Diagnosis: heavy trauma. “It is not funny to be a victim,” he says, and shows a poem that he wrote over 10 years ago. It was presented in many Amercan newspapers and also adorns a calendar from the year 1993. The theme is identical to the situation he finds himself in now: the discrmination against people in the world, in that, skin color still differentiates people. “I knew that there was racism,” Mike says, “but now it has, of all things in Austria, happened to me, and that makes a big difference.”

Mike B. is heavily traumatized

KURIER: Has the police department apologized to you yet?
Mike B.: Nobody has apologized. On the contrary, the police report lies about everything. There is nothing about my injuries. The only thing they talk about is the mix up, as if I did not have a bruised spine, an injured neck, and injured wrist at all, or they say that I caused them myself.

KURIER: What pictures are still going through your head?
Mike B.: The doors of the subway car opened, I stepped out onto the platform and then…(Mike covers his head with both hands) everything went black. I do not know how I am ever going to be able ride the subway again without this fear and the painful memories in the back of my head.

KURIER: Do you know the name of the two police officers?
Mike B.: I know the name of one of them. The fact that both of them are still on the duty is another slap in the face. I have been a football player for many years. If you intentionally injure someone, you are immediately suspended for a long time. Those are the rules, I do not know, what the rules are for the Austrian police….

KURIER: How do you explain that the police officers were obviously waiting for you?
Mike B.: I must have been being watched. Otherwise the two men could not have jumped on me so quickly. My lawyer and I, Mag. Wilfried Embacher, still have not seen a photo of the that man that I was supposedly mixed up with.

KURIER: What do you still remember about what happened?
Mike B.: Very dramatic [Craig‘s note: I think he said “traumatic”], because I was hit over and over. The men never identified themselves. I thought, they are going to kill me, and screamed loudly. “Stop screaming!” they shouted. That is when it hurt the most. I thought, somebody is beating you and your supposed to be quiet?

KURIER: Your girlfriend came to help you. Did you realize that?
Mike B.: Oh yeah, I will never forget that. How Birgit, without a second’s hesitation, tried to pull the second man off of me. She was pushed away herself and injured. She was like an angel, that was protecting me. That was courageous, I am so thankful to her.

Hero status

KURIER: Also in the web there is a community with over 2000 users who view you as a symbol against racism.
Mike B.: Me, a hero? (Mike pours a heap of sugar into his green tea) Yeah, a wounded one…

KURIER: Can you live with being a symbolc figure?
Mike B.: Yeah. I never thought about keeping silent, you know, hiding in my house, maybe, out of shame. It is not funny to be a victim. But what has happened is extremely important and dramatic [note: traumatic?]. The fact that everyone is talking about the incident is great for those who may have experienced a similar situation.

KURIER: Do you think you would have had the same amount of attention if you had not been a teacher at a private scool?
Mike B.: I hope so! You know, I believe, that no one, no matter if they are black or white nor which social class they are in, should be treated in such a way. At least that is what my mother taught me.

KURIER: What saying do you still remember from your mom?
Mike B.: Don’t judge a book by its cover, in other words, every one is special, no matter what they look like.

False Image

KURIER: Do you understand why many Viennese have a bad image of black people in their minds, because they deal with drug dealing daily on the subway?
Mike B.: Honestly, no. Just because there are some white criminals, I don’t have a bad picture of white people in general.

KURIER: Has anyone ever thought you were a dealer before?
Mike B.: With what I know now, probably so. Sometimes guys would come up to me with their eyes open wide and a weird look. I thought, hey what’s wrong with them?

KURIER: But you have not experienced any other racial attacks before this one?
Mike B.: No, of course I heard about the Omofuma tragedy, and about police attacks. But I never thought that I could be one of the victims.

KURIER: Have you heard the “Neger” jokes from the Karinthian governor?
Mike B.: Is there such a thing? No, thank God I have never hard any of them, and I definitely would not find them funny.

KURIER: Do you have a bad image of the Austrian police now?
Mike B.: That is a difficult question. I teach at the Vienna Internation School. The students from the school are always dealing with attacks in the subway, and in these cases, the police protects the members of the school. So, there are a lot of police that are doing a good job.


KURIER: Who has helped you the most in the last 10 days?
Mike B.: Every person who has visited me, written me, sent me an SMS, or called me. The US Ambassador for Internation Organisations, James Walbran, the director of the school, Mrs. Schipelius, head of Secondary, who brought me flowers when I was in the hospital. Students have contacted me, the solidarity at the VIS is enormous. I am sure that my case will be discussed in class when school starts again on Monday.

KURIER: Have your parents contacted you from America yet?
Mike B.: Yes, they are shocked, that something like this could happen in Austira. My mom would like to visit me, but she also knows that I am strong, and that I will make it through this.

KURIER: What is your philosophy?
Mike B.: It comes from my Grandma - I called her Little Lu Lu: the daily challenges in life are like a game, you have to fight to become a master. When you give your best, then the best things will happened to you. Still, some things go wrong and you get knocked doewn. It is important that you get up again. That is the flow, the intensity of life. I pass this philosophy on to my students.


KURIER: Mike, where will you be in 5 years?
Mike B.: Hopefully I will be able to get around normally again and ride the subway without any fear. I just want justice to be served in the end. That those who acted wrong are brought before a judge and made to answer for their actions. That things, like our black president Barack Obama says, “change”. That is it, but I know it will be a long battle. A battle that I never wanted.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Meeting to discuss racism in Austria

Mike Brennan, ein Wiener Afro-Amerikanischer Lehrer wird in der U- Bahn U4 von Polizisten niedergeprügelt. Weil er Schwarz ist und verwechselt wurde. Viele schauen zu und tun nichts. Kein Einzelfall.

Die Black Communities in Österreich fürchten um ihr da sein. Daher Radio Afrika TV und veranstalten eine Pressekonferenz sowie eine Podiumsdiskussion zum Thema: Rassismus in der Wiener Polizei. Was läuft seit dem Tod von Marcus Omofuma im Mai 1999 schief?

25. Februar 2009: 18.00 Uhr - 21.00 Uhr
Presseclub Concordia
Bankgasse 8, 1010 Wien

Am Podium:
Béatrice Achaleke, Black Women Center AFRA
Landespolizeikommandant Karl Mahrer (angefragt)
Sandra Frauenberger, Integrationstadträtin (angefragt)
ZARA (angefragt)
Patrick Bongola Topoke
Moderation: Alexis Neuberg, Radio Afrika TV

Mike Brennan braucht deine Unterstützung
Konto: 50900020215
BLZ: 12000

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Translation of Der Standard article from Feb. 18

Lawyer outraged at Police

Strange Conclusions drawn in the Brennan case

Vienna-The Vienna Police Labor Union has obviously drawn its own conclusions about the “Brennan Case”. For the labor representatives “some of the accusations are not excusable but are explainable”, they shared in a release on Tuesday. The reason they are explainable is that there were 303 cases of on the job police injuries last year. “The scene is getting harder by the day…the police officers have to think about their security too,” the union concluded.

What does Mike Brennan, who was attacked and injured last Wednesday in the subway station Spittelau, according to him, without either warning or the officers identifying themselves, have to do with this? The police officers mistook him for someone from “the scene” the Police Department admits.

They released their own conclusion which is just as strange as that of the Labor Union. According to the release, every person is obligated to cooperate with police, had Mr. Brennan complied with this obligation, the misunderstanding could have been resolved relatively quickly.

The lawyer for Mr. Brennan finds this claim to be outrageous. “How could my client have clarified the misunderstanding after they had already jumped him and started beating him?” It took 3 minutes for one of the police officers to yell “Police, Police,” and neither reacted to Mr. Brennan’s partner’s request for identification, at first. It also remains unclear if an apology by the police has been issued or not. The answer to that question is “no” his lawyer told the Austrian Press Agency.

Reputation of the Agency intact

No disciplinary action has been taken against the officers involved thus far. They have not been suspended since neither the “reputation of the agency nor the profession of police officers” have been damaged, the spokesperson says. In the Haidinger case this argument was one of the reasons for indefinite suspension.

How you can help

In case you want to take action here are a few suggestions on what you can do.

1. Write a blog and post to our group

2. Comment on German and English language newspapers

3. Email Bundespolizei Wien

4. Email the American Embassy

5. Email your Congressman or Representative

6. Talk to someone you know or love about the dangers of racism

7. Comment on Youtube videos

8. Post links to the story and or group on social bookmarking sites like: Twitter, Delicious, Digg, etc.

Tips for posting on Newspaper sights:

We have over 30 links listed in the link section already.

If you don't want to give your email out when registering for a site, then take a few minutes and set up a Ghost Email account which you can use when registering for sites.

Translation of far right Austrian party's, FPOe, reaction

A translation of the far right party's, FPOe, reaction to the situation, beware it may make you sick, the background is naturally not part of the story.


The FPOe, and its racist counterpart BZOe, control almost a third of this land. 1/3rd! This is their take on the whole thing. Now you see what we’re going up against here people. It’s sad that this type of prejudice is not only used by someone in the government, but by one of the ruling parties. And that so many people think the same way.

Press Release - Feb. 16

FPOe Herbert: Groundless allegations of racism against the police completely innappropriate

Vienna - The mix-up of an innocent person with a drug dealer shouldn’t happen of course and should be examined in the context of the job; but, to turn it into an alleged, and also completely unfounded, police “scandal” should be avoided, the chairman of the AUF/Exekutive-Wien and FPOe spokesman for public service, Werner Herbert clarified today.

That the method of apprehension when arresting someone - especially people with a higher tendency to violence, like drug dealers - needs to be carried out with a certain vehemence and determination, mainly because of personal security, is, on priciple, not condemnable, much like restraining an arrested person on the floor. That this has turned into an allegation of police abuse, almost reflexively, and that a police assault has been pieced together seems not only unjustified but also very strange, above all, since a critique of that sort, together with a compensation claim, and an intended policy complaint [against the police] is coming from a US citizen, and people here also know how rigorous and reckless American police officers are, especially when forcefully arresting someone. And this circumstance is also known to every US citizen,” the chairman AUF/Executive-Vienna stated.

“Because of this, suspiscion arises that someone is trying, for political and/or personal reasons, to slander and debase the extraordinary work of police officers in the capital city obviously with the help of completely fabricated accusations and alleged racism,” the chairman of AUF/Exekutive-Wien said in closing.

An English translation of the first Der Standard article:

An English translation of the first Der Standard article:

American Teacher attacked by Vienna police, Apology for the victim comes too late

Vienna police falsely idenitified an American teacher as a drug dealer, and he
ended up in the hospital with serious injuries.

It took 10 minutes for the undercover policemen to idenitfy themselves.

"I thought they were going to kill me, I was fighting for my life." American
Michael Brennan is stll visibly shaken when he talks about the episode which
happened on Wednesday, February 11. Two men attacked him at the Vienna subway station Spittelau, without warning. The two civilians were undercover Police officers and they mixed Mr. Brennan up with a Drug dealer they were looking for.

Teacher at the Vienna International School

On sunday afternoon the American citizen, who has been an English and PE teacher at the Vienna International School since August 2008, was laying in the Lorenz-Böhler hospital. "Among other things, my back is badly bruised. The pain has been so strong, that now they will have to perform an MRI to see if they can determine the extent of the injuries," he told the Standard.

The attack came out of nowhere

How did you receive the injuries? "I was on the subway when I noticed two men acting strangely, and I knew something wasn't right. I stepped out of the subway car and was on the phone with my girlfriend who was waiting at the station for me. All of the sudden someone hit me from behind, I fell to the floor, and my attacker began beating me as I lay on the floor," the African American teacher explained.

It took police officers 10 minutes to Identify themselves

"I had no idea what was going on and tried to defend myself. I only saw hate in the man's eyes." Another man came to the first attackers aid, only after ten minutes did the two men identify themselves as police officers and apologize to him and his girlfriend, who was also slightly injured as she tried to defend Mr. Brennan. In the ten minutes before the apology, Brennan showed his Identification and decided to contact the US Embassy in Vienna.

Police Chief: Attacking without warning is not standard procedure

"First, I would like to speak to the victim, after the investigation has been
wrapped up. That will happen in the next few days," Vienna's State Police Commander Karl Mahrer said. In addition the district attorney's office has also been notified. "However, it is obviously not standard procedure for the police to attack a person without warning when making an arrest," the Police Chief hurriedly reassured.

"I can defend myself."

For Michael Brennan, however, that's not enough. He has given a statement to the Internal Affairs Detectives covering the case and is taking the two police officers to court. "I defnitely don't want these officers to get off so lightly. Also, I want to prevent this from happening in the future. I can defend myself, but there are enough people out there who cannot help themselves."

Waiting for a Complete Explanation

The Socialist Party of Austria's (SPÖ) human rights spokesperson Marianne Hagenhofer and the Green Party's National Parliament Representative Alev Korun are calling for a complete explanation. Korun criticized that only single cases are examined. "More than likely, the structure needs to be changed and examined, to see if the police are stretched beyond their means," he said.

It seems as though Brennan's doctor has been "overwhelmed" by the incident. "He forbid TV cameras from filming in my boyfriend's room on the grounds that the incident should not be publicized in the media. He also forbid a report in front of the hospital," Brennan's girlfriend explained irritatedly.

Links to sites covering the story

German Language stories:

Erste bericht von Kurier

English language links:

Justice for Mike Brennan

After starting the facebook group on Monday and seeing how fast is growing, I think it is time to get a blog going to share with the rest of the world who isn't on facebook, all 10% of them.  If you don't know what's going on, here's the scoop.

African American English and P.E. (physical education) teacher Mike Brennan, from Jacksonville, Florida, was brutally attacked by two undercover police officers who mistook him for a drug dealer in Vienna, Austria as he stepped out of a subway car.

The Police did not identify themselves until at least 3 minutes into the attack. They refused to produce identification that they were police for at least 10 minutes, and only did so after Mr. Brennan's girlfriend called the Austrian equivalent of 911 (133). At which time they flashed their badges and soon after left the scene with Mr. Brennan in pain. They never called an ambulance. 

The police in Austria have not suspended the officers, have not called Mike to apologize, and seem to be taking a stance that neither one of these things will happen. They claim that the officers actions did not harm the reputation of the police department nor did they damage the profession of police officers as a whole. The only contact to Mike as of Wednesday, was a call made last Thursday by Vienna Police chief Karl Mahrer to Mike's girlfriend saying that this should not have happened and has never happened before. 

In fact the police department is trying to push some of the blame for the incident off on Mike, saying that if he had only told the officers he was not a drug dealer, the whole incident could have been avoided. As Mike came out of the hospital on Tuesday he was confronted by a reporter who asked him if he had said he was not a drug dealer and if not why he had not. Mike could not really understand why they were asking this question as he was unaware of this story being circulated by the police dpartment. He responded very confused saying that not only did he not say it, but the thought never crossed his mind as he was too busy trying to figure out why he was being jumped and defending himself. He had no idea that he had been mistaken for a drug dealer until it came out in the newspaper.

Also on Monday the far right wing party in Austria issued a statement to the effect that, Mike's an American and he should be used to police brutality! And the fact that he is suing and obviously pulled the accusations out of thin air is extremely suspicious to them.

Folks we are dealing with institutionalized racism here in Austria. It's in the police department, it's in the buracracy, it's in the highest levels of government. It may not always be someone slandering someone else, but it's the looks that people give one another, it's the slurs people utter under their breath, and it's the people who sit back and let a group full of Neo-Nazi kids belittle two Turkish women and doing absolutely nothing about it. Prime example, there were at least 30 people who witnessed the attack, and it is big news here in Austria, not one has come forward yet.

This has got to stop and Mike is fully behind "Justice for Mike Brennan" and will be taking an active roll when he is able to finally move around again.