BED STUY POLICE BRUTALITY
â€œFirst let me say, this is one of the worst acts of police aggression that Iâ€™ve seen in a long time. We call on the Commissioner and Iâ€™m calling of the Speaker in the City Council and the Chair of the Public Safety Committee to hold some hearings on what happened on this corner so it doesnâ€™t go ignored. The best way to diffuse any kind of tension once a crowd assembles due to an accident that the police department created is to disperse the police -- not the crowd. The tension is caused by police..â€?
The Black Menâ€™s Movement (BMM) in Bedford-Stuyvesant held a press conference on Monday denouncing a police reckless driving incident that quickly escalated into an outright assault on innocent community residents last Saturday.
Standing at the scene of the incident, BMM spokesman Omowale Clay gave a description. â€œWhere we are all standing right now, Saturday afternoon was the scene of one of the most brutal assaults on people in this community in recent times,â€? Clay said. â€œOn Macon Street right here, a police car ran through a red light with a prisoner in the back of the car hitting a passing car on Nostrand Avenue sending that car crashing into this grocery store.â€? The damage to the store was obvious.
Added Clay: â€œAs soon as that happened, people who saw and heard what happened, came to see if anyone was hurt and to see if they could help.Â They came out of concern for the victims in the car and for the prisoner in the back of the police car. The police officers had already stepped out of their car. When an ambulance arrived, EMT attended to the police officers with minor bruises instead of the other more seriously wounded, the people cried out in their defense. What transpired after that is something you would have imagined happening in Iraq or some other place where US military forces are.â€?
As Clay recalled the events many people on the street stopped to listen and voice their agreement. Others in the BMM handed out leaflets to the people gathered so they could contact the organization and work together to demand justice.
The police, having a hostile attitude in our community, put out an all-points-bulletin saying the police were in danger, not the victims of the accident. Every type of police and vehicle came to the scene and helicopters hovered above. Soon the area was swarming with police, some wearing black gloves carrying shot guns pointed toward the people, saying â€œYou want some of this?â€? They aggressively began pushing and assaulting people who were merely standing nearby, sometimes jumping people ten on one. They targeted people attempting to take pictures or video clips with their cell phone or cameras. Several were clubbed and stomped so severely that they had to be hospitalized,â€? said Clay.Â
In the end, eight people had been arrested and taken to the 79th precinct. Two of them were members of the BMM who had been doing community organizing on Nostrand Avenue when the accident took place. Community activist Viola Plummer, Omowale Clay, City Councilman Charles Barron, lawyers and many others quickly descended on the precinct demanding their immediate release. After a several hours all were given summonses and released, some were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
Â â€œRemember, they caused a major accident, to cover that up, they now will attempt to say they were threatened in the community. They will try to make the perpetrators â€“policeâ€“the victims; and the victims â€“the people in the communityâ€”the perpetrators. We will not let that happen,â€? Clay concluded.
City Councilman and candidate for the U.S. Congress Charles Barron called for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to do an investigation of the police behavior in this incident and in the general Black community, citing their routine reckless driving. â€œFirst, let me say, this is one of the worst acts of police aggression that Iâ€™ve seen in a long time. We call on the Commissioner and Iâ€™m calling on the Speaker in the City Council and the Chair of the Public Safety Committee to hold some hearings on what happened on this corner so it doesnâ€™t go ignored. The best way to diffuse any kind of tension once a crowd assembles due to an accident that the police department created is to disperse the police -- not the crowd. The tension is caused by police. There was no need to call for back up. Not a single police officer was in danger. When you call the ESU, the Emergency Service Unit of the Police Department, they come with black gloves, they come with shotguns, to kick butt. Thatâ€™s what they do. When you call the canine unit to bring dogs, when you call aviation to bring helicopters, you -- the police department have escalated the situation and almost caused a riot.â€?
â€œWeâ€™re telling the Commissioner â€˜teach your commanders how to diffuse tension on our streets.Â The best thing the police can do in a situation that has drawn a crowd of people on the corner that is not disorderly, is for the police to leave. If you have your prisoner and have done everything around the accident, leave! One at a time those cars should have left, and once the police leave the tension is gone,â€? Barron explained. â€œSo we are calling on those officers who handcuffed people andÂ threw them on the ground and beat them, they have to be brought to justice! Who is going to pay us to protect us from our paid protectors?â€?
Attorneys Roger Wareham and Michael Warren, the same team that represented the five innocent Black youths falsely convicted in the Central Park Jogger case, will be representing the eight people falsely arrested and assaulted. Wareham said, â€œThere are some of the people who were injured on Saturday here, but theyâ€™re not going to speak at this point. Theyâ€™ve already been arrested and assaulted and theyâ€™re worried about being further targeted by the police so they do not want to be pointed out.â€?
â€œWhen our people got to King County Hospital, the police who had been taken there first by the medical personnel were leaving King County laughing and grinning. There was nothing wrong with them. The brother who was most seriously hurt spent 24 hours in the hospital and left with two fractures in his shoulder blade. The doctors at the hospital said that part of the shoulder, the shoulder blade, is very difficult to break, so it must have been some tremendous force that was put on it in order for it to break,â€? Wareham pointed out.
â€œThe broader question is that there is a different standard for how the police operate in our community than they do in other communities around the city. The standard in the Black community is they can do whatever they want and get away with it. Councilman Barron is right - we have to demand that there be an investigation by the Police Commissioner, and the Civilian Complaint Review Board. But most importantly, they are setting up the conditions for us to patrol our own communities because it is very clear that the police are unwilling, unable, and donâ€™t desire to do that,â€? he said.
Attorney Wareham added: â€œIf you were there on Saturday and have any more information or more evidence, come and see me after the press conference.â€? Several people immediately came forward to give information. This is only the beginning of what may prove to be a long hot summer in Brooklyn.
For further information the Black Menâ€™s Movement can be reached at (718) 398-1766.
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