How Will We Stop New York's Killer Cops?
After this racist profiling practice killed Ramarley Graham, the NYPD told us pot was found in his house. I say, so what? Are they trying to insinuate this shooting is justified because he was in possession of a damn dime bagâ€”in his house?
[Speaking Truth To Power]
Last week, the NYPD executed yet another innocent, unarmed, young Black man.
How many Black men will we watch get cut down by NYPD killer cops before Black New Yorkers rise up against this orchestrated urban genocide? How many more mothers must we witness weeping at funerals?
On Monday, holding signs such as “NYPD-KKK” and “Blood is on your shoulders NYPD Killer,” hundreds marched and held a vigil outside Bronx’s 47th Precinct to protest the killing of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was shot dead in his grandmother’s Bronx bathroom last Thursday.
The large, furious crowd was led by the teen’s family, including his parents Franclot Graham and Constance Malcolm. “I never wanted him to go out like this. He was only 18 years old” said Graham’s crying 22-year-old sister Leona Virgo, adding: “This is not just about Ramarley. This is about all young Black men.”
The Bronx teen was shot down after being followed home by Officer Richard Haste and Sgt. Scott Morris, from the Street Narcotics Unit (SNU), after he allegedly bought marijuana. Graham’s grandmother, 58-year-old Patricia Hartley and his sleeping 6-year-old brother were also in the house at the time of the shooting.
According to officers, they witnessed Graham purchase pot, after cops followed Graham and two other persons to an area on East 229 Street. They say the teen appeared to them to be armed. Police say they ordered Graham to stop by telling him “Police, stop, don’t move!” However, they say he evaded them by running away. Video footage capturing some of the final moments of the teen’s life show him walking—not running—into his grandmother’s house. The cops are then seen kicking down the door of his grandmother’s house. Moments later, Graham was shot dead after one of the officers is said to have shouted “Show me your hands! Show me your hands” followed by “Gun! Gun!”
Reportedly, Officer Haste then fired the fatal bullet killing the teen in the bathroom. NYPD stated they believe the teen was trying to flush drugs down the toilet. Reportedly, cops found a bag of marijuana. While witnessing the traumatic killing of her grandson, Ms. Hartley said police threw her to the ground and stuck a gun in her face. Eventually, she was taken and held for seven hours at the 47th Precinct. Her released occurred after Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) intervened with authorities asking “I asked the district attorney a simple question: ‘Is this woman being held against her will?” According to the legislator, “Within 10 minutes, she was released.”
Monday’s angry mood of the marchers was clear by the expressions of anguish and rage. “I don’t want justice,” said Arlene Brooks, 49. “I want revenge.” Juanita Young, whose 23-year-old son Malcolm Ferguson was killed by NYPD on March1, 2000, in the Bronx, was present at the march. “I know this mother’s pain,” Ms. Young said. “The pain we walk — can’t nothing touch that pain.” These feelings left little doubt of the sentiments of the Bronx neighborhood protesters. This is also the same community where NYPD officers killed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, on Feb. 4, 1999, in a hail of 41 bullets. Last week, Ramarley Graham’s 40-year-old neighbor Darnette Richards, who was around during the shooting screamed at the NYPD “You’re wicked, you’re murderers.”
Indeed, the NYPD is filled with far too many marauding murderers of Black men. And here’s the harsh truth we must face: these outrages don’t just happen because there are a few “bad apples” on the force as we’re often told. The fact is these killings are created by the systematic criminalization of Black men that is written into urban policing policy. Ever wondered who decides policing priorities in Black communities?
This question is of extreme relevance, because Black neighborhoods are policed far different from white neighborhoods. For example, we know 90 percent of those who are ensnared by the NYPD’s infamous Stop-and-Frisk policy are either Black or Latino. And a 2011 Drug Policy Alliance report, written by Dr. Harry Levin and Loren Siegal noted that although, young Whites use marijuana at higher rates: “nearly 87% of those arrested are people of color.” This report also highlighted that “Government health surveys find that young Whites use marijuana at higher rates than young Blacks and Latinos.”
The obvious question is why aren’t Whites arrested at the same rates for marijuana? Do you remember the Julio Diaco case? Ms. Diaco—dubbed the Pot Princess—was arrested in 2004 for selling weed—and other drugs out of her NYU dorm room. Most Blacks who become involved in drug dealing do so due to extreme economic distress. By contrast, Ms. Diaco is the privilege daughter of a well-to-do millionaire construction magnate from the ritzy New Jersey area of Rumson. Diaco was caught red-handed with a massive amount of drugs. Yet, when all was said and done she was sentenced to probation and was sent away to a 10-month rehab program in Idaho.
That case was a prime example of the hypocrisy of the judicial system. In 1977, the use of small amounts of marijuana—25 grams or less—were supposedly decriminalized. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to African-Americans or Latinos. The NYPD continues to rack up a high numbers of arrests for pot possession.
Remember the five Columbia university students also busted for drug sales in 2010? The students -- Chris Coles, Harrison David, Adam Klein, Jose Stephan Perez and Michael Wymbs-- sold as much as $11,000 worth of cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, Adderall and LSD, to the police officers. They ended up with minor plea deals.
Does anyone think Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly would still have
his job if the students had been pursued into their dorm rooms by police and one
had been shot dead for allegedly flushing pot down the toilet?
So why should Kelly get to keep his job now? The life of a young Black man will have no value unless we ensure that it has value. There is no question Kelly must go.
After this racist profiling practice killed Ramarley Graham, NYPD told us pot was found in his house. I say, so what? Are they trying to insinuate this shooting is justified because he was in possession of a damn dime bag—in his house? When they tell us they though he had a gun—but didn’t wait for backup—should we believe them? And why the hell did they point a gun in the face of his grandmother—before taking her to their precinct?
For decades, there’s been a war against Black people under the guise of fighting drugs. It’s time we take this fight to the doorsteps of those who created these policies. We cannot expect Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or, Commissioner Kelly to solve this problem. They’re the problem.
These NYPD mad killer cops must be stopped. They must be stopped now.
"Speaking Truth To Empower."
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