When Mob “Justice� Prevails

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A City that always implores Black victims to be patient and not prejudge revealed its racist hypocrisy. There were immediate calls for the death penalty. There were no calls for allowing the legal process to work; no calls for a fair trial or not tainting the jury pool with publicity.

[Op-Ed]


When police officers are shot New York City spares no measure to apprehend the offenders.

Two cops were shot in Brooklyn when they stopped a car with three occupants. One later died. Put aside the cops’ reason for checking the license plates though that’s germane. Disregard the importance of how they approached the car. But remember all the innocent Black blood spilled by cops, and the continued illegal stops of our youth.

Ponder whether this climate exacerbated by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly bore fruit that fateful night. After those cops were shot, racism and inhumanity took center stage.

Kelly’s marauders brought Robert Ellis and Dexter Bostic, two of the alleged offenders, to the 71st police precinct through a phalanx of blue. The world saw their hands and feet shackled, probably so tight blood refused to flow to those extremities for fear it could not return to their hearts.

They ambled with restricted gaits through the gauntlet on asphalt that conjured images of yesteryear’s dirt paths; a past century’s spontaneous raucous mob transformed into an orchestrated blue assemblage of hate.

Later they compelled Lee Wood, the last of the three, to hold his jaws ajar as they swabbed his inner cheek for DNA cells. They did this in open court. A platform and auctioneer would have been apropos.

A City that always implores Black victims to be patient and not prejudge revealed its racist hypocrisy. There were immediate calls for the death penalty. There were no calls for allowing the legal process to work; no calls for a fair trial or not tainting the jury pool with publicity. At press conferences the usual police apologists called the alleged offenders “mopes,” “animals,” and “sub-human.” Indeed Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes reflexively referred to them as scum and mutts. It was a veritable orgy of venom. 

Why all this hate? To be sure it is not new. We have historically been the objects of vile invectives. We’ve seen it on the pages of books and in D.W. Griffith’s racist film “The Birth of a Nation.” It is how those with “power” construct reality to maintain the status quo. Any challenge- and a dead cop is a challenge- will be met with tools to humiliate, intimidate, and dehumanize, if only into silence.

These repeated images do immeasurable violence to our community; violence at once insidious, yet familiar as it permeates the air we breathe. This whole episode must have stirred the ancestors; not from shame but a desire to rekindle their defiant spirit in us. We must not let others denigrate those perceived as the least among us thus robbing our entire community of its humanity.

While some of us seek to outlaw “nigger” from contemporary vernacular, let us speak out against the horrific treatment of Ellis, Bostic and Wood lest by our silence we condone it.



Mr. Mitchell is a Manhattan-based attorney.


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