The Kimani Gray Shooting And "Outsiders"

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[Editorial Comment]

Jumaane D. Williams is a responsible young New York City Councilmember who represents the 45th District in Brooklyn where Kimani Gray was shot to death by New York Police last Saturday.

Gray died when he was struck by seven bullets fired by two undercover officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) under disputed circumstances. A witness who spoke to The Village Voice contradicted the NYPD's claim that 16-year old Kimani pointed a .38 caliber weapon at officers before he was killed.

An investigation is warranted; but it must be independent and not by the NYPD itself.

Anger by outraged New Yorkers led to chaos during a vigil Monday for Kimani and on Wednesday scores were arrested during another heated event. Councilman Williams denounced acts of violence by some of the people who came out to the vigil.

Williams said the violent acts were instigated by outsiders. Unlike residents of the neighborhood where Kimani was killed, such outsiders have the luxury of later departing.

WIliams is right to discourage and to oppose misdirected acts of violence. Some media are misreading Jumaane Williams opposition to the violence following Kimani's death to mean that only people who live in the neighborhood where the teen-ager was shot should be involved in showing outrage.

This would be improper and unconstitutional; muzzling those who want to express legitimate outrage and opposition to the heavy-handed aggressive policing, including the unconstitutional stop-and-frisk regime under Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Those stopped are almost exclusively Black and Latino males.

The goal is supposedly to interdict illegal weapons. Nine out of 10 times when people are stopped no weapon has been found. Yet Kelly and Bloomberg still enforce the regime.

All those who believe the constitution protects all Americans must protest. There are no outsiders when it comes to injustice.

There were no outsiders during the fight against racial discrimination and segregation in the South. People from all walks of life and parts of the United States traveled to participate in that just struggle.

There were no outsiders in combating Apartheid. U.S. college students forced universities to divest their holdings from companies that conducted business-as-usual in South Africa.

There were no outsiders when police killed: Amadou Diallo; Patrick Dorismond; Sean Bell; Ramarley Graham, and others.

There were no outsiders when George Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon Martin and later cynically invoked Florida's Stand Your Ground law. These are just a few instances of acts of injustice that have galvanized people from all walks of life.

Those who sanction injustice are always quick, as even the Apartheid regime did, to tell "outsiders" to stay away.

"Outsiders" were instrumental in the Civil Rights struggle and in the collapse of the Apartheid regime.

"Outsiders" can help end police abuses.

Jumaane D. WIlliams is correct to call for responsible opposition and to denounce acts of violence.

Yet his message must not be distorted.


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