Translating Marches Into Boycotts

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The New York Police Department (NYPD) has been in many questionable shootings since the killing of Amadou Diallo in 1999. 

The November 25th, NYPD shooting in Jamaica, Queens when five plainclothes members of a tactical team shot at, and into, a vehicle moving on a city street occupied by three unarmed Black males sparked immediate press conferences and protests from the One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, Civil Rights Leaders, as well as many different groups and organizations.

The Tuesday before Sean Bell was murdered in Queens, the Black Star News was involved in its own investigation of the murder of Kathryn Johnson, a 92-year old Atlanta woman who was gunned down in her home when Atlanta undercover police forced their way in the front door.  Thinking she was being robbed, she allegedly fired her own licensed sidearm hitting the intruders, who returned a hail of approximately 108 bullets into her home causing her death.  This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

There have been several protests throughout New York City, which was sparked by the 50-plus NYPD’s bullets that caused the death of Sean Bell and sent Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield to Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, Queens, seriously wounded and clinging to life.  It appeared, when no gun was recovered, a “4th man,� was somehow created. 

The recent Saturday march in Manhattan was aimed at sending a message to holiday shoppers, “Not to shop until we get justice.�  Many people voiced their distrust of the mainstream media and the NYPD in the way the shooting in Queens was handled and reported.  This may be the reason close to a hundred-thousand Peoples came out to exercise their right, “Marching for justice,� down 5th Avenue from 59th Street ending on 34th Street and 8th Avenue right in front of Macy’s – a department store which, one employee told me, “has internal racial problems of its own.� (Look for this report soon in the Black Star News.)     

The elderly as well as children being pushed in carriages marched carrying signs – “Justice for Sean Bell,� and counting to 50, mocking the reported number of bullets fired at three young Black men who were unarmed.  “How do you justify 50 shots at an unarmed man?  Fifty shots equal murder,� a female marcher shouted.  “No, I’m the 4th man.  Liars, liars,� marchers were shouting at uniformed police who had nothing to do with the shooting.  “Kelly has to go,� many shouted, referring to New York’s police commissioner. In reality, there were 50-plus shots. Even the Police don't know how many rounds were fired.

There were many marchers telling stories of their own woes with the NYPD; how they are stopped and searched for no reason other than being Black; some spoke about how they are pulled over while driving and insulted by the NYPD.  The marchers were speaking directly to Black uniformed NYPD members saying, “When you take off that uniform, you’re a target,� meaning, they too could be shot down in the street.

“No justice, no peace.  No trigger happy police,� others shouted. Many officers just looked on and there were no reports of any arrests.

The march was not about the Rev. Al Sharpton; but some tried to confuse the issue at hand and it doesn’t seem to help matters when NYPD’s union bosses make statements that could be construed as inflammatory.  “The march sends a message to the jury that if they don’t indict these cops, there would be riots on the streets,� said Detectives’ Endowment Association president Michael Palladino, referring to the 1960’s, he went on to call the mach for justice, “Sharpton’s march.�  No Palladino, it was a peaceful march.

The former Dutchess County prosecutor accused of rape in Wappingers Falls by Tawana Brawley in 1987, also attended the march. “He race baits.  He stirs up emotions,� Steven Pagones said, referring to Sharpton. Was he implying that Sharpton was responsible for firing the 50-plus shots? Utter idiocy. (Meanwhile, the African American community continues to suffer from the disbarment of attorneys  C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox, arising from the case. Their legal services have been badly missed at these times.)

Everyone knows, we need the NYPD, but where is the trust? Since 9/11 the NYPD has targeted everyone – mainly nonwhite people. The “Police State� approach has to be changed. Bring back community policing because it worked.
Some visitors and many New Yorkers were unaware of the shooting in Queens and wondered what the march was about. After the march – they went shopping.  I guess there’s only one thing to say to those people – Merry Christmas.

Columnist's note: If you tuned in to Black talk radio WLIB 1190 AM with Imhotep Gary Byrd’s, “Mind flight,� which once aired Monday thru Thursday mornings from 12:00 A.M. to 5:00 A.M., and are like most of us – ‘tired of being dumbed-down because of a lack of news and information in your community and around the city.’  Tell WLIB management, “I want to listen to Black talk radio,� contact: Deon Levingston, Vice President and General Manager, WLIB Radio, 3 Park Avenue, New York New York 10016; telephone – 212-592-0426.  Send me your response and any reply and I will print it in this column.  Let’s stay informed.

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[email protected]  Our motto is: “Speaking Truth To Empower.â€?


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