Day after day, our political leaders remind us of human rights violations happening all across the world, yet they often fail to recognize and stand up against the violations happening in their own backyards. In communities of color, young people feel under siege. Kimani’s murder and the resistance displayed by young people in response must be taken as a continued call to action. We must ask ourselves: why are we allowing this to happen? Where have we failed in organizing a long-term movement?
Omowale Adewale, a father and community organizer from Brooklyn has a radical solution:The only negotiation I want conducted on my behalf with the police is withdrawal of their paramilitary troops from my community, which includes community affairs, helicopters, police horses, barricades,he says, likening the need for police to turn over control of our communities to that of the US Military’s efforts in withdrawing from Iraq. His words echo the sentiment running through Flatbush in this traumatic moment.
— Rosa Clemente, Why Did Kimani Gray Have to Die?
in EBONY, 18 March 2013 (second boldface added)
New York City
Happy Ides of March! To-day is Tyrannicide Day (observed); to-day is also the International Day of Action Against Police Brutality. I don’t know why anyone would be so paranoid or anti-government or anti-cop as to call for protests against police brutality. Everyone knows that cops are here to protect you.
Unnamed 19-year-old single mother, Milwuakee, Wisconsin [t/w: sexual violence committed by a police officer]: a 19-year-old single mother, who has chosen to remain anonymous, had a brick thrown through her window, and someone trying to kick in her front door, so she called 911. When the police showed up to
help,they took her brother outside and sent her boyfriend out of the house; then one of the cops, Police Officer Ladmarald Cates, rapist on patrol, took the opportunity to corner her while she was alone and repeatedly rape her. When she tried to get outside to tell other police about what happened to her, her rapist grabbed her, spun her around, and had her arrested for
assaulting a police officer.She was held in jail for 12 hours while other police called her a liar until she was finally taken to a hospital to be tested with a rape kit. Then they sent her back to the county jail and imprisoned her for four days without any charges ever being filed against her. The police force eventually fired Cates for
idling and loafingon duty [sic!] after they confronted him with DNA evidence of the rape, but the local DA declined to prosecute. The survivor was eventually able to find a lawyer who helped her take the case to the Feds for a civil-rights complaint; when they investigated, they found out that before he raped her, Police Officer Ladmarald Cates had already been investigated five times before for illegal behavior, including three previous allegations of sexual abuse. (The local DA had declined to prosecute in those cases, too.)
Bassil Abdelal of Chicago, Illinois: Abdelal, the owner of B&B Beauty Supply on the West Side of Chicago, was robbed at gunpoint last year while trying to close up his store. Somebody who saw what was going down called the police from a CTA station, so the robbers ran out of the store. He stepped out to see where they were going to, and picked up a gun they had dropped to protect himself. Then, when the police showed up to
help,Abdelal dropped the gun, but they shot him 11 times while he screamed
Don’t shoot; I am the store owner.Then they handcuffed him in the ambulance and denied him medical treatment while they questioned him. Then they came by the hospital again in the middle of the night and handcuffed him to the bed, and harassed and interrogated him in repeated visits for over a week.
Delma Towler of Altavista, Virginia: Towler, an 83-year-old woman, called 911 to report a burglary at her home. Then she went out into her own backyard, with her gun to protect herself; the police, showing up on the scene to
help,gunned down Delma Towler — shooting her three times and killing her in her own backyard — for not responding to shouted orders that she could not hear without her hearing aid. According to the press report,
The officer, who hasn’t been named, has been placed on administrative leave … . He is believed to be a veteran [sic] with more than 10 years’ experience in the force… . The Altavista Police Department chief Clay Hamilton said an internal investigation found the officer involved was not at fault as he followed department policy.
Kristen Walker and her boyfriend James, of Rochester, New York [t/w: traumatizing harassment, sexist language, physical violence against a rape survivor by police]: Walker (who is white) and her boyfriend (who is African-American) were harassed by a security guard while shopping in a convenience store late at night earlier this month; then after leaving the store found that they were being followed by police officers. It turns out they were being followed because the security guard — himself an off-duty RPD police officer — had called 911 to tell his buddies that he thought Walker and her boyfriend were suspicious because they were carrying
a massive amount of cash on them(they had just gotten their tax return). So, hot on the scent of a possible drug seizure, two police cruisers pulled them over and multiple officers swarmed the car to demand ID and interrogate the two of them separately. When Kristen Walker asked why they pulled them over, the cop replied
None of your fucking business, we don’t have to have a fucking reason to stop you.When she pointed out they need to have reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop, the police officer told her
Yeah?, you smart ass little bitch, get the fuck out of the car.Then he grabbed her by the arm to pull her out of the car and wrenched it behind her back, marched her over to the police car and slammed her head on the trunk. Walker, a rape survivor, was alarmed and told the cops she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the sexual assault; they ignored her and had both male officers conduct a pat-down search. One police officer told Walker
I should beat the fuck out of you,and threatened to pepper-spray her in the face while she was hand-cuffed in the back of the police-cruiser. When she asked for the name and badge number of the police officer, he told her
Blow me you little whore,and shut the car door. While she was in tears, a female officer came by, looked inside, and said
Aw, look at the little baby crying.When the police failed to find anything in her car, and another police officer told told her they were going to release her and her boyfriend, she again asked for their names and badge numbers, and the cop told her
If you get their names and badge numbers you’re either going to jail for disorderly conduct or they’ll take you to the hospital for a mental health arrest.When she got home, she dialed 911 and asked for a supervisor to get the names and badge numbers of the police officers who had pulled them over, interrogated her, harassed her, humiliated her in the most vulgar and violent ways, searched her, beat her, threatened her repeatedly with even more extreme physical violence, re-traumatized her and violated her civil rights in every way over carrying
too muchcash which is, as you may know, not actually against any law. The officer on the phone explained why they had been singled out for being stopped and searched but also refused to give her the names or the badge numbers of the officers who did it. When a local journalist put up a story about it on the Internet and contacted the city government in Rochester, he was told that
they will not be releasing the names of the officers pending an internal affairs investigation.
All domestic violence victims, New York, New York: the New York Police Department recently issued an order to all police ordering them to run criminal checks on victims who call 911 to report domestic violence to the police. So now if your partner is beating you, and you call 911, when the police show up to
helpthey will also be checking your name in all NYPD databases to determine whether they’ll be arresting you for anything
including for minor offenses like unpaid tickets.According to the New York Post,
A [police] source said that even if detectives wanted to take pity on someone who was battered by a spouse, they would feel pressure to make an arrest to avoid getting in trouble with superiors.
We have every right to arrest that person at that moment,the source said.
All K-12 students, Pennsylvania:
Bristol Township School District allows them. Neshaminy and Pennridge schools do not. And Palisades is discussing whether to permit them. But most local school districts have no specific policy on strip-searches of students. Without a policy, there are no guidelines, meaning students can be forced to take off all clothing if suspected of carrying prohibited contraband or material that could pose a threat [for example, dangerous substances like ibuprofen —R.G.]. Statewide, more than 100 school districts have adopted a policy example provided by the Pennsylvania School Board Association in 2009, which sets out the circumstances in which it believes a strip-search would be reasonable and necessary. Palisades introduced its proposed strip-search policy during the school board’s Feb. 6 meeting, leading several parents to speak out against such searches. It defines when administrators could legally strip-search students: a reasonable suspicion that something was being concealed that would be a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the school population and could be recovered only by the removal or searching of a student’s clothes… .There are no possible suspicions that could possibly make it reasonable for school administrators or resource-cops to ever have the power to force a student to undergo a strip-search.
Charlene Holly, six children, and the family dog, Samson, of Chicago, Illinois. Nine Chicago police officers, lead by Officer Patrick Kinney (the rest of the officers are not named in court documents), broke down the door and forced their way into Holly’s apartment, dressed in army fatigues and with guns drawn, screaming
Get on the ground!and demanding at gunpoint that an 11 month old child show his hands. They killed the family dog by choke-dragging him up from the basement and then left him in the upstairs laundry room, where he died. When the police finally showed their warrant, the warrant said that it was for a man named
Sedgwick M. Reaversand it was made out for the second-floor apartment at 10640 S. Prairie Street. The apartment that this paramilitary squad had broken into, with guns drawn, was the first floor apartment. When Samuel Holly, Charlene Holly’s husband, tried to make a complaint about the wrong-address storm-trooper raid, the warrantless search and the killing of their dog, the police would not take his complaint over the phone; when he showed up at the police station the next day, they refused to take the complaint, and told him that he
should have made a complaint last night.
Deborah Braillard, of Maricopa County, Arizona: Braillard, a diabetic, was arrested on minor drug charges and thrown into the Maricopa County jail. She died in jail because the sheriff’s office denied her medical care for three days, even after other inmates warned the jailers that she needed help. This was back in 2005; the story is in the news again because the Maricopa County sheriff’s office has just agreed to make Maricopa taxpayers pay $3,250,000 to Braillard’s family in order to settle the case, after a judge ruled that jurors could be told that key evidence in the case had been destroyed by the sheriff’s department. Of course the people who personally decided to imprison Deborah Braillard and to kill her by denying her access to needed medical care will never pay a cent out of their own pockets.
Ferdinand Hunt and Sidney Newman, of New Orleans, Louisiana. Hunt and Newman, two black teenagers, were hanging out on Conti Street after a Mardi Gras parade, waiting for Hunt’s mother to come back from getting some food. Nine plainclothes State Police officers and a NOPD cop then rushed them, surrounded them, and then — in spite of neither young man posing any physical threat at all — were caught on video throwing them across the sidewalk into a wall and beat them. The state troopers claimed that
while they were patrolling the French Quarter, they noticed two individuals who appeared to be juveniles and decided to ID them;this is, apparently, how they go about finding out who’s who in New Orleans.
Kimani Gray of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York: plainclothes cops swarmed Kimani Gray, a 16 year old boy, late at night, claiming that he
adjusted his waistbandand attempted to leave when he saw them. So instead of letting him leave peacefully, they pulled him aside and confronted him. Then they shot at him 11 times, killing him. They claim he was pointing a gun at them. Gray was hit with seven of the 11 shots fired; three shots hit him in the back. Less than a year before, plainclothes NYPD drug cops shot and killed an unarmed 23-year-old woman, Shantel Davis, only blocks away. After vigils and protests against police violence in Brooklyn in the wake of the most recent shooting, riot cops set up roadblocks on Church Avenue, grabbed Gray’s sister Mahnefah off the street, kettled protesters and arrested 46 people, mostly for
Jabbar Campbell of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York [t/w: homophobic language, graphic photo of injuries inflicted by police against a gay man]: Jabbar Campbell, a gay African-American man living in Brooklyn, threw a gay-pride party at his apartment. Police got an excessive-noise complaint related to the party; but when a squad of police showed up at the apartment, they claim that he
ignored their demands toCampbell denies that that’s true — but whether it is or not, what happened next is that a gang of nine cops forced their way into the building, deliberately turned off a surveillance camera in the building, and then proceeded to hold him down and beat him repeatedly, punching him in the face and striking him with clubs and flashlights until he lost consciousness, all the while screaming
discontinue a partyand then pushed Sergeant Juan Morero, attempted to flee and flailed his arms at cops and behaved
You fucking fagand
homo.He was taken to Kings County Hospital with a black eye, a split lip and a bloodied mouth, needing 9 stitches and then taken to jail for 24 hours on charges of
attempted assaultand marijuana possession. Police questioned party-goers about whether they were having
screwing each other.When Campbell filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over the beating, more armed men, wearing police jackets, broke into his house without a warrant and with their badges hidden from view, refusing to give their names, demanding ID from the gusts at Campbell’s house and searching everyone there. According to Jabbar Campbell, the officers who attacked him are still on the job, although
they are being investigated by IAB (internal affairs bureau) and the ADA.
Stanley Gibson of Las Vegas, Nevada: Gibson, a 43-year-old US Army veteran suffering from severe anxiety and depression, had a series of run-ins with police over the course of two days and was acting increasingly erratic and disoriented. Police boxed in Gibson’s car on the road; when he refused to come out after an hour, the cops decided to force him out by breaking his windows with beanbag rounds and then filling the car with pepper-spray. Instead, Police Officer Jesus Arevalo fired seven live rounds from his rifle, killing Gibson, who was disoriented, completely unarmed, and had made no attempt either to come out of the car or to attack the police. Back in December, a government grand jury declined to indict Arevalo on murder charges
after evidence was presented during hearings closed to the public and Gibson’s family.Now that the case has already been decided using secret evidence, Metro is using Gibson’s case as the first case for their new
Police Fatality Public Factfinding Review, a
publicprocess created by Las Vegas Metro Police Department’s Sheriff Douglas Gillespie and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association’s Chris Collins to replace the previous Coroner’s Inquest system for police shootings with a new system
intended to make the hearings less adversarial and promote the dissemination of information to the public.(To the public, natch; this only goes one way. In the new dissemination-system there is no opportunity for testimony from witnesses, no power to compel police to testify under oath, and no representation from the victim’s family or non-police witnesses.)
Alex Landau of Denver, Colorado [t/w: reporting of racist language and extremely graphic photos of injuries from the beating]: Landau, a 19-year-old Community College of Denver student, was pulled over by police, allegedly for
an illegal left turn.Cops escalated the traffic stop into a drug search; when they asked to search the trunk of his car, Landau refused, and asked whether they had a warrant — so a group of cops punched him in the face, then beat him for several minutes, after he fell to the ground, with fists, a radio, and a flashlight. They pressed a service revolver to his head and threatened his life. The cops claim they thought they saw a gun, but Landau was in fact completely unarmed. After they stopped beating him the cops laughed at him and said,
Where’s that warrant now you fucking nigger?[sic] Then they dragged him across the grass and left him to bleed; they denied him medical treatment for so long, while getting photos taken for their paperwork, that he went into shock on the way to the hospital. He needed 45 stitches and suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and brain injuries from his severe beating at the hands of the police.
Here is the creepiest bit of dystopian legal language that I have heard in the past month or so:
Keep in mind that one of the main activities of the
Real Time Crime Center right now is to watch, chase down, arrest, imprison and force unwanted psychiatric treatment on people who specifically have not been accused of committing any crimes (
The city [sic] is making a major push to sweep the streets of dangerous, mentally ill New Yorkers—and has even compiled a most-wanted list. … Those [)
mental hygiene] warrants mean that the patients are not wanted for a crime but instead are being sought because they are not getting their court-ordered treatment.
-  Content warning, for slurs from the headline on down, fear-mongering, ignorant scapegoating, and general police-state fascism. I apologize for the really very offensive and generally awful source article; I hate the New York Post in basically every possible way. ↩
I know, it’s early, but I feel like this one is going to be hard to top. Last week, in the pages of the New York Times, we learn, from a completely impressionistic, completely dataless smattering of interviews that some vaguely-defined mass of
hipsters from Brooklyn
are starting to ponder the unthinkable: a move to the suburbs, and beginning an as-yet completely undocumented
mass exodus from Brooklyn Now if you read through the story you will find that this reporting is based on a series of interviews with a handful of married couples, several of them with young children and almost all of them in their late thirties, punctuated in the middle by an interview with a professional realtor who has a direct financial and self-promotional interest in talking up the trend. Now of course neighborhoods and boroughs are constantly changing and it’s perfectly possible that something interesting is really systematically going on — actually there are a few different interesting things that might be systematically going on. Or it might be nothing. In either case this would certainly be an interesting topic to get some systematic data on.
However, what we get from the New York Times is, instead, a colorfully illustrated discussion of the stunning news that when a subcultural demographic was partly identified and defined by the fact that they are young, then eventually they will get old. And when they get older — especially once they get into their mid- to late-30s, and especially if they get married and have kids — then many of them will move out of the big city and into the suburbs. And when people of a particular age reach the particular age where some of them start moving to the suburbs, it turns out that those who do take their fashions and their market niches with them.
Also, this reporter has discovered that people who are now in their late 30s and raising children find the city they’re living in
no longer feels as carefree as it did when they were young, unattached, and had fewer responsibilities.
I am sure that the bakery with the bird silhouettes is really quite cute.
-  The theory of the article is that gentrifying hipsters and artistes are now being driven out of Brooklyn by the real-estate prices they helped to drive up. Maybe. Or maybe not. This is the sort of thing you’d want to collect data on. ↩
-  In the absence of any data, of course, we have no idea how many people are moving out, and no idea how many people, with what sorts of backgrounds, are or are not moving in to replace them. ↩
From the West Coast to the East, here’s some news from occupied New York. After a great deal of stonewalling and under intense pressure from New York civil liberties groups, the NYPD has finally released reports on the results of its recent revival of random warrantless stop-and-frisk. Not surprisingly, the results demonstrate that not only is this police power fascist in principle, but also the application of the program is overwhelmingly racist in practice.
The NYPD last night released a report on its controversial stop-and-frisk procedure that breaks down by precinct — and by race — those who’ve been targeted.
The figures, all from 2011, show the precinct with the most stops by sheer numbers was Brooklyn’s 75th, which includes East New York and Cypress Hills.
More than 31,000 people were stopped, 97 percent of them either black or Hispanic.
Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct, covering Brownsville, was the next highest, with 25,167 stops. About 98 percent involved minorities.
The 115th Precinct — which includes East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights in Queens — ranked third, with 18,156 stops. Nearly 93 percent of those involved minorities, the figures show.
The 40th Precinct in The Bronx, which covers Mott Haven and Melrose, racked up the next highest number — 17,690 — with 98.5 percent involving minorities.
And at No. 5 was the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where there were 17,566 stops, with 88.6 percent involving minorities.
The New York Civil Liberties Union had fought for release of the stats last year.
After getting them, the civil-rights group said they show a pattern of racial profiling — a charge that the NYPD denies.
The NYPD, like most police forces, routinely issues blanket denials of obvious empirical facts, and expects to be believed because the press conference is called in an alternate dimension, where 98+% of all stops just happen to be directed at harassing black or Latin@ victims because of some objective and racially neutral standard of
Reasonable Suspicion. In the real world, of course, outside of political power-trip la-la land,
Reasonable Suspicion is an entirely meaningless standard, which in practice means nothing more than a police officer’s unreflective and unsubstantiated gut feelings about whether or not someone looks like they are up to no good. And whatever the intentions of NYPD management may have been in designing the policy, or the criteria, the overwhelmingly obvious practical effect of this kind of massive discretionary police power is a campaign of in-effect discriminatory racial harassment by police, which is fueled by the subtle and not-so-subtle sorts of racialized anxiety, tension, and suspicion that set off police officers’ gut reactions. (This is of course why giving police the power to use force, detain, threaten and search people, based on nothing more than their inchoate
suspicions is a fundamentally terrible and deeply dangerous idea.)
While it appears at first blush to be a slick, fact-filled response, nothing in the report can dispute the reality that stop and frisk NYPD-style is targeted overwhelmingly at people of color, so innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, that all but 12 percent walk away without so much as a ticket,NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement.
A total of 685,724 people — 8.6 percent of the city’s population — were detained by cops forreasonable suspicion.[sic] … Of that number, 9 percent were white, and 4 percent Asian, the figures showed.
The No. 1 reason for stop-and-frisks that year was possible weapons possession, the report released yesterday said.
You might be tempted to call racist harassment the occupational disease of police. If not for the fact that it is their occupation.
This is, incidentally, partly a story about how government policing, and police-state tactics like stop-and-frisk, are assaults on civil liberty in principle, and deeply structurally racist in applied practice. Also, though, — pay attention to the punchline at the end — I have to note that this is also a story about how the immediate practical effect of gun control laws in New York has been to provide the Number One legal pretext for a campaign of highly racialized police harassment. Like drug laws, and like any other law that serves to increase the legal power of police to threaten, coerce or arrest people for contraband possessions, gun control laws also are deeply structurally racist in their immediate practical effects.
- GT 2010-08-20: Your authorization says shoot your nation
- Anthony Gregory, Who Goes to Prison Due to Gun Control? in The Beacon (2012-12-21),