Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New York Police Terrorism: Do Not Be Confused By 50 Shots

Do Not Be Confused By 50 Shots

kahlil almustafa

You may be confused by how heinous the New York City Police Department is, as three young Black men were fired on 50 times by New York City Police Officers, in Queens, New York. One of the young men, Sean Bell, 23 was killed on the eve of his wedding, leaving behind his fiancé and two children, a five-year old and a three-month old. The other two men Joseph Guzman, 31 and Trent Benefield, 23 were also shot, but survived. Joseph Guzman was hit 11 times and was in critical conditions. The three men were leaving a Bachelor party of Kalua Cabaret, a club that was being watched closely by the NYPD.

Only hours away from his wedding ceremony, Sean Bell’s life was taken by the NYPD. So in Queens, New York, instead of celebrating a wedding, his family and friends will be attended another funeral. More than 250 guests were expected at the wedding, traveling from all over the country. His fiancĂ©, Nicole Paultre, 22, asked their pastor if he could still marry them to complete their union.

If you live in New York City, you may be confused by what is happening. The media has done an excellent job in making this case seem more normal than it is. While most of the city is quiet, some parts are boiling over with angry shouts for justice. Following are some points to take note of:

The 1st Shot was Excessive. The conversation in New York City media has been whether or not fifty shots was excessive? The first bullet fired was considered excessive force as clearly outlined in the police guidelines which state that an officer cannot fire at a vehicle because it is being used as deadly force. The three men were unarmed, and no gun was found on the scene. One of the officers shot 31 of the 50 shots, emptying one magazine, reloading, and emptying a second.

Black and Brown officers – Blue uniform. There has been controversy about whether or not the shooting was racially motivated. First, ask yourself, “if these young men were white, would this have happened?” Although Black and Latino officers were involved in the shooting, they were acting as extensions of the police department which promotes racist policies. I call this Neo-Racism, like Neo-Colonialism, Black face-White policy.

But they had prior records. All of the NY major papers printed the three men’s previous criminal records, including sealed juvenile records the day after the shooting. This sends the message, “well, they were criminal anyway,” or “I am sure they were up to something wrong.” The police officers had no idea of these three men’s prior records, which is irrelevant in the case. It is the criminalizing of an entire race that allows these events to happen.

There was a fourth man, maybe he had the gun. Yes, there was a fourth man. He is cooperating fully with the District Attorney. He insists he was not armed. He did run, wouldn’t you?

This is a mistake. This cannot simply be considered a mistake, collateral damage in the War on Drugs/War on Thugs; police brutality and police misconduct is part of a larger national and systemic problem. During the past month, there have been police killings all over the country including a 92 year-old woman who was killed on a mistaken address No-Knock warrant in Atlanta, Georgia, and a 7 year old girl who an officer pulled a gun out on in North Carolina. NYC has seen several police killings during the past twenty years, including Amadou Diallo, 41 shots in 1999, Ousmane Zongo, an African immigrant in 2003, Eric Hernandez, an off-duty cop in 2006, Patrick Dorismond, an unarmed security guard in 2000, Timothy Stansbury, a 19 year old taking a rooftop shortcut to a party in 2004.

Al Sharpton is not the only person working on this case. Whenever tragedy strikes, Al comes running to the rescue. Yes, he gets a lot of media attention, but often that attention goes to him, and not the family or the larger issue. There are many grassroots activists who are working to organize the community to be able to make some demands from the mayor so more lives are not lost.

Today, December 6th, activists from all over the city will be convening at 1 Police Plaza to protest this shooting, We Will Shut the City Down. Demands must be made, starting with the firing of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. There will be other events and news to come.

Hit us up . . .

If you do not want to read the article, check out this track by NYC emcee Papose shots/

Davey D has a internet radio program with Rosa Clementa of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement to get a sense of what is happening nationally

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