Between 1996 and 2007, the tri-state area (the East Coast states of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey) was inundated with incidents between police and the public that were controversial cases of alleged police brutality, which was an understatement in most cases. On April 14, 1997, in New Haven Connecticut, what would start out as routine police patrol of a minor traffic complaint ended in a police chase (two white East Haven cops) with the unarmed 21 year old Black male, Malik Jones fatally shot. This was the introduction to what was yet to come in the tri-state area. On August 9, 1997, in East Flatbush New York City, a group of white cops sexually assaulted a Haitian male (again, a young Black male). Abner Louima who was arrested at “Club Rendez-Vous,” a popular nightclub in East Flatbush for charges that could have been addressed by issuing him a misdemeanor summons ticket and giving him a Promise to Appear in court. The arresting officers beat Louima with their fists, nightsticks, and hand-held police radios on the ride to the station. On arriving at the station house, he was strip-searched and put in a holding cell. The beating continued later, culminating with Louima being raped in a bathroom at the 70th Precinct station house in Brooklyn. Officer Justin Volpe kicked Louima in the testicles, then, while Louima’s hands were cuffed behind his back, he first grabbed onto and squeezed his testicles and then sodomized him with a plunger, causing severe internal damage to his colon and bladder that required several operations to repair. Volpe then walked through the precinct holding the bloody, excrement-stained instrument in his hand, indicating that he had “broke a man down.”
Louima’s teeth were also badly damaged in the attack by having the broomstick jammed into his mouth. The day after the incident, Louima was transferred to the Coney Island Hospital emergency room. Escorting officers explained away his serious injuries being a result of “abnormal homosexual activities.” An emergency room nurse, Magalie Laurent, suspecting the nature of Louima’s extreme injuries were not the result of gay sex, notified Louima’s family and the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau of the likelihood of sexual assault and battery. Louima was hospitalized for two months after the incident.
Again in New Milford Connecticut, on December 29, 1998, Franklyn Reid a 27 year old unarmed Jamaican male fleeing from the police in a foot chase was fatally shot in the back while laying on his stomatch at gunpoint by a white cop. The officer claimed that he shot the subject in the back after the subject attempted to reach for a weapon. At trial, evidence was presented that showed Officer Scott Smith’s footprint on the Reid’s back. In New York City on February 4, 1999, America would see unchanged law enforcement and the epitome of racial profiling at its finest. A group of white cops (dressed in plain clothes) shot unarmed Muslim male from Guinea, Aqhmed Amadu Diallo while he stood in the foyer of his apartment building getting his keys or wallet from his pocket. The four cops shot at him a horrific 41 times and the Muslim male was struck 19 times by police gunfire. What started out with a “subject fitting the description” ended in a positive identification of what I call “The State of America’s outlook on Black males.”
Then on April 13, 1999 (only four months following the fatal shooting in Connecticut of December 29, 1998), a white police officer in Hartford Connecticut’s capital city gunned down a fleeing youth suspected in a robbery. The youth was 14-year-old Aquan Salmon, a young Black male from an inner city area of town. Evidence presented showed that the youth had purchased a cigarette lighter that resembled a handgun; there was never any mention that the youth was in possession of it at the time of the shooting. On March 16, 2000, in midtown Manhattan, New York again picked up the baton, when another undercover operation gone bad resulted in the fatal shooting of unarmed 26 year old Patrick Dorismond a Black male off-duty security guard who was suspected of having or wanting a small amount of drugs. In this incident, the twist was that the cop was Hispanic and the shooting happened in an upscale area rather than in the inner city. Once again, the suspect was unarmed. Moreover, as in the previously mentioned NYPD shooting, the suspect was mistaken for someone else and was innocent. Then, early morning on November 25, 2008, undercover crime unit officers who fired 50 shots gunned down Sean Bell a 23 year old unarmed Black male coming from his bachelor party. One of the officers was reported as having fired 31 bullets which caused him to reload two times. Damn!!!
Yah! Sounds like a war? This is only a snapshot of some of the actions and results of actions that have involved police and the public since 1996 in the tri-state area. The irony is, in all of the incidents that I have highlighted, all of the subjects killed were unarmed and no weapons were recovered at the scene.
Also, they were all Black males. So we could put it to a test. How would you categorize these events?
- Racism in law enforcement
- Racial police departments
- Racial profiling
- Socially-imbedded stereotypes
- Ignorance about Blacks as well other cultures and groups
It is tough to pick just one, but it is even more serious to members of the Black and Latino/Hispanic community when it seems that they are the only ones singled out.
Some so-called Black and Latino/Hispanic leaders have considered these events to be an epidemic within the Black community. However, I beg to differ because an epidemic is unpredictable and often there at least a vague hope for a cure. These events are the result of piss poor policing, and the culture of law enforcement nationwide ignorance about Blacks, Latinos and other People of Color. Education plays a major role in this change, along with new laws that deter this type of behavior. Public outcries on these issues only seem to serve as a controlled arena for increasing church congregations and as platforms for political leaders to jumpstart their campaigns.
This was taken from A Black Man’s Guide To Law Enforcement In America is an in-depth look at modern day issues that involve police and minority communities. This book takes readers behind “The Great Blue Wall” of law enforcement and gives them a first-hand look at the disturbing issues between police and people of color. This is a book you don’t want to miss.
Book Reviews: “This is one of the best collections of “dos and don’ts” written by a police officer for black males who may come in contact with law enforcement. It is a useful tool for motorists regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status. If you are going to drive in America, this is a must-read starting point!” Emma Khadija Jones, J.D., Founder of The MALIK Organization
This book will be released in paperback officially on Monday, December 21, 2009. The paperback is 130 pages.