This week, there have been vigils and marches in response to the NYPD shooting and killing Kimani Gray in Brooklyn. I was there on Wednesday, and although the vigil and march started out peacefully, the cops decided to block us from using a crosswalk while we were on the sidewalk, and continued agitating the whole night. I believe that’s what we call a “police riot.”
I was only able to photograph the beginning of the march since there was a quick end to my night when I was hit by a thrown object. An arrest was happening to my left, and I was hit on the right side. I received a concussion and was driven to the hospital in an ambulance where a doc put 5 stitches in my head. I have no idea what it was, or who threw it. If it was one of the many young, rightfully angry friends of Kimani Gray, then I honestly can say I would not be angry with them. Instead, I am angry that the NYPD shot 11 rounds at 16 year old boy, hitting him the back and killing him – which is what cause this outrage in Brooklyn.
If we want to seriously change the world, then we need more activists and photographers like Jenna Pope to bear witness to the truth, to give a damn and make a difference.
If you want, you can support Jenna Pope fight for justice, one photo at a time, by donating here. Thanks.
Actor J.D. Williams is well-known for his role as a drug dealer “Bodie” Broadus on The Wire, but fame can often be a double-edged sword, especially when NYPD officers approach the young actor—who’s also been in Oz, The Sopranos and Homicide: Life on the Street—as if they’ve seen him someplace before… or arrested him in the past!
Perception is everything, isn’t it? Williams spoke out about the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy while participating in the “Silent March” in Manhattan on Monday:
Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old teenager, was killed in his home on East 229th Street in the Bronx last week by plainclothes narcotics cops. Graham, who was unarmed, was shot in the chest as he was trying to flush a small amount of weed down the toilet, as his terrified grandmother and 6-year-old brother watched from a few feet away.
While details of the tragedy are still unfolding, it appears that the teen had a small amount of marijuana on him, so walked home to get away from the cops because he didn’t want to be arrested. The cops followed him, broke into his home and killed him in his bathroom while he was trying to flush a small amount of marijuana down the toilet. The police officer who shot Graham said he believed the young man had a gun. He did not – no weapons were found.
The bottom line is that an 18-year-old is dead because of the insane marijuana arrest crusade by the NYPD.
Graham’s family and the community are righteously demanding justice. There was a passionate protest of hundreds of people outside the 47th Precinct station in the Bronx Monday night, where they condemned police violence and the almost-routine killings of unarmed men like Mr. Graham. Graham’s sister is quoted in yesterday’s New York Times, saying “This is not just about Ramarley. This is about all young black men.”
Incidentally, just the day before the tragic killing, the New York City media was buzzing about the 2011 marijuana arrest numbers. There were more than 50,000 marijuana arrests in 2011, the second-most in NYC history and the most in more than a decade. The NYPD bust more people for small amounts of marijuana than any other crime in the city. And these 50,000 arrests are overwhelmingly young black and Latino men – even though, according to the government’s own data, they are no more likely to use or sell marijuana than young whites.
Those figures are nothing to brag about. It’s time for Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to pull their heads out of their asses. This happened on their watch because of their policies.
At a community council meeting at the Holy Rosary Church on Adee Avenue last night—the first since the incident—the Mayor’s appalling absence was certainly noticed. From DNA Local News:
“Where’s Bloomberg?” asked Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, who said she hasn’t heard from the mayor. She later criticized the NYPD for not immediately firing [Officer Richard] Haste. “The police officer is still working,” she told reporters. “He should be charged.”
When Bronx Commander Carlos Gomez tried to give an account of what happened on Wednesday night, those in attendance—many who knew Ramarley Graham since he was baby—made it clear they didn’t believe a single word he was saying:
“That’s a lie!” yelled a woman in the audience. “Don’t cover it up!”
Members of the community also made it known that they wanted serious reforms of policing in their neighborhood.
“I want local police in our community who know our children growing up, who don’t feel threatened by them,” said Sheron Pearson, whose daughter knew Graham.
Other people expressed the raw emotion they were still feeling.
“I’m so disgusted. I’m angry,” said Denise Omenih, 52. “I feel violated. It could have been my child.”
Damn straight! If this case isn’t the very last straw before a change comes in the NYPD’s policies, then there’s no justice to be had for Ramarley Graham or anyone else who just wants to just be left alone to smoke a little pot! Jesus, they killed a KID over pot. If there’s ever been a situation for the pro-legalization crowd to rally around, IT IS THIS ONE. If Governor Cuomo fancies himself a leader, now would be the moment to lead the way to medical cannabis in New York State.
What a difference a coast makes: I live in sunny, liberal Los Angeles. Within just a few blocks of where I am currently typing this sentence, there must be twelve to fifteen medical cannabis dispensaries. Not one is a crime magnet. They coexist peacefully with other legit businesses like restaurants, appliance stores, furniture stores, opticians, sporting goods stores and bakeries. It’s worth noting as the Obama administration ramps up their pointless war on medical cannabis, that when the President appeared last October for a campaign stop at the popular Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles soul food restaurant, he was surrounded on all sides by law-abiding medical cannabis dispensaries mere hundreds of feet away! Did the Secret Service know this? Of course they did!
There are, I have read, 3X as many medical marijuana collectives in Los Angeles as there are all of the Starbucks and McDonald’s in this city, combined! In some precincts in Los Angeles, crime stats were found to fall significantly lower after the dispensaries opened their doors (they almost always have security guards). Cops in LA simply don’t give a shit about pot anymore. They don’t want you to blow pot smoke in their faces, but it’s a non-issue here, as it should be everywhere. They know, from years of experience at this point, that it’s not a problem, or certainly less of one than alcohol is.
In marked contrast to a dead young man in New York City, I can legally buy extremely high grade marijuana easier and faster than I can refill a regular prescription. I could leave my home, cross the street, buy a quarter pound of weed and be back home within five-ten minutes, legally twisting a spliff.
Across the country someone lost his life, gunned down in front of his kid brother and grandmother for a small amount of the same PLANT? There’s something wrong with our drug laws in this country. I hope some good comes out of this this incident because it’s really, really sad what happened to Ramarley Graham.
Below, watch as the probable-violators of Ramarley’s Fourth Amendment rights kick his grandmother’s door down:
Retired Philadelphia Police Captain, Raymond Lewis was arrested today by NYPD officers for taking part in OWS.
Lewis, who has cut a figure at OWS in his police uniform, has criticized NYPD’s behavior towards the protesters as “disgusting” and “totally uncalled for”. He has also asked NY cops to stop being “Wall Street Mercenaries”, and to go watch the film Inside Job.
“All the cops are, they’re just workers for the one percent and they don’t even realize they’re being exploited”.
Lewis has also stated police negotiation would have been a better response to the tactics employed by the NYPD:
“You should, by law, only use force to protect someone’s life or to protect them from being bodily injured. If you’re not protecting somebody’s life or protecting them from bodily injury, there’s no need to use force. And the number one thing that they always have in their favor that they seldom use is negotiation–continue to talk, and talk and talk to people. You have nothing to lose by that. This bullrush–what happened last night is totally uncalled for when they did not use negotiation long enough.”
I don’t know who this Retired Captain Lewis is, but by his presence at OWS and his arrest, he has set an example for other police men and women to follow.
At the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny, a former NYPD narcotics detective also snared in the scandal testified that it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people.
In the astonishing testimony from Stephen Anderson, a former NYPD narcotics officer who’s testifying under an agreement with prosecutors, Anderson told of how he participated in false arrests and planted cocaine in order to meet arrest quotas and prevent a colleague from being put back on street patrol. The scandal hanging over the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads has led to the arrests of eight police officers. Via the New York Daily News:
“Tavarez was ... was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.
“I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
He made clear he wasn’t about to pass off the two legit arrests he had made in the bar to Tavarez.
“As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division,” he said.
Anderson, who worked in both the Queens and Brooklyn South narcotics squads, was asked by Justice Gustin Reichbach if such practices were widespread and if he’d observed them with frequency.
He replied:“Yes, multiple times.”
The judge pressed Anderson on whether he ever gave a thought to the damage he was inflicting on the innocent.
“It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators,” he said.
“It’s almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, they’re going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway.”
The city paid $300,000 to settle a false arrest suit by Jose Colon and his brother Maximo, who were falsely arrested by Anderson and Tavarez. A surveillance tape inside the bar showed they had been framed.
Anyone currently in prison for drugs-related felonies in New Your State might want to start an immediate appeals process to get their sentences overturned… whether they are guilty or not!
This is all kinds of wrong. If the exposure of this cancer on the NYPD isn’t a good excuse to end the drug war, what ever would be?