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: