Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

6Dec/140

Defending Black Lives Against American Law Enforcement Terrorism: We Must Reform These Systems

As this past week ended, millions of people throughout the world continued to follow the intensifying and brutal response by law enforcement officers to African American women, men and children on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and dozens of other communities throughout the US. Much of this attention has been sparked by the recent and high-profile killings of African American men and boys at the hands of police officers, and the lack of any form of accountability for the officers in most of these cases.

Most recently this week, tens of thousands (likely more) of individuals throughout the country watched and subsequently protested the Staten Island, New York grand jury decision not to indict the officer responsible for killing Eric Garner this past summer. Demonstrators also protested the unfolding tragedy in Cleveland, Ohio, where a rookie and unfit police officer (according to the officer's prior employment records) shot and killed Tamir Rice, an unarmed 12-year-old boy, within 1-2 seconds of approaching the scene where the boy had been playing with a toy gun. All of this follows the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and multiple other killings of Black men by police officers in other cities within the last week.

Yesterday's Democracy Now broadcast further analyzed the multiple failures and unjust responses by the NYPD to Eric Garner on that summer afternoon, including the minutes before Garner's encounter with the police, the actual police killing of Garner, and the aftermath. They also explore the circumstances and poor police department track record coming to light in Cleveland.

Below are brief descriptions and the relatively short video clips from yesterday's Democracy Now broadcast (transcript available on the DN site).

Did the NYPD Let Eric Garner Die? Video Shows Police Ignored Pleas to Help Him After Chokehold

While much of the nation has seen the cellphone video showing the New York City police officer’s chokehold that led to Eric Garner’s death, a second video shows what happened after Garner last gasped, "I can’t breathe." The video shows Garner lying unresponsive on the sidewalk as police and medics do nothing to help him. A bystander can be heard saying, "Why nobody do no CPR?" Eventually they lift his body onto a stretcher. New York Daily News columnist Harry Siegel writes about the video in his latest article, "The lonesome death of Eric Garner: When men are treated like pieces of meat by cops and medics, trust erodes."

 

A Racist and Unjust System? A Discussion on Policing in Wake of Michael Brown and Eric Garner Deaths

As Rev. Al Sharpton calls for a march on Washington next Saturday to demand action from the federal government on police brutality and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio orders the retraining of the city’s police force, we host a roundtable discussion on policing and race nationwide. We’re joined by three guests: Graham Weatherspoon is a retired detective with the New York City Police Department; Mychal Denzel Smith is a contributing writer for The Nation; and Harry Siegel is a columnist at the New York Daily News.

 

The Killing of Tamir Rice: Cleveland Police Criticized for Shooting 12-Year-Old Holding Toy Gun

More than 100 people packed a church in Cleveland, Ohio, for the memorial service of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy shot dead by police last month. Rice, who was in sixth grade, was killed after a 911 caller reported seeing the boy with what turned out to be a pellet gun, which the caller repeatedly said seemed fake. Video shows Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shooting Rice immediately after leaving his cruiser, from a distance of about 10 feet. On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department has found a pattern or practice of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” by the Cleveland Police Department. We speak with Democratic Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, whose district includes Cleveland.

We are also joined by three others in our studio: Graham Weatherspoon is a retired detective with the New York City Police Department; Mychal Denzel Smith is a contributing writer for The Nation; and Harry Siegel is a columnist at the New York Daily News.

4Dec/140

‘Hell No!’: Eric Garner’s Widow Rejects Officer’s Condolences

Protests continue around the country tonight after yesterday's grand jury decision NOT to indict the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. What separated this killing from other killings of Black women, men and children by cops is that the entire encounter was filmed, and shared with the public shortly after it happened.

So in this case, even people who are otherwise inclined to think the worst of African American women, men and children - and who are inclined to give all or most cops the benefit of the doubt - were forced to acknowledge the absolute terror experienced by Eric Garner in his relationship with the police, and what by many of us appears to be their sheer lack of regard for his life.

Following the most recent failure of this nation's justice system, the Garner family reacted to the grand jury decision, and the 'statement of condolence' issued by the officer who killed Eric Garner.

The reaction by Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, to a questioner seeking her reaction to the officer's statement is a moving example of the power of the human spirit to stand up with clarity about such an injustice, and the crisis their family was thrown into by Officer Pantaleo in particular, and the NYPD more generally.

I have tremendous admiration for the family's courage, and their steadfastness, which we all must support and model.

From a related article at Huffington Post...

The family of Eric Garner addressed the nation Wednesday after a grand jury announced its decision not to indict an NYPD officer in Garner's death.

Garner, a Staten Island man who had asthma, died on July 17 after Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a prohibited police chokehold during an arrest. Police suspected Garner, who was black, of selling untaxed cigarettes on the sidewalk. The incident was captured on video, where Garner can be heard repeatedly telling officers "I can't breathe!" before his body goes limp.

At a press conference Wednesday at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network, the advocacy group founded by Al Sharpton, Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, expressed their disappointment with the grand jury's decision and their frustration that Pantaleo would not be held accountable by a court.

Esaw Garner became visibly angry when asked if she accepted the remorse Pantaleo expressed earlier that day. In a statement, Pantaleo offered his condolences to the family and said he never intended to harm Garner.

"Hell no!" Garner replied. "The time for remorse would have been when my husband was yelling to breathe."

"No, I don't accept his apology. No, I could care less about his condolences," she continued. "He's still working. He's still getting a paycheck. He's still feeding his kids, when my husband is six feet under and I'm looking for a way to feed my kids now."

"Who's going to play Santa Claus for my grandkids this year?" she said. "Who's going to play Santa Claus?"

And a video clip from the news conference, at ABCNews...

More ABC US news | ABC World News

13Nov/140

John Jay College Presents Findings on Misdemeanor Arrests in New York

A report was released last month by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice looking at low level policing practices in the State of New York. Not to our surprise, there was a finding that the most pronounced increase in policing activity was with "minority" men, particularly African American and Hispanic.

You can find the report here, with the specific race data breakdown beginning on page 39 of the report, and the conclusion and implications described beginning on page 76.

I hope everyone is clear that the kinds of findings presented in this report, and more specifically the powder keg dynamic that is created by these policing practices, are very consistent with what we're seeing in Ferguson, Missouri.

Listening to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton talk about these dynamics with Connie Rice of the Advancement Project, it's clear that the leadership in New York City are far more comfortable reflecting on this especially huge injustice, particularly when compared to their counterparts in Ferguson, St. Louis, and the State of Missouri more generally.

From the conclusion:

We hope that this report will prompt wide-ranging policy discussions about the role
of arrests in our response to misdemeanor crimes. Each of the arrests presented
here reflects a decision by a police officer to exercise an important power granted
under the law – the discretionary power to hold someone that is believed to have
committed a crime for court processing. This report raises a host of questions about
significant, sometimes dramatic, shifts in the exercise of that power. Why has it
happened? How much was driven by policy choices? How much of the change in
arrest patterns is responsible for changes in victim calls for service? How much of
this phenomenon can be attributed to the availability of police resources freed up by
declining felony arrest rates? How much does this heightened use of misdemeanor
arrests reflect strategies designed to respond to community concerns about “quality
of life” offenses? These important issues can be better understood and debated with
the data provided in this report. We plan to hold a national conference at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice in Spring, 2015, funded by the Arnold Foundation, to
provide a platform for these discussions.

This report also powerfully illustrates the reality that increases in enforcement
activity have not been evenly distributed across or within these cities. On the
contrary, the increase has been concentrated among young minority men. This
reality raises questions about fairness, perceptions of legitimacy within an important
demographic, and changes in patterns of crime. It further highlights the need to
consistently document race/ethnic and age-related trends in criminal justice
processes to better understand how social burdens disproportionately impact young
minority men. The report also underscores the importance of better understanding
the role of prosecutors and judges in processing and adjudicating these arrests. Each
of these arrests is subjected to legal and judicial review and consumes significant
resources of a system facing daunting resource constraints. Finally, we hope that
these analyses will lead to an examination of the role of government in responding to
low level criminal behavior and problematic community conditions. In some cases, a
misdemeanor arrest should be viewed as only one option in our response to
misdemeanor crime. Other options that may be far more effective should be
explored.

From the report overview from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice:

The purpose of the study was to explore and compare trends in misdemeanor arrests from 1980 to 2013 by analyzing data from the New York Police Department, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the United States Census. This marks the first time that a comprehensive and comparative data set has been created to analyze these trends. This analysis will help frame the ongoing discussions about law enforcement and criminal justice practices regarding appropriate responses to low-level crimes.

There were four key findings from these rigorous data analyses. First, New York City – as well as other cities in New York State – experienced significant increases in the number and rate of misdemeanor arrests from 1980 to 2013. Second, young minority men have experienced the greatest increases in misdemeanor arrests in New York City. Third, there is significant variation in New York City in the kinds of charges for these arrests, their disposition and subsequent sentence, and how they are initially processed. Fourth, the increases in misdemeanor arrests are not uniform across New York City. Indeed, there is significant variation by precincts.

12Nov/140

NYPD Policing Issues & African American Communities – Brutality, Fear, Distrust, Conscious Biases, etc.

Below is the recording of a discussion that took place with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, talking with Connie Rice of the Advancement Project. What's most interesting in this discussion (the first 20-25 minutes or so) is to hear the very clear and conscious acknowledgment by the commissioner of the tension between African American communities and the police department, as well as an acknowledgment by the commissioner that officers are very aware of the fear and terror felt by African American community members in their relationship with the police department.

While not the explicit focus of this discussion, I think that subtext is extremely important because many of us have long been clear that police departments have deliberately created that fear and that sense of terror, and rely on that fear and terror as a primary policing strategy. It's not an innocent misunderstanding between, or a set of misperceptions between, community and police; it's the deliberate tactic used by the police.

There are a range of additional important issues addressed in this discussion, including poor law enforcement responses with respect to immigration enforcement, human / sex trafficking and its disproportionate impact on Black and brown communities, gender dynamics in law enforcement and the honest reflections of police officers who acknowledge their conscious racial and cultural biases.

Connie Rice and Bill Bratton Discuss Police-Community Partnerships

Last month, Connie Rice of Advancement Project and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton sat down at the Bridging the Great Divide workshop, hosted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Open Society Foundations, to discuss issues between police and communities.

Program held in September 2014
Approximately 1 hour

2Aug/140

Why Bad New York Cops Get Away With Abuse

NYC's Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) is tasked with investigating thousands of allegations of police misconduct each year. However, few allegations of cops hitting or choking a resident result in any punishment. Our panel delves into why.

Approximately 27 minutes.
Originally aired on July 31, 2014

Guests:

  • Saki Knafo  (New York, NY) HuffPost Staff Reporter
  • Monifa Bandele  (New York, NY) Communities United for Police Reform
  • Donna Lieberman (New York, NY) Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union
  • Marq Claxton (Columbia, SC) Former NYPD Detective; Director of Black Law Enforcement Alliance
  • Rory Lancman (New York, NY)

28Jul/140

Pregnant woman apparently put in chokehold by NYPD cop during dispute over illegal grilling

Police are investigating whether a cop put a seven-months-pregnant woman in a chokehold while busting her for illegal grilling in Brooklyn — an incident caught on film.

Photos released Monday by an East New York advocacy group show Rosan Miller, 27, struggling with a cop who appears to have his arm around her neck.

The NYPD prohibits the use of chokeholds.

Officers went to the home over the weekend because Miller was grilling on a public sidewalk in violation of local law, cops said. But a melee broke out that ended with her, her brother and husband all in handcuffs.

Read more at the New York Daily News.

A Pregnant Woman Says the Choke-hold was Used By Cops to stop a BBQ at her East NY Brooklyn home this past Saturday that ended with her and husband injured and arrested. Posted July 28, 2014. New York Daily News.

22Jun/140

NYC’s $40M Central Park 5 Settlement Resolves Wrongful Jailing Fueled by Race-Baiting, Police Abuse

The City of New York has reportedly agreed to pay $40 million to five men wrongfully convicted of raping a female jogger in Central Park 25 years ago. The five black and Latino men were convicted as teenagers. They initially confessed, but soon they recanted, insisting they had admitted to the crime under the duress of exhaustion and coercion from police officers. Media coverage at the time portrayed them as guilty and used racially coded terms to describe them. But their convictions were vacated in 2002 when the real rapist came forward and confessed, after the five had already served jail terms of up to 13 years. We get reaction to the settlement from Natalie Byfield, a reporter for the New York Daily News at the time of Central Park Five case. Now an associate professor of sociology at St. John’s University in Queens, Byfield is the author of "Savage Portrayals: Race, Media and the Central Park Jogger Story."

14Jun/130

The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy

A secret audio recording of a stop-and-frisk in action sheds unprecedented light on a practice that has put the city's young people of color in the NYPD's crosshairs.

Read the full story at The Nation, including the full audio of the stop.

 

14Jun/130

Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) – PSA: Stop-and-Frisk and the NYPD are on Trial

 

14Jun/130

10 Frisk Commandments presented by This Week in Blackness