Trayvon Martin meet Ramarley Graham

Silent March against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling by the New York Police

Ramarley Graham

Before the world heard of Trayvon Martin, another teenager, Ramarley Graham, then 18 years old, was walking home in the Bronx when New York Police officers later claiming they thought Graham had a weapon, chased him into his home, busted down the door, climbed the stairs and shot him dead in the boy’s bathroom in front of his grandmother. The young man was unarmed. The police, in plain clothes, had no search warrant. The family held monthly vigils at their home drawing hundreds of people. They marched on the Bronx’s 47th police precinct and protested in front of the Bronx District Attorney’s office asking for answers. After more than a year, one police officer Richard Haste, was indicted on manslaughter charges. A crowd of New York Police officers cheered Haste as he exited the courthouse. In May 2013, a judge tossed out the indictment saying the prosecution had mistakenly instructed the grand jury and Richard Haste was set free.

The story of unarmed black teenage boys being shot dead by police or their surrogates (George Zimmerman) repeats nearly every day across the USA. The defense follows a similar script, I thought he had a gun, I thought he was going to hurt me. He looked like he was going to hurt me. Yet there is little accountability, and the killings continue.

Sarah Schulman a writer and professor, posted this on Facebook.

The (Zimmerman) verdict is a privileging of perception over reality. Just because a person feels afraid doesn’t mean they are in danger. In fact, their perception may be so pathological that it puts OTHER people in danger. In this extreme case, taking a young man’s life for no reason. The perpetrator claims to be the victim, and believes that s/he is the victim. And then when the “community” re-enforces the right to false perception regardless of how much pain it causes, the “community” (or state apparatus) becomes an enforcer of injustice.

Photos ©Nina Berman

Suppressing Protest: An NYU report

New York University Law School releases a comprehensive report on human rights violations by law enforcement in response to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The report paints a picture of the New York Police Department as a chronic violator with little regard for accountability or rule of law. It calls for the United Nations Special Rapporteurs to seek US compliance with international human rights law. It’s serious reading for those interested in civil liberties and the erosion of rights in the USA. Download a copy here:

suppressingprotest

Stop and Frisk #2


©Nina Berman 2012

The movement to stop “Stop and Frisk” takes on national dimensions as the US Justice Department agrees to investigate whether the policy violates New Yorkers civil rights. See earlier post here: Meanwhile, a large demonstration is planned for June 17 on father’s day, which will surely bring scale to the numbers. What started as an action of civil disobedience in October 2011, has developed swiftly, forcing the city’s mayor, elected officials, and police chief, to answer opponents’ complaints. Meanwhile, the practice set a new record for the first quarter of 2012, with more than 200,000 people being stopped. Watch the video to learn about the impact of Stop and Frisk and the community efforts to abolish it.