New York protests police brutality on Oct. 22
New York--The seventh national October 22 Day of Protest
Against Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation took
place in 30 cities this year. Here, it drew over 500 people to a rally in Union
Square, followed by a march to City Hall. Mostly young people, the protesters
were of many different colors and ethnicities. A gay and lesbian youth
contingent bore a sign that read, "We are not trash." A Black man held
up a sign that said simply, "9/11 didn't make me forget 41 bullets--Amadou,"
referring to the infamous police slaying of the African immigrant Amadou Diallo.
The protest's theme, "Police brutality did not die on
September 11," was sadly borne out by the fact that at least 140 people
have been killed by law enforcement personnel around the country since then, at
least 34 of them in the New York-New Jersey area. In addition, the past year has
seen Muslims and Arab-Americans added to Blacks and Latinos as targets of police
discrimination and profiling, and immigrants rounded up and jailed without
A young immigrant woman described the six months she was
jailed. "We received little food, no clothing and no medical care. The
guards taunted us--'How often do you pray?' and called us 'bin Laden.' They used
dogs to search and attack us. I lost my home and my job. Yet in the whole year
in which thousands have been jailed, only one person has been charged with a
Several speakers warned that now it is more important than
ever to fight against a possible wartime police state. One compared police
attacks on youth to U.S. war-mongering, saying, "This country is waging a
war on the whole world, and calling on us to go murder innocent Iraqis."
"We are part of an emerging resistance," he said, citing the 30,000 at
the Oct. 6 peace rally in New York and the 100,000 throughout the country at
recent anti-war activities.
There was a lot of outrage over the recent revelation that
the Harlem teenagers convicted in the 1989 "Central Park jogger" case
were innocent. When the five were convicted of brutally raping and beating a
white woman while "wilding" in the park 13 years ago, the crime
established fear of Black youth as a major facet of urban life. Now a single man
has confessed to the attack, and the DNA evidence indicates he is telling the
truth. The convicted men already served their time, but they are trying to get
their convictions overturned.
The rally featured relatives of young men killed by the
police: Black, Latino, Asian, and white. Juanita Young, the mother of Malcolm
Furgeson, murdered by the police, denounced the massive presence of police at
the demonstration, saying, "It hurts that we're here to protest them, and
they are supervising us." Christine Blaisdale, the aunt of a white youth,
Jason Remillard, killed by New Jersey police March 11, described his killing: he
was unarmed, with his arms up and facing a wall--so close that the bullet pushed
his head into the wall--yet the cop who killed him was not charged after he
claimed to have shot out of fear for his life.
We met an immigrant from Hungary who said he had been
harassed by police just for sitting in parks and other public spaces so often in
the past year, that he had felt freer in Communist Hungary than in New York.
--NY News and Letters Local participants
Published by News and Letters Committees