Sunday, March 17, 2013

Black Rage in Brooklyn: Pigs Murder Kimani Gray

Rage in Brooklyn: East flatbush reacts to police shooting of Kimani Gray

By NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor And AMITY PAYE AmNews Web Manager

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Depending on which agency is delivering the report, word is; on Saturday, March 9 around 11:25 p.m., Kimani "Kiki" Gray, 16, was shot 11 times by two undercover police officers. The officers claim the youth was armed. However, a number of witnesses have said the teen did not have a gun at all.

A too, too familiar New York City story.

Over 100 people responded to the shooting and gathered Monday night for a vigil in East Flatbush. Irate, some in the crowd chanted, "NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?" The vigil was an all-too-common scene of mourners and protestors. There were candles, flowers and photographs. It was nonviolent by all accounts, and then they dispersed.

Though peaceful at first, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, "a splinter group" broke off and ran rampant through a Rite Aide, attacking some people and destroying property. Remnants of the crowd created civil unrest, with aired reports stating that police virtually had to barricade themselves in the 67th Precinct. The mainstream media labeled it a "riot." reported that "a large, disorderly group [began] throwing bottles at police" and "threw bottles at cops, broke shop windows and looted a Rite Aid."

"This was not a riot. One person getting arrested for disorderly conduct does not a riot make," retorted Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron, who was at the vigil. "This was a situation where the people were rightfully angry. A young man was killed and they want to know why … it was when I got home that I heard there was a riot. But you don't see any images of a riot. What you see is the police in the street with the people."

At Monday's vigil, the crowd marched from East 52nd Street and Tilden Avenue and reportedly planned to march to the 67th Precinct, located on Snyder Avenue, but was blocked off by the police a block away. Protesters, joined by members of Stop Stop-and-Frisk, Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement, the New Black Panthers, Mothers Resist, Picture the Homeless and many others gathered again on Tuesday night at 52nd Street and Church Avenue and marched about 20 blocks toward the nearby 67th Precinct station. However, before they could reach the station, police again barricaded their path this time with a row of outfitted riot police, a row of metal barricades, a row of police officers and a final row of mounted officers, along with at least two helicopters observing from above.

"They already see us as criminals, they are profiling us right now. And we're not dong anything but exercising our Fourth Amendment right," said Jose LaSalle, one of the organizers of the march, who also organizes with the group Stop Stop-and-Frisk. "They have to understand that we are marching because police brutality has risen to a point that we can not take it anymore. We are tired of being silenced. We know that silence is consent, and we no longer consent to the abuse, ethics and policies that these police officers are using on our communities," LaSalle said during an impromptu speak-out that protestors held when they were stopped at Nostrand and Snyder avenues by police barricades.

This week, the Huffington Post reported that on the day Gray was shot, he was spotted hanging out with friends by anti-crime patrol officers working in an unmarked car. When the group of young men noticed the officers, police stated that Gray fidgeted with his waistband and broke away from the crowd. This is when the officers exited their vehicle in an attempt to speak to him. Cops said that Gray "turned on them and pointed a .38-caliber pistol at [them]."

Both officers fired shots, hitting Gray in several places on his torso and legs, according to police. However, reported that Grey's sister Mahnefah was told by a witness that it was only the "suspicious" adjustment of his waistband that caused the police to shoot and kill her brother.

Witnesses also said Gray begged for his life and reportedly said, "Please don't let me die." One of the officers reportedly replied, "Stay down or we'll shoot you again."

Gray was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Both officers, whose names have not been released, were treated at Methodist Hospital for trauma and tinnitus, ringing in the ears.

"There are too many stories. He had a gun, he didn't have a gun, It's bulls—," said Fatima Shakur, who led the protest march on Tuesday night. "But what is the protocol to deal with Black youth? … Ray Kelly, you need to train your officers to follow protocol. Ray Kelly, please train your officers again. They are not following protocol in the Black community. How many bullets does it take to disarm a child?"

Police quickly announced that Gray had a criminal record, which included charges for breaking into a car and possession of stolen property. The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative duty while the shooting remains under investigation.

The police department did not respond to an AmNews request for a response and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been uncharacteristically quiet on this issue. The police have also not released an image of the gun they said Gray was brandishing, as they have done in similar cases.

Gray's uncle, Cecil Nunes, 65, told the Huffington Post, "He was respectful, but a typical teenager. I have to ask myself why this happened. Why, why, why?"

Gray's mother, Carol, was hospitalized when she heard about her son's death. She was released Sunday morning.

While the Gray family mourns the loss of Kimani, his death reminds community members of others in their past. In 1996, cops from the very same 67th Precinct surrounded what they said was a stolen Honda and shot an unarmed 23-year-old Aswan Watson 18 times. "That boy died with his hands in the air and a hole in his chest," said a distraught witness at the time. As memories of the 1999 42-shot police killing of West African vendor Amadou Diallo resurface, the city is once again reeling from the effects of yet another plain-clothes police killing.

Shantel Davis was also shot and killed by an NYPD officer last year following a car chase that ended just blocks from the location of Gray's shooting Saturday. "We are on East 38th Street, we are on East 38th Street," chanted protest marchers on Tuesday night. "Shantel Davis was assassinated on East 38th Street. No justice, no peace, no racist police. Justice for Shantel Davis."

Finding himself in the thick of things, Flatbush Council Member Jumaane Williams told the Amsterdam News, "This is not about one particular shooting—this is a culmination of things. This is about police and community relations."

Williams continued, "There was a huge community presence at the vigil because people are just fed up. It is not just about the shooting of Kimani Gray. It is because of the daily occurrences—how the police interact with the community, the stop-and-frisk, the abuse of police power and the lack of resources."

Williams, who tweeted live from the first the vigil, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "A riot is the language of the unheard," he said, then asked the mayor and the police commissioner to visit East Flatbush. Kelly dismissed as a mere request for a "photo op."

Saying that Bloomberg called him on Tuesday morning, Williams told the AmNews, "The leaders have to keep the city safe, but they are misguided in the way they are doing it. You can't triple down on the amount of policing while not tripling down on the resources needed … This is about the lack of resources. I don't have a community center within three miles of my district. We need park space."

Expressing similar sentiment, Barron told the crowd at Tuesday's protest march, "We are fighting capitalism … Poverty is a crime. Unemployment is a crime. Racist institutions, they are crimes ... It's time to be hot. It's time to raise the temperature. We need to grow this and shut this city down. Shut it down! … The real criminal is Mayor Bloomberg."

On Wednesday, Barron said, "This not about one lone issue or even this particular shooting. People are angry because of the history of the Police Department, with all the racial profiling, stops and frisks, the cussing us out, and the use of abuse of police powers. People are sick of the disrespect and abuse of force and violence against them."

"We want the truth to come out. We never believe the police version. Whether he had a gun or not, we need to see if the shooting was justified. We just need the truth, videos, photographs and witnesses," Barron said.

Williams will be hosting the Youth Empowerment Seminar: "Let's Be Real!," taking place on Saturday, March 16, 2 to 6 p.m. at the Tilden Educational Campus, located at 5800 Tilden Ave.

As of press time, a third vigil and protest was scheduled for Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at 52nd Street and Church Avenue in East Flatbush, with the possibility of a fourth protest on Friday, May 15, which is International Day Against Police Brutality.

Additional reporting by TRUDY TOMLINSON and VICTORIA JOHNSON

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