Friday, February 3, 2012
The Bronx is still Burning.
The Bronx Is Still Burning…
In the last week, there has been a level of brutal and deadly violence in The Bronx and New York City that is alarming and down right scary. We have been reminded of the vicious ways of The NYPD, as if we really needed one in the 1st place. In just one week in The Bronx, a young man was shot and killed by the NYPD and another was severely beaten and assaulted. Last Friday January 27th, 19 yr old Jatiek Reed received a beating reminiscent of Rodney King in the early 1990s. Yet it’s now 2012 and the story has not changed. There is a video of him laying on the floor being punched, kicked, stomped, hit numerous times with batons, and kicked again by 4 police officers from the 42nd Precinct. The video ends once one of the officers clearly threatens to mace the young man filming. The video is sickening. There is no justification for brutality of this nature. This is a human rights abuse and the young man is tortured as if the Officers were trained at The School of The Americas. It’s a crime based on the abuse of power. Power that is abused everyday on the streets of The Bronx and other poor neighborhoods of the world. The story only gets worse. His mother and sister went to the 42nd Precinct to demand answers and then were arrested themselves! The irony behind this is that a week later, Jatiek Reed is still incarcerated and being held on $10,000 bail for a bogus prior charge and the 4 criminal officers are merely punished with paid desk duty. Word on the street is that drugs were planted on Jatiek in an attempt to paint him negatively as a criminal and thus make the assault justifiable. However anyone with a heart can tell you that there is no justification for this type of violence. A major concern with Jatiek is his health and safety. Jatiek received a major beating that resulted in 14 staples to the back of his head. However, was he given an MRI? Did he get a concussion? People have died before while in custody, so the concern is real. Police intimidation has been in full force since the incident happened and at Jateik’s first courtdate the police presence in the courtroom was out of control , the press was not allowed to take video and The NY Post Photographer was placed at an angle where he could barely get a good photo. Speaking from personal experience, at his 2nd courtdate I was kicked out of the courtroom and threatened with arrest because I wore a Stop Stop and Frisk Button.
On Thursday February 2nd, less than a week after Jatiek reed’s attack, we heard the horrific news that 18 yr old Rahmarley Graham was murdered by an NYPD Officer with a single shot to the chest. He was unarmed and was chased into his home by officers who were attempting to arrest him for possession of marijuana. He had a bag of weed in his pocket and for that he was killed!!! The murderous NYPD officers chased him inside his home and killed him in his own bathroom with his grandmother and 6 yr old brother inside. In the time of Stop and Frisks, New York City has been dubbed the Marijuana Arrest capital of the world. In fact according to an article in Alternet.org , low level marijuana arrests in New York City rose for the seventh straight year in 2011. Here’s an alarming statistic, in the last five years, the NYPD under Mayor Mike Bloomberg has made more marijuana arrests (2007 to 2011 = 227,093) than in the 24 years from 1978 through 2001 under Mayor Giuliani, Mayor Dinkins, and Mayor Koch combined (1978 to 2001 = 226,861). This comes right after New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called on officers to stop making misdemeanor marijuana arrests. The reality is that Stop and Frisk has been proven to not work. The results show it. However, they continue doing it, and the ones targeted are young Latino and Black men. To not bring race and class into the issue would be irresponsible. It can be seriously doubted that the NYPD would run into an apartment on the upper east side and shot little Bobby in front of his Grandma, or that a Wall Street investment banker’s son would have been beaten like that, though the statistics show that young whites use marijuana at a higher rate than young blacks and latinos.
As I type this, it seems like the script for a Hollywood movie about conspiracies starring Ed Norton, but sadly its reality. Like Mobb Deep says “There’s a war going on outside, no man is safe from, you can run but you cant hide forever.” Sadly the war in the streets of The Bronx is being waged by the biggest gang in the streets, the violent and heavily armed, NYPD. In this war, the young men of our community are on the frontlines and they are heavily outgunned and heavily targeted.
During this same week, we heard the news of the near killing of a police officer in Bushwick, Brooklyn as an officer was allegedly shot in the head by 21 yr old Luis “Baby” Ortiz. We cannot view this as an isolated incident and not connect this to what’s happening in The Bronx. With cases like Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, there was a precedent set in which New York City showed the world that police officers can murder people in the community and receive no serious punishment or jail time. This type of violent precedent sets the stage for there to be inevitable future violent battles between the community and the police. What if Luis Ortiz didn’t want to go out like a Sean Bell or a Rahmarley Graham? Can we not say these thoughts went thru his head? Can we say that like Lavelle Mixon , perhaps he didn’t want to be another Oscar Grant? That he was more Larry Davis than most of us? You don’t gotta be a social scientist to see that if people constantly get arrested for bullshit, theyre gonna figure out that the system is on some constant bullshit. When we had our case I remember thinking, “these dudes are evil,” after they raided G1s apartment in Harlem which also was the Rebel Diaz studio during that time. Those were rogue cops there to intimidate us. To this day we have never gotten an explanation as to why they were there and who they were and what precinct they came from?? How can you expect people to want to comply with the law or have a positive perspective of the system, when the system and law enforcement have historically proven to not be on their side or have their best interests in mind? The police in our communities do not practice serve and protect policing, they practice arrest driven-im-tryna-reach-my-quota-or-else policing!!! That’s especially problematic, when the numbers clearly show the racial bias, as 84 percent of those stopped n frisked are Black and Latino, though we make up only 53% of the city’s population. From the numbers it can be confidently concluded that racial profiling is an everyday act for the NYPD and in fact encouraged. All we have to do is look at the example of NYPD officer, Michael Daragjati, 32, who this week “pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to misusing his authority as a police officer to intentionally violate a [Black] man’s civil rights. FBI agents intercepted a telephone call between Daragjati and a friend during which the 8-year veteran repeatedly called his target a “nigger” when referring to the illegal encounter he stated: “I fried another nigger. Another nigger fried, no big deal.” Can we sit here and really believe that he is the only one on the force talkin and acting like this??? That’s deserving of an Ed Lover endorsed..”CMon Son!!!”
However, when we talk about the lower level police, we cant give these officers too much credit. They are merely pawns that respond to orders and follow specific trainings. The other day, as a result of Jatiek Reeds brutality incident I called into Bronx 12 News and asked Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz why he had not publicly condemned the attack and like any politician he played it safe, stating that he marched with Amadou Diallo and had a public anti police brutality stance and that when all the facts come out he would assess the situation, but to not be quick to jump to conclusions. He stated that “all police weren’t like that and that it’s just some few bad apples.” He must have missed the clear fact that Jatiek Reed was getting his ass whopped by 4 officers while their sergeant watched. To say that there are just a few bad apples is the easy way out and the irresponsible way of looking at it. Like any successful gang, in the NYPD there is a hierarchy, in which Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg-in-Training -Ray Kelly are at the top of. Besides violence, what the NYPD practices best is the code of silence. When’s the last time you heard of an NYPD Officer doing time for the crime?? We cant forget that the Anti Muslim/ Anti Poor people NYPD, are for sure one of the most powerful and untouchable agencies in the world. Who polices the NYPD??? Where do you think the officers who murdered Hilton Vega, Anthony Rosario, Anthony Baez, Malcolm Ferguson, and Amadou Diallo are?? In jail?? Of course not!!! These were all young men from The Bronx that were killed by the NYPD. Their killers are free today because of this code of silence. If there’s anybody who practices Stop Snitchin’ to perfection it’s the NYPD. They seem to have unlimited power. Lets not forget that this is Bloomberg’s private army, which he emphasizes is armed enough to take down enemy airplanes. Well, Bloomberg’s Army seems to have gotten orders to clean up The Bronx. Remember that the 1st phase of Gentrification usually involves police occupation so that people are contained.
Who remembers when The Bronx was burning and real estate owners were burning down their buildings for insurance money? When the historically corrupt 41st Precinct in The South Bronx was nicknamed Fort Apache, in a direct allusion to the Bronx being like the Wild Wild West, in which the cops were the cowboys and the community were the Natives? It was only in 2010, not even 2 years ago, when Officer Adil Polanco, an officer from that very same 41st Precinct and a native to the Dominican Republic, secretly recorded higher ranking supervisors giving them orders to hit quotas for arrests, summonses, and stop-and-frisks, even when it meant harassing innocent civilians who were doing nothing wrong. In a Village Voice article he is quoted as saying, “"I did not become a cop to be harassing people in the street," he says. "You end up summonsing innocent people. They don't go to court, and the next time you stop them, they have a warrant and have to go to jail." He then states, “"We'd make up a bullshit reason to justify the stop, when, most of the time, we had no reason to justify the stop," he says. "We were told to say they 'fit the description.' But that just meant you were Spanish or black. It was just for the quotas."
This is happening everyday in The Bronx. We have had recent cases in which known community activist Shaka Shakur, coordinator of the Peoples Survival Program in Harlem was arrested at work after a taskforce of police agents raided his home in the Bronx with a baseless warrant. In the course of the raid the police also took the opportunity to raid the home of former Black Panther Cyril(Bullwhip) Innis(without a warrant), Bullwhip's home, has in the past been one of the places of storage of the archives of the Black Panther Party’s legacy.
Bullwhip was not arrested. Shaka Shakur has been one of our generations leaders who has followed the example of a earlier generation of Black Panthers who dedicated themselves to "Serve the People" programs. His work in the Peoples Survival Program and with street gangs and against violence has been exemplary. Intikana Kekoeia, a Bronx MC, that works with us at The RDACBX (Rebel Diaz Arts Collective-Bx) also has a pending case against him, after he was savagely brutalized and arrested by police while filming on Fulton and Broadway in Manhattan during NYPD’s raid on Zucotti Park (aka Liberty Plaza). Due to the excessive force implemented by arresting officers, Intikana suffered a concussion, hematoma to the head, a fractured wrist, visible bruises to the body, injuries to the neck and back with possible injury to the lungs. This excessive force was exercised on not just Intikana but over one hundred peaceful protestors, journalists, and innocent bystanders.
Whats happening in The Bronx and New York City is an epidemic. A plague. We got beat up in 2008. Almost 4 years ago. Feels like yesterday. These are not isolated incidents. They are part of a police state that we have been in since forever.
Bloomberg said that the episode of the NYPD officer shot in Brooklyn shone a light on the importance of gun control. “We had too close a brush with death tonight due to illegal guns,” he states. Well, in The Bronx we feel that everyday we have too close a brush with death due to a lack of access to proper housing, schools, healthcare and nutrition , but mainly to the legal guns being carried by the NYPD.
by RodStarz of Rebel Diaz 2/3/12