When I was growing up in New York there were always certain things that you could count on. Things like mass transit delays, rush hour traffic, and unjustified Police shooting's were all so common that it was never a question of if they were going to happen. It was always a question of when. The sad fact of city life is that tragedy, and violence can almost become mundane because of the sheer volume, and frequency in which they occur. There were many days growing up in the early eighties when just leaving home was an exercise in survival. You had to watch out for the criminals and you had to watch out for the cops who automatically thought you were a criminal. In many cases the criminals were the cops themselves. But that is another story, for another time.
There are 2 things that kept me out of trouble through adolescence, a good God & good parents. Some of my peers were not as fortunate.
Fast forward 30 something years later, and not just Brooklyn, but NYC as a whole has changed dramatically. Gentrification has changed the face of the urban landscape, and people who once would have never even drove through my old neighborhood, are not only buying homes, and rent apartments there, but they are paying top dollar to do so.
High priced luxury condominium's and ostentatious apartment buildings ascend high into the sky as monumental symbols of progress, on the same slabs of concrete once frequented by prostitutes and drug addicts.
The crime rate in New York is lower than it has been in decades, and it continues to plummet. Yes, a lot of things have changed. But the one thing that never seems to change is the fact that NYPD continues to shoot first, and ask questions later. As a result, African-American men, women and children continue to die at the hands of over zealous, week day warriors from the suburbs masquerading as Police Officers, hired to save the urban jungles inhabitants from themselves.
The latest victim is 16 year old, Kimani Gray.
Gray, who is from the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., was gunned down by two plainclothes officers on the night of Saturday March 9. According to official New York City Police Department reports, the officers on patrol approached Kimani when he separated himself from the group he was with and "adjusted his waistband" in "a suspicious manner."
( WARNING: do not fix your belt, or adjust your waist band if you live in or plan to visit New York City. The life you save may be your own.)
Police say that Kimani had a small revolver even though an eyewitness says the young boy had no weapon at all and was "running for his life."
Officers fired 11 shots, mortally wounding Kimani. The handgun, which police claim belonged to Kimani, had not been fired, and forensic reports confirming that the gun was actually in his possession have yet to be released. As such, Kimani's family and friends remain highly suspicious. "We were just hanging out," 15-year-old Akeem Brown, who was one of six friends with Kimani that night, told the New York Daily News. "We didn't know he had a gun."
The victim's sister, Mahnefah Gray, 19, told the New York Times that her brother had been fixing his belt when he was shot. As the teenager lay dying, another eyewitness, according to the Times, heard Kimani say,
"Please don't let me die," to which one of the officers apparently responded, "Stay down or we'll shoot you again."
The young teen had reportedly just returned from a baby shower, and his cousin Malik Vernon attests that he had never known Kimani to have a gun.
Some things never change. This callous disregard for life is one that is common amongst those in the NYPD who vilify the very same people in the communities that they have sworn to protect and serve.
The NYPD has been quick to release information suggesting that Kimani had a criminal record. His past violations, according to police reports, include possession of stolen property and inciting a riot.
These are dubious infractions at best, especially given the fact that New York City's stop and frisk policy, which uses racial profiling of young black and Latino males as a fundamental tool of its operation has given "criminal records" to many who would otherwise have not had any. Kimani, as a result, was not given the "benefit of the doubt," because societal norms which frame all African-American males as suspects treat (nonexistent) guns and red bags of Skittles candy as equally dangerous weapons.
The Black community is outraged, amid some anonymous reports that young Kimani was shoot in the back. This past Friday marked the fifth straight night of protests following Kimani's death.
Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested and a police officer suffered a wound to his face after a being hit by a flying object.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said a "full and fair" investigation into the shooting would be conducted, urged community members to abstain from violence.
I applaud the African-American community in Brooklyn for their protest's, but I must urge them to engage in peaceful civil disobedience for self preservation. This method is just as affective and causes the world to take notice. We have had to fear those who have sworn to protect and serve us for far too long, and they have made a habit of taking our lives for granted. Some New York City Police Officers are nothing more than armed civil service thugs who rob the public on a daily basis. Brutalizing tax payers, and taking their hard earned money in the form of a bi-weekly pay check.