NYPD Officer Slays Unarmed Teenager in Bronx
Last Thursday, February 2, a plainclothes NYPD officer shot and killed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in the bathroom of his grandmother's East 229 St. home. The officers had kicked down the door to the house; the officers suspected that Graham was armed and in possession of drugs. Upon cornering him in the bathroom, one of the officers shot Graham in the upper chest, wounding him fatally. As with many similar police murders (there are clear parallels to the killing of Amadou Diallou), it turned out Graham was unarmed and had no contraband except for a small bag of marijuana in his pockets. Graham is the third person in a week to be killed by a plainclothes NYPD officer. The other two were 22-year-old Christopher Kissane, a carjacking suspect in Queens, and 17-year Antwain White, who was shot during a mugging in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.
Police misconduct has long plagued communities of color in the United States, and in large, densely-populated cities, police brutality is even downright deadly. According to october22-ny.org, a site that lists names of those killed by police in New York and New Jersey, at least 316 people have been murdered by police since September 11, 2001. At least 183 people were killed by in New York City by police between February 4, 1999 (the day Amadou Diallou was shot) and April 2010. Inextricably linked with police violence is the way they police low-income communities of color. Many of those who get swept up in the prison industrial complex are reigned in by stop-and-frisk policies and arrested on low-level charges, of which marijuana possession is one of the most common. In 2008, a study revealed that 83 percent of those charges in marijuana possession cases were black or Latino, compared to 15 percent for whites. Ninety percent were men. Although Police Commissioner Ray Kelly promised to stop arresting people for small-time possession (25 grams or less), yet possession arrests totals in 2011 reached 50,684, rising for the seventh straight year. Here's a Democracy Now! interview about stop-and-frisk policies.
Deep Dish TV has plenty of programs on urban racism and police misconduct. Check some of them out here, our head over to our catalog to browse for more great videos!
Hands on the Verdict
Showdown in Seattle Part 2: People Unite, Police Riot
The Battle of Oakland