[Marxism] The Police Killed My Unarmed Son in 2012. I’m Still Waiting for Justice.

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 2 09:27:10 MST 2017


NY Times Op-Ed, Feb. 2 2017
The Police Killed My Unarmed Son in 2012. I’m Still Waiting for Justice.
By CONSTANCE MALCOLM

Constance Malcolm last week after closing arguments in the New York 
Police Department trial of the officer who fatally shot her son Ramarley 
Graham in 2012. Credit Bryan R. Smith for The New York Times
Five years ago today, my unarmed 18-year-old son, Ramarley Graham, was 
unjustly killed when police officers burst into our home in the Bronx 
and shot him in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother.

Minutes before, my son was calmly walking down the street with his 
friends when he paused to pull up his pants. The officers wrongly 
thought he had a gun in his waistband, followed him home, knocked down 
our door without cause or a warrant and killed him.

To this day, none of the officers responsible have been fired.

In fact, the officer who pulled the trigger, Richard Haste, still works 
for the Police Department, which paid him $94,000 last year. It has 
allowed him to accrue time in the department and enjoy the raises that 
go with that. Although he has been stripped of his gun and put on desk 
duty, his pay last year was $30,000 more than it was when he killed 
Ramarley in 2012.

It was only last month that Officer Haste finally faced a department 
trial — a disciplinary process that grossly undercharged him for the 
extent of his misconduct.

In a department trial, there is no jury, and the person who acts as the 
“judge” (in this case the department’s deputy commissioner of trials) 
writes a report with recommendations on whether there should be 
disciplinary action and what it should be. That report then goes to the 
police commissioner, who makes the final decision (which doesn’t have to 
match recommendations). This process can take months.

Although more than a dozen officers should be investigated and charged 
in my son’s killing and surrounding misconduct, the department has 
lodged internal charges against only two besides Officer Haste. It has 
not even scheduled department trials for the two.

I was forced to take days off from work to sit in on the trial. I was 
not allowed to read the firearms discharge report from the night my son 
was killed or Officer Haste’s disciplinary record. And because my family 
was given so little notice of the proceeding, Ramarley’s father could 
not fly back from Jamaica in time to attend.

Officer Haste was indicted by a Bronx grand jury, but it was thrown out 
on a technicality. A second grand jury was convened but failed to indict 
him. The only measure of accountability left is for Officer Haste to be 
fired, following departmental trials. If I had not waged a nonstop 
campaign, even this department trial probably wouldn’t have happened. 
That’s because New York City’s leadership has also failed to push for 
justice and now appears to be doing the bare minimum.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was quick to speak with my family and call for 
action on my son’s killing when he was running for mayor and wanted the 
votes of black and brown New Yorkers. Just days after Ramarley was 
killed, Mr. de Blasio said in a statement that “part of the healing 
process for the Graham family, and for the city as a whole, derives from 
a fair, speedy and transparent investigation. That work should begin 
immediately.”

Now that he’s mayor, he has refused to meet with me or ensure any 
accountability that’s fair, speedy or transparent. His administration 
wouldn’t even provide me with basic information about the trial and 
charges against the officers.

In addition, Mr. de Blasio recently claimed his administration has 
reformed policing to make the city safer and fairer.

I wish this were true.

In New York City, crime statistics are lower and the overall number of 
reported stop-and-frisks is down. But black and Latino New Yorkers are 
still disproportionately stopped, and multiple Police Department audits 
show that around 64 percent of stops go unreported. This harassment 
continues even though more than 80 percent of stops don’t result in a 
summons or arrest.

At the same time, there is no accountability for police abuses, which 
has allowed injustices like my son’s killing to go unpunished. Mr. de 
Blasio is either willfully ignoring racial disparities and Police 
Department abuses in our communities or has a shallow understanding of 
the problem. Either way, the harm continues.

Across the country, we’ve made little real progress on police reform 
even though there is more national attention to the problem. That’s 
because the focus is on training, body cameras, “police-community 
relations” and “neighborhood policing.” The value of those reforms can 
be debated, but they are not much more than catchy sound bites. They are 
not solutions to the central problem: the lack of accountability for 
police officers who kill or for police departments that engage in brutality.

Officers don’t act as if they’re above the law in our communities 
because of their training or community relationships. Eric Garner knew 
some of the officers involved in his killing, because they had harassed 
him many times before without any consequences.

Mr. de Blasio exploits the rhetoric of social justice but is unwilling 
to make the changes to achieve it. He has done nothing to meaningfully 
fix the systemic accountability problems at the Police Department.

Worse, after decades of releasing personnel orders — transfers, 
promotions and disciplinary actions — the city recently began to claim 
that a state law requires it to keep those records secret. The problem 
is that the de Blasio administration has decided to interpret the law to 
withhold records that had been open to the public for many years.

While the police have told me that my family will learn the outcome of 
Officer Haste’s trial, I have good reason not to believe their promise. 
And that won’t help other grieving families who are seeking justice and 
transparency. I believe that the current Police Department is even worse 
than the Giuliani administration when it comes to police transparency.

Leadership requires more than rhetoric — it comes from confronting 
police abuse with action. New York City must fire all the officers who 
engaged in misconduct in my son’s killing, and ensure the same for 
officers guilty of misconduct in all incidents of police abuse. These 
officers are not safe for our communities and need to be off our streets.

Until Mr. de Blasio and elected officials across the nation take that 
responsibility seriously, there will continue to be unjust killings by 
the police and episodes of police violence in our communities despite 
any number of body cameras, training sessions or cordial relationships 
between officers and civilians.

Constance Malcolm is a member of 1199 S.E.I.U. and a police 
accountability advocate.



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