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