As shocking as this is, is anyone really all that surprised? Consider the following:
The New York Police Department’s aggressive “Stop and Frisk” policy tallied up a total of 31,660 stops in the 75th Precinct in 2009. Of these stops, 57% of our neighbors were frisked after being stopped, the police used force 11% of the time, and all of this resulted in a 3% arrest rate. All that time and effort harassing our neighbors, and all the NYPD has to show for their efforts is fewer than 1,000 arrests (wanna bet the conviction rate on these arrests is less than half?), all while violating the rights and dignity of around 32,000 of our friends and neighbors. Why were our neighbors stopped? The most common reason cited by the NYPD for doing a stop and frisk is they saw a “furtive movement”. Can’t imagine why anyone would be furtive around a police force acting more like an army of occupation than part of our community…
That same year, the same police force that insists Stop and Frisk is an effective policy sent a winner like Barry Knox to patrol our neighborhoods. Who’s he? He’s the policeman who was sleeping while on duty at a mobile command center outside of Louis H. Pink Houses the night Elias Ramirez died. Elias was shot twice at 5AM, a mere 30 feet from Officer Knox’s command post, but he thought all the noise was from fireworks. Fireworks going off at 5AM. Elias later died in his father’s arms on the way to Brookdale University Hospital. The NYPD calls the entire episode “embarrassing”, but that will not bring this neighbor of ours back to his mother and father.
So, hey, maybe the police just needs to get some additional training, spend some time in our community, understand our needs, our culture, our distinctive neighborhood? Sounds great, except this same police force that harassed 32,000 of our friends and neighbors and then slept through the murder of one of our own… TOOK OVER over our neighborhood’s only community center, when they have an unused police station just 6 blocks away, so they can turn it into a “training center”.
And of course things are not likely to get better anytime soon. The neglect shown our neighborhood by the NYPD is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle. We have a Governor more interested in protecting the interests of millionaires at the expense of our children’s education. We have a Mayor who thinks we have too many teachers, and that teachers earn too much. We have a Chancellor of Schools (NYC’s own Cola Queen) more interested in closing schools than listening to parents, and who thinks there’s just too many of us.
None of this surprises Bishop Gerald Seabrooks of the Reheboth Fire Baptist Church in Brooklyn. He said youngsters have nothing to do and don’t know how to resolve disputes without a gun. “There are no resources for them,” he said. “They go to war with each other.”
Truer words were never spoken.