When you live in New York City, stories of cops profiling or even shooting unarmed black men likely don’t come as a surprise. That’s not to say that the NYPD encourages their own brand of justice outside the law, or that all NYPD officers are “bad”, but certainly that any rift between the force and the people has largely been drawn on the actions of these brazen officers and the policies that protect them.
So, when a 16-year old boy was shot and killed by police on his walk home from a baby shower, the city shouldn’t be surprised when members of his community angrily take to the streets.
Exactly what happened on the night Kimani “Kiki” Gray was killed is up in the air. Everywhere you look there is a different story. The police say he had a gun and was “fumbling with his waistband”. Several witnesses say Gray was unarmed. Gray’s friend who was with him said they had no idea the two men following them were police. But there is no arguing that Gray was shot 7 times by two undercover officers, several times in the back.
In the nights since his death, residents of Flatbush Brooklyn have taken to the streets, protesting his death and the culture of fear the people live under. The people of Flatbush aren’t as scared of their neighbors as they are the police.
Several news agencies reported the protests as “rioting” and while a splinter group did break off the first night and throw a few bricks, the protests were loud but peaceful.
“This was not a riot. One person getting arrested for disorderly conduct does not a riot make,” Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron poignantly pointed out. “This was a situation where the people were rightfully angry. A young man was killed and they want to know why…What you see is the police in the street with the people.”
Most media outlets are quick to characterize the protestors as screaming and even violent hooligans. What they are missing is the entire point. The people of New York, and especially those in minority or poor communities, are tired of being bullied by the NYPD. They are tired of being victims of “random” stop-and-frisk searches and they are tired of people being killed by the cops. They are tired and they are angry.
But like so many other protests in the city, the police will focus on containing the crowds until their anger dies and it will unfortunately return to business as usual.
Whether you are protesting the death of Kiki Gray or if you are targeted and arrested after a questionable stop-and-frisk, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today.