The following statement was released by the Justice Committee in New York City, an organization who has been at the forefront of the struggle against police brutality in NYC against Latinos and other communities of color.
Oct. 23, 2012
Building a Safer New York
Last week another parent prematurely buried her child. Noel Polanco is another name added to the very long list, another young man – another Latino/a – unnecessarily killed by the New York Police Department (NYPD).
It is important to remember that this is not an isolated incident. If we take a moment to look back on the last year alone, several people come to mind; Ramarley Graham, Mohamed Bah, Reynaldo Cuevas, Shantel Davis, just to name a few.
If we look back exactly 5 years ago Sunday (Oct. 21, 2007), we remember Jayson Tirado, like Noel, also an unarmed motorist. Jayson was killed by an off-duty police officer who fled the scene and did not turned himself in for a full 19 hours. The grand jury decided not to indict the officer: a far too familiar story for many families.
Between Jayson and Noel’s there are so many stories of death at the hands of the NYPD in just those five short years. Too many.
As the movement against Stop, Question and Frisk (SQF) continues to grow in NYC, we cannot forget that while halting the NYPD’s unjust and discriminatory use of SQF is an important step, we will not end police violence simply by changing one problematic policing tactic. This is because police violence is a systemic problem rooted in the fact that the NYPD has historically played and continues to play a significant role in maintaining the unequal political, social and legal structure of New York City. The widespread use of the Stop, Question and Frisk is just one primary and pertinent example. In fact, police violence affects all of our communities in many different ways including but not limited to verbal abuse, over-policing in our streets and schools, physical and sexual assaults, illegal searches to determine the gender of trans and gender non-confirming New Yorkers, and unwarranted surveillance of Muslim and other communities.
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly are key authors of the problem. They continue to support their police officers’ violent and illegal actions and fight against policies, like the Community Safety Act (http://changethenypd.org/
community-safety-act), that would increase police accountability and transparency. They leave us with no choice.
We are tired and angry of living in a city where it’s “okay” for NYPD officers who are supposedly hired to “serve and protect us”, to instead humiliate, harass, assault and kill us. As concerned New Yorkers, we must take a stand and say NOT in our City! NOT in our neighborhoods, and NOT in our name!
Only as a unified city can we put a stop to discriminatory and abusive policing. The chant “the people united will never be defeated” may seem like an out-dated slogan. The historical fact is that whenever there has been a change that empowers oppressed people and changes our lives for the better, there has been a unification of people across race, class, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. And because that unity was rooted in the voices, leadership and with respect to those directly affected, its has prevailed. Just a few examples of this kind of unity can be found in the civil rights movement, in many cases to free political prisoners, and more locally in the our success in dismantling the notorious NYPD’s Street Crimes Unit responsible for the killing of Amadou Diallo (February 4th, 1999).
Today we call on all New Yorkers to take a stand! We call on you to say discriminatory, abusive policing is NOT okay! And we ask you to join us in our effort to create a safer New York for all New Yorkers!
A few ways to get involved are:
Become a Know Your Rights trainer
Join an existing Cop Watch team or create your own
Support the Community Safety Act [http://changethenypd.org/
To get involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.