Thursday, March 14, 2013
Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood under “martial law” as protests against police brutality continue
by Larry Geller
Update: I’m going to leave this article in place. I reported yesterday that “The tweets today indicated that the neighborhood of East Flatbush was or perhaps still is under a kind of ‘martial law,’ or under a ‘frozen zone.’ ” This is something of a dilemma, and does raise for me the question of how much to trust citizen journalism. People on the spot were repeating the tweets, and I even had a citation. Well, today’s (Friday’s) news reports don’t mention the term “frozen zone,” and the linked article has gone “403 – forbidden” and so isn’t available any longer. So yeah, the tweets said one thing, but was it true?
From the Village Voice:
Metal barricades were set up in front of businesses while officers lined the streets, stood guard on horseback and hovered above in a helicopter.
On Wednesday night, windows were smashed out of police vehicles, an officer was hit in the face with a brick, and dozens of people, some as young as 13, and including Gray's older sister, were arrested. Police used pepper spray on multiple occasions, and there were claims of young people being arrested while they were simply trying to go home.
The New York Times reported police in riot gear set up roadblocks, and that the shooting victim’s sister was put in a police car.
Videos of the protests are beginning to emerge. Here’s one, but don’t watch it if you don’t want to hear a women down on the ground and screaming in pain.
For those who have not followed the policing situation in New York City, I recommend the article below. Here’s a snip, referring to the racial discrimination represented by NYPD’s hated stop-and-frisk practices:
“There were only 97,296 forcible stops recorded in 2002. In 2011, with crime supposedly down 80 percent since 1990, the N.Y.P.D. recorded the highest number of forcible stops in its history — 685,724. These stops, while mostly of minority youth, were greater than the entire population of minorities in vulnerable age groups in the city.”
What are the chances that I, as a white female, would be stopped for adjusting my pants at night? Would I be thrown to the ground by police officers just for swearing? NYPD lawsuits have cost the city about $1 billion in settlements, that’s just in a decade. One officer has been sued seven times on charges of police brutality. So much for protecting and serving.
[policymic, Kimani Gray Protests Fight Police Brutality in East Flatbush, 3/14/2013]
I used to live near the neighborhood described below, but in those days, police were not in the habit of shooting African-American teenagers. I find it both tragic and hard to imagine that the NYPD is now so often accused of this sort of race crime. Yes, I know that it’s not just NYPD.
The tweets today indicated that the neighborhood of East Flatbush was or perhaps still is under a kind of “martial law,” or under a “frozen zone.” Inside this zone the police are issuing a variety of orders, one of which keeps the media from covering the situation.
What happened? From Democracy Now headlines, first for March 13 and next for this morning, March 14:
Witness: Brooklyn Teen Slain by Police Wasn’t Armed
A witness to the police shooting of an African-American teenager in Brooklyn, New York, is challenging the New York City Police Department’s claim he was armed. Sixteen-year-old Kimani Gray was walking down a street in the neighborhood of East Flatbush when two plainclothes officers approached him in an unmarked car. The officers got out to approach Gray and opened fire when, they claim, they saw him reach for a gun in his waistband. But speaking to the New York Daily News, a Brooklyn woman who watched the shooting from her window said Gray never had a gun in his hand and could not believe the officers had opened fire. Police say they recovered a gun next to Gray’s body. On Tuesday night, supporters held a protest in Brooklyn for the second consecutive night to denounce Gray’s killing. Community organizer Fatimah Shakur was among the speakers to address the crowd.
Fatimah Shakur: "Kimani Gray was only 16 years old. Parents should not bury their children. Police brutality is not decreasing, it’s increasing. So I need to hear — your power is in your voice. We don’t got to bash nobody’s store, nothing like that. We more better than that. But your voice is your weapon. Kimani Gray doesn’t have no voice no more. We have to be his voice."
Tuesday’s protest was peaceful after several stores were vandalized following a rally the day before. New York City Councilmember and community activist Charles Barron said the killing of Gray has triggered anger over the marginalization of African Americans.
Charles Barron: "People are angry and frustrated. We’re living in poverty. We’re living in unemployment. In the richest country in the history of the planet earth, we have poverty that equals Egypt’s poverty, that caused a revolution. And then to have these police officers using deadly force to take the lives of our children, our youth out here, it’s just unacceptable. So this is the least that the community could do is to respond and resist. We always got to resist. We always got to provide vehicles that allow for the ventilation of our anger. And we must resist until we can figure out a strategy for victory."
45 Arrested at Brooklyn Protest for Police Shooting of Kimani Gray
Unrest again broke out in the Brooklyn area of New York Wednesday night at a protest over the police shooting of 16-year-old Kimani Gray. Gray was shot dead by two plainclothes officers who claimed he had a gun, but one witness has said he was unarmed, and another has said he may not have known he was being approached by police. Gray died from seven bullet wounds. On Wednesday night, at least 45 people were arrested after clashes broke out between demonstrators and police in the neighborhood of East Flatbush. A group of demonstrators had thrown bottles after police officers seized Gray’s sister and gave her a summons.
Here’s more on the “martial law” situation. Click the link for the complete article.
“East Flatbush, Brooklyn is under martial law as the NYPD declares it a ‘frozen zone’. Media are being monitored and kept from moving and reporting freely. Dozens of arrests and much brutality. Kimani was shot in the back seven times; a witness is sure he was unarmed; multiple reports are coming out that the police had been waging a campaign of harassment against the young man (including taunting him about a friend who had died in a car accident and threatening to shoot him when he tried to leave). This is just blocks from where Shantel Davis was shot, dragged from her car and left to bleed to death in the street last summer. After that shooting, police went to all the surrounding delis and confiscated their surveillance videos. Residents in the neighborhood live in a state of terror. Heartbreaking, enraging, the stuff that riots are made of. This city is at a breaking point.”
[uscop.org, The NYPD Declares Martial Law in Brooklyn, 3/14/2013]
Update: A couple of recent tweets say CNN and Eyewitness News were allowed in, so the “frozen zone” may not be accurate at this point. Perhaps we will learn the validity of these reports on tomorrow’s Democracy Now.
Tomorrow (Friday), a protest has been announced via Twitter for a spot three blocks from where I used to live!!
The link for the uscop.org article isn't working; FORBIDDEN. Also, why wasn't any news reported from CNN, etc. today? No breaking news? This is awful.