Revolution #93, June 24, 2007
“Arrested While Grieving”
Bob Herbert recently wrote a column in the New York Times titled, “Arrested While Grieving.” He tells of how, on May 21, about three dozen youths in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn were walking in a group, traveling to a wake for a teenage friend who had been murdered. But they never made it; instead, the cops swooped in and arrested 36 people, charging them with “unlawful assembly.”
Leana Matia, an 18-year-old student at John Jay College, told Bob Herbert: “We were walking toward the train station to take the L train when all these cops just swooped in on us… They cursed us out and pushed the guys. And then they handcuffed us. We kept asking, ‘What are you doing?’ ” A parent who tried to explain that there was no disturbance was told to be quiet or she too would be arrested.
The police told a story that the youths were blocking traffic and causing a scene. But Bob Herbert interviewed youths and a parent who was with them: “Every account that I was able to find described a large group of youngsters, very sad and downcast about the loss of their friend, walking peacefully toward the station.” The fact that some of the youths were wearing t-shirts with the picture of their friend and the words “RIP Fresh” on them, was used by the cops as supposed evidence of gang membership, and used to justify the humiliation they visited upon these youth.
Think about what was done to these youth, some of whom are as young as 13, being searched, humiliated, and arrested, for doing nothing at all, who were robbed of the chance to gather together to mourn the loss of a young friend.
The principal of Bushwick Community High, Tira Randall, told Bob Herbert, “My kids come in here on a daily basis with stories about harassment by the police. They’re not making these stories up.”
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