Revolutionary Worker #1203, June 15, 2003, posted at rwor.org
Since 9/11, the system has insisted their New York police are now officially "heroes" and they say any protest against police brutality is out of bounds. But meanwhile the police continued to brutalize and murder people.
Since 9/11, 59 people have been killed by police in New York City.
As we go to press, we just learned a Dominican brother, Jose Mateo, was killed by cops.
Recently there has been new resistance against a number of police murders, including the police raid that killed Miss Alberta Spruill (see RW #1201).
The following report describes what happened in the Walt Whitman Housing Projects in Brooklyn, New York City, after police shot Floyd Quinones in the back. It was written by a team of RW stringers.
At 3:02 a.m. on April 30, the NYPD gunned down 28-year-old Floyd Quinones on the street outside the Walt Whitman Houses. In America, the police murder of yet another Black or Latino man would hardly be news--it happens every day. In fact, within 36 hours of this murder, the NYPD killed two other people in Brooklyn.
People who study journalism often point out that every-day events aren't considered news- -like "dog bites man"--or in this case "pig shoots man." But it is newsworthy when "man bites dog." And, in this case, the people fought back after the pigs murdered Floyd Quinones!
We heard about it, so a few days later we went to the Walt Whitman Houses to investigate.
We hooked up with some members of the October 22nd Coalition, including Juanita Young -- whose son Malcolm Ferguson was killed by the police in the Bronx.
Anger and defiance was still in the air. People were proud they had stood up against the police -- who many described as "the biggest fuckin' gang in town." One guy proudly showed off a T- shirt he'd made that said: "Fuck NYPD."
Known as Tye to his friends, Floyd was well liked and respected. Everybody knew him. People described him as always happy.
One man said, "If your moms didn't have, he'd help her out. If someone needed money, he was like, `Yo, here. Just don't get in no trouble.'"
Tye had a newborn son less than one month old.
People created a moving memorial at the murder site. It was overflowing with candles, flowers in champagne bottles, Tye's photo, T-shirts and pieces of cardboard with messages: "We'll miss you, Fly Tye--RIP," "The `hood will never be the same."
People parked their cars at the memorial and sat on the tailgates, others sat on milk crates--all paying their respects, remembering a well-loved brother whose life was brutally stolen by the police.
We brought a Stolen Lives banner created by the October 22nd Coalition which listed the names of hundreds of people killed by police across the U.S. People were fascinated by this. One man read from pages in the Stolen Lives book, showing his friends there were thousands of stories like Tye's, and said, "Any page you look at, you see innocent people that got killed. It's too many innocent lives getting took."
People of all ages described the daily police harassment they face. Young men poured out their anger at being constantly searched, put in chokeholds or arrested for no reason. One told us about a cop who confronted several youth in a subway station and pepper-sprayed them all. Two women surrounded by small children wanted to hear about Juanita Young, her son, the work of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality and the Revolutionary Worker newspaper.
One guy said, "They do this all the time. It's not gonna change until the government changes." Another said, "Me, personally, I'm for revolution."
Cops were all around, letting people know they were watching. As we walked deeper into the projects--further from the eyes of the police--people told us what happened.
The cops shot Tye twice in the back, They claimed he fired a gun in the air to celebrate a friend's birthday--as if this justifies murder. When the cops arrived Tye was sitting in a parked car. On their command he got out of the car with his hands up. That's when they shot him down. They handcuffed him and left him for an hour. People said he might have lived if he had gotten medical attention.
Then dozens of cops raided the projects. They banged on the doors of all the apartments facing the scene of Tye's murder and rounded up potential witnesses to their crime. If people didn't open their doors quick enough, the cops busted them down with battering rams. Police helicopters hovered overhead, shining spotlights on the buildings. People weren't allowed in or out.
As one young woman put it, "They tried to get loud, we got loud back." Bottles and garbage were thrown at the cops. The New York Times reported police were fired on by the people in the projects, and the people there told us this, too.
Mace was used on people protesting Tye's murder. Cops with dogs and assault rifles ordered people off the streets and threatened them. Warrant squads arrested people on old warrants. One guy busted on a 13-year-old vacated warrant had been in and out of the criminal justice system many times and this warrant never came up.
Instead of bringing people to court to deal with the alleged warrants, cops interrogated them about Tye's murder and the people's resistance.
The next morning the project was surrounded by barricades and completely locked down. Kids couldn't go to school. People couldn't go to work.
People told us cops chased a man to the roof of a building, pushed him off--then claimed he jumped. Cops handcuffed him on the ground then kicked him. When a 10-year-old kid objected, police put him in a chokehold. The man later died in the hospital.
One young woman who spoke out against the cops on New York 1 TV was especially targeted. As one guy described it, "They took her picture from the news people and hunted her down- - hunted her DOWN! They didn't arrest her but they shook her up some to get her to keep her mouth shut."
That night police and some community leaders held a meeting to try and chill people out. Some argued people shouldn't fight back against the police but show "restraint" and "tolerance."
When a Black sergeant got up to speak, youth at the meeting marched out together and faced off with police outside the building.
On WBAI Radio, a spokesperson for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement said a commanding officer at the nearby precinct told him they weren't even investigating Tye's death and that the police organization "100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care" had "signed off that this was a justified homicide." He described an intensification of police brutality since 9/11 and said this "is very related to the war abroad. It's war at home and the war is really against us and police brutality is terrorism."
Juanita Young said, "To me it's like the police is on a rampage. They killed three innocent people in two days. They're knocking down people's doors and being justified by the Police Commissioner. They're sending the NYPD to Iraq to do what they do here--shooting down innocent people. Helicopters over the Ft. Greene neighborhood and helicopters over Iraq--same thing. The only difference was, in Iraq protesters were gunned down. It's like they're fighting two wars--one in Iraq and one here."
True dat! And in each of these wars, there's two sides--the powers-that-be and the people.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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