Over the past few days, amidst the flurry of news coverage of police brutality, my inbox has been flooded with cases that are not being covered. It is critical that cases, like the shooting of Sean Bell in Queens, on Sunday, are getting attention and investigation, but we will have to see what justice is on the other side, and we must be a voice in denouncing these acts of police brutality. While Mayor Bloomberg responded, calling 50 shots as unacceptable, unfortunately, the Mayor also would not discuss this as a pattern. Rather, he stated that this was an isolated incident, as opposed to what communities are saying, and what is the reality of daily racial profiling, harrassment, beating and arrests of people of color in New York City.
So let me share a few other stories I’ve received in the past few days that aren’t hitting the media just yet.
That same night–Sunday evening, November 26–Juanita Young, an activist and public speaker in the fight to stop police brutality, was arrested in her own home. She and her family have been targets of police harassment on several occasions, including an attempt to evict her from her home. Her son, Malcolm Ferguson, was killed by NYPD in March 2000, a week after he was arrested for being part of a protest against the verdict in the Amadou Diallo case. She has been a member of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation since 2000.
An ambulance had been called for Juanita’s daughter. When ambulance came, police also arrived. Juanita asked the police to leave, and the ambulance refused to do anything and called for backup. Eight police arrived, grabbed people, threw Juanita in a room and tried to lock her in, kicked her in the chest and back, and jumped on her. Her daughter yelled at them to stop, telling them that Juanita has asthma, but Juanita was arrested and ended up at Jacobi Hospital emergency room, under police custody. Apparently, family and friends have still not been allowed in to see her.
I also received the following alert from Trans Justice, a Project of the Audre Lorde Project, asking people to join them in protesting police brutality this Wednesday, after white cops beat two Black men on November 1st in the West Village. I give you most of the release as they have already done the work to narrate this–now it’s our duty to act and to denounce what are not isolated incidents, but daily attacks and racial profiling that is still occurring in New York City. You don’t have to be an activist to see this–you just have to be willing to look around and see what’s going on, or what’s not going on in your neighborhoods, and take a minute to acknowledge the issue as an issue–to ask the questions why police aren’t on every corner in Park Slope the way they’re on every corner in Flatbush–and the why has everything to do with race, nationality and class.
On November 1st, at around 4:30am, at the intersection of Hudson and Christopher, various African-American and Latina/o people were approached by a van of police officers and told to move from the corner. Some of these people were patrons of a pizza restaurant who were standing out in front, while others were simply crossing the intersection.
As people began to move away from the corner, a 20-year old African-American female remarked on how disrespectful the tone had been of the female officer who had given the order. The same officer got out of the van and began to initiate an argument with the 20-year-old woman. Within seconds, Officer Toccos, a white male cop, also jumped out of the van and began to shout at the 20-year-old female.
Then without warning or provocation, Officer Toccos pushed the 20-year-old African-American woman twice in her breasts forcing her backwards. A witness at the scene, 23 year old African-American college student Shakur Trammel requested the badge number of Officer Toccos.
In answer to that request, Shakur Trammel was punched in his face. In a fit of rage, Toccos began punching Trammel repeatedly in his chest. He soon threw him on top of the front of the police van and began choking him with his nightstick. A rampage ensued. Witnesses report, that between 4 to 6 cops, mostly white officers, began kicking and punching, Shakur Trammel as he lay on the ground. Throughout the attack, Officer Toccos continuously beat Trammel with his nightstick. Covered with bruises and his left elbow dislocated Shakur Trammel was then thrown into a police van.
During the attack, Trammel could hear the voices of several people yelling for the police to stop and calling on each other to take pictures to document the assault. As many as 20 people, the vast majority of which were people of color, witnessed the attack. Eye witnesses report that the police went into the crowd and began beating another African–American man, believed to be in his 30’s, who was very vocal about his outrage at the police brutality wielded against Trammel. Both men were arrested along with an African–American female who refused to follow the police command for the witnesses to disperse.
Once they arrived at the 6th Precinct, Shakur Trammel told his arresting officer that he was a Transsexual male and wanted to be placed in a separate cell. This request was ignored. Both of the men, in desperate need of medical attention, were initially placed in the same holding cell. Already in the cell were two other men, one Black and one Latino, both injured and bleeding, who reported that the police at the 6th Precinct also assaulted them. After an hour of demanding to be taken to a hospital, one of the four men of color was then taken from the cell by cops armed with a stun gun.
On November 1st 2006, at the corner of Hudson and Christopher, 2 Black men were beaten, one trans and one non-trans, and arrested along with one Black woman, for refusing to stand idly by as a 20-year old Black woman was assaulted by a white cop. Racist police attacks like the one on November 1st are a daily occurrence in working class and communities of color throughout NYC. In the West Village, the 6th Precinct has become notorious for racist, sexist and anti-lesbian, gay, bi and trans violence unleashed particularly against young people of color, the homeless and transgender people. The people of color LGBT youth organization, FIERCE!, has been at the forefront of fighting on these issues in the West Village for several years.
TransJustice of The Audre Lorde Project calls on social justice activists and organizations from across the city to Endorse and Come to an Anti-Police Brutality Press Conference & Picket Line Wednesday, Nov 29th 6:30pm – 7:30pm in front of the 6th Precinct (233 West 10th Street)