Thousands protested police brutality in the middle of NYC’s Times Square Friday, disrupting a busy shopping day. The called the event “Shopping for Justice”, justice for victims of the recent NYPD shooting, where unarmed African-American Sean Bell was killed and his friends wounded when police shot at his vehicle 50 times. One of the cops actually fired every bullet in his gun, reloaded, and shot some more.
I believe these killings keep happening for two main reasons.
1) A widespread belief/fear among Americans that young black men are inherently dangerous. I think that cops of all races share this fear, and it makes them far too quick to feel threatened and act with deadly force.
2) The lack of punishment faced by police officers for excessive violence against African-Americans. The cops who shot unarmed Amadou Diallo 41 times were acquitted of all charges. The cops who beat unarmed Rodney King on videotape were acquitted. Seriously, can you imagine police officers from any part of the United States getting off like that if they’d committed that sort of attack on a white person? I can’t (well, maybe if those white people were protesters…). If cops knew there were severe repercussions for violence on black men, I think they’d be less likely to dish it out. But there aren’t.
So folks in NYC took to the streets, in what was reportedly a huge, quiet protest (the “quiet” part was probably a practical tactic to prevent scared cops from whipping out the shotguns. If cops freak out when a single black man holds up his wallet, I can only imagine what they’d do when facing thousands of angry, yelling black men). As always, I think that seeing photos of protests is much more important than reading coverage of them. Go here, here, and here for good photos (but what the fuck is up with that family in the Christmas tree hats?).
The NY Times reports that shoppers nearby seemed to be “against the protest”. Fun quotes from passers-by:
“It’s New York, you always see crazy things,” Margaret Rajnik, a nurse from Atlantic City, said at Rockefeller Center, where mobs of shoppers jammed the plaza in front of the skating rink, the giant Christmas tree and the golden Prometheus…
“We just came here to go shopping at the American Girl store and go see the Rockettes,” said Cherrie Ostigui, 38, of Odenton, Md. “Now we can’t even cross the street to get our lunch.”
Steve Diomopoulos, 22, a student from Livonia, Mich., called it “a weird time to be doing this,” and added: “It’s an inconvenience to people like myself who came from out of town and want to get some Christmas shopping done. It’s almost like a hostile atmosphere. I don’t think that’s what people came here to see.”
“Crazy things”? Yes, it’s so crazy that people don’t want to be murdered by police officers. Aww, can’t get your lunch? You know who else can’t get his lunch? Sean Bell. “Inconvenient”? You know what’s inconvenient? Being shot and killed by police for no reason the night before your wedding, like Sean Bell. “Hostile environment”? Sorta like living your life in fear that you’re going to be murdered by police officers because of your skin color? “Not what people came here to see”? Go fuck yourself, you prick. People fighting for their lives trump your sightseeing desires.
Not to beat a dead horse, but Jesus! I understand, it’s Christmas, you’re busy, you want to see the beauty of New York or buy your loved ones gifts, but maybe you need to raise your eyes a little higher sometimes. “Gee, this protest really ruins my plans, but I suppose the cause of stopping unjust police terror is more important.” Or even, “maybe I should join them.”
Okay, read some accounts of folks who attended the protest and in their view, nearly all the spectators were sympathetic to the march.
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