No one is paying much attention, but parts of
Most black elected officials have joined their white colleagues and the media in turning a blind eye to this continuing outrage. And many black cops have joined their white colleagues in the systematic mistreatment.
Last Monday in the Bushwick section of
Leana Matia, an 18-year-old student at
Children as young as 13 were among those swept up by the cops. Two of them, including 16-year-old Lamel Carter, were the children of police officers. Some of the youngsters were carrying notes from school saying that they were allowed to be absent to attend the wake. There is no evidence that Ive been able to find other than uncorroborated statements by the police that the teenagers were misbehaving in any way.
Everyone was searched, but nothing unlawful was found no weapons, no marijuana or other drugs. Some of the kids were told at the scene that they were being seized because they had assembled unlawfully. I didnt know what unlawful assembly was, said Kumar Singh, 18, who was among those arrested.
According to the police, the youngsters at the scene were on a rampage, yelling and blocking traffic. That does not seem to be the truth.
I spoke individually to several of the youngsters, to the principal of
Kathleen Williams, whose son and two nieces were rounded up, was at the scene. She said there was no disturbance at all, and that when she tried to ask the police why the kids were being picked up, she was told to be quiet or she would be arrested, too.
Capt. Scott Henderson of the 83rd Precinct told me that the police had developed a plan to deal with youngsters going to the wake because they suspected that the murder was gang-related and there had already been some retaliation. He said he had personally witnessed the youngsters in Bushwick behaving badly and gave the order to arrest them.
Many of the kids were wearing white T-shirts with a picture of the dead teenager and the letters R.I.P. on them. The cops cited the T-shirts as evidence of gang membership.
Thirty-two of the youngsters were arrested. Most were charged with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. Several were held in jail overnight.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly did not exactly give the arrests a ringing endorsement. He said, in a prepared statement, A police captain who witnessed the activity made a good-faith judgment in ordering the arrests.
A spokesman for the
The principal of Bushwick Community High, Tira Randall, said, My kids come in here on a daily basis with stories about harassment by the police. Theyre not making these stories up.
It is long past time for this harassment of ethnic minorities by the police to cease. Why it has been tolerated this long, I have no idea.