Editor's Note: The NYPD's critics often describe it as a force out of control. However, only the most egregious cases of police misconduct make the news. Meanwhile, the daily grind of the cops bearing down on people of color communities continues with little notice. In 2011, there were the police performed a record 684,000 stop-and frisks, a 14 percent increase over the previous year. 87 percent of those targeted were Black or Latino while only one in ten stop-and-frisks resulted in an arrest or a summons. In the piece below, a resident of Highbridge in the southwest Bronx provides The Indypendent a street-level view of what happens in a community where police harassment is commonplace.
On Wednesday April 11, I left my apartment at 3:20 pm. When I reached the corner, a police car with four cops pulled up and they all jumped out. There was a black woman cop with braids, a black male cop, a very abusive white cop with a shaven head and a short white cop who watched over the confrontation that followed from a short distance.
These police officers surrounded a Black man who was walking near me. They were nose-to-nose and the white cop with the shaved head was cursing at the Black man who was wearing a dark hoodie. I stopped for a minute as they didn't notice me even standing there and I grabbed for my cell phone to take pictures. I moved across the street and watched as they were in his pockets and in his face. He held his hands up and just complied. I did yell out that they are not supposed to be going in his pockets. I also yelled out "Why is the white boy cursing at the Black boy". The shaven-headed white cop then told me to “Shut the Fuck up.”
This white cop moved a bit away from the boy but the Black cop stayed in his face. I stayed and took pictures and after they looked at his ID they let him go. As I came across the street to continue walking with the Black boy, he said he didn't know why they had stopped him. He said they were abusive and he took the info I had to give him. The white cop then yelled out to me, asking what I called him and angrily came around the corner towards me. As I just kept on walking with the boy, the cop laughed and said yeah, I better run and then he went back around the corner. I went on to my tutoring sessions.
At 6:25pm as I returned to the same corner, the same police car came up but this time with three of the four cops I had previously encountered. They started yelling at me that I had called the their colleague with the shaven head a racist name, and I needed to shut up and listen to them. Several community residents witnessed this. The women cop started to come out of the car at me. I said I did not use any racist name. They said I did by calling the white cop a white boy. I asked why was he cursing at the Black boy and at me. They then drove off.
So if this is the policing that is coming to my block and if an Impact Zone has been declared here, I am telling you here and now, I will struggle against it. If this is coming from the 44th Precinct or the Task Force on 168th St. and Sedgwick, the actions today were illegal and certainly not professional. Knowing what has happened to Ramarley Graham, Jatiek Reed and Jazz Hayden and Shaka Shakur there is no reason, I have been shown, to respect the NYPD. How does it happen that a white cop can curse at a Black elder like myself and the other cops see no problem there?
On Wednesday night, I went with another activist from Highbridge to the community meeting with the cops of the 44th Precinct and made it very clear to Detective Watley and to the commander of the 44th Precinct that this had occurred and they need to handle this. I know that making a complaint with the CCRB is a waste of time. So I will send this out to add to all the other stories that are piling up. And I will be alert for this carload of thugs who are in my area.
Have you recently seen or experienced police abuse in your neighborhood? Send your story to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.