The New York Police Department has an enigmatic reputation; while New York’s five boroughs have become exponentially safer in the past decade, the force’s track record for treating black people (especially males) with any modicum of fairness is exceptionally poor.
On Thursday February 3, Ramarley Graham , an unarmed teen, was killed by Richard Haste, a 30 year-old police officer. Haste kicked down the door of Graham’s grandmother’s Bronx apartment without a warrant and shot Graham in the chest while he attempted to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet. The officer had been tracking the young man because of radio reports from the narcotic squad that he was carrying a gun in the waistband of his pants. Graham’s grandmother was present. Ramarley Graham’s death has brought residents of Wakefield, a low-income and predominately black section of the borough, out into the streets in protest.
“They had no business kicking down the door. They went too far,” said Tyrone Harris, 27. “They need to go to jail just like any other citizen.”
Jeffrey Emdin, an attorney representing Graham’s mother, also called the police tactics unlawful. “They illegally entered the home,” Emdin said. “They had no right to be inside. They had no right to use force.”
Many linked the shooting to the NYPD’s aggressive street policing program, called “stop-and-frisk,” which predominantly targets low-income minority neighborhoods. In 2011, the program stopped and searched more than 500,000 New Yorkers, 85 percent of them black or Latino. The searches contributed to a record number of misdemeanor marijuana arrests last year.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly made a statement indicating the troubling nature of any unarmed shooting, but other than that the force has not made any statements about the incident. Officer Haste has been placed on restrictive duty and the Bronx District Attorney is investigating, but it’s hard to look at this situation and think that justice will be done. The details of this incident don’t sound like any sort of justification for a shooting, but the problem seems deeper than that. Even if the court agrees that Ramarley Graham was murdered, it will be a single officer and not the out control and dangerous “stop-and-frisk program,” that will be on trial.
Read more at Huffington Post.