3/28/1996
NEW YORK CITY


RACIAL JUSTICE DAY
STOP KILLER COPS

By Paul DeRienzo


The event was organized by the Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and featured speeches by the father, mothers, brothers and sisters of the victims of police violence . Among the demonstrators were family members of Anthony Baez who was killed last year when a football he was throwing struck a parked police car. Officer Francis Livotti allegedly got out of the car and assaulted Baez, putting him in a choke hold and sparking a deadly asthma attack.


Livotti was eventually indicted for the homicide but a so-called clerical error in the offices of Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson forced the court to throw out the charges. The DA was hesitant to re-present the case to a Grand Jury because he didn't want to admit the mistake. But under pressure the Grand Jury heard the evidence a second time and voted to re-indict Livotti who now faces trial on several serious felonies.


But the majority of the families in attendance at the rally complained that they have had no justice. Since get-tough NYPD police commissioner William Bratton took office (he reigned several days ago) there has been a crackdown on so-called quality-of-life crimes from public urination to smoking marijuana. Arrests have skyrocketed and although officially reported crime is down complaints of police misconduct are up 250 percent. Even as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has cut the budget for the Civilian Complaint
Review Board that is supposed to oversee the cops.


After listening to speeches for nearly two hours in a freezing rain that turned to hail, the young people, led by the families of the victims, began a march of over a mile through the canyons of lower Manhattan, through Chinatown, and into Tompkins Square Park. The march took up a wide boulevard, winding for blocks with hundreds of nervous cops lining the route.


Tompkins Square Park is the site of police instigated riots in a long-term battle against anti-homeless forces in the city government who are in the pay of religous fanatics and right-wing yuppies. In one battle last year that got international attention cops sent in an armoured personnel carrie called "Any Time Baby'
loaded with machine gun swaggering swat cops. The eviction failed and the issue is still in court due to one honest judge.

At the park speeches continued featuring members of the South Bronx based Zulu Nation, the Latin Kings and representatives from schools and towns from throughout the metropolitan area. After hearing from supporters of Mumia, Geronimo Pratt, Leonard Peltier and other victims of government violence the march broke up peacefully.

Those in attendance say the rally is just the beginning of their struggle against police violence in NYC. According to one speaker some sympathetic Congressional representatives are planning anti-police brutality hearings in the Big Apple later this year.

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