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
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.