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100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care


She is recovering from an ailment that even chemotherapy has had a difficult time curing.  The treatment not only kills the live cells but it can also bring about a demise to your hopes and spirits.  During these times nothing counteracts the negative aspects of her treatment more than the routine visits she receives from her caring son.  A good child that in his twenty years of living she never had to worry about him doing those bad things that have far too often attracted the attention of young men his age.  That was predominantly the reason she became worried when the afternoon turned into night and she did not receive any word from him.  A call to her relatives did little to ease her spirits, no one saw her son.  Unable to bare the haunting feeling that something was drastically wrong, she got dressed and departed the hospital to go and look for her child. 

As she called around to other neighbors she realized that a disturbing pattern was slowly developing. A substantial number of the black boys of the community were missing.  There was a sick and heavy feeling that settled in her stomach.  Those fears that are associated with hoping for the best but expecting the worst engulfed her.  "Where is my child?" is all she could recall asking herself.

It was not until the early morning hours that she received the answer to her question.  Little did she know that while she was in the hospital receiving treatment from an evil ailment that was spreading throughout her body, there was an even more sinister ailment spreading throughout the body of her community.  Her son was sitting in a police holding pen with many of the other boys from his community.  He was arrested.  His arrest as well as 190 other male-blacks, was in connection to the NYC Police department's response to an incident that took place early in the day where a Police Officer was shot in the leg. 

All official released reports have indicated that the 'perpetrator' is a male black in his 20s wearing non-distinct clothing.  Common sense dictates that the painfully vague description was supplied by the only available eyewitness, the injured Police Officer. The shooting allegedly occurred when the Police Officer approached a man who he allegedly observed in possession of a marijuana cigar.  According to the NYPD, the officer, upon approaching the young black man, observed a firearm in his waistband at which time the officer drew his firearm and demanded that the black man surrender the marijuana.  The reports are unclear, but it appears as though during the reported incident the officer was shot in the leg during the encounter.  

An immediate mobilization of manpower resulted in the stopping, frisking and subsequent arresting of scores of 'young black men' in the surrounding vicinity.  On June 14 shortly after 8am, to be young and black in Cambria Heights, St. Albans or Laurelton was to be a suspect and thusly a prisoner.  Roadblocks and helicopters replaced bicycles and birds.  The innocuous clothing description became irrelevant as young black men of varying hairstyles, builds and attire was summarily apprehended and transported to the 105 pct. for interrogation/interview regarding the 'alleged' shooting incident.  A segment of the community was among the missing as their friends and loved ones tried desperately to locate them. 

So ravenous was the appetite for revenge that normally summonsable violation offenses such as 'Disorderly Conduct' resulted in a trip to central booking.  Questionable and quite possibly unlawful street searches resulted in countless arrests.  Why worry about the 4th amendment when a police officer has been shot?  It appeared that the NYPD policy became 'cast the wide net'.  One young victim of the mass arrest initiative summed up what the police sentiment was on that day when a Police Officer told him 'A cop was shot.  There are no laws".

The Cambria Heights incident is not an anomaly.  Think of Charles Stewart in Boston circa 1989 who after shooting and killing his pregnant wife blamed a fictitious Black man.  His allegation resulted in rampant police abuse in Boston's Black community. Closer to home and more recently, in December 2004 in the confines of the Ocean Hill housing development, an NYPD police officer initially accused an anonymous Black man of shooting him.  It took 24 hours of rampant search warrants, countless stop and frisks and numerous arrests before the Police Officer admitted that he had in fact shot himself. 
If we fail to raise the legitimate and honest questions about these and other issues we are encouraging the selective abuse and disrespect that we find ourselves entrapped by.  The government must be responsive and sensitive to all communities.  We cannot allow the Black man to be always suspect and mere fodder based on unsubstantiated allegations.  

The true tragedy of this incident is not that the toxic ailment of police abuse has invaded the body of our community, it is the lack of our response to seek a true remedy.  These are our children.  This would not have happened in any other community, but ours.  Outside the community of color, police respond to emergencies by interviewing the residents to gather information.  Inside our community they conduct  mass arrests.  It is a policy of stabilization vs invasion.
Think about it.

This article was co-authored by Retired Detective Mark Claxton

Eric Adams

Co-Founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care


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