Protests in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood continue on for the third straight day after police shot and killed a 16-year-old boy. Kimani Gray was shot somewhere between six and 11 times by police on Saturday night. A candlelight vigil was held on Wednesday evening, over a 200 people attended. The protest turned violent after some protesters tried to climb on police motorcycles. If you don’t understand why this neighborhood is upset, why they are protesting, then you haven’t been paying attention. East Flatbush is raging against police brutality against the African American community.
According to police accounts, Kimani Gray was with a group of friends until he saw an unmarked police car and left. Police claim to have approached the boy because he was “adjusting his waistband in a suspicious manner.” The policemen involved in the shooting have said that they only opened fire when Gray pulled out a .38-caliber revolver and pointed it at them.
NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the media, “There’s nothing to indicate that [Kimani Gray's] shooting, at this time, was outside the guidelines.”
The officers involved with the shooting have been placed on administrative duty. A .38 caliber weapon was found at the scene.
The official police account differs from what others say happened. One friend, who was with Gray, claims Gray was running away from police. Another said that the police jumped out of their cars and just began shooting. The only confirmed eyewitness, Tishana King says she is certain that Gray didn’t have anything in his hands. In a taped statement to police she never mentions Gray possessing a firearm. Gray’s family has spoken out against all forms of violence.
Ramarley Graham was fatally shot by NYPD cops in the bathroom of his grandmother’s home in 2012. Police followed Graham under suspicion of a drug sale and said he had a firearm. No firearm was ever found, and a small bag of marijuana was in the toilet. The officer involved has been charged with manslaughter in Graham's death. In August, Shantel Davis of East Flatbush was shot to death by police after being dragged out of her car. She was accused of stealing a vehicle at gunpoint. An unarmed man was shot fifty times by police on the day before his wedding.
“There were only 97,296 forcible stops recorded in 2002. In 2011, with crime supposedly down 80 percent since 1990, the N.Y.P.D. recorded the highest number of forcible stops in its history — 685,724. These stops, while mostly of minority youth, were greater than the entire population of minorities in vulnerable age groups in the city.”
What are the chances that I, as a white female, would be stopped for adjusting my pants at night? Would I be thrown to the ground by police officers just for swearing? NYPD lawsuits have cost the city about $1 billion in settlements, that’s just in a decade. One officer has been sued seven times on charges of police brutality. So much for protecting and serving.
The neighborhood of East Flatbush is outraged, and they have every right to be. Police brutality has affected that community and other minority communities disproportionately for too long. Gray's death is a tragedy. The death of any young person is. It is worth asking yourself whether or not police would have shown more restraint if Gray were white.