Remember Kids, The Only Good Cop Is A Dead Cop

Amadou Diallo

By Pam Parker

Demonstrations have erupted on campuses, in workplaces and in the streets. Young, old, workers, students, those in the lesbian/gay/bi/trans community and other oppressed people have expressed righteous anger at the brutal murder of Amadou Diallo.

This unprecedented show of unity has rocked the U. S. criminal "justice" system to its core. The protests against Diallo's brutal murder at the hands of New York City police grew more frequent and militant in the week after the Feb. 25 verdict acquitting his killers. Demonstrators have answered police threats with outrage at injustice.

Diallo was the 22-year-old West African immigrant mercilessly gunned down while he stood in the vestibule of his own Bronx apartment building on Feb. 4, 1999. Since the police were acquitted, protests have taken place in New York, Albany, N.Y., Washington, Atlanta, San Francisco and other cities throughout the country.

The protests have consistently tied the murder to police abuses throughout the oppressed communities and to the racist use of the death penalty.

Just days after the verdict another unarmed African American man, Malcolm Ferguson, was gunned down by police just blocks from where Diallo had been slain. This young man had actually been arrested for protesting the police murder of Diallo just days before.

Many in the left and progressive communities have joined together to denounce the Diallo verdict and subsequent murder of Ferguson. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has issued a strong statement expressing outrage at the verdict.

Kerry Lobel, the Task Force's director, explained her group's stand, saying that "the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in both New York and across the country has been affected by police brutality and racism."

In Washington, African American civil rights leaders and activists the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton led a militant march on the Justice Department March 2 to demand an investigation into the matter.

Well-known hip-hop deejay Donnie Simpson launched an angry on-air attack against the station management of Washington-based WPGC-FM for tying the tragic death of a little Michigan schoolgirl to the police murder of Diallo. The station had made a general call to "stop the violence and increase the peace."

Simpson said that the station staff had had to fight management to get them to issue a statement of outrage against the Diallo verdict and to support a planned rally and civil disobedience at the Justice Department. The attempt to tie together the incidents, said Simpson, was an insult to the station's employees and listeners, who are mostly people of color.

Big business politicians have been forced to make statements against the verdict.

What is special about the Diallo case that has inspired the movement to unite and organize? This is not the first time the police have appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner of an innocent oppressed person. This is not the first time they have gotten away with murder.

One abuse too many

People in the working class and oppressed communities don't have to be told the police are not there to "protect and serve" but to vilify and repress. It's known throughout the oppressed communities that police consistently use excessive force and discriminatory patterns of arrest, physically and verbally abuse people, and systematically deny the First Amendment rights of those they claim to protect.

So why now? Maybe because this was one abuse too many. The brazen attacks and the flippant attitude of those running the police department have simply been too much for the community to bear.

Have the police been apologetic or remorseful in the wake of the verdict? No, they have become more vicious. Has the leadership of the department apologized to the masses of people affected by this verdict? No, on the contrary, they have moved forward with their collusive tactics.

The Police Benevolent Association met with the Justice Department on March 6 to argue against federal civil rights charges being filed in the Diallo case.

Steven Worth, general counsel for the PBA, was also the defense attorney for Edward McMellon, one of the four police officers acquitted in the Diallo case.
Joseph C. Teresi, the judge in the Diallo case, had earlier been the defense attorney for four white officers who gunned down a mentally disturbed Black man "armed" with a fork and knife. It's also been reported that Teresi visited the cops' defense attorneys at their bed and breakfast after the Diallo case verdict.

People were angered because, in the face of all the evidence, officers Edward McMellon, Kenneth Boss, Richard Murphy and Sean Carroll were acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of young Diallo.

That Diallo was gunned down in the vestibule of his own home galvanized the community. It could have been anybody. He reached for his wallet, possibly in an attempt to prove who he was and to show that he lived in that building. What would you have done? What more could he have done?

The movement is organized and galvanized through participation in many diverse struggles. The fight to return Elián González to his father in Cuba; the protest against the World Trade Organization; the struggle against the unjust detainment of Mumia Abu-Jamal; outrage over the torture of Abner Louima and the death of Malcolm Ferguson have brought many youth into the movement, adding to its energy and vitality. They have all added to the momentum of this struggle for justice.

Enough is enough. This movement against repression is growing and thriving and shows no signs of running out of steam.