On Feb. 6, two days after the 13th anniversary of the murder of Amadou Diallo, an emotional march responded to two new incidents of police violence that have rocked the Bronx.
The New York Police Department’s brutal beating of Jatiek Reed and the cold-blooded killing of Ramarley Graham brought hundreds of angry protesters, mostly young people, into the streets and in front of the 41st and 42nd Precincts. A spontaneous march then developed down 3rd Avenue, which the police could not contain.
On 149th Street and 3rd Avenue, one of the central arteries of the South Bronx, the crowd took the entire intersection, halting traffic for 15 minutes as community activists read off a list of youths slain by the NYPD. The crowd responded “Présente!” after every name. In the 13 years since Diallo’s murder, at least 204 people have fallen at the hands of the police.
Above, the video of Jatiek Reed’s beating has ricocheted around the Internet.
In the brutal police beating of Jatiek Reed, four officers repeatedly struck him with batons and kicks as the unarmed 19-year-old lay on the ground trying to protect his face. Left black-and-blue, Reed required staples in his head and arm. His friend captured the beating on his cell phone camera, and the video spread virally throughout the city. Nonetheless, Reed remains incarcerated, falsely charged with assaulting an officer.
The following week an even more gruesome act took place, when NYPD officers charged into the home of Ramarley Graham, shooting and killing the unarmed teenager in front of his grandmother. The police claim they saw a gun — the line that they always use to get away with murder — but there was none. Officers had chased Graham from outside his home, reportedly for a marijuana sale, and then barged into his home without a warrant, guns drawn. Graham’s 6-year-old brother was close by.
Surveillance video shows police breaking down Ramarley Graham’s door moments before they kill him.
In the South Bronx, police harassment, stop-and-frisks and false arrests are a part of daily life. There is a deeply felt resentment against the police, which boiled over into seething anger on February 4 as many community members joined the march for a few blocks or simply raised their fists in solidarity.
Sony Cabral, a 16-year-old community activist, spoke about the daily harassment he and his peers endure: “These police continue to racially profile us, discriminate against us, stop and frisk us and throw us in jail. All day, every day. I identify with Jatiek Reed and Ramarley Graham. That could have been any of us.”
When the march circled back down to the 41st precinct, the cops patrolling outside scurried indoors. The five-hour rally and march ended in front of Jatiek Reed’s house with family members of Jatiek addressing the crowd. His cousins yelled out “Free our cousin! Free our brother! The NYPD is out of control. None of us our safe. No mother should have to go through this. We are not afraid of the NYPD! Join us!”
The crowd chanted back: “We are all Jatiek!”Reed’s mother addressed the crowd, expressing her sadness and thanking everyone for their support. She urged everyone to continue that support by packing the Bronx courthouse on Monday morning at 9 a.m. when Reed again goes before a judge.
The police assaults on the Occupy movement garnered national headlines, and helped put a spotlight on the NYPD’s repressive instincts. The police department’s practice of giving arrest and ticket quotas to officers has been exposed, as well as the multimillion dollar donations they have received from the biggest Wall Street banks. There is a growing movement against their flagrantly unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policies, which targets Black and Latino youth in particular.
The electric February 6 march through the South Bronx shows that now is the time to step up our efforts for a citywide movement against NYPD repression.
First posted to LiberationNews.org