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Reflections on Recent Police and Civilian Killings: Looking Back to Move Forward, Part One

July 20, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

As we witness the killings of and by police officers in the last several months, I share the sadness and anger of all the loved ones and supporters of those who have been victimized.
My sadness and anger are not only for the recent events, but I am angrier because when something could have been done, nothing was done. They would not have died if leaders and the majority public would have forcibly, aggressively, and passionately acted when we were expressing the police disrespect, violence, and murder to the world.

For almost 50 years, I have been, consistently and vigorously, informing the public about police misconduct. Instead of heeding the warning, they called me “the troublemaker,” “rabble rouser,” “demagogue,” “race hater,” “anti-police,” etc. Strikingly similar are they treating the Black Lives Matter Movement today as they treated the Black Power Movement in the past. It seems that when Black people assert their pride and solidarity, and their intentions to achieve freedom, the behaviors of the overwhelming majority of Euro-ethnics are the same.

There is nothing new about police disrespect, violence, and killings of innocent citizens, and the usual response from the larger public. The only new thing is social media. People can actually see what we have been saying for almost five decades. Even then, people refuse to believe their eyes.

Consider some of the cases in which I have been involved.

***The Killings of Teenagers***

Do you think the killing of Tamir Rice, 12, in Cleveland, OH on November 22, 2014 was new?

1) Ricky Bodden was shot in the back in 1972 in Staten Island, NY.
2) Clifford Glover, 10, killed April 28, 1973 in Jamaica, Queens, NY. He was shot in the back. As he lay dying, the police officer was recorded as saying, “Die, you Black bastard.”
3) Claude Reese, 14, killed on September 20, 1974 in Brooklyn, NY.
4) Randolph Evans, 15, killed on November 1976, was shot in the head for no reason.
5) Jay Parker, 15, shot to death in Jamaica, Queens.
6) Arturo Reyes, 17, was shot 21 times.
7) Lavon King, 20, was fatally shot in Jersey City, NJ on June 24, 2014.

***Police Chokeholds***
Do you think the case of Eric Garner, 43, who died from a police chokehold in July 17, 2014, was the first?

1) Arthur Miller was chokehold to death on June 14, 1978.

***Shot in the Back***

Do you think Walter Scott, 50, who was shot in the back on April 4, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina, was new?

I’ve already mentioned Clifford Glover and Ricky Bodden.

***Rooftop Killings***

Do you think Akai Gurley, 28, was killed on the rooftop on November 20, 2014 in Brooklyn, NY was the first?

There was also Phillip Pannell, 17, who was killed on April 10, 1990 in Teaneck, NJ.

Nicholas Heyward, Jr., 13, was shot on a rooftop on September 27, 1994.

Well, Timothy Stansbury, 19, was killed on the rooftop in the January 24, 2004 in Brooklyn, NY.

***Police Breaking into the House***

Do you think that that Ramarley Graham, 18, who was killed in February 2012 when police busted into his house, was new?

Mohammad Bah, 28, died when police broke into his home in September 2012.

Kevin Thorpe, 31, was killed on July 10, 1989 in Brooklyn, NY.

Eleanor Bumpur, 66, was killed with a shotgun by police who busted into her home on October 1984.

***Dying in the Custody of Police***

Do you think Sandra Bland, 23, on July 13, 2015 in Texas; and, Freddie Gray, 25, on April 19, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland, dying at the hands of the police, are new?

Michael Stewart, 19, was killed on September 1983.

Peter Funches, a 100% veteran, was beaten to death by police in the 1970s.

***Multiple Shots***

Do you think that Philando Castille, 32, on July 6, 2016 in Minnesota; and, Alton Sterling, 37, on July 5, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, who were recently killed with multiple shots, are new?

Sean Bell, 23, was shot at 50 times on November 25, 2006.

(Women were not speared. I already mentioned Eleanor Bumpers, but there was also Elizabeth Magnum, who was killed in August 1979, in Brooklyn, NY.)

There were other cases.

Patrick Dorismond, 26, was killed on March 16, 2000 in NY.

Amadou Diallo, 23, was killed in February 1999. 41 shots were fired and 19 hit him.

Louie Baez was shot around 27 times on August 1979 in Brooklyn, NY.

Anthony Baez, 29, was killed in December 1994 in Bronx, NY

Ousmane Zongo was killed on May 22, 2003.

Nor have Black police officers been exempt from the trigger happy white cops. From 1995 to 2009, eight black officers, two Latino officers, and four white officers were killed. Let me repeat for emphasis, these are just some (and not all) of the cases in which I have been involved and they are almost exclusively in New York. There might have been even more killings in other cities.

From the 1970s, I’ve been one of the vocal leaders of the movements against police misconduct. I have held almost all of the mothers in my arms and dried their tears; officiated, participated, or attended the funerals and burials. I’ve continued to have relationships long after the events occurred. I’ve seen firsthand what these killings can do to families. In fact, the families are seldom ever the same.

When police officers are killed, usually the whole world mourns. Long lines of police officers attend the funeral. The aforementioned persons whom the police kill are often put away in silence except where we have forced the public to pay attention through our public demonstrations.

Two other extremely important points to note:
-In almost all of the cases, the police officers were white and all the victims were Black and/or Latino.
– Almost always the cops were exonerated.

At the risk of being overly repetitious, there’s nothing new about what we are seeing today – only that social media reveals them to us. It’s not hard to imagine the anger, frustration, and distrust of the criminal justice system and the police, in particular, that has been building for these many years.

… to be continued.