|Additional Comments on May 26th Acquittal from PJ and Black Women's Blueprint|
Peoples’ Justice and Black Women’s Blueprint whole-heartedly endorse Andrea Ritchie’s thorough and thoughtful critique of police misconduct towards women and the LGBT community (see post below.) As an alliance of community-based organizations working with a wide range of marginalized constituencies, we would also add:
This case not only brings to light the need to incorporate women’s experiences into discussions of police violence and develop systemic approaches to sexual abuse by the police. It also serves to underscore that the lack of police accountability is a systemic problem that has particular and dire consequences for communities and individuals that are more vulnerable to abuse due to theirrace, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status and/or ability.
A system that does not hold the police accountable for their actions gives officers the green light to act out societal power imbalances: In this case and many others mentioned in Ritchie’s article, male officers exerted power over women. The disproportionate use of the “stop and frisk” tactic in low-income, minority communities is indicative of on-going criminalizationof poor people of color (see: www.stopandfrisk.org.) Incidents such as the use of derogatory slurs in the 2009 arrest of Jeannette Grey and Tiffany Jiménez (see http://alp.org/node/367), the 1998 beating of Jalea Lamont, a trans women who called 911 during a severe asthma attack, and countless reports of inappropriate touching and illegal strip searches to determine the gender of trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers, demonstrate that homophobia and transphobia persist in the NYPD. Officers also target immigrants, as, for example, in the May 8 beating of Wu Yi Zhuo, an elderly Chinese musician (Police Brutality Against Chinatown Elder in Columbus Park, Generasian, 05/12/11). For immigrants, inadequate translation services and drastic immigrationconsequences for minor convictions make interactions with the criminal justicesystem traumatic and potentially life and family destroying. Police officers also frequently criminalize those with disabilities, as in the 2007 killing of Khiel Copoin (Man, 18, Is Fatally Shot by Police in Brooklyn, NYT11/13/07), and the 2008 killing of Iman Morales (Taser Use in Man’s DeathBroke Rules, Police Say, NYT 09/25/08). In spite of the prevalence of such abuses, which are discriminatory in nature, few and inadequate mechanisms for holding individual officers and the Department accountable exist.
A police force that is hurting those it is supposed to protect, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of society, is an outrage and an affront to the civil and human rights of all that requires action on all levels; we must build an analysis of police violence as a systemic problem that has particular andincreased impacts for all marginalized communities. We must demand independent prosecution of all case of police misconduct, reform of the Civilian Complaint Review Board to give it prosecutorial and disciplinary power, and harsher punishments for officers that commit acts of violence and injustice. Most importantly, we must unite across differences of age,race, gender, gender identity, citizenship status, sexual orientation andability and build broad-base movement for police accountability and an end topolice violence.
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