2013-03-19 17:54:01

Dispatch From Brooklyn: Fraying Patience With NYPD’s Protection

It’s a Thursday night and East Flatbush is fuming. New York City police officers are stationed at every corner for miles along Church Ave., which is this Brooklyn neighborhood’s main thoroughfare. Traffic clogs the street and two B35 buses crawl alongside weary evening commuters. Red and blue lights pierce the nighttime air. “They’re here because they killed that boy,” one black woman says to another in a West Indian accent. “I just hope all these kids stay safe.”

That boy was Kimani Gray, a 16-year-old who was shot and killed in the neighborhood last weekend, and the kids to whom the woman refers are his friends—and their friends, family, and many strangers—who showed up for four nights last week to protest his killing. Wednesday night made national headlines, because police officers clashed violently with vigil goers. Forty six people were arrested, and photos from the night look more like Birmingham than Brooklyn; swarms of officers pin screaming black men on the ground, or against the hood of a cop car.

So on this night there’s the anticipation of violence, but no signs of it. Instead, what’s most visible is the sheer force of the NYPD. In addition to standing in groups of four at every corner, they’re on the tops of buildings and in police cars, on motorcycles and horses. At one point a group of 20 or so mostly black folks—young, clearly angry—make their way down a Church Ave. sidewalk. They’re followed by a few cameramen. One woman wears a black t-shirt with “RIP Kiki”—Gray’s nickname—scrawled across the front in red writing. Uniformed officers jog alongside them clad in riot gear, with plastic handcuffs dangling from their blue cargo pants. “You officers sure you have enough guns to kill a few teenagers,” one boy says mockingly to the police standing nearby. The group finally reaches the place where Gray was shot, a street corner now home to dozens of candles, cards, teddy bears and posters.

“They’re trying to murder us like they did Kiki,” one woman yells. “We want justice.” Read more here.

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