A few dozen protesters gathered outside of City Hall today to call for a federal investigation into the death of EricGarner the 43-year-old Staten Island man who was placed in a chokehold by a plainclothes officer and died in police custody soon after. "Another black man is dead at the hands of the NYPD," declared Josmar Trujillo, an activist for New Yorkers Against Bratton.
Trujillo characterized Garner's death as part of a systematic problem of police brutality, and called for Bratton to resign, claiming that the incident proves that Bratton is unable to control his own officers.
Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College who has written extensively about the NYPD's quality-of-life policing, spoke at the demonstration about the need for an independent investigation into the death of Eric Garner. He also denounced the "Broken Windows" philosophy of policing that Bratton largely pioneered. "It's not responsible for the crime drop," Vitale said.
Vitale, who recently wrote an editorial for the Daily News titled “Paying In Blood For Over-Policing,” pointed out that aggressively arresting young men for marijuana possession and harassing panhandlers merely created resentment and had no meaningful impact on lowering crime. Broken Windows, Vitale said, "over-polices communities of color, and criminalizes young black and Latino men in particular."
Jose LaSalle, an outspoken community activist from the Bronx, also pointed out that a video on YouTube shows officers from the 120th Precinct violently arresting two males near the spot where Garner was put in a chokehold.
Trujillo concluded his remarks with the reminder that last week, July 16th, was the anniversary of James Powell's death. Powell, a 15-year-old boy who attempted to confront a white homeowner in Yorkville for hosing down a group of black children, was shot and killed by a police lieutenant. Powell's slaying instigated the Harlem riots of 1964. "This is not an isolated incident," Trujillo said of Garner's death. "We have to hold public officials accountable for their actions."