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Vol. 76/No. 9      March 5, 2012

Hundreds at wake, funeral demand
‘prosecute cops who killed Graham’
(front page)
BRONX, New York—Hundreds turned out for the wake and funeral of Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old Black youth shot and killed by an undercover cop inside his own apartment Feb. 2 in Wakefield, a predominately Black and Caribbean neighborhood here.

The police initially claimed that Graham was running from them and had a gun. But video from surveillance cameras at the home show that Graham walked up the sidewalk and entered his house.

The cops, who had no warrant, then tried to kick the door down. When that failed, they ran around the house to the back door, got in, broke down the door to Graham’s second floor apartment, confronted him in the bathroom and shot him in the chest. He had no gun.

After Graham was shot dead in front of his grandmother, cops detained her at the local precinct for seven hours. “They wouldn’t let [my mother] out,” Contance Malcolm, Graham’s mother, said in a videotaped interview released by the family’s lawyers. “I’m holding onto my mom, and the other officer was pulling her back into the room and locked the door.”

“This is routine for the cops. You almost think they’re trained to do this,” A. Lewis, among the 500 people who turned out for Graham’s funeral Feb. 18, told the Militant. “We’ve marched four times already. It’s not just here. It’s not just New York. It’s out of control. People are so angry.” Lewis, who is Black and works as a chauffeur, said he has been stopped more than 10 times by the cops.

About 700 attended the wake the previous night, after which hundreds marched from the church to protest outside the police department’s 47th Precinct.

“Cops in my school feel like they can slam you up against the wall, just because they’re the police,” Cheneyra White, a 16-year-old high school student, told the Militant, describing her own experiences. “Then when they talk to your parents, they lie to make it seem like they had a reason, just like they did to Ramarley.”

Many at the events wore T-shirts or buttons with a photo of Graham printed on it.

In addition to family members, a number of political figures spoke at the funeral. “He didn’t display a gun. He didn’t fire a gun. No gun!” said Imam Abdul Hafeez Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in Harlem.

“This is an unnatural and inexcusable occasion because this young man was killed in an unjust way,” Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, said in remarks to the funeral. “The reason we are outraged is if he is not safe in his bathroom, none of us are safe.”

Sharpton, along with some other speakers, made comments aimed at placating anger at the police establishment as a whole. “It’s correct to show outrage when the police are killed,” Sharpton argued. “But we have to show the same outrage here. Both are important.”

Minister Kirsten John Foy, who officiated the funeral and gave the eulogy, spoke of the long history of police brutality in New York. He noted that Anthony Báez was killed by the cops in 1994 while playing on the street in front of his house. The police fired 41 bullets at Amadou Diallo in 1999, as he stood in the entrance to his apartment building, he said. “Now they kill Ramarley Graham while he’s inside his apartment,” Foy added. “When they kill one of us, they should answer for murder.”

Foy went on to add that as the son on a police officer, he knows “the overwhelming majority of police want good relations with the community. We need to work with the NYPD.”

Graham was the fourth person shot by the cops in New York City this year. According to the Daily News, the NYPD has just revised its official policy for using deadly force, adding a clause that gives the police additional leeway and added legal protection.

Deborah Liatos contributed to this article.
Related articles:
NY police ‘stop and frisk’ hits record high, targets Black youth  
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