From a 2007 article in The New York Times:

Ten years ago today, a 30-year-old Haitian immigrant named Abner Louima was arrested and sodomized with a broomstick inside a restroom in the 70th Precinct station house in Brooklyn. The case became a national symbol of police brutality and fed perceptions that New York City police officers were harassing or abusing young black men as part a citywide crackdown on crime.

The case also marked the beginning of the unraveling of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s relationship with the black community in New York. That relationship would deteriorate even further, after the police shot two unarmed black men, Amadou Diallo in February 1999 and Patrick Dorismond in 2000.

One officer, Justin A. Volpe, admitted in court in May 1999 that he had rammed a broken broomstick into Mr. Louima’s rectum and then thrust it in his face. He said he had mistakenly believed that Mr. Louima had punched him in the head during a street brawl outside a nightclub in Flatbush, but he acknowledged that he had also intended to humiliate the handcuffed immigrant.

Read the rest of  “TheAbner Louima Case, 10 Years Later.”

I had only recently moved to NY when that happened and thought seriously about leaving again. I remember the piece Vanity Fair did on the case, in which the cop with the broomstick, Justin Volpe, maintained that he couldn’t be a racist because his girlfriend was black. Whatthefuckever.

Okay, but yeah, justice was served and Volpe is doing thirty years without parole in a Minnesota (??) prison  … which brings me back to Amadou Diallo.

I’m still so angry about that fucking case and the fact that just two years after Abner Louima was beaten and sodomized, Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss fired 41 shots with 19 meeting their unarmed target—and were acquitted after a change of venue. 

And perhaps not as well known, but equally infuriating: The Patrick Dorismond case, for the uninitiated, involved undercover cops targeting people of color as potential drug dealers. Mr. Dorismond, who was unarmed, became angry when the cops approached him to buy drugs. From a July 28, 2000 letter to the editor of The New York Times from the Episcopal Diocese of NY:

Regardless of the judgment of the grand jury about criminal culpability in the death of Patrick M. Dorismond, it remains unconscionable for New York City police to shoot unarmed people. It is also a scandal that a person of color would automatically be assumed to be a drug dealer.

 Amen Rev. Kendall … 

All of which I suppose is rising to the surface again in light of the police brutality witnessed in relation to the Occupy Movement. Police brutality, particularly in NY, has a long, and nasty history, and it looks ready to repeat itself.


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