Polic Racist Internet Rants About West Indian Carnival
Outrage, anger and shock. Those emotion displayed in and out of the Caribbean immigrant community in the City were triggered by a display of racism, loathing and sheer ignorance by hundreds of New York City police officers who used Facebook to abuse West Indians and to demonize the annual West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn, the nation’s largest ethnic festival and one of its most colorful.Calling West Indians and other Blacks who participate in the parade everything from “animals” and “savages” to “filth” the officers who have a sworn duty to protect New Yorkers seem to wish the deaths of revelers and others involved in the cultural festival.“Let them kill each other,” wrote one cop on Facebook about West Indians.“I say have the parade one more year and when they all gather drop a bomb and wipe them all out,” said another on Facebook where more than 70 pages of offensive material were displayed for the whole world to see and read.
“Why is everyone calling this a parade,” one added. “It’s a scheduled riot.”The racist ramblings came to light after a police officer, Sergeant Dustin Edward, arrested an unemployed West Indian food service worker, Tyrone Johnson, during the West Indian parade and charged him with illegal possession of a weapon. When the case was tried recently in a Brooklyn State Supreme Court, Johnson’s attorneys, Benjamin Moore and Paul Lieberman of the Brooklyn Defender Services provided the judge with a digital copy of the conversations on Facebook.
The defendant was subsequently acquitted of all charges by a jury who didn’t believe the police and prosecutor’s version of the story about what happened. Court room analysts speculate that Johnson was probably framed by police officers who allegedly planted a gun on him. The sense of outrage and the demands for a thorough police Investigation and a response from Mayor Michael Bloomberg was felt across the city following the New York Times full exposure of the crude, rude and racist comments by cops, members of the New York City Fire Department and other City workers who obviously opposed being required to work on Labor Day or at the parade or both.“I feel highly insulted and alarmed by all of this,” said U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, a Democrat of Brooklyn.
“Here we are thinking we are on Eastern Parkway for the West Indian carnival with individuals who have been given culturally sensitive training and information on what this parade means to the community and the City. The police officers are there to protect people and make sure that our safety is number one. But clearly many of them are holding the community in disdain and it makes one wonder about the merit to feeling safe in the sense that how much of the actions within the confines of the parade are generated by these individuals who hate being there. They hate being assigned to it and hate the people who show up to attend it.“Clearly, through this whole Facebook scenario there is an obvious hatred and disdain for the people of the community,” she added.
“The first thing I am going to do is to reach out to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly because I am concerned not only about the individuals who are re-assigned to the area but I would be extremely concerned about the officers who are currently stationed within the confines of the community.”As an example of what she was talking about, Congresswoman Clarke said that she was advised that one of the cops involved and quoted on Facebook was a sergeant in the 67th precinct, which serves the heart of the Caribbean immigrant community in Brooklyn.“For me this creates a really bad situation, one that many in the community have felt implicitly for some time but now have verification through explicit language about the pure disdain some of these officers have for the people they are serve and protect,” she added.
Brooklyn lawmaker, Assemblyman Nick Perry, Deputy Majority Leader of the State Assembly in Albany, was equally worried about the revelations and their implications for West Indians and others who live in communities served by some of the officers.“Although we are not surprised that this is reported to have happened, we are still shocked and disappointed,” Perry said. “New York is aware of the well-known fact that there were officers in the Police Department who practice racist behavior in their work. That’s not a surprise to anybody. What’s shocking is that they are blatant enough to post it and that reveals to us the state of mind that we have to deal with when we interact with people who have to enforce the laws. I think it makes people wonder how the Mayor and Police Commissioner could try to convince New Yorkers that the racial profiling data isn’t influenced by the racist mindset of officers who are not at the lowest ranks but at the supervisory levels as well.
”Apart from the need for a vigorous investigation by the NYPD Internal Affairs Department there must be a revamping of the training provided to the cops, he said.Perry was quick to say that not all officers were racists. Far from it, he insisted. But what worried him was the large number of officers who expressed such racist thoughts.New York City Public Advocate Bill De Blasio was equally vociferous in his condemnation and call for an investigation.“No one can consider himself a public servant who thinks and speaks this way,” De Blasio said in a statement. “The officers who have allegedly made these derogatory remarks directed at African-Americans and West Indian New Yorkers are an embarrassment to the NYPD and its maxim of courtesy, professionalism and respect.
I urge Commissioner Kelly and the Internal Affairs Bureau to immediately investigate. If these allegations are substantiated the officers involved must face the strongest discipline.”New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who was manhandled and detained by cops at the same parade in September and was subsequently shown to have done nothing wrong to merit such treatment said that the Facebook pages and bigotry displayed by officers put much of the blame on the NYPD itself for the way it “codifies” the racist behavior of cops.“An agency like the Police Department should not be a vehicle to enable people to express those beliefs, “said Williams. “It codifies procedures like ‘stop and frisk’ which allowed me and an aide to the Public Advocate to get arrested at the West Indian Day parade, simply because of how we looked. If the Police Department wasn’t codifying it in this way, it wouldn’t matter what the police officers think.
It would be abhorrent and disgusting but the matter should be addressed.”Councilmember Dr. Mathieu Eugene describes the language used on Facebook as “offensive, disrespectful and insulting all people from the Caribbean who believe in human dignity and respect. Police officers have a duty to protect our public safety, but also a responsibility to treat all people with respect. These remarks were not only offensive, but also undermine the noble spirit of being New Yorkers: respecting the diversity of others regardless of their religious racial or ethnic background.”As he saw it, the incident left outraged.
After all, “the West Indian parade is one of the greatest parades in Brooklyn and across the city, where hundreds of thousands of people from every Caribbean nation come together to celebrate their culture and heritage.”Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, also condemned the Facebook “postings” that were “disparaging to Brooklyn’s Caribbean-American community.”“The offensive and racial language used in these online posts is reprehensible, and if proven that NYPD officers engaged in the totally inappropriate behavior against Caribbean American community, they should be disciplined to the fullest extent possible,” Markowitz insisted. “It’s important to remember that most of the men and women in blue serve our city with distinction, honor and respect and that this appears to be a case of a few bad apples. But there cannot be tolerance of intolerance in our diverse borough and City. If you are a police officer who can’t’ respect the community you serve, then you should not be serving at all.”New York State Senator Eric Adams, a former police officer who succeeded Markowitz in the upper chamber in Albany, said that if the allegations were “accurate, they are most disturbing.
We expect a complete and thorough investigation by the NYPD and upon competition, if any officer is found to be guilty of breaking any departmental policies, the officer must receive the maximum penalty permissible.”A prominent Brooklyn Church Leader, Bishop Cecil Riley, Pastor of the Freedom Hall Church if God, said that West Indians and African-Americans have been complaining for years about the treatment at the hands of police officers and if there was any doubt, the hard evidence on Facebook supported their complaints and their case.“How can a police officer even think of bombing an entire community,” said the Bishop who leads churches in Brooklyn, Florida. Jamaica and St. Vincent. “I feel for the many go officers who serve our community but the Police Commissioner must get rid of those officers who are contemptuous of certain people in our communities.”The Very Rev. Eddie Alleyne, Rural Episcopal Dean in Brooklyn and Rector of St. Gabriel’s Church, aid that the entire episode left him in s state of shock.“I have worked with many officers and I never saw that kind of contemptuous behavior,” said Dean Alleyne, himself a West Indian. “When a group of Episcopal priests meet this week in Brooklyn we are going to consider what steps must be taken. It’s shocking, disturbing and outrageous.”