Dorismond funeral no sanctuary from police
New York--We just returned from the funeral of Patrick Dorismond. The
Haitian and Caribbean communities came out by the thousands in an emotional
procession, accompanying the casket down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn from
the funeral home to the church. The night before, there were 2,000 outside
the funeral home in a vigil and protest.
Today's march was angry. The organizers had told the police to stay away,
that the people were in no mood to see a police presence. The city partly
complied, sending mostly community affairs cops and supervisors. The riot
squads, the horses and paddy wagons were kept hidden several streets away.
Still the marchers were incensed at what police presence there was there,
saying "What are they doing here? Get out of here! Murderers!"
The march filled Flatbush from sidewalk to sidewalk. Hundreds who lined the
avenue all morning, waiting for the procession, joined in, the sidewalks
moving along with the street as one.
BARRICADES TORN DOWN
When we got to Church Avenue, two blocks from the church, we found the
police had set up their damn cattle pens, their steel barricades, right
down the middle of Church and along the sidewalk. They were going to pen
this wall-to-wall tide of marchers into a twenty-foot-wide corral! Tempers
exploded, and the hated barricades were soon tossed back, knocked down,
thrown against the cops after some shoving.
The cops were no match. The marchers joyfully took the whole street, with
all the barricades knocked down for the whole two blocks. I saw one cop on
the ground, holding his leg. I guess he got hit by his own barricade. Some
women from Barbados were laughing later, saying it was good to see the cops
scared for a change, that they were stupid to even try to pen-in such a
The cops got their vengeance. They waited till the funeral was over, the
family and casket gone. Then the community affairs cops withdrew and riot
police were brought in, a provocation that made everybody very angry. They
were saying, "We're doing nothing here. We are just in front of the church.
They say we have to clear the street. Why? They don't do this in other
neighborhoods. Why do we have to leave?"
Then there was a police riot. They attacked, hitting anyone they could. The
crowd answered with bottles, and the cops arrested the first 29 people they
could grab. It didn't matter if you were doing nothing, the cops grabbed
you. The arrested included a reporter for WBAI who was in the middle of an
interview when he was savagely beaten by the cops, and a young pregnant
woman of 16.
This is not over. Tomorrow there will be a mass meeting at a church in
Brooklyn, called by those who also organized this march, the Haitian
Coalition for Justice. They have "launched a rache monyok campaign to force
Mayor Giuliani's immediate removal from office. RACHE MANYOK means to pull
out by the roots in the Creole language."
They are not calling for Federal oversight or take-over of the NYPD (New
York Police Department), unlike Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and I
guess the Black middle class who want a solution within the present system.
They are counterposing RACHE MANYOK to that, and calling for community
control of the police, not Federal control.
A speaker also said the Haitian community is sick of the hypocrisy of
having the NYPD over in Haiti training the police force on how to respect
human rights while they are here killing us. And in Haiti the police are
now repressing people and using violence too.
HOW DO WE 'RACHE MANYOK'?
Apart from a couple of reporters for National Public Radio and WBAI, I was
the only person of the Caucasian persuasion, or pink, that I saw at this
march except for a handful of leftists. A Colombian woman was angry at the
lack of Latinos whom she felt should have been there since people in
today's march were there for Anthony Baez who was killed by police in the
Bronx several years ago.
I felt this was more of a community thing, and we were in the heart of the
Haitian and Caribbean community. Of course, I would have loved to see more
New Yorkers of every color there, but I think this funeral was seen as the
community's, and the others not coming is not a judgment. The protest on
Saturday, March 18, after the killing of Dorismond the previous Thursday,
was, like the Diallo verdict protest, of many colors.
How do we RACHE MANYOK? How do we at least get to where a Haitian mother I
was speaking to, as we waited for the procession, who felt these events
"are all very sad," how do we get to where she doesn't literally fear for
the life of her 14-year-old son at the hands of the police, every single
morning when he goes to school? She tells me she leaves it in god's hands.
We are god's hands. The point is, it is a very very different reality to be
Black in New York and the U.S.A.
Mayor Giuliani says we can't complain this time because the cops that did
the shooting were "Hispanic." Well there's Latino and there's Latino. I'd
like to see a picture of the cops because there's the color line. Latinos
are of many colors, and as that Colombian woman said, there's plenty of
racism amongst Latinos too.
We have to keep moving since this police terror is only getting worse. And
we have to take care we don't focus so much on the person, Giuliani, that
they trick us and give us Giulianism without Giuliani.
-John Marcotte, March 25