One can look back, down through the ages of American history, and get a comprehensive peek into the wholesale killing of people of color, but let’s focus on the tragedies that have taken place in more recent history.
In 1997, Abner Louima broke up a fight between two women at a night club. The police were called, and there was a struggle outside the club. One of the officers was “sucker-punched” and he identified Louima as the attacker. The policemen beat him on the way to the station, as well as after they arrived at the station, and later sodomized him with a broom handle. Subsequently, the officer said he was mistaken in claiming that Louima was the one who hit him.
The name Amadou Diallo invokes an onslaught of feelings: anger, disbelief, and most likely, fear. In 1999, he was killed on his doorstep by New York undercover policemen, who claimed that Diallo looked like a rape suspect, for whom they had been searching. Diallo reached for his wallet, and the policemen responded with a hail of forty-one (41) bullets (19 bullets hitting Diallo), taking away the life of an innocent man.
In 1999, Sean Bell and friends were leaving his bachelor party, when confronted by a team of undercover policemen. The policemen said that they thought he was reaching for a gun. Five (5) officers fired fifty (50) bullets into Bell’s car, injuring two (2) passengers, and killing Sean Bell. One of the officers emptied his gun, and then reloaded, firing a total of thirty-one (31) times. No gun was ever found in the vehicle, and it was later determined that the plain-clothed officers never identified themselves as policemen, sparking Bell and friends to believe they were being car-jacked.
Those were just three of the most prominent cases of that time, but the list goes on and on. In Abner Louima’s case, one officer was convicted and is currently serving a thirty (30) year sentence, due to be released in 2025, and another officer was sentenced to five (5) years. In the cases of Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell:
all of the officers involved were found not guilty!
In part two, we will look at the inequities of police action against people of color versus police action against those who are not people of color. We hope that you will join us.
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