COMMENTARY: I have been very quiet about the Kimani Gray murder, who was shot to death by plainclothes police officers last Saturday night in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, because I wanted to get a real sense of what transpired before taking a position. Police claim they shot him after he pointed a loaded .38 caliber gun at them. The gun reportedly had four bullets in the chamber, the NY Times reports. We all know the NYPD has had a contentious relationship with the black community, specifically black men, in New York City for decades. It has now been revealed that the teen was shot in the back, as the fights between angry teens and police officers continued for a third night. There are reports that 46 were arrested Wednesday night, mostly for disorderly conduct. Police claim they approached Gray because he was adjusting his waist suspiciously. Um, would they have stopped a white teen if they noticed him doing the same thing?
Herein lies the problem with the riots — if you are protesting the murder of a teen by the police, why do you have to engage in rioting as well? I wish some of our young people would take a lesson from the civil rights movement in which non-violence was chosen over violence. A time when the black protesters weren’t the aggressors but the racist establishment — white cops and white onlookers. They fail to realize that they jeopardizing their own economic well-being by rioting and looting in their communities. There are reports that local businesses have been damaged, a Rite-Aid store was ransacked and a bystander’s cell phone was stolen. Was this really necessary to protest the controversial death of Kimani Gray?
The NY Daily News reports, many in the community are disputing allegations by the cops that Kimani Gray, 16, pointed a gun at the officers. The autopsy report revealed that the teen was hit by seven bullets, three to the back, but it’s not clear in what order those shots hit him or whether he had his back to police when they opened fire. The : The New York Post reports, that though the NYPD hasn’t identified the police officers involved, “It emerged that the two cops who fired at Gray, who was black, are both minorities. One, a sergeant is a dark-skinned Egyptian who identifies himself as black. He fired four times. The other, a Hispanic officer, fired seven times.”
A witness said she didn’t see him point a gun at the officer, another said she couldn’t see quite clearly from her vantage point and a relative reportedly told police Kimani Gray tried to tell officers he had a gun on him because he was holding it for someone. The latter statement bolsters the officers’ claim that the teenager had a gun, but the question is did he really point it at them? I might also add that the alleged explanation by Kimani Gray’s cousin is pretty lame. We all know the real deal, he wasn’t holding the gun for a friend. It was his. In fact, Gray was also in the company of other teens. Did they see him point the gun at the officers or are they in ‘no-snitch’ mode? Is hurling bricks at officers, calling the police KKK and rioting really the solution to the issue of police brutality?
The rioting and violence obscures the fact that black masculinity is problematic in predominantly black areas of New York City. We have instance after instance of police brutality and heavy-handedness towards black males — Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham and many others, some nameless and faceless. The unruly mob that wreaked havoc in East Flatbush, a crime-ridden area, is just feeding that troubling view of black males — aggressive and prone to violence. Some are using the protests as a reason to riot and act wild. When will the community of East Flatbush rise up against black-on-black crime with the same intensity as this? Why only go after the police officers? Go after the criminals walking around in their midst making their lives a living hell.
In closing, there are reports that a source told the Post that a “Bloods offshoot, the Outlaws, ordered a hit on any city cop in retaliation for Gray’s death.” The source also reportedly said, “They [police] have intelligence that they [the gang members] put a hit out on a cop. They want a life for a life.” It is believed that Kimani Gray, who had a rap sheet, was a member of the Bloods gang.