Revolution #193, February 21, 2010
"In a country where torture has been legitimized..."
The NYPD Beating and Rape of Michael Mineo
The trial of three New York cops charged in relation to the brutal beating and rape of Michael Mineo is expected to go to the jurors the week of February 15.
The trial has been intense. When defense attorneys attempted repeatedly during cross-examination to smear and intimidate Mineo and question his credibility, he refused to back down, in the same way that he has stood defiant during the 16 months since the police raped him. When a defense lawyer asked Mineo why he had spoken to the media if, as he testified, he had been embarrassed by the incident, Mineo replied it was because he refused to let the rape be "sweeped under the carpet, like everything else the police do."
Here's what the NYPD and its legal retainers have been trying to sweep under the carpet: On October 15, 2008, 24-year-old Michael Mineo was on his way to work at a Brooklyn tattoo parlor, smoking a pot-laced cigar stub. When cops approached him, he swallowed the "clip" and, as things escalated and arrest seemed imminent, Michael Mineo, in part because he was on probation, ran for it, down into a nearby subway station. There, he was cornered, tackled, beaten and handcuffed while face down by several cops. Then, Mineo testified, while one cop held his shoulders and another his feet, a third pulled down his pants.
Mineo continued, "I felt a hard object being forced into my crack. It was pain. I was disoriented. I saw a white light.... It was one, two, three, then it stopped for a second, then I felt it go in, penetrate." The penetrating object was a retractable baton wielded by one of the cops, Richard Kern, who has been charged with felony aggravated assault and faces up to 30 years in jail.
Moments after the attack, Mineo asked the cops if they had put something in his rectum. "You liked it, you fa**t" said another of the indicted cops, Alex Cruz. When Mineo reached his handcuffed hands down under his boxer shorts, he found blood, which he showed to the cops. Shortly after, they offered Mineo a deal—along with a threat. "Look, you help me out, I help you out," Mineo said Kern told him. "If we let you go, you can't go to a precinct or a hospital. But if you do, we have your address. We'll put a felony on you."
But Mineo would not be bribed into silence. A friend took him to Brookdale Hospital, where he spent four days in excruciating pain and began to speak out. On his first day there, the hospital called the Brooklyn DA's office and said a patient appeared to have been sodomized by the police.
As word began to get out via the media, NYPD brass claimed civilian witnesses at the scene did not support Mineo's contention he had been raped. But that was a lie, as has been made clear at the trial, where witnesses testified they saw Mineo held down, his pants lowered, and heard him scream that he was being violated.
Further, one cop at the scene has come forward, breaking the infamous "blue wall of silence," to corroborate civilian witnesses' testimony. Transit Bureau officer Ken Maloney testified he watched as Richard Kern jabbed a baton between Michael Mineo's buttocks, and heard Mineo moan and complain that someone had shoved a walkie-talkie inside him. Maloney also said he saw blood on Mineo's hand. At the time of the incident, Maloney didn't try to stop the cops from raping Mineo or try to help him. Maloney said he eventually came forward because he thought the police investigation was focusing on the wrong cop, Cruz, and not on the cop who used the baton, Kern. Whatever Maloney's motives might have been, the fact remains that his testimony, along with that of civilian witnesses, is highly damaging.
Faced with this evidence and more—including a DNA expert's testimony that blood found on Kern's baton could very well be Michael Mineo's—defense attorneys have tried to turn the tables by focusing on Mineo's substantial rap sheet and membership in the Crips gang. They have also portrayed him as an opportunist whose real interest is in the civil lawsuit he has filed against the city, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. "This is your payday, isn't it?" one defense lawyer asked. Michael Mineo replied: "Even if they gave me a billion dollars, it wouldn't make up for what they did to me."
But the existence of a mountain of evidence against the three cops in no way guarantees justice will be served. In 2006, there was a mountain of evidence against the cops who murdered an unarmed Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets. But those cops walked free. In 1999, an unarmed Amadou Diallo died in a hail of 41 bullets while reaching into his pocket to show his ID. But those cops walked free. As a reader of Revolution wrote to the newspaper shortly after the Michael Mineo rape had come to light, "the black-robed branch of the capitalist state has covered the tracks and set free the murderers-in-blue who they recognize as the front line defenders of their whole system." (Revolution online, December 29, 2008, at revcom.us)
As the reader also brought out: "Kern and his crew must have just assumed that in a city like this, in a country where torture of 'the bad guys' has been legitimized and made legal to the point where people barely talk about it anymore, that he could just stop hiding it altogether and carry out his crimes in the middle of a crowd.
"What this shows us is not the aberrant act of a deranged individual, but the increasingly virulent culture of brutality, rape, torture and murder that prevails among the enforcers of capitalist order, and their rational confidence that the courts will back them up no matter what they do. It shows us, in other words, the REALITY of state violence against the people, and the need to further tear the mask of legitimacy from these enforcers and the system they represent."
Even under this system's own laws, the penalty for having marijuana and/or running away is not RAPE. And this brutality on the part of the police should never be accepted. As the statement "The Revolution We Need... the Leadership We Have" from the Revolutionary Communist Party says so powerfully: "The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."
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