Protestors Denounce Dismissal of Indictment in Ramarley Graham Case

Voices of Protest from the Bronx

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Over 150 people rallied and marched on Saturday, May 18, to protest the outrageous decision of a judge to throw out the indictment of Richard Haste, the cop who murdered 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in February 2012.

The rally was called for and led by Ramarley's parents. Speakers and participants included families of victims of police murder, activists, and many people from the Wakefield community in the New York City borough of the Bronx, where Ramarley lived and was murdered. A correspondent for Revolution heard the speeches and interviewed people about why they were there.

A spirit of anger, infused with sorrow and determination, had brought people out. Many were youth, including two who had been with Ramarley only minutes before he was murdered. Many others were women with kids of their own. Over and over again, women spoke about how their hearts went out to the parents, how they couldn't even imagine the pain of burying a child killed coldly at the start of his life. But over and over they also said that what happened to Ramarley happens all the time, spoke of other cases of police murder, of their own sons harassed, beaten, or unjustly jailed, and of their sense that "if this cop walks free, this will happen again, it will happen more and more."

The rally was opened by Ramarley's mother, Constance Malcolm, who welcomed everyone and then played a beautiful song about Ramarley and the fight for justice that had been sent to them from the family's homeland of Jamaica—"Ramarley, you're gone too soon.... The people are crying... Let Justice take its course." Then she took the mic again and talked about the need for people to "pick a side," to stand with the people against police brutality. She made the sharp point that the Central Park Five (five innocent Black and Latino youth convicted in a lynch-mob atmosphere of a brutal crime in the 1980s) spent many years in prison, but that the murdering cop Richard Haste is yet to spend a day in jail.

Many more people spoke, including family members of other victims of police murder—Natasha Duncan, the sister of Shantel Davis, 23 when killed by police in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Carol Gray, mother of 17-year-old Kimani Gray, killed in the same neighborhood. Each of these women spoke in grief and anger not only for their own loved one, but also speaking of the other murdered youth as though they were their own family, and calling out what is being done to so many Black and Hispanic youth across the U.S.

Carol Gray spoke about how the police tried to vilify Kimani after they murdered him, calling him a "gang-banger" and a criminal, when he was going to school every day trying to make something of his life. And she added: "They are putting white supremacists on patrol in our neighborhoods. They don't know the value of Black youth. These kids have nothing to do, there are no programs for them, no facilities. And ok, they wear their pants hanging down—look, we don't tell other people how to dress! How they dress doesn't make them killers, it doesn't make them criminals. They are human beings."

More people spoke to the outrages of the police—one woman described calling the police to her house when she was attacked in her home, and then being taken in handcuffs by the police, along with her two sons, while her 7-year-old grandson was left home alone for hours. Others addressed that this has been going on for decades, and the police are almost never punished.

Noche Diaz from the New York City Revolution Club spoke to the fact that there is tremendous anger among the people, and that the only way to get any justice is to tap into that anger of people "living under the boot of this new Jim Crow" and bring people into the streets. And he expressed determination to be in the forefront of that struggle.

Frank Graham, Ramarley's father, spoke to the fact that many people have sought to undercut the struggle against police brutality by denouncing "outsiders" who take part in it—Frank noted that there was a lot of this at the height of the struggle in Brooklyn against the murder of Kimani Gray. He said: "When I hear these people talk about 'outsiders' in the struggle against injustice, I say to them 'Where—Are—You?'"

Then people took to the streets—by voice vote it was decided to march in the street down a major avenue, and the police apparently decided that it would be in the best interests of the system not to try and stop it. Marching slowly, loudly chanting "No Justice, No Peace," with huge banners portraying Ramarley, and with many people holding up Revolution newspaper or posters made from its front page, the march attracted tremendous attention and support. As lines of cars went by in the opposing lane people honked loudly in support and rolled down their windows to get literature.

People in houses along the way came out on their porches and voiced their support. Nearly everyone knew about the case and was angry about the indictment being thrown out and again, many, many people spoke to injustices perpetuated against themselves or their kids. One woman described how her son, 16 at the time, had been locked up for a while on a boat that the New York City detention system uses for "overflow" from their crowded jails. She described visiting him on the boat, how it was crowded and so cold his fingers turned blue, and how he said to her that in these conditions, and listening to the clanking of the ship's engines like rattling chains in the night, "he could only imagine what it was like for the slaves in the pits of the slave ships" in past times.

Finally the march reached the 42nd Precinct, home of the killer cops, where people again spoke bitterness at the criminal behavior of the police.

Along with the profound outrage being expressed by everyone there, different views on why this keeps happening, where all this comes from and what needs to be done were in the mix. There was a recognition that the problem is very widespread and that the system is not working. There were calls to pressure politicians and officials to "do their jobs," or put new, better people in office.

In this context, Jamel from the Revolution Club spoke, calling people to come to the May 20 dialogue between Cornel West and Carl Dix, to act now to take the mass struggle against the system's slow genocide against Black and Latino youth to a whole new level. And he emphasized that it would take revolution, nothing less, to put an end to this.

The rally ended with determination to continue the struggle for Ramarley and the spirit of doing that as part of the larger struggle against the criminalization and murder of our youth.

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