DOJ Says Police Murder of Ramarley Graham Didn't Violate His Civil Rights!

Ramarley Graham

March 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


On March 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice announced there would be no federal civil rights charges filed against the NYPD cop that killed Ramarley Graham in his home in the Bronx, NYC, in February 2012.

On February 2, 2012, a security camera recorded Ramarley, an 18-year-old Black man, walking up the stoop of his home, unlocking the door and going inside. A moment later the video shows a plainclothes pig named Richard Haste running up the stoop and trying to break down the door. He and another cop, by their story, couldn’t break down the front door so they went around and broke in through the back door. Haste went up the stairs, cornered Ramarley in the bathroom and shot him in the chest at close range. According to these pigs, the whole encounter started because Ramarley had “adjusted his waistband” while outside. Ramarley was unarmed.

The nightmare did not end there. Ramarley’s grandmother, Patricia Hartley, was home when this happened. After murdering her grandson, the police and the Bronx DA held her for over five hours and interrogated her. Ramarley's six-year-old brother, Chinoor, was also present when Ramarley was killed. And the ruling class’s media lied about what happened to justify the murder.

Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?

"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" is a clip from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. The film is of the November 2014 historic Dialogue on a question of great importance in today's world between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Bob Avakian. Watch the entire film here.

All this might have been just another one of those outrageous police murders, quickly swept under the rug. But this time hundreds of people, mainly Black youth, righteously took to the streets and called this out, joined by others including the NYC Revolution Club, and Ramarley’s family refused to roll over and accept this. In the face of that, the Bronx DA brought charges against Haste. In 2013 a judge threw out the manslaughter indictment citing a technicality, and no further charges were brought. Outside the court, Haste’s fellow pigs turned out to support him, and applauded him.

And now the Department of Justice says none of this violated Ramarley Graham’s civil rights!

Ramarley’s mother, Constance Malcolm, said after this week’s announcement that it “doesn’t seem like our kids’ life matters... Time and time again, you see it over and over, this officer walks free, they get a pay raise, they get a promotion and nothing has been done to them. This is sending the wrong message. Even in your own home, you’re not even safe anymore.”

Our kids lives do not matter to this system. It is revealing and damning how the DOJ justified not bringing civil rights charges against the police who killed Ramarley Graham. They announced: “To prove a violation of the federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.”

If breaking into someone’s home and shooting them like they did to Ramarley Graham does not “willfully deprive an individual of a constitutional right,” what does?! The DOJ could have prosecuted this as a civil rights case but did not. Here’s the real situation: the whole way these civil rights laws are set up and used essentially puts a stamp of approval on police murder—the normal, day to day operation of the police as enforcers for a system of exploitation and oppression is not considered a violation of a young Black man’s civil rights because that police terror and murder is not “something the law forbids.”

A system that considers the reign of terror and murder against Black and Latino youth to be perfectly legal and—in case after case—not even a violation of their civil rights, is a criminal system.




Protest in the Bronx demanding justice for Ramarley Graham, May 2013. Photo:


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