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Updated, Wednesday, March 13: On Tuesday night, East Flatbush saw a second night under police lockdown as scores of riot and beat cops surrounded a small follow up march against NYPD brutality.
During a City Council hearing earlier that day Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, “There’s nothing to indicate that [Kimani Gray's] shooting, at this time, was outside the guidelines.”
Councilman Jumaane Williams, whose district includes East Flatbush, responded to the police chief that the demonstrations on Monday night were not just about Gray’s death, but about years of frustration with police.”People are angry,” he said according to NY1. “I feel it. I hear it. I know it. And it sucks when you are trying to tell the people who can actually do something about it, and they’re refusing to listen.”
Original post: There was a debate on Twitter Monday night as to whether a riot or a protest was going on in Brooklyn. Although questions of when an event gets labeled a “riot” or a “protest” are interesting (is race a factor? window-breaking? the presence of riot cops?), there are no determinate answers, and what’s more important, and certain, is this: Anger at the NYPD following the fatal shooting of another teenager is once again boiling over and manifesting in New York’s streets.
On Saturday night undercover cops in Brooklyn shot dead 16-year-old Kimani Gray. According to the cops, the teen pointed a gun at them. According to Gray’s friend with him at the time, the cops “jumped out of the car so fast … They started shooting him and he went down.” Another friend who witnessed the incident told the New York Post, “He was running for his life, telling the cops, ‘Stop.’” Reports vary as to how many police bullets hit Gray — between six and 11. The 16-year-old didn’t fire any shots. On Monday night, nearly 100 people gathered for a vigil to commemorate the teenager.
The vigil became a scene of unrest as attendees marched toward the NYPD’s 67th Precinct, with reports of bottles thrown at police, upended garbage cans and smashed store windows. According to reports, a portion of the crowd looted a local Rite Aid, assaulting a customer. Dozens of police in riot gear moved in and surrounded the area.
“They’re acting rowdy and calling us racist,” a police officer present told the New York Daily News.
NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams, known for speaking out against racist stop-and-frisk police practices, arrived at the scene. He tweeted:
I'm in the middle of the riot action at Church and Snyder in my district. Right now, things are tense. Young people have expressed anger.— Jumaane D. Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) March 12, 2013
Journalist Ryan Devereaux caught the tail end of the action and spoke to members of the crowd and onlookers. One woman compared Gray’s shooting to the killing of Ramarley Graham last year.
Speaker on the corner. "My son could've been Kimani Gray...my son could've been Ramarley Graham." pic.twitter.com/YqTsjJN2xr— Ryan Devereaux (@rdevro) March 12, 2013
Graham, 18, was shot to death by police who had chased him into his grandmother’s Bronx apartment. Angry marches against NYPD abuses followed his death too.
Another vigil for Gray, combined with a broader protest against police brutality, has been called for the same East Flatbush venue Tuesday night. “The killing has to stop. Enough is Enough!” the Facebook event invitation reads.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org.More Natasha Lennard.