Bronx Council Member Blames Racial Profiling for Killing of Ramarley Graham—What About the War on Drugs?

shot by copfamily photoBronx City Council member Andy King released a statement Monday on the February 2012 NYPD shooting of Ramarley Graham, via NewsOne:  

Ramarley Graham’s death was a tragedy which shook the members of my community and left us with heavy hearts. The subsequent struggle to obtain justice in this case has only served to add feelings of confusion and indignation. The recent not-guilty ruling on the George Zimmerman case has sparked similar feelings across the nation and both cases highlight a pattern of racial profiling and a failure of the system to hold accountable those who murder our young men of color.

Yes, the new grand jury convened for the Ramarley Graham case is an important victory, but in 2013 we should not have to plead for justice in a legal system that is already tasked with protecting us from discrimination and racial profiling. We will have to remain focused and committed as we work to break down this system of indifference towards the injustices we find ourselves facing nationwide.”

Richard Haste, the officer who shot Graham was indicted for manslaughter, but that indictment was thrown out earlier this year because the grand jury wasn’t told other cops told Haste that Graham had a gun. The DA intends to refile.

Curiously missing from the councilman’s statement was the war on drugs’ role in Graham’s death. Police decided to pursue Graham because they say they saw him engage in a hand-to-hand drug deal. He was allegedly trying to flush a dime bag of marijuana down the toilet when he was shot. A minor drug deal is apparently enough for the NYPD to pursue a suspect. We called Councilman King to ask for a clarification. Here’s our exchange:

Reason: Your statement on Ramarley Graham focused on the racial profiling component. What role did the war on drugs play, and, specifically, the NYPD targeting hand-to-hand drug deals as a matter of course?

Councilman Andy King: That’s an interesting question… drugs are prevalent in our community. What kind of impact it had here only the NYPD can reveal… I do know the area under surveillance has had a history of potential drug activity. Whether Ramarley Graham was involved in that or not still doesn’t justify the steps that were taken by the officer on the day of this tragic incident. Profiling exists, and we cannot deny our history, we cannot deny what we go through in this country…  even if someone might’ve indulged in any behavior in the past. According to how I understand it there were drug officers who were surveilling the area. And as much as whatever activity, whether profiling or drug use or non-drug use, I think that if we look at this in a different community, not of color, I think Officer Haste would’ve taken a different approach. I love America, I love the place that I live in, but I do understand the history. This country has a large energy of racism, of discrimination, of bigotry, so until we actually sit and have a conversation about how we interact with each other, or how NYPD or law enforcement or the justice system treats us, but this needs to happen soon, before there’s a situation that we can’t bounce back from.

Reason: Does the war on drugs, and the way it’s prosecuted by the NYPD, make racial profiling easier for police to get away with?

King: I would probably have to agree with the statement that you just made…  there’s a war on drugs, and then I want to ask you the question, is there really a war on drugs? We’ve been having these conversations since Nancy Reagan said just say no, and the government has had its hands in the mix of preventing illegal drug use coming in and out of our community, so why is it still today, 30 years later, at the same place? So I ask the question, is there really a war on drugs?  But how come you never have these episodes ever happen outside of communities of color with police going too far… Police wouldn’t do this anyplace else.  So of course we can talk about the war on drugs, that’s been part of the, I don’t want to say confusion, but part of the issue… Profiling is necessary to solve crimes, but to racially profile is to go from one to ten based only on race.

Reason: If the NYPD were to counteract accusations of racial profiling by targeting more young white males suspected of making illegal drug purchases, would that lend their activities in the community more credence?

King: If the scale is equal, of course. Because they’re doing something wrong… for us to act like there’s no drug use in the white community, we’re fooling ourselves. There’s coke heads on Wall Street. In communities of color we’re constantly hearing about the mistakes, but you never hear about crime in the white communities, with police saying oops. So why do we have it now and always in communities of color? It’s unfair to target just young men of color.

Reason: In your opinion, what’s the best way to limit hostile interactions between the NYPD and youth involved in non-violent but possibly criminal activity?

King: That’s what the Community Safety Act is asking the police to do, you take a policy like stop, question, and frisk, when you eliminate the questioning you violate your own rules, that’s the problem. Real policing in all communities involves questioning, finding proper intel, and being fair when you go out into the communities. If you’re telling me in a black community, if you’re throwing people who are doing good in the same pot as the people doing bad, you’re just muddling any relationship you could’ve built with the people who were doing right. Ten percent of the people do the crimes, and they take up ninety percent of the police’s time, treating the ninety percent like the ten percent who commit crimes is ineffective policing and makes the police officer’s job that much more difficult, and it also puts a strain on police and community trust. So to double back, how does the NYPD do safe policing? Policing with integrity and with respect,  that means if you know you have a criminal that’s not violent there’s a certain way you do your policing work and still treat them like a human…  But if you treat everyone like a criminal, the 14-year-old, the 19-year-old…  how do you expect for them to help you with the policing? They know whose moving in their community and who’s doing what, but you just killed that relationship.

Reason: What’s your take on Ray Kelly being floated as a potential nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security?

King: That’s a decision the president has to make, stand by, and I believe in whatever my president believes is best for our country, so I have no qualms about who he picks.

Reason: Even given the history of racial profiling?

King: Again, I elected the president because I trust him to make the right decisions for our country.

The Community Safety Act, as well as another bill that would’ve set up an inspector-general for the NYPD, was vetoed by Mayor Bloomberg yesterday, while Ray Kelly defended stop and frisk on MSNBC, dismissing the “notion anyone stopped has done absolutely nothing wrong.”

Related reading: Jacob Sullum on Ray Kelly, racial profiling, and the president’s prerogative

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  • anon||

    His real crime was being black!

    /tony

  • anon||

    King: That’s a decision the president has to make, stand by, and I believe in whatever my president believes is best for our country, so I have no qualms about who he picks.

    No fucking wonder they can't comprehend the concept of individual liberty.

  • ||

    Was he bent over when he said that?

  • Rhywun||

    "Maybe people don't deserve to be killed for a dime bag mumble mumble... RACE!!"

    I am frankly so tired of this "conversation".

    "how come you never have these episodes ever happen outside of communities of color with police going too far"

    You sir, are an idiot.

  • thom||

    "Conversation" is a leftist code word for "do what we want."

  • Rhywun||

    It's almost like he's trying to deflect criticism of the war or drugs or something.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "Conversation" is an invitation for politically correct intellectuals to write politically correct articles in NYT, WaPo, etc. and for talking heads to appear on CNNMsnbcABCnbcCBSetc to spout politically correct talking points and for political elites to reiterate Dear Leader's pontifications.

  • WTF||

    "how come you never have these episodes ever happen outside of communities of color with police going too far"

    Kelly Thomas was unavailable for comment.

  • UnCivilServant||

    So, you never actually got any answers out of him?

  • MOFO.||

    The president released a statement this morning saying that if he had a son, he would not look like Ramarley Graham, so no need to worry about this one.

  • Jordan||

    However, Graham was an honorary member of the Choom Gang.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Ramarley Graham’s death was a tragedy

    ...Cleveland Browns...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If the cops had chased a white kid into his bathroom and gunned him down, it would only have happened because he deserved it.

  • WTF||

    No, it would have been indicative of profiling of white teenagers, as further evidenced by the acquittal of Roderick Scott in the murder of a white teenager.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    He was allegedly trying to flush a dime bag of marijuana down the toilet when he was shot. A minor drug deal is apparently enough for the NYPD to pursue a suspect.

    Well, if Kern County Sheriff's Deputies can shoot and kill a man because he wasn't doing anything wrong other than being insufficiently deferential, this is definitely a GOOD SHOOT.

  • WTF||

    Totality of the circs, furtive movement, cops gotta go home at night, due process, looks like a good shoot.
    hth

  • Rhywun||

    Needs moar powerlifting.

  • ||

    IT'S OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING YOU BIGORATI TROLL!

  • Rhywun||

    IT'S OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING YOU BIGORATI TROLL!

    Smooches.

  • Andrew S.||

    Reason: What’s your take on Ray Kelly being floated as a potential nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security?

    King: That’s a decision the president has to make, stand by, and I believe in whatever my president believes is best for our country, so I have no qualms about who he picks.

    Reason: Even given the history of racial profiling?

    King: Again, I elected the president because I trust him to make the right decisions for our country.

    ...yeah. Seriously. It's hard for me to believe people think like that, but there it is in black and white.

    Is it to early to start drinking?

  • Loki||

    there it is in black and white.

    RACIST!!!111!!!1

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I wonder who be voted for in the last mayoral election.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Councilman Andy King is a fucking moron. Why am I not surprised?

  • JD the elder||

    Because it's the NYC City Council. Being a moron isn't absolutely required to get elected to the City Council, but it helps.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Most of the reason the police do so many drug busts in the black community is because the dealing is going on where it's easily seen.

    If you're going to have a quota system, which the NYPD obviously does since Ray Kelly admitted it, you are essentially telling the officers to go after the low hanging fruit. When are the black leaders going to rail against the quota system?

    the government has had its hands in the mix of preventing illegal drug use coming in and out of our community, so why is it still today, 30 years later, at the same place?

    Does this idiot think that busting more white communities for drug activity is going to REDUCE the illegal drug use in his black community?

    It's the black leaders who have raised the biggest stink about drug use - which means they WANT the police to focus on their communities. The biggest stink WHITE leaders have made about drug use is about drug use in BLACK communities - those assholes should be ignored. But if the black leaders weren't so gung ho on the drug war, there would be much less of one.

  • Killazontherun||

    Without the drug busts and the concentration of police action in his community there would be little for the council man to complain about coming from outside of the black community itself. Without the grievance, well, what use would anyone have for him?

  • Invisible Finger||

    It must be the community sees him failing so much they want to give him an endless series of chances until he actually succeeds.

  • creech||

    Are the usual celebrity suspects selling their Manhattan properties and vowing to never play New York again?

  • Paul.||

    But how come you never have these episodes ever happen outside of communities of color with police going too far…

    *ding*ding*ding*ding*ding*

    You do... you do every single day. No, they're very likely not as prevalent as they are in "communities of color" but they do happen, and abso-fucking-lutely no one pays attention to them because then it's just another justified shooting in a church parking lot, or a garden store parking lot.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Yep. The MSM won't bother to report anything unless it smacks of racism or classism.

  • Paul.||

    Reason: If the NYPD were to counteract accusations of racial profiling by targeting more young white males suspected of making illegal drug purchases, would that lend their activities in the community more credence?

    King: If the scale is equal, of course.

    Fuck this guy. Fuck him sideways. He's part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "The recent not-guilty ruling on the George Zimmerman case has sparked similar feelings across the nation and both cases highlight a pattern of racial profiling and a failure of the system" etc.

    Yeah, that enhances his credibility.

  • Acosmist||

    Noticing patterns is not morally wrong.

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