Updated: 2 hours 12 min ago
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 13:36
A few days before some 1.4 billion Muslims around the world gathered with their families to celebrate Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), American television personalities took it upon themselves to make hurtful and obtuse comments about me and the religion that I follow alongside nearly a quarter of the world's population. My mother shoved her iPad in front of me after dinner on Friday. "Look at what they're saying about us now," she said. "I thought this kind of stuff was over."
Once again, as the United States embarks on yet another war in the Middle East, mainstream news anchors have insisted on framing their discussions about Islam and Muslims as those about the religion's inherent and unique relationship to violence. It's a popular framing that renders hundreds of thousands of American Muslims into a suspect class of citizens. I am left asking myself the same question that W.E.B. Du Bois asked himself and other African-Americans in 1903: "How does it feel to be a problem?"
On the September 29 episode of "CNN Tonight," Don Lemon bluntly asked author Reza Aslan if Islam promoted violence, a question that would never be asked about any other religion or ethnic group. Also, co-host Alisyn Camerota perpetuated the myth that Muslim women uniquely suffer from genital mutilation and are unable to drive due to a "primitive" justice system. Then, in a follow-up installment on October 2, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo even went on to say that Aslan's tone might have further affirmed American fear of Islam and its "hostility."
And on the October 3 episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher," author Sam Harris confidently claimed that there were only four types of Muslims: violent jihadists, Islamists who work within the political system, conservative Muslims who hold "deeply troubling" views about women and homosexuals, and nominal Muslims "who don't take their religion very seriously." Maher went on to claim that Islam is "the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f**king kill you if you say the wrong thing." When an exasperated Ben Affleck criticized Harris and Maher for racist stereotyping, Maher retorted: "You're not listening to what we are saying."
I was listening. I was listening to an incessant ringing in my head. It was Bill Maher telling his viewers nationwide that I might one day snap and kill him for saying the wrong thing. And because he feels that way, Maher is one of those types of people who fit the definition of an Islamophobe. He is quite literally afraid of Muslims. He is afraid of me.
By their broad characterizations and hasty conclusions none of the four television hosts seemed interested in telling stories about the vast majority of Muslims who live in the United States and abroad. If they were, they might have encountered real stories about real Muslims living in the post-9/11 world. Instead, they rationalize their own fear-mongering by pushing a narrative about the dangerous person they perceive me to be. With their attempts at writing and disseminating their own version of me, Maher, Harris the anchors at CNN, and countless others take away the ability of Muslims to share their own stories. These are stories that must be told but are of little interest to the mainstream media.
On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was 10 years old and sitting in art class when my mother called the front desk and asked for me to wait in the office until she arrived. When she finally got there, she rushed me and my younger brother and sister into her minivan where I found the child she was babysitting laughing and jumping up and down in his car seat. I pressed my mother about why we were leaving school so early, but she refused to let us in on the secret and simply said we needed to go home.
When we reached the six-lane intersection directly in front of our house, we found three police officers blocking traffic heading toward Washington, D.C., and, in turn, blocking access to the street in front of our house. The police officer, a white man wearing black sunglasses, waved his arms and motioned my mother to turn her car onto the next street. She rolled down her window and explained that he was blocking the only street she could use to get home. "That's my house," she said as she pointed over the officer's head.
"Lady, you've got to move this way," the officer barked, his neck glistening with the sweat of a warm September morning.
"But look officer, my house is right there and I have all these kids in my car."
"You need to move right now."
"Sir, there's no way I can get these kids home without getting through to that street."
"I'm going to count to three and you're going to move. One..." The officer moved closer to the hood of the car and stared at my mother.
"You're not listening to what I am saying," my mother plead.
"Just do what he says, Mom," I let out.
"...Two," the officer said.
My mother lifted her foot off the brake. The officer shouted and raised his gun and pointed it at my mother. A scream left from my chest almost instinctively as I tried to hide myself by sinking myself lower into the seat. My younger brother and sister began to cry out. My mother swung the car toward the direction the officer wanted us to go and began driving away, her stony gaze set straight on the road ahead of her.
After maneuvering through some back streets, we finally arrived home and my mother went into the kitchen and told me to put on a movie to watch with my siblings. I gathered my younger brother and sister and the child my mother was babysitting in the other room, handing them each different toys to keep their hands occupied.
I wondered if my mother had a preference for what movie we picked, knowing that she didn't really like movies that weren't musicals or animated. Maybe we could watch "Pinocchio," I thought. I walked back to the kitchen and heard the water running. My mother stood with her hands clutching the sides of the sink, sobbing into the drain. I stood there and watched, not knowing what to say.
The police officers directed traffic for the next six hours. As we learned of what had happened in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, my mother felt that it wasn't right for them to stand out in the sun all day without eating and so she sent me out to offer some leftovers from the previous night's dinner and three bottles of soda. Later that evening, my mother organized a candlelight vigil in front of our house and invited all of our neighbors to take part in a moment of silence for all the people who died that morning.
Recently, my mother attended a community event regarding Ferguson, Missouri, and police accountability. She told me that as she witnessed the tragedy of Mike Brown's murder unfold, she felt somehow connected to the families there. At the meeting, she heard from a range of speakers, largely African-American, testifying to their experiences with the police. "I wanted to tell my story, but I knew the event wasn't really about me," she told me last week. "So I decided not to speak."
My family's story was forever changed by a single police officer who decided to try and write our story for us, who only saw my mother for what he thought she was, regardless of the kind of decency she embodied that day and every day. But now that pointed gun is part of our family story. No mother should have a pointed gun be a part of their story, but as the media continues to write our lives without acknowledging the hurt they put out in the world, I am afraid that people will act out on the fear that Maher and others like him claim to feel about me and my mother. I am afraid that people will continue to profile me and my family because that is the logical conclusion of what Maher and CNN put forth to their viewers. It's a conclusion that not only leads 37 percent of Americans to hold an unfavorable view of Islam, but also is a sad reminder of that racial profiling has become an integral part of American life in order to make some people feel more safe.
I don't think my family's story will ever be discussed on CNN or on Bill Maher's show because it's not a real story to them. They would rather recycle, peddle and receive applause for the same tired and racist myths used over the past 13 years to justify wars overseas, surveillance at home and bigotry among ourselves. It's a bigotry that leaves me and my mother living in fear every time we turn on the television and find someone else telling our story. Because we are not real people to them. And that's precisely the problem.
My mother taught me that you defeat bigotry with humanity. If only we could find time to talk about hers.
Waleed Shahid grew up in Northern Virginia and now lives in Philadelphia where he is an organizer and a freelance writer. He tweets at waleed2go.
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:19
Mourners in and around Los Angeles are remembering Aniya Parker, a 47-year-old transgender woman who was violently killed in East Hollywood last week.
Parker was fatally shot at 2:30 a.m. on Thursday during what police have reported as a robbery. Surveillance footage of Parker's death has circulated widely across the Internet, showing two to four suspects surrounding her before one punches her and then shoots her in the head as she tries to flee.
Many observers aren't buying the police's assertion that Parker's killing was the result of a robbery gone wrong. "This was not a robbery, in fact, they left the purse behind," Mary Zeiser of Hollywood told ABC7 news. "This is a cold-blooded hate crime and this type of violence needs to end."
Less than 48 hours after her death, Parker's supporters held a memorial in her honor. Her friends and family are now trying to raise $15,000 for funeral expenses, which include transporting her body back to her home state of Arkansas.
Parker's death is another example of what seems like nothing short of an epidemic of violence targeting transgender women of color. She's is the eighth transgender woman of color to be killed since the begining of June, according to the Anti-Violence Project. She's also the second to be killed in Los Angeles in recent months; 28-year-old Zoraida Reyes's body was found in a parking lot behind an Orange County Dairy Queen on June 12th. Transgender women of color face disproportionately higher rates of hate violence than other members of the LGBT community, according to researchers. In fact, a 2013 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that LGBT people of color were nearly twice as likely to experience physical violence than their white counterparts. Transgender women made up 67 percent of anti-LGBT homicides in 2013, according to the Anti-Violence Project.
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 08:22
Childish Gambino is known for using the Internet in unconventional ways. He rose form being an actor and comedian to a well-known rapper largely thanks to a few well-recieved mixtapes, but from there it gets pretty experimental. Last year he dropped a film that played in a continuous loop on Ustream months before releasing his second studio album, "Because the Internet." In an interview, he said that motivation for the album came from the fact that "now that we have the internet it's easier to [communicate] than ever before, but it's also leaving us really lost and afraid."
So last Friday, when Gambino released a new project called "STN MTN/Kauai" without any real warning, fans were thrilled.
The first half of the project is a free mixtape named after his hometown in Georgia. The second part is available on iTunes. But he also left it up to fans to find a secret track, a remix of his song "3005."
kauai is out on itunes and spotify and it leaked and yeah. the 3005 remix should help with the secret track-- childish gambino (@donaldglover) October 4, 2014
The version of the song on "STN MTN/Kauai" was largely instrumental, but fans later learned that the vocals were hidden in Gambino's becausetheinter.net original screenplay, buried within the coding on the page. Long story short, one Reddit user did the work of untangling the mystery. Here's the finished product:
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 08:05
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey on "Where Are They Now?" Raven-Symoné made clear that she doesn't "want to be labeled as gay," but rather as a "human who loves humans." Raven-Symoné, the star perhaps best known for her role on "The Cosby Show," who appeared to quietly come out last August, says she's tired of labels, adding, "I'm an American, I'm not an African-American," pointing out that an "American is a colorless person."
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 07:12
Here's what I'm reading up on today:
- Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., is in critical condition. Meanwhile, Dallas officials are also considering charging him with a crime. A Nebraska hospital prepares for the arrival of another Ebola patient, Ashoka Mukpo, coming home to the U.S. for treatment.
- The parents of another ISIS hostage from the U.S. who may be beheaded release a statement and photos.
- The Nobel prizes in science kick off this week; the prize in medicine goes to three who located the brain's internal GPS. The prize in physics will be announced Tuesday and the prize in chemistry on Wednesday.
- Some protesters against protestors in Hong Kong are sexually assaulting women.
- The Supreme Court opens a new term today and the SCOTUSblog has the best round-up for what to expect.
- Hewlett-Packard will soon become two companies; one will focus on computers and printers, the other on tech services.
- Facebook may soon introduce a payment service similar to PayPal.
- 89-year-old B.B. King cancels his tour after being diagnosed with dehydration and exhaustion.
- Could these gorgeous yet scary-looking cloud waves be a new addition to the International Cloud Atlas?
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 07:11
Fans of the St. Louis Symphony got quite a surprise over the weekend when a flash mob interrupted a performance on Saturday to demand justice for Mike Brown, the 18-year-old black man who was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in nearby Ferguson on August 9.
Just as the conductor took the stage after intermission, a middle-aged black man sang, "What side are you on, friend; what side are you on?"
The St. Louis American, the city's African-American newspaper, captured the scene on video:
Acts of civil disobedience have continued in the St. Louis area, with local and national organizers planning several weeks of resistance through a project called Ferguson October.
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 05:11
In a new book, "Unequal Time," sociologists Naomi Gerstel and Dan Clawson argue that workers' control over their time is a crucial labor issue that deserves more attention. "Most the conversation about inequality is about wages--and that's a really important discussion," says Gerstel. "But time is a key way to talk about inequality."
For "Unequal Time," Gerstel and Clawson studied four professions within what they call the medical-health sector: doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Their research emphasizes how class and gender impact who has the most control over their regular work schedules and time off.
Doctors had the most amount of control, and were the wealthiest and most male profession in the group. They had the most control over what schedules they worked regularly, and when they took time off for illness, vacation or caregiving. The CNAs, on the other hand, the lowest-paid employees and mostly female profession in the study, had very little control over any of these questions. They worked schedules determined by their employers, with little flexibility for time off.
Race is often considered in the text, but in their study, the authors didn't look at race as a factor independent from class. Part of this was caused by the study design--they set out to look at how gender and class specifically impacted these workers differently. But the demographics of the so-called medical health professions they included also made it difficult to draw conclusions that were about race separate from class. The doctors, EMTs and nurses were all less than 13 percent non-white while the CNAs were 58 percent non-white. Because there were so few doctors, nurses and EMTs of color in those professions, the authors cite fear of violating their confidentiality if they discussed the racialized experiences of those individuals.
The one place where they were able to extrapolate more about race was within the group of nursing assistants. They studied two different nursing homes in the same region of the country; one had a predominantly black staff and the other a predominantly white one. "The black women faced much more rigid regulations and were distrusted by management," says Gerstel. "The white women at the [predominantly white] nursing home were not [treated in the same way]." But the authors say that the differences between the two nursing homes also made it difficult to definitively say what conditions were about race and which were caused by institutional differences. Ultimately, Gerstel and Clawson argue that class is the common denominator between the conditions they witnessed, while acknowledging that class is also racialized. "White working-class women, black working-class women and Latina working-class women faced many of the same deficits of time and unpredictability, an inability to control their time," says Gerstel.
"Unequal Time" also addresses the ways family structures create pressures on women of color at work and at home."So you're a single mother, with two kids at home, one of whom has asthma, and you're in a job where you're unexpectedly offered an extra shift [that] you need to take because you need the money. You're facing unpredictability in two arenas," says Gerstel. "Your life is chaotic."
As if to prove her point, news of the untimely death of Maria Fernandes, a 32-year-old mother and employee at three different Dunkin' Donuts locations, was reported by the New York Times on the morning I interviewed Gertsel. Fernandes' presumed accidental death from gasoline fumes and carbon monoxide occurred as she napped in her car between jobs with the motor running. In that instance, it was likely a combination of low wages and scheduling--of needing to juggle shifts at three different locations to make ends meet while not being able to schedule in sleep between shifts.
Economic factors such as increased unemployment post-recession have exacerbated the situation for the low-wage workers. "The CNAs more than any other group have relatively high rates of unemployment. We know the rates of unemployment among people of color are much higher than among whites,"says Gerstel "If the unemployment rate is higher, what happens is that employers can staff lean--hire you for 24 to 32 hours [per week]. Then on any given day they can say 'I've got an extra shift. Can you take it?'," says Gerstel. "They're not mandating overtime. They're offering overtime that you can't refuse because of the conditions of employment that they've provided. It's that kind of lean staffing and unpredictability that we think is the new normal."
The conditions described in the book, particularly for the CNAs, create a precarious situation where workers struggle to make ends meet but also face punitive policies that restrict how often they can miss work for things like illness or caregiving. In the other professions studied, particularly the doctors and nurses, there was much more flexibility and control in the hands of the employees to help them manage these responsibilities, not to mention financial means to pay for childcare or have a stay-at-home spouse.
Recently there has been a policy push to address employer scheduling practices. In July, Senate Democrats introduces the Schedules that Work Act. "By creating a right for all employees to make scheduling requests, and protecting employees who make requests from retaliation, the Schedules That Work Act would give employees a say in their work schedules. Employers would be required to consider scheduling requests from all employees and provide a response," reads a fact sheet from National Women's Law Center about the law. Unless there is a bona fide business issue, employers would be required to grant requested schedule changes for things like caregiving, pursuing education and workforce training, or for the employee's own serious health condition.
Gerstel expressed mixed feelings about the potential legislation: "It is important and could, if passed, deal with some of the worst issues raised in "Unequal Time" and some important aspects of the unpredictability that creates havoc in the lives of low-wage workers who are mostly women and often women of color," says Gerstel. "It is good, for example, that it not only includes pay for those who come to work but are sent home, but it also covers workers at establishments with 15 or fewer workers."
Among the bill's limits, Gerstel says it overlooks the service sector, that the definition of family may be too limited to encompass everyone and that it may give the employer too much leeway to deny requests for time off. And of course, enforcement of any legislation becomes a major issue once it's been passed. Gerstel and Lawson point out in the book that it is the women of color in the nursing assistant roles who were least likely to take advantage of the benefits of the Family Medical Leave Act, a major policy meant to improve worker protections.
"One of the arguments we're making is that we're led to believe that the retail sector is the place where there are unpredictable schedules creating chaos. What you read about in the media is the unpredictability of the lives of young people in retail jobs--Starbucks or clothing stores or restaurants," says Gerstel. "But that really understates the pervasiveness and the new normal of unpredictability. In the health sector, in the service sector, across class there is a huge amount of unpredictability. And it's the CNAs, the women of color, who have the least amount of control over this unpredictability."
Sat, 10/04/2014 - 09:21
Catherine Zeta-Jones has been cast as Griselda Blanco in "The Godmother," an upcoming biopic on the life and death of the Colombian*-born drug queen, according to Deadline. News of Jones' casting has kicked discussions about brownface into high gear, with many observers wondering aloud about why a Latina actress wasn't chosen for the role instead.
"I'm sorry but what part of this casting makes any kind of sense? Come on Hollywood. AreThere NO LATIN actresses???" actress Yolanda Ross tweeted in reaction to the news.
Soraya Nadia McDonald sifts through the controversy over at the Washington Post, writing:
Casting isn't just a problem with biopics. Plenty of people were angered when Rooney Mara was cast as Tiger Lily in the new Warner Bros. "Peter Pan" remake -- more than 23,000 signed a petition telling studios to stop casting white actors in parts written for people of color. In 2013, Johnny Depp in redface as Tonto in "The Lone Ranger" elicited a similar reaction. And earlier this year, Comedy Girls Jenni Ruiza and Jesenia playfully asked "Saturday Night Live" showrunner Lorne Michaels to hire a Latina or two instead of subjecting viewers to castmembers in brownface.
What's more, according to McDonald, is that there are plenty of Latina actresses in Hollywood who could have been better fits for the project:
Zeta-Jones is called upon to be Colombian when there are more visible Latina actresses working in Hollywood than ever -- thanks in no small part to executive producers such as Eva Longoria and Salma Hayek. Hayek was responsible for bringing "Ugly Betty," the show based on the Colombian telanovela "Yo soy Betty, la fea," to network television. And Longoria has really taken charge with her production company UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.
*Post has been updated since publication to change the incorrect spelling, Columbian
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 14:30
Among the cases the Supreme Court will take up in its next term is Samantha Elauf's challenge to Abercrombie & Fitch's hiring practices. In 2008, Elauf, then 17 years old and applying for a job at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, Abercrombie & Fitch store, was told that the headscarf she wore wasn't in line with the company's "look policy." Elauf was turned down for the job.
While the company policy actually contained exceptions for religious head coverings, the store manager didn't ask Elauf whether she wore her head scarf for religious reasons, and Elauf didn't explicitly ask for an exemption either. Whose responsibility was it to make sure that Elauf wasn't discriminated against based on her religion?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the company and won a religious discrimination suit on Elauf's behalf, but last October, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's ruling.
Jessica Glenza at The Guardian explains the questions the Supreme Court will consider:
The case hinges on whether employees must explicitly inform prospective employers that they require a religious exemption, in this case for dress. Abercrombie argues that Elauf did not specifically request an exemption and thus one was not required, even though managers correctly assumed she wore the scarf for religious reasons.
"It is undisputed that Samantha Elauf did not inform Abercrombie that her religious beliefs required her to wear a headscarf when she was at work. It is axiomatic that an employer must have actual notice that an applicant's mandatory religious practices conflict with an employment requirement," attorneys for the company argued.
The EEOC argues that if "actual knowledge" of an employee's religious beliefs is required by employers, companies could discriminate against employees because of perceived religious practices, so long as they do not have explicit statements from an employee.
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 11:31
LGBTQ activists at the intersection of race, place, class, sexuality and so much more working toward racial justice in the South? No, you're not dreaming. This week, the Better Together Southern Leadership and Action Cohort, a network of eight organizations gathered by Colorlines' publisher Race Forward, launched We Are the South. It is a photo campaign highlighting the people at the center of this week's launch. On social media, #WeAretheSouth and #SomosElSur amplified those activists' experiences.
Here now, a roundup of some of the photos activists shared via wearethesouth.org.October 1, 2014 October 1, 2014 October 1, 2014 Image via wearethesouth.org from the Center for Artistic Revolution, a Little Rock, Arkansas, social justice organization. October 1, 2014 October 1, 2014
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 10:07
Ferguson's public relations operative Devin James, 32, has been under fire since last week's Post-Dispatch report that he once served time in 2009 for killing an unarmed man in 2004. James, who is African-American, says it was self-defense. He's since lost his city contract but according to MSNBC, is staying on as spokesman, pro bono. Now, James is telling his story--and viewed next to the week's negative reaction to his criminal past (and possibly lying on his resume), it's hard not to think of second chances. Who gets them? Who doesn't? James, it must be said, isn't all that different from tens of thousands of other African-American men seeking to start over with criminal records stemming from everything from failure to pay excessive criminal fines to murder.
James explained his motives, background and past during a 10-minute St. Louis Public Radio interview yesterday (follow link for audio). An excerpt:
It's important to have someone who's faced similar challenges at the table [in Ferguson] at the strategic level.... I know what it's like to be a black man who has a sense of fear when he's pulled over from law enforcement or who fears any interaction with law enforcement. I know what it's like to have been in the system and therefore have challenges establishing my credit again or being able to get a job afterwards. ...The fact that I didn't graduate from high school; I got my GED. The fact that...my education so to speak, or lack thereof, didn't define me. So I think I bring something to the table.
Even with the recent attacks on me, I guess it would be different if I was a rapper, or if I was a football player, then none of this really matters. But because I'm not, you know, all of a sudden we need to destroy this person's character--when I'm one of the only African-Americans that's actually at the table trying to make sure that Ferguson changes their perspective.
If everyone in the St. Louis region has a problem with me and I'm the guy who's overcome some of those challenges, kinda got his life together, got a company going, trying to make a positive impact and you still have a problem with me--what do you think about the folks who don't have their life together? Is that to say that they shouldn't be given a second chance as well?
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 09:30
Flying Lotus' new album "You're Dead!" comes out next week on October 7. This week, he dropped the video for his song "Never Catch Me" with Kendrick Lamar, which chronicles the gripping tale of a young black boy and girl who emerge from their caskets and dance away from their own funeral. It's dark, but eerily hopeful. Watch.
In an interview with Pitchfork, Flying Lotus talks about how his preoccupation with the afterlife informed his latest project.
With this album, I was trying to come in at that moment and navigate the different thoughts that might go through your mind. Maybe being in disbelief that you died. Maybe having regrets about things that you'd done in the past. Maybe finding comfort in dying and coming to grips with the fact that we never die--that's the overall message in the end.
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 08:51
Andre "3000" Benjamin paid a visit to David Letterman this week to talk about his starring role in the Jimi Hendrix biopic "All is By My Side." The rapper/actor admitted to doubting himself during filming. "Who plays Hendrix?" he asks Letterman. But by most accounts, Benjamin did a superb job in the role.
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 07:00
Here's what I'm reading up on this morning:
- As predicted, there's a positive jobs report out today.
- Hong Kong's Leung Chun-ying offers talks with protestors.
- British PM Cameron makes a surprise visit to Kabul.
- Family members of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan are being monitored by armed guards following a confinement order issued by a county judge.
- New York City will soon consider legislation that would deny cooperation with common immigration detainers, as well as remove immigration agents from Riker's Island jail.
- JPMorgan Chase's data breach compromises 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. The security disclosures are damning.
- Netflix signs a deal for four films with Adam Sandler.
- The number of people dying from heroin overdoses in the U.S. doubles in just two years.
- Never-before-seen seafloor topography, captured with satellites, is pretty much stunning.
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 04:42
It's not just Ferguson, Missouri, where communities are pushing back against police brutality this year. In Los Angeles, there were protests after police shot and killed Ezell Ford, a South Los Angeles resident who was mentally ill. The Ohio Students Association, meanwhile, has been organizing following the police shooting and killing of John Crawford at a Dayton area Walmart.
After two videos emerged this September--one showing officers slamming a pregnant woman, Sandra Amezquita, on the ground and another showing police attacking street vendor Jonathan Daza--residents of Brooklyn's Sunset Park took to the streets, largely organized by a group called El Grito de Sunset Park. The officers involved in Amezquita's arrest are being internally investigated; the officer who kicked Daza, Vincent Ciardello, was suspended.
On Wednesday evening, almost 300 people packed the Sunset Park Recreation Center for a town hall meeting hosted by the New York Congress for Puerto Rican Rights. It was an opportunity for residents of this largely Latino and Chinese neighborhood to voice their concerns to City Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D), U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez (D), New York City Police Chief Philip Banks and to one another.
Local 72nd Precinct Captain Tommy Ng issued a bilingual statement highlighting his own experience as an immigrant as contact information for community affairs officers. During the question and answer portion of the three-hour meeting, residents asked why police officers are so often accused of abusing civilians and why officers like the ones who threw Amezquita on the ground haven't been fired. Many questioned Commissioner Bill Bratton's leadership. NYPD officials listened but didn't respond.
Colorlines caught up with some of the residents at the town hall meeting to hear their thoughts on police conduct in Sunset Park.
Brenda Rivera, 24, with her son Nathan, 17 months
Rivera says she's never interacted with the police personally, but she's so scared of them that she declined to call them after her home was robbed.
Edgar González, 46
González says was arrested for a robbery he didn't commit. Charges were eventually dropped.
Jesse Rose, 42, with her mother, Irma García, 69
Rose, an attorney, says she attended the town hall because she's frustrated with hearing stories of police brutality in her neighborhood.
Khalil Vásquez, 22
Vásquez, a college student who works with a group called Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, wondered if police were trying to pacify communities by participating in local town hall meetings.
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