Statement from Nicholas Heyward, Sr., father of 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward, Jr., who was murdered by a NYC Housing Authority Cop. Mr. Heyward is a representative of the NY Oct. 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality
Unjust Verdict for Amadou Diallo
If you’re not outraged You’re not paying attention
The racist system has handed down another chapter during Black history month for the people to think about. I never thought we’d be fighting today for that which our ancestors already fought and died for. The lives and freedom of the four white cops who murdered Amadou Diallo are worth more to this racist system than an African immigrant or any human life.
Finding the four officers justified in shooting and murdering Amadou Diallo, and clearing them of all charges, shows the continuing blatant disregard and disrespect for the lives of African-American males and people of color in the urban communities of NYC and throughout these United States. When I heard the not guilty verdict, I thought about all the families like mine who’ve been fighting so hard to get our cases into the courts. And I realized what we’re fighting is about more than my son or Amadou Diallo or all the other victims. It’s about all the people who are going to be killed by police. The acquittal of all four cops says that every Black person, every person of color, can be shot dead by police who have only to claim that their lives were in danger — when none exists. This verdict means we’re all in danger. We’ve got to fight harder to stop this brutality
Mayor Giuliani has said that New Yorkers participated in a “gross violation” of the officers’ rights by protesting the shooting. The officers are the only ones with rights: they were allowed to remain silent and prepare their lies for an entire year. The trial was moved from NYC to Albany, for them. The prosecution cross-examined the cops with kid-gloves. It was a Q&A session that aided the defense. The jury never knew that 3 of these cops had prior brutality complaints. The jury was never told that Officer Kenneth Boss murdered another young Black man, Patrick Bailey, on Oct. 31, 1997. A few hours before Amadou Diallo’s murder, one of the officers brutalized two innocent youth — but the prosecution never called them to testify. The prosecution didn’t ask one question of James Fife, the defense’s police expert, or call their own expert. The judge charged the jury, telling them over and over again how they could acquit the cops. From the moment the four officers drove down Wheeler Ave., reversed their vehicle after profiling Amadou Diallo, and shot him dead, to the trial in Albany, Amadou Diallo had no rights! Like the Street Crimes Unit cops say, they owned the night!
The mayor said he acknowledges the tragic death of Amadou Diallo. But this was murder, not a tragic death. Amadou was minding his own business, not bothering anyone, not selling drugs, not robbing anyone, not raping anyone, not murdering anyone. The mayor had no problem with the trial being moved to Albany where many people have no idea what kind of police brutality is going on in this country. But I know. And so do the 2,000 stolen lives ended by law enforcement that are documented in the Stolen Lives Project.
My 13-year-old son, Nicholas Heyward, Jr., was killed by a New York City Housing Authority cop who has never been indicted. The mayor came to my son’s funeral and said a lot of the same lies to my family that he’s saying today to the Diallo family. He can’t offer sympathy and support to the victims’ families and justify the police murder of our loved ones at the same time. Is there one police shooting the mayor hasn’t upheld? Kids shot, choked, killed for having toy guns, candy bars, key chains, footballs, most unarmed, many shot in the back. Most of these cases never even make it to trial. Fourteen people were arrested in the Bronx protesting the verdict. We got to come together, stronger than ever, protest this verdict and put a stop to this police brutality.
The National Office of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation 888-NO BRUTALITY or 212-477-8062 Fax: 212-477-8015 Oct22@unstoppable.comhttp://www.unstoppable.com/22
CHECKS OR MONEY ORDERS CAN BE MADE OUT TO: IFCO/OCT 22 AND MAILED TO: OCT 22 PO BOX 2627 NY NY 10009[posted 3/4/00]