FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Apartheid Americana

by SUSIE DAY

Two of my friends were just beaten and arrested by Brooklyn police. My friends, Michael Tarif Warren and Evelyn Warren, are African-American attorneys whose work consists, in part, of defending victims of police violence. I want to tell you about how police punched and humiliated these good people on the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic, in their own, predominantly Black neighborhood on June 21st; about Tarif’s clothes being torn almost off–I don’t want you to miss a thing. But many facts must wait until the Warrens’ trial. Here, excerpted from a legal brief, is how Tarif describes what happened:

“At approximately 5:45pm, petitioner and his wife were in their vehicle, stuck in traffic, when they saw members of the New York Police Department apprehend a young man, handcuff him, and physically abuse him while he was prone on the ground. Petitioner and his spouse exited their vehicle to inquire why police were engaging in that behavior, but immediately returned when ordered, without getting near the police or the young man. Sergeant Steven Talvy, however, approached the petitioner and his spouse and, after they identified themselves as attorneys, proceeded to strike petitioner numerous times in the head and face and strike petitioner’s wife in the face.”

Sergeant Talvy handcuffed Tarif and pushed him into the police van. Evelyn, though “stunned,” remembered her legal training and walked toward the mostly African-American crowd of onlookers:

“I said, ‘Did you see what was happening?’ Naturally, they did. All these people had poured out of a nearby McDonalds, plus it’s rush hour and traffic was deadlocked. I say, ‘Did anybody take photographs?’ They said, ‘Look at your jaw.’

“I didn’t know it, but my jaw was swelling up. So I said, ‘Take a picture of my jaw,’ you know?”

I saw Evelyn three days later; her jaw was still swollen. It could have been worse: Seeing that Evelyn was trying to retrieve her confiscated driver’s license, Sergeant Talvy ordered police to throw her to the ground, but the onlookers’ shouts stopped them. Evelyn and Tarif were taken to Brooklyn’s 77th Precinct.

“We were lined up against the wall with other prisoners. Tarif’s clothes were ripped and falling off him. I will never forget, there was this blond officer in Talvy’s unit–they were laughing together–and the guy said, ‘What’s this, a strip show?’

“You have to remember that Tarif and I were involved because the police were kicking this young man viciously. He was Black; probably around 18. His face was a bloody mess. Obviously, Talvy thought he could get away with it because he said, ‘Well, it’s your word against mine. Let’s see what happens.'”

What happened was that Tarif was charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration, Disorderly Conduct, and Resisting Arrest; Evelyn, with Disorderly Conduct. Reactions poured from the Black press and community; there was almost no coverage from mainstream media; and a resounding silence still emanates from the New York Times.

Three weeks later, I visit Evelyn at home. She tells me how she’s fighting to put her life back together:

“I grew up before segregation ended. My father was a contractor, a small-business person. He used to go to Mississippi to work. And every time he would leave for Mississippi, my mother would cry. So I recognize racism.

“I guess I was raised to be the best I could be in whatever I chose to do–by being the best, I could overcome certain conditions. I was foolish enough to believe that. I still know my value, but this incident tells me that they don’t know my value–whether you’re a kid wearing baggy pants, or a lawyer wearing a suit and driving an upscale vehicle–it doesn’t matter to them.

“I should have been more aware of this. Tarif and I represent police brutality victims. I’ve heard accounts and seen the evidence, but to experience it firsthand–it’s earth-shattering. So I have a new appreciation for what people go through. While you live in a world that’s in turmoil, you still have a little corner where you feel safe and secure. I no longer have that. Before this, I was concerned about what was going on in Iraq, Africa, Venezuela. Now, I’m concerned about what goes on within ten blocks of where I live.

“Black people are hit harder by police than any other community–I know that. Tarif and I went to a meeting last Saturday where, in the projects, Black people are accosted coming out their door. Police say, ‘Let me see some identification.’ Now, if you’re coming out the door, you must have had some right to be there. Unless you’re seen carrying a TV or stereo system, why should you show ID?”

I ask Evelyn what she wants white people to know.

“I want them to know that what I’m telling is the truth. That any people of good moral standards should be concerned about law enforcement that’s out of control. At minimum, they should ask questions of Police Commissioner Kelly and of Mayor Bloomberg: ‘What’s going on, here? This is unacceptable.’ If those officers knew they could face charges just like any civilian, they’d think twice.”

Then Evelyn says something that stops me cold:

“I don’t know that the police look at us as human. I don’t know that they would hear us if we spoke to them.”

And I realize that, like many white people, I have lived for years with the genteel, self-protective assumption that, if I believed hard enough that Black and White people are equal, then the world must be OK. I realize it’s never been OK–that my friends are in danger–that our lives remain deeply divided.

“Tarif keeps saying this happened for a reason, that the Creator is on a mission here. But my overriding emotion, aside from sadness and feeling powerless, is anger. I’m determined to change things. Because, if that officer can do what he did to us, in broad daylight, with 50 to 100 people watching–what happens when nobody’s around?”

SUSIE DAY can be reached at: sday@skadden.com

© SUSIE DAY, 2007

Contact:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
(212) 788-9600

 

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly

New York City Police Department

One Police Plaza

New York, NY 10038

http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mailnypd.html

 

 

SUSIE DAY can be reached at: sday@skadden.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
David Welsh
Bay Area Rallies Against Trump’s Muslim Ban II
March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail