Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

NYPD’s War On Blacks

The whole city of New York deserves “enlightenment” about the NYPD exoneration of Officer Craig Yokemick, who fatally fractured Kenneth Banks’s skull by throwing a police radio at his head in October 1998.

Unfortunately, the department’s failure to take even minimal disciplinary action against Yokemick in this case reflects the Giuliani administration’s street-level war on young men of color.

As in the cases of Amadou Daillo (1999) and Patrick Dorismond (2000), Mr. Banks was a black man whose life was taken without justification by the NYPD. The 5’5″-tall Banks was unarmed and posed no threat to the 6’6″ Yokemick. As with attempts to defuse criticism by assassinating the characters of Diallo and Dorismond, police sought to justify Bank’s death by demonizing him as a drug dealer-an allegation disputed by civilian witnesses-with a criminal record. Indeed, rather than obtaining emergency medical attention for his severe injuries, police cuffed and jailed the unconscious Banks, whom they charged with misdemeanor drug possession.

As in the Diallo and Dorismond cases, New York City’s criminal justice system has proved unwilling to punish the officer responsible for Banks’s death. Every day, Legal Aid attorneys relearn the old maxim that prosecutors can indict even a ham sandwich. Here, however, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office endorsed the grand jury’s decision not to indict Yokemick on the grounds that “the level of force was appropriate under the circumstances in order to apprehend Mr. Banks.” Then-Police Commissioner Howard Safir would comment only that “the criminal justice system has spoken.”

To top it off, the NYPD’s Department Advocate was unable to obtain even a 10-day suspension in Yokemick’s recent disciplinary hearing. It wasn’t the first time the department had gone easy on Yokemick; he was still on the force at the time of Banks’s death despite previous findings of excessive force, assault, and discourtesy.

This pattern of abuse is the predictable consequence of the Street Crime Unit (Diallo), Operation Condor (Dorismond), and department-wide “quality of life” arrest quotas systematically aimed at young black and Latino men-usually for nonviolent and/or petty offenses.

As a high-ranking NYPD narcotics commander recently explained, “[c]ops are flooding the system with minor stuff just for the overtime.” (N.Y. Daily News, December 22, 2000). As a result, “Manhattan has more residents in state prison than any other county in the state . . . A whopping 105 out of every 10,000 Manhattan residents are in state prison” (N.Y. Post, Feb. 4, 2001).

These policies, in turn, feed the state’s insatiable “war on drugs,” whose Rockefeller Drug Laws have boosted the number of state prison inmates to 70,000-21,000 of them incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

The Giuliani administration insulates police misconduct generated by these policies through staunch resistance to effective police oversight.

According to both the NYCLU and the city Department of Investigation, the CCRB is, at best, ineffective. The Mayor has adamantly opposed Federal oversight of the NYPD, and recently defended his refusal to cooperate with Federal investigation of the Street Crime Unit on the grounds that “they (Federal prosecutors) have to stop harassing the Police Department.”

By pursuing such search-and-destroy policies, the administration bears ultimate responsibility for taking the lives of people like Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and Kenneth Banks.

MICHAEL LETWIN is President Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325

More articles by:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail