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'Justice for Omar!'

Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 4:39 p.m.
Omar Edwards

"The district attorneys can't prosecute those cases because you can't investigate yourself," said Perkins.

"We don't want the cops investigating the cops," said Councilman Charles Barron.

Edwards' death evokes memories of cases such as the one involving transit cop Desmond Robinson in 1994. Robinson, who is now 45 and lives in Florida, was shot four times in the back on a subway platform in Midtown by white cop Paul Del Debbio. Robinson was also in plain clothes. He was working undercover at the time. Del Debbio was eventually convicted of second-degree assault and Robinson won a legal settlement from the city. According to medical reports, it looks like Edwards was shot in the back, too.

"That means that the officer, our officer, was not threatening anybody else. That's their report," said New York City Councilwoman Inez Dickens. "There's no talking to an officer after he shoots someone for 48 hours. Their partners [now] have an opportunity to get together a story."

"Every police officer sees a Black man with a gun as a suspected criminal. The usual suspect," said Bronx City Councilman Larry Seabrook at the NAN rally.

"I have never heard of a Black police officer shooting a white officer with friendly fire," said Perkins. Some expressed concern for Black youth who are told to do the right thing but see a man who did the right thing suffer a cruel fate.

"If your kid wanted to become a law enforcement officer, why do you have to tell him or her that they have to be concerned about their own officers as well as those who broke the law?" asked Cong. Charles Rangel. Rangel drew the ire of Mayor Bloomberg with some of his comments made during the NAN rally and march to the site of the shooting. "The president of the United States," said Rangel, "knows that if he didn't have secret Service with him and wasn't wearing a shirt and tie and was running for the bus in the wrong neighborhood, they would not know that he's the president of the United States and the leader of the free world." Rangel also suggested that President Barack Obama, who was in New York this past weekend, watch his back because he's a Black man.

Bloomberg said race didn't have anything to do with this. Claxton doesn't buy it. "Race is a major factor in these on and off duty confrontations," said Claxton. "For those people who are not comfortable calling this a racist incident, there is no open discussion on race playing a role in an officer choosing to use a weapon or physical force." "This is a dangerous atmosphere that the mayor and the police commissioner have established in this city," said Barron. "First you couldn't drive while Black, now you can't police while Black."

"There's no such thing as friendly fire because your friends don't fire on you," Barron said. "Unless, of course, Dick Cheney..."