On Saturday, February 23, about 200 people gathered at a cold and rainy intersection in the Bronx to protest the New York Police Department’s brutality in communities of color and the police shootings of many Black and Latino youth in the past year.
“We are out here today to say we no longer stand for this occupation with the police occupying our neighborhoods. … Send my solidarity to families that are in the from [EDITOR’S NOTE: Check the word choice in this quote.] that are leading this march,” said one speaker at the rally.
The rally and march, which headed across the Madison Avenue Bridge to Harlem and culminated at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on 125th street, was organized by the ANSWER coalition, which is comprised of Black, immigrant, women’s, LGBT and student organizations. Many supporting groups were also in attendance, including members of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, Da Urban Butterflies, Students United for a Free CUNY, Stop-Stop-and-frisk and Justice for Allen Buford (from Oakland).
“This February we recognize the one-year anniversary of the racist killings of Ramarley Graham in the Bronx and Trayvon Martin in Florida–not with silence, but by taking action. In the Bronx, Harlem and neighborhoods across the country, the police are widely seen as corrupt and racist, violent and untrustworthy. Millions understand that the police only serve and protect the rich and powerful. To everyone else they are a force of disrespect, unprovoked violence, false arrests and constant harassment,” reads a statement handed out by coalition members at the march. “We know that a single march is not going to change this situation. The point of our march is that we need to build a movement and organizations to challenge the police and reclaim power in our communities.”
During the march, typically heard chants like “no justice, no peace” were completed with their less often used “f– the police” reply. And protestors got a generally positive response from onlookers, with drivers honking in support and people inside the Schomburg Center coming out to encourage the marchers.
In the rallies before and after the march, many speakers took the mic, but one stood out. That was Ramarley Graham’s father, Franclot Graham, who told the crowd that the cops do not care about their communities and reminded them that police cheered for his son’s police shooter when he went to court last summer. But Graham encouraged the protestors not to give up, saying, “We must let them know whose city this is. It is our city.”