As activists gather to celebrate what would be Malcolm X’s 91st birthday, we are reminded of the recent passing of Ramon Jimenez. Jimenez, a voice for the voiceless and an outspoken member of the Green Party, died Tuesday of prostate cancer. He was 67.
Never one to hide his political beliefs or cower at the approach of the powers that be, Jimenez brought a clarity of analysis, invested with a conviction of integrity and uncompromising resolve.
Here is what he had to say about Commissioner Bratton’s “Broken Windows” policies: “We are told by [Bill] Bratton and [Bill] de Blasio that massive crime will return unless we continue broken windows,” he said. “Just imagine what would happen if we did not arrest people for crimes like ‘riding a bicycle on the sidewalk’ or ‘walking through a park at night.’ In all their justifications, they ignore the facts of selective law enforcement, content to allow Black and Latinos to be victims of broken windows. Bratton and de Blasio are just as wrong in defending broken windows as Bloomberg was in his defense of stop and frisk. Their use of fear to defend broken windows is bankrupt.”
This condemnation of ill-conceived public policy, particularly within the realm of the so-called criminal justice system, was a consistent and passionate concern for Jimenez, who ran for attorney general on the Green Party ticket during the last election.
It was in his capacity as a candidate that many New Yorkers had a chance to experience his insightful knowledge of the city and its politics. But students and residents in and around Hostos Community College will always remember his fervent outcry to save this precious educational institution in the Bronx.
Growing up in the city as a Black Puerto Rican made Jimenez cognizant of the dual aspects of racism and discrimination. And living down the street from Malcolm X gave him a deeper sense of commitment to serve the people.
Notwithstanding all the attention he has received from his lifelong connections to the Bronx and Queens, Jimenez was born in Brooklyn. In 1974, he earned his law degree from Harvard University. And the words “Harvard-trained lawyer” would cling to him like a barnacle throughout his life. As a teacher at Hostos he acquired some notoriety after leading students and faculty against a plan to close the school or merge it with another college. The protest was successful.
Jimenez spent several years as a law judge for the state Workers Compensation Board but eventually resigned because of the overburden of cases and the politics. “Fast food justice,” as he called it, was not suitable to his appetite.
All the while, his critique of the Bronx Democratic Party political machine was unabated.
The kind of corruption and cronyism that has landed so many New York politicians behind bars were issues that Jimenez raised repeatedly. And then there was his relentless outrage against the NYPD and the policies of Bratton and de Blasio.
“We have elected officials ‘outraged’ at police killings in Baltimore, South Carolina and Ferguson while they remain quiet about broken windows,” Jimenez asserted. “They seem to actually be afraid of Commissioner Bratton and de Blasio, who endorses everything the commissioner proposed. Here in the Bronx the lack of any response from our Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is what we have come to expect. Perhaps he is too busy playing golf with Donald Trump.”
This accusation was vintage Jimenez, and that voice will be missed.
As we go to press, there is no word yet about funeral arrangements or possible memorial services.