June 27, 2006


I can't vouch for the legitimacy of this email's contents, but it wouldn't surprise me. And if no one bitches about cops misusing their power like this, it continues.

His letter:

folks, i'm sure that many of you may not be interested in this. i've never
before sent this kind of mailing out to the list, but since i'm shutting it down
anyway, and as i just witnessed a very disturbing event that i hope some public
furor may have an effect on, i'm sending a one-time real-life non-poetic

NYPD brutality and fraud in Harlem today

i live on west 116th street, where the 28th precinct presumably keeps the peace.
but this afternoon, around 4pm, the so-called peacekeepers nearly started a
riot. and it's almost too bad that we didn't get to that point.

there's a fancy new building with million dollar condos at 316 west 116th
street. it's a beautiful building, much better than the crackhead shanty lot
that was there three years ago. when some developers started working on the
property, they hired Victor as security guard, first over the construction site,
and now as combo security guard/super/doorman for the completed building, which
already has several tenants.

this afternoon, a friend of Victor's -- they've known each other since childhood
-- stopped by to say hello. while saying hello, he was also committing the high
crime of having an uncapped guinness in a brown bag in his hand. two
ununiformed, unidentified men came into the courtyard and demanded entry to the
building. one took Victor's friend and shoved him up against the wall, demanding
to know what was in the brown bag. the other demanded entry to the building.
Victor, doing exactly the job he is paid to do, asked the man who he needed to
see, what was his purpose of wanting to enter the building. instead of
answering, the man tried to push past Victor, and Victor physically restrained
him by knocking him down. again, this is the job that Victor is paid to do.

turns out the two hoodlum-clad cowboys were plainclothes cops, not that they
ever once bothered to mention this. they may have been responding to a call from
within the building, but this was never made clear.

one cowboy whips out a radio and sends an "officer down" message. in my five
years on this street, i have never seen so many cops -- more than 20 at one
point -- on this block. meanwhile, the officer that is "down" (and apparently
unhurt) keeps trying to get up but his partner repeatedly tells him "No, don't
get up, don't get up, we're getting an ambulance for you." the guy was obviously
capable of getting up, and was clearly being coached not to in order to escalate
this case far beyond its merits.

meanwhile, Victor has been thrown to the floor, his arms are twisted up behind
his back, and a recently-arrived uniformed cop is sitting on his back. Victor is
screaming that his arm is about to break, that he works there, would the cop
please reduce the pressure on his arm. he is ignored.

by now, a pretty big crowd has gathered. we outnumber the cops by quite a few,
and all of us are screaming at the cops: What are you doing? He works there!
He's the security guard! He's just doing his job!

now the cops are getting nervous. i try to get a couple of them to talk to me,
to give them some context, but all they're interested in doing is getting the
crowd to disperse and having the unhurt officer carried off on a stretcher.

i have known Victor for 2 or 3 years now, as has everyone on our block. he has
intervened and solved potential fights, robberies, and other threats. sometimes,
when i got home late at night and passed him at his post, he'd walk me to my
door (i live just a few houses down). he gives advice on where you can and
cannot park without getting a ticket. he is a good man, who, according to his
lifelong friend (who asked not to be named because he is afraid of NYPD
retribution, and who can blame him for that?) has never been in jail.

so a security guard, on duty at his post, with no criminal record, is arrested
because he prevented two unidentified men from entering the building he is
charged to protect.

and as for the guiness-drinking friend, well, after he got shoved into the wall
and screamed at (for a "crime" that i believe warrants only a ticket, not an act
of force), well, he was just forgotten in the melee that the POLICE THEMSELVES
created on 116th street this sunny thursday afternoon.

i am faxing this account to the captain of the 28th precinct.

i am emailing it to every single press contact that i have.

i ask that any of you who read it, forward it as well. this one incident could
deprive Victor of his future -- of any future -- for no good reason at all.

the cop who came out on the stretcher? smiling. sitting up on his own. no blood.
no bruises. one shoe off. that's it.

the telephone number of the 28th precinct is 212-678-1611. feel free -- even
feel encouraged! -- to call them if you have some strong feelings about the way
that this situation was handled.

thank you.