Blog Post

Gangs of New York

Imran Asif

Professor Danica Savonick

Great Works of Global Literature

Monday, November 30, 2015


 Gangs of New York


            According to Danilina, an author for a dictionary of law, the term “ police brutality” can be defined as “the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. ‘Excessive use of force’ means a force well beyond what would be necessary in order to handle a situation. Police brutality can be present in a number of ways. The most obvious form of police brutality is a physical form.”

              On July 17, 2014 a man named Eric Garner was choked to death, after being in a choke hold by an NYPD police officer in an attempt to arrest Garner. This is a recent example of a police officer involved in a police brutality case. This incident led to media attentions when massive marches were held.On August 23rd 2014, over 2500 people marched the streets in Staten Island. The protest was peaceful bet yet was a demonstration of unity amongst the African Americans and the retaliation towards the killing of an unarmed civilian. In the year 2015, we read about police officers who violently beat and shoot people in news paper articles. Police officers are constantly involved in police shootings of unarmed civilians. African Americans have amongst the highest death rate of all the people that were killed by police officers. Police officers carry guns and wear shields; they represent authority and power to control. Police officers should be protecting the people of New York, not killing.

            My research examines some articles and artifact that were written and created for people to be aware of this term called “police brutality” that exists in our communities. The incidents being discussed in the articles are real, and so are the people that have been killed. These articles and artifact enables us to realize the seriousness behind these incidents, and support the family members of those killed who are devastated over the loss of their loved ones, by building knowledge and awareness towards existence of police brutality in New York. In Bakers, “3 Detectives Are Indicted in 50-Shot Killing in Queens”. The ongoing incidents of police officers involved in shootings in New York City is mentioned. Baker discusses the murder case of Sean Bell, which involved three NYPD officers firing over fifty shots at a group of guys in a car on November 25, 2006. This is a gruesome example of police officers having enforced lethal force and eventually getting cleared and acquitted of all charges. Sean Bell and everyone in the car were unarmed. Why did they fire so many shots? How did those police officers who intentionally shot multiple bullets get exonerated? I was shocked when I heard about this incident on the news.

            Audre Lorde was a black woman who published poetry in volumes during the 1960s.

 Audre Lorde’s poem “Power” demonstrates a case of police brutality through a poet’s perspective. Lorde writes “A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens stood over the boy with his cop shoes in Childish blood and a voice said “ Die you little motherfucker” and there are tapes to prove it.”  Lorde expresses her feelings towards the racism involved in the incident by writing “Die you little mother fucker” using the actual evidence that was involved in the case and exploiting it to the world. Lorde expressed the cruelty and racism involved of a white male police officer killing a ten year old black child. Astonishingly, the officer who shot the child was released free by the jury consisting of 11 white males. The white officer that shot and killed the 10 year old black child was acquitted of all charges.

This poem, published in 1978, illustrates how police brutality has occurred continuously throughout the history of policing in New York. Lorde writes this poem in reflection of a killing that occurred of a ten year old boy by in New York by a policeman who was eventually acquitted of murder, Lorde’s exceptional poetic skills was demonstrated when she writes “I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds and a dead child dragging his shattered black face off the edge of my sleep”. Lorde expressed her skill of poetry dazzling the reading, writing and comparing a dessert to the place of where the child was shot. Lorde uses descriptive language to express the cruelty of the killing.

            Lichi  D’Amelio a member of the International Socialist organization in the USA writes

in a article called “Who Do You Protect, Who Do You Serve” about the 23 year old African American named Amadou Diallo who was shot by NYPD police officer. The crucial part about this incident is 41 shots were fired. Amadou Diallo was unarmed when he died by shots fired by the police. From this article we get to know Diallo was shot and was hit 19 times out of those 41 bullets that were fired by four police officers involved in the shooting. One of the officers involved in the shooting named Kenneth Boss was acquitted after an 11month trial. D’ Amelio writes “a jury in Albany acquitted Boss, along with officers Edward Murphy of all criminal charges and cleared  them of any wrong-doing”. The article also mentions that the officers mistook a wallet for a gun and shot at Diallo multiple times until they felt they were safe and situation was under control.

Such incidents mentioned in the articles above provide evidence to say that these attempted arrests lead to police officers using lethal force against unarmed civilians. The police are responsible for taking advantage of people with their gun and authority. Police officers commit murders that are carried out with authority by the discretion of the police officer, towards the vulnerable people of the public. These articles represent as factual evidence about police violence, that has been a reoccurring issue in New York City. It can be safe to say most police officers who were involved in shootings that killed a person were eventually acquitted of all charges. As I mentioned about Sean Bell an Eric Garner who are like many other people that were killed by police officers and never got the justice they deserve.




Works Cited

Baker, Al. “3 Detectives Are Indicted in 50-Shot Killing in Queens”. New York Times. New York.            2007. Print.

.D’Amelio, Lichi. “Who DoYou Protect, Who Do You Serve” ?. New Politics.2013. Web.

Danilina, S. “What is Police Brutality” ?. 2015. Web.

Lorde, Audre . “Power”. The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. New York.1997. Print.


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