Thu, Mar 14, 2013
By Ding Chenjie
After a third night of protests over the shooting death of 16-year-old Kimani Gray turned into a riot, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams and other community leaders called for an end to the unrest Thursday afternoon in East Flatbush Brooklyn. They also demanded a thorough investigation from the police.
“I’m not saying we should stop marches or protests. I hope people will be here for every part of the conversation but it has to be constructive,” said the city councilman at Friday’s press conference held on the East Flatbush corner where Gray was killed. “You cannot endanger our young people on any level.”
“People are from many places. They are very concerned, just as we are. I think they want help, but we just want to make sure that their anger can be channeled in a way that’s going to be most effective,” he said.
New York City police arrested at least 46 protestors Wednesday night, including two juveniles, after a vigil resulted in an eruption of violence and looting in the neighborhood.
“We need to stand together for our kids, but violence is not the solution,” said Anita Taylor, district director for Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke.
Many leaders from outside the 67th precinct where the incident happened joined the news conference to speak out against violent demonstrations. Ed Powell, district leader of the 42nd Assembly District, which neighbors the 67th precinct, said, “This is not my district, but these are my people. It is a disgrace and dishonor to the grieving family.”
Meanwhile, local community also urged the New York City police to provide more information about this controversial case. “We are not saying the bad guys should not be ruled out, but we need facts,” said Orlinda Mcinnis, member of the precinct council.
The local 67th Precinct Council holds meetings on the third Thursday every month, according to Mcinnis. “We tell the police whatever is wrong here. Usually we would make a decision after they do an investigation. But this time nobody knows what happened. How are we going to make a decision based on what we are hearing?” she said.
At a separate press conference Thursday, Carol Gray, the mother of Kimani Gray, said in tears: “He is not the public’s angel, but he’s my angel and he’s my baby and he was slaughtered and I want to know why.” She asked for “a legal, thorough investigation…No smokescreen, no sugarcoating.”
But she also spoke out against the violent demonstration. “I don’t condone any riots, any looting, any shooting, anything against police officers,” she said.
“Two police officers shot down Kimani. I only want justice for [those] two police officers to be off the street before they hurt other young kids,” she added.
In an effort to make sure that all the protestors are trained and understand the importance of a peaceful display of anger, Community Board 17 is going to hold a youth empowerment seminar coming up this Saturday. “Anyone who has a voice can come and discuss what the best way to move it forward is,” said the councilman Jumaane D. Williams.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to “conduct a full and fair investigation.” He also told reporters that police will have a strong presence in East Flatbush to prevent further violence.
“I understand there’s anger in the community, but the place to get answers is not through violence or law breaking. We cannot tolerate that and we will not tolerate that,” they mayor said.