For those of you who have not been paying close attention, officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) have fatally shot and killed three unarmed black men in this past month. For the morally sane, the appropriate emotional reaction is not a problem. Sadness and regret should come to mind. If you were in any way responsible, remorse should quickly follow. Three men who presented no deadly threat lost their lives. You would think the police commissioner would say he was sorry. You would think the city's mayor would express sympathy for the victims' families. Since this is an election year, though, I guess basic human decency is too much to expect from a politician who evicts the homeless at Christmastime.
On March 16th, a few weeks after the acquittal of the four NYPD officers who killed Amadou Diallo after mistaking his black wallet for a gun, Patrick Dorismond, a Haitian security guard, was killed while scuffling with undercover police posing as drug buyers. These are the facts on which all sides can agree: Dorismond grew indignant when the apparent strangers assumed he possessed drugs, a fight ensued and Officer Vasquez's gun was discharged into his chest, killing him.
Other pertinent facts remain unclear. The officers contend that Dorismond ignored shouts of "Police" and lunged for Officer's Vasquez's gun, which discharged accidentally, killing him. This story is contradicted by an eyewitness who maintains that Vasquez threw the first punch and never identified himself as a police officer.
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, however, has already decided whom to blame. Hours after the story broke, Giuliani vilified Dorismond in the media. The mayor illegally released Dorismond's juvenile criminal record and lied about Dorismond's past crimes in press conferences, accusing him of robbery and armed robbery. In reality, the "assaults" Giuliani mentions were the result of a traffic dispute and a fight with a friend who had cheated him out of marijuana.
The problem is that New York's esteemed mayor has gone mad. Like a bloodhound let loose in a meat factory, Giuliani has quite simply lost his focus. His deadly attention used to be focused on hardened criminals. Gang members and cocaine dealers suffered in the first years of Giuliani's tenure as Mayor. However, as the jails filled and crime went down, Giuliani was forced to crack down on less obvious criminals. Pornography stores were evicted and a taxi driver strike was broken. These actions, while ethically suspect, were deemed justifiable--after all, who's going to stand up for taxi drivers and the pornography industry other than Woody Harrelson?
In the past year, however, Giuliani has targeted his blood thirst at members of society who are totally innocent. He attempted to close the Brooklyn Museum because it showed artwork not to his taste. He began to fine jaywalkers. He evicted the homeless from shelters. Holding an open beer can became a minor offense.
The headline reads: "Unarmed black man shot by police: hidden bottle of Guinness mistaken for gun."
Giuliani refuses to back down: "This man was an alcoholic," he said.
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