By Leo Schwartz
NEW YORK-On April 20 thousands of marchers chanting, “Giuliani must go!” gathered at City Hall in lower Manhattan to protest the cop murder of an unarmed Haitian immigrant, Patrick Dorismond, on March 16.
The spirited march, organized by the Haitian Coalition for Justice, started at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan. The Haitian Coalition for Justice demands the ouster of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and an end to police brutality.
According to the local press, Mayor Giuliani deployed 3000 cops for the march in an open display of intimidation. Despite the heavy police presence, there were no serious incidents.
But at Dorismond’s funeral on March 25, attended by 10,000 people, 27 mourners were arrested. A reporter for WBAI (Pacifica) radio, Errol Maitland, was so savagely beaten by police goons he remained hospitalized for 11 days. (See article in the April issue of Socialist Action).
Hearings on the charges against the Dorismond mourners, which range from resisting arrest to felony assault, will be heard on May 8 and June 1.
At the April 20 march, Marie Dorismond, Patrick’s mother, pleaded with the crowd for solidarity. She said, “We must stand up for our rights. Help me get justice for my son!”
Daniel Simidor, an organizer for the Haitian Coalition for Justice (see interview below), read a Coalition statement on the mayor’s role in police brutality, which said in part, “While he did not himself pull the trigger, Giuliani killed Patrick Dorismond twice: First by granting the police a license to terrorize and kill, and then by criminalizing Dorismond’s past to justify his assassination.”
The Coalition accuses Giuliani of “criminalizing an entire generation of Black and Latino youth.” It states that “Rudolph Giuliani is the force of authority encouraging police brutality in New York City. He has no respect for the law. … He is a racist who lacks the morality for sane government. … Should he refuse [to resign], all activity in this city must cease until he is ousted from office.”
In terms of mobilizing against police brutality, however, the Haitian Coalition for Justice’s call to oust Giuliani begs the question of who would replace him if he actually stepped down.
The Dorismond killing and other cases point to the need to fight for community control of police in Black and Latino neighborhoods. This action, organized by the communities themselves, would replace the racist NYPD with members of the oppressed communities.
Anti-Giuliani sentiment is so high in New York right now, especially in the non-white communities, that coalition organizers hope to eventually equal in size a 1990 Haitian-led demonstration of over 100,0000 Haitians and supporters. That demonstration shut down lower Manhattan in protest against the racist stereotyping of Haitians as AIDS carriers.
Meanwhile, Mark Green, the New York Public Advocate and a liberal Democrat, is pursuing a legal challenge to the mayor’s use of Dorismond’s “criminal” record after his death to justify the cop murder. The “record” Giuliani cited was for unruly behavior when Dorismond was just 13 and other charges that were dropped.
Democrats Mark Green and U.S. Senate hopeful Hillary Clinton have both made carefully measured criticisms of Giuliani in the Dorismond case.
They are hoping to politically cash in on the widespread disenchantment with Giuliani’s crude pro-cop policies. At the same time, both take special care to distance themselves from the movement to stop police brutality, making it crystal clear to racist white voters that they are not allying themselves with the non-white communities under attack.