Activists gather to protest police brutality
Host I: The murder of Walter Scott raises the question, should police officers be wearing cameras? The New York Police Department announced today that it will send eight officers to Los Angeles to study how police body cams are being used there.
Host II: And across the country, activists are preparing for a nationwide rally Tuesday. Here in New York, reporter Ariel Ritchin went to talk to people about what happens next.
At New York Law School this morning, more than 150 people gathered for a speech by City council speaker Melissa-Mark Viverito.
Mark-Viverito: Well good morning everybody. Buenos dias.
She called for criminal justice reforms, like the creation of a city-wide bail fund. To help low-income defendants afford bail. She also said that something needs to be done to improve community-police relations.
Mark-Viverito: Which is one of the reasons why we’re also asking for an expanded police force so we can do true community policing.
She says key to that would be adding 1,000 more officers. Something Mayor De Blasio hasn’t committed to.
Sound: This must stop! This must stop! This must stop!
Eight blocks South, a group of activists are gathered on the steps of city hall. Nicolas Hayward says he’s one of them. And he isn’t convinced of the council speaker’s plan:
Hayward: 1000 more cops is not what’s needed in New York City. What’s needed in New York City is to have more opportunities in these poor minority communities of color.
He’s been on this quest in the name of his son, Nicholas Jr. He was shot and killed by a police officer in 1994, who mistook his toy gun for a real one.
Hayward: He was murdered when he was 13, you know. He had his whole life in front of him.
That’s why Heyward’s out here today with a group of other activists.
Hayward: Just to see this happening over and over again. It just created more pain. Because it’s like it never ends.
For the protestors here, this is all personal. They’re planning a nationwide march, encouraging people to skip out on work and school and instead flood public spaces. Walter Scott’s death in South Carolina, captured on video, has reignited the national debate on police brutality. The policeman, charged with murder, is a white man named Michael Slager.
Baez: And this white guy is in jail and all they talk about is his pregnant wife.
That’s Iris Baez. In 1994, her son was choked and killed by a police officer. The officer was charged with criminally negligent homicide and served seven years.
Baez: Our loss mean nothing because our children was murdered by police.
Hawa Bah carries a poster of her hugging her own son, Mohamed. He was killed by police in 2012 after his call for an ambulance ended in a standoff in his apartment
Hawah Bah: (crying) Mohammed so loved me…I love him all the time he was a baby.
Hawah Bah: How about we? I never seen Mohammed’s child.
With the other activists, Bah has been planning Tuesday’s march for months. With people like Heyward.
HAYWARD: April 14. Shut down schools. Shut down stores. Nationally.
They say no more business as usual – they’re even trying to shut down major roads. Protests have been planned all over the country.
Ariel Ritchin, Columbia Radio News.