Police Arrest 46 After Vigil for 16-Year-Old They Gunned Down
Police arrested 46 protestors on Wednesday, during the third night of demonstrations in Brooklyn over the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, the Associated Press reports.
The arrests followed a candlelight vigil memorializing Gray in East Flatbush, just blocks away from where the teen was shot seven times by police this weekend. Reports say more than 100 people were in attendance.
John Knefel, reporting for Gothamist, says things escalated when demonstrators began marching down the street, chanting, “Don’t shoot me!” and “No justice, no peace!” Some young adults threw bottles at police officers, and rocks at NYPD vehicles. The New York Post reports that one officer was hit in the face with a brick. Police responded using pepper spray and orange nets to “kettle” young protestors, Knefel reports. The journalist also recounted this disturbing moment:
One particularly tense stand-off between a female demonstrator and a male police officer began with the cop telling her to get on the sidewalk, and her responding, "Or what, you'll shoot me?" The officer, whose helmet had the number 7987 on it, said, “No, but I'll slap you.” (emphasis his.)
City councilman Jumaane Williams, who attended the vigil, tweeted his frustration with provocative demonstrators. He says that, while people have a right to be angry, there’s no excuse for violence:
Furious at adults from OUTSIDE the community who incite our angry young people!!! You do not help and not wanted if you bring destruction!
Williams’ tweets reflect comments he made after Monday’s demonstration for Kimani Gray that also escalated violently.
Police shot Gray to death on Saturday, with wounds found in both his front and back. Officials and witnesses report conflicting stories of the incident. NYPD officials maintain that Gray pointed a .38 caliber-revolver at two plain-clothes officers when they approached him for “acting suspicious.” But at least one witness and Kimani “Kiki” Gray’s family say the boy was not brandishing a weapon.
"My cousin was scared of guns," Ray Charles, a second cousin of Kimani, told AP, "I honestly just want justice. They didn't need to shoot him like that."
As some have reported, the demonstrations seem to reflect larger frustrations with the NYPD’s legacy of controversial policing. The parents of Ramarley Graham, another New York teen shot to death by police officers, attended last night’s vigil in solidarity with the community. "When are they going to start protecting us and stop killing our kids?" said Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham's mother. Demonstrators say the NYPD’s consistent pattern of abuse needs to stop.
“The police – whenever they murder or kill a black or Latino youth – it is always justifiable homicide. The witnesses tell a different story, and this happens again and again,” civil rights activist Carl Dix told RT, “I’m not going to condemn [the protestors] for standing up expressing their anger – because the real violence in this case begins with the killing of Kimani Gray.”
Author's Note: A previous version of this article inexcusably identified Ray Charles as "a second victim" of Kimani Gray. Charles was Gray's second cousin. I regret the error.