Kenny Get Your Gun and other musings.
By Neville O. Mitchell, Guest Opinion Writer, Amsterdam News
Last evening my seven year old asked if I knew what metacognition meant. I smiled, not because I did not know- truth is I suspected what it meant from a couple of semesters in “Greek and Latin roots in English” too many years ago in college- but rather since she looked so smug thinking she stumped daddy. Thirteen years after Amadou Diallo’s blood indelibly stained the steps and lobby of everybody’s building the Bronx Kenneth Boss- one of his executioners- got his gun back. Raymond ‘Killer” Kelly made it so. I read on the front page of a New York rag. That decision and another made by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson delineates the chasm between the police department as run by Kelly and the citizens he is charged with protecting.Boss got his gun after losing federal and State law suits seeking to walk the streets of New York armed once again. Police Commissioner Raymond “Killer” Kelly succumbed to the relentless pressure in the ether. He presides over a department that plants distrust among New Yorkers and waters it intermittently with unjustified shootings of African American men to satisfy a false sense of security. He did not have enough moral courage to refrain from spitting on Amadou’s grave. With his discretionary decision, no thought of red black blood spilled by his department, no feeling in his heart for what his decision would mean to the disinherited of this City, Kelly again gave his imprimatur to his department’s belief that you can take black life with impunity. He knows no public official black or otherwise will say a word. Kelly is Teflon itself.
I ask you Mr. Kelly can Reynaldo Cuevas get his life back? Can Timothy Stansbury walk among us again? Can Sean Bell please hold his babies and say metacognition means thinking about thinking? Can Constance Malcolm stop wailing, let go of her belly, and hug her son Ramarley? And what of Juanita Young and her boy Malcolm Ferguson? Can any family- Darrius Kennedy’s, Mohamed Bah’s, Waldyn Jackson’s, nine innocent New Yorkers at the Empire State Building on August 24, 2012- get an answer from you as to your department’s propensity to let bullets fly and make up answers later. I pause here to apologize for all the names left off this list; names that I knew but have forgotten. Souls that harken from the grave and scream that Raymond “Killer” Kelly must go. Hell even the head of BP oil resigned for killing fish. Surely we New Yorkers lives are worth as much as fish!
Last week Bronx district attorney Robert Johnson decided that his prosecutors will no longer genuflect when they see an affidavit from a police officer in a trespass case. His office now requires the officers to come in and speak to an assistant district attorney. These are cases that mostly arise from two areas: The NYPD’s Clean Halls program, and the dirtiest little open secret in New York City- the subjugation of tenants living in New York City Housing Authority buildings.
Clean Halls is an agreement with private building owners to allow the NYPD to access their buildings and patrol the hallways. The City’s housing projects are tantamount to South Africa’s pass system from yesteryear. The children and young adolescents living in them are not free. They are subjected daily to demands for identification and forced to explain why they have no papers, hauled off to court to be given NYSID (New York State Identification) numbers, fingerprinted and rudely introduced to what killer Kelly believes is their destiny: The Criminal Justice System. Johnson had the temerity to say that a police officer must actually explain to an assistant district attorney the facts of what happened. Johnson’s new position came to light came from documents submitted in Floyd v. The City of New York et al, a class action lawsuit pending in Federal District Court challenging as unconstitutional the NYPD’s stop and Frisk program. Newsflash: Stop and Frisk as practiced by the New York police department is unconstitutional. Always was, is, and always will be. I believe the court will so find.
Upon hearing of district attorney Johnson’s decision there was howling from City Hall and the carpet ripped as his honor walked across the floor barefoot. Crime will increase he bellowed. In lockstep One Police plaza’s media machine started revving up. They need to understand what my seven year old gets. You must think about how you think. If they did they would appreciate that Robert Johnson took a step towards better justice for many New Yorkers. It is much easier to weed out trash- here I am talking about the message and not the messenger- if an officer has to explain why he stopped an individual to a discerning assistant district attorney. This assumes of course that the assistant can tell when a police officer is not truthful.
Mind you I’m a frequent critic of Mr. Johnson. He still has work to do regarding his staff of assistants. He could begin by making sure he has prosecutors who understand the Bronx, its people and know when something doesn’t pass the smell test. Too many of them are blond, rosy cheeked, moist still behind the ears, and without a smidgen of real world experience. Further and immediately, he may want to put his best people on the prosecution of Richard Haste for the killing of Ramarley Graham. The assistant district attorney currently prosecuting Haste famously lost the Amadou Diallo case. I’m just saying.
Metacognition also means that giving Boss his gun back- even if he is about to retire as I suspect- reopens a wound and reinforces what many believe about Kelly. He is the gatekeeper of a system that says if you are black and male in this City your very existence hangs precariously at the end of an asp, the barrel of a gun and the whim of the bearers of these implements. Some say he aspires to walk on the very same carpet as hizzoner. I say the department’s failures reflect leadership or lack thereof. Kelly must go. It go so!