Some 80 protesters lit candles and erected “No Cop Zone” posters at a makeshift shrine on the corner of Hoe Ave. and Aldus St. on Friday evening, June 8, where Abdul Garcia, 24, was shot and killed early last week.
On Monday, June 4, around 6:45 p.m., Garcia was found dead, face down with gun shots in his back. The shooter has not been caught.
“In communities like ours the healing process gets omitted,” said prisoner-rights activist Lisa Ortega, 43, who helped organize the speak-out with a microphone powered from an adjacent 99-cent store.
The protesters said they were angered by portrayals of Garcia that have appeared in the media in the few days since he was killed, depicting him as a criminal. Garcia was arrested on May 22 on suspicion of involvement in two Hunts Point shootings that took place earlier in May.
The protesters shared their own stories about young people who have been murdered, and criticized the NYPD for what they said is routine harassment by police of young people in poor communities.
“How could the NYPD come out here talking about a lengthy record when they don’t list charges, and aside that make false arrests,” said Garcia’s friend and neighbor Lolah Jaye’, 37. Garcia, she said, had been “arrested for standing in the corner, for spitting on the floor.”
Officers from the 41st Precinct patroled the protest, which was held without a permit.
“Whenever you need a license to barbeque, you can’t do that because when they see Puerto Ricans, Chinese and Africans getting along we’re the enemy,” one speaker told the crowd. Among the protesters were several activists from the group Take Back the Bronx, which spearheaded Occupy the Bronx rallies linked with Occupy Wall Street protests late last year.
Organizers said the gathering was the fourth such protest demonstrators have staged since 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was shot and killed by NYPD officers in February in his home in White Plains. They said they wanted to draw attention to what they argue is police intimidation of young people from poor communities.
Before the rally started, an officer warned Ortega and other activists that if the crowd started using profanities in its speeches, “That’s the end of it.” But the rally went off without incident.
“If you have colors sport your colors, but protect everyone–not just your block,” Ortega told the crowd.
After the speeches, hip-hop mixed with popular Spanish hits played as the gathering became festive.
“We want to put a good message in their head, so they don’t go and do something stupid in retaliation,” said Keston “IBE,” 28, a member of the activist group Five Percent Nation.
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