“Not On Our Watch”: Brooklyn Protestors Fear Backroom Police Choke-hold Deal

"Whose streets?" Omowale Clay shouted.  "Our streets!" came the response.

Black Lives Matter. Protestors want to prevent any backroom deal to restore any forms of choke-hold. Photo: December 12 Movement.


Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the office of New York City Council-member Donovan Richards’ office to protest what they believe is a backroom deal to allow some choke-hold measures to be restored after a law was passed banning it, following the brutal murder May 25 of George Floyd by a White cop, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis.


The September 4 protest was organized by Brooklyn-based liberation organization the December 12th Movement. “The passage of the no choke hold law was a result of the People protesting in the streets,” said Omowale Clay, a leader of D12. “We can never allow the police to intimidate us.  Also, we will not allow the police to force the City Council into reversing the no choke hold law.”


The Police Benevolent Association, whose leader Patrick Lynch recently endorsed Donald Trump and the New York police commissioner Dermot Shea oppose the ban. Shea has called it “reckless.” He opposes the new law because it bans “sitting, kneeling, or standing on the chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm.”


Omowale Clay recounted the history of police killings in New York using the choke-hold. On December 22, 1994, while enjoying the Christmas season, Anthony Baez, a security guard, was playing football outside with his family. The football hit NYPD Officer Francis Livoti’s car. The officer angrily applied a choke-hold that killed Baez. He ignored Baez’s father’s plea that his son was asthmatic. As a result of the killing, Bronx streets were filled with many protests. Livoti was later acquitted of criminally negligent homicide. He was charged with civil rights violation by the federal government and convicted in 1998 and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Baez’s widow settled a $13 million lawsuit against the city for $3 million.


On July 17, 2014 NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner with a choke-hold. A bystander, Ramsey Orta recorded the killing on his cell phone video camera. Pantaleo had ignored the asthmatic Garner’s cries, “I can’t breathe,” repeated 11 times. Pantaleo wasn’t fired, remaining on the force for years, enjoying vacations, and salary increases. Mayor Bill de Blasio dragged his so-called liberal feet. Five years later, Pantaleo was finally fired after a departmental proceeding.


This is the background that brought the demonstrators in front of Councilman Richards’ office at 1931 Mott Street in Brooklyn.Supporters wore BLACK LIVES MATTER T-shirts. “Richards wants to run for the borough president’s office. So he is secretly and quietly trying to bring the choke hold back. What do we say?” Omowale Clay asked the demonstrators.


“No sell out! No sell out! No sell out!” came the response from the crowd.


“Minister Malcolm X talked about this kind of behavior,” Omowale Clay reminded his fellow protesters.


He recalled how George Floyd was executed in public shortly after he’d allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd also cried “I can’t breathe” several times and called out for his already deceased mother as he felt his impending death.


Black people had been resisting this kind of  brutality since the revolt of Denmark Vesey. This image of Floyd being murdered brought back to mind the chains one would see around the necks of captured Africans on the way through the Middle Passage to Western plantations.


Floyd’s lament stirred the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.  Uprisings all over the globe erupted. Chauvin and the three other officers were dismissed from the police force and were later all charged in connection with the crime. No police officer has ever been convicted of murdering an African-American in Minnesota.

The demonstrators later marched from Richards’ office to hand out flyers on nearby locations.


“Whose streets?” Omowale Clay shouted.


“Our streets!” came the response.


Omowale Clay and Viola Plummer, another leader of D12, vowed there would be more such protests to block restoration of any type of choke-hold.



Copyrighted by Carole E. Gregory 

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