Recently, a young African-American man was shot and killed by the police in the bathroom of his apartment in the Bronx. The young man, Ramarley Graham, was eighteen years old. The police involved in the incident explained their actions by claiming Graham had a gun and that he ran from the police because he was selling marijuana. The NYPD’s own investigators did not find a gun and video footage of Graham walking into his apartment building show an 18 year-old kid walking calmly up the sidewalk and to the building’s entrance. Then, a group of police with guns drawn are shown kicking down the door and entering the building. Within minutes, Graham was killed while his grandmother was in another room in the same apartment. Graham’s murder was the third fatal shooting of a black man in New York City in a week. A week! New York is not alone in this epidemic of murder. Police shot over forty people in Chicago in 2011, with at least 16 fatalities among the shooting victims. This evidence, while anecdotal, is representative of the role police play in the police state. The fact that most of the killings are considered justifiable lends further evidence to the argument that the police state is growing. If there was not a campaign directed from the highest political offices in Manhattan against marijuana smokers and providers in New York City, the likelihood of Graham’s death diminishes greatly. As it has for decades, the “war on drugs” continues to provide authorities with an excuse to surveil, arrest, imprison and sometimes kill poor and working-class residents of the United States.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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