By Stephen Millies
Published May 15, 2008 9:45 PM
Courageous parents whose children had been killed by cops went to the Manhattan office of New York Gov. David Patterson on Mother’s Day, May 11. They demanded justice at a news conference organized by the Justice Committee and Parents Against Police Brutality.
Supporters joined these parents in wearing bloodstained shirts with the names of police victims. Some brought pictures. Everyone demanded justice for Sean Bell.
Parents whose children are murdered by police “never have a happy Mother’s Day,” said Martha Laureano, a leader of the Justice Committee.
In a letter to the governor, these parents called for “a special prosecutor for victims of police abuse and violence.” They want the New York Police Department to leave Juanita Young alone.
Young has never stopped fighting for justice for her son, Malcolm Ferguson, and all victims of police terror. She went to the press conference along with the other parents.
Ferguson was unarmed when he was killed at point-blank range by police officer Louis Rivera on March 1, 2000, in the Bronx. Five days before his death Ferguson had been arrested for protesting the acquittal of the four cops who shot Amadou Diallo 41 times.
Last year a civil court jury determined Officer Rivera was “100 percent responsible” for Ferguson’s death and awarded Young over $10 million. The Bronx district attorney is appealing the just verdict and refuses to reopen the criminal case against this cop. Police continue to threaten and abuse Young and her family.
Young is currently facing criminal charges of assaulting police who invaded her home. They claim the legally blind mother threw a box of cake mix at them.
Margarita Rosario also came to the governor’s office. Her son, Anthony Rosario, was shot 14 times and her nephew, Hilton Vega, eight times on March 12, 1995. Both were lying down when they were killed by former bodyguards for ex-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Neither cop was ever charged.
Allene Person came for her 19-year-old son, Timur Person, who was killed by police on Dec. 13, 2006, in the Bronx, while his hands were in the air. Four police bullets were pumped into his body.
Joann Mickins came for her son, Corey Mickins, who was shot a dozen times in his favorite Harlem restaurant by plainclothes officers on March 13, 2007. Police claim Corey Mickins had a gun, yet there were no fingerprints on the alleged weapon.
Loretta Cerbelli came for her son, Kevin Cerbelli, who was killed inside the 110th Precinct station house in Elmhurst, Queens, on Oct. 25, 1998. “While my son was on the ground, they shot him in the back,” said Loretta Cerbelli.
Nicholas Heyward Sr. came for his 13-year-old son, Nicholas Heyward Jr. The young honor student was killed by a housing police officer while playing “cops and robbers” in Brooklyn’s Gowanus Houses on Sept. 27, 1994.
Altagracia Mayi came for her son, Manny Mayi Jr., a Queens College honor student. Manny was chased 16 blocks through Corona, Queens, by a white lynch mob before being killed on March 29, 1991. None of the members of this racist gang was ever indicted; instead, one was later admitted to the police academy.
Doris Busch Boskey sent a letter to the event on behalf of her son, Gidone (Gary) Busch. Busch was shot 12 times by cops in Brooklyn on Aug. 30, 1999, despite witnesses who said he didn’t pose a threat to anyone.
None of these killer cops or lynchers was ever prosecuted.
Young told the crowd, “Either we bury this system or we bury our kids.” No justice, no peace!
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Just as they are remembered by their mothers so too must we sketch their names in our hearts and minds. POC cannot pretend that we live in a system where justice is equally applied. There are those that would tell us that our bodies do not matter, and it is up to us to assert our worth and our value. It is beyond an affront that we continue to be murdered, beaten, and abused by those that are charged with protecting society. Who is going to protect us from them?
Even as I teach my son to approach a police officer if he is in danger, in the back of my mind I wonder how long I can issue that advice. As he ages he will no longer be viewed as an innocent child. Based on his race and gender, society will view him as threat regardless of his intent. How many will cross the street when they see him coming, grabbing their wallets or their purses? How many will assume that he comes from poverty, or a disfunctional home? How many will ascribe the baser traits of human civilization to him, despite the goodness of his soul?
As a mother I raise my voice in solidarity with those mothers who have lost a child to police violence. Tonight as I embrace my child I will think of the mothers whose arms ache to hold their children. Until these officers are brought to justice how can the soul be still?