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#4785: This Week in Haiti 18:20 8/2/2000 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
Aug. 2 - 8, 2000
Vol. 18, No. 20
DISTRICT ATTORNEY ORCHESTRATES IMPUNITY
FOR DORISMOND'S KILLER
OUTRAGED COMMUNITY AND FAMILY PROTEST
According to New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Manhattan
District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and the New York Police
Department, Patrick Dorismond was to blame for his own death.
In a move which has outraged the Dorismond family and Haitian
community, Morgenthau announced on Jul. 27 in a four-page report
that a grand jury under his stewardship had cleared Detective
Anthony Vasquez of any "criminal liability" after he shot the
unarmed Dorismond on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan on Mar. 16.
"I think it is clear from the report, and the report says quite
clearly, that the aggressor was Mr. Dorismond," Giuliani said.
Once again, the city government, courts, and cops have come
together to help another cop get away with murder. Dorismond was
the fourth unarmed black man to be shot to death by the NYPD over
the previous 13-months. In all the shootings, the police have
been acquitted through rigged trials or had charges dismissed
through rigged grand juries.
Vasquez's absolution by Morgenthau's grand jury flies in the face
of the testimony of Kevin Kaiser, a friend who was at Dorismond's
side on the night of Mar. 16. He was the principal witness to the
deadly scuffle. The police were the aggressors, he said.
In a press conference shortly after the shooting, Kaiser said
that the three undercover cops, one of whom had asked Dorismond
to sell him drugs, taunted the victim with animal noises when
Dorismond angrily reacted to the request. He also asserts that it
was Det. Anderson Moran who threw the first punch at Dorismond,
sparking the deadly brawl. As Dorismond lay bleeding to death on
the ground with a bullet through is heart, one of the cops yelled
"Cuff that motherfucker!," according to Kaiser.
Even the Morgenthau report notes that "one witness said that he
saw Dorismond struck repeatedly by an officer's gun and saw the
officer shoot at Dorismond, while Dorismond was directly facing
the officer, from a distance of approximately twelve inches to
twenty inches." Morgenthau brushed such testimony aside because
of what he contended were "ballistics and criminalistics tests"
which supposedly indicated that the gun went off "in actual
contact with Dorismond's clothing." The Morgenthau/police version
claims the discharge was accidental as Dorismond and Vasquez
grappled for Vasquez's gun.
The Dorismond family, Haitian community activists, and police
brutality opponents say that the true version of events could be
established by listening to the tape of the confrontation, which
Giuliani claimed existed the day after the shooting. Det. Moran
was supposedly wearing a microphone to record what transpired as
his "buy and bust" team moved down Eighth Avenue. However, there
has been nothing but silence about that alleged tape since
Giuliani mentioned it. Did the grand jury hear this tape? Why
have its contents not been revealed? Morgenthau's office did not
return calls from Haïti Progrès asking about the tape.
In response to this latest travesty of justice, on Saturday, Jul.
29, about 150 Haitians and other anti-police brutality protesters
marched from the Dorismond home on Parkside Avenue in the East
Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn to the Holy Cross Church on
Church Avenue, where the police cracked down on demonstrating
mourners during Patrick's funeral on Mar. 25. At that time,
twenty-seven protestors were arrested, and many are still being
prosecuted by the same courts which have exonerated Vasquez.
The demonstration was hastily organized in 24 hours by the
Haitian Coalition for Justice (HCJ), the broad coalition of
Haitian community groups and activists which led the April 20th
march of 10,000 people against police brutality across the
Brooklyn Bridge (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 18, No. 6, 4/26/2000).
Patrick Dorismond's family took part in the protest rally and
urged their neighbors to join in. "Being that Patrick's soul
still lives right here on Parkside Avenue, I really expect the
whole block to come out here because Patrick was your brother
too," his sister Marie André said through the megaphone to the
row of tall red brick apartment buildings that line the street.
"You all watched him grow from a little baby to a man. Where are
But clearly many potential demonstrators were intimidated by the
massive police presence deployed for the march. Hundreds of cops
were massed along streets and intersections surrounding the
demonstration's route of march, most sporting riot gear. Dozens
of police cars and vans with lights flashing lent an ominous
tension to the neighborhood.
"I ain't going to have my head busted today," one young man said
as he walked by a group of gathering demonstrators who had urged
him to join them.
"I know a lot of people aren't coming out because they are
afraid," Marie André Dorismond said. "We understand that. We know
they are home and praying in their hearts for us."
The police also prevented the protestors from marching down
Flatbush Avenue, the publicized march route. Instead, the
demonstrators were directed down Rogers Ave., a shorter and more
Nonetheless, the march was spirited and militant, loudly chanting
"No Indictment, No Peace," as it slowly moved down Rogers Ave.
behind the HCJ's banner reading "Stop Police Brutality." Despite
tears, Marie André Dorismond helped lead the chants, along with
At one intersection, several young men wearing baggy jeans and
bandanas sheepishly watched the passing demonstration from behind
a row of policemen leaning on a steel barricade which completely
blocked off the street. A Haitian police detective, wearing a
light-blue Community Affairs jacket, directed the line of
policemen to open up the barricade to allow the young men to join
the march. The row of mostly white policemen leaning on the
barricade didn't move a muscle, acting as if they hadn't heard.
"Here is a country that goes all over the world trying to preach
to other nations how to respect human rights, when it is the
biggest violator of human rights in the world," said Paul Maurice
François, known as Mèt Paul, of the popular community station
Other speakers included Elombe Brath of the Patrice Lumumba
Coalition, Colette Pean of the Dec. 12 Movement, and a speaker
from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
"It seems that the only lesson Giuliani's police learned from
that unjust acquittal is that they have a license to kill and
kill and kill again," Pat Chin of Workers World Party and the
International Action Center told the crowd. "They always walk
because they work to protect the interests of the rich and foster
racism to divide us."
In front of Holy Cross, seven women dressed in black funeral
veils linked hands and spread out across the entire width of
Church Avenue in a solemn chain of solidarity.
Kevin Kaiser also came out to show his support and called on the
demonstrators to continue their protests. "I am shocked by the
ruling," he said. "I gave my testimony and told the truth, but it
wasn't good enough" to get justice.
One of the day's most poignant moments came when Marie Dorismond,
Patrick's mother, addressed the crowd in front of the church. "It
is me they killed when they killed my son," she said in a voice
choked with emotion. "Patrick will go down in history as the
first black to get killed for saying no to drugs."
She closed by entreating the community to remain mobilized and to
keep marching for justice. "Believe me," she said, "if there is
no justice, there will be no peace."
For more information about future actions, contact the Haitian
Coalition for Justice at (718) 284-0889.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.