Saturday, February 4, 2012
When Black and Latino Youth Are "Collateral Damage"
In the light of the police beating and police murder of two young men in the Bronx in the past week, I can't help but think that young Black and Latino men in the outer boroughs, especially the Bronx, have become "collateral damage" in efforts to make New York a safe city for the global elite in finance, medicine, media, and the arts. Every time I eat or meet someone for drinks in a chic Brooklyn cafe or bar, whether in Park Slope, Fort Greene or Williamsburgh, I experience the "benefits" of the intrusive and sometimes violent policing which keeps working class youth penned, and intimidated in hyper-segregated neighborhoods, as their presence never disturbs the comfort or even enters the radar screen of New York's ever growing population of the young, hip and prosperous. While Occupy Wall Street has tried to bridge that chasm, in real life, the gulf is as wide as ever, and people need to understand what it entails. The comfort of some is secured by harassing and intimidating others. The Bronx is a place, a local lawyer told me, "where asking a police officer for his badge number is a trip to central booking." Until that changes, any pretense of democratic governance in this city fails to meet the simplest test of decency.