Marchers Protest Police Shooting
LUKAS I. ALPERT
Mar. 25, 2000
NEW YORK (AP) _ Furious protesters hurled bottles and clashed with police Saturday after a funeral for an unarmed black man shot to death by undercover officers _ the third such killing in the past 13 months.
At least two officers were injured, one suffering a possible broken nose when barriers and people crushed him. Police did not immediately know how many officers were treated or how many people were arrested.
A miles-long procession of more than 3,000 protesters and mourners led by the Rev. Al Sharpton had followed a hearse carrying the body of 26-year-old Patrick Dorismond from a funeral home to Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn for the service.
As the coffin was carried inside, a few protesters surged forward and snatched the U.S. flag that had draped it, tore it to shreds and then set the pieces on fire.
``It's our blood, it's not cheap. We must let them know this must stop,'' said Michel Eddy, a 26-year-old Haitian immigrant.
With car horns blaring, protesters chanted, knocked down police barricades, and many demanded Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's resignation.
A car driving the wrong way on a nearby street was plastered with banners, including one that read: ``If you shoot one of my children, I shoot five of you,'' and others threatening Giuliani's family.
Another protester walking through the crowded street shouted: ``Rudy, I'll blow you up to kingdom come, cut you with a chain saw, and feed you to the dogs!''
As the two-hour Mass was ending at about 2 p.m., police in riot gear massed by the side of the church. Within minutes, about 25 officers entered the crowd and were met with bottle-throwing and police barricades being knocked down in a violent faceoff between hundreds of protesters and a police force that grew quickly. Police then formed a human barricade against the surging crowd.
Giuliani issued a statement praising the restraint of officers involved in the confrontation.
``Unfortunately, when you allow demagogues to take over for political and divisive purposes, the American flag gets shredded and burned; steel barricades are hurled and bottles are thrown injuring police officers and civilians,'' he said.
The Dorismond shooting has become a major issue in his campaign for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Clinton. The first lady said last week that the GOP mayor's ``utter failure of leadership'' was a sign that he couldn't be trusted.
Giuliani has maintained that the news media are incapable of covering police shooting cases fairly, so he has a duty to emphasize the police point of view.
He also has been criticized for releasing information from Dorismond's police record, including sealed juvenile files, and for not visiting Dorismond's family.
The mayhem on the street contrasted with the message of peace delivered during the funeral.
``We are not here to judge or condemn. We are here to weep with the family,'' the Rev. Rollin Darbouze told about 1,000 mourners at Holy Cross.
Dorismond, a security guard and the son of Haitian singer Andre Dorismond, was shot to death May 16 after an officer conducting a drug sting allegedly asked him if he would sell marijuana. The two scuffled, backup officers arrived and one officer's gun went off, killing Dorismond.
The shooting happened just two weeks after another undercover officer fatally shot an unarmed man in the Bronx near where Amadou Diallo was shot and killed in hail of 41 police bullets last year. The four officers in the Diallo case were acquitted last month.
What had started as a quiet family gathering Saturday grew into a loud protest march against police brutality.
Cathy Dumont, 26, a Haitian-born Brooklyn resident, compared Haiti's decades of military rule with America's democracy.
``Mrs. Dorismond took her son out of a military regime and brought him here because she thought it would be better and safer, but Giuliani and the way he's empowered the police have proved her wrong,'' she said.
More than an hour after the disturbance began, the crowd dispersed and unrest spread in random acts of violence in the Flatbush neighborhood where stores pulled down their shutters.
Rioters were seen tearing bricks out of the sidewalk and smashing two police cruisers, as well as a telephone booth. A cardboard box was lit into a bonfire.
At Dorismond's wake Friday evening, where thousands paid their respects, Blaise Lambre described Dorismond as ``a person who just enjoyed life.''
``I'm angry at the fact that he died,'' Lambre said. ``It was wrong. To me, it's murder, simple as that.''