On the heels of three nights of protests over the police slaying of 16 year old Kimani Gray, the NYPD has turned the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn into a State of Exception, claiming emergency powers to suspend the constitutional guarantees of the citizenry.
The people regularly targeted by police harassment and violence, overwhelmingly the city’s poor and minority populations, have taken to the streets to speak out against the NYPD’s draconian tactics. The police have in turn responded with even further harsh measures by suppressing the right of the people to voice dissatisfaction with that very same police force.
Cops kettled protesters at Wednesday night’s candlelight vigil, resulting in 46 arrests. Police even arrested Kimani Gray’s distraught sister, Mahnefeh.
The NYPD euphemistically calls the public spaces in which the Constitutional rights of the people are suspended “frozen zones.”
Allison Kilkenny wrote about the NYPD’s so-called “frozen zones” in December 2011:
“The ‘frozen zone’ is an arbitrary, official police business-sounding title that has absolutely zero legal merit. It’s something the NYPD made up, just as the ‘First Amendment zone’ is something [Los Angeles Mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa made up to suppress media coverage of the Occupy raids.”
According to FIERCE, the “frozen zone” in East Flatbush is being used to prevent media from covering the protests and arrests. Meanwhile, people inside the “frozen zone” can be subjected to arrest merely by exercising their constitutional rights.
“It basically means the area is under temporary martial law,” writes FIERCE. “The last times the NYPD declared a Frozen Zone was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and during the beginning of OWS.”
An arbitrary dictate that arrests protest and free speech, set forth by the institution that is itself the target of the protests, creates a potentially dangerous precedent of placing the NYPD beyond reproach.
Occupy Austin reposted this poignant summary of events by Jen Roesch as they were unfolding in Brooklyn last night:
“East Flatbush, Brooklyn is under martial law as the NYPD declares it a ‘frozen zone’. Media are being monitored and kept from moving and reporting freely. Dozens of arrests and much brutality. Kimani was shot in the back seven times; a witness is sure he was unarmed; multiple reports are coming out that the police had been waging a campaign of harassment against the young man (including taunting him about a friend who had died in a car accident and threatening to shoot him when he tried to leave). This is just blocks from where Shantel Davis was shot, dragged from her car and left to bleed to death in the street last summer. After that shooting, police went to all the surrounding delis and confiscated their surveillance videos. Residents in the neighborhood live in a state of terror. Heartbreaking, enraging, the stuff that riots are made of. This city is at a breaking point.”
Kimani Gray’s parents are scheduled to hold a press conference this evening to address the March 9 police slaying of their young son.