The Jumaane Williams Incident: Ongoing Police Racism
City Councilman Jumaane Williams Incident Is Case of
Continued Black-and-White Police Intolerance
by Juan Gonzalez
New York Daily News
September 7, 2011
It is the kind of humiliating incident with police every
African American or Latino man in this city fears.
The kind Jumaane Williams, 35, thought he had left behind.
The son of a doctor from Grenada, Williams, 35, was
elected to the City Council from Central Brooklyn in 2009.
He is well-educated, articulate and a rising star among
Late Monday, at the end of the West Indian Day Parade,
Williams became another young, black man roughed up and
handcuffed by cops for the flimsiest of reasons.
What happened to him and his boyhood friend Kirsten John
Foy, 35, a top aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, has
become so appallingly routine in this town it rarely makes
The two were walking through a police "frozen zone" to get
to a postparade event at the Brooklyn Museum.
They say police supervisors at two previous checkpoints
gave them the go-ahead to enter the zone, but cops at a
third checkpoint refused to let them proceed.
"We showed them our IDs but they didn't want to hear of
it, or even look at them," Foy said.
Williams happens to be a tall man who wears his hair in
dreadlocks. A community organizer and former student of
mine at Brooklyn College, he is well-versed in conflict
One of the lecturers I would invite to my class was a
young police lieutenant named Eric Adams. Adams, now state
senator, always explained how to act in a street encounter
On Monday, Williams pulled out his cell phone and called a
police chief he knew who could confirm his identity for
the police officers at the parade.
He was on the phone with the chief when a group of cops
surrounded him and started to push him out of the zone.
The next thing he knew, he was in cuffs.
His buddy Foy is hardly a novice at dealing with the
police. Before he worked for de Blasio, Foy was one of Al
Sharpton's closest aides, and on the Sean Bell case. An
amateur video shows Foy backing up as a cop moves toward
him. The cop grabs Foy in a headlock, trips him to the
ground and handcuffs him.
De Blasio rushed back to the scene after his aide was
arrested. De Blasio, who is white, told me he had no
problem crossing numerous checkpoints by merely showing
This is not the only incident involving police
overreaction to black leaders at the parade.
Last year, Daniel Goodine, 54, an aide to City
Councilwoman Letitia James, was arrested at the same spot.
Goodine was trying to escort Latrice Walker, a lawyer who
was feeling sick, from the parade route to a rest room at
the museum. They were stopped by a policeman at a
Goodine tried to insist the woman needed help. He ended up
arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Walker represented him at his trial, where he was
The most obvious sign that our city has a widespread
problem is the number of stop-and-frisk incidents recorded
by police. Each year, they keep skyrocketing. For the
first six months of 2011, there were 362,150 stops. That's
about 2,000 every day; 84% of them involved blacks and
It took the arrest of a City Councilman to remind us that
black and Latino men deserve more respect from police on
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