Point of View: Position Papers

Police Abuse Post-Abner Louima Verdicts??Yes, It Can Happen Again, Unless ?Blue Wall Of Silence? Is Torn Down?
March 8, 2002

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall today, Michael Meyers, Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, joined several other members of the Task Force on Police-Community Relations that Mayor Giuliani formed in the aftermath of the 1997 torture of Abner Louima in Brooklyn?s 70th Precinct. The group issued a public letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly seeking a meeting to discuss their recommendations on ?systemic changes? in the NYPD. Mr. Meyers delivered and issued the following statement about ?The Blue Wall of Silence?:

?Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly have both assured us that another Amadou Diallo incident will not occur on their watch. But, after the 1997 torture of Abner Louima in Brooklyn?s 70th Precinct, we thought the same?that something as horrific as that could not happen again.

We had also thought that it could not happen again after the Michael Stewart incident.

We thought that as well after Eleanor Bumpers, the grandmother.

We thought that after Patrick Dorismond.

We also thought that all the cops who had either brutalized or covered up Abner Louima?s torture would be brought to justice. But we were wrong.

So, we cannot afford to think like Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly?not any more.

Unless the Mayor and Police Commissioner unshelve the reports of our Task Force, I?m here to tell you, it can happen again.

Unless they read the reports, and take heed, it can happen again. The reports lay out a blueprint for systemic changes in the culture of NYPD and in police training and supervision. They are reports Commissioner Kelly admitted to me he had not known about, much less read.

Our public letter simply asks for a meeting with the Mayor and Commissioner in order to go over the recommendations of our reports. But, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly should know that we want from them something much more than a meeting. We want from them LEADERSHIP?the kind of leadership that will put in place the strategies and accountability structure at NYPD that will, at long last, scale and tear down the Blue Wall of Silence and Cover-up which now makes tough next to improbable successful prosecutions of bad cops. This Blue Wall turns cops blind, deaf, and dumb to the heinous acts of their brethren in blue. So, I say to Mayor Bloomberg and to Commissioner Kelly: TEAR DOWN THIS BLUE WALL OF SILENCE, CORRUPTION, AND COVER-UP.

Too many victims of police abuse are dead.

Abner Louima lived to tell of his torture. And he, and we, expected that the perpetrators?all of them?would be brought to justice. But, DA Hynes punted to the Feds, and the Feds blew it.

We do not blame the Federal appeals court. Instead, I place the burden and the blame squarely where they belong?on ineffective prosecutions caused in part by the Blue Wall. So, I say again, Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly: Tear down this Blue Wall of Silence, Corruption, and Cover-up.?