Pubdate: Thu, 10 Aug 2000
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2000, Newsday Inc.
Contact:  (516)843-2986
Author: Robert Sharp, Doris Byrd and Ronald Hampton



Regarding the article "Dorismond's Family Numbed by Decision" [July
28]: What message does the acquittal of the drug detective who killed
an unarmed New Yorker send? That it's okay for police to gun down
citizens with impunity so long as pot is somehow involved?

Patrick Dorismond did not even have any drugs on him when he was shot
in a botched marijuana sting.

But he was black, and blacks are apparently expendable in the eyes of
drug warriors. Although only 11 percent of the nation's drug users are
black, blacks account for 37 percent of those arrested for drug
violations, more than 42 percent of those in federal prisons for drug
violations and almost 60 percent of those in state prisons for drug

I think it's safe to say that support for the failed drug war would
end overnight if whites were incarcerated at these rates. The land of
the free now has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Our tax
dollars are financing for-profit prison systems that serve to transmit
violent habits and values, rather than reduce them. Constitutionally
guaranteed civil rights are increasingly irrelevant due to drug-war
exemptions. Despite this insane war on the American people, the flow
of drugs continues unabated. I pray there will come a time when
politicians choose pragmatism over preaching, for only then will
policymakers begin to treat drug use as the public health problem it
Robert Sharpe Washington, D.C.


The National Black Police Association represents the interests
of black police officers and communities of color.

As police officers, we have the knowledge and experience to assert
that the failure of the grand jury to indict Det. Anthony Vasquez for
killing Patrick Dorismond represents a serious injustice. The
association suspects that the prosecution presented a lackluster case.
Dorismond was unarmed and did not provoke a confrontation with the
police. His death and the inaction of the justice system is yet
another example of marginalization of black life by many police
officers and prosecutors. Just as the acquittal of the officers who
killed Amadou Diallo spawned the Dorismond shooting, so will this
grand jury's decision set off another round of brazen, unlawful
racially discriminatory behavior by some police officers.
Doris Byrd and Ronald Hampton

Editor's Note: The writers are, respectively, chairwoman and executive
director of the National Black Police Association, based in Washington, 
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