Ramarley Graham’s Family & Supporters Hold All-Night Vigil outside Department of Justice on 4th Anniversary of His Killing by NYPD
On the four year anniversary of Ramarley Graham’s killing by NYPD officers, his parents – Constance Malcolm and Frank Graham – were joined by the family members of other New Yorkers killed by the NYPD to demand accountability in the killing of Ramarley Graham. Along with community supporters and many other New Yorkers, they called on Preet Bharara and the U.S. Department of Justice to give the case equal priority to those pursued against public corruption, and to prosecute NYPD officer Richard Haste – who shot and killed Graham – and all the officers involved in the incident and aftermath on the scene.
Ramarley’s parents hand-delivered a letter addressed to Mayor de Blasio and Chirlane McCray to City Hall earlier in the day: https://goo.gl/mzaUXx
“Justice shouldn’t be so hard to achieve in such a blatantly outrageous killing, but yet the justice system is constantly an additional perpetrator of suffering on us,” said Constance Malcolm and Franclot Graham, Ramarley’s parents. “We are tired, still mourning, but we will never stop fighting for justice for Ramarley. Four years after our son was taken from us, we still have no answers, accountability or justice, but Ramarley’s spirit lives in the fight for justice that we and so many others have been committed. Why is justice so elusive for only our communities? The Bronx district attorney became complicit in the initial crime by failing to hold officers accountable to the law. The outstanding question is whether the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara are going to prioritize this case and prosecute the officers, or join the Bronx DA as an accomplice. The murder of Ramarley must receive justice, and the lives of Black and Brown people in this country who continue to be unjustly killed by police hang in the balance. The facts and record of Ramarley’s killing and civil rights violations are clear. Our civil rights are not dispensable, but the Obama administration’s Justice Department needs to take police killings like Ramarley’s seriously and begin to stand up and protect our communities. ‘Yes we can’ must also apply to seeking justice for Black and Brown lives taken by unjust police violence in America.”
The unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was killed by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother after officers unlawfully busted into their home without a warrant or cause on February 2, 2012. Immediately after shooting her grandson, Officer Haste cursed and also threatened to shoot his grandmother. She was then separated from her six-year-old grandson who had just witnessed his brother being killed, and questioned for seven hours while refused access to a family legal representative. When Ramarley’s mother attempted to pick her up, she was assaulted upon entering the precinct.
A Bronx grand jury indicted Haste on two counts of manslaughter, but Judge Steven Barrett dismissed the indictment due to a prosecutorial error made by the Office of Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson. On August 8, 2013, a second grand jury decided not to re-indict Haste, but the U.S. Justice Department indicated it was reviewing the case. The Department of Justice has been fully investigating since 2014, after Ramarley’s parents – with support from New Yorkers from across the city – delivered over 33,000 petitions to Bharara and the Justice Department demanding it prioritize a full investigation.
None of the officers involved in the killing of Ramarley Graham, the scene or aftermath have been held accountable by the police department. NYPD Officer Richard Haste, who shot and killed Graham, is still employed by the NYPD and has received multiple salary increases of nearly $25,000 over the four years since he killed Graham.
“It’s an outrage that it's been two and half years since the DOJ said it was looking in to this case and a federal grand jury has yet to be convened,” said Loyda Colon, Co-Director of the Justice Committee. "We are calling on US Attorney Preet Bharara to stop dragging his feet. He should prosecute all officers responsible with the same vigor which which he goes after corrupt legislators. Ramarley's family should not have to wait a day longer for answers.”
The de Blasio administration and NYPD have attempted to deflect attention by claiming it must wait until the Justice Department makes its decision before taking disciplinary action, but past police killings indicate that is not true. In the 1994 police killing of Anthony Baez, the officer who killed him was dismissed from the NYPD after being acquitted in state court of killing Baez and before he was indicted by the federal Department of Justice on civil rights charges.
The killing of Ramarley Graham has garnered unified calls for justice from around the country. National civil rights organization, ColorOfChange, organized a petition signed by tens of thousands of its members. In April 2014, the chairs and members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and the New York City Council Black, Latino & Asian Caucus sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an official investigation by the Department of Justice into the death of Ramarley Graham. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare workers union in the nation of which Constance Malcolm is a member has also been supportive of the demands for justice.
“Ramarley Graham was part of our union family, so this issue is very personal for us. His mother Constance is a dedicated healthcare worker and member of 1199SEIU, and we cannot imagine the pain and heartache she has gone through as she has sought justice for her 18 year old son in vain,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “There is a double-standard for justice in America right now, where unarmed people of color are killed over and over again with impunity. It seems like every other week there is another killing, and now they are often caught on video for the world to witness, yet no one is prosecuted. We join Ramarley’s family, faith leaders and community organizations in calling on the Department of Justice to convene a grand jury in this case and move forward with prosecution. We demand fair and equal treatment under the law for Ramarley and all people of color, so we can stop these senseless killings and achieve justice.” –
Constance Malcolm – the mother of Ramarley – was one of several family members of New Yorkers killed by police, who led advocacy efforts that moved Governor Cuomo to issue an executive order to authorize a special prosecutor for police killings of civilians. The executive order is not retroactive, and the families’ efforts were intended to advance justice for New Yorkers who may face similarly tragic circumstances in the future.
“Time is long past due for justice for Ramarley Graham and his family,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). “That not a single officer has been held accountable for the shooting of an unarmed teenager is a tragedy and a shame, and continues to undermine New York's values of justice and fairness.”