Police brutality charges sweep across the US

Monday, October 24, 2011
By Paul Martin

From Naomi Wolf’s arrest in New York to shootings in Tucson and Florida, forces face allegations of abuse of power

Paul Harris
GuardianUK

Officer Michael Daragjati had no idea that the FBI was listening to his phone calls. Otherwise he would probably not have described his arrest and detention of an innocent black New Yorker in the manner he did.

Daragjati boasted to a woman friend that, while on patrol in Staten Island, he had “fried another nigger”. It was “no big deal”, he added. The FBI, which had been investigating another matter, then tried to work out what had happened.

According to court documents released in New York, Daragjati and his partner had randomly stopped and frisked a black man who had become angry and asked for Daragjati’s name and badge number. Daragjati, 32, and with eight years on the force, had no reason to stop the man, and had found nothing illegal. But he arrested him and fabricated an account of him resisting arrest. The man, now referred to in papers only as John Doe because of fears for his safety, spent two nights in jail. He had merely been walking alone through the neighbourhood.

The shocking story has added to a growing sense that there are serious problems of indiscipline and law-breaking in US police forces. Last week the feminist author Naomi Wolf was arrested outside an awards ceremony in Manhattan. She had been advising Occupy Wall Street protesters of their rights to continue demonstrating outside the event. Instead, as she joined the protest, she was carted off to jail in her evening gown. That incident is only the most high-profile of many apparently illegal police actions around the protests. One senior officer, deputy inspector Anthony Bologna, created headlines worldwide when he pepper-sprayed young women behind a police barricade.

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