Former Brooklyn councilman and current Assembly candidate Charles Barron warned today of a potential outbreak of violence in reaction to the police department’s use of prohibited chokeholds against black civilians and failure to permanently remove officers found to have employed the maneuver.
“I don’t care what anyone says, there is a powder keg in this town. Don’t blame me, the social forecaster, when there is an explosion in this town,” Mr. Barron, who still identifies as a Black Panther, said. “Just like you don’t blame the weatherman when the storm comes.”
At a press conference where he charged that a cop had used a chokehold on a seven-months-pregnant Brooklyn woman this past Saturday — just over a week after the maneuver was used shortly before the death of Staten Islander Eric Garner in police custody — Mr. Barron demanded the immediate firing of the officer in the Brooklyn incident, as well as the firing of his immediate superior and of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
The pol, who said civilians in both instances wound up in chokeholds because they were black, warned that Mayor Bill de Blasio would face potentially violent consequences if the use of chokeholds did not stop immediately and officers found to have used them not be severely punished.
And Mr. Barron also blasted Mr. Bratton, his “broken windows” policy of cracking down on low-level infractions, and the commissioner’s call for re-training of police on the subject of chokeholds.
“It’s stupid and racist, it does not make sense,” Mr. Barron said of broken windows. “Tell Bratton to take his training and shove it! They need to pay and be punished!”
The Assembly candidate called the conference after a police officer allegedly employed a chokehold on expecting African-American mother Rosan Miller after asking her to relocate her barbecue grill from in front of her home on July 26, as a police lieutenant looked on. Ms. Miller was eventually arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
Her husband, Moses Miller, was reportedly called a racial epithet, punched and suffered a dislocated shoulder in the same incident. Mr. Barron noted that the officer in the incident was black, while the lieutenant was Asian-American–which he argued was irrelevant, as he claimed “broken windows” is an inherently racist policy that promotes the use of chokeholds.
“Once again, is the chokehold, with the young man who lost his life in Staten Island, Garner,” Mr. Barron said. “This is Bratton’s broken windows.”
Councilwoman Inez Barron, Mr. Barron’s wife, echoed his chants of “Bratton must go” and his calls for the immediate expulsion of the police officer and lieutenant involved in the incident with Ms. Miller. Ms. Barron said that more than 1,000 complaints of chokeholds had been lodged with the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, but the board had only substantiated nine, and the harshest punishment meted out had been loss of vacation time.
Ms. Barron called for state legislation to mandate immediate firing as a minimum punishment for employing a chokehold, with the possibility of confiscating the offending officer’s pension and forcing them to personally compensate the victim.
“We haven’t been able to get many convictions because of technicalities,” claimed Ms. Barron. “We want to change the language of the state law, so that we can eliminate those loopholes.”
The NYPD said that Internal Affairs is investigating the incident with the Miller family. Mr. Bratton has denied race was a factor in the killing of Mr. Garner–but Mr. Barron argued that both the late Staten Islander and Ms. Miller would have been allowed to go about their business had they not been black.
“If this was a white neighborhood, you can be sure they would have kept driving on down the block,” Mr. Barron said.