NEW YORK -- A co-worker of Patrick Dorismond's renewed his allegations Tuesday that undercover narcotics officers started the fight that resulted in the fatal shooting of the unarmed black man outside a midtown Manhattan bar.
Kevin Kaiser, who claims to be the only civilian eyewitness to the controversial shooting, told reporters the tragedy unfolded after "three men who appeared like derelicts approached us for weed."
The two off-duty security guards told the men to go away, Kaiser said. But one -- an officer he identified as Anderson Moran -- taunted them with snarling sounds before the shooter, Detective Anthony Vasquez, assaulted Dorismond, he said.
"I saw Detective Vasquez throw the first punch at my friend, Patrick Dorismond," said Kaiser, reading from a statement at a Brooklyn news conference with the Rev. Al Sharpton and announcing a wrongful arrest claim against the city. "Patrick did nothing to cause the officer to strike him. At or about the same time, I heard the gun go off."
Kaiser, 22, of Queens, said the officers, all dressed in street clothes, never identified themselves as police. After Dorismond was shot, he added, he heard one of the officers say, "Cuff that shot [expletive]." Kaiser is Hispanic.
The shooting last week of Dorismond, 26, a Brooklyn native of Haitian descent -- coupled with city officials' decision to defend the shooting by making public his record of petty crime -- has outraged black activists, the victim's family, and members of the city's Haitian community. It also has fueled political sniping between Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton in their race for the U.S. Senate.
Campaigning Monday night in Harlem, Clinton said Giuliani has "led the rush to judgment. That is not real leadership." Other Democrats have charged that City Hall broke state law by releasing information from a sealed juvenile case against the victim.
"In releasing Patrick Dorismond's juvenile record, Mayor Giuliani has violated the public trust, Mayor Giuliani has violated state law, Mayor Giuliani has let down the people of the state of New York," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.
After the shooting, Giuliani released Dorismond's criminal record, including a previously sealed juvenile offense. In defending the disclosure of that record, city lawyer Michael Hess said when a person dies his or her "right to privacy is eliminated."
"The law is when you die, your privacy interest ends," Giuliani said Tuesday.
Silver disagreed, and said the Assembly would immediately convene hearings in New York City or Albany to find out how Giuliani and the New York City Police Department got hold of and released Dorismond's sealed juvenile records, a move he called "reprehensible" and "egregious."
Meanwhile, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, under fire for not speaking out sooner, wrote the mayor a letter saying he was "deeply troubled by your release of sealed records that are irrelevant to the tragic death of Patrick Dorismond."
Giuliani refused to back down.
The mayor accused Hillary Clinton of trying to "use [the shooting] as a campaign issue. . . . What she did last night was entirely political." He also fed reporters new details about Dorismond's brushes with the law, including a March 7 incident in which he allegedly punched his girlfriend on the side of the head while she was holding the couple's 1-year-old child.
"I am giving you facts that you resist printing," Giuliani said. "That Mr. Dorismond spent a good deal of his adult life punching people is a fact."
Silver denied any collusion with Clinton.
"This is not about Mrs. Clinton. This is not about a Senate campaign," Silver said angrily at a state capitol news conference. "This is about the highest elected official in the city of New York having the perception out in the public and being proud of violating the law."
Silver said he had not invited any members of the Republican-controlled Senate to participate in the hearings. "I think if the Senate thinks as we do, they will hold their own hearings or ask to join our hearings," he said.
I marched in the Patrick Dorismond Funeral procession from the funeral home on Flatbush Avenue to the front of the Holy Cross Church and was at the exact flash point where the violence initially took place at the barricaded corner of Flatbush and Church Avenues. Until the procession reached that intersection it was totally peacefull and non-violent. I left the area about twenty minutes later immediately after the casket was brought into the church when it became obvious that blood was going to flow in the street. What caused the violence to erupt and who it was designed to benefit, rather than how many bottles were thrown and how many were arrested or injured, are the questions that need to be answered.
Media coverage of the march has almost completely focused on images and descriptions of barricades and bottles being thrown and of a U.S. flag being burned. I believe the violence was carefully orchestrated to take place at that exact location in order to eclipse the intense political nature of the march. The media had a massive presence at that spot including photographers and video crews that had been allowed by the police to set up on rooftops on either side of the street. How many times before have we seen the media exploit images of "terrorists" burning a flag to incite public opinion in support of military intervention? Remember also how many times the media showed a handful out of tens of thousands of peaceful protesters breaking windows in Seattle last year to justify a military style police response.
I've been in as well as led a lot of anti-Giuliani marches and protests but this one was unique in that a group of thousands of Black New Yorkers were unanimous in their bitter denunciation of Mayor Giuliani. The single portrait of the Mayor as Hitler which I carried was just one of hundreds of Giuliani as Hitler portraits and intensely anti-Giuliani signs in the march. The chants, many of which were in French, were all about the Mayor and the urgency of his being removed from office. If there had been no violence the coverage would have had to focus entirely on the political message, which would have been devastating for Giuliani.
There were no barricades set up along the entire length of Flatbush Avenue on the route between the funeral home and the church which is atypical of Giuliani/NYPD procedure. Marchers were allowed by the police to walk in the street and on the sidewalk without interference. As the column reached the corner of Flatbush and Church Avenues the situation was entirely different. The street was completely closed off by rows of hundreds of heavy steel barricades. Barricades lined the sidewalks and almost completely blocked off the entrance to the street. Behind the barricades were hundreds of police officers. The marchers were stopped at the entrance to the street and held there for no apparent reason. Vehicular traffic had been banned hours earlier and there was no traffic of any kind justifying the holding up of the column. From my perspective there was no reason whatsoever to stop and hold the procession at that point as they were finally in sight of the church other than to antagonize the marchers.
Two young black males at the front suddenly picked up barricades and tossed them at the police. As the foremost obstacle was removed the crowd surged through the opening pushed along like a stream of water by the built up human pressure behind them. The same two young men that had initially tossed the barricades proceeded to systematically move down the street turning over barricade after barricade with the police standing right there doing nothing whatsoever to stop them and not even verbally warning them. As someone who has been falsely arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and even inciting a riot simply for holding up a cardboard sign I know this is not normal NYPD procedure. In my opinion, these young men were exactly what NYPD Commissioner Safir called them in an article in this Sunday's NY Post POST 3/26/2000 SAFIR RAPS RIOTERS AS 'THUGS' AND OUTSIDERS "The protesters who clashed with cops after Patrick Dorismond's funeral were outsiders "ginned up by demagogues trying to pursue their own agendas," Police Commissioner Howard Safir charged yesterday."
What Safir neglected to mention was that these young men were doing political work for Safir's boss, the demagogue Rudy Giuliani. I've seen this exact same Giuliani technique at work a number of times. During the busiest day of the Diallo protests at the Bronx courthouse last year a black man got into the middle of the protesters and began urging them to attack the police, set fires and initiate violence. Not one person in the crowd responded to him other than to call him a police plant and order him to leave. He continued his harangue for almost 20 minutes with numerous police officers listening in and doing nothing despite the legal fact that the man was blatantly committing a felony, inciting to riot. The man was well dressed and appeared completely normal. Despite the inflamatory nature of his words he appeared calm, composed and professional. It's a historical fact that Mayor Giuliani has personal expertise in inciting riots as his performance on the steps of City Hall during the 1993 Mayoral campaign demonstrated.
Until the confrontation at the barricaded entrance to Church Avenue the march was dignified, peaceful and one hundred percent political. The marchers appeared to be mostly well-dressed middle class Haitians and certainly didn't appear to be looking for any kind of trouble let alone to be involved in a violent riot. Many had little children with them. After the march reached the barricaded corner it became violent, chaotic and totally lost its political message, degenerating into a meaningless battle between the cops and the marchers. This outcome exactly supports Giuliani's Manhattan Institute Eugenics-inspired ideology that Dorismond and all Black people are violent, genetically inferior and must be surpressed at all times by a massive police presence.
It must be remembered that Giuliani has a Haitian connection that predates the Abner Louima and Dorismond incidents. As the # three official in the Reagan Justice Department Rudy Giuliani visited Haiti, met with Duvalier and bizzarely declared that there was no political repression in Haiti.
If it can be proven that those who started throwing the barricades were not simply hotheads but were either NYPD agents working on behalf of the Mayor to disrupt the march or Haitians connected to repressive right-wing elements in Haiti that are available to work with Giuliani, and that the street was closed off in order to start a riot rather than to prevent one, then Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Safir must be charged with some very serious crimes. Not only are these crimes against the people of New York City but in a sense they are even more crimes against the NYPD. If Giuliani and Safir are inciting riots against their own police in which officers are going to be injured or possibly killed, the NYPD's various unions must do more than mouthing soundbites about how restrained the police were and how many injuries they sustained. These officers have a right to know if the Mayor is making a dangerous job more dangerous just to protect his political image.
Robert Lederman is an artist, a regular columnist for the Greenwich Village Gazette, The Shadow, The Vigo-Examiner and Street News, and is the author of hundreds of published essays concerning Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. His essays and letters have appeared in the NY Times, NY Post, Daily News, Newsday, Brooklyn Bridge, Park Slope Courier, The Daily Challenge, Amsterdam News, Sandbox, Penthouse, Our Town, NY Press and are available on hundreds of websites around the world. Lederman has been falsely arrested 41 times to date for his anti-Giuliani activities and has never been convicted of any of the charges. He is best known for creating hundreds of paintings of Mayor Giuliani as a Hitler like dictator
See an extensive archive of Lederman columns on the Bush connection to Nazis, eugenics and drug companies. Also articles on West Nile Virus, Giuliani, the Manhattan Institute - more than 50 articles filled with references. [Not all links guaranteed to work]
Last night, 4/5/2000, a lengthy interview was broadcast that was so unusual I suspected something must be wrong with my TV. Had a higher power taken control of a local television station in order to brighten the spiritual darkness surrounding New York City? The novelty I was seeing and hearing was unaffected honesty, clarity, dignity and truth in the person of Patrick Dorismond's sister. How different the debate would be if this City had a single elected official or leader who could express themselves as honestly and truthfully as this young woman.
Sitting beside her grieving mother and interviewed by NY1's Dominick Carter, Marie Dorismond in six minutes did more to refute the past six years of Giuliani's lies than all the commentators, protesters and rallies in the world could ever do. Her words were superbly intelligent, devoid of spin and deeply moving. These were not the stale slogans and politically correct sloganeering that divides as it pretends to unite and inspire.
If this exceptional young woman is his sister, what must Patrick Dorismond have been like? Was he the violent thug, the petty criminal Mayor Giuliani claims spent his life punching people? Hearing his mother, sister and father one can only surmise that he was exactly the kind of good friend, helpful neighbor and loving father that any of us might hope to have as a son or brother.
Among the Mayor's many desperate lies about Patrick Dorismond is that he was no altar boy. As is often the case, what the Mayor publicly says is 180 degrees from the truth. Dorismond was in fact an altar boy. Even more ironically, like Giuliani himself, Patrick Dorismond was a student at Bishop Laughlin, a strict Catholic High School in Brooklyn.
When Giuliani attended Bishop Laughlin its student body was for the most part White. As the neighborhood's racial makeup changed, the Giuliani family fled Brooklyn for the White enclaves of Staten Island, which today is the only Borough in NYC where the Mayor remains popular. Nowadays Bishop Laughlin is predominantly Black and many of the students are children of Haitian immigrants like the Dorismonds. These children's parents sacrifice each day to send them to an expensive private school rather than the City's totally free public schools because they want to give them the best possible chance to succeed in life-a chance the Mayor seems intent on systematically destroying.
These are the young people Giuliani's Operation Condor and the Street Crimes Unit are racially profiling, slamming into walls and illegally searching each night. These are the children who are learning to loath and fear the sight of police officers, the children who have to practice how to reach for their I.D. without appearing to be reaching for a weapon. These are the children that the Mayor's right wing CIA initiated think tank, The Manhattan Institute, believe to be genetically and mentally inferior and inclined by their very genes to follow a life of crime; the ones the Mayor thinks need to be taught a lesson in civility by periodically brutalizing, arresting and sending through the criminal in-justice system.
Patrick Dorismond's mother, also named Marie, is a nurse in a New York City hospital, the kind of poor people's hospital the Mayor wants to privatize or eliminate altogether in order to pass the money on to the investment bankers and real estate moguls that are pulling his strings. She considers herself to be working for the same administration that killed her son, sullied his name and made a mockery of his funeral. It horrifies her that she works for a local government that dissected and desecrated her son's body without asking the family for permission in the hope they'd find a trace of drugs and that, in her words, killed him a second time by trying to destroy his reputation. It's certainly possible that the police officer who fired the fatal shot did so by accident. Unlike that tragic error, the Mayor's assassination of Patrick Dorismond's character has been nothing less than cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder.
Asked if she'd be willing to meet with the Mayor, Dorismond's mother sadly shook her head and said no, it was too late, that she'd meet Giuliani before God on Judgment Day. It's a good thing that eternity, unlike the Mayor's busy schedule of soft money fundraising and censored press conferences, has no time constraints, because it seems there could be a very long line of wronged parents, children and friends of his victims waiting there to have a word with him.
Giuliani, who never misses an opportunity to associate his perversely racist administration with the prayers of Cardinals and Ministers, Rabbis and Imams probably imagines himself to be doing God's work on this earth, a modern day Savaranola torturing sinners in his Central Booking dungeon and burning violators of his quality of life gospel at the stake. Like his new political soulmate John McCain, a man who still insists on calling the Vietnamese farmers he was shot down while bombing Gooks, Giuliani is unshakably certain his way is always and forever right.
There is a direct connection between that misbegotten war and what is happening here in New York City. The corporate-sponsored psychopaths who were the architects of the Vietnam War, like Henry Kissinger and his associates in the CIA, are literally the same people advising and directing Giuliani's war on the people of New York City today. It's no small irony that John McCain is a true believer in both of these misguided wars.
The collateral damage of the Mayor's policies includes the bodies of young black and Latino males accidentally shot by special police units methodically filling their nightly quota of arrests for marijuana possession and loitering in one's own doorway. These deaths, like the body counts in Vietnam, are mere statistics to this Mayor, bumps on the road to higher office that can be smoothed over by leaking reports that he's kneeling in prayer and meeting with Black ministers.
Patrick Dorismond's family, and in particular his sister, are a shining light that can penetrate the foul darkness of Mayor Giuliani's lies. We can only hope that many other media outlets will have the courage to give this woman the same opportunity to clear her brother's name that they've given the Mayor to dishonor it.