Protesters rally over Kimani Gray shooting

March 24, 2013 6:33:48 PM PDT
A march was held Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn in honor of Kimani Gray, the 16-year old shot and killed by police in East Flatbush.

However, near the scene where Kimani Gray died, the protest crowd grew slowly; nearly all of whom live outside the East Flatbush community.

The community insists that Gray's death is just the latest case of brutality at the hands of the NYPD. However, on March 9th, Police say the 16-year-old gang member pulled a gun on cops, who shot and killed him. To the people rallying in Gray's name, it is all a lie.

"I am a hundred percent certain that Kimani Gray did not have a gun," said Nicholas Hayward.

The killing sparked protest for weeks, and crowds got out of hand, looting stores, and assaulting shopkeepers. Dozens wound up in cuffs, and Gray's family and others from the community effectively disowned the outside protesters who stirred the crowd up.

In fact, the rallies have turned the community upside-down. There are police as far as the eye can see, and barricades put in place everywhere.

Hundreds gathered Saturday for an emotional, but peaceful, funeral for the boy whose death sparked a week of protests.

Gray was shot seven times on March 9 during an encounter with two plainclothes police officers, who said the teen pulled a gun as they approached him on a street in Brooklyn. Police said a .38 caliber revolver was found at the scene.

The teen's funeral, at a Roman Catholic church not far from where he was killed, drew relatives, friends, and many mourners who had no connection to the teen or his family except a shared sadness over his death. Many mourners wore clothing or carried laminated cards bearing Gray's picture.

"He was funny. And he always knew how to put a smile on my face," said Sidonie Smith, a childhood friend. "Anytime somebody was in a bad mood, he always knew how to make them happy."

The emotion of the service was too much for Gray's father, who fled the church as the choir sang "Amazing Grace." Gray's mother sobbed during the memorial.

The NYPD deployed a large security force to the area around the church during the service, but there was no repeat of the disturbances that came in the days after the shooting.

The killing touched off demonstrations by residents who questioned the police account of the shooting and said they were fed up with aggressive law-enforcement actions.

Dozens were arrested at one demonstration. At another, a group of youths broke off, marauded through a commercial district and trashed a produce market.

Saturday's funeral took place just as the police department is defending itself against a civil rights lawsuit, claiming that the stop and frisk program has resulted in mass harassment of minorities by officers under pressure from commanders to make arrests in high-crime areas.

Police officials and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have defended the program as an effective way of taking guns off the street.