Voices in Focus: After Payout in NYPD Brutality Case, Couple Remains Defiant

Among the items that caught our attention in the ethnic and community press this morning: the Brooklyn couple who just received a $360,000 settlement in their police brutality lawsuit against the NYPD speak out; Colorlines connects new Census numbers showing that white babies are now the minority with Alabama’s harsh immigration law; and previews of this weekend’s Malcolm X day celebration and a dance festival in Inwood.

Civil rights attorneys Evelyn and Michael Warren settled their case against the city over a 2007 incident in which they say they were beaten by police officers. (Photo by Amadi Ajamu/Amsterdam News)

* The Amsterdam News ran a postmortem on the $360,000 settlement of a Brooklyn couple’s police brutality lawsuit.

The Brooklyn civil rights attorneys Michael and Evelyn Warren had a run-in with police officers in 2007 when they tried to intervene in an arrest, Amsterdam News reported previously. The couple said that they saw police beating a handcuffed suspect, and that when they asked why, police turned on them, beating and then arresting them.

Speaking to the Amsterdam News after the settlement was announced, the couple said they decided to take the payout to avoid the stress of a trial. But they remained defiant.

Michael Warren told the AmNews, “I wanted to fight this case because I think it is important—if any member of our community is affected adversely by the acts of the police, it’s important that there is a trial — a public hearing—to occur, so that public can witness firsthand what has taken place that gave rise to that injustice.”

In a scathing attack, he continued, “Those people who are in positions of leadership have not come out and spoken forcefully on these issues, because a lot of them have been compromised in one way or another, and I think that is the foul legacy of the Bloomberg administration. He has co-opted, through his money, certain individuals and paralyzed or immobilized them in terms of preventing them in engaging in activities that challenge the policies of his Police Department.”

Barely pausing to savor their win against the city, NYPD and Police Commissioner Kelly, Evelyn Warren said that, looking forward, “People in the community need to demand that, as part of his or her platform, any mayoral candidate addresses not just violence against The Community but also stop and frisk, which is a form of violence.”

And the Warrens’ lawyer, Jonathan Moore, pointed out that the settlement leaves the officer that the Warrens said punched them both in the face, Stephen Talvy, unscathed.

Even in light of the city virtually admitting that what the officers did was so egregious they had to fork over a substantial amount of money to correct it, Moore stated, “Talvy was promoted to lieutenant, a lot of the officers were promoted to detective, so they felt no hindrance to their careers. And that’s what’s unfortunate about it.

“They’ve paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims because of these same officers.”

The young man involved in the violent arrest that caught the Warrens’ eye also sued and ended up receiving $45,0000, said Moore.

* Colorlines drew a connection between two widely reported pieces of news this week: the tipping point that America reached with the Census finding that less than half of America’s babies are white, and the legislative passage of a revision to Alabama’s H.B. 56 law, already considered by many the harshest state immigration law in the country. If signed by the governor, the new “scarlet letter” provision to the law would “create a public, searchable database which includes the name and personal information of any undocumented immigrant who appears in Alabama state court for any reason,” Colorlines reported.

Latinos continue to be the nation’s fastest growing group with their population increasing by 3.1 percent since 2010. Latinos made up 16.7 percent of the nation’s population in 2011, with Los Angeles having the highest percentage of Latinos of any county.

These are exactly the kinds of large demographic trends that are reshaping the country,” said Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter.

“Anti-immigrant laws like H.B. 56 passed in Alabama yesterday are an example of how powerful the fears about the growing population of Latinos and people of color in the country can be,” Hing went to say.

* Also in Amsterdam News, two articles previewed the events planned for tomorrow’s Malcolm X Day celebration in Harlem, which kicks off this evening at 5 p.m. with a poetry and spoken word event hosted by The Source magazine in Marcus Garvey Park. Among the other events listed by the Amsterdam News for what would have been the civil rights leader’s 87th birthday: a block party, the annual shutdown of stores on 125th Street, and a tribute to the recently deceased journalist Gil Noble.

The Amsterdam News also caught up with Omowale Clay, a key organizer for the 25-year-old Malcolm X Day tradition, who said the celebration goes on despite what he sees as attempts to undermine Malcolm X’s legacy.

Clay went on to say, “The current attacks on our community through gentrification, the domestic rise of a police state with the incorporation of stop-and-frisk, the educational Russian roulette played by the Department of Education and the international policy of recolonizing Africa demands that we reflect on Malcolm X now more than ever. Therefore, the righteous call for Black people to march for power and demand respect is at the core of us holding the business community to a ‘Commercial Moment of Silence’ and no disrespect for Malcolm X.

“It might seem a small thing to some; however, believe me, it is a very big thing to the powers that run this city and believe they can dictate our lives forever. So we say, long live the spirit of Malcolm X.”

Students from PS 208 performing Brazilian Dance during the Drums Along the Hudson festival in 2011. (Photo by Joseph Rodman / DNAinfo)

* Further north in Inwood, this weekend offers an opportunity to celebrate the world’s indigenous cultures through dance at Sunday’s Drums Along the Hudson festival in Inwood Hill Park, DNAinfo reported.

Although the event was originally meant to reflect the history of the park as a homeland for the Lenape people, the event now seeks to celebrate the diverse cultures of indigenous people from all over the world.

“We’re bringing new members of traditional arts and dance community to event in order to have a dialogue between Native American culture and other areas of the dance community,” said Ruder, a program manager for Lotus Music & Dance.

In keeping with the goal, the powwow will now include a dance performance from the New York Chinese Cultural Center and Jacques d’Ambroise’s National Dance Institute as well as the Thunderbird American Indian Singers & Dancers.

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