Jesse Jackson among those arrested in Diallo shooting protest
March 26, 1999
Jackson likened the case to the causes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, as he joined the demonstrations outside NYPD headquarters.
The civil rights leader was one of 226 people arrested for trespassing as the crowds blocked the building's entrance. The total number of people arrested during 14 days of protests now stands at 1,019, according to revised totals from the police department.
Jackson compared the racial tension between the NYPD and the city's minorities to the pre-Civil Rights era South and blamed the aggressive crime fighting tactics of the city's mayor, Rudy Giuliani.
"Giuliani has certainly set a climate for permissiveness of violence and mean police behavior," Jackson said.
Comparing Giuliani to segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Jackson said, "Just as Wallace set a climate in Alabama -- not what he did, what he said and what he did not do -- Mr. Giuliani has set a climate."
Law enforcement sources told CNN Thursday that a Bronx grand jury voted to indict four officers for second-degree murder in the February 4 fatal shooting of Diallo.
But as of early afternoon Friday, defense attorneys in the case had not been formally notified of the charges by the Bronx district attorney.
The four officers -- Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy -- members of the elite street crimes unit, fired 41 shots at the unarmed Diallo, hitting him 19 times.
The officers, who remained on desk duty, chose not to testify before the grand jury, but one of their attorneys said they are eager to defend themselves before a jury.
"My client wants his view of what happened heard. His conduct will be deemed to be justified and reasonable in the court of public opinion," said Steve Brounstein, the attorney for Boss.
"My client looks to being fully vindicated when the matter is fully litigated," said Stuart London, an attorney for officer McMellon.
The defense attorneys said the arraignment--coupled with surrender of the officers and the first public reading of charges--would not happen until next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the largest crowds to date gathered on the police plaza to protest what they see as racially motivated police tactics and failure to charge the officers more quickly.
Jackson called on the Clinton administration to investigate police departments nationwide.
"Whether Diallo in New York; or whether it is Rodney King in California; or Tyesha Miller in Riverside, California; the killing in Jasper, Texas, "Jackson said, "there's a national toxic climate. Therefore, these marches must continue until there is a renewed commitment for a fair criminal justice system."
The accused New York officers were looking for a serial rapist in the Bronx neighborhood where Diallo lived at the time. Their attorneys have said officers are allowed to fire their weapons if they believe their lives are in danger, suggesting a possible defense when the case goes to trial.
Janet Reno said this week that the Justice Department is investigating whether there is a "pattern and practice" of racial harassment by the NYPD.
"We urge Attorney General Janet Reno to come to New York," Jackson said, "to stand where Diallo was shot down, to stand where Tyesha Miller was shot down, and put a face on justice."
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NAACP President's Corner: NAACP to join NY protest of Diallo police killing
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