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Public Housing Spotlight

Issued any statement on that," said a spokesman for Daniel Patrick Moynihan, United States senator, representing all the people of New York, from the sandy plains of Coney Island to the choppy waters of Lake Erie. "I don't anticipate us issuing anything."

"We haven't made a statement," said the people who speak for Gov. Pataki.

Nothing has surfaced from Sheldon Silver, Joe Bruno or Peter Vallone.

And what could any of these grand figures say?

Perhaps the first word of sorrow, sympathy or regret.


Anything other than what was said by Mayor Giuliani, whose public rants all but declare the killing of Dorismond a public service.

So far, though, the white political leadership of New York State and City has been silent or vague, with the honorable exceptions of Alan Hevesi, Sheldon Leffler, Mark Green and perhaps another few.

Why is it left to Al Sharpton to go alone and comfort the survivors, and then why, when mainstream politicians speak out, it is always the Virginia Fieldses and the David Patersons and the Charlie Rangels?

Are the white politicians waiting until Martin Luther King Day to issue a proclamation?

Dorismond was killed while trying to hail a cab. Amadou Diallo was killed while standing on his own stoop. They are linked by two features. First, they were minding their own business. Second, they were men of color.

Forget all the legal hocus-pocus. Diallo did not die because he held his wallet the wrong way, or because someone shouted gun. He died because the cops were chasing a gun quota and stopped on a quiet Bronx street to question a person who was bothering no man, woman or child.


Dorismond, too, was keeping to the law, on the public streets. He was not looking for trouble. The law sent trouble to him.

Where are the bishops and the rabbis? Why haven't the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Loyal Sons of Italy and the B'nai B'rith spoken up about the killing of law-abiding citizens by the state?

This is not just a job for the NAACP or black elected officials. These deaths cannot fall into a political ghetto. They come from public policy, not split-second decisions on the street.

The mayor and police commissioner decided to expand the street crime unit against all expert advice, and Diallo was killed by the new recruits. Plus, they got fewer guns, not more, off the street.

Then the police commissioner decided to raise the marijuana arrests from 9,854 in 1996 to 34,111 last year, because he thinks that pot smoking is the incubator of atrocity. He gives the cops piles of overtime money to make these marijuana arrests. Now, Dorismond is dead, after saying no to a pot deal with an undercover cop. And murders are up 23% this year.

To explain all this, the mayor went on TV and denounced Dorismond for having been arrested years ago. Dorismond was no good, the mayor said. One case, when Dorismond was a boy of 13, was dismissed before it ever got to a judge. He was never convicted of anything higher than disorderly conduct, a summons.

Whatever happened in the scuffle, no one denies that Dorismond told the undercover cop who came looking for pot to get lost.

Now, the mayor is angry at Dorismond for getting himself killed, instead of arrested.

In this moral chaos, the PBA must speak. Where are the police ethnic societies — not the blacks, but the Emeralds and the Latinos and the Shomrim and the Pulaski? Why haven't their good voices been raised against this insanity?

One of the New York senators, Chuck Schumer, called yesterday to speak on this killing.

"The wisest policy is that one should not rush to judgment," said Schumer. "Everyone is entitled to due process. To release information about either the victim or the police officer is inappropriate."

Would you say the mayor was off base in doing exactly that?

"You can characterize it any way you want," said Schumer. "That's my quote."

I have a daring statement to propose for this whole crowd of people who are invisible and silent.

How about this:

We regret Mr. Dorismond's death and send our condolences of the people of New York to his mother and father, his children, his fiancee and his friends.

And this:

As with any law-abiding citizen, he should have been allowed to walk the streets of the city without interference. Like Amadou Diallo, the person who minds his own legal business should be left alone to enjoy the liberty that the country stands for.

It's radical, dudes.

Original Publication Date: 03/21/2000