Ramarley Graham Hearing – January 22, 2021, 10 am Eastern
Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Ramarley Graham
- Rapporteur Ria Julien
- Commissioner Mr. Max Boqwana
- Commissioner Judge Peter Herbert, OBE
- Ms. Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham
- Mr. Royce Russell, attorney for the Ramarley Graham family
Ria Julien 00:05
Good morning everyone. Today is Friday January 22. It’s 10:02am Eastern Standard Time, I welcome everyone to the hearings of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States. These hearings are a process by which witnesses can present accounts of the unjustified killings and maimings of Black people by police officers in the United States before an international panel of human rights experts. We now begin in the the hearing in the case of Ramarley Graham.
Ria Julien 00:44
My name is Ria Julian and I am the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over the hearing today is Max Boqwana of South Africa and Commissioner – Commissioner Max Boqwana, that is, and Commissioner Peter Herbert of the UK and Kenya. The witnesses for this hearing, are the attorney for for Mr. Graham, the estate of Mr. Graham, Russell, Royce, and as well as a family member, Constance Graham, the mother of Mr. Ramarley Graham. We will, there will be 50 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify, followed by a period of questions from commissioners. I will call time at the 30 minute mark and the 45 minute mark. Please excuse my interruptions. Commissioners Boqwana nd Herbert, I now present you your first witness. And I believe that is attorney Russell Royce of the Russell Emdin firm. I will now swear the witness. Mr. Russell Royce, please confirm your name.
Royce Russell 02:08
I confirm my name and just for the record it is Royce Russell.
Ria Julien 02:12
Pardon me, sir. Royce Russell, you’ve confirmed your name. Thank you very much. And please forgive the my error. Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Royce Russell 02:28
Ria Julien 02:30
You may begin. Commissioners Boqwana and Herbert. I now present to you Royce Russell. Please go ahead.
Max Boqwana 02:41
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 02:43
Thank you very much.
Royce Russell 02:47
Well, thank you for having me here. Just following some of the protocols, I’ll give the swift version of what led to the death of Ramarley Graham, if hat is okay and if it please the council. I am the attorney Royce Russell who represented Constance Malcolm and the family of Ramarley Graham who was wrongfully killed back in 2012. I am the sole practitioner, partner of a firm Royce, Royce Russell R Square Esq, PLLC. [inaudible] police within 18-year-old Ramarley Graham’s household. The facts are pretty simple. The facts surround itself, surround itself around racial profiling, implicit bias and stereotypes at the highest level, which appears not to be something that the New York City Police Department can fit out or train or do away with. It will always be there, unfortunately. And this is a prime example of such. Briefly Mr. Graham was with friends hanging out as any normal teenager would. And they went from one location of a store to another location, another friend’s house, from which there Mr. Graham went to his house.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Graham, the police were surveying some other activity had nothing to do with him, but fixated on him for some reason. That reason was never articulated. We’ve never found the truth. We know what the lies were but truth was missing so far …the lies that he was selling drugs or doing something nefarious, but there was no proof whatsoever to support that. Nonetheless, Mr. Graham as any other teenager would, after, convening with his friends went to his house, and upon arriving his house, arriving to his house, he went upstairs to meet his grandmother and his brother, unbeknownst to him, police were running after or running behind him. And with all the vigor and violence that you can ever mentally think of, try to knock down the family, the two family house door, and being unsuccessful, tried every means necessary to get inside that house. Their narrative, false narrative, was that Mr. Graham was seen with a gun, and so therefore they needed to stop him. And I’ll double back on how false a narrative that was. But eventually, by way of a neighbor, they were able to get into the side entrance of the door, without having any tactical plan, without following any protocol and procedures of calling emergency service units, which are units that come in to deal with someone that you may think have a weapon that’s inside a home where other people may be there, they disregarded all the protocols whatsoever, and their main focus was to make sure that they get inside that house and get to Mr. Graham, forget protocol.
And upon entering the Ravages, the first floor apartment, not really understanding the structure of the two family house, and then they barge in, break into the home of Ramarley Graham, as he stood there with his grandmother by his side and his little brother by his side, guns pointed guns drawn, and Ramarley Graham moved slightly to the left towards the bathroom. And that’s all he had to do. And that was the last step that he took because he was shot dead right there in front of his grandmother, and his little brother by his side. Now the false narratives run wild after that. And the false narratives begin with the NYPD releasing video so it’s not only that Ramarley Graham was killed physically, they had assassinated his character and his person by releasing video of some other individual running in all white and running as if he has done something wrong. Meanwhile, Ramarley Graham had all black on. So the first thing was to set and bring out a narrative, and this is systemic. This is how it goes on throughout history is to what I call get to first base first, damn the truth. Let me get the, let me put out the narrative that I want the world to see, which is unfair and biased and doesn’t even give time to allow anyone to get to the truth of what happened. But in the traditional way that NYPD does, they release the narrative that Mr. Ramarley Graham was under surveillance, he was selling drugs. And they showed the footage of the individual running who had all white. Unbeknownst to the police department, and thank God for the owners of the house, Mrs. Graham, and Miss Constance, rather Mrs. Malcolm, we call her Connie, so I’m just going to, because I see her here, Connie had the forethought to have a camera in front of her door as security and it showed that Ramarley Graham had all black, so hence first strike for the false narrative him running in white.
Secondly, it shows that Ramarley Graham was walking to the front of his door, second strike to the false narrative. You would think if someone was being chased by the police and they knew about it, they would be running, which falls into line by his physical display that he did not know police were following him and he had no reason to act any differently, but to go home like he normally does to meet up with his family. And then the third force now, which is the biggest, is that there was never any gun found. There was nothing of anything that was illegal contraband that was worth noting. And because an officer and I’ll use this and cite me on the air quotes, “fear for their safety,” air quotes, this young man was killed. And this is where the dog is chasing the tail, you illegally enter their apartment. Your factual basis is false and led upon implicit bias, false narrative stereotypes. You then enter their home, his home, and now you fear for your safety. A reasonable person would say that if you saw and if you thought the person on the other side had a gun, you would do everything you can to keep that person in that room and limit the the exposure, contain and isolate. And if you thought that there someone else was in danger, then you immediately call emergency service unit which they did not do. So if that wasn’t enough, you then have to live with the false narrative. And then you add insult to injury in that it took over five years to have police officer Haste then fired, five years of litigation, to have the person that took a life unjustly, fired. And so when the commission hears me today, there are a couple of things that is striking. And that is of of issue and a problem. One, the marriage between the district attorney’s office and police departments and the political connections between the police department and government, the mayor.
And the fact that in New York City, it doesn’t matter what anyone says, the district attorney’s office, the mayor, because the police control themselves. At the end of the day, they make the determination whether or not someone is terminated or not. There could be hearings all day and all night, the commissioner has to sign off on it. And if the commissioner does not sign off on it, then the person is not terminated. So what happens is that you have to have this outside pressure, you have to have the vigilance of Connie, and other entities such as Justice Committee, Gathering for Justice, National Action Network, Until Freedom, CPU, all the advocacy organizations, you have to lift and hold up the victims of wrongful death and police brutality. Because if you stay silent, the political entities in and of itself will not do anything about it. Especially in an era where we know that there are sympathizers that wear the uniform of law enforcers, law enforcement, we’ve seen that with the insurrection in the Capitol. And that’s where we’ve seen it at its highest, but as an individual, African American male representing people of color in the area of civil rights, false arrest and police brutality. We’ve been shouting that from day one, that they are people that are on the force that are racially or, let’s say, racist, and have racial motivations that is hidden behind their badge, and we see it play out. And we saw it play out with the death of Ramarley Graham. And so, you know, one of the biggest obstacles that we face here in New York City, is the 50-a law, which prevented and now has been reformed, the release of police officers’ past history. And when I say past history, how many cases have they been cited for excessive force, false arrests, police brutality, and the city had to pay either by way of settlement or by way of judgment? And so the mayor has done what I call a so-so job in reforming that statute. So now that could become public. But that’s only part of the battle. The real battle is, is that now we have what the history is. And any good employer would say, Well, if my employee keeps on coming work late, and the job is not getting done, then they should be terminated. We do not have that here in New York City.
Officers that I am litigating against now, cases that I have now, you have officers before five, six cases pending, settlements 75,000, 150,000, 250,000, because of their actions, and they remain on the police force, or they get transferred, or they go to another county and they become a police officer there. But they never never are terminated. So, you know, we welcome the fact that the 50-a is now in effect where we can get information as to the background of police officers. But we know that that’s not enough because what we really need is the body cam footage that police officers are now required to wear. And so that’s the next battle is who determines when that footage is turned on? And when is it released? How long do we have to wait for it? Currently in the matter of Kawaski Trawick, a young man that once again in his home, police enter illegally and they shoot him and he’s dead. We had to wait months, weeks, year, at least a year to get the body cam footage to see how the African American, more experienced officer told his white, younger experienced officer of four years, where he has 16 years. Do not shoot. We’re not going to tase him, put the gun away. What does he listen? No, he does not. What happens? Kawaski Trawick is dead. Why? So why do you enter this man’s home again? And if you believe he was a threat, why didn’t you just leave? or Why didn’t you call the emergency service unit?
That is the question, Where is the retraining? Where is the psychological evaluation? Where is the cultural sensitive, cultural sensitivity? Where are the elements of what I call accountability legislation that says maybe, a police officer is involved in a wrongful shooting or wrongful death, that they have to pay a percentage of what the compensation to the family may be? Some would say that that will have a chilling effect on law enforcement, I say it would have the right effect on law enforcement. Have you think before you act, think about all the consequences. Maybe that will empower the officer that stands there, and watch the abuse go on and watch the false arrests go on, take them, take a moment to intervene. Because I’m of the mindset that is not only the bad actor that does it himself that is accountable and responsible. It is the officers, officer that stands to the side and does nothing while the action is taking place. And I’ll just say one last thing, because I want to time for all to speak and have all the questions we can. If we just leave it at the footstep of the police in the United States of America to reform themselves, they will never get reform, it will never happen. And part of what we need to be doing is teaching and educating and making sure that our community is informed on how to deal with police encounters. How to deal with unlawful stops, what are the things that you can do that will preserve evidence when you’re dead, or when someone is bringing a false narrative, that can help your attorney vindicate and get you some type of redress for injustice and also be used in a forum like this, so that we can have true reform. So I think that’s part of the mission as we move forward. That’s part of the think tank, is the education part, to everyone in our community in communities of color, no matter what age, on how to handle unlawful police stops that you see in the backdrop. You see, Cardiac Arrest, that’s a book I authored, it deals with tactical guides on how to handle unlawful police stops. But it is important because relying on the police themselves and law enforcement themselves, I will tell you it is a dead end. We have to empower ourselves as we walk this walk. And I thank you for your time.
Ria Julien 17:52
Thank you, Mr. Russell. And I would like now to begin with our second witness Commissioners Boqwana and Herbert I now present to you the second witness. That’s Constance Graham, Ms. Constance Graham, please confirm your name.
Constance Malcolm 18:11
My name is actually Constance Malcolm.
Ria Julien 18:14
Okay. All right. I’m 0 for 2 so far today. So, Ms. Malcolm, do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Constance Malcolm 18:28
Yes, I do
Ria Julien 18:29
Okay, thank you. You may begin.
Constance Malcolm 18:32
Okay. Again, my name is Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham. Ramarley Graham was killed February 2 2012, in our home in the Bronx where we used to live. Like Mr. Russell has said, you know, they broke into the home, at a time my son he was 6 years old. And my mom, they had just came home from school and him getting undressed, to do his homework and stuff when the cops broke in. He had to really watch his brother got killed in front of him, at six years old. Where no child should have to see that. And after that happened, they took my mom which is the grandmother of Ramarley to the precinct and held her there for seven hours, questioning her, interrogating her. Even when Mr. Russell came to the precinct they mocked and they jeered and they and they carry on, she was, she’s not there. They don’t know where she’s at. They don’t know what he’s talking about. And these are the things we as a family has to go through. When we lose our loved one, we can’t get any answers, and so we get the run-around. Ramarley’s body was lost for four days. And I don’t understand how a body could be lost for four days. When the grandmother clearly told you who lives in the apartment and gave you all the names. Why did you put my son on the wrong name?
So it took this house speaker Carl Heastie of New York to find his body after four days. like Mr. Russell said, there was a lot of lies that was told. One of the lies that was told that he struggled with the armed officer. And that’s why he got shot. Again, like Mr. Russell has said, there was no gun found, there was never a gun. There was also about three cameras that shows Ramarley walking home, one from the bodega where he stops. One where he turned the corner on another house down the block. And the one from the house where I reside, which it was my house, the landlord that owned the house had our cameras there, I didn’t put them there for any reason, the landlord put it there, because everybody in the house work, so she wants to take care of her property. After that, it tooks months, years of me fighting, Richard Haste was charged with manslaughterone and manslaughter two, which the case was thrown on a technicality. We have to fight again to get NYPD department trial, where they charged him with several, you know, reckless endangerment and stuff like that, um, he was found guilty. The problem with that, you know, he was found guilty, but he didn’t serve a day in jail, because they told him he was going to get, the judge recommended for him to be fired. So he went on his day off on a Sunday, and went and resigned, so technically, he was never fired, he could go on to another job as police officer, get hired as a police officer because he was never fired. But what I made sure I did, I fought like hell to make sure he got, he was off the force. He will never carry a gun again. And he will never get a good guy letter to go to another department. So those are the things I had to fight for. And also, Mr. Russell talked about the 50-a law, which is the secrecy law. That, back to officer one day on, in the job where they if they had any discipline, before, it wouldn’t come out, you know, we wouldn’t be able to get his information. He was — several family members, I’m one of the lead family members on that campaign, which we did get that passed, and it’s going to be in law pretty soon.
Well, the NYPD is actually taking us back to court for that. Because, you know, for what reason, they try and hide these officer behavior on the job. And it shouldn’t be because you’re a public servant. Why? Why we can’t know within our community, who are working our community, what are they doing? What are the backgrounds, and that’s when I say background, I mean, their record on the job, we are not asking for any record where they live or anything, just the record that’s on the job where they perform. Another thing that I was campaigning on was alsothe special prosecutor, which we got that passed. Also I’m a leading person as family on that law also, we got that passed this summer. And also on the Police Data STAT Act, we got that passed. Also, a lot of things we we got passed this summer due to also the uprising in the country when George Floyd happened, because some of these laws we’ve been fighting for, and we couldn’t get it passed. But because of the uproar, along with the advocacy, and us as family on the front line fighting, it has nothing to do with our cases anymore. We’re fighting for the next Black and brown boys and girls that the family have to go through the same thing that we went through, you know, just to get answers. It took me six years fighting, just to get basic information, I had to file a FOIA request, which is, you know, a Freedom of Information to get information of what happened in my son’s case. And Richard Haste that murdered my son, he had six prior CCRB complaints against him. And 10 allegations, one of them is just 15 months prior before he killed my son. So with the 50-a law, if these things was on the books where people could find out what the discipline of this police officer, I believe my son would be here today.
You know, he might be beaten, battered up a little bit, but you know, he would be still here. You know, it takes me so long. We know the system, all they do is beat us down. And you know, some of us keep fighting because we don’t have the people support us. Sometimes we don’t even have family members to support us. But for me, I knew I had to fight for my son. I was the voice for him. I had to be his voice because all the lies that was told. And then till even today, eight years later, you ask anybody about Ramarley’s case, the first thing they say is, oh the young man that was running? I’m like, No, my son was not running. Like Mr. Russell said, they have video that they even put out and try to say it was my son. This is how far the NYPD will go, you know, to demonize people that has been killed. They go as far as even, go, and, unseal records and release these records. And nobody is held accountable. Officers that murdered on loved ones, they go on to be promoted. To me, you’re being promoted to kill a Black man or woman. That’s a crime. And this is what we see in this in this country. Law enforcement has never been held accountable for their actions. They either leave the job, or, you know, like I said, they get promoted, while we as family sit back and have to, you know, run around doing protests and try to get laws passed, just to get basic answer to what happened to our loved ones.
Ramarley was 18. I would never know what my son would have became. Could they rob me of that? They took that away from me. My son, Chinnor Campbell, he was six years old, when he watched his brother murdered in front of him. He watched a police officer cursing his grandmother and telling they’re gonna shoot her if she won’t shut up when she started questioning what happened to her grandson? My son, I say he’s damaged because I don’t know. He’s 15. Now Chinnor is 15 now, I don’t know what will happen if an officer tries to stop him, what the outcome going to be. My scare is, I might have to go bury another young Black man, because of what he saw happened to his brother. And he doesn’t know how to articulate, articulate, or how to respond to officers, that we teach our kids you’re supposed to respect and follow rules, you know, whenever they tell you to do something. But we know oftentimes, they do follow these rules, and they end up dead. Ramarley was in his home. Where it’s supposed to be a safe, it’s a sacred place, and he was supposed to be safe. But that never happened. His life was snuffed right in front of his his, his sibling’s face, his grandmother. And this officer was allowed to resign without any without any consequence.
So I’m thank you for having this hearing today, you know, on how Black and brown people has been treated in this country. And I’m include my son because I think this case is really a case that people really needs to know about and what happened or the lies that was told. You know, all the fight, I had to fight just to get answers. I’m a person. I’m — I was born in Jamaica, I was not born here. When you come to this country, you hear about the land of freedom. And all these things you hear about when you’re in your country, and I came in, was when I was 13 years old. I never thought I was going to be a mom that bury her child. I never expected that. I was expecting them to bury me first. And this is something I struggle with every day. Because like I said, family, family don’t have people to back them sometime. And they get broken down. And for me, I have been diagnosed with PTSD and also some depression. Because, you know, for me, I never got closure. I never got any closure, because I’ve been on the frontlines fighting just to clear my son name and get some kind of answer to what happened. So I thank you today for have, you know, to hear me out. And, I hope. Hopefully change comes, I know it takes a while. But I’m a bit optimistic that one day change will come and we as Black people will be treated equally. So thank you.
Ria Julien 29:17
Ms. Malcolm, I will now turn it over to the commissioners for questions. It is 10:32. We’re at the 30 minute mark and we have 20 minutes for questions.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 29:32
Thank you. Can I thank Miss Malcolm for her deeply moving and very, very distressing testimony, and condolences obviously to her and her family, her youngest son, her, and her son’s grandmother. In listening to this, can I just start and ask a question if that’s alright fellow Commissioner Max, to Royce Russell. There was a early contributor who made a comparison between the slave states of the South and the way they dealt with police violence killings, and the northern states. And so far, I really haven’t seen any difference. That was the first point I wanted to ask for a sort of historical perspective. And the second is this. We’ve all seen pictures of Mayor de Blasio, all the previous mayors of New York and their pretension at anti racism and inclusivity when they need votes. And I just wondered what assistance do they ever give? And I’m old enough to remember Tawana Brawley. I was in New York with many of the activists at that time, the Reverend Al Sharpton. And I just wondered, since the this killing in 2012, what actually have the mayors of New York, the elected representatives of all New York has done to assist in cases like this. Thank you.
Royce Russell 31:09
So I can use the whole 20 minutes just talking about that. Right. And their, their fake handshakes and hugs and voices of empathy and sincerity for the moment, and not for the movement. And what I mean by that is that when we had rallies, when we had protests, when we gathered in front of Mrs. Malcolm’s home, when we marched the streets, they were there. They even wanted to stay, share the mic. And it was during the time that it was a mayoral race, I believe, you had plenty of candidates come and take the microphone, and say all the things that they will ensure they will do, and their arms wrapped around you, and they’re hugging you. You know, I’ve seen this movie before. But Mrs. Malcolm did not. And you know, part of being an attorney is to work with your client from beginning to end, and educate them over and over, like, watch what you see. Watch what is being said. Because the reality is, is that Mrs. Malcolm and other families on vulnerable at that time, to think that change is going to come and it doesn’t come. This is the same Mayor that took the next four years to even agree to make a statement to terminate Haste.
Royce Russell 32:34
As he stood in front of Mrs. Malcolm’s home with his arm wrapped around her with the microphone, it is man talking about how tragic this is. The case of Ramarley Graham, for better or for worse, got lost in the space and the face of Trayvon Martin. But it shouldn’t. You know, many cases that go national are not cases from New York City, cases from other places. And when you look at what happens in New York City, the stories get buried. And it is up to the media to keep these stories alive. And we can go down who controls what as far as media is concerned, but that is what needs to happen. The political pundits are never in your corner, and they weren’t in our corner. And as Mrs. Malcolm just said, We’ve just received some penetration as far as the reform of 50-a. And that’s why it’s important for those out there to understand that they are never going to walk with you from beginning to end because their motives are not genuine to what actually happens to you. And let me just add one other thing. Richard Haste didn’t stop here. He tried to get another police law enforcement job in another county, along the borders of New York, and if it wasn’t for the vigilance of people in the community that sought him out, that saw his name and inform that Sheriff department or that county or whatever it was, some law enforcement agency. They say you have a bad apple. He would have a law enforcement job today.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 34:18
Yes, thank you very much. Thank you, Max. Over to you
Max Boqwana 34:25
Peter. Thank you very much. I hope I’m audible.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 34:30
Yes, we can hear you
Max Boqwana 34:33
No, no thanks. And
Royce Russell 34:35
I can’t hear.
Charlotte Kates 34:43
Max, your voice just went.
Max Boqwana 34:45
I just wanted to say to Constance – I suggest you proceed. There is a difficulty with my connection. Let me try and sort that out.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 34:56
Okay, my time here. Okay. Let me proceed. Then I just wanted to also inquire from Ms. Malcolm. We had, and just to share the case of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, and something that Royce Russell mentioned, the lying about that initial narrative seems to be something which white societies do all over the Western world. They said that after the 7/11 bombing, terrorist bombing in London, in in July, some years ago, 2007, that the Brazilian looked like the bomber. He looked nothing like the bomber. And they also said the police issued a statement saying he was running into the underground in London, that he wore a padded jacket that he acted suspiciously, he jumped the barrier. All of those statements, all three were demonstrably lies. And they persisted for approximately 18 months, until the Metropolitan Police actually belatedly announced what the true version was, he did not run, he was not wearing a padded jacket, he did not in any way look suspicious, and that he certainly didn’t jump any barrier into the underground station. And yet he was executed, executed in very similar circumstances. And I just wanted to ask of Ms. Malcolm, in a sense, in terms of other families who I know in New York have suffered similar tragedies. Are you linked together? And I’ve heard that in the webinar, there are victims families to work together. And how have you managed to get any support from fellow mums and dads who’ve had their loved, loved ones killed in such tragic circumstances? And if so, how has that, to some extent eased the pain that you clearly suffered?
Constance Malcolm 37:04
Yes, actually, we do. Unfortunately, we do have a club that we belong to, which is oftentimes is — it’s too big right now. It’s too big. But yes, we have a family support, we work on this organization called Justice Committee, they’ve been around for a while. So we have a group of mothers and sisters – because it’s not just mothers fighting, you have sisters, you have brothers, you have nieces, you know, you have cousins that, you know, the family actually can’t be on the front line, so they have to be the voice for these families. So yes, we do have a whole bunch of our mothers, Eric Garner’s mother, Sean Bell, Miss Ba, is so much name I could go on, it would take the whole day for this webinar. So yes, we do have a family. And we do usually get together once a year like on a retreat. But unfortunately, that won’t happen this year because of the pandemic. But we do get together. And we talk a lot on the phone and we still have like a meeting that we do, you know, we still strategize on how are we going to change, you know, this, you know, this political thing that’s going on? How are we going to get law passed? So yes, we do have a base of family that we are we I work with? And you know, we like we are, that’s our family, that’s our new family.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 38:23
And just a quick follow up, but based on your roots, did the Jamaican high commission or the Jamaican government help at all? Because that actually, you’re shaking your head — that’s our similar experience in the United Kingdom, well, you know, that there’s a big Jamaican community, and I think one of the things that we’re anxious to do is to lobby the governments in the Caribbean and in the diaspora to actually pull their finger out and protect our citizens, as if these people were Ni- you know, were Norwegian, or, you know, from from Russia, that would, the government of America would get to know about it. I just wanted to share that.
Constance Malcolm 39:00
I think because we live abroad now they feel that we deserted our country, and they have, sometimes when it comes to police brutality, people don’t want to touch that. It’s a very, you know, it’s like people just don’t want to deal with police brutality, and especially like Jamaica as a country. We we don’t have, it’s a very poor country, basically. And they don’t want to upset the government in America, basically.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 39:26
Yes, yes. I’m just not –
Royce Russell 39:28
If I may interject a very important point. And I don’t want to get lost in in some of the things that we’re saying. Because when you talk about slavery, you talk about the narrative and you talk about the telling of the story. And I don’t know where it may have a place in this forum, but it needs to be heard. Not only do we need to fight it, we need to have people that look like us, act like us, have the cultural sensitivities like us to tell the story. The story is never told, as effective, with the sincerity, with the empathy, with the cultural nuances, if it is not, so from our perspective, and with a person of color. I’m not saying that you will not be successful, I’m not saying you will not be effective. But what I am saying is something that may be of sleight of hand to others, is not to us. And when I’m in that room, and we are arguing, and we are discussing, and the sensitivities of the matter is lost, and it becomes an equation, we have to understand that this is a mathematical equation, the way most cities look at it, look at injury, they look at detention, injury, liability, and everything else goes out the window. So if you’re detained for five minutes, and it’s very little injury, and it was no probable cause or reason to stop you, then so nuanced case, we don’t really need to be bothered with that. Not having an understanding that we have, that will send that individual for the rest of their lives, and in relations to police trust, whether or not I want to serve on a jury or not, whether or not I want to participate in the politics, in the legal and legal system in and of itself, because I’ve had this repeated negative encounter. And my story was discounted to a formula that equals compensation.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 39:30
Thank you. I think that’s an important point, both actually very, very important not to lose. Max, are you? Can you hear us now? Because I’ll give away and have you ask the next question, if you wish, Max. I think unless I hear to the contrary, I’ll just carry it carry on if that’s okay with Ms. Malcolm and Mr. Russell. And one thing I wanted to share, and I meant to mention it earlier on. You both and this case sit in the sixth region of the the African Union diaspora, that is the sixth region of the continent. And I have not heard anybody of the international speakers mention the fact that once this report can go to the UN, it can also go and should go to the commission of the African Union. And if that has been suggested, and I’ve missed it, I apologize profusely. But I think sitting in Kenya, when I announced the webinar to friends, they told me of a case in the 1960s in New York, where four Kenyans were beaten severely by New York Police, on the mistaken belief that they were African Americans, it makes no difference. And so I wanted to, to ask, in a sense, Ms. Malcolm as well, because this is a matter primarily for the families. The two things one, what needs to be done to the Biden Harris administration to call them to account for the votes they gained from the Black community? And secondly, if these collective cases, individual sufferings and collective cases can be filed with the African Union commission, would you reckon would you be happy for that to be done as a result of this forum?
Ria Julien 43:39
I will just note, for the witnesses that the time is 10:46. We have about five minutes left for the, in the hearing.
Constance Malcolm 43:51
Royce, you want to go ahead?
Royce Russell 43:53
No, Connie, this is for you. My suggestion would be that we want this case heard throughout the world.
Constance Malcolm 44:00
Yeah. We want this case to be heard, like I said, Because oftentimes, because this my son – like Royce said, because of the Trayvon case, people didn’t know about my son’s case and what happened. And like I said before, this is a case that really needs to be heard. Because everything that happened from the beginning to the end, was a whole cover up. It was over 12 officers involved. And the problem with this is none of these other officers has been held accountable. No transparency when it comes to Black and brown people. And we see this every day, every minute of the day when somebody is a Black, Black or brown person who’s been killed. And we want these officer to be held accountable. And the ones that stand around and watch and doesn’t do anything. They are also complicit to what is going on, and they also need to be charged and be off the force. Because you, you took an oath to serve and protect. And you haven’t done it for the last, how many years you who have you been serving and protecting? Because it’s not our people, it’s not Black and brown people, we are the one that being slaughtered every day, every minute. And not one officer is, is held accountable, or they do again, like I said, they get promoted, they get promoted to kill a Black or brown person. We hear about training, I’m tired to hear about training, I’m sorry, I’m tired about hearing training. 2012, Ramarley got killed. Commissioner Ray Kelly said he trained the whole force. That was 2012. We in 2021. And we still seen this, we have to rule out these bad officers. And maybe like Royce said, it’s psychological, they need to start testing them on a regular basis to see where their head is because we have a lot of white supremacists on these police forces. And we have a lot of racist people on these forces. And we have to start eliminating them out of this position. And that’s the only way I feel this system is going to be any better than what it is.
Royce Russell 46:07
And I’ll just interject real quick. A lot of times, we are not only speaking about race, in an isolated capsule, we understand that race is tied to the socioeconomics of what happens in this world, the poorer you are, and your brown skin, the worse you’re going to get treated. You hopefully, if you rise up the socioeconomic ladder, it might be a false leader. But the probabilities are lower, that you’ll get treated differently. But classism and racism is tied like the shoelaces on your shoes, and it can’t be separated.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 46:49
Can I can I just in a very short time period left just press you on the mechanism to press this new administration, hold them to account? How do you see that happening on this and on the other cases?
Constance Malcolm 47:02
We, you know, a lot of Black people came out to vote for Biden/Harris, because we wanted changes. And we felt like he could do this. So we just got to hold him to the fire and make sure they do what they said he was going to do on the campaign when he was running to become president. And you know, stuff like that. We see, like Royce said before with the de Blasio administration, he stood with us, and I want to seek justice. And we’ve never seen that. But we have to hold these people accountable that beg for our vote, they come in our neighborhoods, they beg on Black and brown people, I’m going to make changes. We really got to hold them to the fire and remind them, you said this, when you wanted our vote, you said you was going to do this, and we want you to do it.
Royce Russell 47:45
I think we need to take a page from some other culture, the Jewish culture…the Holocaust took place. And we can’t be too busy in our life in our world, to never let them forget that slavery and the effects, and law enforcement from then to now has affected this community in a way that they can never, ever, ever understand. And that’s what we stand for every day. And I think the new generation by way of social media, by way of having protests, by way of putting pen to paper, you know, protests used to be events that happened around certain other events, now protests or rallies are circled around ideas, and implement, implementation of ideas and positions, it’s a lot broader. And it means a lot more. And so forums like this, using social media, which is the way that people listen, now we can see that from past presidents and now presidents to be in the future, to keep the pressure on and hold people accountable to their culturalism and hold people accountable to what they said they would do.
Max Boqwana 49:04
Mr. Russell, let me just ask the last question I’ve managed to get through but but thank you very much to you and Constance for keeping up this fight. I wish you guys strength. But let me just say a little bit of experience which Lennox Hinds knows, about South Africa when we had to go through a long period of decades of police brutality. And, and one of the ways that we had to deal with this thing in the most confrontational manner, was actually to call the authorities. I hear, for instance, when Constance says this political leadership are making all of those promises. But for me, one of the activities and one of the things that we can call for is an ongoing truth commission, where the faces of this police violence are no longer dealt with in private, but the faces of brutality can be seen by the Americans, but also can be seen by the rest of the world. That, in a sense begins to deter the…that would be offenders. Because when we started with that in South Africa and say, these are the faces of brutality, very, very few people wanted to be associated with them. I want to think of a process of that nature. Because we are sitting here, we’re probably in private, and many people don’t see, we keep on repeating the names of the victims. But I think it’s time for all of these perpetrators to be exposed.
Royce Russell 50:46
I will tell you, I will tell you that. Look, give me an address, I will meet you there tomorrow. That is where we need to be. I think the shame campaign is the appropriate campaign. But I will tell you that we’re on the cusp of that with Instagram. And that captures all of these vents, all these acts of misconduct, excessive force, police brutality, and it is being developed hashtag, fire police officer X, hashtag terminate police officer Y. And I think, to your point, although the countries are very different, I think, to your point, maybe there should be a shirt campaign or apparel campaign with the likeness of that person is printed somewhere that says, hey, this is this is the face of excessive force. This is the face of police brutality. One idea can catch on fire.
Constance Malcolm 51:42
Yeah, and I want to say we have done that. This is why it is the sergeant. I think Royce, touched on it earlier, Sergeant McLaughlin. That’s why when he went up to Cold Spring, to become a police officer, they pulled him out of there in less than 24 hours. They’re like, No, no, we don’t want you here, we know what you did in the Bronx, and we don’t want you here, within 24 hours, they have to fire him. So but to that, too, and some things, we have to really be careful what we do. Because you know, South Africa, and America is a little different. So you have to be careful how you put stuff out there, because then they will characterize you as being a terrorist, and you want police officers to be killed. So you have to know how to frame it when you do it.
Max Boqwana 52:25
No, what I was trying to put across, in actual fact, is to call on this political leadership that says they sympathize with us, because I think the difficulty we are facing, it’s an intersection between the police, the political leadership, and the rest of the powerful society. And I think it’s not only to call on the police, but also to call on the political system that makes it possible for this brutal police to be to be covered. So I think it should be an all encompassing, it should actually be politically driven.
Judge Peter Herbert, OBE 53:07
Can I just add, there’s nothing, there’s nothing to stop officers being identified from my website in South Africa. And if they’re sitting in New York, or Washington or Maryland, and their faces appear on a website, as being terrorist, executioner style, these officers, then that can’t be taken by the United States or prosecutors or such. So we only just need to use a bit of imagination, think outside of the box. And you know it, there’s nothing wrong when Julian Assange releases information about the CIA from anywhere else. Certainly, we don’t think there is, and therefore those police have to be held to account and if we can use the pan African Diaspora to do that. Let’s do it.
Ria Julien 53:49
I’d like to thank everybody. This concludes the hearing. Thank you to witnesses Ms. Malcolm and Mr. Russell. This concludes the hearing of the case of Ramarley Graham. We will now have a short break and hearings will resume on the hour with the case of Alberta Spruill. Thank you again. Thank you.