Students React to Ramarley Graham’s Death
Earlier this month, a narcotics officer shot and killed Ramarley Graham, 18, in his apartment on East 229th Street in the Wakefield section of The Bronx. The officer, a member of the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit, said he was operating under the assumption that Graham was armed. The shooting sparked protests by hundreds of community residents, activists, and politicians who called for justice for Graham and for improved policing.
The shooting hit close to home for many black and Latino youth in the Bronx.
“There are killers out here like Casey Anthony [the Florida mother acquitted last year of killing her daughter] that get off, but a young black man dies over a nickel bag of weed in his own home,” said Taj Madhoo, a sophomore at LaGuardia College. “It’s crazy because that can happen to any young black man and I’ll bet you the cops won’t be convicted of anything.”
Lehman junior Yoharia Rojas said rookie officers need more training in order to avoid situations like this. “They have no knowledge or experience in how to deal with these situations,” she said. “They make an assumption, thinking what they see is what it is, when it is not like that. What bothers me is when law enforcement [officers] make irresponsible decisions.”
Both Isaac Muniz and Elisa Moreno felt that police officers should reconsider actions based on assumptions. “Too many cops get away with killing people by just saying ‘I thought he had a gun,’” Muniz said.
“It’s horrible that police chased Ramarley like a defenseless dog,” Moreno said. “He was unarmed!”
Tyreek Williams, 20, sees a double standard when it comes to punishment for cops and residents who commit the same crime. “If we get locked up for murder, they should get locked up for murder too,” Williams said.
Sophomore Danielle Madison agreed. “The badge has no more rights than a civilian,” she said.
William Sanchez, 20, suggested more oversight was necessary. “I feel like the cops should be punished because they didn’t follow protocol. They need general managers or something.”
Reporting done by Brenda Ramos, Fermina Alcantara, Annette Siguenza, Shane Miller and Dally Perez