NYPD terror continues
Cop guns down unarmed African immigrant
By Monica Moorehead
Ousmane Zongo, a 35-year-old West African from
Burkina Faso, was gunned down by Police Officer Bryan Conroy at
the Chelsea Mini-Storage warehouse located in Manhattan near
the Hudson River on May 22. Zongo, a repairer of damaged
African artifacts, was shot four times. Conroy was dressed in
plainclothes when he killed Zongo.
The Chelsea Mini-Storage warehouse has become an important
site for exhibiting African arts and crafts. It has also become
a make-shift mosque for African traders who follow the
teachings of the Koran.
New York Police Department officials say Zongo was shot
during a police raid on the warehouse. Cops were supposedly out
to bust what they claim was a counterfeit compact-disk
Zongo, they admit, was unarmed, had no police record and had
nothing to do with any illegal activity of any kind. (New York
Times, May 26) Conroy alleges that Zongo tried to grab his gun.
(Daily News, May 27)
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "Keep in mind, this
is a situation where apparently there were no witnesses, so it
will take a while to get the facts out."
But the Rev. Al Sharpton announced at a May 26 news
conference that he was in touch with a worker who witnessed the
fatal shooting. Sharpton is leader of the National Action
Network, which was in the forefront of the protests against the
Amadou Diallo shooting.
Michael Hardy, Sharpton's attorney, said the witness is a
West African man who was working nearby. "It would be fair to
say that he was present during the period of the encounter,"
Hardy explained. "They were in close proximity during the
"We are convinced that what he has to say would be
significant," Sharpton told reporters. Sharpton added that
several people have contacted him about the shooting. All are
reluctant to speak to prosecutors, he said.
Sharpton concluded that he has "serious questions about how
four bullets could have been a reaction to an alleged lunging."
He also questioned the objectivity of the Manhattan district
attorney's office. He pointed out that the district attorney's
office having helped police obtain a search warrant for the
raid creates a possible conflict of interest in the shooting
Let the NYPD police itself?
Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Bloom berg tried to deflect
outrage, saying that the investigation should be left in the
hands of the NYPD and a grand jury.
On May 16, less than a week before the NYPD shot Zongo,
Alberta Spruill--a 57-year-old African American city
worker--suffered a fatal heart attack when New York police
staged a stun-grenade terror raid on her Harlem apartment. Many
Harlem residents and other progressive activists are holding
protests calling for an independent investigation.
The shooting of Zongo also recalls painful memories of the
Feb. 4, 1999, police killing of 26-year-old Amadou Diallo, also
an African immigrant. Four white plainclothes cops shot Diallo
41 times as he stood in the vestibule of his apartment in the
Bronx. Like Zongo, Diallo was unarmed when he was brutally cut
down. The killing of Diallo sent shock waves throughout the
country and the world, and set off a tidal wave of
anti-police-brutality protests throughout New York City. All
four police officers were later exonerated.
When asked about the Spruill and Zongo killings, Bloomberg
said: "I don't think there's any evidence that there's a trend
in police misconduct. There were a couple of incidents that
should have never have happened--at least are still under
investigation--but it would appear that something was done
This is the same billionaire mayor who is currently carrying
out devastating layoffs and budget cuts--including shutting
down firehouses in oppressed and working-class neighborhoods.
And this is the same NYPD that's working hand in hand with the
mayor to arrest residents who are carrying out civil
disobedience to stop the firehouse closings in an attempt to
save firefighter jobs as well as save their own dwellings and
The mayor and his police force are setting the stage for
mass protests against the layoffs and budget cuts, and for the
fight against ongoing police brutality. These movements would
gain great power by merging their struggles to make clear that
the police do not exist under capitalist society to "protect
and serve" the people. Instead they protect and serve the
private property interests of the corporate and banking
Reprinted from the June 5, 2003, issue of
Workers World newspaper
This article is copyright under a Creative
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