On 19 July, Simon Harwood, the policeman who killed Ian Tomlinson, was found “not guilty”. No police officer has ever been brought to justice for the killings of Smiley Culture, Mark Duggan, Jean Charles de Menezes, or any of the other victims of police shootings.
In America, Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo of Anaheim, California, recently became the latest additions to a long list of individuals — invariably black or Latin American — killed by the police in suspicious circumstances, sparking riots in response.
Throughout the “liberal democratic” world, the police remain an often brutal, sometimes murderous, force that exists fundamentally to protect the interests of the state. These extracts from “New York City Cops”, by Queens rapper Himanshu Suri (aka Heems, from the group Das Racist), detail some of the killings committed by “New York’s Finest” (or “New York’s spineless”, as Heems rechristens them).
The structure and rhyme patterns are relatively simple, but the percussive, emphatic effect of naming the police’s victims — including some less well-known ones alongside higher-profile cases like the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo — has real power. The track is a re-working of the 2001 song by the same name by rock band The Strokes (which said of the NYPD that they “act like Romans”).
Oy vey, these guys is New York’s spineless
Strangled and denied it for Anthony Baez
They was cool maybe, had a pool prolly
That was ‘94 he was one of three bodies (unarmed).
Ernest Sayon (unarmed),
And Johnnie Cromartie (unarmed),
Under Giuliani well they had them a party (bang bang!)
In ‘73 there were riots in Queens (Jamaica),
When they merked Clifford Glover, he wasn’t even a teen (a child!)
Used to be nine, he had just turned ten (a child!)
Pig said “die you little fuck!” and got off clean (yup)
And ain’t a thing that these bars do
That can make up for the pain of the family of Fermin Arzu
They the ones who always put the fire up on you (on you!)
And shoot and say they thought you had a gun in the car dude (theres no gun no gun)
Ousmane Zongo ’03, Diallo in like ‘99
I swear this shit happen like 90 times definitely
Definitely happens like plenty times
But it’s documented like 20 times
Well, Randolph Evans, well…
I never felt safer,
Never never felt safer
(Well I’m a white cop so I own this world?)
Heems never felt safe around the police
(Uh yeah well I’m white, soooo…)
And Michael Stewart who do art under the ground
Got found and laid down by
Eleven white cops that pound
-ed him for thirty-two minutes between arrest and delivery
(they played with the paperwork!)
Alive and barely breathing to dead in ‘83
Radio Raheem (Spike Lee!)
I don’t fuck with cops!