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NYC victim of racist assault is arrested

By Dan Clemente | October 5, 2007 | Page 15

NEW YORK--Days before tens of thousands of people mobilized nationwide to protest for justice for the Jena 6--six African American high school students who face long prison sentences in Louisiana--a group of Black college students faced the same racism in New York.

Members of the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) basketball team, who are mostly Black, were in Lower Manhattan heading home from practice when someone threw a bottle at them. According to student Marquis Scott, a group of white men in front of a bar began shouting "N---ers" and "This is what slavery feels like!"

"We kept walking to the [subway] station, and when we look back, a group of six of the white men had run up behind us and were attacking us," said the 18-year-old Scott. He said he was thrown to the ground and attacked.

But when police arrived, they arrested Scott. "The first cop who got there...had to tackle two of the guys to get them off me," said Scott, who is the son of a police officer.

When the team's head coach Chester Mapp got a call from one of the players as the assault was taking place, he and some other players went to look for them. They were assaulted and robbed by group of thugs.

"I see four white men jump over the turnstiles, and they start to attack my kids," Mapp said. "Then four more of them rush in. They're all yelling 'N---er time,' and 'N---ers, we're gonna get you.'"

"Never in my born days have I seen the kind of racism I witnessed last week right here in New York City," said Mapp, who was angry that only three of assailants were arrested at the time and charged with assault, not a hate crime.

Activists and the victims' schoolmates have urged BMCC to launch an internal investigation and for the NYPD to file hate crime charges. City Council member Charles Barron called for a protest at District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office to demand the prosecution drop additional charges against Scott.

At a rally at City Hall on September 20 in solidarity with the demonstration in Jena that day, Barron welcomed everyone to "Jena, New York." The similarities are chilling--and not just because of the assault on the BMCC students.

In Oceanside, Long Island, a Black victim of a vicious beating by a gang of white youths was indicted on assault charges, despite a McDonald's security camera recording the entire incident. The victim, Aloysius Staton, could face a sentence of 25 years. None of his attackers were arrested.

"People better realize that they are living Upsouth in New York City," Barron said. "Right on our doorstep...we have cases where Black people are being assaulted and end up being charged with a crime."

People in cities across the country have their eye on Jena--as an example not only of the racism at the heart of the justice system, but also the possibilities for organizing resistance.

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