Racial Fallout After Buffalo Police Beating
Black Star News, News Analysis, Chris Stevenson Posted: Oct 18, 2007
Editor's note: It is unlikely that Buffalo, New York, will be subject to the scale of protest that descended upon Jena, Louisiana. Both venues, however, are beset by troubling notions of equity held by those in civil authority who apparently do not include everyone in their narrow definition of community.
Now that you've returned from Jena -- don't discard your marching shoes yet. Buffalo may need you.
If white police officers don’t respect the community most black officers come from, how then can they respect black officers? That is the question that essentially defines the case of Cariol ‘‘Carol’’ Horne.
Imagine what would happen if a Black officer was caught beating and choking a white male and a white female officer attempts to intervene by pulling the male cop’s arm away from around the beating victim’s neck.
Now imagine the black male officer delivering a hard punch to the white female officer’s face. Picture the response from other officers toward the black officer; picture the outrage from internal affairs (IA) and the resulting actions from them and his precinct.
White news outlets and stations would go crazy with stories and broadcasts.
As it happens this is a true story except for one small detail, the offending officer is a white male and the female officer is African American.
I’ve written before about this incident for The Black Star News. It started when Buffalo Police Officer Greg Kwiatowski, who is white, beat and choked a black man, Neal Mack, while answering a domestic call on November 1, 2006.
Officer Horne was on duty and went upstairs to Mack’s apartment after answering the call. She found Mack already handcuffed and the brave officer, Kwiatowski, using him as a punching bag.
Buffalo police officials and their IA unit turned the matter into a race issue by refusing to charge and indict Kwiatowski, long known to be a walking time bomb among many in the black and police community.
In 2000 he and other officers started a bar-fight when he saw two Black men entering with two white females and an accompanying white male. This was just hours after he had attended a diversity training session.
After the beating of Neal Mack, instead of throwing the book at Kwiatowski, the female black officer, Horne, was charged with obstructing Kwiatowski from carrying out ‘‘police’’ work, when in fact he had been committing police abuse. In addition to beating Mack, Kwiatowski also pummelled Horne -- she had to leave work under Injured On Duty status due to injuries sustained from Kwiatowski’s blow.
Charges against Mack were dropped on June 19 by Judge Debra Givens because the officers had forced their way into his apartment without a warrant and then tried to take him and his family out. The ex-girlfriend that Mack was seen arguing with by the mailman, prompting the call to police, had previously left.
Officer Horne, for possibly saving Mack’s life, was hit with eight charges; these include insubordination, obstruction, and allegedly making a false statement. She was denied the right to file charges against Kwiatowski, and later hit with three more charges for doing an interview on a black talk show.
Some brothers are saying we’ve moved from Jim Crow to JimCrow.com. Buffalo still has the old Jim Crow.
A quick summary of our political misdirection show most of the town’s most powerful black leaders, including the mayor, Byron Brown, throwing their lot behind James Keane a white County Executive candidate with a long history of voting against measures that support or fund black community agendas, including making Martin Luther King’s birthday a holiday. So, is it a surprise that the black commissioner backs the officer Kwiatowski?
The local white media have been airing the police version of the incident portraying the transgression as a ‘‘fight.’’ Horne was garnered growing support from local black media and activist groups. On the morning of a Disciplinary Hearing at Police Headquarters on September 15, members of the BLAC, Buffalo Local Action Committee, in conjunction with the Nation of Islam and the Millions More Movement, held a rally attended by 200 in support of her.
They demanded that charges against Horne be dropped and Kwiatowski be fired. The department was shocked at the turnout and wanted the crowd to leave; instead Horne and her attorney's left. Shortly thereafter, Horne told me, she was ordered to return to duty against doctor's orders.
Horne worked at the downtown headquarters under the protective watch of several black men dispatched by the BLAC, the NOI, and a former Marine named Norris "Poppa" Beasley. Black men in Buffalo have decided that no one is going to disrespect or assault a black woman again.
On October 2, Horne underwent rotator cuff surgery. The department ordered her back to work the next day. She went back with her arm in a sling but took the following days off due to pain and reaction to medication. Can you believe that Buffalo actually has a 'black' police commissioner? Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson hasn’t yet ordered disciplinary hearing for Officer Kwiatowski.
"In disciplining him, their case against Carol falls apart,’’ her new attorney Anthony Pendergrass, said. ‘‘I wouldn't be surprised if he's exonerated -- he's charged with assault, based on perjury and making a false statement."
White officers have lined up behind Kwiatowski, even though he is said to be one of Buffalo’s 20 worst officers. Reaction toward Horne Black police is mixed; recently the African American Police Union contributed $1,000 to her defense fund.
Many white police officers in Buffalo, just as in many other cities do not conceal low regard for blacks just because some of them wear the same uniform. The general consensus among Black police officers in New York’s second largest city is that they are often seen as security guards.
During the summer Horne saw her union-appointed attorney take a hike and she hired a real lawyer, Pendergrass. He is the attorney who represented Mack and got his charges dropped. Officer Horne, through Pendergrass and his partner Civil Rights attorney Dr. Kenneth Nixon, filed charges against Greg Kwiatowski.
Anyone who wants to help defend this black female police officer can send contributions to The Cariol Horne, Legal Defense Fund. M&T Bank, 1290 Jefferson Ave., Buffalo, New York 14211.
Black Star News contributor Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion. Contact him at pointblankDTA@yahoo.com
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