2002-03-09 / Front Page
In response to The Wave's week's front-page story about Flornell Myers and her family, the Far Rockaway NAACP Branch President, as well as the national representatives, have requested an emergency meeting with New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. the Myers family alleges that Queens Narcotics officers mistook them for drug dealers, and that they were held captive for three hours as officers ransacked the home.
"The purpose of the meeting is to address the rampant, outrageous and inappropriate police practices taking place in the Far Rockaway community under the guise of drug busts and sweeps," said Ed Williams, NAACP Branch President.
"After consultation with the Honorable Hazel N. Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of NAACP branches, we both agreed that the magnitude of this behavior is so blatant that it has now become an issue that cannot and will not be tolerated," says Williams.
The NAACP President goes on to note that acting on informant information without confirming the validity of the content or source, breaking down the wrong apartment doors in the wee hours of the morning, and continuing to harass and terrorize innocent victims is unacceptable.
"Rousting youths without warrant or legitimate cause, failing to identify themselves as law enforcement officials, or arresting people because they question the officer are barbaric and reprehensible. Such acts cast a shadow over decent law enforcement officers, and are direct violations of community residents' civil rights," stated Williams.
Members of the NAACP, locally and nationally, are outraged over these acts and will spearhead the public outcry to have these incidents investigated and have those who are responsible punished.
"We are determined to glean through the fissures of degradation that has taken place. We will press the Narcotics Division Commanders to correct this course and reaffirm its commitment to insuring that the civil rights of all people, be they innocent, guilty, Black, white, red, yellow or brown, be observed and respected during the course of executing their responsibilities as law enforcement officers," said Williams.
The meeting was also requested in light of the recent case involving Antoine Hines, a 17-year-old Far Rockaway High School student who was allegedly assaulted by Queens Narcotics officers while in route to school.
In statements obtained by The Wave, Antoine noted that he was approached by two men in the lobby of his building. They did not identify themselves as police officers, and when they made an attempt to grab his arm he resisted. A number of witnesses have told The Wave that they are willing to give statements regarding Hines' treatment.
"I didn't know who they were, and I was very scared. They never said they were cops and I never saw any shields. The only thing I could think about doing when they grabbed me was defending myself. They hit me in the leg with a long silver object, and I fell to the floor. It wasn't until they pulled out handcuffs that I realized they were police officers," said Hines.
Hines told the officers that he was headed to school, and presented them with his school identification, but when Evelyn Hines arrived, the boy's mother, she was told her son was being arrested for not having proper identification, loitering, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
"How can you arrest him for loitering if he lives in the building," the mother asked.
The mother said that the officers told her that the building was a known drug location and that gave them the right to stop her son or anyone else in the building.
The boy was reportedly transferred by back-up officers to an unmarked van and driven to the 101 Precinct, but he was never taken inside. He was then driven around during a four-hour drug sweep along the eastern end of Rockaway.
"They never said anything to me. They would turn up the radio real loud whenever they talked. I was afraid," said Hines.
Antoine's mother was incensed to learn that her son had been placed in such a dangerous situation.
"They drove him around for four hours, and anything could've happened during one of their sweeps. Guns could have been fired, and my son could've been killed. They didn't find any drugs on my son. He should've been left at the precinct if they claim he was charged with resisted arrest, loitering and disorderly conduct. He should not have been put in harm's way," she said.
When the mother went to the 101 Precinct to try and obtain information on her son's whereabouts, she was told that her son would not be back for at least four hours.
"I was enraged, but I do not fault the 101 Precinct because they treated me well, in comparison to the officers from Queens Narcotics. They knew I was very upset, and they talked with me and kept me calm. They were very nice to me," stated Hines.
Her son was eventually brought to the 101 Precinct, where he was photographed, fingerprinted and placed in a holding cell for about an hour. She was not allowed to see her son, but she notes that she was treated professionally by the 101 Precinct.
The Far Rockaway student was taken to Central Booking and held there for a number of hours. He was released, without anyone contacting his parents.
"I was so cold. I didn't know how to get home from Kew Gardens. I called my mother and father so they could come and get me. It was really cold outside," said Hines.
The following day, his parents took him to a local hospital to have the bruises on his leg examined.
"Antoine has never been in trouble, and I believe my son when he says he was just trying to get to school when all this happened. To drive him around on a drug sweep for four hours is unbelievable to me. They didn't find any drugs, so why was he even in the van? I just don't understand why they did this to my son," said the mother.
The Wave spoke to a representative from the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information's office, and they provided the arresting officer's assessment of what happened.
"The officer stated that they were in the building looking for people who did not belong there. If they had no right to be there, then they would be picked up for loitering. Mr. Hines did not cooperate in providing them with identification when asked, and he began to cause a disturbance. We later learned that Hines did live in the building, but he still refused to cooperate with us. He was then taken into custody for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct," said the representative.
Captain Lindahl, of the 101 Precinct, issued the following statement regarding the Hines case.
"This incident did not involve the 101 Precinct, but we are very concerned about any complaints, be they here or outside of the precinct, because the image of the police department is important to us. We would urge anyone with a complaint to contact the Civilian Complaint Review Board."