New York's finest accused of brutality

"NYPD same as Tontons Macoutes" read a banner at an angry demonstration outside a Brooklyn police station on Saturday by thousands of Haitian immigrants waving sink plungers and Haitian flags.

It was, perhaps, a trifle harsh to associate New York's finest with the notoriously savage Haitian paramilitaries immortalised in Graham Greene's The Comedians. And Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York City, who has overseen a spectacular decrease in the city's crime rate during the last four years, is no Papa Doc.

But the incident which sparked the weekend protest outside the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn appears to have been gratuitously brutal by any standards. The sink plungers the crowd waved were a reminder of the instrument two police officers allegedly used to sodomise Abner Louima after arresting him following a brawl outside a club last weekend.

Mr Louima, 30, a private security guard born in Haiti, says police officers shoved the handle of a sink plunger up his rectum and then forced it into his mouth, breaking some teeth. He also claims that one of the officers called him a "stupid nigger" and said, "This is Giuliani time, not Dinkins time" - a reference to Mayor Giuliani's predecessor, who was black and reputedly less intolerant of criminals.

Mr Louima, who is reported still to be in critical condition in a Brooklyn hospital, suffered serious injuries in the rectum and the bladder. The New York police authorities have responded swiftly. Two officers have been charged with assault; the commander of the 70th Precinct and his deputy have been transferred; and a desk sergeant on duty on the night of the incident has been suspended.

Mayor Giuliani, who is up for re-election this year, has been at pains to express his dismay over the incident and his sympathy for the victim. Twice he has visited Mr Louima in hospital and on Saturday night he appeared on television to try to soothe tempers following what turned out to be an angry but peaceful demonstration by the Haitian immigrant community. As the mayor pointed out, the case against the two accused officers rests primarily on the evidence of a fellow-officer who has furnished ample eyewitness evidence against them.

That was not the kind of official response the Haitian population became accustomed to during the days of Papa Doc, or of his son Baby Doc, but that did not stop the crowd outside the 70th Precinct pelting the police with insults. "Sodomites! Sodomites!" they cried. One banner depicting a policeman with horns read "Devil in a blue suit"; another urged the population to "Resist Police Terror".

If the newly installed commander at the 70th Precinct, Raymond Diaz, felt the Haitian community's response had been a touch extreme, he was not showing it during Saturday's demonstration, when he made a public appearance to try to talk to the protesters. "It's understandable that they're outraged," he told the New York Times. "I hope we can overcome this and get stronger."

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?