On March 16, 2000, Patrick Dorismond and a friend were hailing a cab in Manhattan when undercover Detective Anthony Vasquez — not identifying himself as a cop — asked Dorismond if he had any drugs to sell. Indignant, Patrick told him “No!” in no uncertain terms. Patrick was angered by the insistent “dealer.” When Patrick tried to wave him off, the cop punched him. Patrick defended himself and immediately was shot by another cop and lay on the street in pool of blood, gasping for air. He died soon after.
The next weekend a large, militant demonstration occurred at Patrick’s workplace, attended by many rank-and-file community groups. The protesters tore down barricades and the police were told not to “escort” the marchers. While politicians and misleaders called for a federal investigation, the protesters’ mood was clearly different. People were very receptive to Progressive Labor Party literature and CHALLENGE. Some speakers championed the need to close down Wall Street and the city’s business districts.
The Masses Are Heroes
Then on March 25, some PLP members marched with the funeral procession that eventually numbered over 7,000 people. As this sea of angry workers saw Patrick Derision’s casket being passed into the church, a roar of rage filled the air. One thousand cops barricaded the area, trying to contain these workers. Our bullhorn created an open mike that became the voice of many protesters.
The masses surged forward and tore the barricades down. The cops retreated. The crowd was emboldened. Drums pounded, workers screamed with anger. Our PLP banner “Destroy Police Terror with Communist Revolution” remained at the front and people continued to speak for nearly two hours outside the funeral service.
When it ended, again the workers surged forward, amid chants to march to the 67th precinct. The cops had no intention of allowing such a mass of angry workers near their station.
When one group broke through a barricade, a genuine street battle ensued. Bottles and batteries rained down on the cops who swung wildly into the crowd with clubs and pepper spray. But the youth didn’t back down and led the way, hurling everything they could find at the cops, then retreating quickly for half a block. The cops found only empty streets. Then the youth would launch another round and the events would be repeated.
Cops on horseback galloped down the street, further enraging the workers. They leapt into the streets, flipping barricades and crisscrossing them so that an entire block became an obstacle course for the horses. Buying time this way, the workers raced to the next intersection and blended once again into the crowd.
That night Flatbush remained under heavy police presence. Meanwhile, any empty squad car had its windows smashed and tires slashed.
Our Party, having organized in Flatbush for many years, particularly among high school students and young workers, created lots of opportunities at the rally. Many participated with us throughout the day.
Now we must bring the issue of police terror to our jobs and schools. With consistent activity in mass organizations and solidifying deep ties with as many workers and youth as possible, a modest group can have a mass effect.