Riverdale Residents Share Stories of Police Brutality at Local Protest

By, Zoe DeFazio, Web Editor

Manhattan College’s campus ministry and social action partnered together with the North Bronx Racial Justice Organization to allow MC students to protest outside the 50th New York Police Department precinct on Feb. 8 in solidarity for police brutality victims such as Tyre Nichols, a black man who was murdered by five police officers in January. 

 Protest participants such as students from MC and Bronx locals partnered together and stood outside the precinct to demand justice for the men and women who have been victims of police brutality. 

Conor Reidy, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, has been a member of the North Bronx Racial Justice since 2020. Reidy originally became a member after the death of George Floyd. 

“This is really a community organization that responds to and tries to encourage conversations and demonstrations around racial justice issues,” said Reidy. “Specifically, we’ve been doing a lot on defunding the police, and talking about the conversation around police, encouraging our elected politicians and officials to steer those conversations.” 

Reidy encourages all MC students who are involved with social justice to be a part of the fight the North Bronx Racial Justice has been battling. Riverdale residents shared personal stories of friends and neighbors who have passed from violence from police officers. The local sources have asked The Quadrangle to remain anonymous.

These are their stories.

Deborah Banner was a Bronx resident who suffered from mental illness. Banner was involved in many local organizations and activities. After missing a few doses of medications, loved ones called the police for assistance with her illness. 

The police raided her home in Oct. 2016. Fearing for her life, Banner swung a baseball bat as self defense. Banner was then shot multiple times by a police sergeant and later passed away. 

In 1999, Amadou Diallo, a Guinean Black man was confused as a suspect for an ongoing search for a serial sexual assaulter. The NYPD officers who approached him shot at Diallo 41 times resulting in his death. The officers involved were later found not guilty.

In 1984, Elanor Bumpers, a 66-year-old Black woman and Bronx resident who suffered from mental illness was being evicted from her home. The NYPD came rushing in to take her off the property so she could be hospitalized. 

After forcefully entering her apartment, she was killed by the officer handeling the situation, claiming she was holding a kitchen knife as a weapon. 

Antonio Willliams was waiting for a taxi in The Bronx when a group of NYPD officers in plain clothes chased Williams and then physically assaulted him by kicking and punching him numerous times in the head. The officers shot him and let him bleed out onto the street.

The individuals who shared these stories were adamant on making a change. One man who wished to be anonymous started to practice law after he saw his own friend become a victim of police brutality. 

The North Bronx Racial Justice organization urges MC students to be a part of these protests to raise awareness of the injustice that Black men and women face. 

Jacquie Martin, Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships for campus ministry and social action spoke about her personal journey with advocacy and social justice.

“We want to make sure that our students are treated equitably and that they’re aware of different issues, right, everyone’s coming from a different place,” said Martin. “We do a lot of work in our office around in helping students be thinking about their own identities, power and privilege and kind of like where they’re coming from so that they can better understand themselves so that they can, you know, advocate for themselves in their communities, but also advocate for others and help support other have other issues and things going on in the community.” 

Brothers at Manhattan (BAM) is a club that consists of Black male MC students that empower one another and discuss prevalent issues regarding the safety of Black men. 

Hendrick Ambroise, president of Brothers at Manhattan shared his thoughts on why having MC students involved with protesting can be a positive change towards the state of the world.

“It’s sad to see things like this happen so frequently, but change doesn’t happen overnight,” Abroise stated to the Quad. “Protesting and using our voices to speak up has power that shouldn’t be underestimated. Police reform needs to happen so that unarmed black people could stop losing their lives.”

Ambroise continued by sharing BAM’s and his own personal hopes for change when it comes to police brutality. 

“We will continue to focus on making change each day and that starts with spreading the word around our campus about the things that are occurring around us,”  said Ambroise. “Through different events we will work toward the goal we hope to get to someday and it starts with everyone as a collective at Manhattan College.”