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High tension in East Flatbush

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
March 12, 2013 1:26:45 PM PDT
He was just 16 and he had, like way too many young teenagers of color in New York City, run-ins with the law before. We don't know if he was still in school, but we know that more than one out of two African American boys in New York State do not graduate high school.

That means they don't have the opportunities that graduates do to get higher-paying jobs, and generate tax revenues, as well as social security funds for the rest of us.

Kimani Gray was his name. His friends called him "Kiki." Late Saturday night, two plain clothes New York police officers stopped Gray and a group of teens. The cops say Gray pulled out a gun. They fired.

Police say they recovered the .38 caliber pistol, with four rounds inside. They even showed the picture of it. As evidence of just how tense this case is, Gray's friends say there was no gun. They also say the officers didn't identify themselves as police; police say other witnesses told them they heard the cops say they identified themselves as officers.

Rules on the street are simple: Pull a gun on a cop, and they're going to shoot. That's no secret. But the tensions are rising in East Flatbush, and it shows just how bad relations are between some New Yorkers (a small percentage) and the NYPD.

The policy of stop and frisk, much criticized because of the stats suggesting racial profiling, isn't such a horrible practice; but the way it was conducted some say left much to be desired. What if the NYPD had gone more aggressively into the community to explain why stop and frisk will help make the streets safer? What if the moms were targeted for community relations officers to present their case to in favor of stop and frisk? Would it have made a difference in how the community responded? I don't know, I'm just sayin'.

Tonight, another protest is planned in the aftermath of Gray's killing. Fingers are crossed that it doesn't lead to more violence and another disturbance. Most of the protesters are looking only to do that - protest. But there are many young people there - younger than Kiki Gray - and for them some of this anger has no good way to be exhibited. Some of them took to throwing bottles and trashing a drug store. Like I said, fingers crossed. We're in East Flatbush with the latest, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, our Joe Torres is in Rome, where the world's Catholic Cardinals today voted once and couldn't decide on who will be the next Pope. They're waiting for white smoke to emerge from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel; it was black today.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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