This week, a lawsuit was filed in New York City, and the details sound like they’re right out of a book. A woman was arrested and held in a psych ward for 8 days, involuntarily given sedatives, forced into therapy, and then billed for her stay. She was not told why she was released, but it is known that Kamilah Brock does not suffer from any known disorders.
Oh, and this woman is black, but we’ll address that later.
Kamilah Brock, a banker in Astoria and entertainer was pulled over in Harlem for reasons that “still remain unclear.” Her BMW was searched for drugs. None were found, but the BMW was impounded anyway.
When Brock approached a police precinct about regaining possession of her car, the officersss had no knowledge of her incident, nor could they find any record of her car in the impound. When they found out the car was a BMW, police officers grew suspicious. Brock refused to answer questions regarding her age, questions she felt were irrelevant and inappropriate. In order to verify her character and good intentions, Brock stated that she was a banker and a performer, and that President Obama followed her on Twitter.
All of those statements were factual, but police then detained her and put her in Harlem Hospital, where she was held for 8 days against her will and then charged for it. No records have been found containing any justification for holding Ms. Brock, and hospital records show that she displayed no violent or dangerous behavior. Ms. Brock was only released after she told doctors what they wanted to hear: namely, that she was unemployed and that the President did not follow her on Twitter.
So let’s review: A black woman driving a BMW in Harlem was pulled over without cause, had her car seized by the authorities without legal cause, and when she attempted to regain her possession, she was institutionalized.
This is a story of injustice without the lens of race. Considering that Ms. Brock is black makes this seem like a racial profiling case. And I can’t be the only one who thinks that this story is strange coming out of Harlem.
I have a word for you: Gentrification. Harlem, according to one source, in 1990, 672 whites lived in Central Harlem. By 2008, that number had grown to 13,800. It’s grown substantially since then. The black population has hit an all-time low, as well. Their richer, white counterparts can afford the $6000/month rent, which has grown from about $1300 in recent years. Schools are performing better in the area than they ever have, and streets once decorated by trash and graffiti are now clean. The local authorities now feel the pressure from the white influx of people to do their jobs correctly, apparently, but couldn’t be bothered to service a historically black haven where many residents flirt with the poverty line.
This includes the police. The gentrifying neighborhood brings blacks in the area under greater scrutiny, especially by the police. You can’t tell me,,,, that police precinct doesn’t demonstrate a pattern of racial profiling. I would not believe it.
So, my question is this: if a black woman in a historically black neighborhood is getting pulled over, having her car seized, getting arrested detained, all without any cause, isn’t gentrification to blame? I think so, and I can’t find a good argument for gentrification. All it does is expose the worst in us while worsening conditions for the poorest of us. And for my Austin audience, this is happening, and in some ways already has happened right here in Austin. Don’t think for a second that this couldn’t happen here.
Cities need to care for all of their jurisdictions equally. Harlem should have the same excellent schools and police that Manhattan enjoys. East Austin deserves the same treatment as Westlake. We shouldn’t need the presence of whites or hippies to improve city services. That process will only make it harder for minorities.
The best thing we can do is hold our city accountable. Call the mayor, call your state rep. Call the police department. Hell as a matter of fact..Just call Greg!!! Most of all, more guns equal less crime….go out and buy yourself a gun! You’ve been listening to Come and Talk It! with Michael Cargill.