Pubdate: Sun, 26 Mar 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact:  229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Author: Robert D. McFadden


On a day of solemnity and outrage that degenerated into violence, Patrick
M. Dorismond, the unarmed son of Haitian immigrants who was shot to death
in a confrontation with the police on March 16, was carried across
Brooklyn, eulogized as a martyr and laid to rest yesterday after a march
and funeral that drew thousands of anguished mourners and angry protesters.

Before and after his funeral, there were clashes between protesters and the
police, and wild scenes and sounds of chaos: barricades tumbling under
surging crowds, American flags burning, the clashing chords of car horns,
and the crash of glass thrown from a height, all beneath the airborne
staccato of police helicopters.

The police said 23 officers were injured, most of them cut by flying glass,
although one suffered a leg injury and a possible broken nose. Four
civilians were injured and at least 27 people were arrested, most of them
on charges of disorderly conduct.

Before the protests, the police said they were preparing for a crowd of as
many as 10,000. Though they would not provide an official crowd estimate
last night, one police commander put the number at between 4,000 and 5,000
people at the demonstration's peak.

As the day waned and Mr. Dorismond was buried in a cemetery in Queens, the
bitter retributions and finger-pointing that had marked the days since his
killing continued, this time over who was responsible for the disorders
that had engulfed his funeral.

"I am not the friend of violence," Mr. Dorismond's mother, Marie, said at a
news conference, while her son was being buried. "I never like to see
that." (According to Haitian custom, parents do not accompany their
children's bodies to the graveyard.)

At her side, the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has become the family's adviser,
blamed the police for provoking the trouble. "We do not condone violence,"
he said into a battery of microphones. "We asked the police not to bring in
riot gear."

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was not at the scene, ascribed the violence
to unnamed demagogues, and praised the police for a measured response to

"Police officers should receive the thanks of the entire city for the
restraint they exhibited in the face of sustained hostility and abuse," the
mayor said in a statement. "Unfortunately, when you allow demagogues to
take over for political and divisive purposes, the American flag gets
shredded and burned, steel barricades are hurled and bottles are thrown,
injuring police officers and civilians."

The mayor visited several hurt officers at Kings County Hospital about 5
p.m. "We've had some horrible provocations of the police," Mr. Giuliani
said. "A large number of them were attacked, and the way they handled it
kept this down to a minimum."

Later at the hospital, a visibly angry Joseph P. Dunne, the chief of
department, defended the way the police had handled the demonstration.
"That crowd attacked the police, plain and simple," he said. He dismissed
accusations that the crowd had been provoked by the appearance of officers
in riot gear, saying, "Some of our officers appeared in helmets after the
bottles came in from the crowd."

But bystanders and legal observers criticized the police's handling of the

Daniel Lochard, 36, said he saw an officer hit a woman with a billy club.

"We wanted to follow the funeral procession when the coffin came out. A cop
took his baton and began hitting a woman in the crowd. Then these cops in
riot gear came running down for no reason," he said. "These cops sabotaged
a peaceful funeral."

In his first public words since the killing, Detective Anthony Vasquez, 29,
who shot Mr. Dorismond, released a statement through his lawyer: "On behalf
of my family and myself, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs.
Dorismond and the Dorismond family. As a father and a son, I can only
imagine the depth of your grief. Our prayers are with you at this sorrowful

>From 9 until 11 a.m., a hearse carrying the body of the slain 26-year-old
security guard led a procession of predominantly Haitian marchers and
dozens of cars on a three-mile route from a funeral home in Marine Park to
the church in Flatbush. Sobs of grief mingled with screams of hostility
against the police and shouts demanding justice and the resignation of Mr.

At their thickest, marchers walked 30 across, and Mr. Sharpton and the Rev.
Herbert Daughtry were among those carrying a banner that read "Justice for
Patrick Dorismond." Marchers sang impromptu songs in Haitian Creole, with
lyrics like "They hurt us, and at the election we are going to get them back."

The procession up Flatbush Avenue was nonviolent until it neared Holy Cross
Catholic Church on Church Avenue, where the funeral Mass was celebrated,
shortly after 11 a.m. Thousands more people stood on sidewalks, penned
behind metal police barricades.

Then, it appeared, the pent-up feelings of the day came surging out, after
more than a week of anger over the shooting and the mayor's derogatory
characterizations of the victim.

Metal police barricades were suddenly and noisily shoved down all along the
block. At least two officers fell under the metal stanchions and were
injured, one with a bloody face, one with an injured leg. The crowds surged
into the avenue, and a thin line of police officers, clearly panicked,
retreated toward the church, where reinforcements were posted on a side
street, Veronica Place.

As the crowd took over the avenue outside the church and a tense standoff
with the massing police began, the hearse drew up and pallbearers pulled
out the polished wooden coffin of Mr. Dorismond.

It was draped in Haitian and American flags. Someone ripped away the
American flag and set it ablaze. The crowd danced around it, shouting
angrily. The pallbearers carried the coffin with difficulty through the
dense crowd and into the church, a beige limestone edifice with a single
bell tower surmounted by a gold cross.

For the next two hours, as anger seethed outside, the interior of the
church was an island of grief and solemnity as Msgr. Rollin J. Darbouze,
the pastor, eulogized the slain man.

"If Patrick Dorismond were to address young people today," Monsignor
Darbouze declared, "he would say, 'Because you are young and because you
are black, avoid being on street corners too long because you could be
confused for drug dealers and be killed. Spare your own life.' "

Mr. Dorismond, the son of one of Haiti's best-known singers, Andre
Dorismond, was shot to death outside a bar on Manhattan's West Side in a
struggle with an undercover police officer. He was the fourth unarmed black
man to be killed by the police in the last 13 months -- a series of deaths
that has raised questions about the aggressiveness of the police.

The mayor came under fire from critics for releasing information about Mr.
Dorismond's police record, including sealed juvenile records, for not
visiting or even expressing regrets to Mr. Dorismond's family, and for
defending the police actions in the case, as he had in previous shootings.

The mayor was not at the funeral. "In situations where the person involved
may have been involved in a crime, the mayor does not attend the funeral,"
the mayor's spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, said yesterday.

Among those at the service yesterday were a number of Democratic state
legislators, City Council members and other politicians, including the city
comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, all of them critical of the mayor. Others who
attended included the parents of Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, the Haitian
immigrant sodomized by a police officer in a Brooklyn police station in
August 1997, and the lawyer Johnnie Cochran.

Standing above the coffin, Monsignor Darbouze said: "Let us pray that
Patrick's death and the suffering of his family will not be in vain. May
they find solace and consolation and may they see steps taken so that
Patrick will be a lesson for all of us to work together for a better
quality of life."

Near the end of the Mass, Mr. Dorismond's mother kissed the casket three
times. She was carried out, accompanied by Mr. Sharpton. Near the door she
went into convulsions, her body held high, and was then lowered to the floor.

She eventually was able to walk out of the church.

His sister, Marie Dorismond, addressed the congregation. "From the limo, I
could see mothers crying as if they were in labor pain," she said. "I
understand you're crying with me, you're yelling with my family. We are all
in pain together."

Throughout the funeral, the crowd outside was hostile but relatively
peaceful, confining its anger to shouts of derision against the mayor and
the police, who had mustered reinforcements and now numbered about 300
officers in helmets and other riot gear.

But as the funeral ended and the hearse and its procession pulled away for
Cypress Hills Cemetery in Queens, scuffling broke out between protesters
and the police. People on fire escapes and in windows along Church Avenue
waved Haitian and Jamaican flags, and some of them began hurling bottles
down on the street, many of them missing officers by inches.

The police formed a human barricade to subdue the crowd, and officers used
their batons to knock down flying glass. Officers with bullhorns urged the
crowd to disperse.

But the crowd screamed, "No way! No way!" Several American flags were burned.

Later, Norman Siegel, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, discussed
tactics with police commanders, urging them to order the police in riot
gear to retreat a short distance. At one point the officers agreed, and a
Brooklyn state assemblyman, N. Nick Perry, and Mr. Siegel approached the
crowds standing behind the police barricades, telling people that they
could be arrested if they remained in the street.

"Let's do the smart thing and move to the sidewalk," Mr. Perry said. "Let's
not play into the hands of the mayor."

But the most vocal people in the crowd did not want to leave.

"These are our streets," shouted Zulaykha Kamille, of East Flatbush. "We
are protesting peacefully. We are ready to die."

Donovan Thomas stood nearby, pointing at his small, open Bible. "You can't
stop people from doing what they're doing," he said. "They've been hurt."

During a scuffle one woman who was later arrested knocked off an officer's
hat, and an officer had his hands around the throat of another woman being
arrested. Officers struggled to get many of those arrested into handcuffs
and into wagons.

As the crowd began to break up around 3:30, the police fought a series of
skirmishes with smaller groups, mostly composed of youths, who roamed the
streets of Flatbush, taunting and cursing the officers. The scuffles often
arose as the police tried to break up knots of people, who pushed back as
the officers pressed them with nightsticks. Bottles were thrown at the
police during some of these scuffles, and the police were seen to use
pepper spray and what appeared to be tear gas.

"This wouldn't have happened if these barricades weren't here," a man, who
declined to give his name, said as the violence ebbed. "Giuliani is trying
to control us with this." He suddenly grabbed a barricade and hurled it aside.

Another mourner took a more peaceful approach. "Maybe by all of us being
here, we can bring about some justice," Vanecia Gousse, 28, a nurse's
assistant, said as she stood in front of the church gate.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart