I am a resident of Valley Stream, a parent, and a teacher.
I am also white, and I believe that black lives matter.
I am deeply troubled that black lives appear to not matter to Garden City Mayor Nicholas Episcopia and Police Commissioner Kenneth Jackson, as demonstrated by their lack of good faith and transparency in handling a recent case of police brutality and misconduct.
On Dec. 2, theislandnow.com [Blank Slate Media] reported on Ronald Lanier, a retired Nassau County corrections officer and black man who was racially profiled, misidentified, detained, and beaten by two white Garden City police officers.
As reported, the suspect for whom the officers were searching was later apprehended.
Officer Lanier was released without even an apology.
Officer Lanier is thankfully still alive today, but had he been armed that day there is nobody that can say with certainty whether or not he would still be alive now.
It has been one month since this incident occurred and the Garden City Police Department is still refusing to release the names of the officers who committed this act, despite requests from Officer Lanier’s attorney and representatives of Black Law Enforcement organizations from across the state of New York.
Garden City officials have not released any comment to confirm whether or not there is any disciplinary action being taken or investigation into these officers’ actions taking place at all.
There is also video of the incident, captured on Western Beef supermarket surveillance cameras, which has not been released.
This lack of transparency should be deeply disturbing to every single person living on Long Island, regardless of political affiliation or opinion.
Without knowing the officers’ names, the media and public have no means to look into whether similar complaints have been filed against these officers in the past.
We have no way to determine if the officers’ actions that night were part of a larger pattern of similar behavior.
We must assume that these officers pose a threat to the residents of Long Island, particularly black and brown residents, for as long as they are allowed to continue carrying badges and guns.
When there is no transparency, how can we be expected to have faith that good cops will stand up to and protect us from bad ones who disgrace the uniform?
When we lose the ability to hold police accountable for bad actions, how can we avoid losing faith in the entire system?
When there is no justice, how can there be peace?
Mayor Episcopia and Commissioner Jackson must release the officers’ names and the Western Beef surveillance camera footage immediately.