Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Friday, March 24, 2006

NYPD Admits Mistake. Still No Answers.

On Thursday, March 23, the Gay City News ran a story addressing the inaccuracies contained in the New York Post's report (from an unidentified source) that the NYPD had a new lead in the Rashawn Brazell murder investigation. Surely, the Brazell family and the community at large appreciate the insight that the GCN article provides into the true status of the investigation as well as the publication's sensitivity to the impact that media reports have upon the communities that look to them in their search for justice. To this end, the RBMF would like to commend the Gay City News for their thorough reporting and for upholding the journalistic standards that are so clearly lost on their colleagues at the Post.

At the same time, the RBMF wants to be clear about where this "development" leaves our community and exactly why there is little cause for celebration.

While we are pleased that the NYPD has publicly declared that the earlier story was indeed erroneous, we are sobered and disheartened by the reality revealed by the title of Gay City News story, "Rashawn Brazell Murder Progress Discounted".

We at the RBMF feel that it is truly a sad state of affairs when the NYPD must make public statements that assure the public that they have made no progress in their investigation.

The NYPD's emphatic denial that the information provided to the Post came from their department identifies two key issues for those of us whose safety is compromised by living in a city where Rashawn's killer roams free.

First, the situation reveals the faulty line of communication between the 79th precinct, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information and the "sources close to the investigation" quoted in the pieces in question. Given Larry Celona's long career of covering crimes that require him to work closely with the NYPD, we will not believe that he would mistake an uninformed civilian with a confirmed NYPD representative. To date, he maintains that his information came from a "source close to the investigation".

How, then, is it possible for someone involved in or "close to" the investigation to not only be mistaken about who is wanted for questioning, but also to be confident enough about this misinformation to offer details about case to a member of the press?

And, if this is the case, what is the NYPD doing to repair the leak of bad information to the press and to the public they proclaim to serve? Surely, addressing and preventing the brand of reckless behaviour evident in this public blunder should be a priority for the department.

Second, there is the question of progress. After a full year of investigative work, is the identification of "someone who definitely needs to be talked to" the single most significant or newsworthy development? The NYPD's forays with the media suggests that it is. And if this is the case, there is certainly dire need for the march and rally that Desire Brazell has organized for April 15.

The RBMF will continue to work toward justice for Rashawn and the countless others whose names the public has forgotten or will never know. And for us, that justice will only begin to manifest when those who are charged with serving and protecting the public begin to do so efficiently and without regard for race, class or sexuality.


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