Red Bloom Communist Collective Statement on The Brutalization and Dehumanization of Our Comrades at the Hands of the 77th Precinct of the NYPD
On Friday, July 23rd, a group of Brooklyn residents having a block party were savagely attacked and beaten by officers from the 77th Precinct, even as they complied with police orders to “clear the street.” Several of the revelers were held for over 16 hours at the precinct in filthy and dangerous conditions, without edible food or medical attention for their “officer-involved” injuries, before even being charged with any crime.
Brooklyn residents, engaged in an impromptu block party, were attacked by a group of police officers from the 77th Precinct, after they were apparently called by an individual upset about lack of access to parking. As police demanded that everyone move from the street to the sidewalk, they also began cornering, kettling, punching, kicking, beating, dragging, and tasing multiple revelers, arresting four people, including one minor. By chance, several of the arrestees and many party-goers are members of activist collectives and left-wing political organizations, including Red Bloom.
Arrestees were taken back to the 77th Precinct, where they were held for hours without food or medical attention in cells that were covered in human feces and which did not have working toilets or running water. Police from the 77th, in front of supervisors, threatened arrestees with transfer to Rikers Island and tens of thousands of dollars bail, as well as violence in the precinct itself, with no objection from police command or fellow officers.
The minor person arrested was not granted their right to have their parent present, and one Black trans woman arrestee was held in a men’s cell and presented with a bowl of dog food as her meal. On an hourly basis, police would “test” their tasers by turning them off and on outside people’s cells, a clear attempt to intimidate and terrorize arrestees —who were still charged with no crime.
Arrestees were denied medical care for injuries caused by police violence, in ways that were intended to terrorize and which amounted to life-threatening malign neglect. One young captive was handcuffed to her cell, and denied any treatment at all for a concussion that was itself the result of the police assault.
Another arrestee, covered in bloody scrapes and bruises, demanded that her wounds be cleaned and dressed. EMTs “treated” her injuries using a bottle of water, without soap or antiseptic, and returned her to a feces-smeared cell. As a result, her injuries quickly became infected—a totally preventable and extremely dangerous consequence of sadistic neglect by the officers of the 77th.
Police of the 77th Precinct not only deprived people of care for their basic needs, like food, medical attention, and running water; they also attempted to instigate violence against them at the hands of other incarcerated people, by spreading rumors that the utterly repulsive and unhygienic conditions of the cells were the fault of the partygoers when they weren’t. Ultimately, this additional attempt to intimidate and harm the arrestees failed, It is nevertheless another indication of exactly how cruel, racist, and inhumane the conditions and procedures of and in the 77th in fact are. Officers let their captives know: “This is Brooklyn! If you don't like it, go home!”
The idea that working class, Black and brown, trans and queer, life-long residents of Brooklyn should “go home” if they don’t enjoy being assaulted by the police, or being humiliated, dehumanized, and mocked by supposed public servants, is repulsive and entirely wrong. This is our home.
It is the officers of the 77th precinct who should leave public service (and Brooklyn!) out of respect for the safety of the Brooklyn residents who they have brutalized, in this instance and routinely, for decades.
The 77th Precinct has long been a hotbed of the worst behavior and implicit policy of the NYPD, which is itself no slouch when it comes to corrupt, violent, racist, queerphobic, sexist, and dehumanizing practices.
In the 1970s, the 77th Precinct became well known as the dumping ground for “problem” officers, where the cops with the worst disciplinary records in Brooklyn were sent to terrorize Black neighborhoods with impunity. In the 1980s, it was at the center of the “Buddy Boys” scandal—a gang of cops would steal drugs and guns from neighborhood dealers in broad daylight and sell them to the community.
In recent years, the 77th Precinct has continued to be violent and abusive. Court records tell stories of neighborhood residents being attacked in their homes, public parks, and barbershops by police. One man was kidnapped from a memorial service and charged with burglary. Another went to the precinct to file a police report and was arrested for “obstructing government administration” and “disorderly conduct.” Last June, it was officers from the 77th who shot Tyquarn Graves 62 times. During last summer’s protests, it was an officer from the 77th who we heard on police radio saying to “Shoot those motherfuckers” and “Run them over.”
The problems in the 77th Precinct are quite severe and have ruined the lives of too many residents of Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and the rest of Brooklyn. But they are far from unique, and it’s clear that the criminality of the police cannot be excused by blaming “a few bad apples.” Red Bloom Communist Collective stands in solidarity with the arestees of last Friday, including our own members, and with the activist collectives who have been protesting regularly since last summer, for Black Lives and against police violence and murder.
We stand for the abolition of police and prisons in general. We understand that these institutions neither “protect and serve” residents of Brooklyn, nor Black people and other people of color, nor queer and trans people, nor working class people more generally—except when those working class individuals are racists who use them as a deadly weapon of petty revenge against racialized and queer people for daring to exist in public space, as happened in Friday’s incident.
Instead, cops and jails serve and protect capital, and individual members of the ruling class. Constant racist terror and violence works for capital, by making good on the threat implicit in the very structure of class society: that those who can't be exploited profitably enough will simply be discarded, whether through neglect or direct force.
Police work for capital by busting up protests that demand the things that the working class majority needs, by crushing strike action, and by sapping people’s capacity on a daily basis through petty fines and harassment; and through the stress of never knowing when you might be attacked, arrested, beaten or killed for no reason beyond the cops’ racist assumption that they can act with impunity.
The George Floyd uprising, which flowered in towns and cities across the globe, confronted that assumption. We call on you and all people of goodwill to build that challenge, and to prove cops wrong. While we work to repair and address the harm already caused by the police of the 77th, we also fight to prevent the future inevitable harm they will cause as long as they exist. This is why, when we call for the abolition of police and prisons, we are calling for the abolition of capital and capitalism, too. Join us in solidarity with those affected by the arbitrary violence of police and the carceral system.
Only solidarity with and among poor and working class, Black and brown, and queer and trans people can hold cops accountable for the everyday racist, abusive, and violent actions that they seem to believe are their right and duty.