Created on: March 14, 2013 Last Updated: March 19, 2013
What began as a candlelight vigil for a slain youth has led to violent rioting in the Brooklyn neighborhood of East Flatbush. The vigil for Kimani ‘Kiki’ Gray, a 16 year-old who was fatally shot by police on Saturday, March 9, began peacefully at 7 p.m. on Monday night, but by 8.30 p.m. the scene had turned ugly, with angry mourners throwing bottles at cars and police, breaking shop windows, and trashing a Rite Aid store.
There were also several vicious confrontations between mourners and police, as well as attacks on local business workers. Eyewitnesses have claimed the scene was “like a war zone.”
Further protests over the shooting have taken place on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, leading to almost 50 arrests. The area is now patrolled incessantly by squad cars, but community anger continues to simmer.
Gray was shot several times by undercover officers after he allegedly pointed a .357 caliber revolver at them. The teenager, who lived in nearby Crown Heights, was in East Flatbush to catch up with old friends, and at the time of the shooting he was hanging out with a small group of them on a neighborhood stoop. It is claimed that when the officers approached the boys, Gray began acting suspiciously and began fidgeting with his waistband. When a weapon was sighted, the officers opened fire, hitting Gray seven times in the torso and legs. Although he was rushed to Kings County hospital, the teen later died.
According to police, a handgun containing four bullets was retrieved from the scene, but it has not yet been established whether it had been fired.
The official version of events has been contested by friends and family of the slain teenager. Gray’s older sister, Mahnefah, claims that a witness reported that her brother was only adjusting his belt, and that he had too much common sense to point a loaded weapon at a police officer. Other witnesses have given details of the young man’s fear and despair as he was being shot. They claim that Gray yelled out, “Stop, I’m not running!” and “Please don’t let me die,” to which the officers replied that if he didn’t stay down, they would shoot him again. As yet, however, no satisfactory explanation of what led to the shooting incident has been provided by Gray’s associates on the night.
One of the organisers of the vigil said that a key reason for the violence was widespread disappointment among the 100 mourners that no elected officials
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Vigil for 16-year-old turns into riot on the streets of New York