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New York police chief racially profiled?

By Nayaba Arinde
The Amsterdam News | Last updated: Jun 4, 2008 - 10:05:00 AM

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Chief Douglas R. Ziegler
'The highest ranking Black in the police department was stopped by White officers at gunpoint. They are taking their lead from the top.'
NY Senator Adams

NEW YORK (NNPA) - “The difference between Chief Zeigler and Sean Bell was that Zeigler made all the right moves to become chief, but had he made the wrong move and reached for the glove compartment, he would probably have been going to the mortuary rather than going home,” state Sen. Eric Adams told the AmNews. Sen. Adams is a retired NYPD captain.

New York City’s highest-ranking Black police officer could have experienced a fate similar to Mr. Bell, an unarmed Black man shot to death by police officers in 2006, intimated Sen. Adams.

Chief Douglas Zeigler was confronted by two White cops, who allegedly stopped their superior at gunpoint, ordered him out of his marked vehicle May 2 and refused to acknowledge his police identification. Chief Ziegler heads the Community Affairs Bureau.

“The problem—which is beyond belief—is that in the midst of the Sean Bell trial, instead of the police reexamining their method of engagement with communities of color, they increase their action. The first three months of this year we had almost 150,000 stop and frisks. It’s as though no one is looking at all at this. The recent report by the ACLU showed a lack of diversity in the top ranks, and that it is increasing,” said the state senator.

Mr. Adams, lawyer Norman Siegel, activists and civil rights advocates held a press conference at 1 Police Plaza to protest the blatant profiling. After news of the Zeigler incident began to make waves, Officer Michael Granahan was stripped of his gun and badge and now awaits a departmental investigation.

“The highest ranking Black in the police department was stopped by White officers at gunpoint. They are taking their lead from the top,” said Sen. Adams of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s administration. Top brass, he argued, is saying to the rank and file, “‘Don’t worry about the concerns of Sharpton, Adams, Barron or Perkins. Ignore them, we know what’s best for them.’”

“Our kids are collateral damage. There is no consideration; whether it is when they tried to stop Rev. Calvin Butts or drawing a weapon on Chief Zeigler. Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg are saying, ‘You want safer streets—this is part of it.’ This is basically them saying to the cops, ‘We don’t want to know how it’s done, just do it.’ At least back in the ’60s the Justice Department would step in.”

“We need a congressional delegation to use their subpoena powers and hold major meetings across the nation to call in police commissioners and chiefs and send a strong message to police departments that they are not run by the police: they are answerable to the people. But people don’t want to know,” Sen. Adams said. He also proposed having a permanent special prosecutor handle allegations of serious police misconduct.

Perhaps ironically, Zeigler’s wife, Neldra Zeigler, is the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for equal employment opportunity. “Chief Zeigler suffered the same indignity that hundreds of thousands of innocent Black people have faced for years,” retired detective Marq Claxton said.