Letter From The Editor

Dario Tena Dies, Smythe Loses 4 Years, Cops Lie & Spend Weekends In Jail – Where Is The Outrage From The Black Community

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Later today, I will be speaking at a forum on the portrayal of black men in the media, while preparing for what I’m going to say, I read the story in the Journal News about the two Yonkers cops who plead guilty Thursday to perjury for lying to get a search warrant for a raid in which Dario Tena died when he fell out a window.

Ok, so we have cops who lied and falsely put people in jail, over 20 cases vacated by the Westchester County DA’s office, one man Jamar Smythe of Peekskill served the past 4 years of his life incarcerated and was released Tuesday, Dario Tana goes out the window, and the cops lied to falsified the search warrant affidavit that lead to the raid. And all Janet Difiore, who actually surprised me when she indicted the officers, (officers don’t’ usually get indicted by DA Difiore’s office) which we now see was just a covering-her-ass move and had nothing to do with justice, because all she does is give the officers weekend jail. Their action cost Smythe four years of his life and killed Tena but they get to go to jail on Friday come out on Monday and go about their business.

But that’s not what bothers me the most. We all know historically the system wasn’t created for our benefit but  what gets me is, there is NO outrage from the Preachers, the so-called community leaders, or the black politicians! Really!!! Something is seriously wrong with that picture!!! We have a problem Houston!!!

Where is the outrage from the Black Community, from the Black Church, from Black Law Enforcement Officers and Organizations, who won’t even speak up when something happens to one of their own. Where is the outrage from all the Westchester Black Lives Matter protesters  (you marched and protested for Eric Garner and Mike Brown, but what about what’s happening here in your own backyard). Where is the black power movement, all you fist-in-the-air, pro black negroes who go on and on about how the white man did this to us and is doing that to us? Where are the Community Activists? Where are the historical Civil Rights Organizations? Where are the Black Elected Officials (another reason to get out and vote in local elections, but we will discuss that another time). Come on, it’s time to stop tucking your Blackness in, like a dress shirt to make others feel comfortable! It’s time to make them really uncomfortable.

Ok, so for everyone who doesn’t necessarily read or watch the news and has no idea what has me agitated, let me briefly break it down or you

Two Yonkers Police Officers, Detective Christian Koch and former Yonkers officer Neil Vera plead guilty Thursday to perjury stemming from a falsified search warrant for a raid in which led to the death of Dario Tena, who died from falling out a third-floor window.The two Yonkers officers lead a raid at Tena apartment, despite the fact his name was not on the warrant and the person’s whose name was listed hadn’t lived at that apartment for years and Detective Koch was also involved in giving false testimony which lead to Smythe being sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Smythe was recently released from jail after serving four years on Tuesday. The DA’s office felt Koch and his partner, Detective Dennis Molina testified falsely at Smythe’s trial and were no longer credible as witnesses. They supported the motion for Smythe to be released. The District Attorney’s office also reviewed several pending cases in which either Koch or Vera or both officers were involved and dropped charges against 20-plus defendants, including some who were facing serious drug felonies. I’m not even trying to make the case, that they were all innocent but because the cops circumvented the system, the court will never get to decide.

For their crimes against the community, these officers were paid to protect and serve, Koch and Vera were sentenced to serve jail on the weekends. Vera who was previously fired, received six months worth of weekends and Koch who is still actively employed by the Yonkers Police Department will serve only eight weekends. EIGHT weekends for being involved in Tena’s death and costing Smythe to lose four years of his life, incarcerated on trumped-up charges. Not exactly a punishment that fits the crime for the damage they caused to several residents. They can’t give Smythe the four years of his life back, he missed with his children and loved ones, they can’t bring Tena back to his family.

8 WEEKS of WEEKENDS in jail and I repeat and NO outrage from Preachers, community leaders or black politicians!

Since Koch and Vera have officially pleaded guilty to perjury and received a slap-on-the-wrist size sentence, the Westchester DA’s office as well as the DOJ need to re-open the Dario Tana’s case, which has never even gone to a grand jury. There is a grand jury for everything these days, but no investigation in the death of this black man who died at the hands of Yonkers Police!

Molina, a 13-year veteran of the department (the other officer who’s lies costs, Jamar Smythe 4 years of his life), has not been charged but was placed on modified duty this month pending the ongoing investigation. Both Vera and Koch remain free without bail. Westchester County Judge Barry Warhit scheduled sentencing for Vera on May 28 and for Koch on Sept. 10, The Journal News reported.

Both officers could have faced up to four years in prison for second-degree perjury. The felony conviction is would cost Koch his job. Of course the Yonkers PD could not immediately be reached for comment on the officers status or the Tena case.

Black Westchester is asking when will Blacks In Westchester stand up! To date there still is no justice for the deaths of Danroy DJ Henry, Detective Christopher Ridley, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr and others in Westchester County. What else has to happen before we publicly speak up as a people. You don’t want to march, let’s talk about enforcing economic sanctions, strategically  withhold your money, will get everyone’s attention and show them Black Dollars Matter if Black Lives Don’t to them! No Justice, No Profits! Use the power of the Black Vote, make your elected officials speak up and change legislation.

What I’m saying is everyone has a responsibly and we all need to play our part in the fight for what we want and make them take us seriously.  Where are the leaders? Where is the outrage? Where is the pushback? Yes there are a handful out there, but how  long will we allow them to stand out there on an island by themselves. At the very least support those who do stand up! Join them, make it hard for others to kill a movement by attacking or discrediting individuals or organizations who do stand up, who are always on the front lines!

No other group of people, continuously allows themselves to be disrespected, neglected and ignored, without repercussions!

It is wishful thinking to think that communities of color will march their way to a position of being able to decide their destiny in how their community are governed, policed or prosecuted. The government, the police department, the DA’s office doesn’t care if you march. You can march all day, if that’s all you do and there is no end game for all they care. Marching and protesting alone will not solve all the problems. But this does not change the fact that communities of color in the municipalities across Westchester County  want a say how they are governed. Or the fact that a revolution needs to take place. Before I scare off people with the “R” word, revolution simply means change people.

But the question becomes, how bad do they want it and what are they willing to do to get it? Until the communities of color in the municipalities across Westchester see injustice in the other cities as all of our problem and ban together instead of shrugging their shoulders and saying, ‘oh that’s just Mount Vernon or Yonkers, or Peekskill, (name any other city or town), this is New Rochelle, or White Plains or (insert your city here), local and county governments, local and county police and the Westchester County District Attorney’s office will never respect need that for you to have the authority to decide your own destiny. You have to make them respect you enough to move in your best interest!

AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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