Angered by the alleged torture of a man by New York police officers, several hundred protesters marched to the Justice Department on Friday demanding a federal investigation into police brutality.
“What has happened in New York City is not an isolated incident. It is a problem that is eating away at the core of this country,” said Samuel Nicolas, cousin and spokesman for Abner Louima, who is still recovering from his injuries.
Louima, a Haitian immigrant, has been hospitalized since the alleged attack Aug. 9 by officers inside a Brooklyn police station bathroom. Four officers have been charged.
Nicolas said he doesn’t know when Louima would come home from the hospital.
“He’s in a lot of physical pain,” he said. “There is also a lot of emotional pain.”
Demonstrators, many carrying photographs of loved ones and family members who they say were killed or beaten while in police custody, said police brutality is an everyday fact of life in many black and minority communities.
The protesters want the Justice Department to investigate police misconduct across the country and to set up a central federal data bank to track allegations of brutality.
The Louima case is “not some heinous aberration,” said Ron Daniels, director of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
“It is systematic of a growing epidemic of police brutality and misconduct which is afflicting communities of color and poor communities across this nation,” he said.
The Justice Department had no immediate comment.
Later on Friday, the protesters attended a hearing into police brutality conducted by Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan.