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Thousands Protest Torture Of Immigrant Peaceful March On New York’s City Hall Denounces Police Brutality

Timothy Williams Associated Press

Waving toilet plungers and denouncing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, about 7,000 angry but peaceful protesters marched Friday on City Hall with twin messages: zero tolerance for police brutality and justice for the Haitian immigrant allegedly sodomized by officers.

The march, organized by Haitian community groups, shut down the Brooklyn Bridge and part of Broadway as demonstrators descended on lower Manhattan to protest the Aug. 9 attack on Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant.

The crowd waved signs demanding “Giuliani Must Go!” and called the mayor “Brutaliani.”

“We’re here to make sure the Louima family gets justice,” said DeLacy Davis, an East Orange, N.J., police officer. “We’re here to send a message to America that people of color will not sit idly by when someone is brutalized.”

There were hundreds of police officers in riot gear around City Hall, but protesters were well-behaved. While the demonstration itself was peaceful, police said they arrested 110 people who tried to block the Brooklyn Bridge after the march.

“The problem is the police think they are the only ones that count - no one else,” said demonstrator Jean Bernard, a toilet plunger in one hand and a Haitian flag in the other.

Prosecutors say Louima was beaten and sodomized with a stick - perhaps a plunger handle - in a Brooklyn stationhouse bathroom. Four white police officers have been charged in what prosecutors say was a racially motivated attack.

Giuliani, who is up for re-election in November, has rejected assertions that stepped-up policing has encouraged police brutality, especially against minorities. He has called the Louima case an isolated instance involving bad cops.

At a news conference following the protest, Giuliani praised members of the police department for showing restraint in the face of taunts from a small number of demonstrators.

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