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1999 NCC News Archives

NCC's National Ministries Director Condemns Shooting of Amadou Diallo

February 13, 1999, NEW YORK -- The Director of the National Ministries Unit (NMU) of the National Council of Churches has expressed his shock and horror at "yet another case of police misuse of power, the case of Amadou Diallo."

Mr. Diallo, from Guinea, West Africa, immigrated to the United States two years ago and lived a quiet life in New York City. But on Feb. 4, he was brutally shot to death just inside the building where he lived, by four armed police officers. They fired a total of 41 shots and he was hit 17 times, 11 times in the legs.

The Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell, NCC Deputy General Secretary and NMU Director, stated, "Christians and all people of faith are saddened, shocked and deeply outraged by this latest example of total disregard for the extraordinary gift of life that God has given us. The attacks on unarmed people of color by those who see themselves as powerful must be challenged and we must respond."

Amadou Diallo was unarmed and by all accounts, a gentle person with no criminal record. He was trying to maintain financial independence as a street peddler. He was 22 years old.

The president of the NAACP has also condemned the shooting as "excessive force at its worst" and has met with the U.S. Attorney General and other officials to look at the incident and identify the causes. The attorney for the accused police officers, Stephen Worth, stated that "the officers had believed Diallo had a gun" because he did not respond to their spoken commands and made motions that the officers interpreted as threatening."

"We must seriously question why four armed officers who have been members of an aggressive street crimes unit, each with five to seven years experience, felt so threatened by one man that they fired a total of 41 shots," Dr. Powell asked.

He further stated, "We are calling on the mayor of New York City along with Police Commissioner Howard Safir to not only launch a full investigation into the spate of attacks on people of color by police officers but to form partnerships with those community organizations who are already working to identify the systemic and root causes of this particular kind of violence and begin the process of organizing remedial action. We must all act swiftly."

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