Rioters Attack Police, Disrupt NYC Funeral

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - A crowd of several thousand marchers mourning the shooting death of an unarmed Haitian immigrant by an NYPD detective during an undercover operation, morphed into a rock and bottle throwing mob outside of a Roman Catholic church in Brooklyn Saturday, injuring 23 police officers and five civilians.

The mob, unofficially estimated by police to have numbered between 4,000 and 5,000 people, began as a peaceful protest march from a funeral home in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn to Holy Cross Catholic Church in Flatbush, where the funeral of Patrick Dorismond was held.

Dorismond was shot and killed on March 16 during a scuffle at a Manhattan bar with undercover police officers trying to make drug arrests. The police officer involved alleges that his gun went off accidentally. It was the third killing of an unarmed black man by New York City police in the last 13 months, and came just weeks after an Albany jury acquitted four NYPD officers in the accidental shooting of Amadou Diallo, a West African immigrant who died in a hail of police bullets in the Bronx last year.

As Saturday's march progressed through Flatbush it was joined by more, and louder, protestors, some of whom reportedly called for violence against New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his family.

"Rudy, I'll blow you up to kingdom come, cut you with a chain saw, and feed you to the dogs!" yelled one man pushing through the crowd.

A car driving into the crowd of protestors was plastered with signs saying "Rudy Giuliani, shoot one of my children and your son Andrew will go to his grave," and "If you shoot one of my children, I shoot five of yours."

Leading what had by then become a full-fledged protest demonstration was activist Rev. Al Sharpton, who carried a sign saying "Justice for Patrick" as he called for the resignation of Giuliani.

Violence reportedly broke out when the marchers reached the church and were joined by more protestors. This larger crowd then reportedly toppled metal police barricades and threw them, along with bottles and rocks at the uniformed police officers. At one point, the mob even tore an American flag from the deceased's casket and burned it, say multiple news sources. Eventually dozens of police outfitted in riot gear, and accompanied by police helicopters and fire department vehicles, quelled the mob.

NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir said that his officers' quick, professional actions kept the mayhem to a minimum and probably prevented the loss of lives.

"My police officers were incredibly restrained," Safir told the New York Times. "That is why 23 of them were injured and fairly few civilians. We took actions to ensure that we did not have a riot and it was brought under control pretty quickly," he said. "Nobody came in with helmets and batons until after people started throwing bottles."