Amadou Diallo’s name still ‘echoes’ 20 years later

Stephon Johnson | 2/7/2019, midnight
“Unfortunately, Amadou will never get justice and we still feel that there’s not any change,” said Kadiatou Diallo, the mother ...
Kadiatou Diallo

Working with the families of those slain by police, the New York State Assembly introduced a bill that calls for a special prosecutor focused specifically on police killings in New York. The bill, sponsored by New York State Assemblymember Nick Perry, would create an 11-member commission appointed by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state legislature and a chief judge to investigate and recommend sanctions.

But the family members of those killed by police are not satisfied with the bill. In a letter to Cuomo, the coalition expressed disappointment with the special prosecutor proposal laid out in his most recent budget proposal. They called on the governor to stick to what was approved of and work on their behalf to curtail police brutality.

“Your proposed ‘Special Counsel’ would be a major step back from what currently exists through your executive order, and is weaker and narrower than the bill that we support (A.1601-Perry) that has passed out of the Assembly for the past two years,” read the letter. “A special prosecutor for police killings should be responsible for investigating (and if warranted, prosecuting) all killings by police and deaths in police custody. Instead of focusing on all police killings, your proposal says that a special prosecutor can investigate only when a person is unarmed. This is deeply problematic and wrong.”

The letter continued, “We don’t understand why you are calling for a major step back from your own special prosecutor executive order you signed in 2015, and we know that the police reform coalition we are part of has reached out to your counsel to try to have a conversation, with no response. The 2015 executive order empowers the attorney general to investigate cases in which civilians are killed by police—and doesn’t limit the special prosecutor’s authority to just incidents in which the person killed is reportedly unarmed.”

The letter was signed by family members of individuals killed by police in New York State, including Kadiatou Diallo, the parents of Sean Bell, the mothers of Anthony Baez and Eric Garner, and the sisters of Delrawn Small and Yong Xin Huang.

Despite traveling a “long, difficult road,” Kadiatou said that linking up with other families who share similar pain has given her strength.

“We are all working together to not let people forget my son’s legacy. His legacy is the Amadou Diallo Foundation,” said Kadiatou. “We have people who have dreamt of going to college and never having the chance to go on scholarships from the organization. People who are getting the Amadou Diallo Scholarship are keeping his name and legacy alive. We’re working towards stronger laws and demanding action to save our future generations.”

She added, “But Amadou will never get justice.”