MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- A group gathered in front of the Village of Mamaroneck Courthouse Thursday morning to protest what they called racial profiling and aggressive treatment by police, and to show support for Luis Quiros, a Mamaroneck man who was arrested in front of his home on Feb. 14.
"Those of us rallying believe that this is just one example of a pattern of racial targeting and harassment of people of color in Westchester," said Alma Reyes Evans, a racial justice activist and community organizer. "We are standing in support of Luis as an individual, but larger than that, we’re calling for police accountability, for different training for law enforcement, for systemic change because we believe that racism is consistent in the practice of law enforcement officials here."
Quiros, 67, was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, after he was reportedly approached by a Village of Mamaroneck police officer while sitting in his car in front of his Rockland Avenue home in Mamaroneck.
The Village of Mamaroneck Police Department did not offer comment about Quirors' case.
In describing the Feb. 14 incident, Quiros said he was told by a police officer that he looked suspicious, asked to turn off the radio and exit his vehicle, and then placed in handcuffs. He said he was subject to physical harassment that left him with a bloody nose and lip, and feelings of being violated from being searched.
“I knew he had a different agenda – looking suspicious is not against the law," Quiros said.
The people who stood outside in the Thursday morning wind and cold held signs with messages such as "DARK SKIN ≠ A CRIME" and "POLICE REFORM NOW."
“This is typical all over the place; our color makes a difference," Len Tsou said. “I don’t know him personally, but when this happens to somebody, it’s like it’s happening to me."
Steve Galusker, who came from Ardsley, is a member of the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform. “I believe that what we have is a pattern of police misconduct, and we need ways of oversight," he said. "I support that not just in this case, but there’s no process to hold police accountable in general. We need a civilian response. I am behind Quiros because this arrest was not well-founded.”
Reyes said she finds it difficult to imagine that she, as a white woman, would be subject to the same type of treatment if she were sitting in front of her home in a car.
"We believe that racism is central in the whole incident, from beginning to end," she said. "It's in everything from the experience that Luis had to the death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. This is for all of the individuals who have been treated unfairly and even killed."
Mayo Bartlett, the attorney who represented the family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., the White Plains man who was shot fatally by police in November 2011, is also representing Quiros.
"We need more people who come out for something like this, it’s important," Bartlett said to the protesters outside. "Somewhere there’s another Luis, and he’s in court by himself, and he’s not a teacher and a pillar of the community, and he’s going to get hammered because it’s his word against that of the police. So when we stand up here, it hopefully helps that person as well.”
The court has adjourned the case until Quiros' next court date, April 11.