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Hundreds Protest Justice Department Ruling and Police Misconduct in Diallo Case

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Hundreds gathered last night for a candlelight vigil outside the apartment in the Bronx where the unarmedWest-African immigrant Amadou Diallo was gunned down by four white police officers two years ago.

Speakers including Diallo’s father, Saikou Amadou Diallo, and the Rev. Al Sharpton expressed outrage at the JusticeDepartment’s ruling last week. The Justice Department said that it would not bring civil rights charges against thepolicemen because the officers did not fire on Diallo with the specific intent to use unreasonable force.

Diallo, who was a 22-year-old street vendor, was killed as he stood in the lobby of his apartment building in theearly hours of Feb. 4, 1999. The four plainclothes officers who confronted him fired 41 shots. They said they thoughthe had pulled a gun. It was a wallet.

The officers were acquitted of criminal charges in Diallo’s death last year in a state trial that was moved to Albanyto escape the public anger simmering in New York City. A senior government official said that Attorney General JanetReno had signed off on last week’s Justice Department ruling before she left office, but delayed the announcement infear that it would ignite protests at the Bush inauguration.

Tape:

  • Sounds of the vigil for Amadou Diallo, including New York State Assemblyman Rubin Diaz, Saikou Diallo, andRev. Al Sharpton.

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