Police Brutality: How The Present Force Regulates Affairs 1874
 

 
 

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:

In reference to the police interference case, with which I am charged, I desire to set briefly the facts before the public.

On Saturday, the 21st of March, I saw the man Hinch in the hands of Officer Brown, in Hoyt street, he was bleeding severely from a club wound on the head; Brown holding the baton over him, drawn at arm's length, and saying, "If you don't come, I'll strike you again." This was repeated twice while the crowd stood looking on. I then stepped forward, laying a hand on Hinch's shoulder, and throwing my arm up betwixt his head and the raised baton, at the same time saying, "Officer, don't strike that man again, he is hurt enough." The reply was "mind your own business, go back, or I'll strike you." I replied, "No you don't, I offer you my help to take the man to the station house, but don't strike him again." He replied, "well, I call on you as a citizen to help."

My help was accepted, and Hineh, conscious of what had been done for him, walked quietly, the officer having a grip of him while I held him by the hand. After having gone about a hundred yards he was again troublesome, as a drunken man may be expected to be, suffering from a split head and maddened with poisonous rum. After having entered into Fulton street Hinch was again brutally felled to the pavement with Brown's club on the head, and when lifted up his appearance was so shocking that his head looked as if it had been dipped in blood, and that the man might see he had to wash the blood from his forehead with his hand. Indignation was general against the officer, as the cry was vehement of his brutality. Two ladies threw themselves on Brown, and entreated him to be merciful. They were driven back. Another man beside myself escaped the club only by care when it was aimed at us while protecting the fallen man. He also helped to take Hinch away, while I led him by one arm; after this there was no more trouble. Hinch expressed his gratefulness that his life was saved by the protection offered.

Opposite the new Court House several policemen came up and surrounded Hinch. I fell back from him for the first time. One of the officers said to me "the God damn loafer, he should have got the life beat out of him; he deserves to be killed any how." I replied, "Not by an officer," for which I was cursed with the usual elegant blasphemy so well cultivated in the Police Department.

On reaching the station house this policeman seized me from the crowd by the arm and neck, saying, "God damn you, I will pull you anyhow," and rushed me before him into the station house, where he preferred a charge against me for interference with him. The officer in charge refused to enter it.

On Sunday morning I went before Judge Walsh to prefer a charge against Brown for brutality, but I was forestalled; a charge had been entered against me, and my appearance thereafter in Court was voluntary, without any process being served on me.

These are the facts in the case, so far as they at present require to be made public, that a correct understanding may be had by the citizens and my friends, and each can judge of its credibility.

It was no concern to me how debased Hinch might be in character__it was enough that he was a man; and before the law his life is just as sacred as that of the most law abiding citizen. Under all circumstances my humanity goes out toward everyone, and if it be stronger in one direction than another, it is for those whose lives have become wretched and brutalized, and reason affected to madness or weakness, by the infernal poisons that are sold to its victims. Hinch showed himself to be yet a man and to have a tender spot in his heart, when he found that there was humanity even for him, when I dared to do for a drunken man of the worst type what none of those who would willingly have made him drunk would do.

It is time that citizens looked into this clubbing police pastime, and know whether human life or a police baton is to be held most sacred; and whether, without extraordinary justifying circumstances, a policeman will be privileged to slaughter a human being well nigh to death to gratify a brutal passion, because said human is a wicked, violent or drunken man. There are thousands in this city who are frequently drunk, poor and rich, young and old, and who are in the same dangerous position as Hinch was. Are they to be exposed to the same acts of violence through the caprice of a passionate officer?

As this case will now be committed to the Grand Jury, and possibly result in my trial, I solicit communication with parties who were eye witnesses to any of First, my offer of help to the officer in Hoyt street, and that he accepted and received it. Second, the felling of Hinch to the pavement in Fulton street; and Third, my being arrested and dragged into the Station House in Washington street.

I will feel grateful to any citizen who will sustain me in this defense.

JAMES MORTON


 
Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Police Brutality: How The Present Force Regulates Affairs 1874
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle April 4, 1874
Time & Date Stamp: