Logical Thinker and friends newsletter

Page 2 vol.4 Feb.4, 2000

How it all happened: A diner fight escalates and an officer is slain
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- The stocky 29-year-old black man stood by the diner's cracked formica counter, waiting for his usual, a steak club sandwich to go.

It was about 1:40 a.m. last Friday. The customer, Cornel Young Jr., and about 20 other patrons of Fidas Restaurant milled amid the grill smoke and restaurant clamor.

The manager recognized Young as a regular customer and a Providence police officer. Young, on his day off, was wearing street clothes, but he was carrying his department issue, a .40-caliber Beretta pistol. Department rules required Young to carry his gun even on his day off.

While Young waited for his order, five customers started to argue. There was shouting and breaking glass, shoving and pushing. The melee spilled into the diner's icy parking lot on Valley Street. The manager called 911.

Young watched as the brawl grew wilder, with cursing and fistfighting. One man waved a gun. In the distance, a police siren sounded.

A Providence police cruiser swung into the parking lot, and two officers jumped out.

Inside the diner, Young moved into action.

``Police,'' he shouted.

Young reached back into his waistband and drew his pistol.

Diners ducked underneath cramped booths or ran for cover.

Pushing patrons aside, Young headed for the diner's entrance. He cocked his gun and stepped through double doors into the frigid night air.

He aimed his pistol at the man waving the gun.

There was more shouting. The uniformed officers screamed, ``Drop it! Drop it!''

The man waving the gun put his weapon down.

Young didn't hear the command.

The two officers shot six times. Three bullets knocked Young to the ground. His gun slid across the ice and rolled under a silver Camaro.

A short time later at the hospital, Young was pronounced dead.

THIS IS THE story of Young's death, the most complete account to date.

It is based on interviews with the police, a dozen witnesses and two participants in the fight. The Providence police spoke about the case because they believe the details will vindicate the officers that fired, showing they reacted properly in a volatile, split-second situation.

The death involves more than a police officer killed in the line of duty: Young was black and his shooters were white.

Critics say the patrolmen wouldn't have been so quick to pull their triggers if Young were white.

There are growing calls for independent inquiries.

At the center of the tragedy is Young, whose gentle demeanor was underscored by his droopy eyes, slight smile and infectious laugh.

A family friend, Irene M. Mendes, said ``Jai'' always wanted to be a police officer like his father, Cornel Young Sr.

Major Young is the highest-ranking black in the Police Department and the overseer of the community police division.

Patrolman Young worked the Police Department's midshift, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. He responded to the city's hot spots.

Young was on his day off Thursday night, when he ran into his boyhood friend Thomas Horton at Gerardo's Alternative Nightclub, at 1 Franklin Square.

Young and Horton spent two hours reminiscing about their childhoods, all those days when Young was wearing the coke-bottle glasses that made everyone say he looked like a little professor.

Pounding hip-hop beats and melodious rhythm-and-blues jams filled the nightclub, which is housed in a 21/2-story brick building. Shafts of light illuminated the dance floor. There was a good but not capacity crowd.

At one point a fight broke out at the club. Young wanted to step in. Horton told him not to bother, security would handle it.

`` `This is my job,' '' Young told him.

Before Young could intervene, the club's security forces had stopped the fracas.

Young returned to the orange juice he was sipping -- Horton bought him four that night -- and resumed the conversation.

Upon parting, Young said he was going to Fidas Restaurant.

ALSO AT GERARDO'S late Thursday were Juanita Vasquez, her friends Brenda Ruiz and Aldrin Diaz, all of Providence, and Diaz's girlfriend Christa Calder.

Ruiz, 23, and Vasquez, 30, had met through Ruiz's sister.

Vasquez and Diaz, 30, were companions since the sixth grade.

Diaz's girlfriend, Calder, 28, had driven down that day from Gray, Maine.

She brought with her a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol. The police said she kept the gun unloaded.

Calder told the police she had bought the pistol from a Gray, Maine, gunshop in November, but detectives could not trace it and are investigating.

The four were out for a night on the town in Calder's silver Camaro. They agreed to go to Gerardo's.

At the club, Vasquez and Ruiz sipped glasses of Aliz , cognac splashed with fruit juice.

At one point, a man recognized Vasquez from Hope High School. The man was talking and laughing with a friend, then he approached.

``You look familiar,'' the man told Vasquez.

``You do, too,'' Vasquez replied.

Standing nearby during the brief conversation, Vasquez said, was Cornel Young Jr. He didn't speak.

Around closing time at Gerardo's, Vasquez and her three friends decided to leave for Fidas Restaurant.

As she walked out, Vasquez tucked a cocktail glass inside her coat pocket.

FIDAS, ACROSS the city from Gerardo's at Valley Street and Atwells Avenue, is a popular destination serving up standard diner fare to the late-night crowd.

From the outside, the restaurant resembles a miniature airport terminal, with large plate-glass windows.

Inside are rows of orange formica whose cracks are covered in duct tape, wood panels and chrome, lots of chrome.

The place looks every day the 28 years it has been in business, a time during which it has experienced more than its share of violence.

In 1982, a small-time hood, Anthony ``The Moron'' Mirabella, was murdered in a gangland slaying there, one of Rhode Island's most notorious.

Patrons have reported to the police being stabbed or shot. In 1997, the police arrested a man with a machete strapped to his waist.

Like several police officers, Young was a regular at Fidas.

The night manager, Mahmoud Kashk, said Young loped to the counter like he always did and ordered the steak club sandwich he always requested.

It was about 1:30 a.m.

Some customers stood by the counter near Young waiting for their orders; others sat at the 11 small tables that form four rows in the other half of the diner.

A student at Roger Williams University by day, John San Martino works as a cashier on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at the Mobil Mart across from Fidas.

Thursday night started out as it always did at the station: customers trickled in.

San Martino watched a silver Camaro drive into the gas station, spin its wheels and pull into Fidas's small parking lot.

The Camaro carrying Vasquez, Ruiz, Diaz and Calder parked to the left of the diner's entrance.

Diaz remained behind the wheel. Calder sat in the front passenger's seat.

Ruiz and Vasquez strode toward the diner. Ruiz wanted a cheeseburger and fries. Vasquez wanted to use the bathroom and then get food.

Even before the pair made it into Fidas, Vasquez said, trouble started.

They came face to face with two women and a man. The police identified them as Stephanie Zoglio, 20; Diane Villafane, 19 and Alex George, 20.

Vasquez said one of the women blocked her path, saying, ``Can I look at you?''

Ruiz made a comment, and then she and Vasquez brushed by and went to the restroom.

When they came back, more words were exchanged.

Vasquez said she took offense and told off one of the women, who unsheathed a knife and slashed Vasquez across the chest. Ruiz then punched the woman in the face.

Vasquez withdrew the cocktail glass stowed in her pocket, smashed it on the countertop and waved a piece of broken glass in the air.

The diner's night manager ordered them out.

``Look, if you want to fight, you'll have to take it outside,'' he said. ``Get out. Get out.''

At 1:41 a.m., the manager called 911.

He told the dispatcher four women were fighting.

``It looks like the fight is going to get bigger and bigger.''

UPON SEEING the commotion inside of the diner, Aldrin Diaz jumped out of the Camaro and rushed to the diner, the police said.

But Diaz ran into the crowd as they were being thrown out by the manager, and he was pushed back into the parking lot.

Customers inside the diner gravitated to the doorway to watch the fisticuffs, a few even ventured outside. In all, about a dozen people watched.

The police said the fight included the breaking of two beer bottles. One of the bottles was thrown against the Camaro.

One of the women grabbed a dumbbell and slammed it against the car. Diaz ran at her, but he was tackled by her boyfriend.

The man knocked Diaz against the car.

A woman yelled, ``Get the gun.''

Calder, who had remained in the Camaro, reached into the glove compartment and grabbed her gun in its holster.

Diaz took the gun from her, walked around the front of the car and waved the gun at the man who had tackled him, the police said.

Diaz threatened the man; the police said he pointed the gun at the man and said, ``Run. Run.''

But the police said the man was too afraid he would be shot in the back if he fled.

At some point, the police said, the gun was loaded and it jammed. The bullet was lodged, crooked, in the chamber.

Vasquez said someone shouted: ``They have a gun.''

Diaz leaped into the Camaro and screamed at his three companions, ``Get in the car. Let's go.''

PATROLMAN CARLOS A. Saraiva attended the same police academy as Young. Like Young, he had been an officer for three years.

On Westminster Street Sept. 18, he shot an unarmed man in the legs while being attacked; state prosecutors cleared him.

Saraiva had only recently returned to active duty.

Patrolman Michael Solitro III was an officer for just two weeks. In a colorful City Hall ceremony Jan. 14, he had joined the department.

Like all rookie cops, he was paired with a more experienced officer. On Thursday, he was assigned to ride around with Saraiva.

While patroling the city early Friday, the partners received a report of women fighting at Fidas. Inside and outside. It was 1:43 a.m., according to the city's communications department.

The officers approached the diner from the north, on Valley Street. They weren't far away. They radioed in their arrival at 1:44 a.m.

Saraiva, who was driving, parked the car at an angle, blocking the Camaro from backing up.

Diaz, who was backing up the Camaro, was waving a gun out of the driver's window.

Saraiva and Solitro saw Diaz pointing his gun, the police said.

Saraiva took cover behind a utility pole in the parking lot. Solitro crouched behind the trunk of the Camaro.

They aimed their guns at Diaz just as Young burst out of Fidas.

MANUEL JIMINIAN was standing inside Fidas, by the booth closest to the diner's exit, when the fight started.

After a woman jabbed the air with broken glass, he said he saw the fray spill outside and intensify.

Jiminian looked out the diner window and saw a man waving a gun. Other patrons inside the establishment did, too. One shouted, ``He's got a gun!''

An instant later, one of the customers was running for the door. ``Police, freeze,'' he bellowed. It was Young.

According to the police, Young shoved aside fellow customers, who ducked under the tables; one ran to the back.

Young emerged from the diner, pointing his gun at Diaz.

He was in civilian clothes, wearing a black baseball cap over a wool ski cap. He had on a dark-colored coat.

The police said Young was coming to the aid of the officers suppressing Diaz.

But the on-duty patrolmen say they mistook him for a suspect.

The police said Diaz thought that Young was with the rival group and that Young was going to shoot him.

The police said Young was as close as 5 feet from Diaz. The officers were roughly 20 feet from Young.

Patrolmen Saraiva and Solitro yelled for Diaz to drop his gun.

Upon command, Diaz tossed his gun inside the Camaro and stuck both his hands outside the window. Saraiva shouted, ``Get out of the car!''

Young held onto his weapon.

The patrolmen yelled at Young to put down his gun.

One witness heard Young say something, but couldn't make out what he was saying.

The police said Young did not identify himself as a fellow officer to the patrolmen.

According to figures close to the investigation, Saraiva saw the man in civilian clothes head for the Camaro, pointing his gun at Diaz.

They said Saraiva thought his partner, Solitro, was in the man's line of fire.

``Drop the gun!'' Saraiva screamed at the man at least twice, the figures close to the investigation said. Solitro yelled the same thing at the man several times.

But the man kept walking toward the Camaro, they said. When he did not drop his gun, Saraiva and Solitro fired.

The police said they fired six bullets.

Vasquez recalled hearing the sound, then ducking as bullets smashed through the Camaro's window over her head.

One bullet hit Young in the head, another in the chest and a third in the stomach.

He fell to the ground. His gun fell from his hand and rolled under the front of the Camaro.

At 1:47 a.m., the police called for an ambulance.
Police officers poured into the parking lot.
Vasquez thought Diaz was the victim.
The police said one of the other women thought her boyfriend was wounded, and she ran to the fallen man.
A police officer rushed to the woman and tore her away.
Then officers looked to learn the bleeding man's identity.
``Oh,'' one officer shuddered. ``That's one of ours.''

With staff reports from Tom Mooney and Jennifer Levitz

Add on this topic

Back to page 1

Thousands gather in tribute to Sgt. Young
In a ceremony that lasts nearly three hours, clergymen, friends and community leaders eulogize the slain officer as a hero and vow that his death will promote the cause of justice.

Journal Staff Writers

PROVIDENCE -- Two worlds came together yesterday to bid farewell to a man who lived and distinguished himself in both, paying him tribute with song, with prayer and with the military rituals due a fallen officer.

Hundreds of law-enforcement officers from throughout Rhode Island and beyond lined Hope Street as Sgt. Cornel Young Jr.'s friends and family, dignitaries and community members gathered inside the Fourth Baptist Church for a deeply emotional funeral service.

``We are brought together today by a tragedy of such magnitude that it defies human comprehension,'' Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. told the mourners, speaking on behalf of the city and its Police Department.

``Any one of us would make almost any sacrifice to alter the sequence of events occurring last Friday morning, but none of us have that power,'' Cianci said. ``And so we gather at the altar of this church to mourn one of the greatest losses in the history of our city, one of the saddest days in the history of our Providence Police Department.''

Young, 29, the son of Providence police Maj. Cornel Young Sr. and Leisa Young, was shot by two of his fellow officers as they tried to quell a disturbance at about 1:40 a.m. Friday at Fidas Restaurant, an all-night diner at 270 Valley St.

When a fight among three women spilled out into the diner's parking lot, Aldrin Diaz, 30, of Providence, pulled out a gun in the parking lot, witnesses say. Young, who was off duty and in street clothes, was waiting for a takeout order inside the diner. As Patrolmen Carlos A. Saraiva and Michael Solitro III drove up in a police cruiser, Young ran out to assist them, but they mistook him for a suspect and shot him.

During the nearly three-hour funeral service yesterday, clergymen, friends and community leaders eulogized Young as a hero and a martyr and vowed to ensure that his death will promote the cause of justice and help to heal a divided city.

Few police officers participated in the ceremony, which was led by the Rev. Olivier Bala, pastor of Fourth Baptist, and the Rev. Marlowe V.N. Washington, pastor of Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church.

But the service drew many state and city leaders, including Governor Almond and Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, Atty. Gen. Sheldon Whitehouse -- who will be in charge of investigating Young's death -- U.S. Atty. Margaret E. Curran, Secretary of State James R. Langevin, Police Chief Urbano Prignano Jr. and Public Safety Director John Partington; City Council President John Lombardi, and several other council members and legislators from Providence.

The clergy was amply represented, as were African-American leaders, including Clifford Montiero, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, and Dennis Langley, executive director of the Rhode Island Urban League.

The clergy offered solace to the mourners by celebrating a young man who impressed those who knew and loved him as a person who always strove for excellence, treated others with respect and gave of himself by mentoring and working with children and young adults.

Left unspoken was the concern that many have expressed: that Young's race contributed to his death. But that idea seemed the underpinning of much that was said.

Leading the congregation in prayer, the Rev. Jonathan Young-Scaggs, senior associate minister of Allen A.M.E. Church, beseeched God to help ``put at rest our angry hearts.''

``Lord, we are here to celebrate the life of one young man who has served his community well,'' he said. ``Lord, we mourn now. Lord, we are angry now. . . . Lord, we beg of you, calm our angry hearts, put at ease our troubled souls. . . . We strive to understand why. We are desperate for a reason.''

The Scripture readings were chosen to remind the faithful of God's constant presence in their lives.

``If I ascend into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there,'' reads Psalm 139. ``If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.''

And as Paul wrote to the Romans, ``If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?''

Providence police Sgt. Tanya King, president of the Rhode Island Minority Police Association, which Major Young helped to establish, held back tears as she assured the Youngs that ``your child's life was not taken in vain.''

``Sgt. Cornel Young Jr., you have unknowingly become a martyr,'' she concluded. ``You will live in the shadows of great heroic men. Your name will be mentioned with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.''

One of the most emotional parts of the service was a reading by Providence police Inspector Luis Del Rio, Major Young's best friend, of tributes to ``Jai'' written by his stepmother, Amy; his 14-year-old brother, Joshua; and his 10-year-old sister, Jessica.

``I fell in love with him as soon as I laid my eyes on him,'' Amy Young wrote. ``I am so proud to have had him in my life.''

``My big brother Jai was more than a brother to me; he was also my best friend. In fact, he was like a second father to me,'' wrote Joshua Young. He recalled the day when, after four years of trying, he had finally beaten Jai at a videogame, and the look on Jai's face.

``I would give anything to see his face again,'' Del Rio read. ``I would give up everything to have Jai back in my life again.''

And Jessica, whom Young used to take out to dinner all the time: ``My handsome and big brother Jai. . . . Jai was so nice, and he deserved better than what happened to him, because he never hurt anyone else, and he tried to understand everyone and help them if he could.''

Sobs echoed through the church as Del Rio read the words of Major Young.

``I was proud of you since the first time I laid eyes on you at the hospital, when you were born,'' the major wrote. ``You were always a source of pride for us, even though I know it was tough for you, growing up on the city's south side, with all the kids knowing you were the son of a cop.

``How did you handle it in the end? You followed in my footsteps. Sadly, you won't have the opportunity to have some little one follow in yours.''

The major recalled his pride when his son joined the Providence police. Describing the moment when he pinned a badge to his son's chest at the Providence Police Academy's graduation ceremonies in May 1997, he wrote, ``I had to use every reserve to keep from shouting out with joy.''

When Mr. Washington took the pulpit for his sermon, the mournful tone was replaced by old-fashioned brimstone shouted toward the rafters.

``Jai was selfless, even in the line of duty, even off duty,'' Mr. Washington said. ``He gave himself so others may live. For he's not dead. He lives.''

Turning to Leisa Young, Jai's mother and a member of the congregation, Mr. Washington added: ``It's like Jesus, Leisa. It's like Jesus. God gave up his only begotten son.''

Mr. Washington's voice rose to shouts as he led the congregation into a passionate tribute to Young.

``Blessed is Jai, who still wants to be righteous! Blessed is Jai! Blessed is Jai!'' He raced up and down the sanctuary, and many rose to their feet and applauded.

In a closing reflection, Mr. Bala encouraged the mourners to find meaning in Young's death. Noting that the imprisonment and murder of St. John the Baptist gave rise to the ministry of Jesus, the pastor said Young's death ``presents us an opportunity in Providence to come together to talk about peace, do something about equality, and do something about justice.''

``I want to encourage family members that Jai's death is not in vain, but it is the beginning of a ministry,'' Mr. Bala said. ``It is the beginning of a purpose for us, as people, to be united together, black and white, red and yellow, regardless of where we come from. . . .

``We don't know how it's going to turn out,'' Mr. Bala continued. ``But family members, friends, police officers, dignitaries -- we have to be accountable to this man's life, and we cannot let this go on without having the results of bringing a community together.''

At the end, Leisa Young stood to thank those who had come to honor her son.

``I feel so very proud and very grateful to you all,'' she said. ``I have been very quiet since last Friday, but all the prayers have gotten us through so far.''

As the service concluded, a sea of uniforms stretched out along Hope Street to prepare for the funeral procession. Young's police academy classmates stood to one side, with his close friend Patrolwoman Tara Mastracchio holding the class flag. Saraiva, a member of the class, was absent, as was Solitro, a graduate of last year's academy session.

More than 2,000 police officers, firefighters, prison guards, park rangers and other law-enforcement officials participated in the mile-long procession, according to the Providence police.

Every law-enforcement agency in Rhode Island had sent representatives, and large contingents had also come from Boston, Brockton, Mass., Hartford and the Connecticut State Police, among others.

They shivered in the piercing cold as a horse-drawn caisson waited for the coffin to be carried out by a Providence police honor guard. A single bagpiper from the New York City Police Department's Emerald Society played a mournful tune as Major Young and his family stood at the door, watching.

Then the honor guard took the lead, followed by Cianci, Partington and Prignano and then, in order of rank, hundreds of Providence police officers and firefighters. Behind them marched the state police and the out-of-town officers, and finally the Emerald Society, the family and the civilians.

The procession stretched from Hope Street down Rochambeau Avenue, all the way to Blackstone Boulevard, where it turned north, to Swan Point Cemetery.

The coffin was carried into the cemetery chapel, as police stood somberly outside. The family went in to pray, then emerged for a final military tribute.

The officers stiffened into a salute, and seven men standing at a distance fired three shots each in unison. Two officers played taps.

Then, very slowly, the mourners walked away.

With staff reports by W. Zachary Malinowski.

Add on this topic

Ministers: Fire officers who fatally shot Young
The Ministers' Alliance of Rhode Island also demands that the attorney general's office remove itself from the investigation and that charges against Aldrin Diaz be dropped.

Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- Mourning over the death of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr. will turn to protest for the first time today, as a group of ministers from black and Hispanic churches demands that the two officers who shot Young be dismissed.
An official with the Ministers' Alliance of Rhode Island said that the group also plans to demand at a news conference that the attorney general's office remove itself from the investigation and that Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. retract his statement Saturday that the shooting was not racially motivated.
In addition, the group will ask that authorities drop the felony murder charge against Aldrin Diaz, 30, of Providence, a suspect at the scene where Young died. Critics say Diaz has been made a scapegoat in Young's death.
The Urban League of Rhode Island says it will make similar demands at meetings with Cianci and Atty. Gen. Sheldon Whitehouse later this week.
The developments, together with a possible protest at City Hall today by a Providence community group, mark an important shift away from a period of mourning toward one in which the concerns of minority leaders move into the political arena.
Those leaders said yesterday that anger over the shooting has been boiling over in minority neighborhoods, but that they have heeded the wishes of Young's family for calm in memory of the officer. With Young buried yesterday, they said in interviews that they would now press for a thorough, independent probe into the shooting, and would hold police to account for what they say has been a long, troubled relationship with minorities in the city.
Immediately after the shooting, ``We decided we were going to respect and honor the dead and, with due respect to the family, we were not going to cause any confict or problems,'' said Dennis B. Langley, executive director of the Urban League. ``The strategy is changing. The strategy now is to devise a plan of action.''
The Ministers' Alliance, a group of ministers from more than two dozen churches across the state, is expected to release the initial results this morning of its independent probe into the shooting. One minister said yesterday that it will contain new information about Young's death last Friday outside an restaurant on Valley Street.
``I don't want any confrontation with the mayor or the colonel [Police Chief Urbano Prignano Jr.] or the attorney general,'' said the Rev. Theodore Wilson II, the senior pastor of the Congdon Street Baptist Church on College Hill and the parliamentarian for the Ministers' Alliance, which met for more than two hours yesterday after Young's funeral. ``We just want reconciliation and resolution and what's right and what's truthful.
``In a situation like this, we can't afford to wait,'' he added. ``The trail gets cold, the spin starts to run and people start to forget about it. It becomes difficult then for David to defeat the Goliath of falsehoods.''
Though the ministers' group and the Urban League are preaching peace, others seem to be taking a more aggressive approach.
An E-mail circulated by a volunteer for the Providence community group Direct Action for Rights & Equality, or DARE, urges people to attend a ``mass mobilization'' at 3 p.m. today in which ``people from all over the Providence community are planning to storm City Hall.''
The E-mail, which was obtained by The Journal, includes a list of demands, among them one to ``fire the racist cops responsible.'' The E-mail says that the group is trying to ``silently mobilize -- talk to no media, no city officials.''

DARE Executive Director Shannah Kurland declined to confirm or deny the existence of any protest.

Cianci said yesterday that he was willing to meet with civil-rights groups. But he questioned whether public protests would do any good.

``Splitting the communities up to demonstrate for different agendas is not constructive at this point,'' he said. ``We just buried him today, and we need to come together as a community, not go into negativity.''

The attorney general's office and the Providence police are investigating the shooting, and will present their findings to a grand jury.

Young had been waiting for a steak sandwich takeout order at Fidas Restaurant at 1:40 a.m. Friday when a fight broke out in the restaurant and continued in the parking lot, where witnesses say Diaz waved a gun.

Young was off duty, but was following Police Department procedure by carrying a gun. He drew the weapon in an attempt to break up the fight.

When Patrolmen Carlos A. Saraiva and Michael Solitro III arrived in response to a 911 call, they apparently did not recognize their fellow officer. They ordered Diaz and Young to drop their guns. The police said that Diaz complied, but Young did not.

Saraiva and Solitro, who are white, then opened fire, striking Young with three bullets. Young died later at Rhode Island Hospital.
Diaz was charged with felony murder, under a law that allows the police to charge a suspect with murder if anyone dies while that suspect is committing a felony crime.
In interviews yesterday, critics of the police said they planned to protest the charge, alleging that the police were trying to find a scapegoat for an embarrassing shooting of one of their own. They noted that Diaz's girlfriend, who unlike Diaz was white, was charged only with possession of an illegal firearm.
``To charge him with felony murder is more of an emotional than a rational reaction,'' said Derek P. Ellerman, the executive director of the Center for Police and Community, a police-watchdog group. ``I understand that the law is in place, but I do not think it's a just application of the law.''
The Urban League and the Ministers' Alliance also plan to ask for the establishment of an independent board to lead the probe into the shooting.
Their leaders said yesterday that many minorities distrust the attorney general's office, in part because of its strong ties to law enforcement in the state and in part because many resent the attorney general's prosecution of Derek S. Hazard, a 27-year-old black man from Providence, for a 1996 murder several witnesses say he did not commit.
Emerging on Sunday from the first meeting with Cianci over Young's death, the city's black leaders called for calm. ``We do not want to talk about problems,'' Clifford Montiero, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, said at the time. ``We just want to get through the pain.''
But on Monday night, some 35 to 40 civil rights and religious leaders met for more than two hours in the basement of the Allen A.M.E. Church in the West End for an emotional session on what action to take after Young's funeral, two sources said yesterday.

It was there that a list of demands was assembled, drawing a loose consensus from participants, said Ellerman, who was there.

The demands included the dismissal of the officers, the dropping of charges against Diaz, the start of an independent probe into the shooting, and a request that Cianci retract his statement to reporters on Saturday that race wasn't a factor in the shooting. The leaders said yesterday that Cianci's remark that Rhode Islanders shouldn't make the shooting ``something that it's not'' was an unwarranted rush to judgment given that the investigation into the probe is incomplete.

With staff reports by Jennifer Levitz.

Add on this topic

Back to page 1

`Bad experience' brings sympathy, understanding from 2,000 officers
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- For James Wells, a police officer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the tragic circumstances of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr.'s death seemed all too familiar.

Wells, who was in Rhode Island yesterday attending Young's funeral, was reminded of an incident about two years ago involving a fellow Port Authority officer.

``Our guy got shot by a New Jersey state trooper,'' Wells said.

The two tragedies were significantly different, however: Corvette Curley, the Port Authority police officer, survived.

``The guy the state police were chasing had killed a cop in New Jersey 50 miles away,'' Wells said.

``They caught up with him on the George Washington Bridge. Curley (who met the chase at the bridge) got out of his car and was shot by the trooper. Curley was in uniform. It happened in November of 1997. Fortunately, Curley recovered from his wounds. He retired in December, on disability.

``It was a bad experience. A bad experience for the state police, too,'' said Wells, who was among about 2,000 officers who paid tribute to Young yesterday.

In an interview after the funeral, Wells put his finger on a dimension of the Young tragedy that he said was easy to overlook.

``Imagine being a police officer and knowing that you fired shots that killed a fellow officer,'' Wells said. ``There are no winners here.''

Young, 29, died early Friday morning when he intervened, while off-duty, in a fight outside a Providence diner. He was killed when two officers who arrived on the scene did not recognize him, and shot him when he did not drop his weapon as ordered.

``I'm sure those two policemen have the support of the officers they work with,'' said Boston police Sgt. Michael Fish. ``Hopefully the department is giving them a lot of support, because they are under a great deal of stress.''

The officers, Patrolmen Carlos Saraiva and Michael Solitro III, ``are going to have a long road ahead of them,'' Fish said.

Boston police Lt. Peter King looked at the shooting of Young from a different angle.

``You hope they didn't shoot when they shouldn't have,'' said King, who works in a precinct in the West Roxbury section.

King said the department should conduct a thorough investigation to find out whether the actions of the two officers were justified. (The attorney general's office is working with Providence police on the investigation and will present its findings to a grand jury for review.)

``Otherwise, it could do tremendous damage to the Police Department's credibility in the community,'' he said.

``I think they should take a hard look at the police officer who was involved in a previous shooting. If the facts prove that something was wrong -- and you hope that isn't the case -- then something should be done about it,'' King added.

In that incident, early on Sept. 18, Saraiva shot Jose Nunez, 25, outside the 30-30 Club at 880 Westminster St., according to the police.

Saraiva told investigators that Nunez jumped him from behind and pummeled him on the head before he shot him. Nunez was unarmed. Saraiva told investigators that he was afraid he would lose consciousness and his gun would be taken.

Providence Police Chief Urbano Prignano Jr., on the day Young was shot, said that the attorney general's office had cleared Saraiva of any wrongdoing in the Nunez case.

Connecticut State Police Lt. Benjamin Chamble said such incidents amount to ``tragedy all around. It can ruin everyone's lives.''

Chamble is surprised that such shootings aren't more common. ``Any time you have an undercover operation, something like this could happen,'' he said.

``If it were me,'' said Joseph Diniz, a sergeant in the Bristol, R.I., department, ``I'd be very upset by the whole thing, knowing that I had killed one of my colleagues.

``But it's easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback,'' Diniz added. ``You have to be there to know how you would react in a situation like that. I feel bad for the dead officer's family, and I feel bad for the police officers who shot him.''

Add on this topic


Brothers and Sisters,
Please read, pass along and act accordingly.

Subject : PAID summer internships for minority students at Iowa State University

In a message dated 1/21/00, Nina writes: Greetings!

I wanted to put another plug in for the summer
internship for minority students at Iowa State University.

I haven't received very many applications to date and
the deadline is FEBRUARY 1, 2000! This is chance for a
minority high school or undergraduate student to come
to Iowa State University to do research, all expenses

The fastest way to get our internship application is
to go to this web site:


There is a highlighted Word "application", you click
on that to get the application and then print. If you
have trouble, let me know...I can fax it to you! Or if
you prefer, I can send it too.
There you will find the College of Agriculture's at
Iowa State University summer internship program for
minority (African-American, Asian-American/Pacific
Indian, or Multi-Racial including one or
more of the minority groups listed) high school
students and undergraduate college students. Interns
must be U. S. Citizens or permanent residents and at
least age 16 by the start of the program-
June 2000.
The applications are due Feb.1, 2000 and the summer
program runs from June 3 - July 31, 2000 (starts June
18 for high school students). This is a great
opportunity for students to participate in research
and see Iowa State University.
Compensation: room, board, round trip travel, and
stipend ($1500 for high school and $2000 for
undergraduate students) are provided.
Students will conduct research on a faculty-led team,
participate in weekly seminars, social, cultural, and
educational activities, tours on and off campus and
complete a final report.
Examples of research include: mapping genes,
evaluating environmental quality, developing
educational opportunities, examining new ways to
determine seed quality, studying weather stress on
shade trees,
analyzing issues in early childhood and youth
development, investigating nutritional impacts on
human health, and much more...
The areas of interest (departments) include:
Ag. Biosystems Engineering (i.e., Water quality)
Ag. Economics (i.e., Entrepreneurship)
Ag. Education & Studies (i.e., Teaching & Learning
Education & Ag. Awareness)
Ag. Statistics (i.e., Statistical Consulting with
Researchers in
Agronomy (i.e., Precision Agriculture)
Animal Ecology (i.e., Fisheries and Wildlife Biology)
Animal Science (i.e., Livestock waste management,
Molecular genetics)
Apparel Merchandising, Design & Production (i.e.,
Product development
& design, merchandising & marketing strategies)
Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology (i.e.,
Molecular &
Chemical processes in animals and plants)
Botany (i.e., Prairie, wetland, landscape ecology)
Entomology (i.e., Biological control of pests)
Food Science & Human Nutrition (i.e., Food product
development; diet
and health; value-added agriculture)
Forestry (i.e., Agroforests, watersheds, urban forests
and wood Science)
Horticulture (i.e., Urban agriculture)
Human Development and Family Studies (i.e., Early
childhood and youth
Microbiology (i.e., Infectious disease, environmental
microbiology &
microbial genetics)
Plant Pathology (i.e., Ecology of plant pathogenic
host-parasite interaction)
Sociology (i.e., Community organizational development)
Zoology/Genetics (i.e., Professional study in human or
animal nutrition)
United States Department of Agriculture-National
Animal Disease Center
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you
may have about
this internship.
Thank you.
Nina Grant
Director of Minority Programs
College of Agriculture
Iowa State University
23B Curtiss Hall
Ames, IA 50011-1050
Office: (515) 294-1701
Fax: (515) 294-2844
Email: nina1@iastate.edu

P.S. So you know where our interns came from last
year, here is a
list of the 1999 Summer Research Internship for
Minority Students at
Iowa State University.

High School

1. Akofa Bonsi Auburn, AL
2. Shane Castillo Kekaha, HI
3. Wendy Fitzgerald Portland, OR
4. LaToya Johnson Maywood, IL
5. Jared Kunitake Hilo, HI
6. Krystal Lofton Chicago, IL
7. Alicia McGhee Maywood, IL
8. Kristy Stotler Portland, OR
9. Xialing Wu Portland, OR


1. Ronald Grider Tuskegee University
2. Miranda Hancock Crownpoint Institute
3. Lantoria Harris University of Montevallo
4. Artanase Meme Florida A&M
5. Blucher Menelas Florida A&M
6. Damian Montoya Eastern New Mexico University
7. Rolanda Morris Prescott College
8. Elena Silva-Velarde New Mexico State University
9. Dustin Thunder Hawk Sitting Bull College


Back to page 1


Brothers and Sisters,
Please read, and pass along.
Subj:    Free Grad School for Professionals!
In a message dated 1/17/00, Aprille writes:
Dear Colleagues,
Please share this OUTSTANDING OPPORTUNITY and pass it
on to your colleagues or anyone or group you feel may
be interested. There is a VERYstrong emphasis on
recruiting people of color. The current deadline is
March 15, 2000.
For the fifth year, the Environmental Careers
Organization (ECO) is working in cooperation with
Tufts University in Medford, MA to recruit
This is a GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP program for mid-career
professionals who seek a multidisciplinary graduate
education that combines environmental technology,
science, and policy. The program blends rigorous
academic coursework in environmental engineering,
health and policy, risk assessment, and management
with practical field experience. The aim is
to equip graduates with the environmental knowledge
and leadership skills to address complex issues of
environmental sustainability and equity.

Qualified candidates should have:

* Minimum of at least three years of professional work
* Background in science or technology (college major
or relevant experience)
* Course work in calculus and chemistry
* U.S. citizenship
* Demonstrated professional or personal commitment to
The deadline for applications is MARCH 15, 2000. The
time to apply is NOW!

For more information, go to ECO's webpage at
http://www.eco.org/ and click on "Diversity
Initiative." For specific questions, contact
Kristie King, Diversity Manager, The Environmental
Careers Organization: kristiek@eco.org or via phone at
973-744-6256. >>

Back to page 1

miss last weeks edition click here to see past issues.

Do you have some subjects and comments you would like to add?

 | Social & Political Issues Home | Hot links | poetry pages I Web-Rings I Bookspot


Webmaster Markus Rice
2000 [Logical Thinkers web site].