By Nelson Santana
July 12, 2017
Six days after losing her life protecting her city, New York Police Officer Miosotis Familia was finally laid to rest on Tuesday, July 11. Family, friends, colleagues, and admirers remembered the child of Dominican immigrants at her funeral.
The night before at her wake at World Changers Church in the Bronx, New York, fellow officers and lawmakers including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio paid their respects. Officers from as far as Los Angeles and the Dominican Republic attended Monday evening’s wake and Tuesday’s funeral. It is estimated that more than two thousand people paid their respects to this fallen heroine.
At World Changes Church, her son Peter stated, “She loved us. She wanted to sacrifice [sic] us, so she did it. I want you guys to say, ‘I love you’ to anybody you see.” Mayor Bill de Blasio noted, “She was murdered while acting as an agent of peace. She died the night her nation was born. And she died a patriot, defending all of us.”
Similar to the United States government when it bestows U.S. citizenship upon a fallen U.S. Resident soldier—hypocritical or not—, the NYPD promoted Familia to detective on July 11—a week after her death. Alexander Bonds shot Familia from point-blank range in the face while she sat inside the passenger side of a police vehicle hours after July 4th. The man labeled by the news media as an unstable ex-convict met his demise moments later when responding officers shot him as he attempted to flee the scene.
According to several sources, Familia is the third female officer killed in the line of duty in modern times and first since the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks. Familia graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She previously worked as a medical assistant at New York University Hospital and the American Red Cross. According to police, she was a certified phlebotomist.
Troubled History between the NYPD and People of Color
New Yorkers, especially people of color, have not forgotten the long and troubled history between the NYPD and people of color. According to the New York Post, a Latino teenager blasted NWA’s iconic anthem, “F*ck the Police,” during Familia’s funeral procession. Roughly 20 officers made their way to the apartment. (Unlike the New York Post, ESENDOM refrains from publishing the young man’s name as this could put in danger the lives of this young man and his family.)
Amadou Diallo (February 4, 1999), Alberta Spruill (May 16, 2003), Sean Bell (November 25, 2006), Sheresse Francis (March 15, 2012), Shantel Davis (June 14, 2012), Reynaldo Cuevas (September 7, 2012), and Kimani Gray (March 9, 2013), are among the men, women, and children who have lost their lives to law enforcement in New York alone.
For centuries, the lives of law enforcement and people of color in the United States have been intertwined through race, criminalization, and the Carceral State. In recent decades and in differing ways, scholars have correlated the institution of slavery to the Carceral State, if not writing off the latter as a continuation of the former. In her monograph, Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas (2003), Sally Hadden argues that nineteenth and twentieth-century southern law enforcement institutions derive from the system of slave patrols due to its features of racism, violence, and brutality. Making a totally different argument, in The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern America (2010), Khalil Gibran Muhammad writes about “the idea of black criminality in the making of modern urban America.” One of Muhammad’s major arguments is that today’s modern urban America was shaped by the idea of black criminality or the so-called “Negro problem”: the presence of black people in the United States.
Ironically, the tragedy of Miosotis Familia and that of fellow officers of color including Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, could be the beginning to mending the damaged relationship between the New York Police Department and communities of color.
Nelson is the producer at ESENDOM and he splits his time between New York and the Dominican Republic. He loves comics as much as he loves bachata and típico. He is currently an assistant professor and collection development librarian. His work has appeared in diverse publications including the first translation project pertinent to the writings of Juan Pablo Duarte. Feel free to hit him up at nelson.santana[at]esendom.com.