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Blue Lines, Shaded in Black and Brown: The Diallo Shooting, Race and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  4 west of them but not in their region. They resented displays of nationalism on the part of immigrants from Mexico – even while they applauded the work ethic of these newcomers who took jobs in packing plants that local workers eschewed. The plausibility of suggestions of guilt runs high in the cases of Diallo’s two most prominent identities: black and immigrant (followed closely, of course, by young, working class/peddler, and male). In the event, implacable public demonstrations overcame those suggestions, insisting on an identity for the unfortunate young man as an innocent and succeeding in bringing the four officers responsible for his death to trial. Adjudicating guilt The core definition of a criminal trial is to determine the guilt of the defendants. The proper job of defense attorneys is to establish the innocence of their clients, and that sometimes involves tarnishing the innocence of the victim. The officers told emotional stories of their experience that night. They wept while testifying. Richard Murphy was a 27-year-old, fresh-faced, five- year veteran of the NYPD, who had joined the SCU only a few months before the shooting. “When I looked into the vestibule,” he testified “there was not a doubt in my mind that he had a gun. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was going to be shot.” “I see Mr. Diallo, he’s crouched, I see a gun. I think, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to die.’ I start firing,” said Officer Kenneth Boss, explaining his part in

Authors: Roy, Beth.
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west of them but not in their region.  They resented displays of nationalism 
on the part of immigrants from Mexico – even while they applauded the work 
ethic of these newcomers who took jobs in packing plants that local workers 
eschewed.
The plausibility of suggestions of guilt runs high in the cases of Diallo’s 
two most prominent identities: black and immigrant (followed closely, of 
course, by young, working class/peddler, and male). In the event, implacable 
public demonstrations overcame those suggestions, insisting on an identity 
for the unfortunate young man as an innocent and succeeding in bringing 
the four officers responsible for his death to trial.
Adjudicating guilt
The core definition of a criminal trial is to determine the guilt of the 
defendants. The proper job of defense attorneys is to establish the innocence 
of their clients, and that sometimes involves tarnishing the innocence of the 
victim. The officers told emotional stories of their experience that night. They 
wept while testifying. Richard Murphy was a 27-year-old, fresh-faced, five-
year veteran of the NYPD, who had joined the SCU only a few months before 
the shooting.  “When I looked into the vestibule,” he testified “there was not 
a doubt in my mind that he had a gun. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my 
stomach that I was going to be shot.”  
“I see Mr. Diallo, he’s crouched, I see a gun. I think, ‘Oh my god, I’m 
going to die.’ I start firing,” said Officer Kenneth Boss, explaining his part in 


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