BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL | One day after Ninth Precinct Police Officers Kenneth Moreno, 43, and Franklin Mata, 29, were acquitted of raping a drunk woman in her East Village apartment in December 2008, a sea of protesters gathered outside Manhattan State Supreme Court to denounce the verdict.
By 5 p.m. on Friday, May 27, more than 300 people filled a parking lot across from the courthouse after a Facebook page promoting the demonstration, “Protest the Acquittal of Two New York City Cops For Rape,” garnered more than 1,400 posts in less than a day. Speakers included protest organizer Lori Adelman of the group Permanent Wave, a mini-sermon by Reverend Billy and music from the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.
One speaker was Reverend Billy’s wife, activist Savitri D.
“I am a survivor,” she announced as her 1-year-old daughter, Lena, hung from a papoose around her neck. Cradling her daughter, Savitri declared, “This girl is not going to grow up with this bulls–t. We should be allowed to drink a few f—ing beers!”
Cycling activist Joe Sharkey, a.k.a. “Mellow Yellow,” stood bare-chested beside his bike with the words “Don’t trust NYPD with your body” painted on his torso.
After an hour of speeches, the crowd crossed Centre Street to mass by the steps of the courthouse, chanting “N.Y.P.D., shame on you!” and “We won’t be silent, we must stop violence!” State court officers and City police officers observed the gathering, but took no action other than setting up metal barricades in front of the courthouse doors.
After two hours, the crowd marched down to Police Headquarters near the Brooklyn Bridge and then south on Broadway before eventually dispersing.
Although the two officers beat the rape charges, they were convicted of official misconduct.
Earlier on Friday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, “The jury has spoken. We accept the jury’s verdict.”
Within hours of Thursday’s verdict, Kelly announced the officers had been fired from the force, saying, “The guilty verdicts reached today involved violations of the officers’ oaths of office and as a result warrant immediate termination from the Police Department.” The two disgraced officers were also stripped of their pensions.
The two police officers were also found not guilty of burglary, a charge leveled against them for using the woman’s house keys to return to her apartment three times after their initial visit.
It was during one of those visits that Moreno was accused of raping the woman. Prosecutors said that, meanwhile, his partner Mata had acted as a lookout; but Mata claimed he had fallen asleep on a couch in the East Village woman’s living room.
After the verdict, several jurors said they found the officers not guilty of rape because of a lack of forensic, or DNA, evidence.
The Facebook protest page listed several demands, including training new officers on issues of rape, sexual assault and harassment, as well as a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault.
An online petition criticizing the verdict had more than 1,300 signatures by Sunday night. The petition can be found at:
Earlier on Friday, several city councilmembers joined women’s rights activists on the steps of City Hall to decry the verdict. Councilmember Rosie Mendez and others stood in solidarity as Sonia Ossorio, the head of NOW’s New York City chapter, declared, “This verdict is nothing short of shocking.”
Moreno and Mata were seen leaving the courthouse Friday morning after picking up paperwork from the Department of Probation. They will return for sentencing on Tues., June 28, and face up to two years in jail on the official misconduct charges.
The victim, now 29, an executive at a California clothing company, has a $57 million lawsuit pending against the former officers.