Popping the head of a black doll onto the antenna of your unmarked police cruiser and tooling around Harlem would be, to borrow a line from a movie, the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas. This is probably why Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is not only dismissing claims that two of his officers purposely did just that, but is able to do it without appearing entirely full of crap.
This controversy is just now coming to light, but apparently earlier in the week, two white cops were stopped by angry Harlem residents who wanted to know what they were doing driving through the neighborhood with the head of a black baby doll affixed to their car’s antenna. Witnesses say that when confronted, the cops laughed it off, removed the head and threw it in the trunk of the cruiser.
Some residents, as well as State Senator Bill Perkins, are calling the incident a show of racial insensitivity on the part of the offiers, but Commissioner Kelly doesn’t see it that way. In an official statement, Kelly said, “They didn’t know it was — they had no knowledge of it. The car pulls up in front of a restaurant, in which there was some type of opening celebration. Someone points out to this officer — and he had been at the club before, no one saw any doll head on the car — pointed out to him that this doll head is on the antenna. He sees it, takes it and throws it away.”
Investigators are now checking surveillance tape in the area to see if it might show someone putting the plastic head on the car. Kelly meanwhile is not ruling out the possibility of an I.A. investigation.
Harlem community leaders are planning a rally for later this afternoon in response to the incident.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 24, 2008