chapter  7
34 Pages

The Radicalization of Spatial Regulation, 1994–2001

On his 40th birthday on July 25, 1996, at 6:45 a.m., Harold Dusenbury was walking to a construction site where he was working in Greenwich Village. An electrician who lived in Willingboro, New Jersey, Dusenbury had just arrived from his long commute to the city; he was wearing a t-shirt and jeans and was carrying a plastic bag containing his tools and work clothes. Suddenly, a police car racing the wrong way on a one-way street jumped the curb. Without saying anything, a police offi cer exited the car, knocked Dusenbury’s head against a metal shutter, and threw him on the street, trying to handcuff him. Other police offi cers arrived on the scene and began to kick Dusenbury in the head, use racial slurs, and call him a drug dealer. The police offi cers attacked Dusenbury because they had heard on their radios that a Black man wearing a t-shirt and jeans had just fl ed Washington Square Park after brandishing a knife. Dusenbury, who was wrongly identifi ed as the suspect by the police, suffered permanent physical damage, including brain injuries. After this incident he was unable to work. The Manhattan District Attorney and the NYPD exonerated the police offi cers, claiming that it was a “tragic mistake” and that the police offi cers had not done anything out of the

ordinary. However, the city settled a civil case in 1999 without admitting wrongdoing and paid Dusenbury $2.7 million.4