Eleanor Bumpurs was one of the first victims of Police Brutality I can remember. My family was living in the Bronx at the time near her housing projects. Her killing was the talk of the neighborhood for years. In 1984, NYPD tried to evict her because she was four months behind on her rent of $98.65, she resisted, and was summarily shot twice with a 12 gauge shotgun.
Ms. Bumpurs was failed by the city in every way imaginable. She was failed by a social services system that could have granted her rental assistance but did not. She was failed by the mental health community which should have treated her mental illness properly but did not. And she was failed by a police force that was well aware of her conditions, knew she was a senior citizen and chose to barge into her apartment with a shotgun and riot shields.
No one was convicted of killing Ms. Bumpurs. A few people lost jobs but by the time Rudolph Giuliani took office as mayor her death was a distant memory.
I’ve been thinking about Ms. Bumpurs a great deal the last few days.
I wonder what her family thinks about the events of the day. I wonder what they would say about the killing of young black men and women like Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and so many others. I cannot say for sure, but if I had a guess, it would be that not much has changed since the murder of Ms. Bumpurs…not much at all.
RIP Ms. Eleanor Bumpers