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NEW YORK � The controversy surrounding the death of 16-year-old Kimani Gray has sparked four days of protests in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Outraged and saddened members of the community attended a vigil Thursday night to honor the life of the young teen who was fatally shot by two undercover NYPD officers Saturday.
According to the police, Gray aimed a revolver at them which then lead the cops to open fire.
However, the family and community believe otherwise, saying that it was unlikely Gray would draw a weapon at the policemen.
�There�s the people story and then there�s the police story,� protester Jose LaSalle told theGrio. �The simple fact is that it�s a 16-year-old young man who died and people have had enough. They are angry and this happening to Kimani Gray has erupted their anger to a boiling point that they can�t contain anymore.�
As police and law enforcement lined the streets, protesters chanted �Justice for Kimani Gray� along Church Ave. in Brooklyn, following a press conference that was held earlier that day.
�So far all indications are that the young man had a gun,� said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the event where Gray�s mother spoke out for the first time asking others to �walk in my shoes and please understand my grief.�
It is a case that has exposed deep divisions between the police department and the city�s minority population.
�The issue is relevant because you have officers who consistently come into the community and assume by default that people fit a characteristic,� says Michael B., a local protester who asked for his last name to remain private. �You can�t prevent NYPD from hackling people.�
Michael echoed many of the same sentiments felt by protesters Thursday night. Yet, despite either claim, it is clear that the ongoing protests show that Gray�s death has only sparked the distrust of law enforcement in the African-American community.
�Kimani Gray�s death is one more example, of too many examples, of abusive tactics and the excessive use of force by the NYPD in low-income communities of color,� Rosa Squillacote, a policy advocate for the Police Reform Organizing Project, tells theGrio. �Members know and they fear that people and children in their communities might be the next target of NYPD quotas or NYPD brutality.�
Following over 40 arrests from protesters who demonstrated on Wednesday, Gray�s death has drawn media headlines and community activism from members who have decided to make their voices heard.
Leading Thursday�s protest was Kenny Carter, the president of F.A.I.T.H., Fathers Alive in the Hood � an organization that caters to the development of youth and addresses the issues of gang and gun violence in neighborhoods throughout New York.
�We came out for the simple fact that we�re not trying to see our youth get murdered,� Carter told theGrio. �A lot of times our kids are the victims and half the time they can�t even think for themselves, so they�re already misguided.�
The hour-long protest covered a span of 17 blocks as police stayed close, even plotting officers in several of the buses that rode down the avenue that night.
�Silence is consent,� said LaSalle. �It�s about us uniting against an injustice that if it�s not touched upon or talked about, will continue. This protest right now is showing that we�re not going to be silent, we�re not going to accept their lies and there will be justice.�