postheadericon Rally Pressures DA To Recuse In Moracco Case

10mayrallyforall_120A ‘Freedom for All’ rally was held Saturday at the intersection of Meadow and Clinton Streets in Ithaca. Organizers gathered signatures on a petition requesting that Officer Stephen Moracco be immediately removed from service as a Tompkins County deputy sheriff.

Moracco was named in the civil case brought Amy Crockford, a lesbian who said he used homophobic slurs in the course of a battery while she was handcuffed in 2009. Crockford said he called her a “fat dyke” while he repeatedly slammed on the brakes and drove erratically causing her to be injured on her face and shoulder. A videotape released by the City of Ithaca during the civil suit shows what Crockford describes as Moracco joyfully reenacting the incident to a fellow officer.

Rally goers stated that it now appears that Moracco has displayed a pattern of repeated aggressive behavior, citing that Sheriff Lansing has confirmed that he has another complaint against him. Crockford stated, “If he had been prosecuted by the district attorney for this crime in 2009, he may not be a cop now and no one else would be at risk.”

District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson did not charge or prosecute Moracco criminally saying that there was not enough evidence for a conviction.  Rally goers also carried a petition asking Wilkinson to recuse herself from the case and call in a special investigator before the statute of limitations expires on May 31st.

10mayrallyforallPhoto courtesy of Deborah G. Cipolla-Dennis

A flyer was distributed at the rally, which included a warning to citizens about Moracco’s alleged aggressive behavior and if they have to call 911 to request that Moracco not respond. The flyer also included a timeline listing several questionable citizen-police interactions beginning in 2009 that they characterize as aggressive or abusive force. Crockford stated, “We want the public to be aware of the systemic racism and homophobia that is being exhibited in Tompkins County by some police and condoned, or at the very least ignored, by our government.” Crockford’s supporters have created a Facebook page called 'Freedom for All'.

Ryan Losinger, also in attendance at the rally, added, “When talking about Moracco at a recent Legislature meeting, I felt intimidated by the Chair who wanted me to stop speaking about a hate crime by a police officer.” He went on to say, “I want the public to know that these things are being covered up.”

Phoebe Brown, from the Dorothy Cotton Institute’s Building Bridges Program, encourages the community to come together to address racism and discrimination through out the community saying, “Until these issues are discussed openly, the community can not heal. We need to be honest about how some individuals never feel safe and continue to be marginalized.”

“This rally is so people can be educated on what is really happening here,” Ruth Quenette said. “In 2012, Ithaca was named by Farmer’s Insurance as the safest city in the country – that is if you are straight and white.” She continued, “a young black man once told me that he has a 50-50 chance of getting pulled over every time he leaves his home. That is astonishing! No wonder he doesn’t feel safe.”

Several rally-goers carried signs supporting camera on cops saying it would be a good start to restoring public trust and addressing bad behavior of some cops.

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