The shocking surveillance-video grab said it all: A snarling gunman about to take the life of a hard-working attendant at the RC Petroleum gas station outside the Bronx Zoo Wednesday night.
In an instant, the attendant was dead — and the killer was in the wind.
All that was unique, sad to say, was the video image.
Otherwise, it was one person of color using a gun to kill another person of color in an act of larceny, or of rage or, perhaps, during the staking out of drug turf.
Blacks and Hispanics account for 96 percent of city shooting victims, cops say, while comprising 86 percent of murder suspects and 94 percent of robbery suspects.
Why are these numbers relevant?
Because they go to the heart of the rationale for the aggressive strategy employed by the NYPD to protect those New Yorkers most at risk from gun violence: the so-called stop-and-frisk technique used to clear guns from minority neighborhoods.
And they animate the activists from the NAACP and NYCLU (and The New York Times), who bitterly oppose the program.
Folks who, of course, never suffer the consequences of their campaigns.
But folks like 28-year-old Lamin Sillah do.
He’s the Gambian immigrant who lost his life Wednesday night — and who puts a human face on the cost of cuffing cops.
“He was a beautiful guy. He’s a very hard worker, a very good Muslim,” Sillah’s uncle said Wednesday. “He came here for his education, a better opportunity.”
But to stop-and-frisk opponents, it’s all a statistics game. People of color, they say, are “targeted” for attention out of all proportion to their percentage in the population — thus their rights are at risk.
This turns logic on its head: Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves.
Yet anti-frisk activists have been terribly successful this year, forcing a 34 percent drop in stop-and-frisks this spring. And even that wasn’t enough for the NYCLU.
“This reduction is a good start, but much more needs to be done to rebuild community trust and protect New Yorkers from illegal and racially biased street stops,” said NYCLU director Donna Lieberman.
Her words will fall harshly on the ears of Lamin Sillah’s family and friends — and, in due time, upon those destined to die for lack of aggressive police action.
That’s a pity, but it’s a fact.