In case you missed it, after years of bashing the city’s efforts to make walking and cycling less dangerous, the editors of the New York Post have decided they care about children’s safety. But in its Saturday editorial persecuting the crossing guard who was not present when 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba was fatally struck by a truck driver, the Post chose not to acknowledge that if police and prosecutors were doing their jobs, the NYPD crossing guard program would not be necessary in the first place.
Look at today’s headline stack: a young couple and their baby killed by a hit-and-run driver in Brooklyn; a 61-year-old pedestrian in critical condition in the Bronx; another pedestrian seriously hurt by a curb-jumping motorist in Midtown. All this death and suffering, and more, since Amar Diarrassouba was killed last Thursday. The fact is reckless driving is rampant in NYC, it happens at all hours of the day and night, and the law enforcers charged with bringing it under control — NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, and, in little Amar’s case, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance — have failed to do so.
From the Post editorial:
New York’s criminal-justice system has a duty to hold this guard liable for her words and her actions. The authorities need to probe this case thoroughly — and pursue the full measure of punishment allowed by the law.
New York City employs more than 2,000 crossing guards to keep its schoolchildren safe as they navigate Gotham’s busy streets and cross dangerous intersections. Those who take these jobs take on an important public trust. Amar Diarrassouba’s death is a reminder of the terrible price that the innocent pay when someone in a position of public trust blows off that responsibility.
It’s much easier for the Post to scapegoat Flavia Roman than to take on the players responsible for the city’s deficient traffic justice system, and though editorials trashing street safety measures are common, we can’t recall the last time the paper called for the prosecution of a killer motorist. But forget the cowardice and rank hypocrisy on display here. Let’s talk about public trust.
Whose job is it to protect children when crossing guards are not on duty? Ebrahim Kebe, Timothy Keith, Kevin Rodriguez, Dashane Santana, Moses Englender, Andrew Ramirez, Aniya Williams, Joshua Ganzfried, Max Mendez, Axel Pablo, Diego Martinez, Hayley Ng — all children killed by city motorists. In none of these cases was the driver known to have been charged for taking a child’s life.
Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez died when a van, left unattended and idling, jumped the curb and crashed into a line of pre-schoolers in Chinatown. The children were under the supervision of adults who were helpless to save them. There was no similar outcry for their prosecution, nor was the driver charged criminally, though the families of the victims begged outgoing DA Robert Morgenthau to take action, and advocates pressed Vance to pursue the case.
Max Mendez, 6, and his mom were struck on an East Harlem sidewalk by the driver of an MTA tow truck in 2010. Max was killed. Witnesses said the truck driver was on his phone at the time of the collision, and that he didn’t check in front of him before crashing into the pair. Yet NYPD immediately declared “no criminality suspected,” and Vance did not file charges.
It’s fitting that Robert Carroll Jr., the truck driver who killed Amar Diarrassouba, was not mentioned in the Post editorial, and that his role in the crash is referenced only in passing. (The Daily News, while excoriating Roman, practically casts Carroll as a hero.) Had this crash happened outside school hours, removing the crossing guard peg, the city press corps would have moved on by now, and Amar would be portrayed as another child whose life was ended by a motorist who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Based on how the tabloids normally report child traffic deaths, neither Cy Vance nor Ray Kelly would be part of the story.
We asked Vance’s office if prosecutors were considering charges against Carroll or Roman. A spokesperson declined to comment.