From the New York Daily News
Officer Phillip Cardillo was assigned to the 28th Precinct in Harlem when he was slain in the line of duty during an infamous, racially charged episode for which there has been no justice. Now, more than 40 years later, the Police Department wants the block of W. 127th St. alongside the stationhouse named for Cardillo, who was 32, married and the father of an infant son when he was lured into a fatal ambush.
The designation would entail the placement of a street sign in memory both of Cardillo and of the seminal events that happened in the city’s history the night of April 14, 1972. On the abundant merits, the NYPD’s request should be sailing through with universal acclamation.
Four decades later, the local community board, which has a say over such things, is balking out of misplaced concerns that some in the community might take offense. (And what 'community' might that be pray?)
If they do, so what? Now is the time to do right in recognition of a brave man’s sacrifice and victimization.
Cardillo and three fellow officers responded to a report that a cop was in trouble in Nation of Islam Muhammed Mosque 7, then located on W. 116th St. and headed by Louis Farrakhan.
The report turned out to be bogus. Inside the mosque, at least 15 men confronted the cops. A melee ensued, during which Cardillo was fatally shot in the chest. In the turmoil that followed, police commanders, apparently fearing a riot, withdrew from the building. They established no crime scene, and they let 16 witnesses go.
As a result, the one man brought to trial in Cardillo’s death was acquitted for lack of physical evidence or convincing testimony, and no one else has even been so much as charged. The NYPD this year closed a cold-case reinvestigation without action.
It has never been established to this day who lured the cops to the mosque, or why.
Community Board 10 wants the NYPD to get assurances from leaders of Mosque 7, now located on W. 127th St., and from those of the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque, which occupies the 116th St. site, that they have no objections.
The board has it backward in placing such an obligation on the department.
Its requirement appears designed to serve as a rationale for denying the NYPD’s application despite the overwhelming grounds for memorializing both the man that Cardillo was and the horrendous circumstances under which his life was taken.
Whatever the truth of that grim and bloody night, two things are beyond question. Cardillo was killed needlessly, and he gave his life protecting the people of the City of New York.
It reminds me of the murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the Tottenham Broadwater Farm riots in 1985, other than that, to my knowledge, the black mob who killed him were not also Muslim. His wounds were the work of more than one person, indeed were the work of a mob but no one was punished for his death. Three men were convicted but released on appeal and, like the men believed to be responsible for the murder of Charlene Downes, were generously compensated with public money for their inconvienience. One of them did serve time for another murder.
An interesting side issue is that more public money was poured into the estate after the riots to provide community centres and sports and leisure facilities for the rioting residents who were mainly West Indian and Caribbean at that time. I hear that there is now tension on the estate between them and West African newcomers who are enthusiastic users of the facilities. These are ours say the older of the black communities; we fought hard for them.
PC Blakelock doesn't have a street named in his honour. He had a memorial stone at Muswell Hill police station some miles from Tottenham where he was based. When that station closed the stone was moved to the High Street where it was vandalised a few years ago. A man was arrested, but if the case reached court it was never reported in the press.