Revolution #249, November 6, 2011
New Freedom Fighters in Brooklyn: 28 Arrested in STOP "Stop and Frisk" Civil Disobedience
Revolution received the following report:
Tuesday, November 1, Brownsville, Brooklyn. On Tuesday afternoon, nearly 100 people came out to rally and march to STOP "Stop and Frisk." The Network to Stop Mass Incarceration, participants in Occupy Wall Street, and people from the neighborhood joined together. Twenty-eight people were arrested participating in nonviolent civil disobedience outside the 73rd NYPD Precinct. Protesters marched through Brownsville to the police station where people linked arms while others were part of bearing witness.
Among those arrested were: Rev. Luis Barrios, professor at John Jay College for Criminal Justice; Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party; Randy Credico, social comedian/activist and former director of the William Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice; Margaret Ratner Kunstler, widow of the late William Moses Kunstler; and Gbenga Akinnagbe, the actor who portrayed Chris Partlow on the TV show The Wire. The Washington Post, Channel 12 News, and Democracy Now! reported on the event.
The action is part of the movement to stop mass incarceration, which has initiated STOP "Stop and Frisk" to end the racist, illegitimate¸ illegal practice of stop-and-frisk by the NYPD. The police are on pace to stop-and-frisk over 700,000 people this year alone. Eighty-five percent of those stopped and frisked are Black and Latino, and 90 percent of them are found to be not doing anything wrong at all.
Brownsville is known for being an area with one of the highest rates of people being subjected to stop-and-frisk. A rally was held at the corner of Rockaway and Livonia where people spoke bitterness and expressed their determination to end stop-and-frisk. A participant in the rally and march told a story of being stopped, questioned and detained at a local corner store in Brownsville. Nicholas Heyward, Sr., whose son was killed by police years ago, spoke along with several of those participating in the nonviolent civil disobedience. The rally grew as people from the neighborhood stopped to listen. A woman from Brownsville spoke. Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party told people that Cornel West was sending his love, and spoke of how any revolutionary "that is worthy of that name" is also driven by love; "you have to love the people, put your life on the line to free the people." Dix spoke of how he has put out a call for a new generation to step forward in the way that the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement did to challenge segregation—and that a number of young people have already answered that call and stepped up. He called them up to stand with him, and a multinational group of young people, Black, white, Latino, Asian, both men and women, gathered around him, smiling.
Before stepping off to march, Carl Dix read and commented on 1:13 from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian: "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."
The march stepped off with two rows of those participating in nonviolent civil disobedience leading in the front with drums and high energy. People held signs against mass incarceration, stop-and-frisk, police brutality and repression, and the whole system. Several people came out from the neighborhood, including a small group of shorties full of energy and dance.
At the precinct, police crowded in front of the door, making it difficult for protesters to form a line there. The march bypassed the metal barriers police set up to contain the demonstration, and those engaging in civil disobedience formed a line right up in the face of the rows of police. As 28 people were arrested, people continued to chant, "We say no to the new Jim Crow, stop and frisk has got to go," and "We won't stop until we STOP stop and frisk," "stop and frisk don't stop the crime, stop and frisk IS the crime." Supporters cheered and called out to those putting their bodies on the line, and reporters asked them to comment on why they were being arrested as police put them in plastic handcuffs. After the arrests, one Brownsville resident said, "It touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Stop-and-frisk doesn't affect me but it's unjust, demeaning and dehumanizing."
A white woman in her early 30s who had heard about the stop-and-frisk protest at Occupy Wall Street and who came out said, "I never in my lifetime thought I would see people mobilized in the way they have been in the last month, and that's why I'm out here today."
That night a group of a dozen or so people waited outside the 77th Precinct for 25 of the 28 to be released late that night. It was a raucous disturbance in the precinct as each person released was greeted with cheers and applause and you could hear singing and "Mic check! Mic check!" coming from inside where the Freedom Fighters were held. Carl Dix was the last person released in a prolonged, punitive processing at approximately 2:50 am. Three people remained in custody overnight. Out of the 28 people arrested, at least eight of them had been arrested at the first bold civil disobedience action to STOP "Stop and Frisk" on October 21 in Harlem.
When asked what difference this will make, a 30-year-old white male from Occupy Wall Street talked about his experience that day, for the first time participating in nonviolent civil disobedience: "I think it will make a huge difference because, you know, we marched in Harlem and I saw all those kids come out and all those people come out and stand on the other side of the street. I talked to people on the streets today and people were thanking me for going out and doing this, some girls said, ya know, 'we really support what you're doing, unfortunately we can't join you today, but we really support it and we really believe it's a good thing that you're here, because you're protecting our families,' and I went to a barber shop to use the bathroom and the guys at the barber shop gave me a round of applause and thanked me for being out there because their friends and their loved ones and they themselves are being victimized by this every single day so I know this is making a difference. Even if the numbers at the march aren't big, people know that we're there and its gonna spread, ya know."
This is the second action following the October 21 rally and protest in Harlem where 33 people were arrested including Cornel West, Carl Dix, and several reverends and social justice activists ("From Up Against the Wall to Up in Their Faces . . . A Movement Has Begun to STOP 'Stop and Frisk'").
There is a new generation of Freedom Fighters stepping forward to take on the New Jim Crow, from all walks of life, with different life experiences compelling them to play this role. Revolution spoke with people as they were released and will report further on this most recent action and the new movement to STOP "Stop and Frisk."
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