Opposing Injustice Is Not a Crime!  Drop the Charges!

Four Stop-and-Frisk Freedom Fighters to Go on Trial October 23

October 14, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On Tuesday, October 23, four of the freedom fighters who protested stop-and-frisk in Queens, New York, last November will face trial and more than two years in jail for their stand. This was the third action in a month of planned civil disobedience protests.  A community rally and march through Jamaica, Queens, ended at the 103rd Precinct—the precinct that killed Sean Bell in 2006 and which had been completely barricaded on NYPD lockdown in anticipation of the protest.  Twenty people were arrested.

Under stop-and-frisk, the NYPD in 2011 subjected each and every day almost 1,900 people to harassment, disrespect, brutality and all too often arrest.  For the first six months of 2012, the number of people stopped under this racist and unjust policy was about the same.  More than 85 percent of the people stopped are Black or Latino, and 90 percent of those stopped have ended up being released.  And some of the 10 percent of people stopped who were arrested or given tickets weren’t doing anything wrong because the police routinely arrest people for not having an ID or because they question why they’re being stopped.

Stop-and-frisk is the crime, yet Carl Dix, Jamel Mims, Bob Parsons and Morgan Rhodewalt face time in jail for protesting it!  It is criminal that so many people in NYC have had their right to be safe and secure from unreasonable search and seizure revoked because they are Black or Latino.  And it’s criminal that the NYPD is enforcing the equivalent of the pass laws that were inflicted on Black people in apartheid South Africa, or Arizona’s “show us your papers” law that targets immigrants there, on people they step to under stop-and-frisk!  Stop-and-frisk is illegitimate and unacceptable. 

These four defendants were among 19 people who put their bodies on the line to “STOP Stop &Frisk.” They did the right thing, and they shouldn’t be facing jail. The Queens District Attorney is the same DA that couldn’t or wouldn’t put on much of a case against the cops who murdered Sean Bell in 2006 in a hail of 50 bullets. This DA is vigorously pursuing this case, piling charges on people for having stood up and protesting stop-and-frisk.

The charges initially were one count of disorderly conduct, a violation, and one of Obstructing Governmental Administration (OGA), which is a Class “A” misdemeanor carrying 12 months in jail.  In a later court hearing, the DA added an additional charge of OGA without citing any additional acts on the part of the defendants.  Then, on October 9, the day the trial was scheduled to begin, the DA came into court with a charge sheet to which they had added a description of “acting in concert” without informing the defense of the change!  This change means that the judge could instruct the jurors to find all the defendants guilty of the charges if they find that any of one of them is guilty.

The Queens DA has scheduled two more trials of stop-and-frisk freedom fighters later this year with nine more defendants.  Thirteen defendants will be tried in Brooklyn next month for a November 1, 2011 protest at the 73rd Precinct, which has the highest rate of stop-and-frisk in the city.  Noche Diaz is a defendant in both of these stop-and-frisk trials, as well as in Manhattan and the Bronx, where he’s being tried for incidents where he observed the NYPD abusing, and beating, people in violation of their rights.

It is unacceptable that people who carried out mass protest to deliver a political message against the NYPD policy of stop-and-frisk are now being dragged into court and facing jail time.  The civil disobedience campaign initiated by Carl Dix and Cornel West in the fall of 2011 organized non-violent political resistance to stop-and-frisk, and to mass incarceration overall.  It has brought together a broad array of people, of different ages, from diverse backgrounds and of different races and nationalities.  It has given heart to people who are forced to live their lives under the guns and billy clubs of brutal, murdering cops to know that others in society know about the injustice they’re being subjected to and oppose it.  These actions have added a missing ingredient to the resistance against the abuse the criminal justice system brings down on the people and took that resistance to a whole different level.

The authorities are now coming back at those who were part of this determined resistance—trying to make them pay for resisting the way their criminal injustice system comes down on the people and thru doing that to deliver a message to others that they better not join this resistance.

Fighting to win in these cases is part of carrying forward the fight to “STOP Stop & Frisk” and taking on the whole way the authorities unleash their cops and courts to heap abuse on people.  Everybody who is concerned about the injustice that is inflicted on so many people in this society must have the backs of these freedom fighters!  This means spreading the word on this attempt to make these freedom fighters pay a high price for their actions.  It means adding your name to those who have already signed the resolution calling for dropping the charges on the stop-and-frisk freedom fighters (see www.stopmassincarceration.org/resolution.html).  It means coming out to the court on Tuesday, October 23 to show you have these freedom fighters’ backs. And it means contributing money to ensure that these freedom fighters can mount the legal defense and carry out the political mobilization needed to win this case (go to  www.stopmassincarceration.org/).

These heroic freedom fighters put their bodies on the line to stop the immoral and illegitimate outrage of stop-and-frisk.  They should be given medals, not put on trial and face jail time.

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