Defendants face one year in jail for non-violent civil disobedience

Trial of STOP "Stop & Frisk" Freedom Fighters Begins

November 4, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


The trial of four freedom fighters in the struggle to STOP "Stop & Frisk" began on October 23 in Queens, New York City. Carl Dix, Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt, and Bob Parsons along with nine others were arrested last November at a non-violent mass civil disobedience protest at the 103rd NYPD Precinct—notorious for the killing of Sean Bell in 2006. This action was the third such protest at the New York City precincts with the most stop-and-frisks.

The NYPD policy of stop-and-frisk—that stops and harasses hundreds of thousands of people every year, especially Black and Latino youth—is totally illegitimate. And what is being put on trial here is nothing less than the ability and right to stand up and say NO MORE to this racist policy, which harasses, humiliates, and terrorizes Black and brown people throughout the city.

The new freedom fighters putting their bodies on the line against stop-and-frisk are exposing and fighting against how this system, through its armed police enforcers, brutalizes and murders people; how it criminalizes Black and Latino youth; how it has incarcerated nearly 2.4 million people, the majority Black and Latino; how its policy of stop-and-frisk is a pipeline for mass incarceration.

And this fight against stop-and-frisk is exposing the vicious LIE that the system promotes all the time—that the people themselves are to blame for what this system has done to them. The system tells the youth: "You’re stopped, harassed, brutalized, put in jail, even shot and killed.... because you hang out on the corner, sag your pants, look the ‘wrong way,’ or don’t show the cops respect." But the whole struggle against stop-and-frisk is exposing how this system targets and criminalizes the youth, how hundreds of thousands are racially profiled and stopped for doing nothing wrong at all.

Stop the Persecution of Noche Diaz

This system has no future for millions and millions of youth on the bottom of society. Those in power know this section of society is a potentially volatile force that must be brutally kept under social control in order to maintain the oppressive status quo. And they find it intolerable when youth step forward to lead others to resist all that.

Noche Diaz is a leader in the movement to end mass incarceration, known throughout Harlem as a member of the People’s Neighborhood Patrols and across the city’s campuses for speaking in classes against stop-and-frisk. He is facing years in jail for standing up for the rights of the people. The NYPD targeted and arrested him five times since October 2011 and piled 11 charges on him in four boroughs. Twice Noche was arrested as part of organized protests against stop-and-frisk at Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct and the 103rd in Queens. In three other arrests Noche was observing the police do what they do; he had every right to do so.

They are bringing all these cases against Noche to try and get him off the streets. But they’re also doing it to send a message and to intimidate masses of people: to try and send out the message that people, especially the youth, better not raise their sights, step out, and fight against their oppression. So we cannot let this case—or any of the other cases he’s facing—be a defeat. We can’t let that happen.

Standing up to defend Noche and all the freedom fighters has everything to do with putting an end to the crime of stop-and-frisk and the way a whole generation is being condemned to lives of criminalization, marginalization, brutality, and the spirit-crushing, human-wasting confinement of the largest prison system in the world.

Stop-and-Frisk IS on Trial

The judge in this case, Gene Lopez, has repeatedly said that "stop-and-frisk is not what is on trial in this case," and told potential jurors over and over again that they had to put aside whatever opinions they have about stop-and-frisk. But meanwhile, he refused to try all 13 defendants arrested at the STOP "Stop & Frisk" protest together and allowed the DA to add a second charge of Obstruction of Governmental Administration [OGA] without offering any additional evidence more than nine months after their arrest. And spectators in the courtroom are not allowed to wear any T-shirts or buttons that say "STOP 'Stop & Frisk.'"

The four on trial now will be tried on two counts of OGA, and one count of Disorderly Conduct for failure to disperse. These are the most serious charges—class "A" misdemeanors which carry a potential 12 months in jail. They now face two counts of Obstructing Government Administration, which carries a possible sentence of 12 months in jail. As Carl Dix told WBAI radio, "Here you have the same DA’s office that could not or would not put on an effective prosecution against the cops who murdered Sean Bell, piling charge after charge on people for standing up and protesting the injustice of stop-and-frisk."

There are three more potential trials in Queens from the 103rd Precinct protest: two trials of another 13 people arrested for protesting stop-and-frisk in Brooklyn, and the two trials of Noche Diaz.

After the first day in court Carl Dix wrote: "Sitting in the court in Queens listening to the prosecution and the judge talk about this trial isn’t about Stop & Frisk but about whether Jamel, Morgan, Bob and I ‘broke the law,’ took me back to the 1960’s and the struggle to end Jim Crow segregation. Whites only facilities, with Black people having to ride on the back of the bus or sit in the balcony in movie theaters and the lynch mob terror enforced all this. That’s the legacy our campaign to STOP ‘Stop & Frisk’ stands on the shoulders of, and those prosecutors are the current day version of those who put 1960’s freedom fighters in jail, and worse."

This highly political trial has very high stakes. The authorities want to punish these people for having stood up for justice, and through doing that deliver a message that anyone who resists their criminal injustice will pay a heavy price. This must not go down! If we allow them to be convicted and jailed without a massive fight, the battle against stop-and-frisk and the whole spirit of resistance will be seriously weakened. But if many, many people stand with them in this legal battle, if we beat this back, then the movement will gain further initiative, pulling more people into the struggle.

The mass actions against stop-and-frisk, the heroic actions of these freedom fighters and the government’s attempts to prosecute them have contributed to the highly charged and controversial discussion and debate around stop-and-frisk in society. Many more people—who did not know before—have learned about this totally illegitimate, racist policy of the NYPD. And many of those who are the victims of this terror have felt strengthened and supported. The opening days of the trial were covered in the media, including NBC/the Grio, the Huffington Post, and El Diario.

Shortly before the trial started, Jamel Mims wrote: "A year ago, those who had no first-hand experience of the humiliation of being illegally searched barely knew the practice occurred. Those who got stopped and frisked thought there was nothing one could do about it. Now, the stop-and-frisk policy and the horrors it inflicts are going viral in mainstream society. Copwatch and videos of NYPD stops garner thousands of views, and nearly every day there are articles or opinion pieces about stop-and-frisk. Potential mayoral candidates have even had to confront this, as politicians line up to claim their opposition to the policy, or express their desire to reform or modify it in the ongoing pursuit of public opinion." ("On Facing Two Years for Protesting Stop-and-Frisk,", October 28, 2012)

And the battle to STOP "Stop & Frisk" is part of the larger battle against mass incarceration. As Carl Dix has pointed out: "Stop-and-frisk concentrates the racial profiling police enforce all across the country, racial profiling that serves as a pipeline to mass incarceration—the 2.4 million people warehoused in prisons throughout the U.S. Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide. If we don’t meet this with determined, mass resistance, the masses will be ground down so far, they’ll never be able to do anything about all they do to us. From the other end, through standing up and coming back at this injustice in a powerful way, we can build our strength and organized capacity to resist and inspire others to join in the resistance."


On Monday, October 29, two cops are scheduled to testify for the prosecution, and video filmed by the police will be shown. The defense will probably begin its case on Tuesday, October 30, with testimony from Carl Dix and Jamel Mims, who will talk about the intent of the protesters to deliver a message that the NYPD should stop stop-and-frisk.

Also on Tuesday, October 30, Noche Diaz is to report for trial in Manhattan on charges combined from two arrests in Harlem. Supporters are planning to fill the seats in Queens Criminal Court on Monday, and to deliver over a thousand signatures on a message to the DA to drop the charges. On Tuesday, supporters are being asked to go to both Queens and Manhattan to show their support.

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