Victory in 15-month political battle

Charges Dismissed for Brooklyn Stop-and-Frisk Freedom Fighters

March 10, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On February 27, a victory was won when charges were dropped against Carl Dix, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Luis Barrios and Morgan Rhodewalt. The four had been arrested while protesting NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy at a Brooklyn NYPD precinct in November 2011. This action was part of the movement to stop mass incarceration, which has initiated determined struggle to end the racist, illegitimate, illegal practice of stop-and-frisk by the NYPD—that jacks up and humiliates hundreds of thousands of people every year, the majority Black and Latino, and 90 percent of them doing nothing wrong, and that serves as a first step in a pipeline that has locked 2.3 million in prison.

Right after the prosecution rested its case, the judge ruled that prosecutors had not proven the elements of disorderly conduct and granted a trial order of dismissal. The case against Greg Allen, who defended himself on the same charges before a different judge in November, was also dismissed. Seven remaining defendants in the case are expected to have charges dismissed on March 12.

In November 2012, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network picked the 73rd NYPD Precinct in Brownsville, Brooklyn, for the second location in a campaign of mass nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the NYPD practice of stop-and-frisk. The 73rd has the second highest rate of stops. The Huffington Post reported that in 2011, "73rd Precinct officers stopped 25,167 New Yorkers. Ninety-eight percent of them were black or Latino."

On November 1, 2011, more than 100 people rallied near a subway stop, where people spoke out about their experience being stopped by NYPD, the effect it has on a generation of youth, and both the need to end the policy and the system which is responsible for it. They came from East New York and Brownsville, from Occupy Wall Street, religious groups, and from the movement for revolution.

Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, an initiator of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network along with Cornel West, called on people to stand with him, and a multinational group of young people, Black, white, Latino, Asian, both men and women, gathered around him. Dix led a mic check of a quote 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."

After a loud march to the 73rd Precinct, with chants of "We say NO to the New Jim Crow! Stop-and-frisk has got to GO!" 28 people were arrested by NYPD on the street in front of the precinct.

Brooklyn prosecutors originally charged the protesters with obstructing governmental administration (OGA), which carries a possible 12-month jail sentence, and disorderly conduct, which carries a possible 15 days. After six court appearances, rallies, a petition signed by over 1,000 people demanding the charges be dropped, and through the political and legal arguments of a volunteer group of lawyers from Legal Aid, Brooklyn Defenders Service, the National Lawyers Guild, and Occupy Wall Street lawyers, the prosecutors dropped the more serious charges but wouldn't let go of the disorderly conduct charge.

Four police witnesses admitted under cross examination that the protesters were kept at such a distance from the 73rd precinct door by several rows of NYPD that they were not blocking it, and the NYPD's own video confirmed that. Prosecutors tried to change their charge from blocking the door to gathering and causing a disturbance but, in this case, the judge was not persuaded.

Carl Dix said, "The judge's dismissal of our cases is a real victory that took a long time to achieve. We were and are right to resist stop-and-frisk, and the authorities were and are wrong when they argue that it is about fighting crime. It's about criminalizing the youth. This kind of racial profiling serves as a pipeline to the more than two million people warehoused in prison across the country. This victory has to be turned into a step forward in ending all this injustice."

Nine people await trial in Queens, set for April 8, on charges from a November 2011 protest at the 105th precinct. Four tried in November, including Carl Dix and Morgan Rhodewalt, were acquitted by a jury of more serious charges of OGA, but were convicted of disorderly conduct. At this time the Queens prosecutors still plan to try others on the same charges.

Noche Diaz, a defendant in both Brooklyn and Queens, will be tried in the Bronx on March 20 and in Manhattan on April 23 for three arrests in which he was observing the police arrest and, in one case, beat others. He has five serious misdemeanor charges in trials where prosecutors say he has a "pattern" of interfering with police. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network said recently:

"Many wonder why there is no movement of young people protesting all this, as previous generations have. 24-year-old Noche Diaz IS protesting all this. He IS organizing others to protest against all this. He HAS put his body on the line to protest stop-and-frisk and to observe the police abusing people. Noche is a revolutionary, who lays out his views as he protests and organizes. And for all this, he faces 4½ years in jail just in Manhattan, as well as jail time in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens… YOU have a responsibility to make sure they don't succeed in doing that. YOU need to help make sure Noche can continue to do the important work he's involved in."

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