Note:  This was received from the Alan Blueford Coalition back in October 2012, and we thank them, and apologize for the late posting.

The Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition (http://justice4alanblueford.org/) stands in solidarity with Jamel Mins, Carl Dix, Robert Parsons, Morgan Rhodewalt and their eight companions, standing trial in New York City on trumped-up charges brought by the Queens County District Attorney, Richard Brown, for peacefully protesting the unconstitutional Stop & Frisk policies of the New York Police Department.

Alan Blueford, an 18-year old black student, was murdered as the consequence of an illegal stop & frisk in Oakland, California on May 6th, 2012. Recognizing this, the Coalition has made the elimination of stop & frisk -- a de facto policy of the Oakland Police Department -- one of its five demands in seeking justice for Alan Blueford.

Countless youth and men of color have been harassed and their lives put in jeopardy by this police tactic designed to intimidate an entire generation. The Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition salutes all those in New York City who have taken up the battle against Stop & Frisk. We here in Oakland are watching as events unfold in New York City: every
march and every press conference, developments in each trial and lawsuit, and your struggle to legislatively end Stop & Frisk by enacting the Community Safety Act.

We call on everyone from coast to coast and in between to demand that District Attorney Richard Brown drop all charges a against these peaceful protesters, and we also ask everyone to sign the Stop Mass Incarceration petition calling for dismissal of all charges at stopmassincarceration.org/resolution.html.
 
 
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November 19. 2011, Carl Dix, in red jacket, and stop-and-frisk freedom fighters march to notorious 103rd Precinct in Queens to protest.
by Carl Dix

The judge who handed down the sentences in the Queens’ Stop & Frisk case got personal.  I got a $250 fine, 5 days court observation and $120 court costs.  Morgan Rhodewalt got the fine, 5 days community service and court costs.  Jamel Mims got 5 days community service and court costs.  And Bob Parsons got court costs.  1st off, we shoulda gotten off with time served—no fines and no community service.  Stop & Frisk is wrong, and we were right to protest it!

In handing down these sentences, the judge said, ‘The jury saw thru Dix’s arrogance, and Rhodewalt’s false statements.’  Of course, the jury hadn’t said any of this.  The judge was really spitting his own venom at us, and he followed that up by giving Morgan and me extra punishment.

Why did the judge say I was arrogant?  Because he feels it was arrogant of me to decide Stop & Frisk was racist, illegal and illegitimate and to call on people to join a campaign of civil disobedience to stop it!  And to come into his court and say that what we did was the right thing to do.  He probably thought my statement before sentencing was also “arrogant.”  I noted that “Ray Kelly told 3 Black legislators he wanted every Black and Latino youth to be afraid they might be stopped & frisked every morning when they leave their house.”  I added, “This was wrong, and we were right to stand up and say NO MORE to this outrage.”

Morgan’s “false statement” was about his complaint to the Civilian Complaint Review Board over the police having tightened his handcuffs so tight he lost use of his thumbs for several weeks.  Before the trial, the prosecution argued, unsuccessfully, that this complaint amounted to a confession of guilt in this case.  But the jury never saw this statement, so it’s ludicrous to say they saw thru his false statements.  (There’s something to learn from this.  The complaint to the CCRB didn’t in any way deter cops from making handcuffs too tight on people they arrest, but it did serve to give the government an added way to target the defense in this charged political case.)

There’s another wrinkle to the judge sentencing me to court observation.  He said he did this in consideration of my physical condition.  Rev. Steven Phelps, the Senior Minister at the Riverside Church had offered that we could do any community service we were sentenced to could be done thru ministries at their church.  If the only issue was coming up with community service that fit my physical condition, the Riverside Church’s offer would’ve fit the bill.  The judge was essentially saying that he was going to take this arrogant Black man and make him sit in his court room, under his thumb, and maybe teach him some humility.

That won’t happen!  Stop & Frisk is still wrong.  Mass Incarceration is still racist and illegitimate.  It is right to stand up and say NO MORE to this slow genocide strangling inner city Black and Latino communities across the country!  Watching this judge operate in court for a week won’t change any of that.


 
 
by Carl Dix

Another day, another trial of the Stop & Frisk Freedom Fighters.  This time in Brooklyn for the Nov 1, 2011, Stop & Frisk protest at the 73rd police precinct in Brownsville, the precinct that has the highest level of stops under that illegitimate, racist NYPD policy.  Even tho’ the judge had split us into 2 different cases and then severed Greg Allen from his group trial when he decided to defend himself, all 13 of us were in court together. 

We held a pretrial huddle before going into the court room.  I reminded people of why we were there—that we hadn’t committed any crimes, or even violations.  That we were acting to stop the criminal actions of the NYPD, in particular its illegitimate, racist Stop & Frisk policy.  And that this rested on a long tradition—the freedom riders and others who put their lives on the line to fight the old Jim Crow or the abolitionists of the 1850’s who fought pitch battles with slave chasers trying to drag Black people in the North to the South to enslave them.  This is the tradition we Stop & Frisk Freedom Fighters are standing on the shoulders of when we say, “We Won’t Stop Till We Stop ‘Stop & Frisk!’”

On that basis, we plotted some legal strategy and went into the court room.  Before either of the group trials went forward, the judge gave his verdict in Greg’s case.  He granted Greg’s motion to dismiss the charges because the prosecution hadn’t proven that he was guilty of disorderly conduct.

The remaining defendants all made motions calling on the judge to dismiss their cases because the facts in the cases were all the same, and if the state couldn’t prove that one of us was guilty of disorderly conduct, they shouldn’t be allowed to continue persecuting the rest of us.

The judge wouldn’t dismiss the other cases because he “expects that the prosecution will appeal” the dismissal in Greg’s case.  And he postponed our cases till Feb 7th and 14th (They’re keeping us split into 2 groups.) to give the prosecution time to make its appeal of his dismissal, and maybe to figure out how to retool their cases against the rest of us.

Not clear how this one will go from here.  It’s possible that between now and Feb, the judge will get the word that the powers that be who are doubling down on Stop & Frisk want him to keep this prosecution going.  Maybe another judge will be placed on this case.  And there are prosecutions of 9 more Stop & Frisk Freedom Fighters still pending in Queens.  Noche Diaz faces trials in Manhattan and the Bronx for observing while cops brutalized high school students and a Black motorist.  Christina Gonzalez faces a number of cases in damn near every boro but Staten Island for standing up to police abuse.

And over and above that, we need to go on the offensive against Stop & Frisk and Mass Incarceration overall.  I’ve been working on a proposal to really launch an effort to gather the stories of people who’ve been abused by the criminal injustice system, stories that bring to the light of day the way mass incarceration and all its consequences have devastated the lives of 10’s of millions of people across this country.

If you come out to Thursday night’s “Evening in Support of the Stop & Frisk Freedom Fighters …” we can get into this idea and other plans we have for going forward.

 
 
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by Debra Sweet

Today in Queens Criminal Court, there was first of all a battle over how the jury would be charged.  The prosecutor keeps whining that he didn't know he had to actually provide evidence to the jury on how the 103rd Precinct was disrupted during the protest a year ago.  He wanted the jury to be told they didn't have to find that any specific aspect of the functioning of the precinct had to have been obstructed to find Carl, Jamel, Morgan and Bob guilty of Obstruction of Government Administration.

They are charged with two counts, and each could carry a year at Rikers.  Of course the jury's not allowed to know that.

Defense counsel argued strongly against that charge to the jury, and won language that puts more burden on the prosecution to have proven something was disrupted.  Their problem is they didn't bring out any such evidence, save for one cop who claimed that he was 1 to 5 minutes late going into the building because there was a crowd protesting outside the door of the precinct.  And he admitted he started his shift on time after roll call.

All three defense attorneys, and the prosecutor gave closing summations today.  One by one, the defense brought out the lack of evidence from the prosecution, which has the burden of proving each element of each count beyond a reasonable doubt.  Prosecution said in pre-trial motions they would show that because of the protest, 9-11 calls went unanswered, and prisoners couldn't be transferred.  They presented no such testimony or evidence; in fact the Commander of the precinct stated to the jury that none of the normal business of the precinct was disrupted during the 7 minutes the protesters were in front of the door.  Defense was relentless in reminding the jury that the obstruction of the precinct was the NYPD's own doing.

Our attorneys, Meg Maurus, Tom Hillgardner and Marty Stolar, highlighted the intent of the protesters, as Jamel, Morgan and Carl testified Tuesday, to deliver a political message against NYPD stop-and-frisk right to the place where the policy is centered.  Marty Stolar was able to get into his argument the fact that the 103rd had the eighth highest number of stop-and-frisks in the city last year...and that's where the police who killed Sean Bell are from. 

After their summations, the prosecutor mainly relied on his index finger, pointing at "THESE FOUR MEN" repeatedly, as protesters who had "gone too far" and broken the law by refusing to leave the front of the precinct.  Since he had no evidence to call forth, he asserted this over and over, and for variety, near the end of this speech, raised his voice and told the jury, "You see how they acted, the attorneys and the defendants treated this trial as ONE BIG JOKE!" 

To the contrary, the defendants testified that they didn't plan to be arrested that day, but are always prepared to be arrested at a political protest, especially when protesting the NYPD.  It was inspiring to hear our people speak, to challenge the prosecutor, and the judge in the process of fighting what Tom Hillgardner called "a garbage case for which no one should go to jail."

Thursday morning at 10:00 am, the jury will be charged.  We hope for a verdict of not guilty on all counts.
Queens Criminal Court  125-

 
 
Sisters and Brothers,

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, Black people having to ride on the back of the bus or sit in the balcony in movie theaters and the lynch mob terror the 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.

We’re one week into this trial.  The trial is recessed till Monday,(now probably Thursday 11/1) and we have a chance to make the fact that 4 people who protested that racist, immoral policy are facing time in prison a major story in NYC and beyond.  On Monday, the prosecution will put on its major witness and show the video of the protest at the 103rd precinct. The next day, a couple of the defendants will testify.  In strategizing over these next few days, we should remember the impact our protests had last year.  Think about the youth who faced being harassed, disrespected and worse by police every day, who drew hope and inspiration from what we did.  The people who didn’t face being stopped and frisked themselves, but who were horrified to learn that people faced this treatment because of the color of their skin and felt it was wrong.  We need to figure out how to tap into all this.

Bloomberg and Kelly are doubling down on Stop & Frisk, defending it in the face of continuing exposure, mounting resistance and disagreements among the powers thqat be over whether and how to continue that policy, with elected officials and the NY Times expressing concern that the controversy over this policy is feeding broader discontent in society.  We need to reach out to the people who are disgusted by Stop & Frisk with a simple message.  “If you don’t like Stop & Frisk, then you need to have the backs of the people who stood up against it and are facing time in jail for that righteous stand.”

How do we do that?  One way would be for some of us to come out to the next day of the trial when a press conference and rally is planned, and for all of us to reach out to our networks and encourage everyone we can reach to come out in support of these defendants.  We all have various platforms we could use in doing that.  Some of us could get this story into various media.  (Jamel and I are available for interviews if you’d like to have a defendant involved in the story, altho’ it’d be fine for you all to be the person interviewed.)  There are different audiences we all could speak to about the trial.  There are other ways we could generate support for this trial.  We should use all of the platforms available to us to the max.

Here are crucial things people could do to manifest their support:

  • Come out to the trial (whenever the court opens - see stopmassincarceration.org for updates)
  • Add your name to the resolution calling for dropping the charges.  stopmassincarceration.org/resolution.html;
  • Get the story of this trial into the media;
  • Spread the word on it via e mail, twitter, Facebook, etc;
  • Contribute money and support the fundraiser on Oct 30th to help meet the mounting expenses of fighting this important legal battle.
In setting out to do this, we should be guided by something we said when we took on Stop & Frisk in Harlem last year:  “We Won’t Stop till We Stop “Stop & Frisk!””

Carl Dix
comradecarl@hotmail.com

 
 
by Carl Dix

The first day of our trial for protesting stop-and-frisk in Jamaica Queens last November went slower than at least I anticipated.  We didn’t even finish jury selection.  The prosecution announced they won’t put on their main witness till Monday, which means we won’t get to the defense case till Tuesday, Oct 30th.

The prosecutor and judge said often that this case isn’t about stop-and-frisk, but just about whether we broke the law.  This has me wondering, “Why are we here facing 2 years + in jail?”  The laws we’re charged with breaking all speak about our intent.  The Obstruction of Government Administration charges, which each carry a year in jail penalty, include language along the lines of ‘…acting with the intent to keep a public official from performing their duty.’  Our intent was and is crystal clear—to protest stop-and-frisk.

This discussion about the case not being about stop-and-frisk confused some of the prospective jurors.  Several of them asked how they were supposed to separate the protest from what we were protesting.  Of course, the prosecution eliminated them from the jury using their pre-emptive challenges.

The court told prospective jurors they had to decide our guilt or innocence without considering what our punishment could end up being.  In other words, "don’t worry about the fact that we’re trying to put these people in jail for 2 years for protesting a racist, illegitimate policy.  Just think about whether the way we have charged them several times for a single act can be justified by our tortured logic and fit within our rules.  We’ll handle bringing the hammer down on them and delivering a message to any who drew hope and inspiration from their actions that there’s a heavy price to pay for standing up to what they do to us."

Carl