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
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 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-
We've weathered a devastating hurricane, a sudden snowstorm, and an election frenzy, yet it still remains an priority for this system to pour its resources into prosecuting people who protested against the stop and frisk policy-- a policy that is at the leading edge of brutality and repression on youth of color, and a pipeline to the penal system.
Now going into a third week, the proceedings of the trial in which I am facing charges up to one year in jail, have been wrought with controversy. For starters, we have been delayed for several days because of weather-related recesses on two occasions. Two weeks ago, a juror was re-voidired after wanting to wear 'her Obama shirt' which a court officer thought indicated she might be sympathetic with our goals; and last Monday, that same juror was arrested while exiting the courthouse after refusing to sign a returned property slip for a ziploc bag that didn't contain her items. After hearing the story of the outrageous arrest of a fellow juror, two jurors were removed because they couldn't remained unbiased. We got back to at court yesterday morning, November 13th, and were finally able to present our case, and testify from the witness stand. We hope to see a verdict by the end of the week.
During this nodal point in the battle against stop and frisk and mass incarceration, there is a great need to continue to elevate around this front: Please continue to share this information with folks in your circle, and push this story to media outlets. Lend your weight and voice to the effort--call in radio stations and news stations. Sign the resolution
, and help to arrange coverage of the ongoing proceedings. Tweet, Facebook, blog or Instagram about the trial, especially as we get close to rendering a verdict.
We are mobilizing people to pack the courtroom this week -- when the defense is finally set to present our case,--and get the word out on all fronts that the case is on this week. Come out today, Wednesday November 14th to hear summations and closing arguments. Stick around while the jury deliberates on Thursday November 15th, and be ready to mobilize as the verdict comes down. Come stand with us and put Stop and Frisk on trial!
Pack the Courtroom for Stop and Frisk Freedom Fighters!
Wednesday November 14th & Thursday November 15th
Queens Criminal Court, Room JP1
125-01 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens Queens
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!””
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."
by Debra Sweet
Court Support - No Jail for Carl Dix & Stop-and-Frisk Freedom Fighters
Wednesday October 24 & Thursday October 25
: 9:30 am in K11, Queens Criminal Court 125-01 Queens Blvd, Kew Gardens
Monday October 29 8:45 am Rally to deliver messages to the District Attorney's office to drop the charges, on the day the main prosecution witness will testify.
Tuesday October 30 9:30 am, Probable defense case begins
We trekked out to Queens EARLY today to be in front of hundreds entering the Queens Criminal Court to pay tickets, work, show up for appearances, defend clients, or serve on a jury. It took about a half hour before 30 of us were moved down the street, 200 feet away from the building. By then, lots of flyers were in the hands of people standing on line to enter, and quite a number were wearing new STOP stop-and-frisk buttons.
Four of thirteen defendants arrested last November went on trial today, and we packed all the spectator seats with supporters.
Carl Dix, Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt and Bob Parsons face some heavy charges, and two years in jail, considering they spent ten minutes non-violently chanting on the steps of a precinct house that was already barricaded by police.
The court building is not far from the infamous 103rd precinct, where many of us had marched through Jamaica protesting NYPD stop-and-frisk.
The 103rd has one of the highest rates of stop-and-frisk in the city, and one of the lowest rates of tickets given and arrests of people who are stopped. It's the precinct where officers killed Sean Bell in 2006 with 50 bullets, as he and his friends, unarmed, were partying on the eve of his wedding. We were at the 103rd, carrying on protest campaign of stop-and-frisk as part of organizing people to stand up against the abusive, unconstitutional searches Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly defend.
Today, jury selection began. When a pool of potential jurors were told that the protest was against the city’s highly controversial practice of stop-and-frisk, two raised their hands to tell the judge they didn’t know if they could be impartial, because of their opposition to the policy. Overall, the jury pool provided more openings for us than the prosecution, with people coming from many countries, and experiences with police and authority.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Vanunu had argued in pre-trial motions that the jury would be confused by being questioned about First Amendment rights of speech and assembly, and therefore discussion of those rights should be disallowed. Our defense attorneys Martin Stolar, Meghan Maurus and Thomas Hillgardner argued, and prevailed, that they question jurors on whether they knew about stop-and-frisk, had opinions about it, or about protest. Their questions brought out decades old experiences, as 6 of 14 jurors said they had participated in protests for women's rights; against police brutality, budget cuts, stigmatization of Haitians because of HIV; against the Marcos government in the Philippines.
A jury of six was chosen. Alternate jurors will be selected Wednesday, followed by opening statements. The trial is expected to go into the week of October 29.
Over 1,000 people have signed a request to Richard Brown, the Queens District Attorney, to drop the charges and discontinue prosecuting
the 13 defendants in the case, including Noel Leader
, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care; Constance Malcolm
, mother of Ramarley Graham; Margarita Rosario
, mother of Anthony Rosario, and aunt of Hilton Vega, killed by NYPD; The Rev. Al Sharpton
, National Action Network; Jumaane Williams
, New York City Councilman; Basir Mchawi
, International African Arts Festival Chair; Allene Person
, mother of Timur Person, killed by NYPD; Juanita Young
, mother of Malcolm Ferguson, killed by NYPD.
Please join them in signing. And come out to court!