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!