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
Friday: OFF
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!



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11/30/2012 10:23pm

Can i know whats was the conclusion in trial held on 29th October , I am eagerly waiting to read the update.

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12/17/2012 11:07pm

I have heard about this incident from one of my friend , but i was not having deep knowledge about this incident . But through this blog i came to know each and every thing.

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12/20/2012 4:29am

Nice to see that all peoples are getting together to fights against one goal. It shows that unity of democratic country.

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12/24/2012 4:06am

I have also participated in women's rights movement which was done in US. Each citizen has to know about their rights and fight for them.

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01/06/2013 9:52pm

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01/24/2013 1:12am

Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.

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03/01/2013 6:58am

The power and possibilities the mass public has to change a system or start a revolution is absolute. Even the strongest government will under the voice of the people. It should be of great concern for the lawmakers to think twice before passing a bill that might infuriate the people.

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03/12/2013 12:13am

Why is picking a jury always so troublesome. One has to come up with more strict rules.

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