Black History Month, February 2013

February 1, 2013—Join us as we launch a month of Bearing Witness to the horrors mass incarceration inflicts on millions and millions of people in this country. And join us as we close Black History Month 2013 with a week of Bearing Witness and manifesting resistance to mass incarceration and all its consequences....   READ MORE
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by Carl Dix 

February 26 is one year since the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin—one year since George Zimmerman saw Trayvon, a 17-year-old wearing a hoodie, and decided this Black youth "…must be up to no good." One year since Zimmerman followed Trayvon and gunned him down. One year since the Sanford, Florida, cops walked Zimmerman into and out of the police station letting him go free, citing Florida's racist "Stand Your Ground" law. Only after powerful outpourings of protest spread all across the country was Zimmerman re-arrested and charged for his crime.

THIS ANNIVERSARY MUST BE MARKED BY POWERFUL OUTPOURINGS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY! The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for everyone who hates the way Black and Latino youth are treated as less than human to take their outrage to the streets in cities and towns across the country at 4 pm on February 26.

Before this murder, almost no one outside Sanford, Florida, knew who Trayvon was. But everyone felt the sting of his murder. It reminded many people of the bull's-eye this society has long placed on the backs of Black youth. This sentiment drove millions into the streets filled with rage. Wearing hoodies and having bags of Skittles became symbols of resistance.

Trayvon wasn't the first one to be murdered like this, and he hasn't been the last. Emmett Till was lynched in 1954 in Money, Mississippi, for supposedly whistling at a white woman. Jordan Davis was murdered in Jacksonville, Florida, by a white man who said Jordan's music was too loud last November 23. That killer fled the scene and only later turned himself in, claiming he was "standing his ground" against a Black youth armed with a shotgun that no one has ever found. This is like declaring it's open season on Black youth. WE HAVE TO STAND UP ON FEBRUARY 26 AND SAY WE WON'T ACCEPT THIS IN SILENCE!

Trayvon could've been any Black youth. He could've been my nephew, or your brother, cousin or son. The racial profiling that led to his murder is the same thing that has led to almost 2.4 million people, most of them Black or Latino, being warehoused in prisons in the U.S.—more than any other country in the world. It's the same thing that has led to 100's of killings by police every year in this country, with almost all the killer cops getting away without being punished. The backdrop for all this is the way generations of youth are growing up in inner cities across this country with no hope for the future—no jobs to survive or raise families and confronting an education system geared to fail them. Trayvon's murder, and how the cops dealt with it, is rooted in the way this society criminalizes Black and Latino youth, treating them as guilty until proven innocent, if they survive to prove their innocence.

THE RAGE MILLIONS HAD IN RESPONSE TO THIS MURDER MUST BE SHOWN AGAIN BY TAKING TO THE STREETS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY ON FEBRUARY 26!

It is racist, unjust, and illegitimate for the authorities to give racist vigilantes and killer cops a green light to murder our youth like their lives are worthless. It must stop, and it will take our determined action to stop it! Trayvon's parents courageously stood up and called for justice for their murdered son. We must match their courage and determination in taking to the streets on the anniversary of his murder.

On that day if you are somebody who wants to see a better future for the youth, you must defiantly protest the way this system criminalizes them. Young people must be out in the streets—youth who were hurt to their hearts to hear of his murder and reminded of the target this society puts on their backs; youth who cried, "We are all Trayvon," must be right up front in doing this.

Pour into the streets in cities and towns all across the country and BLOW THE WHISTLE ON ALL THIS! Demand that Black and Latino youth not be treated as fair game for police and racist vigilantes; demand that their humanity be recognized. Wear hoodies on that day! Mobilize at your schools, in your neighborhoods, at your workplaces and everywhere else. This is the kind of resistance that's needed to show we will accept nothing less than justice for Trayvon and to take on all the abuse the criminal injustice system heaps on Black and Latino people.

It's up to us to demand an end to these kinds of horrors, and to act to make sure they end. Come together nationwide and say in one loud, clear, and united voice: NO MORE!

WE ARE ALL TRAYVON! THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY.

Carl Dix is a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party and a leader in the movement to Stop Mass Incarceration.

 
 

Stop Mass Incarceration Network Calls on YOU to Join in  Stopping the Slow Genocide of Mass Incarceration

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February 2, Saturday. One year since the Murder of Ramarley Graham by the NYPD. Ramarley was an unarmed 18 year old killed by cops who busted into his Bronx home and shot him at close range, killing him in front of his grandmother and young brother.

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February 26, Tuesday. One year since the Murder of Trayvon Martin by a racist vigilante. This murder in Sanford, Florida, struck a raw nerve and brought people across the country into the streets in outrage.


As we approach Black History Month 2013, more Black people are in prison, in jail, or on probation or parole than there were slaves in the U.S. in 1850! Day after day after day, the police stop-and-frisk, harass, railroad into prison, beat down, and murder Blacks and Latinos, especially the youth, with impunity.

¡Basta Ya! All this must stop! Join with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and others across the country in taking to the streets on the anniversaries of the racist vigilante lynching of Trayvon and the NYPD murder of Ramarley. These atrocities are the direct result of the decades-long criminalization and demonization of our youth that paints them as criminal thugs that deserve whatever they get.

You can make a difference in opening the eyes of millions and bringing them into the struggle to stop the criminal outrage of the slow genocide of mass incarceration, police murder of Black and Latino people, and the criminalization and demonization of our youth.

Stopping Stop-and-Frisk became a major social battle in the fall of 2011 when 80+ people were arrested for putting their bodies on the line in a campaign of mass non-violent civil disobedience at three NYPD precincts with some of the highest rates of Stop-and-Frisk in NYC. Thousands were drawn into the struggle as they saw people acting in defiance of the crime of Stop-and-Frisk. But this is only the beginning.
 
Take to the streets on February 2nd and 26th. Bring whistles, drums, banners & signs.

February 2, Saturday, 3:00 PM Gather at D'Onofrio Square, White Plains Road @ E. 215th, Bronx, NY (#2,5 to Gun Hill Road and walk north, or #2,5 to 219th St and walk south.) March to Ramarley’s home, 749 E. 229th Street to join a vigil, then to NYPD 47th Precinct, 4111 Laconia Avenue, Bronx

February 26, Tuesday, 3:30 PM, Union Square South Plaza, East 14th Street & Broadway, Manhattan

Stop Mass Incarceration Network stopmassincarceration.org * 347-979-SMIN (7646) *
Email: stopmassincarceration@gmail.com * Facebook: stopmassincerationnetwork * Twitter: @StopMassIncNet
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Harlem, New York: Cornel West, Carl Dix, Rev Phelps
February 1, 2013—Join us as we launch a month of Bearing Witness to the horrors mass incarceration inflicts on millions and millions of people in this country. And join us as we close Black History Month 2013 with a week of Bearing Witness and manifesting resistance to mass incarceration and all its consequences....

Over 2.2 million people held in prisons across the US—more than any other country on earth! 60% of those in prison are Black or Latino!

• One in 10 Black men are in prison on any given day!

• Blacks and whites use illegal drugs at similar rates, yet Blacks are 10 times more likely than whites to be put behind bars for using illegal drugs!

• There are more women in prison in the US than in any other country, and women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population!

• Tens of thousands of those in US prison are held in long-term solitary confinement, facing conditions that fit the international definition of torture!

• More than 5 million former prisoners face open discrimination - discriminated against when seeking jobs, banned from public housing, barred from receiving government loans for education, and in many states unable to vote.

• In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) held a record-breaking 429,000 immigrants in over 250 facilities across the country with 30,000 to 35,000 people in immigration detention on any given day.

The lives of tens of millions of people are enmeshed in the criminal “injustice” system of this country. Mass incarceration is a horrific injustice THAT MUST BE STOPPED! The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is working to stop this injustice, and as part of doing that is launching the BEAR WITNESS PROJECT.

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has set out to break the silence, and to build the much needed missing ingredient of mass resistance to the slow grinding genocide of mass incarceration. Bearing Witness, putting a human face on the criminalized generations and tearing away at the badge of shame and dishonor that prisoners, former prisoners, and their loved ones are forced to wear, is a necessary and powerful part of accomplishing this.

Bear Witness will gather statements in video, audio and written format that will challenge the bogus justifications for mass incarceration and show it to be in fact a New Jim Crow - a modern caste system of racial discrimination that is on a deadly trajectory. It will do this with facts, truth and human emotion.

What difference will this make? Bear Witness will be a vehicle for mass participation. Way too many people accept mass incarceration as a collection of policies that combat crime and that are administered in a “color blind” way. Forging a massive movement of determined resistance to this injustice has to include as a key part jolting society awake to the ugly reality of this injustice and moving them to change how they view it. Just like the Freedom Riders and other activists of the 1960’s changed the way people viewed "Jim Crow" segregation in the South.

As part of this project, students and student organizations, former prisoners and families of those in prison, filmmakers, church and neighborhood groups, civil and human rights advocates and everyday people will spread throughout society and interview those under the gun of racial profiling, police abuse and mass incarceration.

These stories will be made accessible on line and in a variety of ways.

Gathering these stories will let those who live the reality of mass incarceration know that they are not alone. And it will bring to light for many who are sheltered from this horrific reality what is being done in their name to so many people. Imagine how different this society would be if millions and millions more people knew the truth of mass incarceration, and we're acting on that truth! Those targeted by it would feel they had right on their side when they stood up and called it out, and many more people would join with them when they did. Join us in launching this historic project.

BEAR WITNESS!

Pick up a video, an iPhone or iPad, or a tape recorder. Bear Witness interviews can be done in the schools, outside prisons or jails (where families visit loved ones who are incarcerated), in neighborhoods of oppressed people, in the homes of people whose family members have been targeted by mass incarceration, and in many other spots and locations.

Upload your interviews at bearwitnessproject.tumbler.com/

-- a national website which will act as a visual and documentary archive of testimony from hundreds of people about mass incarceration.

MASS INCARCERATION + SILENCE = GENOCIDE!

BREAK THE SILENCE!


Bear Witness Project
www.bearwitnessproject.tumblr.com

c/o Stop Mass Incarceration Network
347-979-SMIN (7646)
stopmassincarceration@gmail.com
stopmassincarceration.org

DOWNLOAD FLYER:
Facebook: stopmassincerationnetwork
Twitter: @StopMassIncNet

In Southern Cal: 213-840-5348
stopmassincarcerationsocal@yahoo.com
In Northern Cal: 510-926-5207
StopMassIncarcerationBayArea@gmail.com
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Dear Friends,
 
We’ve had a tremendous earth-shaking year since the Stop Mass Incarceration Network launched its stop stop-and-frisk campaign in 2011.  Taking inspiration from the nonviolent civil disobedience tactics of the civil rights movement, hundreds of people led by Cornel West, Carl Dix and other community leaders, have marched to police precincts in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens to collectively stand up to the police.  In each case, brave new freedom fighters have been arrested for blocking the entrances to police stations.
 
In May of 2012, 19 of the new freedom fighters went to trial in Manhattan to put stop-and-frisk on trial for our first action at the 28th Precinct in Harlem. This trial was touted by the media as the first significant political protest trial since the Sixties.  In November we successfully defeated the attempts by the Queens County DA to escalate the charges against Carl Dix, Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt and Bob Parsons, for our action at the 103rd Precinct, the same jurisdiction where the unarmed Sean Bell was killed in 2005.  Seeking to impose a one year sentence for two counts of Obstruction of Government Administration, our lawyers and the defendants themselves successfully defeated the threat in a rollar coaster trial where we saw one of the sitting jurors -- a 67 year old white woman who criticized stop-and-frsk -- arrested, and along with another juror, kicked off the panel.  13 more freedom fighters are awaiting trial in Queens, and we have another set of trials coming up in the new year for the actions at the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville, Brooklyn, the site of the highest ratio of stop-and-frisk actions by the NYPD.

All these civil disobedience actions in 2011, and the subsequent trials have played a crucial role in changing the nature of both the understanding about the threat of stop-and-frisk and its relationship to mass incarceration, and how people are being given voice and more empowered to raise the level of the needed resistance.  As an Associated Press overview article pointed out, “... courtroom clashes over stop and frisk have amplified the debate.”   In fact, we need to take this conclusion further, the work of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network in its Stop Stop-and-Frisk campaign has transformed the discourse and taken it to a whole different level of understanding of the need for mass direction action.


On April 19, 2012, the Network initiated a National Day of Resistance to Stop Mass Incarceration, which saw coordinated actions and rallies in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and elsewhere.


On September 13, 2012, the Network initiated a Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk day, in which we raised the funds to distribute 5,000 whistles throughout the city of New York and its surrounding areas.  This caught the imagination of tens of thousands of youth and others where we still hear stories of people and communities blowing their whistles whenever they witness illegal actions by law enforcement.
We are circulating a Resolution calling the Manhattan, Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn district attorneys to drop charges against stop-and-frisk protesters, and for Noche Diaz, a young revolutionary and new freedom fighter, who is being targeted by the authorities for his principled and determined stand against police brutality and stop-and-frisk.

So, this all comes down to this:  We need your help. We are literally operating on a shoestring. Organizers are still paying for expenses out of their own pockets. If you want to give to a cause that will truly appreciate and value your contribution, this is it!
 
This is our first mass fundraising appeal beyond our usual pass-the-bucket appeal to cover operating expenses.  Immediate expenses include raising $10,000 to cover the cost of legal defense effort, which includes securing trial transcripts, and the cost of the attorneys themselves who are minimally compensated.  The cost of flyers, buttons, and the like are very heavy.  And the sales of the stop-and-frisk buttons can only cover costs so far.   We also need the ability to open and to operate a real office.
 
In addition to monetary support, we need volunteers to help with legal defense, in public relations and media consulting. We also need volunteers to aid in administrative tasks.  Most importantly, we need help
spreading the word in any way you can that stop-and-frisk has to end!

 
 
by James Vrettos

There are a series of relatively unpublicized trials presently going on this month in New York City that seem to represent attempts to settle civil disobedience efforts and nonviolent protests that challenged the New York Police Department’s increasingly unpopular stop-and-frisk policies and the way a whole generation of young people of color is being condemned to lives of criminalization, marginalization, brutality and the spirit-crushing, human-wasting confinement of the largest prison system in the world.

These trials involve Carl Dix who, along with Union Theological Seminary professor Cornel West, was the co-initiator of the “Stop Stop-and-Frisk” protests. He and several other activists in the movement are facing charges of disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration which could result in two to four-plus years of jail time for them.

Stop and frisk practices have been increasingly put on the defensive by academic research which has shown the racist nature of the policy—85 percent of those stopped and frisked are Black and Hispanic and police are significantly more likely to use force when they stop them than when they stop whites. Most academic scholars concerned with the issue have conclusively argued that the proportion of gun seizures to stops has fallen sharply and the policy   read more
 
 
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Protest March, 11/19/11
Last November 19, in the third mass civil disobedience protest at precincts with the most stop-and-frisks, we held a community rally and march through Jamaica Queens, ending at the 103rd Precinct.  This precinct is notorious for killing Sean Bell in 2006.  When the march arrived at the precinct, it was completely barricaded, on lock-down in anticipation of the protest.  20 people were arrested, quite quickly, but held late into the next day.

Queens Judge Gene Lopez has refused to try the 13 defendants together, and has allowed the D.A. to add a second charge of Obstruction of Governmental Administration.  Carl Dix, who initiated the campaign with Cornel West; Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt and Bob Parsons will be tried Monday on 2 counts of OGA, and one count of Disorderly Conduct for failure to disperse.  These are the most serious charges -- class "A" misdemeanors which carry a potential 12 months in jail -- that the protestors have faced in the campaign of civil disobedience to stop stop-and-frisk.  The advantage to these charges is a jury trial, and the potential to put stop-and-frisk on trial for them.
 

 
 
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A Letter from the Hosts, Alice and Morgan

Dear Stop Mass Incarceration Network,

We would like to share with you the good news from Hadley, Massachusetts this weekend. We, Alice & Morgan, had the joy, honor, and damn-fine time of hosting a delegation from the city as we all threw a rousing fundraiser to STOP stop & frisk.

Jamel, Amaris, DJ Macnificent and his partner Joyce & Debra made the long trek up, and one hour from arriving we were all welcoming upwards of 75 guests. Unable to predict the weather, friends of ours graciously let us light
up their barn, turning their their farm, Next Barn Over Farm,  into the best dance hall and community organizing center for miles around! A local artist Maurice Soulfighter Taylor opened the evening and energized the crowd with his spoken word. We held the whole talk that night on a stage built of vegetable bin pallets and store-room floor-mats, set below the bold, large banner that Jamel & Noche had painted with a bunch of kids in Union Square. Besides the free desserts table donated by friends and the clearly powerful talk Jamel gave, the most memorable moment that sticks in our minds is the dozens and dozens of people dancing by the end, to the tunes spun by Macnificent in the farm's vegetable wash room!! We had to open the bay doors that chilly fall night- all the fun was heating up that barn!

In closing, we would like to thank the whole team who came up from New York. The night was a solid success. People were moved and had fun. Financially we did well. And all in all we were just plain happy to share our home with you. We look forward to not having to collectively raise another $10,000 for legal aid, but when the time comes (and certainly this will likely be sooner rather than later!) let us throw another event together at the farm. Thank you and see you in a week.

- Alice & Morgan

P.S. For the event we put up a huge STOP 'stop & frisk' sign by the road at the farm. Our friends have been working there for three/four years. Cop cars always roll by but roll by is all they tend to do. Monday after the event - first work day the sign was up - one after another, cruisers start pulling cars over- stopping them right in front of the sign. In no way am I equating this to the NYPD but the similarity in reaction by power to accountability was striking.
 
 
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photo: Reginald T. Brown
October 2, 2012 -- Two dozen supporters rallied on Tuesday morning behind "Noche "Diaz, making a strong impression on the hundreds waiting on line to enter Bronx Criminal Court.  In court, a new judge adjourned the trial until Monday, December 3rd.

Diaz is facing years in jail for standing up for the rights of the people.  The NYPD targeted and arrested him 5 times since October and piled 11 charges on him in 4 boroughs.  Twice Noche was arrested as part of organized protests against stop-and-frisk at Brooklyn’s 73th Precinct and 103rd in Queens, ground zero for the NYPD’s unjust, unconstitutional, racist practice of harassing and searching people on the street.  He will go to trial with 18 other protesters this fall, when they all face charges of obstruction of government administration; i.e. standing in front of precincts and loudly protesting the NYPD’s abuse of peoples’ rights.

In three other arrests Noche was observing the police do what they do and had every right to do so. 

October 2011, Harlem: As a dramatic march ended at the 28th Precinct in Harlem with 35 people in front of the doors speaking and protesting stop-and-frisk, Noche was observing the protest with the People’s Neighborhood Patrol outside the police barricade. He was suddenly grabbed by police and thrown to the ground. He was held into the next day and charged with resisting arrest, and interfering with the arrest of an unnamed person who was never arrested.

March 2012, The Bronx: Noche was leaving his grandmother’s house, when he saw police in the street beating Jeffeth James viciously, to the point his dreadlocks were laying on the pavement.  Noche joined a crowd of bystanders who feared James would be beat to death.  He and several others were arrested for observing the police abuse.  Noche told the police he had the right to observe them, and got hauled to jail with James.

March 2012, Harlem: In the midst of a spontaneous protest by high school students during the height of the outrage over the Trayvon Martin murder, as they were pushed off the streets by NYPD. Revolution reported that Noche “had been talking to people about the Trayvon Martin statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party and their plans for a hoodie day. When Noche spoke up for the students when the police attacked them, he was thrown to the ground, handcuffed, and held for more than 24 hours. 

Cyrus Vance, the District Attorney in Manhattan has combined the 2 completely unrelated arrests in Harlem for trial on October 30, making clear this is a political prosecution where the state is showing prejudice.  The NYPD is targeting Noche, threatening him with jail to make him an example to others.  Let’s stand up for Noche, and against police abuse.

More photos

 
 

Parade Photo Gallery

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photo: Reginald T. Brown
Monday, September 3, 2012  The Stop Mass Incarceration Network distributed thousands of bright orange and yellow whistles to parade viewers and marchers heralding a new and more widespread wave of public protest of the NYPD police of stop-and-frisk beginning Thursday, September 13. 
Their message “No one will be stopped-and-frisked in silence,” was cheered. Thousands of photos were snapped of their banner “Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk Thursday Sept. 13.”

But one group did not like the contingent’s message, and blocked them from entering the parade, then encircled them with hundreds of armed officers.  The NYPD, despite the group’s authorization from the West Indian Day Parade Association to participate in the parade, refused the contingent admittance at several times and places along the route.  At one point, after they were directed to their place in the march, police pushed the contingent out of the march and onto a side street.

Carl Dix, an initiator of the campaign along with Cornel West, said, "The NYPD set out to keep our message--Blow the Whistle on Stop & Frisk--from getting out on Labor Day.  A ‘white shirt’ cop told us that he wrote the permits for who gets to march on Eastern Parkway in the West Indian Day Parade.  This is what a police state sounds like."


The Stop Mass Incarceration Network says, “If it sickens you to know that under Stop-and-Frisk, almost 2000 people, most of them Black or Latino are subjected everyday to harassment, disrespect, brutality and even worse; if you are tired of seeing Muslims and South Asians are targeted;  if you hate the way immigrants and LGBT people are treated as less than human by NYPD;  if you are someone who knows this will never happen to you but also know it's wrong; Join in BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK Thursday September 13. On September 13, nobody gets Stopped-and-Frisked in silence!”

The Network has announced gathering points where youth are regularly stopped and frisked in 5 boroughs on September 13, and also plans to symbolically “blow the whistle” on 1 Police Plaza at 4:00 pm that day.