Revolution #281, September 23, 2012
Coming Together to STOP “Stop & Frisk”:
A Story from One Neighborhood
We received this correspondence shortly before September 13:
This neighborhood has one of the highest rates of stop-and-frisk in this city. It’s a mostly African-American community with a huge concentration of housing projects and many, many people living in shelters, on food stamps, with no jobs, with impending evictions, and constant police terror as well as a lot of antagonism among people because of the situation this system puts them in. Recently when we were out there, two young mothers were telling us how there is what they call “sweep days” where for the same two days every week the cops will come through with even more intensity and stop anyone, and you’re much more likely to get arrested during that time.
Last year when the movement to “STOP Stop & Frisk,” initiated by Cornel West and Carl Dix, had just begun, a group of people—Black and white, young and old, including several Occupy Wall Street protesters—marched through this area to the precinct where many of them participated in non-violent civil disobedience to stand against this racist and illegitimate policy and were arrested. I remember the faces of these freedom fighters as they were put in the police van—right now their trials are still going for bullshit charges. These freedom fighters held their heads high as the handcuffs were placed on them because they stood up, they knew they were right, and they were determined to win. These charges are bullshit because stop-and-frisk should be put on trial, not those righteously fighting to stop it.
One of those arrested was the revolutionary “Noche” Diaz, a hero who has repeatedly stood up against what the police do to people. He is facing serious jail time because this system is trying to make an example of him to send a message to youth that they better not even think about trying to oppose what this society brings down on them. But not only are we not gonna let that go down, by rallying more and more people to demand these charges be dropped, we are saying he is an example of exactly what this generation needs—youth that are coming together to stand up and becoming revolutionaries, getting down with Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Then this summer, the BAsics Bus Tour was on the scene in this neighborhood. When the bus was there groupings of young people, especially the young women who were eager to talk about big ideas and do something meaningful, gathered around to get whistles and “STOP Stop & Frisk” buttons, as well as a number of people getting BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, the handbook for a new generation of revolutionaries, and buttons with an artistic rendering of an image of this revolutionary leader. These youth marched through their neighborhood with the revolutionaries, uplifting the sights and the souls of many who encountered them.
The Revolution Club has been out distributing hundreds and hundreds of whistles to people, many of them through people in the community taking stacks of fliers and bags of 70 or 100 whistles and taking responsibility to spread the word. We talked with a group of six young brothers, all boys, maybe 8 to 11 years old the other day. First they wanted the whistles just for fun. I told them what stop-and-frisk is and then said, “Raise your hand if you know someone who has been stopped and frisked”—all but two raised their hands. Then I said, “Raise your hand if you know somebody who is locked up,” and they all raised their hands. Having grown up in an all-white suburb, I wouldn’t have even known what the term “locked up” meant when I was their age. I explained to them that if you went to a white neighborhood, probably nobody would raise their hand and that’s because this society is racist. They all got quiet, then one of them who was sort of the leader piped up and said he’d get the whistles out to more people and tell them what it’s for.
One night when we were out, a couple of people were enjoying themselves on the stoop for a sunny late summer evening and got to talking with us and told this story:
“If you really want to know just come out here when the sun goes down and you will see it all, you will see it all… One of the boys ran around the corner—they were talking, they was, ya know, playing with each other. He threw the wrapper in the garbage and the cop said, ‘Oh you threw some drugs in the garbage.’ For no reason the cops came and harassed them, and put their handcuffs on them for NO REASON, no apparent reason. And when they was trying to explain to them that it was just a candy wrapper, ‘Go in the garbage and see, check the garbage,’ there’s no drugs. And I came downstairs and I saw the whole thing, and, ‘I see you all harassing these kids for no reason.’… And then when the boy started telling them the frisk rights, that’s when they took the handcuffs off the boy, and they had nothin’ on him, they checked the pockets, checked everything—NOTHIN’… they had to take the handcuffs off of him when they realized that the kids started telling them THEIR RIGHTS. They took the handcuffs off then, the stop-and-frisk ended. And because of YOU GUYS, like a couple of days before that, they stood over there and listened to your whole lecture over there at the park—they got the buttons and the fliers and everything—and they started exercising their rights! And they learned it and four days later, it was tested on them, and it was proven that these cops was harassing them for no apparent reason and I witnessed that myself. They took the handcuffs off him and told him, ‘Go.’”
She as well as one of the young guys that experienced this, later told us that they had said to the officers, “This is stop-and-frisk,” and that people started chanting in the group and down the block, calling this out. She also said to us several times about the kids who did this, “They came together, for the first time”—this was very important to her.
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