Update on STOP "Stop & Frisk" Trials

December 16, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


December 3-5. The new freedom fighters in the struggle against stop-and-frisk were in court this week in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Eighteen still await trial next year in Brooklyn and Queens on charges stemming from November 2011 protests against NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy. Noche Diaz has two trials still coming up from three situations, including one in which he was thrown to the ground and arrested just for observing police abuse of others. Carl Dix and three others were acquitted by a jury last month of Obstructing Government Administration and convicted of a lesser charge, "disorderly conduct." But city prosecutors are not backing down on seeking convictions for these same charges for Diaz in Manhattan and nine remaining protesters in Queens.

Noche Diaz was arrested last March as the NYPD beat Jeffeth James, a poet and singer, so badly that 40 percent of his dreadlocks were left lying in the street. A large crowd gathered to jeer the police and document their abuse. Noche was part of the crowd. He and three others were arrested for stating their right to observe the police rather than be bullied out of the way by the NYPD. Their trial was set to start Monday, December 3, but was moved to January 28 because the prosecution was not ready. A report at stopmassincarceration.org says the Bronx judge "started lecturing Noche that when a cop tells him something, he has to do it. She went on at length speculating that, whatever Noche had done, he didn't want to obey the cop, or tell the court what he was doing. [Noche's attorney Josh Norkin] took her on in a loud clear voice. 'We know exactly what was going on. The police were beating a man terribly in the street, and a crowd gathered. Noche was in the crowd, observing.' The judge said Noche had to follow the police order to move. Josh said, 'No, he didn't. It wasn't a lawful order.'

"The judge didn't like this at all. 'I suppose he wants to stand on his constitutional rights, but he doesn't have them here.'"

On Wednesday, a Brooklyn judge granted a motion to dismiss a charge of disorderly conduct against Greg Allen. Allen had defended himself in a trial separated out from 12 fellow protesters. The prosecution had been ready to try nine of the others, but because of this welcome and just decision, defense attorneys moved to delay the trials until the defendants could review the judge's decision. Carl Dix wrote at stopmassincarceration.org:

"We held a pretrial huddle before going into the court room. I reminded people of why we were there—that we hadn't committed any crimes, or even violations. That we were acting to stop the criminal actions of the NYPD, in particular its illegitimate, racist stop-and-frisk policy. And that this rested on a long tradition—the freedom riders and others who put their lives on the line to fight the old Jim Crow or the abolitionists of the 1850's who fought pitch battles with slave chasers trying to drag Black people in the North to the South to enslave them. This is the tradition we Stop & Frisk Freedom Fighters are standing on the shoulders of when we say, 'We Won't Stop Till We Stop 'Stop & Frisk!'

"On that basis, we plotted some legal strategy and went into the court room. Before either of the group trials went forward, the judge gave his verdict in Greg's case. He granted Greg's motion to dismiss the charges because the prosecution hadn't proven that he was guilty of disorderly conduct.

"The remaining defendants all made motions calling on the judge to dismiss their cases because the facts in the cases were all the same, and if the state couldn't prove that one of us was guilty of disorderly conduct, they shouldn't be allowed to continue persecuting the rest of us.

"The judge wouldn't dismiss the other cases because he 'expects that the prosecution will appeal' the dismissal in Greg's case. And he postponed our cases till February 7and 14. (They're keeping us split into 2 groups.) to give the prosecution time to make its appeal of his dismissal, and maybe to figure out how to retool their cases against the rest of us."

Carl Dix and three others will appear for sentencing January 7 in Queens. The prosecution is asking for fines and five days of community service for the disorderly conduct charge. Their nine fellow protesters will move for dismissal for the charges the jury acquitted the other four on November 15, 2012. Seven more trials are on the calendar at stopmassincarceration.org.

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