Manhattan D. A. Drops All Criminal Charges on Noche Diaz

April 23, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


April 23—The Manhattan District Attorney dropped all criminal charges against Noche Diaz, a young revolutionary and a member of the New York City Revolution Club, in two separate cases that the prosecutors had combined into one. Noche was facing serious misdemeanor charges stemming from arrests during a civil disobedience protest against stop-and-frisk at a Harlem police station in October 2011, and during a protest by high school students in Harlem against the racist vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin in March 2012. (See "From the NY Revolution Club: Defend Noche Diaz, Revolutionary Fighter for the People" for more on the political and legal persecution of Noche.)

Noche Diaz outside criminal court after criminal charges dropped, April 23, 2013

Noche Diaz and supporters outside Manhattan court after criminal charges dropped, April 23, 2013

In court this morning, the assistant D.A. approached Noche and his attorney, Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyers Guild, with a deal that involved no jail time or fine. A press release from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said: "Diaz, who could have received two years at Rikers [NYC's main jail complex] for four misdemeanors, pled guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation. Several supporters described the events as a victory, in that Diaz received no criminal record or jail time."

Noche still faces other charges in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, along with other defendants, stemming from situations similar to the Manhattan cases, where he was arrested while witnessing or protesting police violation of people's rights.

About 40 people gathered outside the Manhattan court building this morning to rally in support of Noche before the trial. A statement demanding "Hands Off Noche Diaz! Drop All the Charges Against This Young Revolutionary"—initiated by Reverend Luis Barrios, professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice*; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party; and James Vrettos, professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice*—had gathered over 1,700 signatures leading up to the Manhattan court date.

Supporters of Noche Diaz include: Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor/director; Rosa Clemente, NYC; Rev. Robert Coleman, the Riverside Church,* NYC; Randy Credico, impressionist and social comedian, NYC; Annette Warren Dickerson, Center for Constitutional Rights*; Walt Frazier, former NBA player; Jasiri X and M1, musicians; Arturo O'Farill, musician; Michael Letwin, former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys; Bill Perkins, NY State Senator; Rev. Stephen Phelps, the Riverside Church,* NYC; Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana of the Central Park 5; Mark Ruffalo, actor; Hector Soto, Hostos Community College*; Michael Tarif Warren, attorney, NYC; and Cornel West.

According to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, after the news of this morning's developments in court went out, Cornel West texted, "Give my love to brother Noche on the occasion of this victory."

In a statement made in a packed courtroom, Noche said: "October 21, 2011 and March 27, 2012 were not your average days in Harlem, where the NYPD carries out some part of its 1,900 daily stop-and-frisks, 85 percent to 90 percent of which are of Black or Latino people, over 90 percent of whom are doing nothing wrong and given no legal or legitimate reason for being stopped, and routinely put up against walls and searched, have their basic rights violated, and often worse.

"October 21 was a day where hundreds came together in Harlem in peaceful protest to demand an end to this NYPD policy, which was followed by waves of protest. Now we see the policy being challenged in a lawsuit that has further revealed the illegality and illegitimacy of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practice.

"On March 27, a number of high school students spoke up about what they know and feel, knowing through their experience with NYPD's stop-and-frisk (and including on that day where a 14-year-old student was thrown through a bank window for allegedly having his hands in his pockets) what it is to be viewed as a generation of suspects, and saw themselves when they looked at how Trayvon Martin was murdered by a vigilante who saw Trayvon as suspicious and probably up to no good, for nothing other than being a young Black man. I stood with the students as they chanted 'We are all Trayvon Martin' and 'We want Justice.'"

* For identification purposes


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