Archive for category protest and resistance
Saturday, we gathered at Ft. Meade for the largest support action for Bradley Manning during the three+ years of his imprisonment before trial. I saw MANY subscribers to the World Can’t Wait e-newsletter list, donors to the recent New York Times “Close Guantanamo” ad, activists from years of opposition to U.S. wars, and younger people who have come forward mainly because they are inspired by the integrity and honesty of Bradley Manning.
Bradley, at the center of the most important political trial of this century, is an extraordinary person, motivated (as we now know), by the wish to get people living in this country to see what the government is doing. The high stakes here described by Revolution Newspaper are:
“This system is out to inflict extreme punishment on Bradley Manning—to jail him for a long time, perhaps life, and to use this cruel punishment of a brave person as an example to anyone else who would dare expose the crimes of empire. The courage and resilience with which Manning has withstood years of solitary confinement and almost a year of torture are a testament to his strength.”
Emma Kaplan, in Free Bradley Manning: The World is Not the Enemy quotes Bradley in explaining how much he learned:
“I also recall that in early 2009 the then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our, quote unquote, “moral authority.” After familiarizing myself with the DABs, I agreed….
“The more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low-level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would’ve been released if they were held in theatre.”
Attorney Michael Ratner, this morning on Democracy Now!, explained the breadth of the Espionage statute, where the government does not have to prove either intent to aid the enemy, or actual aiding of the enemy, to convict Bradley of six espionage charges (which carry the death penalty, although the government says it is “only” seeking life in prison for Bradley). Chillingly, the government, in its opening statement yesterday, referred frequently to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, likely targets of prosecution. Assange wrote Monday on the “Kafkaesque” nature of the trial:
“It is fair to call what is happening to Bradley Manning a “show trial.” Those invested in what is called the “US military justice system” feel obliged to defend what is going on, but the rest of us are free to describe this travesty for what it is. No serious commentator has any confidence in a benign outcome. The pretrial hearings have comprehensively eliminated any meaningful uncertainty, inflicting pre-emptive bans on every defense argument that had any chance of success.
“Bradley Manning may not give evidence as to his stated intent (exposing war crimes and their context), nor may he present any witness or document that shows that no harm resulted from his actions. Imagine you were put on trial for murder. In Bradley Manning’s court, you would be banned from showing that it was a matter of self-defence, because any argument or evidence as to intent is banned. You would not be able to show that the ’victim’ is, in fact, still alive, because that would be evidence as to the lack of harm.”
The New York Times, finally reporting on the trial, related part of the opening arguments from Bradley’s attorney, David Coombs, explaining how Bradley was motivated to leak evidence of U.S. war crimes:
“Mr. Coombs said Private Manning started sending files to WikiLeaks later, in January 2010, after a roadside bombing in Iraq on Dec. 24, 2009. Everyone in his unit celebrated, Mr. Coombs said, after learning that no American troops had been seriously hurt, and their happiness did not abate — except for Private Manning’s — when they learned that members of an innocent Iraqi family had been injured and killed. From that moment, Mr. Coombs contended, things started to change and he soon “started selecting information he believed the public should see, should hear” and sending them to WikiLeaks.”
Many people have ordered Collateral Murder from us.
YOU MUST have this DVD and show it to others. Get it now.
Another Queens jury didn’t accept the District Attorney’s argument that protesters committed any crime back in November of 2011 when we marched on the 103rd NYPD Precinct, second in Queens in stop-and-frisks. To two counts of Obstructing Government Administration, they said, NOT guilty. But they could not get past the idea that the police ordered people to move — even if it was not a lawful order — and convicted Greg, Noche, Ribka and Matt of disorderly conduct, a violation. They will be sentenced on July 18.
Any time the prosecutors slink out of a courtroom, it’s cause for celebration, and we are glad there were no criminals convictions. Attorney Marty Stolar, part of the legal team who defended the freedom figthers, said tonight, “I am satisfied with the verdict but also disappointed. I wanted the whole thing.” There was no lawful order for protesters to be dispersed, and they should not have been convicted.
A most interesting scene developed outside the criminal courts building afterward. Although one alternate juror declined to speak to us, and another juror said “no comment” as to her thoughts on stop-and-frisk after two weeks of hearing about it, 4 jurors and one alternate hung out for quite awhile with defendants, attorneys, and supporters. There were hand-shakes and hugs. They said, as jurors in the last case said, that they were most concerned that our defendants not get any jail time. “You all are great people!” They wanted to finally meet the defendants, and attorneys, and learn more background.
An older African American man was most outspoken and warmly hugged defendants. We asked if his opinion of stop-and-frisk had changed, and he said yes. “I still think it could do some good. But it’s so unfair how only certain groups of people are stopped.” Another juror said the defendants, and our attorneys, were “really interesting, honest people, but we didn’t like the police or the District Attorney’s attitude.” She said the contempt for the defendants showed by the D.A’s alienated the jury, a fact they talked about in deliberations.
The jurors asked to know more about our movement, and got flyers about the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. All said that the experience of the trial had given them a lot to think about in terms of how the courts and police work. A very basic question they asked: why did they system spend two weeks trying people for something that was completely non-violent and lawful, when there are real crimes being committed?
There are still five defendants to be tried on these same charges: Elaine Brower, Calvin Barnwell, John Hector, Richie Marini, to be tried Tuesday July 8, and Christina Gonzalez, whose case has been severed and is not yet scheduled for trial. We have no expectation that the DA will drop the OGA charges.
There is MUCH more to learn from the scene in Queens. The controversy over stop-and-frisk in the city, particularly the Floyd v City of New York lawsuit in federal court, and the way in which the NYPD’s policy has become an issue in the mayoral race — because it’s now more widely seen as a big problem — affected this trial. More importantly, it shows how potentially widespread opposition to it could be, and what a responsibility we have to carry forward resistance to this practice, and to mass incarceration, so that even more people see that there is no good reason for the authorities to get away with locking up so many people.
I’ll be speaking at the rally for Bradley this Saturday June 1, two days before his trial begins. Join me at Ft. Meade, or find a solidarity rally near you.
On Wide Lens
Host Jolie Diane interviews Debra Sweet of World Can’t Wait and Jeff Patterson of Courage to Resist about the actions and detention of Bradley Manning.
While promoting the message to Close Guantanamo that we are raising funds to publish in The New York Times, we have been hearing, especially in the Twitterverse, that people think, because Obama promised to close Guantanamo, and says that Congress is not allowing him to do that, the main problem is with Congress.
It is quite true that the U.S. Congress, both when the Republicans led it under Bush, and since the Democrats took over leadership in 2006, has a shameful record in advancing all sorts of repression. Memorably, they’ve made speeches and passed resolutions — and tried to pass laws — saying Guantanamo, specificially, can’t be closed, nor can the prisoners ever by tried here or released in the U.S.
So appealing to the right-wing Congress is going to continue to be a very hopeless road, absent the kind of mass political movement from the people needed, on all issues of justice, from authorizing un-ending wars, targeted killing, violation of borders for other countries, while further militarizing this country’s borders and infrastructure.
Obama, however, as people rightly point out, has promised to close Guantanamo. For his own reasons, whatever they may be, he repeats what most of the world thinks, that the continued existence of the illegal prison in Guantanamo, set up to avoid U.S. law by the Bush regime, doesn’t serve the U.S. public image as the land of freedom and democracy.
Obama repeated, in remarks at a press conference last month, that it is Congress who refuses to let him release prisoners who have been cleared for release. 86 prisoners were cleared, some back to 2006, by the Bush administration, and then again by a task force of Obama’s own creation in 2009, after what he’s called a very “thorough review.”
There are 3 main reasons the ball is in Obama’s court on Guantanamo:
1. Obama put in place the ban on transferring the 56 Yemeni prisoners, out of the 86 who have been cleared for release. Says Andy Worthington in Eloquent But Unconvincing: President Obama’s Response to the Guantánamo Hunger Strike
it was the President “who issued a ban on the release of Yemenis from Guantánamo after a failed bomb plot on a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009, undertaken by a Nigerian man who was recruited in Yemen.”
Not Congress, though they’ve done many other reactionary things. It was also Obama who in January 2013 closed the office in the Executive Branch run by Donald Fried, which was tasked with resettling the prisoners.
2. It’s the Obama administration which has made life for prisoners worse at Guantanamo after some improvements at the end of the Bush administration. Glenn Greenwald wrote in July 2012,
“Last week, the Obama administration imposed new arbitrary rules for Guantanamo detainees who have lost their first habeas corpus challenge. Those new rules eliminate the right of lawyers to visit their clients at the detention facility; the old rules establishing that right were in place since 2004, and were bolstered by the Supreme Court’s 2008 Boumediene ruling that detainees were entitled to a “meaningful” opportunity to contest the legality of their detention. The DOJ recently informed a lawyer for a Yemeni detainee, Yasein Khasem Mohammad Esmail, that he would be barred from visiting his client unless he agreed to a new regime of restrictive rules, including acknowledging that such visits are within the sole discretion of the camp’s military commander.”
Obama’s credentials as a protector of the prisoners are non-existent, making his claims to fear for their deaths hollow. Yet, he should be held to follow through on his promise. You can read more on that in the text of our message.
3. Obama can use the clause written into the National Defense Authorization Act allowing the executive to release prisoners.
Senator Levin wrote to Obama on May 9, reminding him, “I successfully fought for a national security waiver that provides a clear route for the transfer of detainees to third countries in appropriate cases, i.e., to make sure the certification requirements do not constitute an effective prohibition.”
President Obama seems quite ready to use executive authority when it comes to targeted kill lists. He doesn’t wait for Congress, or even acknowledge Congressional authority in matters of war and national boundaries for drone war or special operations. So why is he allowed to hide behind “Congress won’t let me” now?
I would urge people who take Barack Obama at his word that he wants to close Guantanamo, to investigate more deeply what Obama’s policies have amounted to by reading Greenwald’s piece from 2012: The Obama GTMO Myth.
“Every time the issue of ongoing injustices at Guantanamo is raised, one hears the same apologia from the President’s defenders: the President wanted and tried to end all of this, but Congress — including even liberals such as Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders — overwhelming voted to deny him the funds to close Guantanamo. While those claims, standing alone, are true, they omit crucial facts and thus paint a wildly misleading picture about what Obama actually did and did not seek to do.”
Andy Worthington writes in the wake of Obama’s latest statements,
“The best that can be said of President Obama’s performance on Tuesday is that the words he uttered can be used to hammer home to him the ongoing injustice of the prison, if he tries, as he has before, to lose interest in it. Mostly, though, what is needed is action — action to persuade Congress to drop its restriction on the release of prisoners, and action and honesty by President Obama himself: on his Yemeni ban, on the need to appoint someone to deal with the closure of Guantanamo on a full-time basis, and, if necessary, on releasing prisoners through the waiver in the NDAA.
He also, as an urgent matter, needs to initiate review boards for 46 other prisoners who he consigned to indefinite detention without charge or trial in an executive order in March 2011, on the basis that they are regarded as too dangerous to release, even though insufficient evidence exists to put them on trial. That is, and was an unacceptable decision to take, but the only proviso that tempered it ever so slightly was the President’s promise to initiate periodic reviews of the men’s cases, which, over two years later, have not taken place.
Political speeches and posturing are one thing. Reality is another. Greenwald reminded us after Adnan Latif died in Guantanamo earlier this year, “more detainees have died at the camp (nine) than have been convicted of wrongdoing by its military commissions (six).”
Obama needs to release the cleared prisoners, whatever work that takes; charge or release those being held indefinitely without charges, and close the prison. You can donate to help publish the ad. And sign it, along with the above writers, and myself.
The April month of protest against US drone warfare and surveillance ended very strongly in Syracuse Sunday with a protest of hundreds of us at Hancock Air Force Base, where drones — unmanned aerial vehicles — are piloted over Pakistan, Afghanistan, and perhaps Yemen, Somalia and other countries. Picture the starkness of the political clash:
- On the empire’s side, the richest, strongest, most dangerously armed military in world history. A worldwide network of perhaps 1,100 bases and hundreds of thousands of troops with the most sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, extending from space; networks of surveillance, secret operations, indefinite detention, with political cover of compliant politicians justifying more and more. At Hancock, this power was expressed through police forces arrayed around us, photographing from every angle, threatening arrest and prison terms for stepping over an arbitrary line on the street.
- On the side of humanity, in opposition to the war OF terror, a few hundred people, many with white hair, deploying the means of song, speech, costumes, music, symbolism, and appealing for justice, at pains to recycle and not harm the grass. The protesters carried the names and photographs of people actually killed by the drones, reading their names aloud, and symbolically dying on the street. Their weapons, the truth that the war on terror is illegitimately destroying whole countries and people.
The serious and dignified march of people wearing black, carrying mock coffins representing the countries attacked by the U.S. was staged to dramatize the gap between what the U.S. promises — “democracy” — and what it delivers: domination and destruction. As a press release from the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and Stop the Wars said:
People who participated in the demonstration, including some who were arrested, came from all over the country to raise an outcry against the proliferation of drone strikes abroad, including countries with whom the US is not at war. Drone use violates the US Constitution, Article 6, and International Law, which the U.S. has signed on to. Demonstrators also object to the militarization of the police and the growing domestic use of drones.
For crossing the arbitrary police line in the street by the base, 31 people were arrested and charged mostly with Obstructing Government Administration, a Class A misdemeanor often used against protesters, which carries 12 months in jail, and with Disorderly Conduct, another catch-all anti-protest charge. Almost all were given bail, up to $3500, and forced to sign “order of protection” which disallows them from returning to the base. Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, shared the content of the order that protesters:
“refrain from assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim or victims of, or designated witnesses to, the alleged offense and such members of the family or household of such victim(s) or witness(es) as shall be specifically named Greg Semmel.”
Greg Semmel is commander of Hancock AFB.
AS IF the Air Force needs the same type of protection from peaceful political protest that a battered woman needs from her abuser(!)
What does the US military and the government fear from political protest at the gates of the base, such that people engaged in non-violent speech and actions would be banned from being on the street near it? Likely, they fear that thousands will come with the same message. But nothing they do can make the US war on terror, with its drones and concentration camps, legitimate, just, or moral.
One way to support the protest is to contribute to the bail fund from wherever you are:
The thirty-one arrestees were arraigned in De Witt Town Court before Judges Benack, Gideon, and Jokl, who imposed bails ranging from $500 – $3500, totaling $34,000. Some of the defendants were released with appearance tickets Others are refusing to post bail and will be held in jail until the next court date of May 7th & 8th. Donations may be sent to the Syracuse Peace Council, with checks made out to Syracuse Peace Council, note: Upstate Drone Action Bail Fund. 2013 E. Genessee St., Syracuse, NY 13210.
Six anti-war activists and leaders, aged 30 through 75 were sentenced on March 19 to eight hours “community service,” and $125 court costs for a disorderly conduct conviction arising from a protest 300 people made December 1, 2009, when Obama announced, inside the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a huge expansion of US troops to Afghanistan.
Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Tarak Kauff, Alison Beth Levy, and Richie Marini agreed to serve the time, washing Highland Falls, NY, ambulances and police cars, and pay the fee. Beverly Rice asked that she be able to send funds instead to the National Lawyers Guild, and when that was denied, she took jail time, on the basis of conscience. Her sentence was ten days at the Orange County jail, where she was taken immediately. The sheriff says Bev, 75, will be released early.
The case had gone on for more than 3 years. After one of two disorderly conduct convictions was overturned on a pro se appeal, a new judge delayed sentencing because court records were “lost” in Hurricane Irene. He then forced the defendants to appear two more times with an attorney before sentencing. The courtroom in Highland Falls was packed with mostly young people charged with traffic and other violations, at least one in an Army uniform. Everyone listened quietly as most of the defendants made pre-sentence statements to the judge.
Elaine Brower said she had been outside the gate at West Point to “petition my government” to stop the war. “My son did ten years in the Marine Corps, two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He has done horrible things” as part of the U.S. war on those countries. She said “I am seeing that injustice in the eyes of my son who is emotionally wounded.”
Elaine went on to say that “we have no recourse” to get the government’s attention except our legally permitted right to assemble. “They keep sending young men and women to kill. We protested at West Point when Bush was president, and we had to be there when Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan. And we’ll be here when the next president invades a sovereign nation. Humanity and the planet come first. Crimes are crimes, no matter who does them.”
Richie Marini’s statement included:
The United States has an incredibly violent history as we stand here today on land acquired through Genocidal means and can claim title to the only country to ever use an atomic weapon of mass destruction against another. The United States government continues down this trajectory of violence today with it’s use of torture, extraordinary rendition and drones that murder innocent civilians every day. It commits these violent acts to sustain itself by creating new markets, obtaining resources and enslaving people into it’s system in order to prevent itself from collapsing at the expense of innocent lives abroad…
Despite the penalties imposed upon me here today I will continue to work effortlessly to organize the citizens of Highland Falls and elsewhere to put stop the crimes of this government. As an Humanitarian, this is the greatest service that I can do for the citizens of Highland Falls, the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere… Read more
Bev Rice said she would not apologize for the protest:
A total of 2177 American soldiers have been killed during the eleven years we have been fighting in Afghanistan.
1230 have been killed since we were arrested three years ago? How many more have been wounded? How many more have been sent home suffering emotional and mental illnesses? Consider, 22 veterans commit suicide each day! Consider also the sorrowful loss for the family and friends of our dead and wounded soldiers. I consider these each and every day.
I am proud to have been involved in the protest, and to have participated in the defense of the West Point Six. We need more people willing to speak the truth, and put themselves on the line to stop the crimes of our government.
If you read only a bit of this post, make it the following paragraph, and then buy your ticket here. Revolution newspaper asks and answers:
“Why go to this film premiere? Simply: It’s by far the most important thing people could be doing that day–it’s dealing with the most important thing there could be–because it’s about the real possibility of bringing into being a radically different world, where all this madness, all the oppression and injustice, all the abuse and degradation that is so much a part of life now, would be done away with. If anybody can think of anything more important than that–let’s hear it!”
My personal invite to you is based on what’s possible, and necessary, and what’s true.
Often, people ask me why I haven’t quit trying, in discouragement, to change the world, or even to just stop the crimes of the US government through a mass movement of people, as supporters of World Can’t Wait are working on. The challenges are obvious, and I am aware of how rare – much too rare — it is to refuse to give in.
Part of the answer to why I’ll never give up is that I’m continually outraged, and don’t accept this as the “best” of all possible ways the world could be. I came of age in the 60′s, amongst the struggles of Black people, women, people around the globe struggling for justice and liberation, which set the stage for being a rebel.
More significantly, I saw the possibility of a much better society because the largest country in the world then was socialist – The Peoples’ Republic of China. The most vibrant, scientific, inspiring propagators of revolution internationally were the revolutionary communists who came out of that worldwide movement. At the center of that ferment was Bob Avakian, BA, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Cornel West introduced BA in a recent interview as “one of the few coming out of the 60′s who never sold out, he never caved in, he never gave up, held on to his forging of a rigorous, scientific analysis of the objective realities that are driven by a revolutionary love – because he has such a deep love for poor people, oppressed people, all around the world.”
I heard him speak late last year. BA made an extremely deep-going call to get with the movement for revolution, calling out the crimes of the imperialist system, envisioning how society could be, outlining the strategy to work through the huge challenges in how to get there. He said something that has stuck with me, and I’m paraphrasing here, that if you see all those horrors, and you know it doesn’t have to be that way, why would you not want to be working and struggling to end this? He talked about the need to confront reality, looking at the horrors this system creates, continually, and then applying science to transform the contradictions to create a whole different world. That resonates with me. You can get more, right now, from BA by listening to an interview with Michael Slate on KPFK, where he went into these points.
Avakian and the RCP are leading a movement for real revolution, with a Constitution for the Socialist Republic in North America, (draft proposal), which aims to bring about a:
socialist state which would embody, institutionalize and promote radically different relations and values among people; a socialist state whose final and fundamental aim would be to achieve, together with the revolutionary struggle throughout the world, the emancipation of humanity as a whole and the opening of a whole new epoch in human history–communism–with the final abolition of all exploitative and oppressive relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relations give rise.
Hearing BA in BA Speaks: REVOLUTION-NOTHING LESS! in a theater with hundreds of others on the road to discover what can be done to end this madness and bring about the emancipation of all humanity is something I invite you to join me in doing. What could be more important?
This trailer is playing at the Magic Johnson Theater in Harlem, where the film will premiere Saturday:
The film is simultaneously premiering in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in addition to Harlem. Details and tickets here.
A NATO helicopter killed two children herding cattle. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Toor Jan, 11 years old, and Andul Wodood, 12, had been walking behind their donkeys in Oruzgan Province when the helicopter fired on them, Afghan officials said. The two donkeys were also killed.
General Dunford said that coalition forces thought they were firing on insurgent forces, and killed the boys by accident.
More “collateral murder,” not mediated by a NATO apology.
The response of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, reported by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, was to say “we are those 2 Children,” and to find donkeys, make signs, and take to the public square to protest the killings.
If children can make this protest under conditions of war and great deprivation, what does that challenge us to do?
After the prosecution rests today, defense will move to have the charges dismissed. As we said Monday, after the prosecution’s main witness, the 103rd precinct commander testified, it’s clear they have no evidence that anything at the 103rd was actually disrupted by our protest. See the trial blog report.
It remains an outrage that this trial is even happening. But the defendants and attorneys are determined to put stop-and-frisk on trial.
The cross examination of the Commander was enjoyable and memorable. Many thanks to Marty Stolar, Tom Hilgardner and Meg Maurus for skillful and passionate work preparing for it.
Highlights today: We hope the defense begins, and expect to hear witnesses who participated in the November 19, 2011 protest in Jamaica Queens.
AND we’ll be outside the court 1:00 pm talking to the press, then delivering 1200 messages to the D.A. to drop the charges. We hope you can come out (E/F train to Union Turnpike/Kew Gardens). The trial may continue into next week, after the Monday Veteran’s Day holiday. Court will end at 1:00 pm Friday because of a juror request — and by Thursday we’ll have a sense of how fast it will go.
Even if you can’t come out, you can support in key ways:
- We need $300 for a rush transcript of Monday’s testimony. Donate online, or send a check.
- Facebook & Tweet posts on our Trial Blog, and forward this message. There are still 6-7 trials, with 19 defendants in four boroughs, arising from the wave of mass civil disobedience we began last fall.
- The October 30 benefit, postponed because of the storm, will likely be rescheduled for Thursday December 6. YOU are needed on the promotion team, or to collect food/drink donations, clean up, work the door, etc. Contact email@example.com to volunteer.
FRIDAY: For all of you uptowners- we have a special request for support.
9:30 Friday November 9. Bronx Criminal Court 265 E. 161st Street.
Court Support for Jeffeth James
Bronx Criminal Court
James was viciously beaten by NYPD, yet is facing charges. This is the incident where Noche Diaz and 2 others were arrested observing the NYPD. See News12 coverage.
Join Noche Friday morning if you can, in providing support to Jeffeth and his family.
Most of the action Thursday September 13, in the new campaign to Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk was in the areas most heavily targeted by NYPD. Organizers were in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, Jamaica Queens, and Staten Island. By the end of the day, 20,000 whistles had been distributed.
People wanted a place to gather and blow the whistle downtown, so we obliged. First, at 1 Police Plaza, NYPD headquarters, where the decision was made to begin the policy of stop-and-frisk, and from where it’s constantly defended. A few of us showed up with whistles, buttons, and signs saying “We are BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK. No more STOPS and ILLEGAL SEARCHES in SILENCE. Join us. Stopmassincarceration.org”
There is a permanent “pen” of metal barricades in front of 1 Police Plaza. After we told police we weren’t going into the pen, and we weren’t even having a protest there, they brought out more officers and extended the pen. But our focus wasn’t on them. We were intent on getting whistles to people who responded to the call to “blow the whistle on stop-and-frisk.”
We did not know that many civilian employees of the NYPD would agree with us that stop-and-frisk should be ended. One of them signed up with us; others said they would lose their job if they spoke out. Journalists from Mexico and China interviewed us. We got so into getting whistles out to people walking by — including lots of mothers who wanted them for their kids who are targeted by NYPD — that we were almost late to Union Square, where people were waiting for us.
About 75 people gathered up to participate in a mic check to blow the whistle. I was glad to see supporters of World Can’t Wait answer the call to come out. Reginald, one of the organizers, told the crowd that he’s 60 years old, has masters’ degrees and has traveled the world. He got stopped in Brooklyn near his home. The cops said, “let us see your drugs. You take drugs, don’t you?” Reginald told them that he takes the drugs his doctor prescribes. They let him go, but he doesn’t want to see others have to go through that. Several Wall Street Occupiers talked about their experiences, and the role of the police across the city, including the murders of Ramarley Graham and Reynaldo Cuevas by NYPD.
We blew the whistle a lot! Especially at 6:00 pm, you could hear the whistles as you came up the subway steps. People came to check out the scene, and some of us did a group photo.
The deal with “blow the whistle” is to make some noise, wherever you are, when you see someone being stopped and frisked or rights being abused by the NYPD. We are out to change the situation where people are stopped and feel alone or humiliated by the police. When you see something, blow your whistle. Others will hear you. Ask them to get out their phones or cameras.
Remember, you have the right to observe and document police conduct. They don’t have the right to abuse anyone, and you don’t have to quiet when you see them doing so. More information at stopmassincarceration.org.