[originally posted September 6, 2011 via Put On BLAST! ®]
This email blast was scheduled days ago, simply to remind my POB! subscribers about the upcoming court date for the Monumental 5 [www.monumental5.bucktownusa.com]. But the New York Police Department (NYPD) is at it again and I need to fold in the latest news from Brooklyn.
Yesterday (September 5, 2011) at the annual Caribbean Day Parade, NYPD showed again just how much it lusts for Black and Brown men. NYPD has a ferocious appetite for arresting, detaining, and often times brutalizing men of color. They have made it clear that your class status, your education level, whether or not you’re employed, what kind of people you socialize with, where you’re from…none of that will protect you from their unprovoked attacks. In fact, as in the case of these two Black men: Jumanne Williams and Kristen John Foy , you can even be an elected official (Williams) and a public servant like Foy (who is the Director of Community Relations for NYC Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio) and you will still be targeted as a threat by NYPD. Only White men, it appears, escape the loathing of NYPD.
NYC Councilmember Williams and Mr. Foy were arrested yesterday at the parade as they tried to exit. They showed their city credentials to NYPD officers who were trying to block their path, credentials that are issued as proof of the position and stature they hold in the city they serve. None of that mattered. At least one of them was thrown to the ground and both were arrested and detained. The New York Times article includes video.
SIDE NOTE: Most media reports that I saw or read indicated that the men were “briefly detained.” Perhaps that’s the language given by NYPD, a poor attempt to clean up this ugly situation. It’s not working. It’s tantamount to saying the men were arrested a little.
So it’s timely – as I remind POB! subscribers of the Monumental 5 court date [scroll down for details] – that I also reference the Williams/Foy incident as another case of police misconduct against Black men. It will serve as a teachable moment for some, for those who believe that NYPD only arrests people who “must have been doing something wrong.” That is not the truth.
I’m told that Williams is holding a press conference this morning to make a statement about the arrests. Bill DeBlasio (who has shown consistent, pro-active support of the community work that activist, writer Kevin Powell and I have done over the years) is calling for an investigation. All of that, and more, is needed in order for people of color to enjoy the peaceful, safe environment that we deserve, and that we pay for with our tax dollars. There is no way for New York to be safe if only White people are the only group of people that NYPD respects. The police department must be held accountable for their misconduct, for the brutal and deadly force, and for the assumption they have that Black and Brown men are inherently dangerous.
To the beholden: I’m not lost on the fact that White people get arrested in NY and that some Black and Brown men are indeed dangerous, so save those counter-arguments. I’m addressing the fact that our communities are disproportionally under siege in New York City and it has everything to do with race. Consider these facts that community organizer Lumumba Bandele shared during our work for the Monumental 5:
“According to the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union]: In 2010 alone, NYPD officers made over half a million stops, 85 percent of which targeted people of color. The reason given by NYPD for what are called “stop-and-frisk” activities were guns. In all of these cases, however, less than 0.2 percent of “stop-and-frisk” resulted in guns being found. According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund: Blacks and Latinos represent over 90% of all citywide trespass arrests on NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] property although we make up only 54% of the New York City population.”
Read the full statement HERE
During a recent community gathering for the Monumental 5, I addressed a common question you may have asked yourself: “Why do the police terrorize our communities?” The sober answer is “Because they can.” But it doesn’t have to be this way. Organizations such as the People’s Justice Coalition and their Cop Watch program give us concrete examples of what we can do, legally, to let NYPD know that they will not always get away with misconduct and brutal behavior. I strongly encourage you to watch the video below from that event (see part 2 featuring Linda Tigani of Cop Watch, below). It gives insights into how we can create a “culture of observation” against the NYPD. Learn more about that coalition and the organizations that are a part of it at www.PeoplesJustice.org
The only thing we know for sure in this life is that we will one day die. In the meantime, I hope we live in peace. We have a right to and must fight for the peaceful living we deserve.
Get in where you fit in!
April R. Silver
Social Entrepreneur, Activist, Writer/Editor
Founder and President, AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc. (est. 1993)
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