Revolution #272, June 17, 2012
Drop the Prejudicial Prosecution of “Noche” Diaz
Put NYPD Stop-and-Frisk on Trial, Not Protesters
The political battle over the legitimacy of the New York Police Department’s policy of stop-and-frisk is intensifying. In May, a federal judge ruled that a suit against Police Commissioner Kelly, Mayor Bloomberg, and the NYPD had the legal basis to go forward as a class action suit. Unions and civil liberties groups will march on Father’s Day, silently, against racial profiling and to end stop-and-frisk. The New York Civil Liberties Union released a phone app that assists people in filming police during a stop-and-frisk, and alerts others in the area. While Bloomberg and Kelly are making surface changes to stop-and-frisk, they continue to strongly defend the essence of the policy: the illegitimate criminalization of the youth.
An important part of this battle will be over the court cases of 30 people arrested last fall for protesting stop-and-frisk—where people stepped up mass resistance to stop-and-frisk to demand that this policy be brought to a STOP. They plan to expose the egregious policy of stop-and-frisk and the NYPD in the courtroom. A campaign of mass non-violent civil disobedience to STOP “Stop & Frisk” was initiated by Carl Dix and Cornel West. It began on October 21 in Harlem, one of the three NYPD precincts where police stop and frisk at the highest rates. (“From Up Against the Wall to Up in Their Faces... A Movement Has Begun to STOP ‘Stop and Frisk,’” Revolution #249, November 5, 2011). The other protests took place in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on November 1 (“New Freedom Fighters in Brooklyn: 28 Arrested in STOP ‘Stop and Frisk’ Civil Disobedience,” Revolution #249) and Jamaica, Queens, on November 19 (“STOP ‘Stop and Frisk’ Hits Queens, NY,” Revolution #251, November 27, 2011). These protesters included people with direct experience with stop-and-frisk, ministers, professors, community activists, students, and Occupy Wall Street supporters. In the three protests, a total of 83 people were arrested. This made national news and served to sharply focus attention on stop-and-frisk.
It is an outrage that people are even being prosecuted for protesting a policy that itself should be on trial. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is calling for a mass defense to demand the charges be dropped. If the system persists in taking these cases to trial, the defendants intend to use this as an important front in the battle to expose stop-and-frisk and the whole system of mass incarceration that has 2.4 million people imprisoned and has condemned whole generations and people to a life of criminalization and oppression—to change the political situation from one where this is tolerated to one where the whole society not only condemns this but acts en masse to abolish it.
One of the defendants, “Noche” Diaz, a young revolutionary, has been arrested five times since October and has had 11 charges piled on him in four boroughs. Two of the arrests were part of the civil disobedience, but in the other three arrests, police targeted him, including when he witnessed police attacking a motorist in the Bronx. Noche is a member of the People’s Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem whose purpose is to prevent law enforcement from violating the people’s rights and brutalizing them under the color of authority. He is well known to the people... and to the police. Prosecutors are attempting to combine charges against him from arrests in October 2011 and March 2012 into one trial, likely prejudicing the outcome of these two and his other trials, putting him in danger of a jail sentence.
During the October 21 arrest, as a dramatic march ended at the 28th Precinct in Harlem with 35 people in front of the doors speaking and protesting stop-and-frisk, Noche was observing the protest with the People’s Neighborhood Patrol outside the police barricade, away from the action. Yet he was suddenly grabbed by police and thrown to the ground. He was held into the next day and charged with resisting arrest.
Noche was arrested again on March 27 in Harlem in the midst of a spontaneous protest by high school students during the height of the outrage over the Trayvon Martin murder, as they were pushed off the streets by NYPD. Revolution reported that Noche “had been talking to people about the Trayvon Martin statement from the RCP and their plans for a hoodie day. When Noche spoke up for the students when the police attacked them, he was thrown to the ground, handcuffed, and held for more than 24 hours. (“In the Face of Police Attack, High School Youth Demand Justice for Trayvon Martin,” Revolution #265, April 8, 2012) The District Attorney is trying to combine these completely unrelated cases for trial, making clear this is a political prosecution where the state is showing prejudice.
The NYPD is attempting to target Noche and threaten him with imprisonment to make him an example to others that you should be afraid to stand up. But the people need to defend the courageous revolutionary communists and members of the People’s Neighborhood Patrols who are leading the struggle to fight the power as part of transforming the people for revolution. This is an important part of a battle to change the situation where people feel hopeless about the possibility of changing all this and this misery continues, to one where people are standing up and lifting their heads—including the real possibility of a whole different world.
A defense committee is being formed to support all the STOP “Stop & Frisk” protesters, and to put special effort into keeping the state from locking Noche and other protesters away. You can get involved this summer, working on the defense committee by contacting the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.
Trial dates will be set soon in these cases. Prosecutors are seeking to add another charge against the Queens defendants, which the legal team will oppose. The state is taking these cases very seriously, with extra security for procedural hearings.
Stop Mass Incarceration Network
c/o P.O. Box 941, Knickerbocker Station
New York, NY 10002-0900
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