Revolution #280, September 16, 2012

“Noche” Diaz: Facing Prison for Standing Up for the Youth

The following is from a statement given by “Noche” Diaz at the August 29 press conference held in New York City by Cornel West, Carl Dix, and others to announce a new wave of protest against stop-and-frisk. Noche is a young revolutionary who faces years in jail if convicted on unjust charges. He has been arrested five times since October 2011 and has had 11 charges piled on him in four New York City boroughs, all for observing and protesting the illegitimate actions of the NYPD. Noche was one of the first members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and helped organize protests that kicked off a citywide struggle against stop-and-frisk. He is well known to the people—and to the NYPD—for being a member of the People’s Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem.


Some of you out there have never been stopped and frisked, and maybe you don’t know what it actually means, what it means to be a young person coming up in New York City or maybe you know some people and you’ve heard these stories. But people need to actually know what happens every day, 1,900 times or more. Maybe you’re coming home from school, maybe you’re going to school, maybe you’re going to work, or coming home. You’re minding your own business, you’re going about your day and suddenly some cop steps to you. They grab you, they throw you up against the wall, they turn out your pockets and if you speak back you risk being thrown in jail and spending the whole night locked up and facing charges and a case, maybe having to miss school, or maybe having to miss work which you can’t afford to do. And your whole life begins to be dominated by the fact that at any moment when you walk the street, some cop can step to you and mess up your whole day, your whole week and the rest of your life.

More than this, why is it that I have to look at these 15-year-olds in the playgrounds in the Bronx who tell me that if you’re not a white person in this world you don’t matter and you don’t mean anything? Why do I have to talk to a 16-year-old, who for a year had to walk around with a restraining order to keep the cops off his back because by the time he was 15 he had been stopped and harassed so many times he couldn’t leave his house without his mother fearing for his life and he had to go to a court and have a judge issue an order to keep these cops off his back? And now that he’s 16, he no longer has this piece of paper and he’s afraid to walk out and hang out with his friends.

What kind of society is this? What kind of world are these youth growing up in? And how come you never hear that story every time they talk about these youth who devalue themselves and carry out violence against each other that the mayor loves to point to after the fact, when he knows and he lies anyway and he knows this stop-and-frisk policy does nothing to stop—that he cares nothing about these youth and these lives that are lost and these generations who are condemned to an early death or a life of brutality and imprisonment. On September 13, that is not going to go down anymore where people are isolated, where people just feel like this is just happening to them, and that something is wrong with them for being stepped to, for being harassed, for being dehumanized, for having their basic rights taken from them and violated. No more in silence and no more at all. On September 13, we’re elevating the level of resistance to actually put another nail in this coffin of stop-and-frisk, like my brothers Cornel West and Carl Dix have been saying, we don’t want to mend it we want to end it. Like Carl Dix has said over and over again, the Freedom Riders didn’t want extra seats in the back of the bus, they wanted an end to Jim Crow segregation. And we want an end to the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration.

Like people have said, I’m facing trials all over the city. On September 5, I’m on trial in Manhattan, facing up to four years in prison, precisely because when these kind of things go down I don’t walk by and I don’t let it happen in silence, I don’t let people get violated without someone speaking up for them. [Noche’s trial has now been continued until October—Revolution.] I’ve been standing up for these youth for years. And I’ve been targeted for my role in doing that. But what’s important for you to know is that you can actually be a part of beating back these attacks on people who stand up for the people and for the youth. And so I invite everybody to join us on September 13 and join me in court on September 5.


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