Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pack the Courthouse July 16

Hi Folks,

I met one of the teachers involved with the "Bushwick 32", Brian Favors, at a demonstration which he had helped organize two years ago in support of Aja Kweiliona, a young teacher in Bklyn who was removed from her school by the Principal when she protested the caging of a young Domincan boy who was misbehaving.

I believe the educators involved with Sankofa are dedicated to their students and the community and deserve the support of everyone. Their upcoming court appearance before the Brooklyn Supreme Court this Weds is an opportunity to express our solidarity with these educators and the school-community collaboration which is the single most important condition for the advancement of a truly democratic public school system in NYC.

Please show your support and Pack the Court!

Sean Ahern

Date: Friday, July 11, 2008, 11:16 PM

Black and Latino Teachers- Activists Racially Profiled... Prosecuted For Attending Their Student's Court Proceedings

CONTACT: QA'ID JACOBS - 718.812.9660

GOING TO TRIAL: Black and Latino Teachers; Activists Racially Profiled; Prosecuted For Attending Their Student's Court Proceedings.

When: WEDNESDAY JULY 16, 2008 at 9am, AP3, 6th Floor
Where: 120 Schemerhorn St., Brooklyn Court House

On November 30, Brian Favors, teacher and director of Sankofa Community Empowerment and member of MXGM, Jesus Gonzales, community organizer with Make the Road, NY, Nkululeko Sechaba, President of the Queens chapter of InPDUM, and Mario Cox, an honor roll student at Bushwick Community High School, were all attending court proceedings in support of the students known as the "Bushwick 32," when they themselves were racially profiled in open court, assaulted and placed under arrest.[1]

Community supporters had gathered in court once again to support the Bushwick 32 on November 30, 2007. Shocked at the terrible representation the students received in court, during recess, their teacher and long-time supporter, Brian Favors discretely urged several defense attorneys to competently represent the students. One defense attorney became defensive and angry and she went back into the court room to speak with the Court Security Officer ("CSO") with whom she has a personal relationship and parents a child. She told him that she did not like the way Mr. Favors questioned her and that she wanted the "Black man with dread locks" ejected out of the court room.

After court resumed session, the CSO, who was angered by his wife's story, mistakenly identified Mr. Sechaba as the "Black man with dread locks" in question and shouted for him to leave the court room for threatening the attorney. Mr. Favors then informed the CSO that he had identified the wrong "Black man with dreadlocks" and that no one had been threatened. Mr. Sechaba requested the CSO's badge number so he could report the racial profiling incident. The CSO refused, shoved the men into the hallway and yelled for fellow officers to "cuff" them. Mr. Favors and Mr. Sechaba were then surrounded and violently assaulted as the police rushed to place them under arrest.

Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Cox asked why the supporters were being treated this way when they had done nothing wrong. The two were similarly surrounded and pummeled by the CSOs as they too were arrested. After arraignment, the four were released on their own recognizance and face charges of assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, and obstruction of governmental administration.

They head to trial on WED. JULY 16, 9:00 AM at 120 Schemerhorn, AP-3 on the 6th Floor.

Councilman Charles Barron stated "First the police terrorize us and arrest our youth. Then the court officers terrorize us again and deny our constitutional right to enter a court room and support our youth at their trial. If this is not fascism I don't know what is. I support these brothers 100% and they should be set free." The community insists that this is only the latest example of the targeting of people of color by the NYPD and the criminal justice system. In 2006, 90% of stop and frisks citywide resulted in no summons issuance or arrest. Several New York Times Articles detailing the controversy surrounding the Bushwick 32 case are attached below.

At 9:00 am
WHERE: 120 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn Court House AP3 6th Floor

[1] The "Bushwick 32" is a group of students who were racially profiled and arrested while en route to a funeral on May 21, 2007. The NYPD mistakenly identified the students as a gang and held them for 36 hours even though the students had letters excusing them from school to attend a popular student's funeral. Despite the widespread media attention, community support and numerous eye witness testimonies which contradict the NYPD's account of events, District Attorney Charles Hynes has only until recently refused to drop the charges. Several of the Bushwick 32 have had their cases dropped due to lack of probable cause, while other cases remain pending.

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