[Last year, New York police stopped, searched, and harassed 684,oo0 people with the racist "stop and frisk" policy. The heavy cloud of oppression follows each step of millions of black and brown folks, in a pattern which is systematically organized and enforced. The defiant stance of these "anti-racial profiling" protesters on trial must be supported, and spread, to every street in every city. -- Frontlines ed.]
Activists on Trial for Arrests During NYPD Protest
Twenty activists who converged on a police station to protest a controversial police technique went on trial Monday in a case that they hoped would highlight their cause but prosecutors called a simple matter of breaking the law.
The demonstrators, who include ministers, local activists and Princeton University scholar and civil rights advocate Cornel West, lined three rows of courtroom seats in one of the biggest group trials of protesters in the city in recent years. Supporters waited in line for spots.
The demonstrators were arrested on disorderly conduct charges in October outside a Harlem police station while decrying the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people who are acting suspiciously or meet crime suspects’ descriptions, according to police.
Police say the practice has proven vital to curbing crime. Opponents say it amounts to racial profiling and unfairly targets innocent people.
“The system is breaking the spirit of too many young people,” West, a professor of African-American studies and the author of books including “Race Matters,” said outside court. “We were willing to be arrested, and we’re willing to go to jail.”