FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 1st, 2008
As the District Attorney’s case crumbles, Brooklyn students express outrage against Ray Kelly and Charles Hynes for their public statements against 32 youth picked up in mass arrest
Twenty-two of the 32 young people swept up in an unlawful mass arrest in Bushwick, Brooklyn last May have had all charges against them dropped, and students and community members are expressing outrage and vindication. Student leaders, including some of those who have had their charges dropped, as well as community organizations and supporters, will hold a protest and press conference at 1 Police Plaza this Saturday at 11am to discuss the issue.
Shortly following the arrest, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes publicly condemned the young people and the community members who were supporting them. Their views were covered widely in the press, as were the circumstances surrounding the arrests and community outrage about the issue.
As the cases against the youths crumble, student leaders say that they are glad that they are finally being proven right, and are demanding reforms in the way that their communities and schools are policed. "We were basically judged guilty before we even had a fair trial in this case and it’s not fair," said a student involved in the case.
"The people in charge of justice in this city seem like they had it in for these youth, basically because of their skin color and the fact that they live in a low-income community," said Oona Chatterjee, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, one of the groups supporting the young people. "They didn’t even wait to find out what really happened before they blasted these youth in the press." According to Chatterjee, the facts in all 32 of the cases are the same and dismissals of the charges against the remaining students seem likely.
In the light of this case and of recent instances of police officers placing handcuffs on a 5 year-old and ten year-old student in adjacent neighborhoods, the Bushwick students have clear proposals to improve policing both in their schools and in their community. "We should not be criminalized just because we are young and live in a community like Bushwick. We need conflict resolution programs in our schools and we need to look at the ways that police officers are directed to act by the powers that be. They are basically sending officers out in the streets and into our schools to sweep us up. That’s not making anyone safer. That’s just making it harder for youth to live their lives and feel respected," said Jaritza Geigel, a member of Make the Road New York and a neighborhood high school student.
Event organizers expressed hope that they can now turn these events into an opportunity for positive dialog with the NYPD. "Hopefully we can all see now that change needs to happen, and we can make sure nothing like this ever happens again, said Geigel.
When: This Saturday, February 2nd @ 11:00 am
Where: One Police Plaza, New York, New York