D.A. REFUSES TO DROP CHARGES
AGAINST FIRST DIALLO ARRESTEES
May 1998 New York City -- The first eight people arrested in a non-violent civil disobedience action protesting the brutal shooting (41 bullets!) by police of Amadou Diallo still face charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. District Attorney Morgenthau refuses to dismiss these charges even after dropping charges initially brought against the 1,200+ people arrested in a series of similar actions, called by Revs. Sharpton and Daughtry, among others. Among the 1,200 arrested were such high-profile demonstrators as former NYC mayor David Dinkins, NAACP director Kweisi Mfume, actress Susan Sarandon, City Council members, church and synagogue leaders, and union officials.
"This is an outrage. The D.A. is using our case to further the divide-and-conquer tactics of the racist Giuliani administration that is complicit in the Diallo murder", said Matt Bernstein-Sycamore, one of the arrestees still facing charges.
"It is unconscionable to think that we could face up to a year in jail for exercising our right to free speech by protesting the racist murder of Amadou Diallo. The District Attorney was right to dismiss the charges against the other demonstrators, and he should dismiss the same charges against us." said Eustacia Smith, who was arrested during the first civil disobedience.
On February 22, 1999, a number of activists from Fed Up Queers, in conjunction with the Citywide Coalition for Justice, staged an act of civil disobedience by peacefully blocking traffic on Broadway, south of City Hall. The action was planned in affinity with a large demonstration organized by the Citywide Coalition for Justice in response to the murder of Diallo, a 22-year-old black man gunned down by four NYC police officers. Eight members of Fed Up Queers became the first people to be arrested in a Diallo-related demonstration.
"We decided to block Broadway because Giuliani's so called quality-of-life" campaign has turned neighborhoods inhabited by people of color into target practice areas for racist killer cops, who are supposed to keep all New Yorkers safe", said Suzy Lee Korn, one of the arrestees.
"Like all of the 1,200 other arrestees, we acted to raise consciousness about the seriousness of the Diallo murder. Clearly, Giuliani was not concerned about Diallo's quality of life, but only with making NYC safe for corporate development, at the cost of people's lives", said Rachel Walsh, who was arrested at the same demonstration.
The Fed Up Queers demonstrators are faced with charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, which could lead to misdemeanor convictions and up to a year in jail, $1000 fine, and/or three years, probation. Fed Up Queers calls for individuals and groups to exert pressure on District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to drop these unjust charges.
"If the D.A. cares about justice in New York City, he will drop our charges.
We are calling on all fair-minded people to
pressure the D.A. with letters and phone calls, forcing him to
act in the interest of justice", siad Jonathan Berger, who
was arrested at the CCJ/Fed Up Queers civil disobedience.
1 Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013
Morgenthau's fax number is 212-385-2301 according to the operator at the DA's office
HELP SAVE THE ANTI-POLICE BRUTALITY EIGHT
Here's some information about the "Anti-Police Brutality Eight"... It is really important that we use our collective strength and power to stop the DA from pursuing charges. Please use all of your contacts.
Here's the press release that explains the
story. We're in court on May 25th. the DA is *not* offering us
ACDs. We can either plead to a violation, which could come with
up to 3 years probation, or we could go to trial. Susan Tipograph
is our lawyer, and in her experience we'd have no hope at a trial.
The only possibility is to create public awareness and pressure
on DA Morgenthau to drop the charges, as he did for the other
We're circulating sign-on letters to be sent to Morgenthau, but sign-ons have sort of limited value since we don't have time to get thousands of names. We really need people and groups to issue press releases, write their own letters, or make public statements in public forum. This is where you come in!
Please also let other people/groups know about this. Hopefully we'll be circulating an e-mail soon. Please contact Morgenthau's office to complain about this two-faced justice.
Press Contact: Eustacia Smith (212) 579-5176
There have been questions about
the 8 people still facing charges over
Diallo-related civil disobedience, so here are some answers.
QUESTION: Did the D.A. decide give us a crappy
deal because we had open ACDs
when we were arrested at the Diallo protest?
ANSWER: No, only one person had an open ACD,
and her charges are *lesser*
than everyone else's. The D.A. is giving us a hard time because we are
"known activists" -- it has been Giuliani's (and D.A. Morgenthau's) policy
to punish people who speak out. The deal he's offering us could result in 3
years probation, which would (he thinks!) get us off the streets for a long
time. If we went to trial, we would probably be convicted, which would make
it very hard for us ever to get an ACD again.
QUESTION: Why don't we just take the deal we're
being offered, what's the
big deal about getting the charges dropped?
ANSWER: First, eight activists with 3 years
probation is a loss to the
community, and that would suit Giuliani very nicely. Second, every case
establishes a precedent -- and this is a precedent we cannot afford. It's
bad enough that the NYPD has been holding people overnight for minor
infractions like wheatpasting, but if everyone who performs civil
disobedience is suddenly taken out of commission for 3 years (or even one
year) we are in trouble. Civil disobedience is one of very few tools left
for bringing public attention to an issue. How could we just let it go?
Second, this case is a relatively easy way
to keep police brutality in the
news. It's also a good way to keep up the multi-community coalition that
formed around the Diallo killing, by having people speak out together, and
to help it stay in view.
It's kind of surprising that these questions
were asked. Of *course* we
should fight when activists and public participation are under attack! It
doesn't matter how many ACDs anyone had! And we should use whatever methods
we have to keep the media focused on what's important, from police brutality
to punitive prosecution.
Anyone who wants to sign on (individually or
as an organization) to the
letter demanding that the charges be dropped, can e-mail Jen Flynn at
From: "Emmaia Gelman"
I strongly urge you to write to Morgenthau and add your own personal note. This is a free speech issue. The city wants to get rid of disent. You can not afford NOT to take the time to write.
FORWARD WIDELY **** FAX ZAP **** FAX ZAP **** FAX ZAP **** FAX ZAP **** FAX ZAP
TO SAVE THE DIALLO CD SEVEN PLEASE CONTACT NY DISTRICT ATTORNEY ROBERT MORGENTHAU VIA FAX TO DEMAND THAT HE DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST THE SEVEN COMMITTED ACTIVISTS WHO WERE THE FIRST TO USE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TO PROTEST THE MURDER TO AMADOU DIALLO AND POLICE BRUTALITY IN NEW YORK CITY. YOU CAN USE THE ATTACHED LETTER (IF YOU SIGN IT, PLEASE ALSO FAX A COPY TO 212-870-3334 SO WE CAN TRACK THEM) OR YOU CAN JUST WRITE THE ONE SENTENCE: "DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST THE DIALLO CD SEVEN".
MORGENTHAU'S FAX # IS: 212-385-2301
May 21, 1999
1 Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013
Dear Mr. Morgenthau,
I am writing to pledge my support for the eight people arrested on February 22, 1999 during an organized rally and to request that the case against them be immediately dismissed. The names of those individuals are: Jonathan Berger, Matthew Bernstein Sycamore, Emmaia Gelman, Eustacia Smith, Rachel Walsh, Katherine Barnhart and Suzy Lee Korn. The rally, which was organized by Rev. Calvin Butts, was to protest the brutal shooting of Amadou Diallo by four New York Police Department officers. These eight were arrested during an act of civil disobedience that was in response to the Diallo shooting. As you are aware, following the arrest of these eight people there was another 1200 people arrested as a result of civil disobedience in protest of the Diallo shooting. The cases of the 1200 individuals were dismissed, while the original eight people arrested are continuing to be charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Continuing to charge these eight people for organizing in response to a violent murder and history of systemic police brutality against the poor, people of color and queer people, while the charges for the other 1200 demonstrators have been dismissed, is unjustifiable. Although this group of eight people organized separately from those arrested in conjunction to the protests led by Rev. Al Sharpton, they are a group of concerned citizens committed to ensuring that New York City is a place that is safe for all New Yorkers to live. These eight were already held in jail overnight for close to 24-hours. This time served should be the only sentence that they receive. I demand that your office immediately dismisses the charges against them. In the interest of justice, I fully pledge my support to these eight and I reject any charges against them.
Thank you for your time and ongoing commitment to justice in New York City.
(City, State, Zip)