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October / November 2009

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Update from Peoples' Justice Coalition

Peoples’ Justice Coalition Launches Outreach and Ad Campaign to Encourage Cop Watch and Education Around New Yorkers’ Rights

The People’s Justice Coalition has launched an outreach campaign encouraging neighborhood-based organizing against police violence, in Washington Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Bushwick. The components of the campaign include billboard advertisements encouraging residents join Cop Watch efforts, as well as a series of murals aimed at educating community members about their rights when confronted by law enforcement officers.

The billboard ads feature a silhouette image of police violence being observed and documented by community-empowered residents armed with a video camera and cellphone. The intention of the ads is to inform community residents that observing police activity is legal and can act as a deterrent of abuse as well as provide critical evidence in cases of police brutality. The ads are also meant to generate interest in forming coordinated Cop Watch teams among residents of neighborhoods that see disproportionate levels of police violence. These ads were posted for the month of Sept. at the following addresses, in Washington Heights: Amsterdam Avenue and 165th Street, Amsterdam Avenue and 173rd Street, Broadway and 162nd Street, and St. Nicholas Avenue and 177th Street. In Bedford-Styvesant they were located at: Fulton Street and Tompkins Avenue, Fulton Street and Throop Avenue, Nostrand Avenue and Pacific Avenue, Tompkins Avenue and Halsey Street, and Fulton Street and Rochester Avenue. In Bushwick they were located at: Knickerbocker Avenue and Melrose Street, Knickerbocker Avenue and Troutman Avenue, Irving Avenue and Myrtle Avenue, Irving Avenue and Menahan Street and Knickerbocker Avenue and Woodbine Street.

Murals were painted in the neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Bushwick as a permanent reminder of citizen’s rights. Several points were outlined in the murals:

1) If you are detained or arrested by a police officer demand to speak with an attorney and don't tell them anything until an attorney is present.

2) If you are harassed by the police, write down the officer's badge, car number, name, and/or other identifying information. Get medical attention if you need it and take pictures of any injuries.

3) You do not have to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your house. Do NOT try to physically stop the police. Simply say you do not consent to the search out loud.

4) You have the right to watch and film police activities.

The mural in Washington Heights was a collaborative effort by Cekis and Rimx and features several different scenes of community residents interacting with law enforcement and protesting police violence.

In Bushwick, Make the Road By Walking organized a collaboration with Big City Walls, a collective of muralists and street artists working to continue the tradition of street art with the added component of youth education and empowerment. Big City worked with Bushwick youth to create a large-scale mural that addressed issues the Bushwick community faces. One-section bullet points know your rights information in an effective manner so community members have that constant reminder and community supported empowerment.

Still to come is a large-scale mural in Bedford-Stuyvesant by muralist Erin Yoshi.

The neighborhoods of Washington-Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick were focused on in this campaign because they see an unjust amount of police activity. Peoples’ Justice has Cop Watch teams of community members active in these neighborhoods, and is encouraging more to start.

“Cop Watch provides community members with a way to use their legal rights to observe and record police activities and in this way hold law enforcement accountable,” says Loyda Colon, coordinator of People’s Justice and Director of the Justice Committee. “Too often, in low-income communities of color, the police think they can act with impunity and abuse their power by perpetrating undue verbal, physical and sexual violence against community members, without legal cause. Peoples’ Justice is asking New Yorkers to stand up and help turn this around by exercising their legal right to organize and watch the police.” Peoples’ Justice offers Cop Watch and Know Your Rights Trainings to groups interested in starting Cop Watch teams in their neighborhoods.

About Peoples’ Justice:

Peoples’ Justice is a coalition of NYC-based grassroots organizations that have joined forces to win community control and police accountability.

Peoples' Justice includes the following groups:

* Audre Lorde Project (ALP)

* CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities (CAAAV)

* Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project (IJSP)

* Justice Committee

* Make The Road New York

* Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM)

* Nodutdol for Korean Community Development

This article originally appeared in the October / November 2009 issue of Nodutdol eNews.
View the complete issue »

About Nodutdol eNews

Nodutdol eNews is the monthly e-mail newsletter of Nodutdol.Through grassroots organization and community development, Nodutdol seeks to bridge divisions created by war, nation, gender, sexual orientation, language, classes and generation among Koreans and to empower our community to address the injustice we and other people of color face here and abroad. Nodutdol works in collaboration with other progressive organizations locally, nationally and internationally as part of a larger movement for peace and social change.

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