For the next two Wednesdays, People’s Justice an anti-police brutality NYC organization will be hosting two related trainings: one for Know Your Rights and the other for Cop Watch. Anyone interested in getting involved in the fight against police brutality should find themselves at 3rd EyeSolation this and next Wednesday to take part in the trainings.
The first training is tonight and will encompass necessary information for interactions with the police. People’s Justice member Aidge Patterson explains, “people will not only learn their rights in police encounters but [they will also learn] the realities of police interaction and how to best protect yourself legally. We will cover every aspect of a police encounter from their first approach through arrest and arraignment. We will also provide information related to immigrant communities LGBTQ rights, rights in schools, in public housings and more.” Knowing your rights is essential for living in Brooklyn today where stop and frisk statistics are the highest of all the boroughs.
The second training, Wednesday, February 26, will teach you how to safely and legally film the cops in your communities. Differing from the know your rights trainings, Cop Watch “teaches community members how to safely and effectively observe the police in order to protect their communities from police violence,” according to Aidge. Anyone who is concerned with police brutality and stop and frisk in New York will find these trainings useful. Time and time again, when the NYPD has gone to trial because of abuse or wrongdoing, video evidence proves to be the saving grace. An example where cop watching could’ve been much needed evidence is the case of Rexford Dasrath, a 22-year old Dominican-Guyanese man who was killed by the NYPD in November. Aidge reminds us that “if anyone out there witnessed this or has footage, let us know. The family needs your help.”
2014 will prove to be an interesting year when it comes to anti-police brutality activism. One can argue that Bill DeBlasio’s criticisms of stop and frisk are what won him the election. Bill de Blasio ended up appointing conservative Bill Bratton who said, “if cops are not doing stop and frisk they’re not doing their job.” But still, deBlasio dropped the appeal (atleast partly because of pressure from civil rights groups in the city) against the stop and frisk trial verdict that declared stop and frisk had a racial bias and needed reforming. When I asked Aidge where he says police brutality organizing going in 2014, he says “I see people realizing they can’t depend on elected officials or media savvy police commissioners to make real change for our communities. I see people realizing that we need to see community safety as something for us to take on for ourselves, and that it is our responsibility to protect each other and prevent police violence.”