Charles Barron's Emergency Meeting: How To Block Stop-And-Frisk

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Charles Barron: "I’ve already stopped five officers, now the word’s out in the precinct to look out for Barron, the word would get out that the elected officials are going to stop you from stopping and frisking us unconstitutionally and violating our human rights."

[Inside New York]

The State of Young Black Men in America

A Conversation With Councilmember Charles Barron

It was nearly 50 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

However, despite a Black man holding America’s highest office as President, racism and racial profiling still exists.

The murder of Trayvon Martin, an innocent Black teen who was visiting his father in Florida, has sparked protest in New York and around the country.  Councilman Charles Barron held a press conference earlier this week to speak out about this tragedy as well as city council and state legislative members.  Barron spoke with us about his reaction to the murder of Martin, the “stand your ground” law, the recent murders by police officers of innocent Black men in New York, and what can be done to bring justice to this family and others and save our Black youth.

Joan Allen: Why do you think Trayvon Martin was killed?
Charles Barron: While everyone’s putting on their hoodies, it’s not the hoodies that got Trayvon Martin killed.  He wasn’t killed because he was wearing a hoodie, or because he was buying skittles or ice tea.  He was killed because of the institutional racism and because he was a Black youth.  Racism killed Trayvon Martin.  Right here in the Bronx they had Ramarley Graham killed in front of his six year old brother and the police put a gun to his grandmother’s head.  He was killed because he was Black.  Sean Bell didn’t have a hoodie, nor was he getting skittles.  He was well dressed before his wedding at his bachelor’s party.  Amadou Diallo wasn’t wearing a hoodie.

JA: In fact according to Trayvon’s girlfriend’s conversation, Trayvon said he put up his hood after he noticed this strange man following him.
Do you think that the “stand your ground” law is a license to kill?

CB: New York doesn’t have a “stand your ground” law and we’re still murdered.  We have to see this for what it is -- institutional racism that perpetuates bigotry.  All of the people wearing their hoodies, the basketball players, the council members today and legislatives yesterday, take those hoodies off and let’s get down to institutional racism.

The hoodie and the law didn’t kill us in Florida -- racism killed us.  The same racism that killed Amadou Diallo, that killed Sean Bell, and killed Timothy Stansbury.  The same racism that keeps Black youth 65% unemployed.  The same racism that stops and frisks 685,00 Black youth and they get away with it.  That’s what we’re up against here.  So, I want to see all these hoodie wearers beyond today and see if they continue to fight for justice for our people. 

This is not about a law, or about a hoodie, or about skittles, this is about institutional racism that allows for the police and civilians to murder us with impunity.  It’s greater than Zimmerman.  It’s institutional racism that allows for us to be murdered.

JA:  What’s happening with the Ramarley Graham case here in New York?
CB:  Yes, we didn’t have to go to Florida.  Ramarley Graham was shot right here in New York walking into his house in his bathroom.  After killing him in the bathroom, not having committed any crime and without a weapon, breaking into his house, unlawfully -- they then put their guns at his grandmother head and said ‘you better not move.’  They’re out of control.  They’re out of their minds. This madness must stop.

JA: What action is being taken?
CB: Robert Johnson the DA in the Bronx is investigating it.  He has enough evidence right now to impanel a grand jury and charge the killer cops.  The Justice department shouldn’t have had to come in and get involved.  They should have taken care of it on a state level.  There’s no “stand your ground” law that justifies you chasing somebody and then killing them unarmed.  That’s nowhere near anyone’s self-defense.

JA: What can people do to protest these injustices?
CB: A couple of things should happen. The one in the Bronx, we should put pressure on Robert Johnson and tell the D.A. to indict those officers and impanel the grand jury.  Then we should write a letter and march in front of his place until he does that.  We should not let business go on as usual.  We have a God- given and constitutional right to protect ourselves by any means necessary, so don’t get angry when we do so.

Martin Luther King said in 1967 when they asked him why were all these race riots occurring -- he said for the same reason, because police are killing us and white citizens are killing us and getting away with it.  He said the riots are the voice of the unheard.  America better hear us and New York better hear us because it’s a powder cake in our community that’s about to explode if justice doesn’t prevail. 

We’ve tried everything else.  We’re marching, we’re holding conferences, we’re having tribunals and press conferences.  What else do you want us to do.  We go to the Supreme Court, the Federal Court, they’re not protecting us.  The state, the D.A.s and the police are not protecting us  .  What do they expect us to do keep quite and keep dying?

This is what I challenge the city council members and state legislatures to do.  At least 2 hours a week, do what I do.  Drive around your district, particularly the ones that are Black and Latino where we are being stopped and frisked.  When you see an officer  stop and frisk someone jump out the car and intervene.  If we all did that constantly, I’ve already stopped five officers, now the word’s out in the precinct to look out for Barron,  the word would get out that the elected officials are going to stop you from stopping and frisking us unconstitutionally and violating our human rights.

The Freedom Party will hold on Sunday, April 1st at 4PM an Emergency Meeting for Strategies for Achieving Justice for Ramarley Graham, Trayvon Martin and Jateik Reed at The National Black Theatre, 2031 Fifth Avenue, bet. 125th & 126th Street in Harlem.

Joan H. Allen, Editor of Inside New York

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