2007-09-21 / Front Page

NAACP Rally Calls For 'Respect For Youth'

By Miriam Rosenberg

A small but determined group led by the Far Rockaway National Association For The Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council, chanting, "Teach Us. Don't Cuff Us," marched from Mott Avenue and Beach Channel Drive to the 101 Precinct to rally against police brutality directed at neighborhood youth on Saturday, September 15.

"The Respect Our Youth" rally heads down Mott Avenue to the 101 Precinct. Organizers speculated the low turnout was the result of many people being afraid to be seen at the march. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg "The Respect Our Youth" rally heads down Mott Avenue to the 101 Precinct. Organizers speculated the low turnout was the result of many people being afraid to be seen at the march. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg "The Respect Our Youth Rally," NAACP officials say, was a result of twice-weekly police sweeps against young neighborhood people in front of area libraries and housing complexes.

"For too long, youth in this community have been subjected to unwarranted searches," said Donovan Richards, the co-chair of the youth council. "Are there bad people in this community? Yes. Do we want them locked up? Yes. However, children in libraries, reading, shouldn't come out to be subjected to police harassment."

Richards added that the September 15 event was a rally against police brutality, not against the police in general.

Officers of the 101 watch the rally from the doorway of the precinct house. Officers of the 101 watch the rally from the doorway of the precinct house. Ed Williams, the president of the local NAACP, said, "Everyone with a rag on his head is not a gang member. The harassment has got to stop. The disrespect has got to stop."

"When the bullets fly, I want, the community wants [the police]," he added. "I want [the police officer's] respect. That's all I ask from [police]."

The rally began with less than 20 marchers. By the time it reached the precinct, however, the number of marchers had risen to approximately 30 people.

At the 101 Precinct, several community members talked about problems they have encountered with local police officers.

"I've lived in this community for 50 years, and it has never been this bad," said Bishop Warren Shivers, referring to the way police treat the community. "Every church, every family should be out here. The people who have been abused [should be out here]. Let us organize until we get the respect we deserve in the community."

Marchers arrive at the precinct. Marchers arrive at the precinct. Several who said that they were victims of police brutality or who have family members who were targeted by police, also spoke out.

Teresa Scott, the Community Coordinator for the Coalition for Far Rockaway, told the protesters, "We don't have respect for one another in this community. I deal with a lot of police, and I'm seeing a lot of negative stuff. I live in Redfern Houses, and the cops who come up [there] are very rude."

Scott believes that young people are angry because the police don't respect them.

Also supporting the cause was Les Paultre, the father of Nicole Paultre-Bell - whose fiancé, Sean Bell, was killed last November when five undercover police fired 50 shots at the car carrying Bell and his friends, following his bachelor party.

"It's good everyone's here to support the youth," said Paultre, who related a story of a friend's son who was stopped and arrested for no reason.

He also called for getting illegal guns off the streets.

"We have to stand up, as a community, and be accountable for every single one of us doing the wrong thing," continued Paultre. "We also have to respect each other."

Despite the fact that the group did not have a city permit for the march and rally, as required by city law, the local police commander, Captain Brian McMahon, permitted the group to gather outside the precinct house.

"We're not indicting the whole precinct...but we got some bad [cops]," said Williams, who then directed his comments to the officers watching the rally. "To those who take their oaths seriously, talk to those who disrespect the community."

Captain McMahon, the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct, told The Wave that anyone who feels they have been mistreated should lodge a complaint with the city's Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB).

According to McMahon, as of August 31 of this year, there had been 43 complaints to the CCRB, up 12 from the same time last year, about officers from the 101 Precinct.

"It's not a big jump," said McMahon on September 19. "Part of it is the awareness and training [of the public] to report to the CCRB, including two sessions held by City Councilman James Sanders."

Richards said a local CCRB has been set up to look into complaints from area residents.

For a more detailed response to the march and rally by McMahon, see the companion article on this page.

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This march was well needed and long over due.We should have another one soon. By the way, I never believe statistics comming from the police. I am willing to bet that them numbers are much higher this year. In any case, police brutality is wrong. No matter how you look at it. We know they have a very difficult job to do every day. But everyone is not a criminal. You damn right the youth are angry. They have every right to be. Captain McMahon gives great advice as to resources that you may use to complain against a cop or law enforcement official, but how about firing those who violate the code of conduct. Just like the community, they too have guidelines to follow and when they don't, we as a people should be ready to address the problem immediately. One way we can begin is by supporting a non profit organization that is fighting for a better quality of life for residents of farrockaway.

F.R.U.A. "Farrockawayunderattack.com"
You can also use google and youtube and watch short testimonials from residents of farrockaway.


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