Last December, as tens of thousands of New Yorkers demonstrated against police brutality at the Millions March, officers tried to arrest a protester on the Brooklyn Bridge and fueled a chaotic confrontation with march attendees. A video of the incident later surfaced online, and the NYPD began a citywide manhunt for any demonstrators involved in the incident. Officers scoured social media, circulated “wanted” posters of suspects and witnesses, and eventually offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to arrests–all while Daniel Pantaleo, Eric Garner’s killer, walked free.
As part of their intimidation campaign, NYPD officers visited a number of activists, their friends, and their family members across the city. Officers surprised their victims in large numbers, deceived and manipulated them, and threatened deportation and beatings if they refused to provide information. Investigators falsely arrested Maria Garcia, area activist and legal spouse of a suspect in the case, despite the fact that she was not present at the march. Garcia’s charges were later dropped by the District Attorney’s office.
Five activists were ultimately arraigned on a range of charges related to the incident, most of them on felonies. A series of seemingly endless pre-trial court dates ensued, dragging on throughout the summer of 2015 with little information and many delays from the DA. Now the city has finally offered the Brooklyn Bridge defendants a range of plea deals, and many face jail time. They are weighing difficult decisions.
The Brooklyn Bridge case is part of the ongoing backlash against Black Lives Matter, in which police and federal agents infiltrate movements and ravage activists with false and trumped-up charges. This targeted state repression is, in turn, symptomatic of the ongoing violence visited upon communities of color in New York City and across the country. Last summer, police raided the Grant and Manhattanville Houses in Harlem, sweeping up 40 youth on gang charges culled from social media monitoring. This week, news outlets revealed the NYPD subjected Muslim student associations across the city to extensive police infiltration, months after having pretended to close their notorious “demographics unit.”
The only way to keep our communities safe is to deepen our collective solidarity and mutual care, and make the police force obsolete. This entails supporting all survivors of police repression, whether in political movements or in working class communities and communities of color. We will continue to support the Brooklyn Bridge defendants as needed with commissary funds, letters, visits, and assistance after incarceration. We invite you to join us, and help build a movement that can withstand state repression.
On November 2nd, Zachary Campbell plead guilty to Obstructing Governmental Administration in the 2nd degree (a misdemeanor), and is now serving 20 days in jail, with 3 years probation to follow. The four remaining defendants will be seen again in court on November 24th. Follow this blog or Can’t Touch This NYC on Facebook for more info.
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