Cornel West, Others Arrested as 'Stop Stop-and-Frisk' Movement Against Police Abuse Kicks Off with Occupy Wall Street Support
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“I don’t fault people for not knowing that this happens,” Carl Dix told me. “That’s a conspicuous policy on the part of the people who run this country—blacks are the problem and we have to devise a solution, while keeping the white middle-class unaware. I want to bring Occupy Wall Street to what is actually happening. I want to challenge them: now that you know, are you going to act?”
Earlier in the week, activists at Occupy Wall Street began to pass around “Stop Stop and Frisk” flyers during the General Assembly. Dix made several guest appearances at Liberty Plaza to mobilize solidarity to harness Occupy Wall Street’s energy to combat all police brutality. The People of Color Occupy Wall Street Working Group pushed to endorse the movement, discussing the urgency of the issue. Thursday night, Occupy Wall Street endorsed the movement, claiming, “How can we truly stand as the 99 percent, if we don’t stand with the people of Harlem?”
On Friday, several protesters—a healthy mix of black, brown and white—from Occupy Wall Street assembled, joining the Stop Stop-and-Frisk rally in both solidarity and civil disobedience. Though they were met with curious stares while marching through Zuccotti Park, upon reaching the streets of Harlem they were greeted with cheers and messages of support and gratitude from street vendors, shopkeepers and passersby.
Dr. Cornel West addressed the crowd at the Harlem State Office Building on the corner of 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. “This corner has been consecrated by giants like Malcolm X, Ella Baker, Marcus Garvey, Martin King, and Fannie Lou Hamer,” began Dr. West. “We are here today because we have come to terms with arbitrary police power to ensure that the rights of poor young people, disproportionately black and brown, are acknowledged and affirmed.”
After marching to the precinct, those who were willing to get arrested—many of them young black and Latino men who have spent their lives trying to avoid a police record—linked arms in front of the precinct, chanting until they were inevitably hauled away in plastic cuffs. Cornel West, who was arrested only a few days in Washington DC, Carl Dix, Reverend Stephen Phelps, and several other organizers and activists were among the 33 arrested outside of the 28th Precinct.
This is only the beginning of Stop Stop-and-Frisk. Next week it will hold actions in Brooklyn, and after that, East Harlem and the South Bronx. Strategy meetings are being planned, both separate from and in conjunction with Occupy Wall Street. Though the movements were originally organized separately, they occurred at a progressive nexus in history that is too coincidental to be ignored. Both movements have demonstrated that this is only the beginning of a continuous and persistent battle. Creating a permanent alliance between the two movements could mean diversifying and expanding Occupy Wall Street and spreading the call to stop stop-and-frisk beyond communities of color as a collective force against police brutality of all kinds, and in all communities.
In the words of Carl Dix, “We are not going to stop—and maybe the NYPD will give us a little extra time in jail to further figure out our movement.”