September 20, 2011
Recently, New Yorkers witnessed New York Police Department officers tearing down one of several billboard posters legally mounted by Peoples’ Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability (Peoples’ Justice or PJ). Peoples’ Justice is a city-wide coalition of grassroots organizations working to end police violence in New York City. The coalition has been purchasing billboard space for posters that provide information about New Yorkers’ rights when dealing with NYPD officers in low-income communities of color since mid-2009 as part of itsPublic Art and Advertising Campaign. Support for this campaign is provided by Center for Constitutional Rights through a grant from the Ford Foundation.
In the last week, New Yorkers witnessed officers from the 43rd Street Precinct tearing down one of PJ’s Know Your Rights posters in the Bronx. Neighborhood business owners and residents who witnessed the defacements reported being harassed and threatened by the police. Last year, several billboard posters in Brooklyn were also destroyed, although those responsible were not seen. Peoples’ Justice demands the NYPD stop destroying these posters, which we have paid for and posted legally. We would also like to call attention to the fact that defacing these posters constitutes criminal and unconstitutional activity, namely, the destruction of private property and a violation of the first amendment right to free speech. We ask anyone who witnesses NYPD officers defacing other posters to email us ( email@example.com). Your identity and email address will be used by someone in the People’s Justice Coalition to contact you and ask you about what you witnessed, and will not be revealed or provided to authorities.
There are currently Peoples’ Justice billboard posters in Hunts Point, Fordham, Pelham, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, and West Queens. These neighborhoods are continuously subjected to over-policing and violent policing practices, which disproportionately impact people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, low-income and poor people, youth and the homeless. Community members are harassed, beaten, and illegally stopped, questioned, frisked, searched and arrested — usually with little or knowledge of their legal rights when interacting with police officers. PJ billboard posters serve to educate and empower resident of these communities. For more information about neighborhoods targeted by the Stop, Question, Frisk policing, visit the New York Times interactive map.
People’s Justice is a city-wide grassroots coalition organizing against police violence. We offer know your rights trainings, and train and resource neighborhood-based Cop Watch teams, which document police activity to prevent abuse. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to schedule a training or learn more about our work.
We will not be silenced! We hope you will contact us and join the struggle to end police harassment and brutality.