ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

May 19, 2007

2007.05.19: Justice for Sean Bell

From: Michael Letwin
Date: Friday – May 18, 2007 1:19 PM
Attachments ALAA on Police.wpd (9521 bytes)

The Justice for Sean Bell statement, signed by the 39 [now 57] LAS staff members listed below, will be presented tomorrow at hearings of the Tri-Level Joint Legislative Task force. To add your name, please reply by 3 p.m. today. Please note that the statement reflects positions (including prosecution of police perpetrators) previously adopted by ALAA. See, e.g., Statement on Police Violence & Abuse (March 22, 2000), attached [below].


Justice for Sean Bell
March 26, 2007

The undersigned New York City Legal Aid attorneys and support staff believe that the indictment of three police officers, for the fatal shooting of Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets, is too little and too late.

Sean Bell joins a long list of young men of color infamously murdered or assaulted by the NYPD, including Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Anthony Baez and Abner Louima. Yet police officers are almost never indicted-let alone convicted-for their crimes.

Police shootings, and the systemic failure to effectively prosecute their perpetrators, shows that the problem is not a “few bad apples” in the NYPD. Rather, they are the predictable result of a criminal justice system that-as a matter of deliberate policy-systematically targets communities of color for search-and-destroy arrest sweeps, widespread criminalization and inhumane drug sentences.

Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, there has been an explosion in the number of racially-discriminatory stop-and-frisks. The vast majority of these do not result in an arrest, and most that do are for such charges as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, open alcohol containers, walking between subway cars, and marijuana possession.

These illegal stops generate criminal records for hundreds of thousands of people of color, and are often accompanied by false accusations, physical threats, beatings, torture, or worse.

Such injustices cannot be ended by tinkering with existing policies. Genuine solutions must include:

1. Firing Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

2. Vigorous prosecution, by a special prosecutor, of police officers-especially commanders-who commit or condone the crimes described above.

3. An end to militarized police operations against young people of color.

* * *
Signers (Affiliations listed for identification only):

Charles Billups
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn
Chairperson, The Grand Council of Guardians

Antonia Codling
Criminal Defense Division-Bronx
Affirmative Action Representative
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Lucy Herschel
Criminal Appeals Bureau
Delegate, 1199/SEIU

Julie Fry
Alternate Vice President, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Michael Letwin
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn
Former President
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Susan Olivia Morris
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn
Former Sgt.-at-Arms
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Magda Rosa-Rios
Alternate Vice-President, Harlem Community Law Office
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Azalia Torres
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn
Former Sr. Attorney & Attorneys of Color (ACLA) Representative
ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Bahar Ansari
Criminal Defense Division-Bronx

Rigodis Appling
Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan

Noha Arafa
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Chennette X. Barreto
Shared Services

Abby Biberman
Civil Division

Kamber L. Brisbane
Harlem Community Law Office

Jennifer Burkavage
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Cynthia Colt
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Femi B. Disu
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Keisha A. Godfrey
Criminal Defense Division-Queens

Bridgette Holloman
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Benjamin Kanstroom
Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan

Rebecca Kurti
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Patrick Langhenry
Civil Division-Brooklyn

Adrian Lesher
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Melissa Loehr
Criminal Defense Division-Bronx

Beth Lyons
Criminal Appeals Bureau

Dianna Lysius

Titus Mathai
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Joyce Murphy
Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan

Elizabeth Newton
Criminal Defense Division-Queens

David Ocasio
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Ivan Pantoja
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Karena Rahall
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Jacob Rolls
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Mimi Rosenberg
Civil Division-Brooklyn

Shana Skaletsky
Criminal Defense Division-Bronx

Brian Slater
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Steven Terry
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Rebecca Turner
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Dawn Yuster
Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn


Statement on Police Violence & Abuse

Adopted by the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys Delegate Council, March 22, 2000
1. In response to “Operation Condor,” ALAA reaffirms its commitment to provide each client with high-quality legal representation, including, but not limited to:

(1) Thorough pre-arraignment client interviews, under conditions that are healthy and confidential;

(2) Adherence to established arraignment shift hours;

(3) Production of incarcerated clients for each court appearance;

(4) Aggressive investigation and motion practice;

(5) Inclusion of supervising attorneys in arraignment staffing; and

(6) Appropriate legal action against, and publicity about, the pattern of false arrests and detention.

(2) In response to the systemic police abuse that plagues New York City, of which “Condor” is a prominent example, ALAA reaffirms its support for far-reaching reform, including the immediate:

(1) Abolition of the Street Crime Unit, “Operation Condor,” and all similar “search and destroy,” body count, and arrest quota units.

(2) Dismissal of Police Commissioner Howard Safir;

(3) Permanent federal monitoring of the NYPD, and implementation of such long overdue reforms as police residency requirements and abolition of the 48-hour rule;

(4) Federal prosecution of the police officers responsible for the murders of Amadou Diallo, Malcolm Ferguson, Patrick Dorismond, and others;

(5) Prosecution of each City official who illegally released sealed records of former Legal Aid Society client Patrick Dorismond;

(6) Establishment of an independent state agency to aggressively prosecute future police violence and abuse; and

(7) End to the “War on Drugs,” including the Draconian Rockefeller sentencing laws, which only serves to promote violent crime, police brutality, and mass criminalization, particularly against communities of color.

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