US: Prosecutor Drops All Criminal Charges on Noche Diaz
Prosecutor Drops All Criminal Charges on Noche Diaz; Defendant Says He Did Raise Alarm on Police Abuse
Manhattan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges on young Harlem activist Noche Diaz today after an 18-month prosecution. Diaz had been charged with interfering with NYPD arrests of others during protests against stop-and-frisk in 2011 and against the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. A group of 40 supporters came to support him at a trial which was set to begin today.
Diaz, who could have received two years at Rikers for four misdemeanors, pled guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation. Several supporters described the events today as a victory, in that Diaz received no criminal record or jail time.
He described, to a packed courtroom, an “average day in Harlem, where the NYPD carries out some part of its 1,900 daily stop and frisks, 85-90% of which are of Black or Latino people, over 90% of whom are doing nothing wrong and given no legal or legitimate reason for being stopped, and routinely put up against walls and searched, have their basic rights violated, and often worse.”
1700 people sent messages to Cyrus Vance, Manhattan District Attorney, calling for the charges to be dropped. Many supporters referenced NYPD’s policy of stop-and-frisk, currently under examination in Floyd v City of New York, a lawsuit in federal court blocks away. Court observers, many there because of stop-and-frisk arrests, commented with admiration on Noche’s example as a young person who looks out for others by standing up for their rights.
Diaz supporters include: Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor/director; Randy Credico, impressionist and social comedian, NYC; Annette Warren Dickerson, Center for Constitutional Rights; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party; Walt Frazier, former NBA player: musicians Jasiri X and M1; Arturo O'Farill, musician; Bill Perkins, NY State Senator; Rev. Stephen Phelps, The Riverside Church, NYC; Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana of the Central Park 5; actor Mark Ruffalo, and professor Cornel West.