Charges dropped against civil rights attorneys

On July 2, in a Brooklyn courtroom filled with supporters of Michael Tarif Warren and Evelyn Warren, the district attorney admitted that the state’s case against them was inadequate. All charges were dropped.

Michael Tarif Warren and<br>Evelyn Warren
Michael Tarif Warren and
Evelyn Warren
Photo: Roberto Mercado

The two attorneys and activists had been assaulted by cops and arrested in Brooklyn on June 21, 2007. This followed their witnessing the beating of a young Black male, who they say was on the ground and handcuffed but was being kicked in the head repeatedly by cops, specifically by Sgt. Steven Talvy.

After witnessing the attack Michael Tarif Warren asked Talvy, “Why are you beating him? He’s handcuffed. He’s not a threat.Take him to the precinct.” They were ordered to return to their vehicle.

According to the Warrens, the two then got into their car and began writing down information about the cops’ vehicles. Talvy approached their car and was told that they were both attorneys. Talvy then hit Warren more than once, pulled him out of the car, and assaulted Evelyn Warren when she questioned him. Both the Warrens were arrested. All this took place during the evening rush hour in front of many witnesses.

The Warrens were taken to the 77th Precinct and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Cases of police brutality are routine in oppressed communities, as cops in an oppressive and racist society are trained and paid to uphold order—no matter how brutal and repressive it is.

Often, when people are attacked, profiled or harassed by a cop, they are without resources to attain proper defense or to mount a public campaign to bring pressure down on the cops or the local government.

However, when the victims are well-known attorneys and activists, their resources and political know-how are ample. The resources abound from the community’s love and respect engendered by years of being involved in political struggles and defending high-profile human rights cases.

The respect and love was evident in the response to the attack and arrest of the Warrens. Hours after the attack, the local Pacifica station, WBAI-FM, broadcast the news over the airwaves. After exchanging text messages, e-mails and telephone calls, activists from many groups descended upon the 77th Precinct and packed the waiting room, spilling into the stairwell and outside the precinct.

This mini-rebellion procured the release of the Warrens that day. A small march with chants broke out as people from the neighborhood looked on from their windows and doors. It was a victory.

The dropping of the charges after a vigorous campaign had been mounted is an even more important victory. It shows that when the people organize and fight back, great things can happen.


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