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Hands off Juanita Young!

Saeed Shabazz | 4/12/2011, 4:40 p.m.
Juanita Young (Bill Moore photo)

Juanita Young is a grandmother who stands maybe 5 feet tall -she is legally blind and also suffers from bad asthma attacks. But that hasn't stopped police officers from harassing her and her family at all hours of the night--cops from the 43rd Precinct and the Anti-Crime Unit out of the 48th Precinct in the Bronx. Since the end of August, cops have been all over Young, claiming that her sons are wanted for crimes for which they have no explanation.

And over the past three weeks, cops have broken down her door and the main door to her building, attempted to climb through her bathroom window because she wouldn't open the door, put a gun in her face, and have lied about having warrants for her youngest son.

"Not only have my rights been violated, but I feel physically and psychologically terrorized," Juanita Young wrote recently on the Internet. "I fear for my safety."

That is why there is a call to join a vigil starting at 11:30 p.m. on November 19, and ending at 9 a.m. on November 20 at Juanita Young's home at 1772 East Tremont Ave. (between St. Lawrence and Commonwealth). There is also a petition, which may be found at info@october22.org, titled "Hands off Juanita Young and Family."

Lynne Stewart, the embattled attorney, another grandmother figure and one of NYC's fighters for justice, stated in a YouTube video in August that they are attacking Juanita Young because she is a "freedom fighter" who has taken on the NYPD on no uncertain terms. "They attack her because we live in a police state, and they know no one in authority will hold them accountable," Stewart said.

"We must protect our freedom fighters," Stewart said over and over again.

"Yes, we must protect our freedom fighters," stated Brother Shaka of the New Black Panther Party in Harlem. He said that a lot of people are concerned about what is happening to Juanita Young, and are asking what they may do to help. "It is important to help her, but equally important that we connect the dots, realizing that harassment of Juanita Young stems from a bigger picture," Shaka said.

Many of the nation's activists are remembering that this is the 40th year after the FBI/Chicago Police Department assassination of Black Panther Fred Hampton. On December 3, there is a scheduled panel discussion at the Community Church on East 35th Street on "Racism, Repression and Resistance"--the key topic being the ongoing repression of political dissent.

"What is happening to Juanita Young is a police brutality pandemic, which is worse than the H1N1 virus," claims Shaka. COINTELPRO is not dead, he argues. "And the people are going to have to organize at the community-level to combat against it," he adds.

As a reporter, I first met Young in 2000 shortly after an under-cover Bronx cop had killed her son Malcolm Ferguson, 23, on a stairwell in a Bronx apartment building.

The police department first claimed that the two men had tussled and the gun went off accidentally, and that Ferguson was a known drug dealer--leaving the impression that he was a victim of the war on drugs. But Young refused to accept their explanation, and after hearing what the medical examiner said about the wound to her son's head, she stayed on course, refusing to back off.