Monitoring the police to ensure accountability

W.A.T.E.R. 17 Special to the AmNews | 5/31/2013, 1:01 p.m.
"The role of cop watch organizations is primarily to observe police-community relationships and highlight injustices...
Monitoring the police to ensure accountability

Activists also touched on the financially lucrative role stop-and-frisk plays in the overall scheme of things.

"They have [quotas] to meet in order to receive federal, state and local funding," revealed Hayden. "They have to show in some measurable way that they are carrying out the mission they are being funded for. The NYPD accumulates these arrests so that they can tell their funders, 'Yeah, keep sending that money ... we're doin' our job!' The courts, the police, the prisons, they all work together."

Brother Shep adds: "So when these pigs roll around and harass our youth, that's all part of the prison-industrial complex. The main thing they want to do is lock up our young warriors. Go to any courthouse in the morning and you'll see thousands of people waiting in line--the overwhelming majority of them Black or Latino ... it looks like a slave auctioning block!"

This democratic society is based upon a system of "checks and balances," and while many may be confused about the role law enforcement plays in communities, a select few are not.

"I think it's only right since we pay them--they are public servants, and we are the public--that we should have the right to monitor them too," said Hayden. "Especially since they have taken the relationship between the police and the community and turned it upside down, where now they consider themselves our masters and we're their servants. We have to monitor them to straighten out this relationship."

Although many cop watch organizations are locally based, they usually patrol abroad daily.

"The objective is not to wait for something to happen then watch, but to be pro- or pre-active before something takes place," said Shaka Shakur of the People's Survival Program. "We're not looking to interfere with police who carry out their duties properly, but we set a presence for those who intend to misuse the people."

The People's Survival Program is conducting a 10-week anti-police terror training class at the Assata Shakur/Guillermo Morales Center at CCNY's NAC Building, room 3/201, that "not only teaches you to know your rights or to do the cop watch and be a cop watch, but actually trains you to be a facilitator," said Shakur.

Continuing, Shakur said, "We want to skillfully train people how to use their cameras, computers and editing programs to protect themselves using technology most of us have. We want this to be something every community picks up. We're saying the new weapon for our generation is the camera ... that's our AK-47 or righteous weapon."

LaSalle shares: "We're creating a dispatch system where when someone sees police activity, they can call, and this dispatch system will call other cop watch organizations in that area and let them know there's a stop, and hopefully they'll be able to get there In time and document it."

Declared Shep: "We're making an effort to get all the cop watch organizations in New York to work together."

Closing, Hayden said, "They work for us, we pay them, they are here to serve and protect, not master and regulate. It has nothing to do with justice or safety of the community--that's bulls-- excuses."

For more information on the classes, email or call 212-650-5008.