In what has been called by some activists as “the latest in a string of attempted government repressions against community activism,” concluded Monday, Nov. 26, with a not guilty verdict in Brother Shep’s trial. Shep was charged with disorderly conduct while attending a comrades’ court case earlier this year.
During Shaka Shakur’s “bogus weapons case” in the spring, original Black Panther Party veteran Brother Shep, aka Sadiki Ojore Olugbala, was arrested inside the Bronx Criminal Courthouse for allegedly supervising the orderly departure of Shaka Shakur’s attorney, Michael Tarif Warren, and his supporters into the hallway.
“I was actually helping people to leave the courtroom,” stated Shep. “Disorderly conduct means that you have to have intended to do what they said. We proved that was false. I didn’t do anything wrong and wasn’t just going to take a plea with the threat of being locked up if I lost the case.”
Shep’s supporters contend that the court’s pursuit of charges against the community organizer is part of the government’s citywide campaign to “intimidate and curtail” the growing people’s movement to “pack the courthouse” in support of unjustly arrested activists and/or the victims of NYPD terrorism. They say they are being denied their human right to be a self-determining people and are irate about the government wasting the public’s tax dollars on trivial matters rather than getting real criminals off the streets.
“During the last couple years, there’s been an increase in community activism in dealing with police terror,” said Shep. “And because of that, the city has a whole campaign to undermine and neutralize the activism going on against police terror.”
Whenever facing debatable charges, he said, “We tell people not to take plea bargains and ACDs [Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal], which is what the courts depend upon to collect money and to make sure that they’re not overloaded with cases.”
He continued: “When you swamp their office and shut them down, it actually works. We packed the courthouse every day; five different judges had this, and nobody wanted to touch it. I refused to take the ACD so they kept passing it on.”
Shep strategized, “What we’re going to do now is take the individual officers to small claims court. What this will do, hopefully, is police will think twice before they harass or arrest people, because they’ll know it’s going to come directly out of their pocket instead of going through the city.”
Although Shakur was acquitted and Cop Watch activist Jazz Hayden beat the major charges against him earlier this year, a number of their comrades are still wrapped up in the judicial web. “Challenge the system, don’t take a plea bargain just to get out,” suggested Shep. “You fight! They’re not used to people fighting them. People don’t do that, they just give in.”
Shep will be facilitating anti-police terror workshops starting in January.
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