Copwatch Activists Sue NYPD

Categories: Follow-Up

Lumumba Bandele, Dasaw Floyd, and Djibril Toure, as photographed by Cary Conover

Three members of the Malcolm X. Grassroot Movement's Copwatch program sued the NYPD yesterday, saying they'd been falsely arrested two years ago while in the act of watching the cops.

On February 9, 2005, Lumumba Bandele, Dasaw Floyd, and Djibril Toure showed up to videotape an ongoing bust in Bed-Stuy. As Chanel Lee reported back then, New York's finest didn't appear to appreciate the attention:

Toure says 15 to 20 cruisers were on hand, with at least 30 standing by. Turning on a video camera, Bandele, Floyd, and Toure made their way toward the center of the action—only to be ordered by an officer to leave.

Invoking their legal right to observe, the three stepped back, and Floyd continued to tape. Bandele says the officer again asked them to leave, and again, the three asserted their right to observe, insisting they had no intention of interfering. According to Toure, the officer then shoved Bandele. When Bandele asked for the officer's name and badge number, the officer began arresting the three. At some point, Floyd was thrown to the ground.

Police confiscated his camera and took the tape as evidence. They accused the three of interfering with the arrest of Dukes, preventing the recovery of the knife he allegedly carried. In addition, they say Toure assaulted the arresting officer by jumping on his back and punching him.

The Cop Watch volunteers describe themselves as having been cooperative, if insistent on asserting their rights. "At no point in time was anyone resisting arrest," says Floyd.

The activists spent the night in jail, with outraged members of the community chanting outside for their release. According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is handling the case, the three men remained charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration until July 17, 2006. That's when Kings County District Attorney, because, according to the suit, the accusing officer refused to cooperate.

The activists cast their lawsuit in the context of the NYPD's ongoing stop-and-frisk ops. Last year, the police patted down 508,540 people—more than half of them black and just over one in 10 white. In 2005, Toure told the Voice he and his friends would stay on the beat:

"This doesn't come in a vacuum," says Toure. "When people question things that are abnormal and are arrested, we have to make connections. This is not about us, this is about everyone who's been stopped and searched. We're trying to make everyone aware of their rights."

Bonus: The Gropes of Wrath: The NYPD Loves Touching Black Men


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