'Fuck the Police': Hundreds Protest Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata's Acquittal

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A few of us Voice women headed down to the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse yesterday to join hundreds of New Yorkers protesting the acquittal of Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, the two NYPD cops accused of raping a woman in her apartment in 2009. There was chanting, sign-waving, speechifying; chants ranged from "We are here to say/Rape is not okay!" to "Not her clothes, not her fault/No one asks for sexual assault!" to "Fuck the police!," a slogan that sounded unusually potent, if incongruous, coming from a crowd that skewed mostly female. Despite its on-the-fly organization -- feminist group Permanent Wave put everything together in under 24 hours-- the event attracted about 300 people to Centre Street yesterday afternoon.

A number of people spoke, including activist Savitri D, Titus Andronicus member Amy Klein, and that Reverend Billy guy. People were pissed.

Lori Alderman of Permanent Wave, one of the organizers, said she was "heartbroken" and "infuriated" over the not-guilty verdict. Alderman also pointed out that what happened was less about the jury that handed down the verdict, and "more about our culture. Silence condones victim-blaming and slut-shaming."

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I also talked to a number of women who identified themselves to me as rape survivors. California transplant and rape survivor Amanda Millis summed up a common sentiment in the crowd, telling me she was "not surprised, but completely outraged."

"I don't feel safe," she said. "I don't feel protected."

Speakers stood on a little wooden box and spoke through a megaphone. Speeches alternated with periods of chanting, cheering, clapping. Savitri D managed to rile the crowd into a frenzy as she spoke with her baby daughter in a Baby Bjorn on her chest. "This girl is not going to grow up with this bullshit! We should be allowed to drink a few fucking beers!" she yelled, to wild applause.

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The protest moved across the street to right in front of the court building's steps. A few NYPD officers looked on, their faces deadpan.

I saw a shirtless man on the sidewalk with "Don't Trust NYPD With Your Body" painted on his torso. "You can't trust the police with your body," he said, echoing the words on his own chest.

"What we know now is, don't call the police."

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Protest organizer Amy Klein, also known as Amy Andronicus of the band Titus Andronicus, was one of the few people I spoke with who'd managed to identify a positive aspect of the verdict. "This is a uniting, not a dividing, case. I have talked to cops who feel similarly to us," she said. "We got 1500 Facebook RSVP's in 20 hours."

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On my way home, before the protesters marched up Centre Street and away, I ran into 19-year-old Jen Kaplan of Brooklyn. Also a rape survivor, Jen says her case was mishandled by her university and that she's filed a federal complaint. I asked her why she came to the protest.

"I'm a survivor and I felt that I had to support this woman. I thought it would make her feel better," she said. "Also, let's start a fucking revolution."

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Previously: NYPD Rape Trial Verdict Will Be Protested Friday in NYC (Updated)

Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, NYPD Officers, Found Not Guilty of Rape

Rape Cop Reactions: Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata Got Off, But Won't Be Forgotten

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]


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7 comments
nebulae
nebulae

I'm reposting my own comment. I think it's important for us to know what should have been different at the protest. 

There should have been thousands and I am very saddened that there weren't. I have commented elsewhere that if these two men weren't cops, the protest would not have happened at all. The rally was lukewarm and totally in dissonance with the heinous act committed first on this young woman and later on all women by the no less heinous verdict. I felt humiliated by the verdict. Many commenters on various online media, including The NY Times, said they felt humiliated. Why then the protest was so blah?!

While I am very glad that even those 300 people showed up and grateful to the passionate and swift organizers, the protest was too short, the speakers talked only briefly, and the march afterwards hardly looked serious or impressive. But most importantly, the message that was supposed to be "taking advantage of women and violating them is routine and goes unpunished" got lost as the march proceeded. It turned into a rally against cops, not in support of women. There were many people who chanted the loudest to "fuck the police" and other police-berating slogans which became more frequent towards the end of the march (by this time half of the protesters have simply left). Passers-by cheered on to these slogans too and never figured out that the rally was against women subjugation. They must have thought we were a bunch of young hippies having tons of fun flipping finger at cops without much agenda behind us. So again, even at the event organized to uphold women, women were forgotten in the mix and disregarded. 

I very much hope that Feministing and Permanent Wave will cooperate with the council women and women's organizations who spoke at the morning rally to keep this going, to have more protests that are more focused and more populous. On my part, I will be sure to attend. In the meantime, we can write a letter to the Attorney General as pagasae suggested signed by as many as possible. Send it out to the media and to local and federal officials. I am quite concerned that this protest will be the end of it...

Tunnelrat
Tunnelrat

How's about this: what has happened in communities of color for decades finally happened to an affluent white woman. How many of you were on the street when Sean Bell got blown away? More folks didn't come out to the protest because you made this about sexual abuse exclusively, rather than about the lawlessness of those holding power or imbued with it.  This should be more about holding NYPD accountable to the citizens on a larger basis. This disgusting rape by Moreno is a wedge that can open the door to other organizing issues, but that can only happen if NYers reach across the racial and class divides we pretend don't exist

thatgirlinnewyork
thatgirlinnewyork

agreed. it is a universal issue, about the cops--that it involves rape does personalize it for a lot of women, and whatever brought them to the issue, whether it's rape or NYPD incompetence is good enough, really. i'll cop to being a white woman, but not an affluent one. i have a handful of horrifying experiences about botched or completely lost investigations by the NYPD that, after trying to follow up via the "right" channels, came to nothing.

but now that we're living in an increasingly militarized society (and that includes the NYPD's "protective efforts"), we're being made wrong for simply standing up and protesting, even being put on lists and or/watched for showing up publicly. there has to be some other, additional means that ensures action. has anyone identified it yet?

Dredscottdred
Dredscottdred

Ask Jen Doll about Ousmane Zongo or dozens of other, lower profile cases.

White people seem to have few worries about the jury system until one of their own ** seems ** to get the short end of it.

And they STILL won't talk to you about "reasonable doubt" and why that's so brutally important, no matter how fucking emotional they want to be.

But that's why some people are 'bloggers,' not even journalists, let alone lawyers or jurists.

bl1y
bl1y

Fuck jury trials!

Accusation = Guilt!

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