In less than 24 hours, we'll be rallying on the steps of City Hall in New York to demand an end to the nonstop barrage of NYPD and federal "gang" raids across the city. After that, we’re marching to the US Attorney’s Office and then a noise demo in front of MCC prison.
The militarized raids we've seen, including one federally-assisted takedown in the Boston Secor Houses in the Bronx last week, signal the beginning of the longer battles ahead for the families affected by them. The prosecutions that follow, some which happen at the federal level and some at the local level, are a gut-wrenching experience for families. Tomorrow's rally marks one year since the mega raid in the Eastchester Gardens section of the Bronx last April – the biggest gang raid in the city's history. There have been many others: 40 “gang” takedowns and over 1,000 arrests last year lone, in fact.
So as we get ready to stand by family members, including those of the #Bronx120 (which stands for the 120 people caught up in last year's raid, many of whom face sentencing this week), here is a letter written by one of the moms, "Jean", who is protecting her identity to avoid retaliation from federal authorities. She asks the judge on her son's case for leniency, referring to a recent Huffington Post blog from lawyers pointing out the abuse of RICO prosecutions.
Dear Judge *****,
As we approach the anniversary of the capture of the Bronx 120, we are reminded of the reign of terror that left our community in a state of shock and awe and consequently the loss of a generation. The raid of April 27, 2016, and those raids which preceded it and those that followed it, are viewed by community members as ethnic cleansing, genocide of sorts as these raids disproportionately target black communities; the overwhelming majority of captives being our youth. These raids not only impact the defendants, but their families who are facing eviction and displacement consequently. The raids were concocted to clear out our community, giving way to gentrification and the privatization of public housing (NYCHA). It's hardly a surprise then of the outrageous and unfounded charges brought against them.
What was boasted to be the "largest gang raid in the history of New York City" proved to be a prosecutorial overreach, of which New York attorney Heidi Boghosian, and attorney, author and professor Zachary Wolfe of Washington DC concur. The fact that these youngsters were poorly organized and lacked the resources that constitute a criminal organization rule out any indication that they are "the epitome of organized crime." They can no way be equated to past and present mafia as we know them. Many of the Bronx 120 were penniless, others did menial jobs, and owned no property but they were everyone of them supported by their parents. This a far reach from the statutes of the 1970 RICO Act which is bigger than the Bronx 120, we believe the latter does not fit in the RICO equation.
We are aware that the sentencing of the Bronx 120 who have taken pleas is soon approaching. As the judge presiding over these cases, we are pleading on their behalf for leniency. We understand that your job is a difficult one but are hopeful that you will see the potential of each one as they stand before you.