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Andrew Friedman

the real story behind the unjust arrests at a funeral

Reading the Trymaine Lee's article in the Times "Young People Arrested When They Gathered to Attend a Wake Ask for an Apology," was a great disappointment. It appears that Trymaine Lee caved to temptation; he wrote a sensational "gang" story, but his reporting simply missed the point.

From the article:

The arrests of about 30 young people on the way to a friend's wake on Monday have set off a wave of anger in Bushwick, Brooklyn, with more than 50 teenagers assembling yesterday to demand an apology, and their teachers saying that the police had unfairly made a target of the arrested youths - some as young as 13.

But the police defended their actions, saying that a climate of fear and retribution had taken root in the community after more violence erupted in the days after a young gang member was killed.

But here's the real deal; even if cops were fearful of violence in the wake of Donnell McFarland's death, there is no legal justification for ambushing and arresting 30 high schoolers on their way to his funeral. The students weren't carrying weapons or drugs, weren't wearing gang symbols; they were just trying to mourn a friend.

Defending their behavior, police from the 83rd precinct crowed about locking up two people with outstanding warrants. In no way is that an excuse for jailing over 30 kids. Not to mention screaming and cursing at 15-year-olds.

Relying on the brittle justification of guilt by association is unjust and drags innocent kids through a dangerous and overly-punitive criminal justice system. Policing like this only creates conflict between officers and the community they serve and that is not in anyone's best interest.

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Posted at 6:14 AM, Jun 04, 2007 in Criminal Justice | Racial Justice | Youth | activists
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