Criminal Justice

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NYC has the most extensive system of racial profiling in the country; it has a large and heavily militarized police force that, in former-mayor Bloomberg’s words, constitutes the “5th largest army in the world”; and, it has massive levels of segregation and poverty. Since the early 1990’s, the ISO in NYC has always been active in the fights against police brutality, the death penalty and the criminal injustice system. During the Giuliani era, we worked with Parents Against Police Brutality to fight against the epidemic of police murders and torture. Unfortunately, this epidemic is continuing to escalate today and we are again working with family members to win justice for their loved ones.

We participated centrally with Black Lives Matter and related groups in New York. And while we have been supporting the work of all the family members of the victims, we have been centrally involved in the fights for justice for Ramarley Graham and Shantel Davis. Ramarley Graham was unarmed and was shot in his own bathroom in front of his 6-year old brother and his grandmother. February 2nd will mark the one-year anniversary of his murder and there will be a vigil in the Bronx that day. We have been working with Ramarley’s Call to win justice and the next court date for the police officer, Richard Haste, who killed Ramarley will be held on March 26th and we will be mobilizing for that as well. In Brooklyn, we have been working with the family of Shantel Davis, a 26 year old woman who was shot at close range by police in her own car and then dragged from it. The police officer, Phillip Atkins, who shot her has a substantial record of civilian complaints against him, but has been put back on the streets. There are regular vigils in the community and to the precinct and we are trying to put pressure on the Brooklyn DA to bring an indictment against Atkins.

Michelle Alexander’s important book The New Jim Crow has shifted the national debate on the prison boom and the nature of racism today. The ISO has been involved for many years in the fight against mass incarceration and the prison system, from building solidarity with lifers to the fight against solitary confinement at Rikers and the campaign to close Attica prison, and many other struggles. We are an active part of the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, whose campaigns include combating the school-to-prison pipeline, filming and monitoring the police, organizing study groups around mass incarceration and supporting anti-police brutality activists. Currently, they are also working on a campaign to support the Central Park Five: five men falsely convicted as teenagers by coerced confessions for the 1989 rape of the Central Park jogger. We were also part of the Free Jazz Hayden campaign, which won an important victory by stopping the Manhattan DA’s attempt to prosecute Jazz, an important Harlem activist who initiated a campaign of filming the police, on trumped up charges.

The ISO also holds frequent forums, teach-ins and study groups on the history of racism, the civil rights and Black Power movements and the dimensions of racism today. And we highlight and raise the centrality of the fight against racism in all our other areas of work.

Get Involved

For more information or to get involved in this work contact: nyc-iso@nycsocialist.org

Further Reading

The New Jim Crow
by Michelle Alexander

A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt
by Tom Wicker

People Wasn’t Made to Burn: A True Story of Race, Murder, and Justice in Chicago
by Joe Allen

The Political Economy of Racism
by Melvin Leiman

Socialist Worker’s anti-racism coverage