FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Drop the Case Against Activist Jazz Hayden

by ANTHONY PAPA

Joseph “Jazz:” Hayden is a community activist from Harlem whose main goal was to expose the NYPD’s stop and frisk campaign. The controversial practice has impacted more than four million residents of New York since it was initiated and raised serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. Hayden did this through a video monitoring program he started called “Cop Watch” which is part of Allthingsharlem, a grassroots media company.

The Village Voice reported that last year after Jazz filmed two undercover cops who had stopped two motorists, he was arrested by the same cops months later. Hayden was arrested for a small pen knife that was found in his car. He now faces felony charges and can be sentenced to two to seven years in prison. Hayden claims that hisarrest was payback for the program he was conducting and at least one cop knew who Hayden was. In a video tape, the cop can be heard saying “you done selling drugs yet or what? I know your rap sheet.” And then later, the tape shows, the same officer can be heard saying: “Go sell some more drugs, sir. We know your background. I know who you are.”

I know Hayden personally, as we both graduated from New York Theological Seminary while we were doing hard time in Sing Sing Prison in upstate New York. I remember when I met him. He impressed me greatly with his activism back then when he had started a campaign from behind prison walls to secure the vote for prisoners.

New York Theological Seminary was a one-year, 42-credit program that afforded a select group of Sing Sing prisoners the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in theology. It started in Sing Sing in 1983 and was the only program of its kind in country — a graduate-level religious studies program that required a four-year degree from an accredited university to join. The program demanded intense academic scholarship and a commitment to personal growth. A recurrent theme was that of “koinonia,” or authentic community. Koinonia encompasses the belief that we must reject the differences between us to make the world a better place.

Each year, many prisoners applied but only 15 were accepted. Hundreds of men graduated and many of them are now in society working as social workers, pastors, prison reform advocates and educators. Few have ever returned to prison.

Joseph took the concept of koinonia and applied it in his life on the outside to create a viable company that is committed to help those who are marginalized and voiceless in the community of Harlem. Chief among the concerns of Harlem residents is the questionable practices of stop and frisk, which greatly affects Harlem residents.

In the interest of justice, New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance should drop the trumped-up charges against Jazz Hayden. He is an example of someone who has changed his life and dedicated it to serving his community. To put him in prison would serve no purpose and would be totally wrong based on the facts of his pending case. A petition to drop the charges against Hayden is being distributed widely and hundreds of concerned New Yorkers have signed it. Please sign it and send a message to D.A. Vance’s office to keep Jazz Hayden a free man.

We are also asking organizations and community leaders to write letters to District Attorney Cyrus Vance voicing their outrage. A sample letter is available here. The next court appearance for Jazz Hayden is on July 31 at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan. We are planning a rally outside of the courthouse beginning at 8:30 a.m. Please come to support him. Thank you.

Anthony Papa is an artist, writer, and  Manager of Media Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance.

 

 

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail