Several members of a civil rights advocacy group were found guilty of disorderly conduct last Thursday after a three-week trial in Queens Criminal Court.
They will be sentenced on Jan. 7 and each could get up to 15 days in jail and be forced to pay a fine.
They were not convicted on the more serious charge of obstruction of government administration, which carries a potential sentence of one year in prison.
The charges stem from a stop and frisk protest members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network held last November, during which members marched through downtown Jamaica and outside the 103rd Precinct.
The police had put barricades in front of the precinct, according to the group’s co-founder, Carl Dix, keeping the protesters at bay, and then, strangely, later invited them in before arresting them. The NYPD declined to comment.
“They said we were causing public inconvenience, annoyance and alarm,” Dix explained. “If anything it was the police that did this by blocking off the street on either side.”
They were only behind the barricades for about seven minutes, Dix said, and officers warned them twice to disperse, but without using a megaphone, and with all the chanting it was hard to hear. Soon after the police started arresting people. They included Dix and fellow SMIN members Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt and Robert Parsons.
Dix said he warned the protesters before the event that there was the chance they might be arrested, not because they would get unruly or break the law, but rather due to the nature of what they were protesting.
“I am 64 years old. I’m African-American and I’ve lived in New York City for 30 years,” Dix said. “I know that every time I leave my house, there is a chance I will be stopped and frisked. And when you are going out to protest stop and frisk, the risk becomes even greater.”
Dix said the NYPD policy amounts to racial profiling and that many blacks and Latinos are stopped and asked for ID and if they don’t have it, he said, they are frisked and in some cases arrested.
“It’s like South Africa under apartheid, when blacks had to carry a pass to travel in white areas,” Dix said. “It wasn’t acceptable then and it’s not acceptable now.”