The rally held in Flushing on Monday evening was billed by local chapters of the NAACP as a generic call for an end to the police practice of stop and frisk, and to the alleged use of racial profiling and excessive force.
But Ken Cohen, president of the NAACP Northeast Branch in Queens, acknowledged that the location and the timing — a street corner about 20 feet from where Robert Jackson has accused multiple NYPD officers of beating him on Jan. 8, and three days after a tense standoff between Southeast Queens residents and officers from the 113th Precinct — were not accidental.
“We cannot allow these practices to continue,” Cohen said. “They are escalating in Queens and New York City.”
Jackson, 19, of Jamaica, was due in court on Wednesday on charges connected with his arrest. Authorities are said to be examining a cell-phone video of the incident, which allegedly depicts six or more officers from the 109th Precinct beating him while effecting a marijuana arrest.
The matter is being investigated by the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.
But Leroy Gadsden, president of the NAACP’s Jamaica Branch, said incidents last Friday night and Saturday at the Baisley Park housing project at Guy R. Brewer and Foch boulevards in the 113th Precinct have him very concerned.
“Baisley Park is a powder keg,” he said Monday night.
Police said tensions began at about 7:50 p.m. on April 5 when officers allegedly seeing a drug transaction approached Corey Crichlow, 33, of Jamaica, in his car.
Police said Crichlow then allegedly swallowed what was believed to be crack cocaine, and knocked down an officer and a sergeant as they attempted to remove him from the vehicle.
It was then that “an uninvolved person,” Raynard Fields, 27, of Jamaica, said to be Crichlow’s brother in published reports, joined in the altercation.
Police said at that point officers began to get pelted with rocks, bottles and other debris from the street and the nearby rooftops at the Baisley Park project.
Crichlow was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center. An officer who sustained back and hand injuries also was treated at a nearby hospital.
Police said Crichlow was charged with second-degree assault on a police officer, obstructing governmental administration, criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Fields was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
It was after their arrests that both police and residents say about 40 people marched to the 113th Precinct stationhouse on Baisley Boulevard.
An NYPD spokesman said the crowd set up about 100 feet from the precinct and was orderly.
Police in riot gear stood by until the group dispersed after a few hours.
But Gadsden said what truly concerned him is what happened on Saturday, when he and other branch officials went to the housing complex with what he said was the blessing and knowledge of the police.
“We were going there with a program we have to teach people how to respond,” he said. “We want them to know their rights, and how to file a complaint the right way if they have a problem. We want the police to do their job. If someone is going to be stupid and break the law, take them away.”
But he said he was shocked to see officers coming seemingly out of nowhere from every direction as he and others walked the complex and sat in their vehicles.
Like Cohen and other speakers on Monday evening, Gadsden said officers too must show and be trained in using the proper restraint to avoid having interactions escalate unnecessarily.
“We don’t say all cops are bad,” Cohen said. “The very few make the rest look bad.”
He said the NYPD must get better at weeding out problem officers and terminating them rather than just transferring them within the department.
He and Gadsden said incidents of excessive force, profiling and stop and frisk drive a wedge between the police and the community, something they say hampers police investigations when members of the public do not feel they can trust law enforcement.
And they said stop and frisk must end without qualification.
Gadsden said stop-and-frisk incidents in 2011 were up about 600 percent since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, but that gun seizures from the practice remained at about 800 per year.
And he dismissed one of the city’s contentions that the policy has led to fewer criminals choosing to carry guns.
“That’s fantasy,” he said, calling the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy “a sugar-coated term of racial profiling in its most pure form.”
In a sit-down interview with the Queens Chronicle in 2012, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said young men of color were the primary beneficiaries of the practice based on the reduction in murder statistics.
Jackson and his attorney, Jacques Leandre, were among the roughly two dozen people who attended the rally, which was held on the sidewalk near where Jackson was arrested in front of the Flushing YMCA building where he was taking classes.
Jackson’s left cheek still bore the scar from a large contusion he sustained during the incident, and he said he still suffers pain from other injuries.
Leandre said a civil suit against the city “is definitely a possibility.”