Statement by the MXGM’s People’s Self Defense Campaign on the Crystal House Break-In by the NYPD
On Thursday, August 23, 2012 around 6:30pm in the evening there was a break-in by the NYPD into Crystal House, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) housing initiative. Upon arriving on the scene with his five year old son, a member of the People’s Self Defense Campaign (PSDC) of MXGM found approximately five 75th precinct detectives standing by the front entrance of Crystal House while another NYPD detective—who broke into the house by kicking in the basement door and proceeded to go upstairs to open the front door for the awaiting detectives—began opening the door from the inside of the residence with his gun drawn. The member immediately invoked his rights by asking that they produce a search warrant. The NYPD detective replied “we can do as we want.” With hostility in their tone, the detectives continued to argue that they had a right to be there and insisted on intimidating and harassing the member in front of his son. In the midst of this exchange, neighbors in the area stood on their own stoops watching the situation unfold. After the MXGM member invoked his rights and denied access to search upstairs, the officers left and attempted to proceed with their search on the same street. Neighbors stood firm in asserting their rights and refused to allow NYPD detectives illegally enter and search their homes. Although these detectives continued their false claims of having warrants, at no point was a warrant produced. Absent a legitimate emergency, the police are not permitted to enter private property without consent of the owner/occupant. There was no such emergency on August 23rd and the police did not even claim there was one. Rather, they acted the way they normally do in communities of color: with total disregard for the constitutional and human rights of the people.
The MXGM Crystal House initiative is located in the East New York area of Brooklyn, NY. This is a project of MXGM that recognizes housing as a human right for all people. It is a space where people of color artists and organizers work against the oppression of racism, sexism and classism while working to create change in their community. MXGM is a black community organization whose mission is to defend human rights and promote community self-determination. The PSDC of MXGM observes, documents, and prevents incidents of police violence through educating, supporting and organizing our community. Since the early 90s, PSDC has done outreach and cop watch patrols in the streets of Central Brooklyn, hosted Know Your Rights and Cop Watch trainings throughout New York City, and supported community members by hosting legal clinics and assisting with notice of claim filings. Through our work we call for police accountability to communities and an end to police misconduct, brutality and killings.
In the wake of the NYPD warrantless home invasion and murder of 18 year old Ramarley Graham in February 2012, we see every invocation of our constitutional rights as an act of survival. Our neighbors on Crystal Street have proven to the NYPD that knowing your rights is, in fact, saving your life and the lives of those in your home. In a recently released report by MXGM, it was found that every 36 hours a black woman, man or child is killed by the police and a smaller number of security guards and vigilantes. Many of these killings start off as stop and frisks or other warrantless searches in communities where people of color are the primary targets by law enforcement. These oppressive and illegal acts by the NYPD impede on the rights of the members of these communities to simply be, live and walk freely in their homes, their neighborhoods and their schools. In an effort to protect our civil and human rights, we call for an immediate end to these abuses by the police. We will continue to work to see police accountability to our communities while organizing to empower our fellow community members.
MXGM People’s Self-Defense Campaign