The Peoples' Self-Defense Campaign

The Peoples’ Self-Defense Campaign (PSDC) observes, documents, and prevents incidents of police misconduct and brutality through educating and organizing our community and supporting survivors/victims of this misconduct.

Vision: PSDC recognizes the right of all people to live free of oppression and human rights violations, as well as any community’s right to observe and document abuse. People in communities of color are routinely stopped, searched, and detained without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. We believe that increased community control is one solution to this problem.


  • Community control over police – The community must control and operate any institution that holds the power of life and death over it. Democratically elected community police boards must be developed with the power to hire, fire, discipline, and promote.
  • End the 48 hour rule and the option to a trial by judge – Police officers accused of brutality and murder are given 2 days to “get their stories straight” and are not required to give any information about the incident. They also avoid being tried by a jury that reflects the communities they police.
  • An independent prosecutor for police brutality cases – District Attorneys work directly with the police on a daily basis. They rely heavily on one another to indict, prosecute, and try cases. They function as one institution and we believe that a local DA prosecuting constitutes a conflict of interest.
  • Disband the Street Crimes Unit (accomplished in 2004), Operation Condor, and all “COINTELPRO” type policing programs!
  • A “REAL” Civilian Complaint Review Board – An independent CCRB should be established with the power to indict.

In 2005 the PSDC:

    • Filed 20 Notices of Claim on behalf of police brutality victims
    • Filed 25 Complaints with the Civilian Complaint Review Boar
    • Assisted 23 individuals with their police abuse/misconduct cases
    • Successfully settled Class Action Lawsuit against the NYPD Street Crime Unit
    • Trained over 250 youth in how to deal effectively with police encounters as part of our Know Your Rights workshop series

Components of the Peoples Self Defense Campaign

Cop Watch: The Central Brooklyn Community Cop Watch recognizes the right of Central Brooklyn residents to live free of oppression and human rights violations. The Cop Watch attempts to prevent incidents of police brutality and misconduct from occurring in the central Brooklyn community, to document ongoing human rights abuses, and educate the community about their “so-called” 4th Amendment Rights and to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention. The program was developed with the advisory assistance of the Medgar Evers Center for Law and Social Justice and the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

Know Your Rights Workshops: These interactive seminar/workshops assesses participants current understanding of their rights and explains in detail the arrest, detainment, and incarceration procedures. The session also includes a role-play to assist people in practicing “the right way” to advocate for their rights when stopped by the police. Lastly the session encourages the community to stand a reasonable distance away and bare witness to police actions in the community, it’s our their right.

Legal and Orgaizing Support: The last component of our program is to provide legal and organizing assistance to victims of police misconduct and brutality in New York. PSDC gives individual help to people who have been victims of police misconduct by helping them file complaints, lawsuits, and organize community/political support around their cases.