NEW YORK — Edward “Noche” Diaz, wearing a black hoodie over a black button-down shirt, came up to a dozen of his supporters before attending two trials as a defendant, both stemming from his arrests at police brutality protests. He pointed to a poster one of his supporters was holding, with lines of photos of people killed by police.
“We can’t keep making posters with faces after faces of people of who were murdered by the police," he said.
Diaz asked them to support Rise Up October, a mass demonstration against police brutality set for Oct. 24. But even showing support by sitting in court for him or other activists arrested at protests will help end police brutality, he said.
“We are going to be the ones to stop it,” Diaz said.
The group was gathered outside Manhattan’s Criminal Court Tuesday morning to show support and protest Diaz’s court cases. Instead of a trial, however, the prosecution filed a motion to consolidate charges stemming from his arrests at two different protests last year. Diaz’s legal team is deciding whether consolidating would be prejudicial and will respond to the prosecutor's motion next month.
Diaz, 26, is an activist with the Revolutionary Communist Party and the NYC Revolution Club. He was in court for charges from an August 2014 protest that he helped lead in response to Michael Brown’s death and from a November protest after Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Brown, was not indicted. The charges were four misdemeanors, including inciting to riot, and six violations, including disorderly conduct. His next court appearance is scheduled for December.
People across the country protested in December 2014 when a New York grand jury refused to indict the police officer who choked and killed Eric Garner on the sidewalk in Staten Island. In New York, two nights of protests shut down major streets as thousands of people took part. More than 200 were arrested.
Diaz had already appeared in court this year, on Sept. 15 at the Brooklyn Criminal Court, for his arrest at the #ShutdownA14 protest in April. Then he was given an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (an ACD). He was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The ACD means that all charges will be dismissed in six months if Diaz is not rearrested again within that time.
His supporters, wearing shirts that said "Stop Mass Incarceration," handed out flyers for Rise Up October, mostly to people standing in line to enter the courthouse for jury duty. Travis Morales, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, spoke first.
“Noche must be free and on the streets,” he said.
Morales told the small crowd that gathered that Diaz has served more time that 99 percent of the police officers he was protesting. Morales said people are calling the District Attorney’s office and telling them they want the charges dropped against Diaz. Morales asked for the calls to continue as a show of support.
Carl Dix, also a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and a founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network — an organization that has called for the end of police violence against teens and children of color in the city — spoke about how Diaz’s multiple arrests were a message from the police that they would target and stop activists.
But, Dix said, the important message was the one Diaz was bringing the community.
“He’s bringing a message that things don’t have to be this way,” Dix said.
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