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"Stop-and-Frisk 101: Arrest Training?"

Stop-and-Frisk 101: Arrest Training?
That's how a handful of dead-end high-schoolers ended up giving the city a big black eye.
A A A Comments (14) By Elizabeth Dwoskin Tuesday, Jul 28 2009
On May 21, 2007, a coordinated scrum of police officers on foot, in patrol cars, and even hovering overhead in a helicopter converged on a group of 32 young people ranging in age from 13 to 21.

Peter and Maria Hoey

Sam Lewis
Kenneth Frederick offered to show arresting police officers his permission slip.
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BrooklynBushwickEugene SullivanNew York CrimeGang Violence The group of mostly teens had been walking through a part of Bushwick to a train station, heading for a funeral taking place that day for their friend, an 18-year-old who had been shot in what police believed was a gang murder.

The mass arrest was immediately controversial. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office claimed that the group of 32 were gang members themselves, dressed in gang colors, flashing gang signs, and stomping on parked cars as they made their way through the neighborhood. But parents—as well as bystanders who didn't know the young arrestees—disputed that account, saying the procession was a peaceful one, led by students from nearby Bushwick Community High School. Even after being handcuffed, the students didn't protest their arrest or lose their cool, witnesses claimed. The police, parents alleged, had invented stories about the students' being unruly and damaging cars to justify the arrest.

For weeks, there was substantial press coverage as accusations about the incident flew back and forth.

The New York Post called the police officers "outright heroes," and condemned "whining" from critics. In the months that followed, however, nearly every criminal charge against the students was dismissed.

There was far less press coverage this past April, when the city agreed to pay 16 members of the "Bushwick 32" a settlement of $257,000 to end a civil lawsuit that alleged police harassment and unlawful arrest. (Twelve additional members of the group filed a similar civil rights lawsuit against the city earlier this month.)

And what has received even less press attention than that is how a bunch of high school students managed to give the city such an expensive drubbing.

The pupils at Bushwick Community are not model students. In fact, many are the truants, gang members, and behavioral cases that other schools can't handle. Bushwick Community is their last chance, a school with its own problems and a graduation rate so miserable that the state has scheduled it to be closed in two years.

And yet these students, deemed screw-ups by the school system, managed to give the police department one of its worst black eyes in recent years.

It turns out there's a perfectly good explanation for it. And if the police had only known what some of the students at Bushwick Community had been studying, they might have had second thoughts about swooping down on them, SWAT-style.

Bushwick Community High School sits on a long block it shares with low-slung, clapboard houses and a dentist's office. The school occupies the second floor of a building that houses two other schools—a few blocks away, another four high schools were recently opened to replace a large, failing school that was shut down by the city.

A typical Bushwick Community student is 18 years old and has completed less than a year of high school. Students as old as 21 attend. About 10 percent of them have children of their own. Some are homeless, living in abandoned buildings, and some a teacher euphemistically calls "street-level pharmacists."

"I have Bloods. I have Crips. I have Latin Kings. I'm sure I have Nietas and every other gang that's represented in New York," principal Tira Randall recently told the New York Civil Liberties Union.

"This is the school for kids that the other schools don't want," says Melody Meyer, a Department of Education (DOE) spokeswoman.

Not all of the kids are hard-luck cases: Some actually choose to go to Bushwick Community; others are transferred there for reasons other than being dumped by schools that no longer want them.

Most new Bushwick Community students walk through the door having already failed three years of high school, and only 6.6 percent of them will graduate in four years. Even after seven years, only 38 percent finish, which is well below this year's city average of 60 percent. The rate is so meager that the school is one of several in the city scheduled for closure by the state. (Parents and teachers managed to derail a similar school death sentence in 2004.)

Every student is at least 17 years old, which means that, by law, they can walk away at any time, and most do. But the ones who stick around tend to show up regularly. "If they're there," says Meyer, "it's because they really want to be there." That may explain why, despite the miserable statistics, students and teachers tend to give the school high marks in DOE surveys. Unlike the schools that students have transferred from, Bushwick Community has no metal detectors, and Principal Randall sees no need for them.

Outside the school, however, violence is a constant presence.

Donnell McFarland didn't go to Bushwick Community, but the students there knew him as a fancy dresser and a ladies' man, which explained his handle: Freshh. His friends knew that the 18-year-old could often be found at Putnam Park, hanging with a group called the Pretty Boy Family.

Police consider the Pretty Boy Family to be an offshoot of the Bloods gang.

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Comments (14)
yian 11/05/2009 3:58:11 PM
can't stop reading your stories. gives great insight into another culture.

Cybergrace 10/02/2009 1:51:54 PM
Thank you, Village Voice, for showing that so many of our students are being set up for criminal lives in jail -- despite their good actions and intentions. Please continue to show the stories of the many NYC residents illegally arrested and charged by the NYPD, especially the victims of racism. There are many nonprofits, such as the Medgar Evers Institute of Law and Social Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights and others who could tell similar stories, lawsuits and victories. Please keeping telling our stories. God bless you.

Angry 09/01/2009 6:42:44 AM
And what's happening to these officers? It seems that they can just throw charges at people like spaghetti to a wall and see if any of it sticks. And if it doesn't then what? They're off to try again to another victim? It seems that police are rarely held accountable for their actions; why is that? What puts them above the law? Why aren't they held to the same standards? Because they look out for their own. The same way us regular people have to. The police are initiating more unfounded confrontations recently than they have in awhile. Unfortunately it seems that the responsibility that came the the badge, is no longer a mandatory requirement, and we are all taking note.

John Wright 09/01/2009 6:27:31 AM
Stupid punk cops! RT

Bob Qwerty 09/01/2009 1:21:10 AM
Hello from Reddit! That was a very well written story. It's good to see the students were able to take such a bad event and turn it into a positive learning experience.

Reggie Larkin 08/20/2009 12:25:35 PM
A fine article! I think a lot of us (young and old) should take some of those classes to know how to deal with overzealous cops and know what our rights really are.We might be better off.

Seth 08/10/2009 11:48:00 AM
Neat story! Ms. Dwoskin is a great writer.

Aaron Boyle 07/31/2009 4:42:35 PM
As a teacher at Bushwick Community H.S., I thank you for sharing the story of these youth and the inspiring way they took a stand against the racial profiling, which is faced by our students all too often. I do want to correct a common mischaracterization of our school that is unfortunately present in the article as you refer to our "miserable statistics". It is true that measuring our school with the formulas built for traditional 4-year high schools yields numbers well below average, but this is nothing more than a mathematical representation of the fact that Bushwick Community H.S., as a transfer school, is specifically set up to take students who have fallen off-track from on-time graduation. Not yet recognizing the inappropriateness of applying 4-year accountability measures to our school, the NY State Education Department did place our school under registration review in 2008. However, because this method unfairly held us accountable for what happened at our students' prior schools rather than our school, they have since developed alternative measures for evaluating transfer schools like ours. Our school is NOT "scheduled to be closed in two years" as your article suggests. The significant gains students achieve at Bushwick Community H.S. are quite evident when applying measures reflective of transfer schools. The ultimate measure for us though is the transformation and leadership of our students, and we are certainly proud to count the students profiled in your article as a testament to that success.

ruthoutspoken 07/30/2009 7:13:45 PM
This is a absolutely fantastic story, especially amid the current Skip Gates scandal. Excellent job, Elizabeth Dwoskin.

Willie Mays 07/30/2009 11:54:31 AM
Good article. One correction: "Nieta" is the incorrect spelling of "Neta," with an "Ñ"

Beatrice 07/29/2009 1:39:56 PM
This is a great article - it highlights the pandemic and egregious police abuses going on in our communities every day that are unfortunately ignored by the media. Thank you.

Latoya Snell 07/29/2009 7:01:06 AM
Reading this article is refreshing to my psyche. It's depressing to know that the Bushwick 32 had to go through this injustice. It makes me fear for my son. Just to think that one day my son will grow up and get stopped by a police officer simply because he's a black man scares me. I'm confident that I'm not the only parent with this fear. Don't get me wrong...I understand that it is not an easy job to be part of the NYPD but don't add to the horrific reputation by choosing not to investigate the situation. A simple look at a permission slip could have prevented this situation. I wish they could have sued for much more because there's no amount of money that can take away the pain, hurt and humiliation. I tip my hat off to Brian and Lurie Favors because they have a positive impact to Brooklyn. It's the type of change that we need and people need to be aware. When will society stop repeating past mistakes?

Maria 07/29/2009 6:14:00 AM
A well done story on how the police use their power to police people of color differently and w/ less respect than they do white communities. Thank you for staying on this story and keeping it at the forefront. Everyone had something to say when the kids were arrested but there was very little mention of the fact that the kids won this battle from the media. Also glad to hear about the teacher and those he was arrested with. Too bad the school and the students were forced to endure a year and a half w/ him in the rubber room. Sounds like he is a true educator.

Ed Shott 07/28/2009 5:36:07 PM
This is anti-semetic.

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1. Extra Clips/ Monsta, Bizzy, Franchise Beat by: Bizzy
2. Real Life Gangsta Shit/ Franchise, Monsta, Bizzy Beat by: Bizzy
3. Bad’Mon Run/ Rude Siya, Bizzy, Franchise ,Monsta Beat by: Bizzy
4. Grown –N- Sexy/ Franchise, Bizzy, Monsta Beat by: Bizzy
5. After Party/ Bizzy, Franchise, Monsta Beat by: Bizzy
6. How you like it/ Steels, Bizzy, B-Don, Monsta, Crystal Beat by: B-Don
7. Don’t Live Like me/ Bizzy, Monsta, Franchise Beat by: Bizzy
8. Late Night Love/ Bizzy, E-Dubs, Monsta Beat by: Tyreek
9. The Struggle/ Bizzy feat.Tiff Beat by: Tyreek
10. Hustle to servive Bizzy, Monsta, Leach Beat by: Bizzy
11. Where the cash at/ Bizzy, Monsta Beat by: Bizzy
12. Where the Cash at remix/ Bizzy, Franchise Beat by Tyreek
13. Gettin It (Produced by Tyreek)– Steelz, Bizzy, E-Dubs, Monsta
14. We Gone Get Em (Produced by Bizzy) - Bizzy feat. Butta
15. When You Got It (Produced by Bizzy) – Franchise, Monsta & Bizzy
16. Playin with my heart (Produced by Bizzy) – Franchise, Bizzy feat. Nay Nay

After Party and the Struggle had some radio air play collage at radio stations.



Pretty Boy Family one off the best up and coming rap groups out off Brooklyn New York. The three band members are all first cousins (hence the name Pretty Boy Family) the name was given to them because of there flash dress code born in Trinidad and Tobago moved to Brooklyn at a very young age grew up on hiphop reggae and soca music from artists such a Biggie TUPAC Bob Marley Junior Reed and Wu Tang Clan moved around a bit spent two years in the Bronx then to Bushwick where they were introduced to street life. Most of P.B.F music is off stories from the streets of Brooklyn. For the past four years P.B.F have been perfecting there craft recording and performing at various show cases around New York in 2007 they decided not to wait for a big label to sign them in order to put an album out so with the help of producers such as Tyreek B-don and P.B.F very own BIZZY and various artist from Bushwick and album was formed called THE COMMISSION. This album was haled a under ground classic some say this is what the streets of New York needs to revive HIP HOP a combination off hard knocking beats hard core lyrics a soft side for the ladies party songs and one for the Caribbean massive this album has everything you would need to listen too on a well tough out CD.