•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

Police beat, arrest civil rights attorneys

Published Jun 28, 2007 9:40 PM

A long-time civil rights and people’s attorney, Michael Tarif Warren, and his partner Evelyn Warren, also a lawyer, were beaten and arrested by police on June 21 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Warrens, who are both Black, were held for several hours at the 77th Precinct before being released.

Michael Tarif Warren addresses crowd
outside Brooklyn’s 77th Precint
at June 23 protest rally.
WW photos: Arturo J. Pérez-Saad

Their statement to the press on being released later that evening, following a long ordeal and after both having been attacked by a cop, was: “What we experienced tonight happens every day in our communities. What happened to me was the result of doing what is right—speaking out against wrongdoing.”

The doing “what is right” was to observe and try to offer assistance to a young Black man who had been chased by cops. After having caught the young man, they began kicking him while he had his hands behind his back and was on the ground.

Larry Holmes
at June 23 protest.

The following are excerpts from an article entitled “NYPD Brutalize Human Rights Attorney” written by Amadi Ajamu, an organizer with the December 12th Movement:

“Warren, a high profile attorney who has been practicing law for 28 years, said, ‘We saw a young kid being chased by a horde of policemen across a McDonald’s parking lot. They tackled him and immediately put handcuffs on him. Then Sergeant Talvy, who appeared to be in charge, began kicking him in the head and ribs, and stomping him on the neck.’ The other police officers followed suit. ‘They literally gave this kid a beating which was unconscionable.’

Charles Barron
at June 23 protest.

“‘Not only as people of conscience and moral decency, but as lawyers, we said this is outrageous.’ They arrived and stood ‘more than 10 feet away,’ he said. Mr. Warren told Sergeant Talvy they were lawyers, and told him to stop and just take the young man to the precinct. In response, he said, ‘Talvy shouted, ‘I don’t give a f**k who you are, get the f**k back in your car!’

“They returned to their car, and Mr. Warren began to write down the license plate numbers of the police vehicles as they watched them put the bleeding young man in a car. ‘Then Talvy comes to my car and viciously attacks me, repeatedly punching me through the window. Shouting, “Get out of the car!” he dragged me out of the car, ripping my shirt and pants. My wife, very upset, asked him, “Why are you doing this?” He then punched her in the face.’ Both were arrested and taken to the 77th precinct charged with obstruction, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

“Michael Tarif Warren has handled many police misconduct cases in the black community, including the shocking police murder of graffiti artist Michael Stewart, and Yvonne Smallwood, who was beaten to death by police in the Bronx. He also handled the case exonerating the five young black teenagers falsely convicted of raping the white bank executive ‘Central Park Jogger.’”

Arrests outrage community

Perhaps the cops didn’t know who they were attacking, maybe they did. It is entirely possible, though, that the cops thought the two were a “regular” Black couple and that, like countless other times that play out in every city around this country, they would simply get away with it.

The community might hear or read of the incident, and then again, they might not. There could be a press conference, a few rallies, outrage, marches calling for justice, but at the end of the day, just as many times before, the police chief, mayor and the corporate media outlets would speak of the difficulty of police work.

There would be no suspension, no dock in pay, no firings and cops still celebrated as heroes in popular media.

This time, though, the cops picked on two Freedom Fighters, two well-known heroes and supporters of liberation struggles around the world. This time the cops attacked people who not only have the know-how and determination to fight back, but also the popular support that comes with having been in the struggle for years and with being loved for their work, compassion and humble demeanor.

There is no greater evidence of those assets than what happened the night of their detainment.

It undoubtedly goes without utterance or written word that no cop at the 77th Precinct expected that there would be a minor rebellion, albeit a peaceful one. But that is what happened in the late evening of June 21.

As soon as word got out about the Warrens’ arrests, the call was sent out by e-mail, WBAI-FM public radio and by phone to gather at the 77th Precinct where they were being held. In just a couple of hours, the precinct was packed with political and community leaders and activists, including this writer.

Those who immediately came to the precinct were Brooklyn-based city council member Charles Barron; the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; the December 12th Movement; FIERCE!; CAAAV; WBAI, which broadcast the incident on the airwaves; the Jericho Movement; the Safiya/Nuh Foundation; CEMOTAP, the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition; representatives from the Muslim and Haitian communities; the International Action Center; Workers World Party; and other organizations and concerned individuals.

There was barely room to move and still more people waited in the stairwell and outside in the rain. When one cop asked if the people could make room, someone in the crowd retorted, “As soon as you let Michael and Evelyn go, we’ll give you all the room you want.”

Because of the mass of people, there was nothing the cops could do, not even when the cop who attacked Michael Tarif and Evelyn Warren was pointed out, and not even when shouts of “Michael Warren/Freedom Fighter,” resounded.

Those gathered along with the leadership, from Viola Plummer of the December 12th Movement to Charles Barron, had already decided that the night could not end without the freedom of Michael and Evelyn.

Darkness would have passed into day as nature goes unimpeded, but the masses gathered seemed to have made up their mind.

Eventually, after the summoning of the borough chief and deputy chief, before midnight, Michael and Evelyn walked out of the precinct, surrounded by throngs of supporters who chanted loudly.

Michael Warren’s clothes were torn and both had scrapes and looked tired, but were surprised and glad to see so many admirers. After giving a statement, they got in their vehicle, flanked by supporters, and drove away. From there the people marched and chanted. The cops looked on, helpless. People from the neighborhood looked out their windows, seeming to revel in the victory, though maybe not even aware of what transpired.

Another anti-police-brutality rally took place at the precinct on June 24.

This battle is not yet over, however. Michael Tarif Warren and Evelyn Warren have a court date on July 25 in Brooklyn to respond to desk appearance tickets. Supporters are asking that the courtroom be packed to show the city that justice is demanded, that the charges be dropped and once again, the cops have to be put on trial for their brutality.