Victory in Noche Diaz Case - No Criminal Charges
Noche Diaz went into Manhattan Criminal Court this morning facing a possible two years at Rikers on four misdemeanors and several violations, charges stemming from two 2014 protests of the murder of Michael Brown. Over 17 months, he was locked up twice after being grabbed by the NYPD out of peaceful protests, and went through many court appearances. His two arrests were combined into one case, unjustly.
This week, as Noche's trial date neared, many people called the office of the Manhattan District Attorney urging that all charges be dropped. Thirty supporters joined him as he prepared to go into court, and spoke to why, as a revolutionary communist, he is not backing down in the face of threats of jail.
Today, the prosecution made an offer that Noche could plead guilty to one violation, and all criminal charges would be dropped. This is a very good development, won through struggle. Thanks to everyone for calling and writing the prosecutors, and for coming out many times to court to back up Noche.
video of Noche reading his statement after court
A full courtroom heard Noche, surrounded by extra court officers, and in the face of the prosecutors and the judge, in a loud and clear voice, give this allocution (statement to the court):
Looking back to the time of my arrest, August 2014, something very old was giving birth to something new. Michael Brown was another unarmed Black youth gunned down by this system's authorities. Another addition to the body count in the centuries old oppression of Black people in America.
But the defiant rebellion of the youth, which would catch fire across the land, ushered in new waves of resistance to this oppression not seen in far too long.
The cries for justice ringing out from a little town called Ferguson shook the earth. It was the responsibility of every person with a moral conscience and heart for justice to make sure they knew their cries were heard.
And since this time, we have seen dragged into the light a bloody epidemic of police, all over this country, carrying out murder after murder, especially of Black people, Latinos, Native Americans, and other oppressed people. Yet over this same period of time, we still see, all across the land, prosecutors and courts and grand juries refuse to even bring charges or put on trial, let alone convict, the police who carry out this murder. All while people who protest these injustices face charges and are accused of all sorts of crimes.
I COMMITTED NO CRIME. What I DID do, going back to August 14th, 2014, is attend a vigil for Michael Brown, I took silence to defiance when I led a march of hundreds which became nearly 2,000, into the streets and straight to the heart of Times Square. The normal hustle and bustle which usually marks the passage off "business as usual" was punctuated when I along with those 2000 or so filed the streets of Times Square and brought traffic to a halt, thus blocking traffic. [At this point the judge interjected: "Are you saying you did not commit a crime?"] To which Noche said: I did not commit a crime, I committed the violation of blocking traffic!
The courtroom burst into applause. And it wasn't only Noche's supporters who were saying "yeah!" and murmuring agreement throughout, as well as applauding Noche. It was many of the other defendants filing the room, mostly young men of color. People said they had never heard anything like that in court. An attorney came out smiling, saying "that was GREAT!"
Noche was sentenced to 10 days of community service. He left court with no criminal record, and with the love and respect of old and new friends who gathered around to hear him.