Sunday, April 27, 2008

Recap on Brooklyn Peace Fair

Youth Race, and the Criminal Justice System
NY State Senator Eric Adams of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care.

It was a timely discussion given the recent verdict in the Sean Bell hearing.

Senator Adams spoke of his experience as a 15 year old in the 103rd precinct of South Jamaica Queens (the same precinct as Sean Bell's shooting). He was arrested at the age of 15, complied, but was assualted by the police without reason.

He reminded some Long Island University students at the seminar: "The winds of change were never blown by adults, they don't have the lung capacity. They were blown by young people." He spoke of the luxury to talk about nonviolence in a classroom and the responsibility that luxury brings with it.

The discussion mostly centered around the relationships between the "family" of judges, prosecutors, and police--the lack of an independent prosector in the Bell case, how a judge was used rather than a jury, and then onto the Bloomberg administrations gentle quest for social control, and a quota system that continues to push police officers to the brink.

It certainly was a timely and interesting discussion.

Featured Speaker: Debbie Almontaser

Almontaser spoke of the "threats to academic freedom that are making their way to K-12 education." When she began her journey to found the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a dream school that would educate about a language and culture that some viewed as a threat, she found just that - people who were threatened.

Primarily, her speech outlined the sequence of events that led to her resignation: attacks from the right wing blogosphere and press after Almontaser embraced a teachable moment. The NY Post asked her to comment on a t-shirt produced by a group called Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media that said "Intifada NYC." Rather than condmning the word, Almontaser chose to explain the root of the word, which means "shaking off."

I was impressed by Almontaser's ability to criticize the NYC DOE, still her employer.

Just to give a run down of the articles that the Post used to attack Almontaser:

More info about Brooklyn for Peace.

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