Cop Watch Alliance profile #1: MXGM's BedStuy/Central Brooklyn team

We are proud to present a new series of profiles on each of the Cop Watch Alliance teams throughout New York City! 


Each month we will profile a different team in the Cop Watch Alliance. They will be posted in the "Watch" section of CopWatchNYC.org, where you can also post your own Cop Watch videos & experiences

Starting as we rightfully should, the first team profile is on the founding team in the Cop Watch Alliance, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement's BedStuy/Central Brooklyn team. Check it out here:


Profile #1: MXGM's BedStuy/Central BK team
Please check out the profile and share it, especially with BedStuy residents who might be interested in joining the team!

In 1999, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM)'s cop watch program began under MXGM's People's Self Defense Campaign in response to the ongoing brutality and extrajudicial killing of Black people by the NYPD. Prior to the formation of the program, MXGM was involved in struggles to bring the officers who brutally killed Amadou Diallo to justice. After being trained by the NY Black Panther Collective, MXGM organized itself to do cop watch patrols a few of times a month throughout Central Brooklyn. In the early history of the team, we would host events to meet the basic needs of the community such as giving out food prior to the patrols. This gave us the opportunity to connect with community members and share information about the work we were engaged in. On February 9, 2005, 3 members of MXGM, Djbril Toure, Dasaw Floyd, and Lumumba Bandele were arrested in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn while being engaged in the legal activity of monitoring the police as part of the cop watch program. When the NYPD officer demanded that they turn the camera off, the members stated and asserted their legal right to film. On July 17, 2006 the charges were dismissed against the MXGM 3 because the officer refused to cooperate with the District Attorney's office. On April 26, 2007 they filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of New York for the violent arrest and abuse of their rights—they eventually won. Members of our cop watch program have also been plaintiffs in the 1999 Daniels v. the City of New York class action lawsuit which called for the disbanding of NYPD's Street Crimes Unit and the 2008 class action landmark lawsuit Floyd v. the City of New York which challenged NYPD's racial profiling practices and unconstitutional stop-and-frisks. During the Daniels case the NYPD's Street Crimes Unit was disbanded largely due to pressure and organizing efforts by MXGM and other grassroots organizations. And more recently, the judge in the Floyd v. the City of New York case ruled that NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices are unconstitutional and racially discriminatory.

With two teams of four people each, MXGM's cop watch patrols have historically been conducted by driving throughout Central Brooklyn neighborhoods and getting out of the vehicles once an incident was spotted. In 2013, MXGM transitioned from doing car patrols to doing foot patrols. When we've gone out on patrols, the community response has typically been positive, especially when we're able to share information about their rights and the purposes of cop watch. Aside from doing cop watch, we currently host free legal clinics, facilitate know your rights workshops and cop watch trainings, provide support to families of victims of police violence, and host other relevant events such as community town halls. With love for our community and in the spirit of self respect, self defense and self determination, cop watch gives us the opportunity to document police abuse while defending and protecting the human rights of the community. In March 2013, the national arm of MXGM released Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook for Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense, a self defense handbook that incorporates cop watch programs as an organizing tool of resistance against police violence. A month later they released a report revealing that extrajudicial killings of Black women, men, and children by police officers and vigilantes occur every 28 hours in the U.S. This further made the case for the importance of cop watching in our neighborhoods. Moving forward into 2014, we plan to continue our cop watch program, expand our team membership with new members, support the formation of NYC cop watch teams and expansion of the culture of cop watch through the Cop Watch Alliance we have been co-leading, and organize within a framework working toward self determination. 

Check out these 2 videos about MXGM's Cop Watch team:
1) Brooklyn Review Covers the MXGM 3
Local cable TV show Brooklyn Review interviews MXGM members about the federal civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD who manhandled and arrested MXGM members, Djibril, Lumumba, and Dasaw, while they were peacefully and lawfully filming officers on February 9, 2005. All charges against the three were later dismissed.

2) Blood.Tears.Noise
MXGM member Nia Jones' documentary on police brutality, featuring MXGM Know Your Rights workshops & Cop Watch Program.