By Alan Bean
Joseph “Jazz” Heyden, a Harlem activist accused of carrying a dangerous weapon (a miniature, souvenir Yankees bat) in his vehicle, got some very good news yesterday. Jazz has been a vital part of a movement working to end the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy which is largely reserved for young men of color. I should note that the attorney representing Mr. Heyden, Sarah Kunstler, is (a) the proud daughter of the famous civil rights attorney William Moses Kunstler, and (b) the co-producer (with her sister Emily) of an excellent documentary that became the foundation of the fight for justice in Tulia, Texas.
Jazz Heyden and his supporters have argued that the defendant’s car was pulled over by officers who had previously been filmed by Mr. Heyden out of a desire for retribution. Although the DA’s office argues for the record that these claims are not supported by the facts, that should be interpreted as a face-saving gesture rather than a serious argument.
Weapons Charges Reduced for a Monitor of the Police
By KIA GREGORY
Prosecutors in Manhattan have agreed to reduce weapons charges against a Harlem community activist who was arrested after a traffic stop in his former neighborhood last year.
Around 9 p.m. on Dec. 2, the community activist, Joseph Hayden, was pulled over by the police near Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 132nd Street for a broken taillight. According to the criminal complaint, the officers searched his vehicle and found a wooden club and a switchblade.
Mr. Hayden, 71, known for filming videos of police interactions with the Harlem community, said the officers had stopped him in retaliation. Months before his arrest, he said, he had filmed and questioned the same officers as they conducted a vehicle search in the area.
Molly Brottmiller, an assistant district attorney, said in an appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday that the office found “no merit to these claims” and had concluded through an investigation that the stop was lawful.
But prosecutors said that there were issues with the weapons. (more…)