by Eliyahu Federman
Constitutional lawyers Norman Siegel and Earl Ward along with 57th District Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Eric Adams will be coming together to help educate Crown Heights residents about their rights and responsibilities when stopped, questioned, arrested, ticketed or searched by the police.
This educational seminar to take place January 30, 2011, at 1 PM, at Chovevei Torah hall (Beis Shmuel) at 885 Eastern Parkway will be open to the local Jewish and African American communities as this issue transcends racial differences.
Based on their extensive legal experience and knowledge, attorneys Siegel and Ward will be imparting practical information on your rights and responsibilities when interacting with the police.
Assemblyman Jeffries successfully sponsored legislation, signed on July 16, 2010, that prohibited the NYPD from electronically storing the personal information of individuals who are stopped by the police but not charged with a crime or violation.
Prior to his election, Senator Adams served with the NYPD for 22 years during which time he spoke out against police brutality.
This seminar is largely a response to a WABC Channel 7 segment that uncovered questionable police practices in Crown Heights, other documented practices of police overreaching and efforts of some to quell members of our community from complaining about the police.
This event will help facilitate better police-community relations because:
1) Citizens will better understand the limitations of their rights and will be less likely to assume certain rights they may not have. For example, people assume that the police have to read you your Miranda warning once you are arrested but the realty is that the police are only required to read you your Miranda rights if they are asking interrogative questions or questions that may lead to incriminating responses.
2) When people feel disempowered they are more likely to get frustrated and angry whereas when they are educated about their rights they are empowered to act responsibly. Citizens are less likely to escalate a negative interaction with the police because they know that they can calmly assert their rights and if necessary seek recourse by filing a formal complaint through independent investigative agencies like the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). When people are told that they should not argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if they believe they are innocent and police are violating their rights, it will help maintain civility.
3) The vast majority of the NYPD’s 38,000 officers do an outstanding job of protecting and serving the public but the few irresponsible cops give a bad name to the rest of the police force. Holding the few irresponsible cops accountable and letting them know that citizens are willing and able to assert their rights will deter them from mistreating citizens and equip citizens with the tools to help them hold those cops accountable for their misdeeds. This will help restore the image of the police department.
Most importantly this educational seminar will give the citizens of Crown Heights a greater appreciation of their constitutional rights. As a historically persecuted minority we should embrace and appreciate the rights given to us in this great nation.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe certainly recognized and embraced the constitution. For example, he widely proclaimed that public menorah lightings and nonsectarian moment of silence in public schools are protected rights under the constitution – often citing first amendment jurisprudence and our nations history to support his position.
Ben Federman, CEO of 1SaleADay.com, will be sponsoring the event.
Refreshments will be serve. RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=191419850872299