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Testimony at DC City Council Hearing on Police Checkpoints


Guest Naji
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On Monday June 16, 2008, DC City Council Member Phil Mendelson convened a hearing entitled "The Executive's Public Safety Initiatives and their Impact on Civil Liberties". The hearing lasted 7 hours and inluded testimony from more than 20 witnesses. Included here is the testimony the DC Radio Co-op's Naji Mujahid representing the Black August Planning Organization.

PUBLIC OVERSIGHT HEARING, COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY AND THE JUDICIARY, Phil Mendelson, Chairperson,

 

MONDAY, JUNE 16, 2:00 PM, COUNCIL CHAMBER, ROOM 500, Agenda item: 1. "The Executive's Public Safety Initiatives and their Impact on Civil Liberties".

 

TESTIMONY OF NAJI MUJAHID, BLACK AUGUST PLANNING ORGANIZATION

 

June 16, 2008

 

First of all I would like to thank the Honorable Phil Mendelson and the other members of the committee for convening this panel. My name is Naji Mujahid, I’m 27 years old, I was born in the district and I’ve lived here all of my adult life; I spent most of my childhood in Prince George’s County, MD. I do not live in Trinidad, I live in Ward 7, in the Marshall Heights area. So, although I may not be immediately affected by this initiative, if it becomes commonplace, I'm quite sure I will be. Therefore, I speak today not as an outside rabble-rouser, but as a defender of the community that I live in.

 

[Much of my testimony is based upon the premise that these types of audacious measures are able to be proposed and implemented because of the continued and successful alienation and villainization of our community]

 

Crime in our community should absolutely be of [our] foremost concern and its something that those of us that are most affected by it should be dedicating ourselves to minimizing and eliminating. When we examine the statistics of the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of our residents, it becomes clear the we have [either] an innate inclination towards sociopathic behavior or there is a systematic flaw in the administration of our community affairs, [to the least].

 

The first that any intelligent person does when confronted with a problem is to critically analyze the cause of that problem. And when we look closely at our community I believe that what we witness is not a haven for a degenerate species of human beings, but we see reflections of ourselves reacting to the criminally and sadistically poor social conditions of their environment. The poor education, the poor economics, the lack of opportunities, the broken homes, etc., which is the result of either a protracted plan to keep us as a dependent, subservient, and easily exploitable under-class or of endemic malfeasant and contemptuous neglect by our elected officials and those in league with them. In other words, we refuse to be demonized for the incompetence and criminality of others.

 

One example I’d like to point out is the existence of drugs in our communities (as if they aren’t present in all communities) as a catalyst for crime. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that a suffering people are likely to self-medicate with substances that make their conditions easier to deal with (I could just as easily be talking about Prozac as crack/cocaine) and when those substances can be provided with the incentive of monetary gain for the provider (I could just as easily be talking about Merck Pharmaceuticals as your local pusherman), particularly when economic opportunities are scarce… the outcome of those given dynamics should not be surprising; crime follows. What should be kept in mind and considered is where the drugs in our community came from. And it has been documented by Journalist Gary Webb in his expose ‘Dark Alliance’, by former DEA agent Celerino Costillo III in his book ‘Powderburns’, and by Professor Alfred McCoy in his book ‘The Politics of Heroin’, that there has been undeniable government complicity and participation in the global and local drug trade; [facilitating] the influx of illegal drugs into our communities. [This phenomenon was also investigated by John Kerry in his Senate Committee]. Again, we refuse to be demonized for the incompetence and criminality of others.

 

As the police are deployed into our communities to seek and destroy crime –crime as defined by outsiders who stand to benefit from our arrest and incarceration-- they themselves become criminals as they follow questionable orders without question. They become the antagonists in this tragedy. With their claims of protecting our well being, they become similar to an abusive spouse with a literary gift for writing love sonnets.

The police are the governments answer for their inability to provide our community with the establishment of justice, the insurance of domestic tranquility, the provision of a common defense, the promotion of the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty. Once Again, we refuse to be demonized for the incompetence and criminality of others.

 

Last year a 14 year-old was shot to death by the police with impunity of the law. Over the past two years, surveillance cameras have sprung up across our communities. This year the police initiated a door-to-door search program and resolved to arm the department with high-powered military assault rifles, AR-15s (at a time when the government is fighting against the right of law abiding citizens to arm themselves). And we are joined here to day to discuss the new initiative of check points being used in our communities. This is clearly the development of a police state designed under the guise of ensuring public safety and securing our communities from the criminal element in our midst, while ignoring the real criminal element outside of our midst. When will this stop? At what point have the police crossed the line from security to intrusion [....to occupation]? This is unacceptable and I repeat for a final time that we refuse to be demonized for the incompetence and criminality of others.

 

Thank you for your indulgence.

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