MILK NOT JAILS Campaign Organizers Arrested in Buffalo, NY
September 26, 2010 Buffalo, NY – Two MILK NOT JAILS Campaign Organizers were arrested late Saturday night on Allen Street in Buffalo, NY after a successful day of serving ice cream and popular education to the people of Buffalo. Members of the organization were standing outside of a local business when a police officer approached the group with marijuana in his hand, looked at the one African-American in the group, Tychist Baker, and said, “You dropped something.”
Regardless of a lack of evidence connecting the drugs to Mr. Baker, the arresting officer asked for identification from everyone in the group, called for back up and proceeded to frisk Mr. Baker. Lauren M., one of the other campaign organizers, intervened, questioning what she describes as Officer Lorenzo’s unlawful targeting and investigation of the group and was arrested for so-called obstruction of governmental administration. After searching Mr. Baker and finding no illegal substances, the same officer arrested him for unlawful possession of marijuana. One of the other officers called in to provide back up said to Mr. Baker, “If your friend hadn’t acted like a lawyer we would have let you go.”
“Neither standing on the sidewalk nor asserting your rights is illegal,” said Lauren M., MILK NOT JAILS Co-organizer. “A criminal justice system that unlawfully targets people or arrests people who have not committed crimes is unjust, unnecessary, and abusive.”
Mr. Baker, MILK NOT JAILS Co-organizer, said, “Regardless of my positive work in the community, at the end of the day cops still approach me as a criminal because of the color of my skin. Innocent until proven guilty is non-existent in today’s criminal justice system.”
Earlier that day, the MILK NOT JAILS team had traveled to Buffalo from New York City to host an ice cream social with local organizations Prisoners are People Too and the Massachusetts Avenue Project. The team served free ice cream to over 300 people outside of the Frank E. Merriweather Library and introduced attendees to the MILK NOT JAILS campaign, a new statewide initiative looking to create a new urban-rural relationship, one that is not dominated by the prison system.
The two were brought to Erie County Holding Center and released Sunday morning. They must appear before a Judge on October 4, 2010 in Erie County Court.
MILK NOT JAILS asserts, “If rural NY’s economy depends on my habits, I’d rather drink their milk than go to their prison.” It is a political campaign to advocate for criminal justice and agricultural policy reform that will bring about positive economic growth. It insists that bad criminal justice policy should not be an economic development plan for rural NY.
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