Violation of First Amendment Rights!
The Residents Outrage!
On two separate occasions, March 19, 2015 and April 16, 2015, residents of Community Board 9 went to the local 71st Precinct Council meeting and gave the Deputy Inspector “hell” for the continued arresting of residents who have been speaking out against the injustices, violations of the law and abusive behavior of CB9 board members, Pearl Miles District Manager of 9 and CB9 Executive Board members. Deputy Inspector, Fitzgibbons of the 71st Precinct, was reported to have denied the arrests, but evidence has shown that arrests were done.
On February 11, 2015 both Alicia Boyd, founder of MTOPP and Anne Pruden member of MTOPP were arrested at a ULURP committee for demanding that residents be placed on the ULURP committee as is required by law. There were 35+ residents applications submitted and not one resident had been appointed to the committee legally. At another ULURP committee meeting, on March 16, 2015 Alicia Boyd was arrested again for speaking out against a proposed resolution to be voted upon, what was created in violation of the Open Meeting Law.
On May 19, 2015 Alicia Boyd again was arrested at the ULURP committee meeting, because the board members were trying to cast an illegal vote, which violated the OML, City Charter and CB9's Bylaws. This case is still pending as of January 2016.
On May 26, 2015, Professor Maxine Barnes, long time homeowner, resident and activist within the Flabtbush/Crown Heights community was arrested outside the Community Board meeting, in a planned attempt to intimidate and harass the residents into submission. A few video clips of the alleged assault, which was suppose to have happen on May 19, 2015, was circulated on May 27, 2015, where it clearly showed that complainant Executive CB9 board member Evelyn Williams (person in red) was the aggressor and that Maxine in black holding a clip board did not throw any paper at her. However, the cops saw the same tape and came to the conclusion that Maxine should be arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon!
In fact in a calulated act to scare community residents, the police waited a whole week to arrest and charge Mazine Barnes with the assault and deadly weapons charges by surrounding her in front of the community board meeting with over 13 cops, as if she was some harden criminal. This was actually her first time ever being arrested!
On June 16, 2015 at a CB9 Bylaw committee Alicia Boyd was arrested for standing up and demanding that the Bylaw committee adhere to the law and allow the community residents to be able to speak and sit at the table. Inspector Fitzgibbons of the 71st Precinct was there and ordered her arrest!
Violation of First Amendment!
The residents' main bone of contention has been the violation of residents' First Amendment Right to speak out about these abuses within a community board meeting. It has been felt that these arrests are not to keep the peace but to stop the residents from voicing their objections and telling the community and Board members about the injustices and the laws that are being broken by their fellow board members and District Manager.
Jonathan Wallace, the attorney that is representing the residents in Community Board 9 “CB9”, in MTOPP vs Community Board 9, just won a case in the New York City Criminal Court in regards to First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech. In a unanimous decision 9-0 the Justices upheld the right of marchers to demonstrate at the “Flood Wall Street” demonstration. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court “…..In light of the First Amendment’s purpose to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail, this aspect of traditional public fora is a virtue, not a vice.” Please read article
Jonathan Wallace argued with motion paper to dismiss the charges based upon the fact, that CB9 and the police were in violation of the community resident's First Amendment Rights, concerning the arrests of both Alicia Boyd and Anne Pruden at a Community Board 9 meeting on February 11, 2015 and March 16, 2015.
Alicia, Anne and other residents were opposing and challenging the ULURP committee’s motion to pass a resolution/letter that will give, if passed, the right to City Planning to change the zoning on 55 blocks in Crown Heights, Flatbush and Prospect Lefferts Garden, from Eastern Parkway to Clarkson Ave and from New York Ave, right up against the Prospect Park and Botanical Gardens. The rezoning would focus on Transit Oriented Development "TOD", which allows for tall sky scrapers along the major streets in this area; Flatbush, Washington, Rogers, Nostrand, Bedford, New York Ave and Empire Blvd.
The residents are opposed to TOD development because it causes the displacement of low and moderate income families, which has been substantiated by HPD in its “Sustainable Development” document. The fear is if this rezoning happens this once affordable community will become unaffordable despite the few affordable units that could be built as a result of the rezoning.
Two Cases Dismissed
The Justice Marguerite S. Dougherty, from the Brooklyn Criminal Court agreed with Jonathan Wallace concerning the community residents' right to assembly and to voice their opinions and concerns, even if other parties don’t want to hear it, and dismissed the two cases against Alicia Boyd for the arrests on February 11, 2015 and March 16, 2015 and Anne Pruden for her arrest on February 11, 2015. She stated that "conduct alleged in the summons constitutes constitutionally protected speech."
Jonathan Wallace will again argue that residents of CB9 have a right to express their concerns at public meetings being held by Community Boards and that by calling in the Police and demanding residents be arrested is a violation of their First Amendment Rights for the two other remaining cases still pending against Alicia Boyd.
The Cases against Alicia Boyd is set for January 25, 2016 at Brooklyn Criminal Court.