, 34 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
On this MLK Day eve, I want you all to see this & know this as well as the “I Have A Dream” speech. Speechless at his wisdom and truth. "No other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. And then color became a stigma." Transcribed remainder below.
“America freed slaves in 1863, but gave them no land or nothing to get started on. Emancipation for the negro was really freedom to hunger. Freedom to the winds & rains of heaven. Freedom w/o food to eat or land to cultivate. Therefore it was freedom & famine at the same time.”
"When white Americans tell the negro to lift himself up by his bootstraps, they don’t look at the legacy of slavery & segregation. We ought to do all we can to lift ourselves up, but it’s a cruel jest to say to a bootless man he ought to lift himself up by his own bootstraps.”
“And many Negros by the thousands and millions have been left bootless by all these years of oppression and as a result of a society that deliberately made his color a stigma and something worthless and degrading.”
And with MLK’s sorrowful yet clear call to vigilance rooted in my eyes & ears, I now head to Brooklyn criminal court where I’ll spend the next 9 hours representing people from predominately Black communities within 24 hours of their arrest, & fight to ensure their freedom.
Seen on way in: #MLKDay2019’s image under a twisted flag outside Brooklyn civil court.
On dinner break. I have time to share a story of a man I just met. He is a 42 y/o Black man. Tired. Broken down. 3 months ago, he fought another man outside a homeless shelter. They both lived there. The other man falsely accused him of stealing a few dollars. Charged w/ robbery.
When first arrested 3 months ago, the judge saw straight through the allegations & realized that the case was overcharged (should have been a misdemeanor assault charge at most), & that the complainant likely wouldn’t be cooperative. He was released.
He missed his court date 2 months later. The case had not proceeded at all. The complainant had not been cooperative. If my client had shown up, the case would have just been adjourned one more time to for automatic dismissal. Instead: The judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
This is routine. Even when nothing will happen on your court date, even when your case is on track for ultimate dismissal, you still must come to court. No matter what. Or else: A warrant. My clients dont purposefully miss court. Appointments. Public transport costs. They forget.
This man had not been arrested since. Much the opposite, over the last 3 months, he voluntarily enrolled himself into drug treatment, found affordable housing for people with his condition, and was applying through Medicaid for a much-needed home health aide. I saw receipts.
Yesterday he was arrested for walking through an exit gate of the subway on his way back from his program. $2.75 is a large sum of money for my clients. For many, the difference between eating & not. Cuffed, taken to the precinct, fingerprinted, & then that warrant popped up.
He was taken to central bookings & held for additional hours. While there, the Brooklyn DA did the right thing & declined to prosecute the subway case. Like marijuana cases, they're increasingly declining to prosecute cases known related to theft of subway services.
So when I met him, we were just focused on the robbery allegation from last year. He explained he forgot about court & then started his program shortly thereafter. He was apologetic & was honest about the fact that he needed help remembering his court dates. I had an idea.
I asked “supervised release” to interview him. Supervised release requires check-ins, but (at least in Brooklyn) provides support services & reminders if needed. He was eligible, & after interviewing him, they wanted to work w/ him. He was excited to have some support as well.
The case was called. The prosecution quickly thumbed through the file. Instinctively asked for $5000 bail, citing his “felony record and multiple failures to appear.” I was prepared to respond. I felt confident, especially with the supervised release option at the ready.
I told the judge that he couldn’t afford a thing. The “felony record” the prosecution cited was a single drug case from 20 years ago for which he served time. In interviewing years: Only misdemeanors, including 15 simple drug possession, 7 trespass, & 7 marijuana convictions.
I had proof of the drug treatment program he had enrolled in and his last appointment just a few days ago. Judge said he didn’t need to see it. I told the judge he was in danger of losing his affordable housing if he wasn’t at home for his home visit on Tuesday by welfare.
I told the judge he missed his last court date because he forgot. But that supervised released would help him remember the next time & that they were eager to work with him. He had heard enough. Bail set. $3500. "Officers take charge." He’ll be on Rikers until at least Friday.
I apologized to him as the officers led him back to the cells behind the courtroom. He didn't react. Just put his head down & let the officers guide him away. Wasteful, needless incarceration. He'll be just 1 more of the 89% Black & Latino population of Rikers Island on MLK Day.
Heading back to court momentarily. About to meet a young man charged w/ robbery. No injuries. Charged w/ a violent felony. Mandatory min 3.5 bc it allegedly involved him & another. Never before arrested. Mom & girlfriend here. Freaking out. I'm so scared he'll be sent to Rikers.
Please send good vibes his way. I'll keep you all posted. Back when I can be.
Good news: He was released. He was so scared. Never been arrested before. First thing he said to me: “I’m absolutely terrified.” His mom and girlfriend were crying. As usual, more to the story than just a robbery. The prosecutor asked for bail. The judge did the right thing.
13 new cases tonight. I just made it back home. Have so much to share.
Zero energy. But going to try to do a bit more.
I met a 48 y/o Chinese mother. A pharmacist at a local hospital for over a decade. Works 6 days a week. Takes her older child to school & drops her younger son off at child care every day. She’s the sole breadwinner. Her husband does nothing, but wake up late & curse at her.
She’s been taking it for years. It’s gotten worse recently. She especially hates the cursing in front of the children. Yesterday, he called her a “bitch” & “piece of shit” in front of their 4 y/o & she allegedly smacked him. He called the police to teach her a lesson. Arrested.
The prosecution charged her w/ misdemeanor assault (he claimed he suffered pain to his lip). Worse: They charged her w/ endangering the welfare of her child for hitting her husband in front of him. She was in disbelief. “This makes no sense.” I agreed. Bu it gets worse.
They asked for 2 full orders of protection ordering her to stay away from her husband AND baby. Prosecutors ask for orders of protection as a matter of course. If someone is named in the complaint, they request one. Consequences be damned. It’s a significant problem.
For this mom, the orders would mean she’d be evicted from the home she pays for & unable to have contact with the child that relies on her care. The husband does not care for the children. “What am I supposed to do.” I told her I’d fight. And I did. I told her story. Begged.
The judge was unmoved. But asked the prosecutor if they’d reconsider. She acknowledged that she had not spoken with the husband (the ADAs asking for bail everyday rarely if ever actually speak to any witnesses & instead base everything off someone else’s write up). But said no.
I looked at her & asked for compassion here. I pointed at my client — “You are going to render this working mother homeless & leave her child without care!” She was unmoved. I looked back at the judge for some help. He threw up his hands: “All I know is what’s alleged.”
I ultimately got the judge to only issue a “limited order” for the child over the prosecutor’s objection (do she can see the child), but she still can’t go home. While she waited in the audience for copies of paperwork, I noticed she was wearing a skirt w/ no leggings & sandals.
Fortunately we have boxes of warm clothes & new packs of socks & thermals. Was able to give her really big socks to cover her legs.
Last case of night, secured release for a homeless man, whose pants kept falling down while standing before the judge. Kept apologizing. His hands were cuffed so the officers had to keep pulling them up. Asked me what day it was. “That means MLK Day is tomorrow!” he exclaimed.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Scott Hechinger
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls (>4 tweets) are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!