NEW YORK — Two months after civil rights lawyer Michael Tarif Warren and Evelyn Warren, his wife, were beaten and then arrested for speaking up during a police brutality incident in Brooklyn, a diverse crowd of community members continues to speak out in support of the Warrens and the equality agenda they represent.

On June 21, while driving through Crown Heights, the Warrens noticed police officers beating a handcuffed African American man. When Michael Warren stopped to ask what was going on and demanded to know why officers were beating the man, the officers told him to wait by his car. The officers, Warren says, then punched him and his wife, and placed them under arrest.

The Warrens appeared in court on the morning of Aug. 16 for their arraignment. An hour before they were due to arrive in court, every seat of every row in the courtroom was full, with additional supporters crowding outside in the lobby. When the Warrens finally entered the courtroom, the crowd stood to its feet in unison and loudly applauded the pair.

For five brief minutes, the Warrens and their defense team spoke with the presiding judge while the crowd looked on in barely contained silence. Then, just as suddenly as the proceedings had begun, the judge pronounced a court date of Oct. 23 and the event was over. The Warrens left the courtroom to another standing ovation and a number of raised fists scattered throughout the crowd.

Supporters came from a diverse number of backgrounds. Nashid Sabir, a member of the grassroots-oriented People’s Organization for Progress, came from New Jersey, along with other members of his group.

The Venceremos Brigade, an organization working to overturn the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, was also present. Bonnie Massey of the Brigade explained that the organization was there not only because “we are for justice and against racism,” but also to express solidarity with Warren, who defends the group’s activism by legally representing its members.

The majority of attendees represented the African American community in Brooklyn and other racially oppressed communities who have historically been the target of police brutality in New York.

Many activists present at the court proceedings expressed their frustration with the fact that Michael and Evelyn Warren are being charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, while police Sgt. James Talvy — the officer whose beating of a Crown Heights youth spurred the Warrens to intervene — remains unquestioned.

Supporters of the Warrens allege that the immunity being given to Talvy is indicative of the degree to which racial profiling and discrimination is entrenched in the police force.

They vowed to return to court for the trial in October, urging that all charges against the Warrens be dropped and that police responsible for racist brutality be brought to justice.

maryslosson @gmail.com

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