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In this city, jaywalking can get you in front of a judge

Every year, NYPD officers arrest hundreds of thousands of people, who often have done nothing wrong. If you are black or latino, the chances that you are arrested unjustly are especially high. Activist Robert Gangi takes me along to see how prosecutors and judges are in on this illegal system - in the middle of New York.

Robert Gangi, a tall, bald Italian-American New Yorker, spends his days dealing with an especially contentious topic: arrest quotas that are secretly imposed on NYPD officers, which leads to the apprehension of hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers every year.

Gangi has been campaigning for better law enforcement for over 30 years and now serves as director of the nonprofit Police Reform Organizing Project. Because the police department and the municipality consistently and publicly deny the existence of illegal arrest quotas and ethnic discrimination, I am curious how Gangi and his organization plan to ignite change.

To understand exactly how this system works, you have to visit the courts.

When I ask Gangi if he can explain what exactly is going wrong, he makes an interesting suggestion: "To understand exactly how this system works, you have to be in court."

A few days later, I join Gangi and some PROP volunteers at the Manhattan court. On the other side of the room, the wooden benches are filled with black and Latino New Yorkers of all ages. Through the half-broken speakers I can hear the judge call people forward, go through their case and give his judgment.

Read the full article in Dutch here

Originally published on De Correspondent – December 13, 2016


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