Earlier today, right around the time that the City Council was holding a hearing on the NYPD’s controversial stop and frisk practices, cops slapped a Brooklyn man with a trespassing charge for standing under an awning to get out of the rain.
Vincent Mouzon, a 55-year-old telephone pollster who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, tells the Voice he was on his way back to a local laundromat after mailing three letters when he paused under an awning outside an abandoned building on Malcolm X Boulevard.
When the rain abated, Mouzon resumed walking. About a block later, police officers from the 81st Precinct stopped and questioned him. The 81st Precinct, by the way, is the same station house that was the subject of the Village Voice’s widely read NYPD Tapes series.
“I showed them my identification and explained what I was doing,” he says. “I even opened the laundry bag for them.”
Mouzon says he told the officers that the ticket would be thrown out of court. “I told them, ‘look I know about you guys, I read the Village Voice article, and I know your precinct, and I know you guys are trying to make your quota,'” he says.
“Here’s a guy who was absolutely doing nothing, and now I have to go to criminal court and take a day off of work to deal with it,” he says. “I was just standing there seeking refuge, and it boggles my mind that this could happen. This doesn’t inspire trust in the Police Department. It’s such a waste of time and taxpayer’s money.”
Meanwhile, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee met for seven hours to talk about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices in city-owned public housing. Notably, the NYPD didn’t send anyone to testify in the hearing, which one councilman, Jumaane Williams, called “very disrespectful.”
Bishop Mitchell Taylor, a member of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, told the panel that the CCRB found misconduct in 32 percent of 76 stop and frisk complaints that were examined.
The city is facing a class action lawsuit filed by the NAACP and the Legal Aid Society which alleges that New Yorkers in public housing are being illegally stopped and questioned by police.
The lawsuit was sparked by complaints that residents are being arrested for trespassing in those complexes if they don’t have their identification card with them.
We should note, by the way, that there’s nothing in federal, state or local law that says you have to carry an ID with you wherever you go.