Yesterday I received several disturbing phone calls from the city of Pittsburgh informing me that Hip Hop pioneer and X-Clan member Paradise Gray the Architect was falsely arrested by a police department that seemed bent on targeting him. The details are still coming in but from what was conveyed, ‘Dice’ was at a demonstration filming the procedings so he could write and report back the story. For those who don’t know, Dice is also a long time seasoned journalist and documentarian. During the demonstration a doorway was blocked resulting in a bottleneck which spawned the anger of a number of people who rushed the door, pushing people and creating a situation where a couple of women would be crushed and stampeded if action was taken. Dice went to the door to assist by creating a path so people could move through the door when he was tackled by police. He was accused of blocking the doorway and preventing people from leaving and later for resisting arrest
According to witnesses, there were several demonstrators on hand, all of the white who were there at the doorway to commit acts of civil disobedience. They were clearly present blocking the door, yet police ran right past them to attack Paradise who got tagged with the resisting arrest charge when he put his hands in the air to let the police know he was a working journalist and not part of the demonstration. It didn’t matter to the police Dice was hauled off. Later on police arrested the actual demonstrators who were all cited and immediately let go. Paradise who spent much of the day in jail was later quoted as saying. ” (I was not one of the people who was trying to be arrested. I was rushed by the Police after trying to free a young lady from being crushed by the revolving door that was being pushed hard by a man trying to exit the building) – Paradise
This incident had a chilling effect on several levels. First Paradise is known for his peace making activities by the police. He’s met with them on anumber of occassions and has long advocated that the community spark dialogue instead of confrontation. They knew that Dice is a journalist covering the story. Second point was that several people who started the bottlneck and disruption by blocking the door were arrested and let go. Third this pattern of false arrest and trumped up charges has happened to several other well known people who are part of the Hip Hop community and do journalism. I hardly think this is coincidence.
The first is Minister of Information JR out of Oakland, California. During the demonstrations for police killing of Oscar Grant, JR was doing what he’s done for years, covering the story and taking pictures so he can later report back to the community through the SF Bayview newspaper and on his widely heard Block Report Radio show and podcast. He was tackled by 4 officers and charged with arson. It did not matter that he was standing next to a number of other people including a couple of lawyers who were also observing the demonstrations. His outspoken, bold activism made him a target. He is currently fighting the trumped up charges. http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/oakland-pd-brutally-arrests-minister-of-information-jr-at-oscar-grant-protest/
Last week we ran the story of Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers being falsely arrested by Trenton, New Jersey police. His account of the incident is quite chilling. Wise does a weekly radio show where he brings to light community issues. http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/wise-intelligent-of-poor-righteous-teachers-falsely-arrested/
If you add to the mix the arrest/kdnapping of former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney by the Israeli government and the outlandish arrest of former gang member turned peacemaker Alex Sanchez in Los Angeles, you can see just how insidious and this pattern really is. We will keep you posted on the situation involving Paradise Gray. In the meantime check out his website Http://www.1hood.org
written by Davey D
Community Benefits Protesters Arrested On North Shore
Demonstration Held Outside Del Monte Building
PITTSBURGH — At least four members of a community group were arrested during a protest on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, where they were calling on local corporations to offer more community benefits.The demonstration was staged outside the Del Monte Building on North Shore Drive on Thursday morning. Some protesters held a sign that said “Millionaires Get Our $ While Our Kids Die.”City police made arrests when members of Northside United began blocking the building’s main entrance.Meanwhile, the group chanted, “It’s the North Side, not the North Shore, this land is our land, it’s not yours.”
Land around Heinz Field on the North Shore will be built up by developers.
“We keep giving things to millionaires who don’t even live in the state of Pennsylvania, and the residents of the city of Pittsburgh get nothing in return,” said Michael Glass, co-chair of Northside United. “Those of us who live on the North Side are being most impacted by the developers. Our homes are falling down. There’s a high rate of unemployment, a high rate of violence. We have people who work in these buildings making $8 an hour getting no benefits for their families. Develpoment should support the community.”Northside United consists of neighbors, churches, social service agencies and labor unions. The group has been asking for a community benefits agreement with developers who are planning to build up the land near the sports stadiums on the North Shore.”This community was a thriving community years ago. I lived here. You can’t even find the street where I lived. It’s all asphalt now. It’s not reponsible development,” Glass said.Glass acknowledged that the group was trying to publicize its agenda with civil disobedience, and he said the police officers responded appropriately.He wants Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to “force developers to sit down and have a real conversation with people in the community, so their needs can be heard and understood. That’s all we’re asking.”