Launch of : From the Streets to the Courts

People of color killed by police are often known, remembered, and honored through their names connected to a hashtag. There are also those who survive the shooting, tasing, or beating by law enforcement; we just don’t know their names simply because they survived. They face the added insult of then being charged with a false crime such as resisting arrest or assault on a police officer. Henry Sires, pictured below, was almost killed. Henry Sires was almost a hashtag.

We are sitting with Henry’s family during his trial, and through a new site called, are reporting updates from the courthouse. Check out the site and follow our social media posts using the hashtag #almostahashtag and #freeHenrySires. Henry is the first case we are sharing through this new site to bring attention to those who almost became a hashtag. If you have a case that you want profiled, email us. We are trying to bring the movement on the streets that is calling to an end to police violence to also step into the courts, where the violence of the criminal justice system continues.

Participatory Defense Launches in Durham, NC!

For De-Bug, visiting Spirit House in Durham, NC is like going to a family reunion and meeting cousins you heard of through stories — family who moved, believed, and breathed like you, just in a different part of the country.  Last week, De-Bug organizers Gail Noble, Cecilia Chavez, and Charisse Domingo shared space with amazing organizers from Durham, NC who are holding it down in the community: Spirit House, a cultural-arts and community organizing group fighting mass criminalization; All of Us Or None, a membership-based organization made of formerly incarcerated individuals organizing to transform the system; Southern Coalition for Social Justice, an organization made of lawyers, researchers, and organizers supporting communities of color addressing racial inequities; and Inside Outside, an organization made of families addressing disparate jail conditions in Durham County.  We were brought together by the Hayward Burns Institute’s Community Justice Network for Youth, who promoted the peer exchange among our organizations. We spent two days sharing Participatory Defense strategies and collectively brainstorming how to support each other in our larger movement to end mass incarceration.  We can’t wait to keep building with these dedicated community warriors!  Check out our photos below!


ACJP organizers Cecilia and Gail sharing points of intervention in the criminal justice system that families can use to impact their loved ones’ cases.


De-Bug, All of Us or None, CJNY, and Spirit House organizers head to the Durham County Court to observe first appearance hearings


Etched into the pew in one of the courtrooms. In just the hour we visited and sat in court, there were around 60 people, and 90% were African American.


At the first appearance in Jail Court, familiy members sit behind a glass as they await their loved ones who are brought in from the side. If they want to plead for their family member’s release, they have to speak through a button on the side to the Judge, who then determines bond or other conditions of release. During the time we went, it was all Black women being held, and their family members awaited their fate.


De-Bug ACJP organizer Gail outside the Durham County Detention Facility where we just finished sitting through Jail Court. She is there to work with Durham organizers to transform the experiences of families whose loved ones are facing charges in the system. For Gail, this visit is especially heartfelt, because her father and mother were both born in North Carolina, and this is her first trip back to her roots.

We were so excited to meet Poet, a proud member of All of Us or None who has had negative experiences with the criminal justice system. He will be one of the organizers leading participatory defense meetings in Durham, NC!

We were so excited to meet Poet, a proud member of All of Us or None who had negative experiences with the criminal justice system. He will be one of the organizers leading participatory defense meetings in Durham!


Mama Nia Wilson, Executive Director at Spirit House, leads a deep, honest conversation on generational trauma with participants of their Harm Free Zone. She is a longtime OG at Durham who’s been holding it down for years, and we’re so blessed to build with her.

Taye, an artist and organizer with Spirit House, photographs the first participatory defense meeting in Durham!

Taye, an artist and organizer with Spirit House, photographs the first participatory defense meeting in Durham!


Andrea with All of Us Or None leads our second participatory defense meeting as we strategize on how to get a loved one released after he was just arrested that morning.

The New York Times — Why Police Lie Under Oath

03POLICE-popupMichelle Alexander describing what we see at ACJP fairly regularly, and explaining the context as to why it happens.

Why Police Lie Under Oath

Published: February 2, 2013

By: Michelle Alexander, the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.”

But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so. Continue reading

New York Times Editorial: Who Will Mourn George Whitmore, Jr?

In 1968, George Whitmore, Jr. was beaten by New York police and coerced to signing a 61 page confession that he murdered two women.  He contended that he was somewhere else that day — watching Martin Luther King Jr’s historic civil rights speech and had witnesses who could attest to him.  Nevertheless, he was convicted for these murders.  Steadfast to his innocence — and supported by lawyers, advocates, and civil rights activists — his conviction was overturned 9 years later.  And his case was pivotal to the Supreme Court’s Miranda ruling to protect alleged suspects and to the partial repeal of capital punishment in New York City. 

While he is 3,000 miles away from Santa Clara County, the impact of his resolve to maintain his innocence reverbrates here.  At ACJP, we’ve seen youth as young as 15 forced to make confessions to crimes they didn’t commit.  But because of cases like Mr. Whitmore Jr, people can still be protected.  This particular editorial talks about the emotional toll the system can take on you and the personal fall-out of the struggle for justice.  It is this silent and sad struggle that is rarely documented.  To the question the writer posed on “Who Will Mourn George Whitmore Jr”, we resoundingly answer — we will, and we will honor his sacrifice as we hold our systems accountable.  Submitted by Charisse Domingo

Op-Ed Contributor
Who Will Mourn George Whitmore?
Photo by Tom Cunningham/NY Daily News, via Getty Images
New York Times
Published: October 12, 2012

I received news this week of the death of George Whitmore Jr., an occurrence noted, apparently, by no one in the public arena. That Whitmore could die without a single mention in the media is a commentary on a city and nation that would rather bury and forget the difficult aspects of our shared history.

Forty-eight years ago, as a New York City teenager, Whitmore was initiated into an ordeal at the hands of a racist criminal justice system. For a time, his story rattled the news cycle. He was chewed up and spit out: an ill-prepared kid vilified as a murderer, then championed as an emblem of injustice and, finally, cast aside. That he survived his tribulations and lived to the age of 68 was a miracle.
Continue reading

Cop caught on tape telling blacks why he pulled them over

WGN9 MIDDAY NEWS:  Reporter: Judy Wung / Video

Submission Post by Gail Noble

We often say,  the only reason he/she pulled me over is,  because I’m Black/Mexican. This Chicago Police, is confortable saying, what most Policers Officers think.  In reality the officer will say, I pulled you over because your right tail light is out, or your brake lights were not working, you were making a left turn and your blinker light is out,  the tint on your windows is to dark.

This stop includes, the officer asking for your license in one breath, and the next breath, asking if anyone in the car is on probation or parole?  If the answer is yes,  it a whole new ball game, it give the officer permission, to search you, ask  everyone for their identification,  run a check on everyone, to see if anyone has any warrants,

The officer might say I smell Marijuana, or alcohol, the officer will require you, and sometimes everyone in the car to step out of the car and take the alcohol-breathalyzer to see if anyone is under the influence of alcohol/ controlled substance.  if you just so happen to blow 00″s, you might find your self on the way to the Police Station for a urine and blood test, just to make sure. Continue reading

For Trayvon Martin And America, Justice Hinges on Two Words: “Prosecutorial Discretion”

As the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death calls the country to examine the racial inequities of the criminal justice system, the conversation must go beyond the impulse to only focus on the man who took his life, George Zimmerman, and the police who let him walk out of their station. If we are to have any meaningful impact on how the system really works, we have to go where the real power lies – with the prosecutors, the ones who control the levers of the system in counties and states across the country.

In Martin’s case, it was prosecutor Norm Wolfinger who decided that Zimmerman should be not charged or detained that fateful evening. That moment of choice by Wolfinger is the most revealing part of the Trayvon Martin tragedy in terms of the vulnerabilities of the criminal justice system. Wolfinger was not acting as a rogue decision-maker circumventing the rules of law enforcement – he was exercising “prosecutorial discretion” – the awesome legal authority given to prosecutors to decide if an act is a matter, or not, for the criminal justice system to consider. Continue reading

San Jose Stands Up for Trayvon Martin

This past Friday, March 30, 2012, San Jose residents of all ages and backgrounds gathered at San Jose City Hall to honor the life of Trayvon Martin, and to voice outrage at the injustice of his death. At the rally, organizations such as the NAACP, the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet, and Silicon Valley De-Bug/ACJP called on both city and county officials to sign a proclamation calling for justice for Trayvon Martin. Here are some photos:

Miguel Gonzalez made his own shirt to honor Trayvon.

Gail Noble and Nanji Jayadev.

Becky Cardenas stands with Oscar Grant's Uncle Cephus Johnson who recently returned from a trip visiting with the Martin family.

Former City Councilmember Forrest Williams addresses the crowd.

Malcolm Lee does a spoken word piece in honor of Trayvon.

Ohio officer used stun gun on 9-year-old boy: San Jose Mercury News

What do you feel about anybody shocking a 9 year old boy for not going to school? makes you think twice about those shock guns the police carry right? – Post submission by Cesar Flores

MOUNT STERLING, Ohio — An Ohio officer whose use of a stun gun on a child resulted in the shutdown of a village police force said he shocked the boy twice as the 9-year-old lay on the floor with his hands underneath his body.

Details of the Mount Sterling incident released Monday say the boy was warned before the officer shocked him at his home last week following a truancy complaint from the sheriff’s office.

The officer said the child begged his mother to let him go to school instead of with the officer, but she refused, telling him it was too late. The officer said he eventually tried to pull the boy, whom he described as at least 5-foot-5 and 200 pounds, from a couch when the boy dropped and “became dead weight,” kicking and flailing.

He says he fired a warning shock with the stun gun and that the child’s mother told the boy to obey the officer so he wouldn’t be shocked.

Tracy Comisford, an attorney for the boy’s mother tells The Columbus Dispatch the woman did not expect the officer to use a stun gun when he came to arrest the boy.

“She certainly never wanted this to happen,” Comisford said. Continue reading

ACJP/De-Bug Member Wins Federal Civil Jury Trial Against Officer Who Used Excessive Force!

Three years ago Danny Pina walked into our Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project meeting at De-Bug with a cast on his arm, a busted nose, and a false resisting arrest charge — all for riding his bike without a light. He was determined to share the truth of what happened to him, and as it says in the paper, “bring the officer to justice.” He stayed committed, came to meetings regularly as he continued to work, and tried not to let the episode of injustice dictate the terms of his life. The District Attorney dropped the charges, and Danny, with De-Bug supporters, filed his claim against the city. When he city denied their liability, he retained an attorney and filed suit in federal court. They tried to offer him a settlement, but Danny wanted his moment in court. This past Monday, he had that moment, and he didn’t waiver from his mission. Continue reading