Thursday, September 27, 2007

Free Reggie Gossett!

Last night a friend of mine was arrested while trying to help out a fellow citizen. According to the bwog, Reggie Gossett and his girlfriend Illyana Mendez- Penate, were at a party for the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which is a transgender rights advocacy group, when they witnessed a black man being violently detained outside. When the group from the party asked what was going on and why the man was being so violently detained, things got a little out of hand. According to the SRLP website, the two police officers from the 9th Precinct in Lower Manhattan then grabbed two individuals (presumably Gossett and Mendez-Penate) and violently arrested them. The officers also saw fit to pepper spray the crowd on the sidewalk where Reggie and Illyana were. If these facts are true, then it certainly sounds like the police were a little overzealous in their arrest tactics. As far as my research tells me, to verbally ask a police officer why someone is being detained while remaining on the sidewalk is no crime. Now if Reggie and Illyana had jumped into the fray and attempted to free this mystery man from police custody, then there's a different story. But because I know Reggie and he is far from a violent being (when I met his girlfriend she did not strike me as one who would throw down, either), I doubt that either of them initiated a violent confrontation with the po.

I talked with an officer from the 9th Precinct and he told me that Reggie had been transported to central booking (I am assuming Illyana went with him). I then tried calling the number he gave me for the Manhattan Criminal Court and received no answer. The folks at the Manhattan Early Case Assessment Bureau (part of the DA's office) were less than helpful, but I do not blame them since bwog posted their number and told everyone to call them to have the charges dropped. I would not suggest calling Manhattan ECAB because they're the ones who decide what Reggie and Illyana get charged with and pissing them off is not going to help. They have a lot of work to do and calling them to harass them or have them drop the charges is just not the most productive use of one's time, so don't call. The arraignment is to take place sometime today (he was arrested last night and by law should be seen by a judge within 24 hours, though this is not always the case) at 100 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan. From these preliminary details it sounds like Reggie and Illyana were more victims than they were perpetrators and hopefully someone in the DA's office or down at court recognizes that, too. Peace.

Photo - The 9th Precinct stationhouse (


  1. Just talked to P. a CR staffer in New York, who said that there are four phone calls we can make from whereever we are in the country to demand that Reggie Gossett and Ileana Mendez-PeƱate be released right now and that all charges against them be dropped. They are:

    1. To the DA: 212.335.9000, ask for the early complaint assessment bureau,

    2. To Christine Quinn, President of the City Council: 212.564.7757

    3. Rosie Mendez, City Council person for the district where Reggie and Ileana were taken: 212.677.1077
    ALSO: WITNESSES SHOULD EMAIL ROBERT.MALDONADO@COUNCIL.NYC.GOV, Rosie's staffer, because she is looking into this and they would like to help.

    4. Alvin Vann, City Council person for the district where Reggie (and maybe Ileana?) lives: 718.919.0740.

    You can also go on the web to and send those city council people emails with the same message.

    If you are in New York or know people there who could physically go to the court, people are wanted at: 100 Centre St

    (Directions: No. 4 or 5 train to Brooklyn Bridge Station; No. 6 train, N, R or C train to Canal Street; No. 1 train to Franklin Street; M1, M6 and M15 bus lines are nearby. 100 Centre Street is one block north of Worth Street, three blocks south of Canal Street.)
    Nat Smith, CR Oakland


    Police Brutality Strikes Fifth Anniversary of Sylvia Rivera Law Project
    Jack Aponte jack (AT) srlp (DOT) orgJack Aponte, at jack (AT) srlp (DOT) org
    Naomi Clark naomi (AT) srlp (DOT) orgNaomi Clark, at naomi (AT) srlp (DOT) org

    NEW YORK - On the night of Wednesday, September 26, officers from the 9th Precinct of the New York Police Department attacked without provocation members of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and of its community. Two of our community members were violently arrested, and others were pepper sprayed in the face without warning or cause.

    The Sylvia Rivera Law Project is an organization that works on behalf of low-income people of color who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex, providing free legal services and advocacy among many other initiatives. On Wednesday night, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project was celebrating its fifth anniversary with a celebration and fundraising event at a bar in the East Village.

    A group of our community members, consisting largely of queer and transgender people of color, witnessed two officers attempting to detain a young Black man outside of the bar. Several of our community members asked the officers why they were making the arrest and using excessive force. Despite the fact that our community was on the sidewalk, gathered peacefully and not obstructing foot traffic, the NYPD chose to forcefully grab two people and arrested them. Without warning, an officer then sprayed pepper spray across the group in a wide arc, temporarily blinding many and causing vomiting and intense pain.

    "This is the sort of all-too-common police violence and overreaction towards people of color that happens all the time," said Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. "It's ironic that we were celebrating the work of an organization that specifically opposes state violence against marginalized communities, and we experienced a police attack at our celebration."

    "We are outraged, and demand that our community members be released and the police be held accountable for unnecessary use of excessive force and falsely arresting people," Spade continued.

    Damaris Reyes is executive director of GOLES, an organization working to preserve the Lower East Side. She commented, "I'm extremely concerned and disappointed by the 9th Precinct's response to the situation and how it escalated into violence. This kind of aggressive behavior doesn't do them any good in community-police relations."

    Supporters will be gathering at 100 Centre Street tomorrow, where the two community members will be arraigned. The community calls for charges to be dropped and to demand the immediate release of those arrested.

    - END -

  3. Reggie and Ileana have just been released from police custody! The DA declined prosecution, which means that no charges are being pressed.
    They are free and clear, and are now getting the support they need from their community - in person.

    We are all thrilled by this result, the only truly just outcome after a long night and day of injustice. Thank you to everyone who has helped out and expressed support, including all of the allied organizations, fellow activists, community members and councilpeople who stepped up to support us.

    Although they have thankfully been released, our work around this incident is not finished. Now it is time to hold the police accountable for the unnecessary force and community targeting that occurred last night, and work so that no more incidents like this happen again to our community. We will keep you all posted as to our next steps and ways to plug in.

    - Jack