The cop watcher
Jose LaSalle helps protect young black and Hispanic men from what he says are unreasonable stop-and-frisks
(via The cop watcher | Al Jazeera America)
Jose LaSalle works for New York City’s parks department. By day, he walks around the Bronx and in the neighborhoods of Brownsville and Harlem with his crew of cop watchers, hoping to protect young black and Hispanic men from what he says are unreasonable stop-and-frisks by police.
"Basically, I am patrolling the police just like the Black Panther Party did in California in the 1960s. I just traded the shotgun for a digital camera," says LaSalle, 43, who carries his cellphone with him in hopes of catching a stop-and-frisk on camera. Two years ago, LaSalle’s stepson, Alvin, became a hero to stop-and-frisk opponents when he used his iPod to record the sounds of three cops who stopped him, accused him of "looking suspicious" and handcuffed him. LaSalle gave the recording to a filmmaker, who turned it into a short documentary that went viral.
Usually, LaSalle gives his phone number to young men he meets on the street, and sometimes they call him: “Yo, Jose. The cops are working some kid over here. Come over.”
LaSalle shows up, walking around the neighborhood with his camera, letting the police know that someone is watching. Other times, he receives complaints from residents who say they can’t leave their homes for fear of an officer slamming them against a wall. LaSalle marks the locations of complaints on a map, designs a route for his patrol and starts recording when he sees a cop approaching a young man.
Jose LaSalle is a hero. We need more people like this. Incredibly brave.