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Police Reform Activists to Give White Park Slope Residents Fake Summonses

By Leslie Albrecht | September 29, 2015 2:58pm
 An NYPD officer talks to a man in Brooklyn in June 2015. On Oct. 3, the activist group Police Reform Organizing Project will hand out mock summonses to white people in Park Slope to highlight racial disparities in policing, they say.
An NYPD officer talks to a man in Brooklyn in June 2015. On Oct. 3, the activist group Police Reform Organizing Project will hand out mock summonses to white people in Park Slope to highlight racial disparities in policing, they say.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

PARK SLOPE — Police reform activists will hand out fake summonses to white Park Slopers on Saturday to highlight the NYPD's "biased and unjust police practices," the Police Reform Organizing Project announced Monday.

Volunteers with PROP will fan out across Park Slope from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the hunt for white people committing low-level illegal acts such as riding a bike on the sidewalk, drinking from an open beer in public, or littering.

"We're going into a well-to-do white neighborhood and giving out mock summonses to white people who are violating provisions of the law that NYPD officers arrest or ticket people of color for," PROP co-founder Robert Gangi said.

"Part of the point is that activities that African-American or Latino people get arrested for have been decriminalized in white communities… It's a blatantly racist practice."

Black and Latino people are far more likely to receive summonses for minor offenses than white New Yorkers — 86 percent of misdemeanor arrests in 2014 involved people of color, Gangi said.

Between 2008 and 2011, police in Park Slope issued an average of eight summonses a year for biking on the sidewalk, while police in Bedford-Stuyvesant issued an average of 2,050, according to a study by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project cited by PROP.

PROP's goal is to pressure the NYPD into abandoning "broken windows" policing, which Gangi says leads to police harassment of black and Latino men. Gangi founded PROP in 2011 after a 30-year stint directing the Correctional Association of New York, which advocates for changes to the criminal justice system.

PROP picked Park Slope for the fake ticket blitz in part because it's where Mayor Bill de Blasio once lived, and one of the group's goals is to get de Blasio to "fulfill his campaign promise to make policing fair," Gangi said.

PROP also hopes to to find a receptive audience in "progressive" Park Slope, Gangi said.

"The point is not to annoy people, although we might," Gangi said. "The point is to educate people. One of the things we’re convinced about is that if more white people knew how harmful NYPD practices are, more white people would be opposed to broken windows."

The NYPD did not immediately respond to request for comment.