Black Lives Matter, Know Your Rights/Safe Work Environment Act Report

This column appears in the December 24 – 31 edition of the Hartford News… “I do not condone the killing of the two NYPD officers today. I do not condone the killing of unarmed black people. I do not condone killing.” ~ DeRay Mckesson, Ferguson activist

Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, denounced the murders of New York Police Department officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos despite the fact that three men, possibly NYPD cops, were photographed wearing shirts mocking her son’s last words. Unlike the racists who ridicule Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, the other Black victims of extrajudicial killings and their supporters, I don’t celebrate the murder of cops. The message of #NYPDLivesMatter on Twitter is that murder is ok when the perpetrators are police officers and the victims are Black. Murder is murder. The last shooting death of an NYPD officer was December 2011. Blacks in the United States are killed every 28 hours by police, security guards and vigilantes. There has only been one conviction in 179 NYPD killings since 1999. The officer who was convicted did not serve any jail time.

Check out our Resources section for a documentary on the NYPD stop-and-frisk policy. The film includes racist, criminal behavior by NYPD officers caught on tape, and NYPD cops speaking out against stop-and-frisk. One officer revealed that the department assigns cops to high crime areas alone as punishment for failing to meet a stop-and-frisk quota. Officer Adhyl Polanco risked his job to speak out against stop-and-frisk. Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, an 8-year veteran who received a Meritorious Police Duty Medal, recorded evidence of a quota driven stop-and-frisk policy, as did Polanco. The NYPD has declared that they’re now a ‘wartime’ department. These megalomaniacs are too crazed to see that they’re about to turn a fire into an inferno.

Local and state police will be stepping up traffic enforcement (e.g. speeding, seatbelt violations, DUI) during the next week. Being informed about your rights is crucial to surviving traffic stops. See Resources for video tutorials on how to handle police encounters and the definitions of legal terms such as probable cause. Remember to NEVER consent to a search during a traffic stop or in your home. The Community Party will introduce our Trayvon Martin Act (written by Mary Sanders) in 2015. Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill, which will also be introduced during the upcoming legislative session, will include our traffic stop receipt provision. The session will run from January 7 to June 3. The next CP column will appear in the January 8 – 15 edition of the Hartford News, due to the Arts and Heritage special edition of the paper next week.

Know Your Rights: How to Handle Police Encounters

Courtesy of attorney Peter M. Baskin who practices law in Arlington, Virginia.


If approached by a police officer, ask if you are free to leave: if yes, walk away immediately. If approached at home, stay inside.

Refuse to answer all questions except about your identity.

Refuse to consent to any search, or home entry, unless shown a warrant.

Refuse to admit to anything or to explain anything.

Refuse to take any sobriety or other tests on the street.

Demand to have a lawyer present when questioned.


DO: Be calm and keep your hands visible at all times.

DO: Identify yourself fully and agree to come to court.

DO: Give your license to the police officer as soon as possible.

DO: Tell the officer you will talk only about your identity and a court date without a lawyer present.

DO NOT: Admit to anything, explain anything or consent to any search.

DO NOT: Take any sobriety tests or other tests on the street.

DO NOT: Answer any questions except about your identity.

DO NOT: Believe any statement that you will “help” yourself if you “cooperate”. Cooperating means giving up these rights and only helps the police by giving them evidence they will use against you!


DO NOT RESIST: You will be handcuffed, searched and pomptly taken to a Judicial Officer for bond. Identify yourself and agree to come to court. SAY NOTHING ELSE AND CALL A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY!

Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield will introduce the Community Party’s Safe Work Environment Act in 2015. In the coming months we’ll share information on the legal aspects of workplace bullying. Workers must educate themselves about the law in order to empower themselves. A study found that 15% of total adult suicides in the U.S.are related to abusive workplace conduct, which the Department of Health and Human Services says is the equivalent of domestic violence.

This week we’ll share the final installment of a three-part series from the Undercover Lawyer website ( on the definition of a hostile workplace environment.


Lenora’s Journey Through a Hostile Workplace

In two previous articles a 52 year old nurse named Lenora was harassed and abused by her new (younger) boss and former co-worker Michelle. Feeling distressed and sick, Lenora stayed home from work and called her brother in law, a corporate employment lawyer named Curt.

Although he usually works on the side of the employers, he wanted to help his family member. Talking on the phone and over lunch Curt explained the difference between legal and illegal hostile work environments, and explained why the concept of “employment at will” is so crucial to fighting back against a bullying boss.

Lenora wants to turn her boss Michelle into the hospital’s human resources department for “unfairly” attacking Lenora at work. Curt is trying to persuade Lenora to let go of the idea of “unfairness”, because U.S. employment law does not require supervisors to be fair.

It is shocking to Lenora that employment “at-will” actually allows employers to terminate workers at any time, for any reason or no reason (even a bad reason), just so long as it’s not an illegal reason. As we re-join their conversation, Curt is trying to explain to Lenora that the best way to fight back against a hostile work evnironment is to focus on the “illegal reasons” instead of focusing on “fairness”.
Fight With Fairness, or With a Protected Class?

Curt Urges Lenora to Forget “Fairness”

“Thanks for returning my call, Curt; you’ve been very generous with your time,” said Lenora.

“Anything for family, Lenora. And besides, I don’t want you to go and screw yourself by thinking you can get what’s ‘fair’”, said Curt.

“Said like a true lawyer,” Lenora replied. “Right, I shouldn’t believe that fairness matters. Do people really pay you hundreds of dollars an hour to tell them stuff like this?”

“The pay me many hundreds per hour, because I know what works. It may not sound like what you want to hear, but it will get you where you want to go. Fighting back against an abusive boss is not path down a flowery trail marked ‘Fairness: this way’. It’s a tough journey that requires you to take up arms and fight.”

“Now you sound like a football coach.”

“Okay, I’m going to hang up the phone now–”

“No no no! Sorry. I’m just frustrated. Michelle can treat me like crap, and when I turn to attorney for help what’s the first thing out of his mouth? ‘It’s perfectly legal for you boss to treat you like crap.’”

“But there’s more to the rule!” said Curt. “There are exceptions to the rule that it’s legal for your boss to treat you like crap. That’s what I’m trying to tell you about: the exceptions.”
Your Protected Class is the Key

“But you are also telling me that one of the exceptions is NOT fairness, right?” “Yes, right,” said Curt. “Well I still say that’s stupid, ” said Lenora. “Supervisors should not be able to drive you out your job and some tiny little mistake while allowing other people to gossip their entire day away.”

“And what I’m trying to tell you is that the law doesn’t allow supervisors to do that if the people getting run out of their jobs are all older men, and the gossipers are all younger women. Or if it’s Asians getting run out of their job, while all the gossipers are Caucasian. Or pregnant women getting run out, or veterans or… well do you see what I mean?”

“I think so. Even though I’m upset Michelle is getting away with attacking me unfairly, I can’t say that.”

“Right,” said Curt. “You have to say, ‘Michelle is attacking me and singling me out because of my age. Because THAT is illegal. THAT will get H.R.’s attention. They don’t care about unfairness because no law prohibits unfairness. Saying all this crap Michelle is putting you through at work is happening because of your age is what will turn you from a whiner into a warrior.”

“Okay, I get it and I’ll do it. Even though I still think the law should be different. Don’t complaint about unfairness. Complain about mistreatment because of age.” Lenora smiled to herself. “I can’t wait to get back to work and do this.”


Follow CP on Twitter @CommunityParty1 for state, national and global headlines and updates on the Trayvon Martin, Safe Work Environment and Jane Doe Acts. Visit our No Sellout blog for the archive of CP Hartford News columns ( and Northend Agent’s for selected columns. Check out the CP Facebook page. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcement on our social justice platform. Contact us at 860-206-8879 or


Food for thought for the NYPD:

NYPD stop-and-frisk documentary:

Flex Your Rights traffic stop tutorial:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Flex Your Rights – How to handle police encounters:

David Samuels


Community Party


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