'We Protect Our Communities' - New York's Cop Watchers Speak Out
QUEENS, N.Y. — On a recent evening in a nondescript apartment building in the Jackson Heights section of Queens, a small group of young social justice activists gather for a weekly ritual.
Armed with handheld video cameras and know-your-rights pamphlets, they hash out a strategy and exchange information about police movements in the area. All write on their arms the phone number of a lawyer who will bail them out of jail if things go awry.
This scene could play out in any number of large cities such as Detroit, St. Louis and Baltimore, where last year six police officers were charged for their role in the death of Freddie Gray. These activists are part of a growing nationwide network of citizen patrols that call themselves cop watchers.