Disorderly conduct charge dismissed against Lehman High School student arrested for handing out pamphlets with Black Panther symbol
A group opposed to police in public schools trumpeted a dropped disorderly conduct charge against a Lehman High School student as a victory for student rights.
Malik Ayala, 16, got the summons last spring and turned down a plea deal, demanding a trial that was supposed to happen last week.
A judge dropped the charge after the officer who wrote the ticket failed to appear in court. Ayala faced 15 days in jail if convicted.
A police source said the officer who wrote the ticket was never told of AyalaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trial date.
AyalaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attorney, Marne Lenox of Bronx Defenders, called the charge against the teen Ã¢â‚¬Å“baseless,Ã¢â‚¬Â in an emailed comment.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not guilty of the offense charged, Malik refused to accept any plea offer and was vindicated today when a judge dismissed his summons ticket,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lenox said.
Ayala, a sophomore and member of the school’s Student Leadership Council, said he got the ticket as he distributed flyers protesting the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plan to close the school. Ayala said a school security officer saw a Black Panther logo on the paper and claimed the symbol was illegal.
Ayala admits he had some choice words for the cop, Police Officer Joseph Foreman.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I said something like, Ã¢â‚¬ËœYouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a disgrace to black people,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â Ayala said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬â„¢The devil comes in disguises. Blue first, black second, I know how that goes.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every time we demand a trial, they always end up dismissing the case,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Agnes Johnson, a member of People Power Movement, which backed Ayala. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That tells us these things are really bogus.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In Bronx court last Tuesday, 30 members of People Power Movement there to support Ayala claimed Bronx Criminal Court officers mistreated them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They made us take our shirts off and turn them inside out,Ã¢â‚¬Â Johnson said. The red tees bore the groupÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name, along with a large fist graphic.
David Bookstaver, spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, acknowledged that shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have happened.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we had it to do over again, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not unlikely we would have handled it differently,Ã¢â‚¬Â Bookstaver said.
Court policy forbids messages on clothes that might influence the outcome of a trial but the manual is vague, Bookstaver said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are rewriting the policy. We believe the end result will take the burden off court officers and put it on the judge,Ã¢â‚¬Â Bookstaver said.
Ayala previously beat another disorderly conduct charge in the same manner. He was arrested April 18 after he videotaped officers who stopped and frisked his classmate outside a subway station.