Write to Cy Vance

Below is a sample letter to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

You can email him at vancec@dany.nyc.gov. Please cc me on your letter at jhayden512@aol.com.

Or mail your letter to:

Cyrus Vance
Manhattan District Attorney
One Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013

SAMPLE LETTER TO CYRUS VANCE

Cyrus Vance Manhattan District Attorney
One Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013

Dear District Attorney Vance,

[PLEASE MAKE INCLUDE YOUR NAME, YOUR JOB OR OTHER IMPORTANT AFFILIATION AND HOW YOU KNOW JAZZ]

I am writing today about an urgent matter, the case of Joseph Hayden. Your office has chosen to seek an indictment against him for two counts of Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree. I believe that his arrest was a retaliatory act on the part of the police against one of their most outspoken critics, a long-time neighborhood cop watch activist and police reform advocate.

There is no doubt that Mr. Hayden has a lengthy criminal record. But he has put his past behind him and become an important community activist. He is a longtime member of The Riverside Church Prison Ministry and a founding member of the Ministry’s Campaign to End The New Jim Crow, a group dedicated to combatting mass incarceration and building caring communities. And for the past four years, Mr. Hayden has videotaped police officers as they stop and frisk people in Harlem as part of a neighborhood copwatch program and posted these videos on his website, All Things Harlem.

Mr. Hayden was pulled over for a traffic stop in Harlem in December 2011. When the police approached his car, they made it plain that they recognized Mr. Hayden by statements such as “We know you.” The two officers who stopped him in December were the same officers filmed by Mr. Hayden several months earlier (view the video here: http://bit.ly/NjOZTN). After clearly acknowledging that they knew who he was, the officers unlawfully searched his car, finding a penknife and a small commemorative replica baseball bat. These items are the weapons for which he is now facing felony charges punishable by 2 to 7 years in prison.

During your campaign for District Attorney, you sat down with Mr. Hayden for an interview for his website. During that interview, Mr. Hayden asked you what you would do to stop racial bias and harassment of people of color by the NYPD. You told him that while you “can’t tell the police who to arrest or who not to arrest,” but as District Attorney you would like to assure that “when it comes to us, that we are not making charging decisions that are biased in any way.” You can view the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEu5yZ4Pwxc

In light of your commitment to make unbiased charging decisions, I urge you to drop the charges against Mr. Hayden. Given Mr. Hayden’s prominent role in filming the police, it is clear that his arrest was retaliation for his community activities. I also urge you to take seriously the dangers of police practices that effectively silence citizens who dissent. United States Attorney General Eric Holder has affirmed the right to record police officers in the public performance of their duties. By allowing Mr. Hayden’s indictment to proceed, the Manhattan District Attorney casts a chilling effect on this right.

Thank you for your kind attention to this letter.

Sincerely

[NAME]
[ADDRESS]