Justice Committee- The National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights

Award Recipients - 2000

Richie Perez, Co-Founder & Co-Coordinator

The Justice Committee organizes against police brutality, racially motivated violence and other criminal justice issues.  The Committee emerged from the National Congress for Puerto Rican rights founded in 1981 as it responded to Latinos and African Americans who were victims of racially motivated but had no place to turn for help.  In 1988, the group successfully obtained an indictment in a case involving the racially motivated stabbing of two Latino youths by a White gang in Brooklyn.  The next year, the group organized and won an acquittal in the case of a Puerto Rican professor who defended himself against repeated beating by a White neighbor.
In 1994, after a police officer killed Anthony Baez, the Committee organized a campaign demanding an indictment.  When the initial indictment was thrown out due to a District Attorney error, the Justice Committee with the Baez family organized a sit-in at the DA’s office and got a second indictment; the officer is now in prison.  The Baez case galvanized the community and renewed attention to the police brutality issue.  The Committee continues working with families of victims, coordinating community mobilizations, and developing legal and media strategies.  The Committee also engages in voter registration, community education, coalition building and legal actions aimed at stopping racial profiling and illegal stops by police.

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