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Jazz Hayden                           - Opinion Blog

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The Hornblower: Jazz Profiled for The Game Changers Project

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Photojournalist and emerging filmmaker, Lyric Cabral, produced this video for, The Game Changers Project, profiling the work of Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, Founder of 

The Game Changers Project -  "The school-to-prison pipeline? I've lived it. Prisons? I've been there. Racial profiling? I've lived it." Meet Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, Harlem's own. We sent our NYC-based GCP Fellow Lyric Cabral to capture the story of this well-known game changer. In a past life, he was known for his business partnership with the famed Harlem hustler Nicky Barnes, but these days the 71 year-old Hayden, a longtime Harlem community activist, films stop-and-frisks and then posts the videos to the Internet as part of his Copwatch program. His story is amazing! 

The Hornblower: Jazz Speaks on Mass Incarceration at Tedx Conference


Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, Founder of, speaks about the issues of mass incarceration at this Tedx Talk.  

TEDx Talks -   This talk was given at TEDxColumbiaCollege in November of 2012 at Columbia University in New York City.  In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

New York City Students Criminalized for Arriving Late to School


Did you know that New York City students are being criminalized for being late to school?  This process takes place when the NYPD sets up checkpoints at subway exits that are in close proximity to public schools.  They stop the students and ask them a series of personal questions and record that information.  This video took place in Harlem, NY at the 135th street station. 

Below are a few questions we had and posed in the video.  Let us know what your thoughts and feelings are on this NYPD practice.  Share your thoughts in the comments section or twitter #schooltoprisonpipeline.

Why are cops stopping students on their way to school when in all public schools there is an officer at the front desk?

This stop took about 10 minutes. Doesn't this practice make students later for school?

Could these stops deter students  from attending on days that they are running late?

What is being done with the information collected by the NYPD?

How do parents feel about their children being stopped and questioned without their consent?

Are these students commuting by train because there isn't a good school in their neighborhood?

One of the most disturbing parts of this video is that the students appear unfazed. These police abuses have become Normalized. But this is not normal!

If young suburban students were stopped by police on their way to school you would likely see fear and tears in their eyes. Followed up by outrage from parents and the school board.

Still Seeking Justice for Trayvon Martin - Jury Selection Begins

Jury selction began today in the trial against George Zimmerman who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  He is facing second-degree murder charges.  All eyes will be on this trial we're hoping that the Martin familiy will get justice. 

Below is a video we shot during the Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin in New York City.  The energy of the group was strong that day and we need more of this unity.  The words of the speaker in the video(Brian Jones) continue to ring true.  The perception of black and brown men being criminals has pervaded our society.  The murder of Trayvon Martin is yet another tragic result of this.  From racial profiling and stop and frisk to mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline the list of other negative results of this supported structural racism are too many. 

If you can stomach it, take a look through some of the comments in response to this video under the youtube link.  This video went viral with over 50,000 views and 900 comments.  A very large amount of the comments are blatantly racist and extremely nasty. Though racist comments are not rare to youtube it's important to note the number of varied authors of these comments. 

ATH footage used in Yasin Bey (Mos Def) PSA on Stop and Frisk

Don't Tread On Me - Video

Disgrace of Justice - Ramarley Graham's case thrown out by Bronx Judge 

NY1 - A Bronx judge has thrown out the indictment on manslaughter charges filed against the officer accused in the shooting death of Ramarley Graham, saying the grand jury was accidentally misled by the district attorney's office. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, couldn't hide her feelings when Judge Stephen Barrett threw out the manslaughter indictment against police officer Richard Haste.

"You killed my God damn child, you son of a bitch," Malcolm yelled in the courtroom.

Haste shot and killed the unarmed teen last year. He said he thought Graham had a gun.

Judge Barrett said Bronx prosecutors made a major mistake in the grand jury process.

"I believe that inadvertently, the district attorney's instructions did mislead the jury," the judge said.

Officer Haste has said he chased Graham into the teen's home because other officers put over the police radio that the teen had a gun. Haste shot and killed Graham in the bathroom, but no gun was found.

Judge Barrett ruled that the grand jury should have been able to consider what other officers reported.

"In effect, the grand jury was told, by both commission and omission, that the communications of other officers to officer Haste were not relevant," Judge Barrett said. "That's my conclusion in reading this instruction, and that is error."

Outside court, supporters of Graham's family were outraged.

"We will continue to fight wherever this fight leads," said Franclot Graham, Ramarley Graham's father. "If we have to go to the Justice Department, then that's where we'll go."

"The people of Bronx County and the citizens of America will not go away, will not cease and desist against police violence, excessive force, against, obviously, murder," said Attorney Royce Russell.

Inside the courtroom, Haste didn't say a word, but his union said the judge made the right decision.

"No police officer ever wants to draw their weapon and be in this situation, so it's a difficult time for everyone," said Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Everyone involved in the case knows it's likely to continue. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said his office will decide if it will appeal the judge's ruling or present the case to another grand jury.

Following the decision, the Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement, saying, "This is an outrageous miscarriage of justice and an insult to the family and supporters of Ramarley Graham. We demand that a new grand jury is convened immediately and that the case is re-presented."

Story from NY1.Com

Event: Emergency Demonstration - Justice for Ramarley Graham


Message From Ramarley Graham's Mother

Dear Ramarley's supporters,

I am not sure if everyone is up to date as to what happened on the last court date but we were not given the impression that a trial will start anytime soon.  A trial date was not set due to some " TECHNICALITY".  Now, there was no technicality when this murderer illegally gained access to my building, ran upstairs, and kicked off my apartment door and murdered my son. There were no technicality when they were all smirking in my backyard because they did a good job murdering Ramarley in cold blood.  There were no technicality when at his first court appearance he was greeted with applaud by his fellow comrades.

I am angry and cannot express my feelings alone.  I need your help.  My son needs your help.  We need to have the same smile and smirk they had with a court date being set.  We need to show the judge that COPS are not above the law. The court system is quick to pronounce us citizens guilty until proven innocent. So why is RICHARD HASTE getting the innocent until proven guilty treatment? Four days after my son was murdered the community came out and was angry and fed up of the constant police brutality, well on WEDNESDAY MAY 15th at 8:30 AM, please come out and show your disgust and how fed up you are of the crooked system we call the justice system. I am ready to take it to the streets and the highest of the highest.  Please be prepared for a major protest

I am asking you to share this with any and everyone.  We need your help, we need your voice,  I need you to help me make a difference to the system so that our children are treated fairly.

With Love and Respect from a angry mother

Constance Malcolm.

Drug Prohibition is Human Rights Issue - Jazz Hayden

Jazz Hayden Speaking at NYC Canabis Parade 2013

By: Joseph "Jazz" Hayden

At a recent event against drug prohibition I was asked to speak, as I was asked to speak the year before.  Well, my views on drug prohibition have been consistently consistent----prohibition is sheer bull---t!  It is my opinion that the entire narrative around drugs in this country (and the world) has to be changed.  For far too long we have framed the discussion in terms of law and public policy.  It is time for a change because that conversation is not going anywhere.  The conversation has to be reframed in terms of “human rights” and an individuals inalienable right to choose what he/she can put in their bodies.  Noone should have the power to tell another human being what they can and cannot put in their bodies.  Each one of us is trapped in the “castle of our skins” for the duration of our short stay on this planet.  We feed, exercise, clothe, house, and take care of our bodies 24/7.  I watch the pharmaceutical commercials on television and I am amazed at the glaring contradictions in the way that pharmaceutical drugs are treated and the way that so-called “illicit” drugs are treated.  A pharmaceutical drug that has one possible beneficial effect, and fifteen side effects that can maim or kill you is presented to potential customers who are given this information so that they can make a choice.  The provision of all research information to the potential consumer and the leaving of the decision up to them is the way that all drugs should be treated.  Why isn’t this universally applied?  Why do we have so many human beings in cages for simply “self-medicating”, making choices about what to put in their bodies?  How do we rationalize designating them as “criminals” and branding them as second class citizens for the rest of their lives?  This is madness!  The human cost of this failed policy is horrendous!  The economic cost is off of the charts…


Drug War Statistics

Did you know....

Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000


Number of people arrested in 2011 in the U.S. on nonviolent drug charges: 1.53 million


Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2011: 757,969

  • •              Number of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 663,032 (87 percent)

Number of Americans incarcerated in 2011 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,266,800 or 1 in every 99.1 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world


Fraction of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison that are black or Hispanic, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 2/3


Number of states that allow the medical use of marijuana: 18 + District of Columbia


Estimated annual revenue that California would raise if it taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana: $1,400,000,000


Number of people killed in Mexico's drug war since 2006: 70,000+


Number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: 200,000+


Number of people in the U.S. that died from an accidental drug overdose in 2009: 31,758


Tax revenue that drug legalization would yield annually, if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco: $46.7 billion


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that syringe access programs lower HIV incidence among people who inject drugs by: 80 percent


One-third of all AIDS cases in the U.S. have been caused by syringe sharing: 354,000 people


U.S. federal government support for syringe access programs: $0.00, thanks to a federal ban reinstated by Congress in 2011 that prohibits any federal assistance for them

More Resources

Get additional facts at the Drug War Facts website

Animators Parody NYPD's Stop and Frisk Training Video


Reverend Calvin Butts and the Abyssinian Development Corporation Exposed

This article from the Village Voice gives a detailed look at Abyssinian Baptist Church's Reverend Calvin Butts and the big money dealings of their real estate arm known as the Abyssinian Development Corporation.

Village Voice - From the church pulpit, like the Powells before him, the always crisply attired Butts has talked his way into a role as one of Harlem's key political power brokers—a position that is not without its benefits. In 1998, Butts endorsed the Republican incumbent governor, George Pataki. The following year, Pataki appointed him president of SUNY–Old Westbury, where he continues to earn $200,000 a year. And while he was a harsh critic of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, once calling him a "racist," Butts not only endorsed the Republican Michael Bloomberg, but has said hardly a word against his policies. Bloomberg's City Hall has lavished $68.6 million in government money on the organization, according to the city comptroller's office. The mayor himself has made repeated charitable donations to ADC, and once sat down at a fundraiser and wrote out a $1 million check on the spot. After Senator Hilary Clinton secured $1.5 million in earmarks for ADC, Butts endorsed her for president.

Mayoral Forum with The Faith Community at Convent Avenue Baptist Church

Mayoral candidates were invited to Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harem by the faith based community of New York City. The Ministers of many churches created a covenant with the mayoral candidates, demanding that they be included in discussions of all matters related to their communities.

The candidates discussed a range of issues including health care, mayoral control of the education system, and police community relations. Democratic candidates John Liu, Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson all participated.


Faith community begins the event

Police violence in the community

Mayoral control of the education system 1/2

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Seen in the Subway


This young crew of kids impressed some passengers and left others annoyed or frightened with their acrobatic break dancing moves inside this New York City train car.  They are tremendously talented and entrepreneurial.  Many people find these young crews annoying to see during their subway commutes.  What do you think?


This man seemed to be enjoying whatever was playing in his headphones cause he was singing and dancing to himself as if know one else was around.  Do you think he was crazy or just really feeling the music?


Two Systems of Justice

Two systems of criminal justice have once again been confirmed, this time on the international stage with the exposure of one of the largest banks in the world, HSBC, as one of the biggest money launderers in the world.

It has long been my position that the criminal justice system that poor and oppressed people desire already exists.  It is a system of restitution, fines, community service, and non-incarceration; unlike the totally punitive system of jails, prisons, chain gangs, death penalties, and harsh prison conditions.

There has always been this duplicity that has been based on power and privilege in America. Racial control of the power structure and white-skinned privilege has unabashedly designed these two systems to meet their needs for social control.

To show the glaring disparity between how the rich and powerful are treated, in contrast to how the poor and vulnerable are treated, I need only relate a chapter in my life experience.

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Black Youth subculture: Is it time to push back?


By Joseph "Jazz" Hayden  (In response to: The Crime of “Saggy Pants”?)

Some say that Black youth subculture has reinforced every negative stereotype attributed to Blacks in   America from slavery to the present?  And that Black entrepreneurs, with the support of governmental and private media forces, have facilitated the creation of a black youth subculture that has been antithetical to everything that blacks have struggled for since our forced kidnapping from the shores of Africa and our subsequent enslavement and brutalization to this very day.    

The transition from a culture of racial pride, unity, and resistance to a culture of ignorance, self-abasement, and widespread fratricide against other people of color did not happen in a vacuum.  

The forties, fifties, and sixties in Harlem was a community of heightened political awareness, i.e., Marcus Garvey movement, Nation of Islam, NAACP, Black Panthers, Young Lords, Father Divine, and Daddy Grace, with a sense of black pride and community.  This was reflected in the politics, religion, activism, and foremost in the music of the times; Jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and the Temptations.  This was the Civil Rights era, Black Power movement, racial pride, activism, community organizing, Black Nationalism, self-defense, and black students organizing all around the country.  Today’s black youth culture could not have even been imagined then ---- much less gained any traction.  It took governmental policy and its Lap Dog Media to make today’s black youth sub-culture possible.

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Spring Fever Uptown - Motor Bikes Are Out.

Click picture for video.

Every year when the weather gets warm you will see and definitely hear the sounds of dirt bikes, motorcycles, scooters and 4-wheelers whipping around the streets of Harlem and the rest of Uptown.  This year appears to be no different because at the first touch of warm weather last weekend we saw them out everywhere.

Many members of the community feel that this biking is dangerous and also a nuisance because of the loud noise the bikes make.  A lot of riders feel that it's just a way to get outside and enjoy doing what they love. How do you feel about it?  If you feel that it is a problem what do you see as a good solution? 

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Michelle Alexander Speaks at Vanderbilt University Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.

Michelle Alexander Speaks at Vanderbilt- Photo from
The brilliance of Michelle Alexander's scholarship, oratory, and passionate commitment to the "Unfinished Business" of the civil rights struggle is all captured in this presentation at Vanderbilt University; commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Her call for building a bottom up human rights movement is timely and cogently laid out.  For those among us that have been following her evolution, this presentation was a fulfillment of our hopes and expectations. Click on photo or below for VIDEO of the event.

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R.I.P. to Harlem's Own - Tyrone "Alimoe" Evans

Tyrone "Alimoe" Evans who was also known as "The Black Widow" passed away last week from complications of a seizure.  He was 37.  Alimoe was one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Harlem.  He was most publicly known for his streetball skills touring with the And1 Mixtape Tour, appearing in cities around the country and on television and video tapes.  But anyone who saw him play knows he should have played in the NBA and would have been very successful.  Take it from former NBA star, Shaquille O'neal, who said, “He was 6-7. He could handle the rock. He could shoot. He actually had the whole package, and he should have been in the league. Rest in peace, Alimoe. Love you, brother.”  

Thanks for the memories Alimoe.

Tyrone "Alimoe" Evans - Photo from


R.I.P. Lou Meyers - Archival footage of him speaking at a Community Forum

Actor and artist Lou Meyers passed away February 19, 2013 from a heart related emergency.  Meyers was most known for his role of Mr. Gaines on the television show, "A Different World' and appearances on "The Cosby Show."  Many people were unaware of his role as an activist.  All Things Harlem got a chance to hear Lou Meyers speak and community forum about the criminal justice system and mass incarceration.  Below is video of the event from our archives.  Mr. Meyers begins speaking around 2:10 mark.

Lou Meyers - Photo from Getty ImagesVideo

Reverend Billy raises Jazz Hayden to "Fabulous Sainthood"


Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping honor, All Things Harlem Founder, Joseph "Jazz" Hayden with Sainthood for his work on ending Stop & Frisk.

Today's Unfinished Business - Slavery, Prisons and The New Jim Crow

The new form of slavery has the same intent and purpose as the old: to rob us of our labor and to keep us powerless.


By: Joseph "Jazz" Hayden

THIS IS African History Month. For the past week, I have been watching and re-watching The Abolitionists, a two and a half-hour documentary on PBS. It covers the abolitionist movement from the early 19th century to the Reconstruction period.

Watching the dynamics of that struggle for the ending of slavery had me glued to the screen and taking notes. The chief players were William Lloyd Garrison, the publisher of the anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator; Nat Turner, who led am 1831 slave rebellion that killed slave owners and freed slaves; Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; and Frederick Douglass, former slave, orator, publisher of the North Star and organizer. Oh, and the most prominent figure, Abraham Lincoln.

The Abolitionists is a historical documentary about the struggle to end slavery. The ending of the most brutal war in American history and the passage of the 13th Amendment were supposed to be the definitive ending of that period in American history. However, when I look back from the perspective of the present, I am confronted with the question: What has changed? I can't avoid the answer: Very little.

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