This year, our partners at the Justice Committee (JC) will celebrate an extraordinary, inspiring 40 years of organizing for police accountability in New York City! And the JFREJ community is showing our love and gratitude to JC by raising at least $2000 ahead of JC’s Justice State of Mind gala on Thursday May 16th. Please join us in supporting the Justice Committee by donating here, and get your tickets for Justice State of Mind before they’re all gone!

Some history on this incredible organization: Justice Committee was founded in 1984, originally as the New York chapter of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, by legendary activists & leaders Ritchie Perez (z”l) and Vincente “Panama” Alba.

A high school teacher, Ritchie joined the Puerto Rican Leftist organization, the Young Lords, in 1969:

“I was teaching and saw that the schools routinely categorized young people as troublemakers and problem kids. I started to recognize what I understand now as institutional racism… I always believed you can’t teach if you don’t love the students and teach them as if they’re your family.”

Photo of Richie Perez speaking into a megaphone

Richie Perez

With the Young Lords, Ritchie and Panama Alba (who spent years as an organizer with the AFL/CIO, advocating for immigrant and undocumented workers) learned how to connect people power to visionary, radical tactics. In 1970, Alba and thirty others occupied a vacant floor of Lincoln Hospital and forced hospital administration to open a drug treatment center, which they called “The People’s Drug Program.” It is this fierce commitment to meeting the needs of real New Yorkers that infuses the Justice Committee’s work to build a city where people don’t suffer or fear killings and abuse at the hands of the NYPD.

Unique among other NYC orgs, the Justice Committee takes on the holiest, most intimate and emotionally challenging work there is: working directly with the families of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD. Immediately after an NYPD killing, JC springs into action. They track down grieving, traumatized family members and offer emotional support, legal guidance, and expertise while bringing the victim’s relatives into community with the only people who can truly understand what they’re going though: people like Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; and Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah; among many others.

Photo of Constance Malcolm and other families of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD speaking at a rally

Constance Malcolm and other Justice Committee members at a rally to Defund the NYPD

These families are the moral core of our movement’s work to end NYPD violence and racism. By effectively organizing the families, JC has a singularly powerful strategy that galvanizes our entire movement. The NYPD's especially violent, militarized policing this week is a reminder of how urgent this work is.

Under the leadership of Yul-san Liem and Loyda Colon, JC has been at the forefront of the campaigns to pass the Community Safety Act, The Right to Know Act, the Police Stat Act, the How Many Stops Act, repealing 50A (the police secrecy law) and winning an executive order making the Attorney General the Special Prosecutor for all police killings in New York State.

Rallying for the How Many Stops Act

This list of victories is a testament to the brilliance, integrity, and skill of the staff and membership of the Justice Committee – and the enduring power of Ritchie’s spirit and political vision.

Jews For Racial & Economic Justice is so proud to be celebrating JC’s 40th birthday after years of organizing side-by-side. Please help us show our appreciation and gratitude for the work of the Justice Committee by donating today!

Photo of JFREJ and Justice Committee members protesting together in Grand Central Station