Militant Journalism

Queens, NY man jailed on fake confession, community rallies to free Prakash Churaman

On Dec. 9, outside Queens County Criminal Court, friends, family, and supporters of Prakash Churaman rallied in support of his efforts to appeal his case. Six years ago, at the age of 15, Prakash was wrongfully arrested and manipulated by police into giving a false confession that he had murdered his best friend.

Even though his conviction was reversed this past June, Churaman remains at Rikers awaiting a new trial. His case highlights the rottenness of the criminal injustice system. As Party for Socialism and Liberation organizer Gabi Silva stated during the rally: “There is no justice in a system that would manipulate and coerce a child into giving a false confession. There is no justice in a system that keeps people waiting years for a trial. There is no justice in this system except the justice that we demand and we win when we organize.” 

Prakash Churaman speaks at the Dec 9 rally via phone. Liberation Photo.

Fake confession forced by cops, Churaman still in jail despite conviction’s reversal

Prakash Churaman is a Guyanese immigrant, who lived with his single mother in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, NY. On Dec. 8, 2014, Churaman’s best friend, Taquane Clark was killed during a home invasion. Taquane’s grandmother claimed that she recognized the voice of one of the masked men as Churaman. Early the next morning, cops arrested Churaman and interrogated him. Though he maintained his innocence, cops were determined to force a confession. Cops coerced Churaman’s mother to tell him to do what the cops asked. At 15 years old, he felt he had no choice but to falsely confess. 

Churaman spent three years locked up before his case even went to trial. In December 2018, he was given a nine years to life sentence. Even though he was offered a plea deal, Churaman refused to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit. 

This past June, an appellate court reversed his conviction on the basis that Judge Kenneth Holder had not allowed Churaman to present an expert witness. Even with a reversed conviction, Churaman remains at Rikers Island as no bail has been set and each trial date has been adjourned — a tactic used by the court system to break the will of people fighting for their freedom.

How to support the case

During the Dec. 9 rally, Churaman called in to his supporters and stated that his trial was adjourned again to Feb. 10. The ongoing campaign states they hope to rally in support again on the new court date. Organizations supporting the rally and speaking included H.O.L.L.A.! (How Our Lives Link Altogether), DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), and VOCAL NY, as well as students from the nearby St. John’s University and journalists from the Working Class Heroes podcast which produced an episode on Churaman’s case.

According to Jacob Cohen, who launched the petition to free Prakash Churaman and has continued to organize support, supporters can help by:

Churaman’s case is one of thousands that highlight the injustice that poor people face in New York and across the United States. He, like so many others, was not provided with the legal resources and defense he deserves to protect himself and assert his case. Mainstream journalists have provided one-sided coverage favoring the District Attorney. The court refuses to set bail which would allow Churaman to fight his case outside of prison. Churaman rightfully calls the prison and court system, “a maze, where people get lost trying to find their way out.” 

Members of the PSL Queens unit will continue to organize and support the campaign to free Prakash Churaman and bring to light the injustices of this system. Free Prakash Churaman and Free Them All!

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