Judge Stephen J. Rooney adjourned the case five minutes after Orta appeared in Richmond County Court Thursday morning for his latest hearing in order to obtain a DNA sample in connection with an unrelated illegal gun possession case Orta is dealing with concurrently.
Officials have charged the 22-year-old with single felony counts of third-degree criminal weapons possession and criminal firearms possession, in addition to a misdemeanor weapon possession.
They allege a female accomplice handed Orta a handgun outside an infamous drug spot on Staten Island last August. Orta and others maintain the arrest is retaliation from the NYPD for recording their interaction with Garner.
Supporters gathered with Orta outside the courthouse after the hearing.
“Here today, the man who filmed the lynching [of Eric Garner], which is a crime, is being indicted for filming the lynching,” said legendary civil rights attorney Alton Maddox (pictured left of Orta) who has continued representing Orta at his request, even though the New York State legislature indefinitely suspended his law license here 25 years ago.
“The man who filmed the crime is now being persecuted for filming it by members of the New York Police Department. That’s why we’re here.”
“We’re here today to support Ramsey Orta. What happened to him is very unfair and they set him up,” said Ale, a member of Occu-Evolve, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “And you know why they set him up? Because they wanted to put him in jail so he [wouldn’t] come out with this tape — a tape that all of us have seen.”
Ale encouraged others to “bring double — if you brought one, bring 10 people” to the March 12th hearing.
For Stop Mass Incarceration Network member Aunt Shirley, people on the borough are fearful because of an NYPD crackdown.
“There is more support off this island than there is on this island…,” Shirley, a Staten Island resident, said, “…because they have the island on lockdown. A lot of people are scared. You gotta come out of your comfort zone and be there for all of us. We gotta keep this going.”
“This young man, what was the reason for them stopping him?” added Burchell Marcus, director of grassroots non-profit Organizing Brooklyn Communities. “They said he had a gun — inoperable — means that it’s not a gun, because it doesn’t work. They had no cause at all to stop him.”
A few people headed to Garner’s nearby memorial after the crowd began departing, with Maddox assuring others not to worry about Orta’s upcoming DNA test.