Richie Perez was a brilliant organizer, an activist without equal. He was a leader in the struggle for global human rights, and fought for social justice all his life.

Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, Richie was a member of the Young Lords Party, and later a co-founder of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights. He spent decades working with kids in street gangs, trying to get them to stop killing each other and directing their energies and frustrations towards the political system that is the cause of so much exploitation and misery.

As a member of the Young Lords Party, he served as editor of its weekly newspaper Pa’lante, and was the party’s Deputy Minister of Information. He was also active in the Anti-Bakke movement, the NY Committee to Free the Puerto Rican Nationalist Prisoners, and founded the Committee Against Fort Apache (the movie).

Richie spent the last 21 years working at the Community Service Society where he was the Director of Political Development and where he shared responsibility for the agency’s urban agenda. Over the last decade, grassroots projects he designed and ran registered more than 250,000 new voters. Most recently, Richie worked closely with the CSS Legal Department on the issue of the disenfranchisement of felons when they return from prison.

Along with Iris Baez and the mothers of kids murdered by the NY Police Department, Richie was the pre-eminent figure in the movements against police brutality in New York City. His analysis was profound, sharp, always looking for ways to mobilize all people but particularly youth. He was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit aimed at abolishing the NYPD’s Street Crimes Unit, and helped in founding the People’s Justice 2000, a coalition formed to mobilize the communities during the trials of the police officers who killed Amadou Diallo and tortured Abner Louima.

Richie also wrote and lectured extensively on topics including urban problems, restructuring of the U.S. economy, race relations, media stereotyping, electoral politics, community organizing, youth leadership development and political empowerment. He was always very friendly to Green activists – so long as they showed up and put their bodies where their mouths were. He was also very critical of some of the politics of the Greens, and argued for a much greater effort in tying ecological issues with the oppression in the poorest communities, in which many of the most toxic industries and warehouses are situated.

Richie was a giant in the history of our movements, in ways that this short remembrance cannot do justice. He argued a lot, and his eyes twinkled with the humor that all revolutionaries must have within them if they are going to walk in balance through this insane, violent world.

He is survived by his wife, Martha Laureano, his son Danny, and his mother, Ann Perez.

– Mitchel Cohen, Green Party newspaper, May 2004