Postponed, Pospuesto: Middletown Brakelight Repair Clinic

Postponed, Pospuesto: Middletown Brakelight Repair Clinic


PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release. 04/23/2021

PUBLIC CONTACT: The Mid Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America 

In the effort to reduce our community members’ interactions with police and to avoid burdensome fines or worse, the Mid Hudson Valley DSA has provided a host of Brake Light Clinics across the region. Whether in Newburgh, Kingston, or Poughkeepsie, our volunteers have engaged with folks and helped them fix broken tail lights at no charge, and have got them back on the road safely without fear of being targeted for a minor infraction.

Vehicle defects are the top reason a motorist is pulled over in the City of Middletown: tickets for vehicle equipment violations outpaced speeding tickets 5,281 to 2,841 during 2016-2019. Middletown ranked 4th in the number of tickets issued in Orange County for such tickets. At best, a traffic stop is a nuisance for the individual and a way for under-taxed municipalities to generate revenue. However, the racial disparity in these types of traffic stops is well-documented, and far too often we observe these small traffic infractions are used as pretext for unwarranted searches, harassment, and the continued violence toward our Black and brown community members.  

While our previous brake light clinics have operated with community support and success, we are disheartened to announce that our efforts in Middletown have been hindered by an unnecessarily complex and prohibitive process, as all automobile maintenance is restricted to private property. When a city makes it harder for working and low income families to get their brake lights changed, it leaves them subject to dangerous police stops. In fact, our clinic getting cancelled is a symptom of the same problem as that of people getting pulled over for brake lights: governments passing unnecessary laws that are unevenly applied, and then charging the police with enforcing them, with unjust and sometimes disastrous results.

Continuing with this event would endanger the very communities we are trying to protect, and so we have decided to postpone our Brake Light Clinic that was scheduled for this weekend, April 24, in the City of Middletown

We hope we can work with the City of Middletown to find a site to help our community members. We will announce the new date as soon as we can.


OC Progress
Mid Hudson Valley DSA

Traffic data with updated stats

Traffic data with updated stats

Top 5 municipalities per county in # of tickets issued


Dutchess County

Municipality Name # of tickets given 2016-2019 for V&T 375-380-a
Town of Poughkeepsie 9,037
Town of East Fishkill 3,917
City of Poughkeepsie 2,971
City of Beacon 2,552
Town of Hyde Park 2,361

Orange County

Municipality Name # of tickets given 2016-2019 for V&T 375-380-a
Town of Wallkill 7,945
Town of New Windsor 6,637
Town of Newburgh 5,692
City of Middletown 5,281
Town of Woodbury 4,806


Ulster County

Municipality Name # of tickets given 2016-2019 for V&T 375-380-a
Town of Ulster 6,525
Town of New Paltz 3,534
Town of Saugerties 3,429
Town of Llyod 3,377
Town of Wawarsing 2,606


Click on the image below to download the Brakelight Trifold.

Car with light out and text saying Why Fix Brakelights



Getting pulled over for a broken tail light is one of the most common reasons that people are forced to interact with the police. Because of rampant racial profiling, a traffic stop could be a simple annoyance for some, but a potentially life threatening situation for others. Small traffic infractions are often used as pretexts for unwarranted searches; to target individuals with harassment, expensive fines, court appearances, and arrests. An undocumented person could be detained or face deportation. In some cases— as with Philando Castile and Walter Scott— traffic stops for a broken brake light can lead to murder at the hands of the police.


Our brake light clinics help avoid unnecessary interactions with the justice system by checking and repairing bulbs for our neighbors. We hold these clinics at different locations throughout the community, providing a simple fix for what could lead to much bigger problems.




1,127 people were killed by police in 2020.1

120 of those people were killed after police stopped them for a traffic violation.


Our country has a militarized police force that incarcerates its citizens for petty offences in order to perpetuate an authoritarian state. In the U.S. there are 2.3 million people behind bars and 4.5 million people on parole or probation.2 Instead of confronting the underlying issues of poverty and racial oppression that lead individuals to be targeted by the justice system, our prison system continues to grow.


As the Democratic Socialists of America, we stand against police violence and mass incarceration. By changing brake lights for free, we aim to take small but significant action to protect one another from state-sanctioned violence at the hands of the police. We want the brake light clinics to start a conversation in our communities about our police and prisons, to get us thinking and organizing together for a democratic, equitable system that respects the freedoms of every individual.



“Democratic Socialists gather to help Poughkeepsie residents”

“Democratic Socialists gather to help Poughkeepsie residents”

This past Sunday, we fixed brake lights, fed our neighbors and discussed how capitalism hurts the community. We heard from houseless people with mental health issues not getting the care they need and from neighbors who lamented the lack of jobs and opportunity in Poughkeepsie. We are fighting for a radically different economy that puts kindness and our community’s welfare above that of the desire of billionaires to buy another yacht or penthouse. We want an end to the artificial scarcity of capitalism so that houselessness, hunger and poverty are a thing of the past. Thanks Mid-Hudson News for the write-up:

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Mid-Hudson Valley Democratic Socialist Association is increasing its presence in the region with outreach programs such as a “Brake Light Clinic” they held in Poughkeepsie on Sunday.

The group of volunteers hosted a coat giveaway last month at the Earline Patrice Mansion Square Park that provided dozens of free coats to those in need.  On this most recent Sunday, several DSA volunteers gathered in the parking lot of the Exempt Firemen’s Association to offer free brake light repair for cars along with food and clothing distribution at no charge.

Read the full article

9/27 Kingston Brakelight Clinic

9/27 Kingston Brakelight Clinic

In Kingston we were out checking and fixing brakelights. We had good conversations about policing and community safety. When we discussed the economic and political system that allows those interactions to be acceptable and commonplace we found people agreeing with us that they wanted a more kind, democratic society that works for the people.

Members of the MHVDSA members pose in front of the banner at Kingston Brakelight Clinic

MHVDSA August Newsletter