Tag Archive: stop and frisk

Aug 13 2013

Federal Judge Orders Outside Oversight of NYPD

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin handed down her ruling on the New York City Police Department’s Stop and Frisk Policy. In her official summary, Judge Sheindlin found the policy unconstitutional calling it a “form of racial profiling’ and a violation of the Fourth and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendments rights of minorities in New York City. From the official transcript:

In conclusion, I find that the City is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The City acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks. Even if the City had not been deliberately indifferent, the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices were sufficiently widespread as to have the force of law. In addition, the City adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data. This has resulted in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Both statistical and anecdotal evidence showed that minorities are indeed treated differently than whites. For example, once a stop is made, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be subjected to the use of force than whites, despite the fact that whites are more likely to be found with weapons or contraband. I also conclude that the City’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner. In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting “the right people” is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.

The ruling does not end the program. In a separate opinion, the judge ordered federal monitoring and, among other remedies, a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear cameras on their bodies to record street encounters.

Naturally, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelley reacted angrily claiming that the city did not get a fair trail:

“The judge conveyed a disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our officers, who form the most diverse police department in the US,” he said during a press conference Monday. It was a “dangerous” decision by the judge, Bloomberg added, while claiming that the policy had helped bring down crime in New York.

Kelly was likewise forthright in his condemnation of the judge’s ruling, describing it as “disturbing” and “highly offensive”. He rejected the claim that his officers had engaged in racial profiling. “This is simply, recklessly untrue,” he said, though he added that he had not yet read the ruling because he had spent the morning having dental work done.

It’s unknown of this ruling will effect President Barack Obama’s high opinion of Comm. Kelley and take e him out of contention for the head of Homeland Security.

The mayor vowed to appeal but he will be out of office at midnight on December 31 of this year. Hopefully the new mayor will have drop the appeal and work harder to protect the rights of NYC’s minority residents and their safety.

The best line of Judge Scheindlin’s ruling is her last one:

” I conclude with a particularly apt quote: “The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies – like stop-and-frisk, and . . . neighborhood watch regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents. It’s like burning down a house to rid it of mice.”

Jun 27 2013

NYC Council Reins in Bloomberg & NYPD

Late last night the New York City Council passed two bills that will reign in an out of control NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Passed with veto-proof majorities, the pair of bills aim at increasing oversight of the Police Department and expanding New Yorkers’ ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.

One, known as Intro 1079, would create an independent inspector general to monitor and review police policy, conduct investigations and recommend changes to the department. The monitor would be part of the city’s Investigation Department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies.

The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, leaving the matter of choosing the monitor to the next mayor.

The other bill, Intro 1080, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. It also would allow individuals to sue the Police Department in state court – not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies that disproportionately affect people in any protected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to veto both bills. The council has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override vote.

Queens councilman Pete Vallone (D), who voted against the bill, gave a preview of the over the top rhetoric that will be used to convince New Yorkers to tell their council members to not override the mayor’s veto:

“New Yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds,” Vallone said after the vote. “But they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city.”

The Mayor and Police Commissioner Raymaond Kelley have already played the Al Qaeda and “be afraid” cards

“Every tort lawyer is gonna buy a new house and a new car right away,” Bloomberg said. “They’re not even gonna have to wait for the cases to come in.” Kelly added, “City council might as well have named the legislation, the ‘Full Employment for Plaintiffs Attorneys Act’…Take heart Al Qaeda wannabes.” [..]

“This is not a game, this is a life-threatening thing…This is life and death, this isn’t playing some game…It’s very nice to have a lawyer and everybody after say you should have done this and you should have done that, but when the other guy maybe has a gun in his pocket, that’s a different story.”

The most laughable moment in that press conference came from Mayor Bloomberg when asked if there is an independent body who oversees NYPD policy like an Inspector General would:

Yes there is. It’s called the Mayor…The police commissioner in our city works for the mayor serves at the pleasure of the mayor, and I can just tell you I’m not a professional in this but I have every single policy that this police department has the police commissioner has explained to me, kept me posted on it and when I talk to other experts, I’m convinced that they are the exactly the right thing.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) urged people to listen carefully:

“There have been a lot of bald-faced lies told about this bill,” [..]

“We can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time,” he said. “If you don’t live there, if you haven’t been going through it … please side with us.”

Michael Bloomberg has turned the NYC Police Department into his own private army, which was witnessed in the crack down on Occupy Wall St.’s peaceful demonstrations and occupation of Zuccotti Park. It’s long past time that City Council acted taking back the NYPD for the people.

Mar 20 2013

Don’t Pretend You Care About These Issues When Defending the President

This is an older piece of mine that appeared on Daily Kos on Thursday December 29, 2011.

 

It's an important one because it destroys the argument you hear from some Obama supporters hoping to deflect the inhumane treatment of whistle blower Bradley Manning. They say that since African Americans in our prison system suffer torture and injustice in our prison industrial complex, then that means what is happening to Bradley Manning is not really an issue. Of course what they don't mention is that yes, African Americans have been and are indeed suffering atrocities in our prison industrial complex, yet they don't want to talk about President Obama continuing this trend and even making it worse even hiring a for profit private prison lobbyists in his Justice Department where some of the worst offenses happen making him involved in the state issue and federal issue.

 

You can see the failed deflections in the comments of that diary and how the truth about this really hit a nerve with some people, whether they claim to be a fake Marxist in a past life making their support of the PIC and neoliberalism OK now under Obama or not. The facts show that they don't really care about these issues when hoping to shield Obama from them in the case of Bradley Manning.

Part of the reason the Occupy movement exists and are out in the streets is because of the massive failures of this Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress. This can’t be denied. However, because it can’t be denied there are certain implications going around in their defense by those who are in denial about this. They imply that what’s going on with Bradley Manning’s confinement and his sham of a trial doesn’t truly matter.

They imply Occupy protesters getting beaten, sprayed, and handcuffed until they get nerve damage doesn’t matter because of the fact that African Americans and Latinos have been feeling the brunt of police brutality and a corrupt racist justice system for years. It is very true that African Americans and Latinos have felt the brunt of a corrupt racist justice system for years.

However, these injustices still matter regardless, because as MLK said, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and that still holds true today. The issues the Occupy movement are fighting for affect all races, especially on income inequality and economic justice. That is an acknowledged fact that can’t be denied.

The people of Occupy Wall Street are protesting our country’s growing inequality–and nowhere is this inequality more acutely felt than the makeup of our prison population.

Recently at a city council meeting in my home of Jersey City, a 46-year-old formerly incarcerated man told the council, as reported in the Jersey City Independent: “I’ve served 16 years in prison. I came home three years ago and tried everything possible you can do. I got my high school diploma and a driver’s license…The job system failed me.”

When I went to Occupy Wall Street, my friend carried a sign that read: “Troy Davis would still be alive if he had been rich and white.” We had attended a protest earlier that month, when Davis was still alive, where signs and demonstrators proclaimed, “We are Troy Davis.”

We are Troy Davis. We are the 99 percent.