NYPD on Candid Camera

NYPD sets up shop in Israel

This report may found in the New Yorkers deserve neither liberty nor security file:

The New York Police Department opened its Israeli branch in the Sharon District Police headquarters in Kfar Saba. Charlie Ben-Naim, a former Israeli and veteran NYPD detective, was sent on this mission.

You don’t have to fly to New York to meet members of the police department considered to be the best in the world — all you have to do is make the short trip to the Kfar Saba police station in the Sharon, where the NYPD opened a local branch.

Behind the opening of the branch in the Holy Land is the NYPD decision that the Israeli police is one of the major police forces with which it must maintain close work relations and daily contact.

Ben-Naim was chosen for the mission of opening the NYPD branch in Israel. He is a veteran detective of the NYPD and a former Israeli who went to study in New York, married a local city resident and then joined the local police force. Among the things he has dealt with in the line of duty are the extradition of criminals, the transmitting of intelligence information and assistance in the location of missing persons, both in the United States and in Israel.

An NYPD officer assaults a teenager in a Sunset Park, Brooklyn subway station

Microsoft and the NYPD

The New York Police Department recently revealed its implementation of a Domain Awareness System it jointly developed with Microsoft. The Press Release states that:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced a new partnership with Microsoft designed to bring the latest crime prevention and counterterrorism technology capabilities to New York City and to law enforcement, public safety, and intelligence agencies worldwide. The NYPD and Microsoft worked together to develop the Domain Awareness System, a sophisticated law enforcement technology solution that aggregates and analyzes existing public safety data streams in real time, providing NYPD investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity. For example, analysts are quickly notified of suspicious packages and vehicles and NYPD personnel can actively search for suspects using advanced technologies like smart cameras and license plate readers. The NYPD and Microsoft jointly developed the system by bringing together Microsoft’s technical expertise and technologies with the day-to-day experience and knowledge of NYPD officers. As part of the agreement, the City will receive 30 percent of revenues on Microsoft’s future sales of the Domain Awareness System, which will be used to support innovative and cutting-edge crime-prevention and counter-terrorism programs. The Mayor and Police Commissioner were joined at the announcement in Lower Manhattan at the NYPD’s Lower Manhattan Security Initiative headquarters by Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Rahul Merchant and Vice President of Microsoft Americas Services (Ret.) Lieutenant General Mike McDuffie.

Another click of the ratchet

The role the police play in a modern society ought to be straightforward and well-known. The police broadly considered ought to act with certain goals in mind, namely — to implement the laws of the land while ensuring these laws are observed and bringing to the courts those individuals and institutions which fail to obey those laws. (At one time, the police were also charged with maintaining the general welfare of the people.) The police are empowered by law to meet these goals. Since the United States is a constitutional republic, policing in America must be performed in such a way that the police habitually observe constitutional norms while fulfilling their duties. When the police are considered in this way, it is clear that they are agents of the Constitution and are meant to create a constitutionally ordered society.

Once again, the role of the police in a modern society should be both simple and clear to all.

Given the role assigned to the police and given the nature and content of the Bill of Rights, what are we to make of a recent report by David Graeber?

A few weeks ago I was with a few companions from Occupy Wall Street in Union Square when an old friend — I’ll call her Eileen — passed through, her hand in a cast.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Oh, this?” she held it up. “I was in Liberty Park on the 17th [the Six Month Anniversary of the Occupation]. When the cops were pushing us out the park, one of them yanked at my breast.”

“Again?” someone said.

We had all been hearing stories like this. In fact, there had been continual reports of police officers groping women during the nightly evictions from Union Square itself over the previous two weeks.

“Yeah so I screamed at the guy, I said, ‘you grabbed my boob! what are you, some kind of fucking pervert?’ So they took me behind the lines and broke my wrists.”

Actually, she quickly clarified, only one wrist was literally broken. She proceeded to launch into a careful, well-nigh clinical blow-by-blow description of what had happened. An experienced activist, she knew to go limp when police seized her, and how to do nothing that could possibly be described as resisting arrest. Police dragged her, partly by the hair, behind their lines and threw her to the ground, periodically shouting “stop resisting!” as she shouted back “I’m not resisting!” At one point though, she said, she did tell them her glasses had fallen to the sidewalk next to her, and announced she was going to reach over to retrieve them. That apparently gave them all the excuse they needed. One seized her right arm and bent her wrist backwards in what she said appeared to be some kind of marshal-arts move, leaving it not broken, but seriously damaged. “I don’t know exactly what they did to my left wrist—at that point I was too busy screaming at the top of my lungs in pain. But they broke it. After that they put me in plastic cuffs, as tightly as they possibly could, and wouldn’t loosen them for at least an hour no matter how loud I screamed or how much the other prisoners begged them to help me. For a while everyone in the arrest van was chanting ‘take them off, take them off’ but they just ignored them…”

The author continues by noting the obvious:

Arbitrary violence is nothing new. The apparently systematic use of sexual assault against women protestors is new. I’m not aware of any reports of police intentionally grabbing women’s breasts before March 17, but on March 17 there were numerous reported cases, and in later nightly evictions from Union Square, the practice became so systematic that at least one woman told me her breasts were grabbed by five different police officers on a single night (in one case, while another one was blowing kisses.) The tactic appeared so abruptly, is so obviously a violation of any sort of police protocol or standard of legality, that it is hard to imagine it is anything but an intentional policy.

From the rape squads around the world (that made mass rape a weapon of war) to the dirty-handed goon squads of the NYPD (who have added sexual assault to the weapons locker of a terrorist state), the goals thus pursued are held constant across time, space and culture: Terrorize the weak, especially women, demoralize the opposition, and the rule of law be damned.

What do I make of this report? The crimes committed by the New York Police Department reported by David Graeber should be considered signs. What do these signs signify? They point to the fact that the United States continues its slide into a state of barbarism.

You can cry me a river, cry me a river….

Mike Lupica, clownalist extraordinaire who writes for the Daily News, recently interviewed New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. The article Lupica produced from his talk with Kelly led with this choice passage:

Somehow they keep coming at Ray Kelly, from Jersey and the media and the City Council, as if Kelly is the bad guy here, as if Ray Kelly, of all people, is some kind of threat to his city. It is amazingly dumb, and on Sunday Kelly was asked why he thinks he takes as much fire as he does lately.

“Maybe,” Kelly said, “they’re not comfortable with success.”

Yes, success is the proper word to use if one defines success as the NYPD acting with distinction as Wall Street’s political enforcer, as the tormentor of brown people, as the killer of innocent civilians, as the suppressor of free speech and free assemblies, as the avoider of accountability for its crimes, etc.

Kelly on his critics: “Sometimes it sounds sometimes like people are more comfortable stereotyping me.”

Really? Is that all ya got, Ray?

Why do tough guys like Kelly whine so often and loudly?

A boy toy

Another boy toy

Occupy Wall Street protesters evicted from Zuccotti Park

The New York City Police Department, currently embroiled in scandals which are so common (ticket fixing, gun running and contraband smuggling, rape, killing of the unarmed, surveillance of the innocent, identity-biased stop-and-frisk searches, etc.) that they now define its very existence, added to its current scandal list when its members “rioted” (see this and this) while removing Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. The protesters reoccupied the Park while celebrating the sixth-month anniversary of its emergence.

Sadly, not much has changed for the better since 1996 when Amnesty International released its infamous report on the NYPD’s human rights violations. To be sure, the Department’s political and corporate paymasters would not have it any other way.

Feel safer?

Erik Hoffner of Truthout reports that some police departments, like the New York Police Department, have begun to scan the irises of those protesters they arrest during protest actions. Since many of those arrested are neither charged with nor convicted of a crime — indeed, the arrested may not have even been protesters! — these scans serve to deter some of the arrested protesters by indicating that they have gained an enduring official record of their identity and their protest activities. These scans are likely part of a database the relevant local governments are compiling on the protesters. It is prudent to assume that the data collected locally is also shared with the Federal government.

Iris scanning has become a common practice in New York City.

A measure of how far we’ve fallen as a democracy

Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting tells his readers that:

Responding to a report in the online publication the Awl (11/17/11) about 26 journalists who had been arrested around the country at Occupy protests, New York City mayoral spokesperson Stu Loeser declared in a note to the press (New York Observer, 11/17/17), “You can imagine my surprise when we found that only five of the 26 arrested reporters actually have valid NYPD-issued press credentials.”

Since the Awl story was tallying arrests nationwide, it’s not surprising that few of the journalists had credentials issued by New York’s police — who are notoriously reluctant to issue such credentials anyway. What’s telling, though, is the triumphant way the spokesperson reveals this fact — as if reporters who lack “valid” permits from the authorities should expect to be arrested if they try to report the news anyway.

The idea behind the First Amendment, of course, is that no one is required to seek permission from the government before attempting to report the news. And few situations call out more urgently for independent journalistic scrutiny than the state’s use of force against nonviolent political protest.

This is an old story. But it remains timely in any case. For one thing, the security-surveillance apparatus hardly wants an independent media scrutinizing what are often the criminal acts committed by some of its members. After all, depictions of system generated criminality hardly affirm America’s self-conceit as a society ruled by law. Nor do they serve to legitimate governmental power. For another thing, it is sad but true nonetheless that the mainstream media companies could not be bothered to defend the First Amendment rights of their ‘lesser’ counterparts. But what use would these rights be to most of the ‘journalists’ working for these companies. They typically self-censor their coverage of the world, tacitly deriding, as we have recently seen, critical analysis of the claims made by public figures as the work of “truth vigilantes”! These official journalists practice what has been called “stenographic journalism,” which amounts to the mere recitation of the claims of the powerful. These official journalists find contentment in their servitude. Thirdly, the story is timely because “Whatever we know about our society, or indeed about the world in which we live, we know through the mass media” (Luhmann, 2000, p. 1). The mainstream media in the United States are, of course, the preeminent sources of what we know about the world. Their observations carry social and political weight. Their unwillingness to critically engage the world they observe and report on along with their unwillingness to defend the legal rules intended to secure a free press secures for the powerful the capacity to define what is true and what is false, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Their actions and reports can thus serve to normalize police misconduct and even state terror, which is to say, the mainstream media can transform official violence into legitimate behavior. This possibility reveals the presence of a “Big Brother” telling us what to believe and what to do.

The upshot: A free press, that is, one unauthorized by a government but also one that can rely upon well-respected constitutional guarantees, stands as a necessary countervailing institution to any sitting government, but especially to an increasingly intrusive and militarized one like we have the United States today.

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The latest in agent provocateur technology

One of New York City's demoralized homeless persons

A recent news report (also see this) reveals the New York City Police Department has begun to direct a “contingent of lawbreakers and lowlifes” found in New York City’s public parks to take their party to Zuccotti Park! Divide et impera! By creating a status distinction within the occupied space, this handy tactic forces the Occupy Wall Street group to police its space, suffer drug sales and other crimes, secure its individual and collective possessions, restrict the food it supplies, etc. Worst of all, it might also create a social condition which New York City’s government can use to remove the Occupation.

That said, let us appreciate how quickly the city’s government and the NYPD abandoned broken windows policing when doing so suited its purposes! Indeed, if we assume that the lawful exercise of an American’s free speech rights is not at all disorderly and that the Occupy Wall Street group has not broken a legally rational law, it follows that the Bloomberg administration and the Police Department have generated the urban disorder one can find around the Occupation!

New Yorkers back the OWS protesters

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll:

By a 67 – 23 percent margin, New York City voters agree with the views of the Wall Street protesters and say 87 – 10 percent that it is “okay that they are protesting,”….

I do not expect public sentiment to alter for the better the behavior of Mayor Bloomberg and Wall Street’s personal security firm, the New York Police Department. It may well turn out that public support for the protest will motivate the authorities to ban the protest and arrest protesters en mass. After all, there is no alternative to capitalism; resistance is futile.

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