"In long interviews at his apartment off Fordham Road in the Bronx, however, Mr. Merritt rarely contradicted himself. Court records confirmed his mastery of details. He insisted that I portray him as deeply flawed." — The request of Earl Robert Merritt, who now claims that he framed hundreds of people for the NYPD, leading to their arrest for possessing guns or narcotics—or other crimes.
“Remember the 1990s? We’re going back," said Councilman Peter Vallone last night. We remember! Sounds great.
New York City's Community Safety Act was made up of two bills: one that would expand New Yorkers’ ability to sue the Police Department for profiling, and one that would increase government oversight of the department. Last night both passed with a veto-proof majority just after 2:20 a.m., at which point Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, who introduced the bill with Councilman Brad Lander last year and spoke movingly in support of it, jumped up from his chair and pumped his fists.
But before the victory, everyone mixed it up a little. Williams criticized those [...]
"The NYPD has infiltrated and photographed Muslim businesses and mosques in New Jersey, monitored the Internet postings of Muslim college students across the Northeast and traveled as far away as New Orleans to infiltrate and build files on liberal advocacy groups…. Detectives infiltrated mosques, eavesdropped in cafes and kept tabs on Muslim student groups, including at Rutgers. The NYPD kept files on innocent sermons, recorded the names of political organizers in police documents and built databases of where Muslims lived and shopped, even where they were likely to gather to watch sports." —But they're not conducting "official police duties."
Judge ruled against me on standing, on intervention, and on the subpoena. So uh Twitter is compelled to hand over @destructuremal's tweets
— Malcolm Harris (@BigMeanInternet) April 23, 2012
In the strange case of the Manhattan D.A. subpoenaing Occupy Wall Street arrestees' Twitters, so far we've come to a place where the state can request copies of three months of the things that people have published on the Internet. That seems… reasonable! Not very chilling! (The Internet being the Internet and all!) What is bizarre is to see the D.A. prepare such a labor-intensive assault in the matter of a violation—these charges [...]
Add yet one more reporter to the long list of those getting arrested in New York! The chair of McGill's daily publications society board of directors, 21-year-old Aaron Vansintjan, might be interested in Occupy Wall Street, according to his Google+ profile and Facebook, but he actually got arrested for climbing a hill to go visit the Cloisters as a suspect in a made-up robbery, in one of the best New York City cops-gone-wrong stories in recent history¹. Miranda rights? WHAT ARE THOSE? On his tour through New York City's holding cells, he got to see the city's ugly secret: everyone else being held was African-American [...]
Today would be a good day to take a pass on attending Occupy Wall Street's "General Assembly" at 7 p.m. (although the 6 p.m. meeting on "Organizing Effectively Without Hierarchy" sounds cool and the 2 p.m. Structure Working Group meeting is a blessed thing). Because tonight, you're going to find out who's a cynic and who's naive, and it's going to get heated consensus-style, as the group addresses Mayor Bloomberg's demand to come in and "clean up" Zuccotti Park, starting tomorrow. The park's landlord's letter to the NYPD, dated Tuesday, asking for help, is full of practical, liability-insurance-based complaints but also has plenty of nonsense, and it's the [...]
"So even as the members of Occupy Wall Street seem unorganized and, at times, uninformed, their continued presence creates a vexing problem for the Police Department." That's the New York Times today, recounting how Occupy Wall Street is "VEXING" the NYPD, which is a BIZARRE take on what's happening. (To be fair! Much of the NYPD is being friendly and good-humored about the ongoing protest downtown, as is their way. I like New York City cops!) But there are some cops who need to be fired and/or prosecuted. Like lady-macer Anthony Bologna. Hey, a word of advice to New York City's government and police department? When you [...]
Sundown Monday marked the beginning of Passover, the festival that celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from the Egyptian Pharaohs 3300 years ago, give or take. The story of Exodus tells of the 10th and final plague—the death of the first-born, cast down upon the Egyptians for failing to heed God’s command to free the Children of Israel. To avoid the scourge, the Israelites were instructed by Moses to mark their doors with the blood of a slaughtered lamb as code: "Pass over" this home.
A 73-year-old white supremacist killed three people over the weekend in a targeted attack on Jewish community centers in Kansas City. The [...]
What's it like working for the Civilian Complaint Review Board of New York City, which investigates complaints against the NYPD? Not so fulfilling, it turns out, as one of its investigators confesses. I often saw a deliberate short-circuiting of investigations, “fast-tracking” cases, or exonerating them without statements from all or even any of the officers involved. Often the rationale was that officers would likely repeat information conveyed by other officers in testimony or reports—essentially granting the police a presumption of consistency that fundamentally undercuts the CCRB’s ostensible neutrality, given that inconsistent witness testimony undermines the case of complainants. After I became a supervisor, the agency’s fundamental problem came [...]
NYPD honcho Ray Kelly lost his minnnnnnd last night. He appears to think that not enough poor and/or black people are out in the streets demanding more stop and frisk, so that there will allegedly be fewer murders and shootings right now. Stop and frisk in New York City already engages about 3/4 of a million people this year—and it would have pretty much "zero" effect on how there were 16 murders in New York in the course of five days earlier this month. (Also, of those murders, three were mothers killing their children, and one was a crazed stabber shot by transit cops.)
This is funny timing [...]
“There’s all this talk about stop-and-frisks, whether it’s racist or harassment, but the public totally misses the game,” a Brooklyn cop says. “You know all the guys in the neighborhood, and usually when we roll up they frisk themselves. That is, if it’s a night they don’t feel like being bothered, they just lift up their shirts when we stop, and then they move on. If they feel like making a point to the boys they’re hanging with on the corner, they won’t do it. But the people who carry guns and shoot each other where I work are not white. There are no white people to begin with! [...]
I have had an NYPD-issued press pass twice. In New York City, the press is "credentialed" by the police department, independently of the City, at its discretion. The process is slow and you have to go downtown for quite a while. Both times I have been very careful to play their game. You have to bring published clips, among their required materials, that prove you need to deal with things like "robbery scenes, fires, homicides, train wrecks, bombings, plane crashes, where there are established police or fire lines at the scene." Now I'm by no means a real reporter's reporter, but I succeeded both times by bringing past stories that [...]
"While a couple of witnesses said that officers used pepper spray to clear the streets, Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said that one officer 'possibly' used it." Well, now we're all a "couple of witnesses" to last night, dear Times reporters. Welcome to the modern age! Turns out everyone can see these things now! So I would describe that event as not at all "possibly" and also "indiscriminate baton-beating and macing." (As would the Fox 5 news team, who got it in the face.) It makes it really hard to retain sympathy for New York City's cops, who do a hard job under often [...]
Here we go! The NYPD's secret global terrorism investigation unit is becoming ever less secret, thanks to these reporters. Had a little halal food? Been to an Egyptian cafe? Been to any of the 14 Moroccan restaurants in town? Been pretty much ANYWHERE on Steinway St. in Queens? (Here's the list in handy doc form.) Then congrats, you've been surveilled by the NYPD. Either we're running an amazing intelligence operation or the NYPD is about to take over Time Out New York.
The first reports early last week told the story of a disgruntled young man who had been kicked out of a band called the Yellow Dogs, a band of Iranian expatriates. The man, traumatized by his exile and enraged at his friends, the story went, killed his former bandmates before killing himself.
"Iranian 'murdered bandmates' after group ousted him," read the New York Post headline. "Rafie betrayed his bandmates, stealing money and equipment last year," that story went. "Rafie was kicked out of the group, but on Monday returned with a vengeance." A source told the Post that Rafie shouted, "something like, 'Why did you bring me over here [...]
It was just last December when photographer Robert Stolarik was shoved around while on assignment for the Times, at an Occupy Wall Street protest. This weekend, the NYPD got him even harder, arresting him for shooting in the Bronx, and keeping him most of Saturday night, until he got to go to a hospital in the early morning for x-rays. It's always instructive when a journalist gets arrested, because we don't usually get to hear about how cops treat people on the street. In this case, we get a particularly huge pile-up of NYPD lies: he allegedly hit an officer in the face with his camera and [...]
Hey, how bad do you want to feel right now? Do you want to feel bone-crushingly bad? Like all the way through? Well then you're in luck! Here are the stories of a bunch of adorable New York City kids and how they are treated by the NYPD. Anthony Henry, also an eighth grader from P.S./I.S. 323, was walking to school before 8 a.m. last month when a big jeep pulled up alongside him. Five cops jumped out, he said.
“And they were all like, ‘Put your hands up’ and stuff,” said Anthony. “They checked me, checked my book bag. They threw all my books on the [...]
Oh, the constant see-sawing of Michael Bloomberg from hero to villain! Remember how we were loving him again just last month when he made that big old matching donation to Planned Parenthood? Well, a lot has changed in a month.
• The hand-holding visit to Goldman Sachs, followed by the trip to Shake Shack with Goldman co-CEO Lloyd Blankfein, in the wake of the resignation-by-op-ed of Greg Smith? That went over quite poorly. Dude: you already held their hand, in the form of tens of millions of dollars in concessions. Also, the City even gave them the address of 200 West Street, which should have been 201 [...]
On Saturday I left the Brooklyn Zen Center at about two in the afternoon, went down to the waterfront park with my friend Jacob, and smoked a joint. “We should go check out that Occupy Wall Street thing,” I said.
We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and at Zuccotti Park we leaned against a railing and watched protesters pick through a heap of discarded signs in a scene reminiscent of the Rainbow Gathering—tattered tarp structures, five-gallon-bucket drum circles, puffs of smoke rising from clusters of people wearing earth tones. One woman in fishnet stockings held a sign that said “You are Loved.” Some signs condemned the lynching of Troy Davis; [...]