By Joe Wright
It’s a trend that’s sweeping the nation…
The embattled New York City Police Department (NYPD) has become somewhat of an epicenter of Constitutional violations and pushback. It stands as the most widely surveilled U.S. city with its “Ring of Steel” offering a 24/7 Threatscape in which virtually no one is immune from the eyes of Big Brother.
However, down on the street, its police have become renown as thugs who are often more threatening than the criminals they are supposed to be there to find. Two particular policies have come to the forefront: Stop-and-Frisk for its racial profiling, and its Demographics Unit which was openly targeting the Muslim community in a type of pre-crime exercise.
The flagrant racism of Stop-and-Frisk was finally ruled unconstitutional late last year. To illustrate the magnitude of that policy, an Aug. 12 rebuke was issued by US District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Shira Scheindlin:
Her 195-page ruling was scathing. She said NYPD “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling.”
“The New York City Police Department (“NPPD”) made 4.4 million stops between January 2004 and June 2012.” Personal lives were wrongfully “interrupted.”
Doing so “violated their constitutional rights in two ways:
(1) they were stopped without a legal basis in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and
(2) they were targeted for stops because of their race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Limits on stops are “paramount,” she said. They must “be based on ‘reasonable suspicion’ as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” (Source)
To any freedom-loving citizen, this is as obvious as the nose on your face, as became quite clear when Commissioner Ray Kelly got heckled off the stage at Brown University. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg was furious, and with the cooperation of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Stop-and-Frisk ban was eventually lifted, once again restoring full tyranny to the streets of New York.
While that battle still continues with promises of reform, the NYPD Demographics Unit has now been disbanded for its role in what has been concluded was essentially a faith-based stop-and-frisk. As the New York Times details, it was a comprehensive infiltration
that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped.
The Police Department’s tactics, which are the subject of two federal lawsuits, drew criticism from civil rights groups and a senior official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who said they harmed national security by sowing mistrust for law enforcement in Muslim communities.
The police mapped communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations.
Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York stated it most aptly: “The Demographics Unit created psychological warfare in our community.”
And the net gain from this culture of fear and suspicion? Nothing:
After years of collecting information, however, the police acknowledged that it never generated a lead. (emphasis added)
Not a single lead from a policy of psychological terror inside the borders of the United States. It is an alarming conclusion; and we can certainly consider the presumed closure of this unit as a tentative victory. However, what about the rest of New York City – the rest of the country for that matter?
NY’s Ring of Steel surveillance apparatus is still in place and has been used to target activists, while the NSA continues to sweep up anything and everything … on all of us.
Moreover, the closure of this Muslim-focused mission has its parallel upon the greater American political stage where we are seeing a re-branding of who the terrorist threat really is (yes, please ignore the original official narrative of who the 9/11 culprits were). After all, among the hundreds of thousands of people erroneously put on the no-fly list, for example, it was a Malaysian woman who became the first to successfully challenge the U.S. government putting her there.
As pointed out by the list of 25 reports that can put someone on a terror watch list, terrorism has become very ordinary and pervasive as of late. As ordinary and pervasive as complaining about the government, apparently.
As Brandon Turbeville revealed in his article documenting the experience that a South Carolina gun shop owner had with a federal agent recently, the re-branding of the terrorist threat is indeed the new US-wide de facto Demographics Unit:
According to the witness, the agent stated, “If you see some Middle Eastern guy come in. You don’t have to be so worried about that. What we’re really looking for are people talking about being sovereign such as sovereign citizens or people talking about Big Government.” (Source)
To return to the original (correct) ruling by Judge Shira Scheindlin regarding the Stop-and-Frisk policy:
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. (emphasis added)
Simply being black, being from the Middle East, or any other demographic should not in-and-of-itself single out someone for “special” evaluation, and neither should the ever-shifting notions of what it means to be a patriotic American. Nevertheless, as we are beginning to see more clearly, the real agenda beyond all of this political posturing is only to ensure that terror remains an imprecise definition and that its real proponents are never properly singled out. In so doing, the surveillance-industrial complex can continue chasing after shadows, and the rest of us can continue jumping them.
The Fourth Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Recently by Joe Wright:
- Overflowing U.S. Private Prisons, by the Numbers (w/Infographic)
- DOJ Issues Catalog of Albuquerque PD Constitutional Violations
- Activist Art Against Drone Killing Redesigns The Landscape in Pakistan