Police Defecate on Constitution, Urinate on Rights and Liberties

As you've probably heard, the Occupy Wall Street encampment in downtown Manhattan was raided by  NYPD riot police wielding truncheons and armed with chemical agents at 1am the other night.  The police raid was apparently part of a coordinated attack against the protest movement in at least eighteen other cities, mediated with the help of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Everyone and everything that had been set up in the space over the last two months was cleared out by police and sanitation workers.  By morning the park was completely empty, except for riot police and security officers who occupied the park for much of the day.  Hundreds of tents were destroyed and personal property was seized, but perhaps the greatest loss were those things that benefited the whole community.  There was a kitchen that had been serving three meals a day to hundreds of hungry protesters, homeless and even locals.  There were bicycle powered generators that provided electricity for the media center and anyone in the park who needed to charge a computer or phone.  There was a 5,000 volume lending library, amassed through donations, which was open to anyone who desired to borrow a book.  One woman broke down in tears as she described to me how the books were seized, loaded into dump trucks and carted away. 

When the riot police moved in, they set up a two block perimeter around the park in all directions, and arrested or ejected media and reporters from the area, effectively refusing to allow any objective reporting of the action.  By 8am, the park was completely cleared and remained occupied by riot police and security officers, who had surrounded the park with barricades and refused entrance to everyone but police for much of the day.  It was a surreal scene.  For the previous two months, protesters who occupied the park were surrounded by barricades and hundreds of police.  On Tuesday, police occupied the park, surrounded by barricades and hundreds of protesters. 

The occupation of the park by protesters led, of course, to scrutiny of the culture that had developed inside the encampment.  In New York City, the propaganda war against the protest was led by Rupert Murdoch's New York Post.  There were reports of sexual assault and rape, drug dealing and illegal drug use, racism, defecation and urination in public and so on.  Now that police have occupied the park, it is only fair to put the NYPD under the microscope.  So, what's been going on at the NYPD?  Here are just a few of the incidents that have made headlines in recent months:

• In May, two NYC police officers were convicted of official misconduct for entering a drunken woman's home in the middle of the night while on duty.  Though accused of rape, they were acquitted of that charge because it came down to their word against hers. 

• In August, an off-duty NYC police officer was arrested for raping a woman at gunpoint in upper Manhattan. 

• In October, NYC police murdered a woman outside a shelter for women suffering from mental illness or addictions.  The victim was allegedly holding two knives and refused to drop them when told to do so.

• In October, sixteen NYC police officers were arrested and charged with a long list of misdemeanors and felonies in a massive "ticket fixing" scheme, in which they helped make tickets issued to friends and family disappear.  Demonstrating the systemic character of this corruption, hundreds of off-duty police officers rallied outside the courthouse during the arraignment, holding signs supporting the institutional corruption of police!  "It's part of our culture!" cops could be heard saying in local news coverage at the time.

• In October, a former NYPD detective testified in the trial of eight police officer charged with official corruption.  He stated on the record that NYC police routinely plant drugs on innocent people to meet drug arrest quotas.

• In the same trial, another witness, a prostitute, testified that police officers routinely offered her crack cocaine in exchange for sex

• In the last two months, tens of thousands of innocent New Yorkers were stopped and frisked by NYC police, a routine violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The racist character of this practice is clearly apparent in the fact that nearly 90% of those who are stopped and frisked are black or Latino.

• In October, five NYC police officers were arrested for trafficking $1 million worth of illegal guns, cigarettes and slot machines into the city.

So what have NYC police officers been up to in recent months?  Murder, rape, theft, gun smuggling, trading drugs for sex, planting evidence, engaging in official corruption, violating rights and liberties . . . and these are just the most prominent cases that have made the news in the last two months.  They are shitting on the constitution and pissing on rights and liberties. 


Samuel Wilson said...

Pretty disgusting, d. Bloomberg's press conference was practically Orwellian. The asserted rights to "passive enjoyment" and not to see or hear protesters are anathema to democracy. Occupy Albany hangs on thanks to the good will of city government and county law enforcement, despite Gov. Cuomo's presumed hostility, but Republicans here are egging on a showdown between the Gov. and the DA over the prosecution of trespassers and curfew-breakers. Upstate is where the action is, or will be.

d.eris said...

Yeah, the Bloomberg types are literally making the argument that liberty must be sacrificed for security. From which we can only conclude that the Bloomberg types deserve neither.

I've been impressed by the independence of state and local police up in Albany and their commitment to avoid instigating violent confrontations with people exercising their constitutional rights.

Bloomberg's action will likely only give OWS some new legs, and of course, the movement is bigger than Zuccotti Park. One protester held a sign yesterday saying "You can evict us from our homes, but you can't evict our spirit and courage," or something along those lines. There were also a lot of signs telling Bloomberg to go fuck himself.

btw, are you near Rochester, Sam? Recently heard word through the grape vine that there is a new group at Occupy Rochester that might interest you.

d.eris said...

haha, scratch that last question!!!! I've revealed my pathetic ignorance of NYS geography, which I blame on downstate provincialism ;-)

Samuel Wilson said...

Actually, d., the state police are the only uniforms Cuomo can depend on. They'll arrest the people who've been crossing the line from Academy to Lafayette Park for the last few nights, but it's up to the county to prosecute them, and the DA has said he won't prosecute. The state cops have been well behaved compared to the NYPD, but they're still enforcing Cuomo's rules wherever they can.

BTW, I just read a New York Review of Books piece on Zuccotti (published before the eviction, of course) that reports that the NYPD were dumping homeless folk and newly-released cons at the Occupation. While many occupiers apparently welcomed them with open arms, that doesn't absolve the cops of culpability toward creating the environment they felt obliged to clean up. Does this story jibe with your experience?

d.eris said...

Yes, a lot of homeless and people coming from prison started showing up at the park a few weeks back. But from what I've heard, it wasn't that authorities were dropping them off or dumping them there, so to speak. What I'd heard was that cops policing parks in other parts of the city were telling the homeless and people recently released from prison/jail that they came across on the beat to go to Zuccotti for the free food and shelter. So yeah there's that.

It's interesting though, because now that they cleared out the park, there is going to be much more strain on the city's social services ex. shelters and food pantries. I think you can make a very strong conservative/libertarian argument in favor of what had been created by OWS. Basically, people self-organizing, not relying on government for food/shelter/security, etc.

Bob Morris said...

New York's finest!

TiradeFaction said...

A pretty horrible end to the encampment, but I'd like to think there's a few positives to this.

Given the fact that Democratic Party administrations have been at the forefront of crushing these "occupations", along with Obama's deafening silence on the police brutality, we can conclude now that at the very least, it's going to be a lot harder for the Democratic Party now to co opt the "Occupy" movement. I think we can all agree, that's a very good thing.