The NYPD in action


If you want to know why some people in New York City don’t like police look no farther.

Desperation and despair all rolled up into one black male’s pain


I have witnessed far too many times the pain and despair black males have at the realization their lives have no value in America and it’s no more apparent than in this exchange Eric Garner’s step father had with a black citizen of New York city after the announcement by the grand jury there would be no charges against the officer who strangled Garner.  ‘What kind of future do I have’ he asks through his tears  whose presence the question is answered.  It’s a powerful video of hope and despair and gives insight into what drives African-American males

Power, politics and religion-how race is still very much a problem in America


This article resonated so deeply with me I had to share it.

nypd-muslims-350

Recently news broke of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) unbridled, secret surveillance of Muslim communities and organizations, monitoring intimate aspects of people’s lives and designating entire mosques as terrorist organizations without evidence. I reacted to this with a familiar combination of rage and fatigue.

In an interview on Huffington Post, Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York expressed a similar lack of surprise, while calling these police practices a “new low.”

The NYPD’s approach to counterterrorism policing seems to start from a place that all Muslims are inherently suspect, raising serious civil rights and safety concerns… Subjecting whole communities to blanket surveillance because of their faith is not good policing. These tactics alienate law-abiding Muslims and deepen mistrust between law enforcement and communities. That breakdown in communication puts all New Yorkers at risk.

The criminalization of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities has become appallingly, shockingly normalized in the War on Terror. For a decent yet disturbing roundup of the policies of terror waged against AMEMSA communities since 9/11, check out this article. The writer does a pretty good job of summarizing, but he also makes a common mistake, attributing the origins of this story to 9/11. In reality, the beginnings are much older.

Nineteenth Century western imperialism created false human hierarchies to justify white supremacy. It used these racial hierarchies to rationalize war, genocide, and slavery – strategies that led to the buildup of wealth and power for some through the hyper-exploitation and destruction of others. The criminalization of AMEMSA communities today is rooted in the idea of a permanent, foreign threat to American interests that demands a constant state of war. This is a centuries-old, divided view of the world into two realms: civilized and uncivilized, friend and foe. In claiming to protect the civilized realm from harm, the United States manipulates ideas of “freedom” and “democracy”, while in fact putting these goals out of reach for entire groups of people through militarized violence, criminalization and policing.

The NYPD’s police practices are also rooted in slavery and anti-black racism. After the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments, slavery had officially ended and blacks were granted citizenship. But brutal legal systems of racial control in the South granted broad police powers to regulate all aspects of black life. States throughout the South passed so-called Black Codes – laws restricting black people’s right to own property, conduct business, buy and lease land, and move freely through public spaces.

Fast forward a century later, to Nixon’s War on Crime and War on Drugs, declared after the passage of federal Civil Rights legislation. Just as the federal government yielded to demands for an end to racial discrimination, these domestic wars kicked off the massive expansion of a racialized criminal justice system that scholar Michelle Alexander now aptly calls The New Jim Crow. Today, there are more black people under the control of the criminal justice system than there were enslaved in 1850, and the United States is by far the largest jailor in the world. As for the reasons behind Nixon’s War on Crime, contrary to popular belief, scholar Naomi Murakawa points out, the “US did not confront a crime problem that was then racialized[;] it confronted a race problem that was then criminalized” – a race problem rooted in the formation of the United States. Throughout U.S. history, every step toward black liberation has been met with a countering surge in anti-black violence and criminalization.

This history raises important questions for the racial justice movement about the meaning of words like democracy, freedom, and security, when U.S. projects claiming to advance these aims clearly undermine them in reality. As acts of self-defense, we are often tempted to fall back on phrases like “law-abiding” and “hard-working” to distinguish ourselves and assert our rights, or to make overly visible gestures of patriotism like flag-waving and participation in U.S. wars. But these very words and actions feed into the divisions between “us” and “them,” between “friend” and “foe,” between “deserving” and “undeserving” – divisions that have life-threatening impacts for the most vulnerable peoples of the world, both within and beyond U.S. borders.

From the War on Crime to the War on Drugs to the War on Terror, increasingly, this us-versus-them way of sorting humanity is what “makes” race today, by dictating whose lives are safeguarded by the alleged American promise of freedom and democracy, and whose are not; and by normalizing the brutality of criminalization, mass incarceration, and war.

 

Does anyone other than me consider this more than a coincidence?


First there was this, Federal Reserve Bank bomb suspect ‘in US on student visa’ which detailed an imminent threat that was to be carried out by one Bengali student Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis here in America.  The release of information about threats that are designed to both frighten the American public as well as boost a sagging Presidential candidate’s ratings in a close election is nothing new; it was a tactic used effectively by the Bush Administration during its two terms and Obama seems willing to employ the same strategy in 2012.  We won’t talk about all the legal problems inherent in this type of operation, it has worked rather well for both administrations.  However, shortly after the headline of a thwarted plot from a Bengali national came this news about another person of Bangladeshi descent: Informant: NYPD Paid Me to ‘Bait’ Muslims which details how a 19 year old of Bangladeshi descent claims he was used to entrap or bait New York city area Muslims into incriminating statements or actions that could lead to “create and capture….creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD.”  The informant, one Shamiur Rahman who is about the same  age as the terrorist suspect of our first story,  Ahsan Nafis,  21 was engaged in activity that should guarantee their paths would cross during the time they were together in the Big Apple.  In the light of these two stories, that’s a question a good reporter should ask….if they’re not too busy posing on table tops!

From the people of humanity to the rest of humanity


It’s awe inspiring to see the oldest religious tradition known to man exert the universal principle that began with that tradition that we must love and honor one another.  That’s the message of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America which they have delivered juxtaposed with the hate spewed message of the Islamophobes that has recently graced New York City billboards.  I salute such people of faith and courage who are taking a clear stand against the trends of today’s America where  hate filled  drenched  intolerance for people different from the norm has become the order of the day.  It’s encouraging to see faith still matters to enough of us to speak out, and that there are people who are compelled by their faith into positive action for all of humanity.  To the Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, kudos!

This is what the scare tactic of governance gets you


I’m sure this scene plays out in cities and towns across America.  It’s frightening and terrifying for citizens who go through it and something I don’t quite get is why law enforcement types don’t get that yet……or is it they simply don’t care?   In today’s America however, where everyone and every circumstance is enough to justify even the most strident militant response from ‘officers of the law’, it might be a good thing that municipalities are cash starved and considering layoffs of their law enforcement personnel.  I for one am a firm believer that people are responsible for their own protection and police’s role in society should be one of monitoring, reporting  and assisting citizens when needed.

Police bust in to a house that had a teenaged girl and her grandmother, looking for someone who had used the internet to issue threats against the town’s police department. In none of the reports that I read about this tragedy was there any link to the threats made besides a mention that they were personal in nature and that was enough to make the  police department  embark  on a course of terror against its citizenry.   Unfortunately for the  victims of this story, their internet connection is on an unsecured router that anyone can use to receive and post information.  But what’s regrettable   for the citizens of Evansville, Indiana is their police department personalized insults and uncivil language that was on the internet  to intimidate and infringe on the rights of the citizens of that city.  In other words speech that some may see anonymous and even protected was used by the police department of Evansville to justify  physically intruding upon and even potentially harming people who had no relationship with that speech at all.  Instead of carefully determining who were the residents of the house, police decided based on the accusation that threats were made to raid the  house in a manner befitting any shock and awe operation run during the Iraq war.  Later on, realizing the error of their ways, police went to a second suspect’s house in a much more appropriate manner…..knocking on the door, which possibly yielded more promising results.  Check out the video below

 

There was a lot of news about the New York City police department spying on Muslims in the NYC area and now I understand what motivated  the police department.  Like others in government who have reaped immense financial rewards from America’s war on terror, WOT, the NYPD has too!  With money funded by the federal government they have acquired a state of the art helicopter they say will help them in the terror fight.  They claim that they are becoming increasingly more dependent on helicopters, a very high ticket  item for fighting terror…and in order to justify such huge expenditures they ,NYPD , have to conjure up a threat sufficient enough to get governments, local, state and federal, as well as tax payers to want to appropriate the funds necessary.  That bogeyman for the NYPD has been the tri-state area Muslims. 

The New York Police Department monitored Muslim college students far more broadly than previously known, at schools far beyond the city limits, including the elite Ivy League colleges of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.

Police talked to local authorities about professors 480 kilometres away in Buffalo and even sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students’ names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed.

Detectives trawled Muslim student websites every day and, although professors and students had not been accused of any wrongdoing, their names were recorded in reports prepared for the New York police commissioner, Raymond Kelly.

This helicopter is supposed to be able to detect radiation and any other kind of threat from the sky…..and I’m sure the mantra will be if it makes us secure it’s worth the investment, but the question to ask is at what cost to American citizens do we want to get our hands on this type of equipment?  How far in demonizing one group of Americans, lying about them and their existence among us all the while stretching the limits of time worn freedoms and privileges do we want to go to justify getting our hands on this?  The point has been made with alarming alacrity there is no threat to America by American Muslims; in fact they are the least threatening group to inhabit our shores, yet time and time again imagery of an Islamic terrorist threat is used and its end result is usually the investment of large sums of money to those who sound this exaggerated  threat, much like the communism scare of 50 years ago which resulted in a lot of empty  bomb shelters and a cold war atmosphere that saw America spend money and fight wars against a virtually  impotent and even non-existing enemy.  The sons of the leaders of America’s cold war with communism are now leading the war against Muslims with almost the same empty results.  Is it no wonder if we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it?

Remember this guy? He’s baaack!!!


Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back in the news again and it’s not good news.  The NYC prosecutor was paid off to drop the charges against him because of innuendo dug up or revealed about Strauss-Kahn’s accuser in the case, Nafissatou Diallo, but ever since then it’s been nothing but bad news for DSK. 

First off after having the charges against him dropped in NYC, DSK faced similar charges by a French compatriot back in  France who claimed he attempted to rape her as well.  Well ‘the French public prosecutor said Thursday that while insufficient evidence was found to substantiate attempted rape, “acts that could be qualified as sexual aggression were established.” Unlike the attempted rape charge—which carries a statute of limitations of 10 years—sexual assault offenses can only be prosecuted three years after they were committed which means because the allegations go back to 2003, the plaintiff’s case is all but dead in the water.  However, the very finding that DSK engaged in sexually aggressive behavior mirrors the charges made by Diallo for which now she only has civil proceedings as a recourse.  But there’s more…….

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was handed preliminary charges Monday alleging he was involved in a French prostitution ring…In the northern French city of Lille on Monday, investigating judges summoned Strauss-Kahn for questioning and held him for about eight hours.

Lawyer Richard Malka told reporters afterward that Strauss-Kahn was given preliminary charges of “aggravated procurement in an organized gang.”

Strauss-Kahn was released under judicial supervision after paying €100,000 in bail, and was barred from contacting others charged in the case, a judicial official said.

Another Strauss-Kahn lawyer has acknowledged that the ex-IMF chief attended orgies but was unaware prostitutes were involved.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean authorities have reason to believe a crime was committed but allow more time for investigation.

This is the guy the New York city prosecutors let go free because they wanted to disbelieve a poor immigrant housekeeper who was violated by him.  There’s no doubt that DSK has these kinds of proclivities when it comes to women and his inability to control his libido.  What’s unfortunate is the human tragedies his indiscretions leave behind as he moves on to his next victim.  I hope someone can stop him.  We here in America evidently didn’t have the stomach to do so.

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