Posts Tagged ‘racial profiling’

Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Have the Police Become a Law Unto Themselves?

Friday, May 23, 2014 at 9:41 am by

This guest post by John Whitehead was originally published on May 19 by the Rutherford Institute. 

“Police are specialists in violence. They are armed, trained, and authorized to use force. With varying degrees of subtlety, this colors their every action. Like the possibility of arrest, the threat of violence is implicit in every police encounter. Violence, as well as the law, is what they represent.”

— Kristian Williams, activist and author

Living in a free society means not having to look over your shoulder to see whether the government is watching or fearing that a government agent might perpetuate violence upon you.

Unfortunately, as I detail in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, subjected as we are to government surveillance, body scanners, militarized police, roadside strip searches, SWAT team raids, drones, and other trappings of a police state, “we the people” do not live in a free society any longer.

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Racial profiling, Muslim surveillance, and the NYPD

Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 10:28 am by

NYPDOn Tuesday, April 15 the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced it was disbanding a controversial unit that had been spying on Muslims since its inception in 2003. The NYPD’s “Demographics Unit” specifically gathered intelligence on Muslims living in New York City, New Jersey, and even as far away as Philadelphia. It sent plain clothed detectives to cafes, restaurants, and other community centers frequented by Muslims with the stated purpose of identifying potential centers of terrorist activity. Detectives were told to speak with the employees at such establishments about political issues in attempt to identify anti American sentiment. The NYPD also sent informants to Muslim student groups on various college campuses. Despite the wide breadth of surveillance, even the NYPD acknowledged that the program has failed to create a single lead.
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Fusion centers perpetuate racial profiling

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 8:50 am by

racialprofilingApril 10 saw protests, teach-ins and light brigade actions across the country as part of the national day of action against fusion centers. The Day of Action sparked an internet dialogue about fusion centers that shone much needed light on the centers which can often slip under the radar of the communities they operate in.

Like most threats to civil liberties, fusion centers endanger the constitutional rights guaranteed to all people, however their effect is most pronounced in politically vulnerable communities. These are most often communities of color, those with political beliefs outside the mainstream, or both.

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Federal Judge abandons the Constitution, and the rights of Muslim Americans

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 8:20 am by

nypd-ny-muslims-811-thumb-640xauto-3955On Thursday, February 20, a federal judge based in Newark, NJ dismissed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) large scale surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. The case of Hassan v. City of New York was brought by several individuals and organizations, with legal representation by Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
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The NYPD can’t hide anymore

Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 8:44 am by
Oirignal photo from PopularResistance.org

Oirignal photo from PopularResistance.org

In 1971, a lawsuit was filed against the New York Police Department (NYPD) for engaging in unconstitutional surveillance practices against activist groups including the War Resisters League and the Black Panthers. This fight eventually brought on reform within the Department, but since the 9/11 terrorist attacks these changes have been rescinded. Now, the people are looking to the courts to, once again, curb the abuses of the NYPD.

Several lawsuits have been filed against the Department in regards to its surveillance program, which specifically targets Muslim communities. This program has allegedly classified Mosques as terrorist organizations, in order to secretly infiltrate them and spy on their members.  It has been reported that the NYPD has even created a wide-ranging map of the Muslim communities, recording intimate details of their lives, from where they pray to where they eat.

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Bratton and de Blasio: an opportunity for meaningful police reform in New York as long as we don’t waste it

Friday, January 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm by

Mayor-Elect Bill De Blasio Announces William Bratton As City's Next Police Chief

Last week, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced the most recent addition to his administration, naming Zachary Carter the chief lawyer of the city. Carter served as United States attorney in Brooklyn from 1993 to 1999 and oversaw high profile cases like that of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was brutally assaulted and tortured by NYPD officers in 1997. Like de Blasio, Carter has expressed a commitment to creating opportunities for disadvantaged groups and fighting police misconduct. This appointment appears to be a step in the right direction towards greater fairness in policing and an end to the rampant profiling and abuse that have come to define the NYPD.

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The end of childhood in the era of the emerging American police state

Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm by
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[Credit: Zen Gardner]

Original commentary by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute published on December 16, 2013.

It wouldn’t be a week in America without another slew of children being punished for childish behavior under the regime of zero tolerance which plagues our nation’s schools. Here are some of the latest incidents.

In Pennsylvania, a ten-year-old boy was suspended for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate, using nothing more than his hands and his imagination. Johnny Jones, a fifth grader at South Eastern Middle School, was suspended for a day and threatened with expulsion under the school’s weapons policy after playfully using his hands to draw the bowstrings on a pretend “bow” and “shoot” an arrow at a classmate who had held his folder like an imaginary gun and “shot” at Johnny.  Principal John Horton characterized Johnny’s transgression as “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm” through the use of an imaginary bow and arrow.

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News Digest 12/03/13

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm by

Current News 

12/3, Editorial, The Detroit News, Government should pull back on forfeitures

12/2, Kevin Gosztola, FIREDOGLAKE, NSA Sent Home Talking Points for Employees to Use in Conversations with Family & Friends During Holidays

12/2, Cory Doctorow, Bing Bong, How big corporations and government spy agencies surveil and sabotage activist groups

12/1, Ross Anderson, The Guardian, Work and surveillance in a post-Snowden world

12/1, Lawrence Roberts, Bloomberg, Feinstein Says U.S. No Safer From Terror Than Two Years Ago

11/23, Eyder Peralta, NPR, Miami-Area Police Force Accused Of Rampant Racial Profiling

What’s yours is now the government’s: civil forfeiture and the “war on terror”

Monday, November 11, 2013 at 9:53 am by

Civil asset forfeiture sounds like a a dry legal term, but it has a deeper impact on people’s lives and our justice system than you might expect. It’s a practice that threatens property rights, rewards discriminatory policing, and has interesting and unexpected connections with the violations of constitutional rights that have come to define the “war on terror.” Civil asset forfeiture refers to the process of law enforcement seizing property — like cars, money, or houses — suspected of being involved in, or paid for by, illicit activities. This occurs without a charge or conviction because bizarrely, civil forfeiture law names the property itself as the defendant in the lawsuit, rendering the owner’s innocence irrelevant. It is difficult if not impossible to challenge civil asset forfeiture, and police disproportionately apply this practice to poor people, immigrants, and people of color who are already disempowered by the legal system.

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FBI’s Suspicious Activity Reports threaten privacy and first amendment

Friday, November 1, 2013 at 1:09 pm by

fbiIs an upside down American flag a reasonable indication of criminal activity? What about a group of young Middle Eastern men speaking a non-English language? Does the presence of Muslim women at a shopping mall suggest an intent to commit a crime? Is an artist photographing buildings necessarily a terrorist threat? According to the FBI, these first amendment protected actions are suspicious activities. These are all examples from the summaries of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) acquired by the ACLU and originally produced by the Central California Intelligence Center and the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.

The stated purpose of SARs is to collect information about criminal activity that may be related to “terrorist pre-operational planning,” which can then be shared among the different levels of the government. These reports could be issued by local law enforcement officers or could be the result of tips from the public.

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