The NYPD ‘Slowdown’ Is Unintentionally Benefiting The People

One of the most confusing political protests is currently taking place in New York City, and it is unintentionally benefiting average citizens.

Furious at embattled mayor Bill de Blasio, and at what Police Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch calls a “hostile anti-police environment in the city,” police officers are refusing to arrest or ticket people for minor offenses – such arrests have dropped off a staggering 94 percent, with overall arrests plunging 66 percent.

The protesting police have decided to make arrests “only when they have to.” In other words, the NYPD is abandoning their ‘Broken Window’ policies to anger the mayor, the very policies that is being protested by anti-brutality demonstrators. 

It’s incredibly ironic that the police have chosen to abandon quality-of-life actions like public urination tickets and open-container violations, because it’s precisely these types of interactions that are at the heart of the Broken Windows polices that so infuriate residents of so-called “hot spot” neighborhoods.

So keep it up down NYPD!! We’re enjoying a harassment free NYC.

NYPD’s Unintended Social Experiment Results in New York City Not Errupting in Flames | AmericaWakieWakie

Since December 22nd, following the killings of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu of the NYPD, policing-statistics in the Big Apple have plummeted as cops have “refused “to make arrests or issue citations (read: enforce largely arbitrary and punitive laws).

The New York Post reported:

  • Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.
  • Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.
  • Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.
  • Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau — which are part of the overall number — dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

Officers of the NYPD have called this reduction a response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “fostering of an anti-police environment" in the wake of the BlackLivesMatter protests. Police say their safety is of the upmost concern. Law enforcement unions like the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association have suggested to its members to put their safety first and to only make arrests when “absolutely necessary”.

"Absolutely necessary" being the operative phrase. With such a drastic reduction in enforcement one might expect to look outside and see utter chaos, but as twitter user AllisonKilKenny observed “I just looked outside and nothing is on fire and the sun is still out and everything. Weird.”

Yea, weird. Weird to think that maybe most of what police do is completely unnecessary. Weird to think that maybe the world wouldn’t delve into complete mayhem if cops vanished tomorrow. Weird that maybe, like the photo above suggests, if we focused on building community and meeting each others’ emotional, spiritual, and material needs, policing could at last be a relic of the past.

Or maybe it’s not weird. Maybe what’s weird is that we have forgotten how to imagine and act toward a world of mutual aid, common respect, and actual democracy.

See Also:

(Photo Credit: 08/20/14, Oakland marches in solidarity with Ferguson, MO after police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18 yr old Mike Brown | AmericaWakieWakie)

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New York City’s police officers are rebelling publicly against Mayor Bill de Blasio, who drew particular attention in recent weeks when he acknowledged that he taught his biracial son to be careful around police simply because of his race.

"What parents have done for decades, who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have a connection with a police officer, when they have an encounter with a police officer," de Blasio told ABC News’ This Week. "It’s different for a white child. That’s just the reality in this country."

Police took de Blasio’s comments personally. Following the December 20 shooting of two New York City police officers, Patrick Lynch, president of the NYPD union Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said there was “blood on the hands” of the mayor.

Several days later, police officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he spoke at a funeral for one of the slain officers. Then, during a December 29 speech for an NYPD graduation ceremony, members of the crowd booed de Blasio multiple times. And according to the New York Post, police are now working as little as possible — arrests are down 66 percent — in open protest of de Blasio’s administration.

This revolt comes at a time when racial disparities in police use of force and the criminal justice system are getting a lot of attention. As protesters march around the country over the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City, and other black men who have been killed by police, cops are reportedly feeling more and more under attack.

But this kind of tension between police, the public, and civilian leaders isn’t a new phenomenon. In the 1960s, similar tensions played out when black Americans around the country marched and even rioted against what many at the time viewed as a racist, corrupt criminal justice system. Police responded to the criticisms with the same kind of rhetoric they are using today — sometimes telling elected leaders, including in New York City, that they will not work if they’re criticized.

http://www.vox.com/2014/12/31/7474065/nypd-bill-de-blasio

The NYPD likes to play up all of the officers that died “in the line of duty” to justify its brutal behavior. Aside from the two officers killed in reprisal, not a single officer was shot and killed in 2014. In fact, prior to the reprisal, the last cop killed by gunfire was in 2011. Prior to 2011, the last time an NYPD cop was intentionally killed by gunfire was 2007. In 2009, there was another officer killed by gunfire but he was shot by other NYPD cops that opened fire because well… He was a black man with a gun.
—  link

NYPD Has a Plan to Magically Turn Anyone It Wants Into a Felon | Gawker

On Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton urged state legislators to consider increasing the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony. The change, he argued, would help New Yorkers “get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can’t.” It would also give cops an easy way to turn victims of their own worst impulses into the worst class of criminal.

In theory, a resisting arrest charge allows the state to further punish suspects who endanger the safety of police officers as they’re being apprehended; in practice, it gives tautological justification to cops who enjoy roughing people up. Why did you use force against that suspect, officer? Because she was resisting arrest. How do I know you’re telling the truth? Because I charged her with it, sir.

Consider a few recent would-be felons:

  • Chaumtoli Huq, former general counsel to NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, who was charged with resisting arrest for waiting for her family outside the Times Square Ruby Tuesday’s.
  • Jahmil-El Cuffee, who was charged with resisting arrest after he found himself on the receiving end of a head-stomp from a barbarous cop because he was allegedly rolling a joint. (“Stop resisting!” cops screamed at him as he lay helpless, pinned under a pile of officers.)
  • Denise Stewart, who was charged with resisting arrest after a gang of New York’s Finest threw her half-naked from her own apartment into the lobby of her building. (They had the wrong apartment, it turned out.)
  • Santiago Hernandez, who was charged with resisting arrest after a group of cops beat the shit out of him following a stop-and-frisk. “One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes to punch me and he steps back…They were taking turns on me like a gang,” Hernandez told reporters.
  • Eric Garner, who no doubt would have been charged with resisting had the chokehold from Daniel Pantaleo not ended his life first.

Cops using resistance as an excuse for their own abuse isn’t some wild conspiracy theory. Sam Walker, a law-enforcement expert and retired University of Nebraska-Omaha criminal justice professor, told WNYC in December:

"There’s a widespread pattern in American policing where resisting arrest charges are used to sort of cover – and that phrase is used – the officer’s use of force," said Walker, the accountability expert from the University of Nebraska. "Why did the officer use force? Well, the person was resisting arrest."

Fortunately, city district attorneys know the drill, and often have the good sense to dismiss resisting charges when perps are brought up in court. But Bratton would like to see that provision thrown out as well. “The vast majority [of charges] might end up being dismissed,” he said at the joint hearing of state senate committees Wednesday. “We’re asking district attorneys to treat them more seriously than they have been treated in the past.”

Anticipating criticism, Bratton told the assembled lawmakers that he already had a plan to curb abuse: the department would use its CompStat arrest-tracking system to monitor officers who make lots of resisting charges that are eventually dropped, leaving oversight of the NYPD to the NYPD itself.

(Photo Credit: AP)

A judge may finally open up the Eric Garner grand jury proceeding 

The Eric Garner case has hit courts once again. On Monday, a New York judge will hear arguments on whether to make the grand jury hearing records public.

Grand jury proceedings, which are led by a prosecutor, are secret by law. The New York Civil Liberties Union, the city’s public advocate, the Legal Aid Society and the New York Post have each filed petitions in State Supreme Court in Staten Island asking that an exception should be made in the Garner case, arguing that “it is important to show how the grand jury came to its conclusion, and possibly expose flaws in the secrecy-shrouded process.”

Michelle Alexander: NYPD slowdown celebrated by New Yorkers of color
January 9, 2015

For the second consecutive week, New York City police have virtually ceased writing tickets and arresting people for many nonviolent crimes, on the order of a 90 percent drop from a year earlier. After perceived slights by Mayor Bill de Blasio, civil protests against police brutality, and the murder of two officers by a deranged gunman, the New York Police Department is fighting back by not doing its job. Or rather, police appear to be using their resentment as an organizing incentive to skip certain non-essential cop duties.

The police seem to be trying to teach a lesson to a city they feel doesn’t adequately appreciate them. For New Yorkers who value fair policing, though, the slowdown is an occasion to celebrate.

Many of the offenses police have tacitly declared legal are considered quality-of-life (QOL) infractions. Those follow the broken window strategy, a policing philosophy that has been widely discredited since its heyday in Rudy Giuliani’s mayoralty. QOL meets small transgressions with arrests and fines—a way, it’s thought, to nip more substantial crimes in the bud. Perhaps because QOL policing grants cops near-unlimited discretion in determining whom to sanction, its penalties fall disproportionately on people of color. Between 2001 and 2013, the New York Daily News found, more than 80 percent of the 7.3 million people penalized for these infractions were black or Latino. The vast majority of African Americans and Latinos in all walks of life feel like they’re treated unfairly by law enforcement, and consider police discrimination the most endemic form of societal mistreatment.It’s unfairbrutalracist, and financially burdensome, and it often follows such small transgressions as jaywalking, skipping $2.50 subway fares or merely irritating police. 

To many of us from these communities, the past two weeks have amounted to a vacation from fear, surveillance and punishment. Maybe this is what it feels like to not be prejudged and seen as suspicious law breakers. Maybe this is a small taste of what it feels like to be white. 

Here is my story of two cities. Ten years ago, when I first moved to New York City, some friends invited me out to an afternoon concert in Central Park. This was an event filled with upper-middle-class white people enjoying music and culture—and an occasion, it turned out, to flaunt the city’s open-container laws. I was naïve enough to be surprised at how many of my friends were publicly drinking wine and liquor from badly disguised canisters, cups, and flasks. Eventually the party staggered out of the park and on to the Upper West Side, down the streets, and into the subways. Riders greeted us with smiles and laughter, pedestrians gave us you-crazy-kids nudges. Our portable debauchery snaked all the way home to our dorm rooms.

A few months later I was walking around the Lower East Side, on my way to meet friends. I decided to stop into a bodega and get a beer, which I sipped out of a brown paper bag as I blithely wandered near a housing project. A police officer materialized, and when he checked my ID, he seemed surprised that I didn’t live in the housing project. He wrote me a ticket me for the open container and let me go. I didn’t think much of it. I was, in fact, breaking the law. But what a contrast from my earlier infractions, in a white space with white friends.

When I went to court for my ticket, I noticed that almost everyone there answering summonses and paying fines was black or Latino. The QOL penalties, it seemed to me, were a backdoor tax for the city, and the people feeding that coffer overwhelmingly looked like me. Most stared ahead and mumbled agreements to the judge so they could leave. Some pleaded for leniency or extra time to pay, citing lack of income. Sixty dollars here, $200 there. These amounts would have momentarily inconvenienced Upper West Siders. In that courtroom, those figures were pushing people to tears.

Poor people bear the brunt of QOL fines. Not lower-income folks or working class types—no, the actual underclass, the groups balkanized into narrow living corridors in the city, offered slim opportunities, and suspended in a state of financial anxiety. Unless they are in front of a judge, they’re invisible to policymakers. But QOL fines can wreck them, and for what? Recently I lived with a roommate who worked as a housekeeper. He had a couple of small run-ins with the police for issues like noise and arguing with the neighbors, and the run-ins begat fines. He fell short on his bills, and things began to snowball. He borrowed from loan sharks, resorted to cheating friends out of money, borrowed money from family he never intended to pay back and, I suspect, shoplifted. My landlord later confirmed what I’d worried for a while: My roommate had skimmed money from our rent checks (including my share) for food and transportation. While I don’t believe QOL fines started him down his shady path, the summons only stoked his desperation. I doubt he’s the only one, as I doubt advocates of broken windows policing ever stop to ponder the next steps for people who draw fines and who are themselves broke.

Small penalties can precipitate risky acts when they are not, as a portion of one’s income, small. Here’s what New York charges people for various minor offenses:

• $25 for an open container of alcohol

• $115 for stopping or standing in a roadway or highway

• $115 for standing or parking on a curb when not allowed

• $250 for disorderly conduct

• $250 for a noise disturbance

Police get broad leeway in determining whether to cite you for such offenses. Take noise disturbances. Some are obvious: a bellowing car stereo, a party, hollering on the street. Or perhaps merely raising your voice to a police officer.

Sleeping or resting in public is another vague standard, used to clear away people who appear homeless or vagrant. Black men are frequently arrested or fined for falling asleep on the train, even if they’re simply tired on a long commute. Lewd conduct fines can arise simply from wearing your pants too low. If you are wearing a two-finger ring and happen to be black, you can be arrested for jewelry that reminds a cop of brass knuckles. QOL literally allows police to mete out punishment if they don’t like your look.

If none of these fit, the standby is disorderly conduct, the most malleable of the QOL fines. Disorderly conduct can include but is not limited to asking a question of an officercursing under your breath, or making people nervous. And if you continue in this so-called disorderly conduct, you could be charged with resisting arrest. As many people of color are aware by now, resisting arrest makes a handy explainer for injuries incurred by arrested and handcuffed individuals in police custody.

The Police Reform Organizing Project, a group that aims to end police abuses against vulnerable people in New York, has tallied some other recent crimes that led to arrests for people of color:

• Walking between the cars of a stopped subway train

• Occupying two seats on a mostly empty subway train

• Putting a foot on a subway seat

• Putting a backpack on a subway seat

• Using a loved one’s transit pass to enter the subway

• Asking another person to swipe their pass to get you onto the subway

• Asking people for a handout while holding open a door to an ATM

• Standing in front of or in the lobby of your own building

• Insisting on your rights when stopped and questioned for no apparent reason

• Filming/recording, while not interfering with a police activity

• Being a pedicab driver and parking in an unauthorized space or not properly displaying your rates

• Jaywalking

• Begging

• Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk

Now, QOL disparities do not include driving while black, civil forfeiture laws of confiscating property, stop-and-frisk, the illegal (but still used) vertical patrolling of housing projects or the treatment that people of color receive once they are in the judicial system. We are just talking about simple things. Like being able to stand on a street corner and be pretty sure a cop won’t start a conversation that ends with him fining you or locking you up.

Full article

Not entirely the same, but heard NYPD “stopped doing their job to “prove how much they’re needed” and proved the opposite and this is what I thought of:

During the mass urban uprisings [in Myanmar] in 1988, the state pulled the police and military off the streets, sure that chaos would ensue so they could step back in to ‘save the nation’. Instead, communities formed committees that maintained order, while monks directed traffic and controlled food distribution. The state then opened the prisons to flood the cities with criminals, many of whom they paid to create chaos. But the civilian committees arrested troublemakers, and still there was no chaos.

Finally, the army had to proclaim chaos and deployed to mow down thousands of people with machine-guns, arresting and torturing thousands more to end chaos and declare the nation saved. The community networks which had been formed, and the memory of them, did not die – they simply vanished underground. Today, most resistance takes the form of the covert and everyday – evading taxes, misreporting resources, grumbling and joking about junta leaders, spreading subversive news and rumours, leaking information to outside agencies.

—Kevin Malseed, “Networks of noncompliance: grassroots resistance and sovereignty in militarised Burma”. (NOTE: the original link I had is a broken link, so I’ve replaced it).

So first: happy Burmese independence day (HA) and second, please note the response that came when the army’s point was not proven. And please consider that there will be repercussions and build for community safety.

No one will ever understand how much my father meant to me. I still can’t believe you passed away a month ago. What I would do to bring you back into my life just for 5mins just to tell you how much I love you. You did everything for me and its so easy to see that now. You did everything for the family. You never had a dad growing up really, he was never the dad you were at least. All the memories will live on forever. R.I.P Dad.

"In high school, I realized that if I was wearing jeans and sneakers people on the train would clutch their purses a little tighter than if I wore a collared shirt, blazer, and slacks. When I got into Columbia, people said it was affirmative action. But I always had to work harder than my classmates. I was uncomfortable showing up late to class. I didn’t want the teachers to think, ‘He’s black so he shows up late.’ It works in the negative: I can only not discredit my race, I can never be a credit to it…. I grew up in North Bronx’s Edenwald Housing Projects, which are shitty all around. The elevators don’t really work, there’s urine in the stairwell, and they put metal grates over the light fixtures. I feel like I’m in a prison. I never invited any of my friends over because I didn’t want them to feel like I was less-than…. At Columbia, I needed a textbook that I couldn’t afford to rent or buy for a class. So I went to the Barnes & Noble site, got a free trial of their reader software, and took screenshots of the 500 pages. Having to do that was soul-crushing…. When we organized non-violent actions for Black Lives Matter, Columbia either refused to acknowledge them or they called the NYPD. With Millions March, they had all of our Facebook profiles. The police send people to disrupt the marches and turn them into something they’re not. They’re the biggest purveyors of fear that I know. So it’s important that Ferguson blew up, because this has been going on for a long time…. I’m a mama’s boy. She’s one of my biggest mentors (and I didn’t even realize it until now). I love my mom. School is so cutthroat with people focused on landing an internship and getting to the next step. But there’s a real sense of community at home. My successes are also everyone else’s. Being black connects me to struggle and resilience. Black bounces back. I don’t think I’d be the person I am if I wasn’t black, and I like the person I am." 

— Rafael Ramirez in this week’s episode of the What’s Underneath Project! For Rafael’s full story, watch his video!

New NYPD Anti-Terror Unit Will Get Machine Guns To Police Protesters | Gothamist

Murders reached a historic low in NYC for 2014; overall crime was down across the board by nearly 5%; hell, even the holiday slowdown didn’t really lead to any additional crime. So clearly, now is the time when NYC really needs to implement a new anti-terrorism program which would empower a team of NYPD officers to roam around the city carrying machine guns. What could gowrong?

Police Commissioner Bratton made the announcement earlier today at an event hosted by the Police Foundation at the Mandarin Oriental. He said that the new 350 cop unit, called The Strategic Response Group, will be dedicated to “disorder control and counterterrorism protection capabilities” against attacks like the hostage situation in Sydney, which the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence John Miller said was an inevitability in NYC.

This new squad will be used to investigate and combat terrorist plots, lone wolf terrorists, and… protests. “It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris,” Bratton said, according to CBS.

"They’ll be equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not," Bratton explained. "They’ll be equipped with all the extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns — unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances." Capital NY adds that these officers will also be used “to assist on crime scenes, and help with crowd control and other large-scale events.”

The pilot program will start in two precincts in Manhattan and two in Queens, though it’s unclear when they want to launch it. Bratton said Mayor de Blasio was on board, and he expected the City Council to be as well. He also said he thinks this will help improve relationships between cops and local residents. “Cops will know their sectors and the citizens will know them,” Bratton said. “They’ll know the problem areas and the problem people. I truly believe when cops embrace their neighborhoods, their neighborhoods will embrace them back.”

Already, local advocacy groups have spoken out against the plan; Priscilla Gonzalez, Organizing Director of Communities United for Police Reform, gave this statement.

Initial reports of Commissioner Bratton’s plans suggest the opposite of progress. His demands for less oversight of the NYPD and a more militarized police force that would use counter-terrorism tactics against protestors are deeply misguided and frankly offensive. We need an NYPD that is more accountable to New Yorkers and that stops criminalizing our communities, especially when people are taking to the streets to voice legitimate concerns about discriminatory and abusive policing. Despite growing evidence that discriminatory broken windows is a failed and harmful policing strategy, Commissioner Bratton stubbornly continues to defend and expand it.

(Photo Credit: NYPD Police Commissioner Bratton at yesterday’s press conference | Jen Chung/Gothamist)