.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

My Photo
Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Friday, February 10, 2006

If You've Done Nothing Wrong, You've Got Nothing to Hide

Payback's a bitch. But it still isn't enough. None of these cops who's pissing and moaning has had evidence planted in his car. None of them got kicked to death for "resisting arrest" (i.e., being unable to stop writhing in agony from the previous kicks and baton blows), or tasered to death or picked up by his handcuffs until his wrists snapped for "non-compliance" (i.e., being in a diabetic coma). When they are, they can complain. But seeing them get even a small taste of what it's like for those of us at the other end of their "protection and service" is mighty sweet.

Via Ed Stamm on the VCM Discussion list:

Police Officers Sue over Police Surveillance of Their Protests

The demonstrators arrived angry, departed furious. The police had herded them into pens. Stopped them from handing out fliers. Threatened them with arrest for standing on public sidewalks. Made notes on which politicians they cheered and who they razzed.

Meanwhile, officers from a special unit videotaped their faces, evoking for one demonstrator the unblinking eye of George Orwell's "1984."

"That's Big Brother watching you," the demonstrator, Walter Liddy, said in a deposition.

Mr. Liddy's complaint about police tactics, while hardly novel from a big-city protester, stands out because of his job: He is a New York City police officer. The rallies he attended were organized in the summer of 2004 by his union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, to protest the pace of contract talks with the city.

Now the officers, through their union, are suing the city, charging that the police procedures at their demonstrations - many of them routinely used at war protests, antipoverty marches and mass bike rides - were so heavy-handed and intimidating that their First Amendment rights were violated.

A lawyer for the city said the police union members were treated no differently than hundreds of thousands of people at other gatherings, with public safety and free speech both protected. The department observes all constitutional requirements, the city maintains.

The lawsuit by the police union brings a distinctive voice to the charged debate over how the city has monitored political protest since Sept. 11. The off-duty officers faced a "constant threat of arrest," Officer Liddy testified, all but echoing the complaint by activists for other causes that the city has effectively "criminalized dissent."

Since [the 2001 attacks], police officers in disguise have taken part in demonstrations, an approach the Police Department says it used before receiving the expanded powers; other officers have made hundreds of hours of videotapes of people involved in protests and rallies, very few of whom were charged with breaking any law. Neither form of surveillance, the city argues, violates the Constitution....

During a deposition of the chief of department, Joseph Esposito, who is the department's top uniformed official, Ms. McNamara read parts of a report prepared by the department's Internal Affairs Bureau, which noted that the protesters included members of the Police and Fire Department unions.

"In Paragraph 4, it says that members of both departments called out to the mayor for pay raises," Ms. McNamara said, according to the court transcript, "In Paragraph 5, it notes that the protesters clapped and cheered when former Mayor Koch appeared."

She asked, "What would be the basis for them recording the content of the protesters' demonstrations?"

Chief Esposito responded: "Just to record what they observed."....

At Chief Esposito's deposition, Ms. McNamara asked, "Would there be any reason, to your knowledge, for them to be taping the protest to zoom in and individually photograph each officer at the protest?"

"I don't know," he replied.

"Do you know any legitimate reason for such documentation of individuals at the protest?" Ms. McNamara asked.

The chief replied, "Document presence for further identification in the event there was misconduct."....

In 2003, a federal judge found that the Police Department had scrutinized the beliefs of antiwar protesters without legitimate reason. After antiwar rallies in February and March 2003, 12 people who were arrested said they were questioned on their political thinking by detectives.....

Via Progressive Review:


The irony couldn't be more clear. New York City police and their union, the Police Benevolent Association, are suing the NYPD for spying on them at rallies and demonstrations held during their contract dispute with the city in the summer of 2004. As reported on the front page of [the] New York Times, the lawsuit, whose plaintiffs include New York firefighters and other police unions, charges that the NYPD's own surveillance of off-duty cops who attended these rallies was so heavy-handed and "intimidating" that it violated their civil rights. The cops' lawyer even called videotaping a form of "political harassment."

Talk about the cat calling the kettle black. For years activists at antiwar demos, Critical Mass bike rides and other political protests have found themselves under the heavy gaze of camera-toting TARU (Technical Assistance Response) officers seemingly recording their every move. "For years we have complained about the NYPD videotaping protesters," says Chris Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has been fighting to curb police surveillance of activists since it filed its landmark Handschu case in 1971."It's nice to see that police officers now agree with us," Dunn adds. "It sure is ironic, however, how cops turn into the biggest advocates of constitutional rights when they become the targets of police misconduct."


Anonymous Anonymous said...


February 20, 2006 11:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home