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NYPD will arrest you for carrying condoms: the women/trans/genderqueer version of stop-and-frisk


NYC has a law prohibiting "loitering for the purposes of engaging in a prostitution offense" which lets cops arrest whomever they feel like, on the strength of their conviction that the person is probably a sex-worker, on the basis of flimsy circumstantial evidence like carrying a condom, talking to men, or wearing tight clothes. Like stop-and-frisk, it's part of a pattern of laws that assume that the police have infallible intuition about who the "bad guys" are and lets them use their discretion to harass and bust whomever they feel like. And like stop-and-frisk laws, the "condom" law shows that the much-vaunted cop intuition is really just bias, a dowsing rod that leads officers to poor women, genderqueer people, and trans people.

Like most laughably cruel tricks of the justice system, you probably wouldn't know that you could be arrested for carrying condoms until it happened to you. Monica Gonzalez is a nurse and a grandmother. In 2008, Officer Sean Spencer arrested her for prostitution while she was on the way to the ER with an asthma attack. The condom he found on her turned out to be imaginary. Gonzalez sued the city after the charges were dropped. But if the condom were real, why should she have even been arrested at all?

Arrest is always violent. The NYPD may or may not break your ribs, but the process of arrest in America is still a man tying your hands behind your back at gunpoint and locking you in a cage. Holding cells are shit-encrusted boxes, often too crowded to sit down. Police can leave you there for three days; long enough to lose your job. If this seems obvious, I say it because the polite middle classes trivialize arrest. They talk about "keeping people off the streets." They don't realize that the constant threat of arrest is traumatic, unless it happens to them or their kids.

Prostitution is only a misdemeanor in New York, but a conviction will knock you off food stamps and out of subsidized housing. While society feigns wanting sex workers to change their profession, it does everything it can to keep them where they are. Most prostitution defendants plea bargain. Too broke and scared to fight, men and women agree to charges that will follow them for life.

There are two types of prostitution arrests. For "prostitution," the officer has to witness you making an offer, but "loitering for the purposes of engaging in a prostitution offense" requires only circumstantial evidence. On the supporting depositions, officers answer a checklist. Were you standing in an area known for prostitution? According to Karina Claudio, a lead organizer at the community group Make the Road, these areas can be anywhere. Were you dressed provocatively? Did you speak to a guy? Were you standing next to someone who has been arrested for prostitution? Were you carrying condoms?

New York Cops Will Arrest You for Carrying Condoms | VICE United States (via Amanda Palmer)

(Image: Molly Crabapple)

NYPD officer planned to kidnap and eat women [trigger warning]

Gilberto Valle, an NYPD officer, has been arrested after details of a plot to kidnap and eat women came to light. Officer Valle is alleged to have used NYPD databases to locate 100 potential victims, and left detailed notes on his plans to murder and eat them. He also offered to kidnap women for money, corresponding with online acquaintances. From an AP article by Colleen Long and Tom Hays:

One document found on his computer was titled "Abducting and Cooking (Victim 1): A Blueprint," according to the complaint. The file also had the woman's birth date and other personal information and a list of "materials needed" — a car, chloroform and rope.

"I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus ... cook her over low heat, keep her alive as long as possible," Valle allegedly wrote in one exchange in July, the complaint says.

In other online conversations, investigators said, Valle talked about the mechanics of fitting the woman's body into an oven (her legs would have to be bent), said he could make chloroform at home to knock a woman out and discussed how "tasty" one woman looked.

"Her days are numbered," he wrote, according to the complaint.

NYC officer arrested in ghoulish kidnap plot

NYPD officer threatens man with rape in cellphone video


In this cellphone video, NYPD sergeant Lesly Charles threatens a group of men with his gun and threatens to rape them, while simultaneously condoning their criminal behavior of "hustling." The New York Post first published this video, recorded and shared by one of the young men and shared under anonymity.

“I have the long d--k. You don’t,” the cop bragged.

“Your pretty face — I like it very much. My d--k will go in your mouth and come out your ear. Don’t f--k with me. All right?”

After the target of his tirade insisted, “I didn’t do anything,” Charles retorted, “Listen to me. When you see me, you look the other way. Tell your boys, I don’t f--k around. All right?”

“I’ll take my gun and put it up your a-- and then I’ll call your mother afterwards. You understand that?”

For good measure, the sergeant added: “And I’ll put your s--t in your own mouth.”

Charles added, “I’m here every f--king day. I don’t go home. I have no life. No kids. I do what I do.’’

The Post spoke to the sergeant at his home via phone, and asked him about the video. “I’m just doing God’s work," he replied to a reporter. "You know I can’t comment... Have a blessed day.”

(via @Timcast)

NYPD and Bloomberg vs. Occupy Wall Street: "Just hit them"

"[W]hat's been pretty seriously under-covered is this past weekend's amazing outburst of out-of-control NYPD tactics on Occupy Wall Street," writes Choire Sicha at the Awl, along with a roundup of links and videos illustrating just how out-of-control those NYPD tactics are.

Still more proof NYPD spying program focused on Muslims who were not suspected of any crimes

The AP has published more documents today which offer further evidence that the The New York Police Department "kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims." The NYPD monitored these people based solely on their religion.

Did NYPD police chief violate code of conduct by lying about Islamophobic video?

Gothamist digs into whether NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's statements and actions regarding the production of an Islamophobic propaganda film "screened on a continuous loop for over 1,200 NYPD officers" may have been a violation of NYPD conduct codes. If you're new to the story, first read this NYT item, then this followup.

NYPD "Disorder Control Unit" guidelines, snagged from inside van by arrestee

@newyorkist says, "@OccupyWallStNYC got their hands on a New York Police Department Disorder Control Unit document, allegedly picked out of a van by an arrestee."

The pull quote: "A strong military appearance, with sharp and precise movements, is a force multiplier and a psychological advantage to us."

Actually, many of the criticisms of the NYPD's tactics against OWS protesters in recent weeks involve complaints that they have not followed some of the more reasonable guidelines set forth on this flyer.

The dronecam revolution will be webcast: Interview with Tim Pool of "The Other 99"

Webcaster Tim Pool of "The Other 99."

In recent weeks, one source of live news coverage for the Occupy Wall Street movement stood out above all others.

Read the rest

CUNY police bully peaceful Baruch College students during OWS protest over unfair labor practices, tuition hikes

Photographer and Boing Boing reader Timothy Krause shares the photos and videos above and below in this post, and says,

Here are some videos of police violence and beatings that occurred around 5:15 at Baruch College, CUNY, in response to an Occupy CUNY OWS protest about tuition hikes, unfair labor practices targeted toward adjunct and other faculty, and the privatization of the public CUNY system. Protesters had planned to attend a public trustees meeting, but we were not permitted to voice our grievances, in contravention of CUNY's policies and the rights belonging to a free people.

The first (below) is CUNY security and the order to disperse (protesters are occupying the building's lobby.

The second (further below) is CUNY security staff pushing and hitting protesters with nightsticks.

More shots by Krause. Here's a livestream. Related reporting at the Baruch college newspaper with more video from another POV, and here's a related item in the New York Times.

Read the rest

In NYC, Kafka-licious policies say press can avoid arrest by getting press pass they can't get

Wired.com's Quinn Norton has been tirelessly covering the Occupy movement from the front lines in cities throughout the US. In New York, it's a very good idea to have a press pass when you're doing that, if you'd like to avoid being beaten or arrested—and, you know, who wouldn't? Earlier, Elizabeth Spiers at the NYO posted about how that's functionally impossible for most reporters. And Quinn's Wired.com editor Ryan Singel now has a piece up at Wired about the NYPD's nonsensical series of hoops reporters must jump through to obtain press passes that they won't be able to obtain anyway. They're not issuing any until January, 2012.

Wired has been trying to get NYPD press credentials for freelancer Quinn Norton, who is on special assignment to cover the Occupy movement. Even before this week’s arrests, the NYPD made it clear they would not issue her credentials, as she first had to comply with Kafka-esque rules, such as proving she’d already covered six on-the-spot events in New York City — events that you would actually need a press pass to cover.

When I asked if six stories on Occupy Wall Street would count, Sarubbi said no.

I then tried to make the case that issuing press passes to legitimate reporters might help prevent arrests and prevent police from beating reporters, as happened to two journalists for the conservative Daily Caller on Thursday, and that the lack of spots until January seemed odd, and Sarubbi got angry.

“Don’t tell me how to do my job and I won’t tell you how to do yours,” she said.

Sarubbi then hung up without even a goodbye.

PHOTO: An Occupy Wall Street demonstrator marches in front of a group of police officers in riot gear in New York. (REUTERS)

OWS library is rebuilding after being trashed by NYPD, needs your donated books


The librarians of Occupy Wall Street saw their carefully catalogued collection of over 5,000 books and archive of original writing, art and other material from the historic protest destroyed by the NYPD. There were early reports (spun and promoted by the office of NYC Mayor Bloomberg) that the library had been carefully stowed in a nearby lockup from which protesters could claim it. But these claims were overstated -- the books were indeed largely destroyed or missing, along with laptops, shelves and other library equipment.

As Xeni mentioned, OWS's librarians are rebuilding, and they're soliciting donations of books for their collection. Tachyon, who publish my essay collections, alerted me to this when they wrote to ask if I minded them donating copies of my books to the effort (the answer was an enthusiastic yes!).

You can donate to the library by posting books to:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
Attn: The People’s Library
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038

Contribute

NYPD raze the #OWS library, throw out over 5,000 books


Some collateral damage in the police raid on Occupy Wall Street: over 5,000 books comprising the #OWS library have been thrown in the trash. I visited the library yesterday and interviewed one of the volunteer librarians who slept in the book-filled tent at night and helped patrons find reading material and conducted information literacy work during the day.

The Occupy Wall Street librarians tweeted the eviction all night: “NYPD destroying american cultural history, they’re destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation’s history … Right now, the NYPD are throwing over 5,000 books from our library into a dumpster. Will they burn them? … Call 311 or 212-639-9675 now and ask why Mayor Bloomberg is throwing the 5,554 books from our library into a dumpster.”

Occupy Wall Street Library Evicted

Naomi Wolf arrested at OWS event for violating terms of an imaginary law

Writer Naomi Wolf attended a HuffPo event in NYC where Governor Andrew Cuomo was expected to attend, and which had attracted a group of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators who wanted to address the governor. Seeing the demonstrators penned up far away from the area where it would be lawful to protest, Wolf asked the police to clarify what the demonstrators should be allowed to do. Once the police had clarified that it would be legal for demonstrators to picket out front of the event, providing they didn't impede pedestrian traffic, she led a group of protesters back to the sidewalk. A "white shirt" (senior NYPD officer) told her she was breaking the law in doing so, and when she asked him to clarify how this was so, he had her arrested. The NYPD continue to insist that the public sidewalk out front of the event was off-limits, but have not, to date, produced the alleged permit that established this.

Another scary outcome I discovered is that, when the protesters marched to the first precinct, the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – "frozen" they were told, "by Homeland Security". Obviously if DHS now has powers to simply take over a New York City street because of an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of America, which is a serious departure from our days as a free republic in which municipalities are governed by police forces.

The police are now telling my supporters that the permit in question gave the event managers "control of the sidewalks". I have asked to see the permit but still haven't been provided with it – if such a category now exists, I have never heard of it; that, too, is a serious blow to an open civil society. What did I take away? Just that, unfortunately, my partner and I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007: first they come for the "other" – the "terrorist", the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law.

(via JWZ)

Occupy Wall Street takes over Times Square (updated)

Watch live streaming video from occupynyc at livestream.com

445pm ET: Happening as I post this. Watch live video here.

Read the rest

Did an NYPD officer run over this National Lawyers Guild legal observer with a scooter at Occupy Wall Street?

[Video Link]

This disturbing video is making the rounds today, and there are conflicting reports of what it documents.

The man on the ground has been identified as 32-year-old Ari Douglas, a legal observer at the Occupy Wall Street protests for the National Lawyer's Guild. The video appears to show a police officer running over Mr. Douglas' leg with a scooter.

There are updated reports at Gothamist, NYO, NY Mag, and the New York Times.

Initial reports said Mr. Douglas was hit and run over with the scooter, and that his leg was broken; the video appears to show him writing and screaming in pain.

The NYPD denies this, and says he "put his legs under the scooter and then claimed falsely he was trapped."

Medical treatment was delayed, but Douglas was eventually taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was treated in the emergency room. The Times quotes Gideon Oliver, a committee member of the NLG, which has been providing legal aid to the protesters.

Mr. Oliver said the police took Mr. Douglas to the Seventh Precinct station house before bringing him to the hospital for medical treatment. Another lawyer for the guild who went to the station house to try to speak to Mr. Douglas and others said his request was denied, Mr. Oliver said. “That is very bad,” he said.

The Battle of Brooklyn Bridge: What happened at Occupy Wall Street before hundreds were arrested?

The Village Voice notes a changed account at the New York Times of what exactly happened between police and demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday. Nick Greene at the Voice writes,

The above photo of juxtaposed screenshots from the New York Times website has been making the rounds on Facebook, and it shows two very different takes for the same story on yesterday's Brooklyn Bridge arrests. The screenshot on the left, from 6:59 p.m., appears to reflect what many protesters are saying: The police tricked them into marching on the bridge. At 7:19 p.m., any mention of the police allowing demonstrators onto the bridge was removed from the lede. Why did they make this change?

Why? Well, I imagine because it was a liveblog, not an "article" in the classic sense—and because when you're liveblogging a fast-moving event, you alter and clarify as new facts come in. Some have made much hay over the fact that the item was originally bylined with one reporter's name, then later by two names. Same reasons, I think, not a conspiracy. But it's a good thing in the general sense that people are pushing for fair and neutral reporting around this.

You can watch two different videos of the same scene here and here. anonops has four videos of the same scene here.

NYPD's secret "Ancestries of Interest" list guided surveillance of innocent people identified as possible Muslim threats

Continuing in an investigative series on ties between the The New York Police Department and the CIA, and coordinated activities involving Muslim populations in NYC, the Associated Press reports that NYPD collected lists of mosques, restaurants, and other Muslim-owned businesses identified as possible security risks, for reasons that included having religiously devout customers. The report is based on hundreds of pages of internal police documents obtained by the AP.

The records reveal the extent of an undercover effort that initially studied more than 250 mosques in New York and New Jersey and identified hundreds more "hot spots" in a hunt for terrorists. Many showed obvious signs of criminal behavior, but the police explanations for targeting others were less clear.

A Bangladeshi restaurant, for instance, was identified as a hot spot for having a "devout crowd." The restaurant was noted for being a "popular meeting location for political activities."

The documents obtained by the AP, many of which were marked secret, paint the clearest picture yet of how the past decade's hunt for terrorists also put huge numbers of innocent people under scrutiny as they went about their daily lives in mosques, restaurants and social groups. Every day, undercover officers and informants filed reports from their positions as "listening posts" inside Muslim communities.

At the White House, where President Barack Obama recently urged local authorities not to cast suspicion on entire communities, spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment Tuesday on whether it endorsed the tactics outlined in the NYPD documents.

An AP investigation last month revealed that the department maintains a list of "ancestries of interest" that it uses to focus its clandestine efforts. A secret team known as the Demographics Unit then dispatched plainclothes officers into the community to eavesdrop in cafes and chat up business owners.

That effort has benefited from federal money and an unusually close relationship with the CIA, one that at times blurred the lines between domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering.

Read the full report: The Associated Press: Documents show NY police watched devout Muslims.

Image/REUTERS: A demonstrator holds a sign as he marches during a rally held in support of a proposed Islamic cultural centre and mosque in New York.