Monday, October 01, 2012
Federal judge rules NY police department’s 2004 mass arrests were unlawful
by Larry Geller
I refuse to refer to the New York Police Department as “law enforcement.” They break the law on a daily basis. And they did so in 2004 by conducting mass arrests without cause.
Let me diverge and justify the “daily” claim above:
"Today, more than 1,800 New Yorkers will be stopped and frisked by NYPD officers. Tomorrow, more than 1,800 New Yorkers will be stopped and frisked by NYPD officers. The day after that, more than 1,800 New Yorkers will be stopped and frisked by NYPD officers. Every day this year, more than 1,800 New Yorkers will be stopped and frisked by NYPD officers."
[NYCLU, NYCLU: Mayor Owes New Yorkers Real Discourse on Stop-and-Frisk, 7/12/2012]
The NYPD stops involve approximately 87% Black or Latino victims who have committed no crime at all. It’s blatant racial profiling. In many stops, the NYPD illegally makes the victims take out and show the contents of their pockets.
Justice is slow in this country of ours. The stop-and-frisk problem has persisted for years and continues today. The ruling on mass arrests that came down today refers to events that took place at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. That’s right—eight years ago.
A federal judge today ruled that the NYPD engaged in unlawful mass arrests and fingerprinting of hundreds of peaceful protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention in Manhattan.
In cases brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and others, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Sullivan declared unlawful the Aug. 31, 2004 mass arrest of more than 200 peaceful protesters near Church and Fulton streets in Lower Manhattan. He also rejected the city’s claim that it had lawfully arrested another nearly 400 people near Union Square, concluding that the plaintiffs were entitled to a trial about that location.
[NYCLU, Federal Judge Rules NYPD Conducted Unlawful Mass Arrests during 2004 RNC, 10/1/2012]
So the cops broke the law. Do they care? Probably not.
Judge Sullivan also ruled that the NYPD’s mass fingerprinting of those arrested during the RNC protests violated a state law.
So will the NYPD purge those fingerprints from its records? Who will check? Will the NYPD stop its mass arrests?
My understanding is that there will be no consequences for police officers.
The City will consider any settlements to be the cost of hosting the RNC.
And New York taxpayers will have to fork up whatever costs the settlements bring.
In other words, neither the NYPD, nor individual cops, nor Mayor Bloomberg, have any reason to change their ways due to this ruling. Don’t expect the NYPD to lay out welcome mats for peaceful demonstrators in the future.