Protesting For Gaza: A Day in Gaol

Earlier today, during the course of a peaceful civil disobedience action–at the Israeli mission to the UN, on Manhattan’s East Side–protesting the humanitarian catastrophe currently underway in the Gaza Strip, twenty-six protesters, including moi, were arrested and taken in custody. The protesters included Norman Finkelstein, my Brooklyn College colleague Corey Robin, and my cellmate for theContinue reading “Protesting For Gaza: A Day in Gaol”

Getting What We Really Want: Heavily Armed Police Forces

A couple of months ago, I made note, yet again, of the steady militarization of US police. Today, we have more news from that ‘front.’ (A word that seems ever more appropriate). The New York Times‘ Matt Apuzzo reports: [A]s President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America’s “long season of war,”Continue reading “Getting What We Really Want: Heavily Armed Police Forces”

The Police Precinct as Augean Stable

Over the past few years, I have met some–very personable and intelligent–young men who seemed possessed by the same passion: they wished to join the police, to “serve their community”, to “give something back”. They knew the police forces they wished to become members of were dysfunctional and corrupt, but that was precisely why theirContinue reading “The Police Precinct as Augean Stable”

Police or Wanna-Be Commandos?

You might have noticed your local police force starting to look increasingly militarized, wearing riot-gear like the type Glenn sports in The Walking Dead, and armed with not just weaponry like Rick Grimes‘ but with an attitude as bad as Merle‘s. Don’t worry, it’s part of a nation-wide trend of SWATting local police: Peter Kraska, aContinue reading “Police or Wanna-Be Commandos?”

Random Searches on the New York Subway: A User’s Story

Today’s post will simply make note of an interesting (and alarming) email I’ve received from a reader. Please do share this widely. Some time ago I was researching the random bag check policy for the NYC subway system and stumbled across your blog posting [on random searches on the New York subway]. Until today IContinue reading “Random Searches on the New York Subway: A User’s Story”

Stop and Frisk, Jersey City Style

This horrifying story of TSA overreach prompts my post today. It has nothing to do with the TSA but everything to do with the abuse of power. Almost twenty-five years ago, while attending graduate school in Newark, I visited Jersey City to meet a good friend of mine. I was accompanied by two other friendsContinue reading “Stop and Frisk, Jersey City Style”

S.2402 Makes The Thin Blue Line Just A Little Meaner

You might have thought that with laws prohibiting assault already in the books, there would be no need for S.2402, the bill passed by the New York State Senate on June 5th that ‘creates the crime of aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer.’ Sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo, S. 2402 ‘would make it aContinue reading “S.2402 Makes The Thin Blue Line Just A Little Meaner”

The Police as Paramilitary Force: A Problematic Conception

It is rare to find a police force—anywhere in the world—that enjoys cordial relationships with the community it polices i.e., a police force that is viewed and treated inclusively as a member of the community, one not so much against the bad guys as for the good guys, and which conceives of itself as providingContinue reading “The Police as Paramilitary Force: A Problematic Conception”

The Closing of the NYPD’s Mind

Today, Brooklyn College hosted a panel titled ‘Are We Safer? Costs, Benefits, and Alternatives to 20 Years of Aggressive Street Policing” (organized by the Herbert Kurz Chair in Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, Professor Anna Law.) The panel’s discussants were: John DeCarlo, Michael Powell (New York Times), Alex S. Vitale, and Franklin E. Zimring.  The rangeContinue reading “The Closing of the NYPD’s Mind”

Killing American Citizens Without Trial: The NYPD Way

The New York City Police Department is always ahead of the curve. They have aspirations to be a domestic surveillance service–after all, why should the FBI have all the fun?–and to secure all the budget increases and prestige that goes with it. Besides, don’t the movies tell us that ‘secret agents’ always get all theContinue reading “Killing American Citizens Without Trial: The NYPD Way”