Tag Archives: ows

The unfolding disaster

TW: islamophobia, racist criminalization, police brutality, violence against protesters, institutionalization, sexual assault


(Until recently, almost all substantive coverage of this has been actually from foreign media, like the above protest sign that explains “We don’t want a spying, lying NYPD commissioner” which was published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian.)

There’s astoundingly little for me to say about Alex Pareene’s piece on the on-going early contest for the position of mayor of New York. It’s rare to see the larger context of corruption, racism, and fear mongering so effectively pulled together to provide a detailed account of what the current political situation in that city is, so it seems definitely worth a quite read. To give you a taste:

Let’s run down the record quickly: Kelly’s NYPD acts (to the annoyance of the FBI) like an international intelligence agency devoted entirely to spying on Muslims. The department has a network of informants spying on American Muslims known as “mosque-crawlers.” NYPD spies monitored Muslims in Newark as well, compiling a vital list of… restaurants. The NYPD even spied on Muslims who sought to ally themselves with the city against terrorism. (You can read the Associated Press’ award-winning coverage of the NYPD’s inept/counterproductive spying operations here.)

The NYPD has “trained” its officers with a virulent Islamophobic movie called “Third Jihad,” which claims that “much of the Muslim leadership in America” has a “strategy to infiltrate and dominate” the U.S.. Kelly appeared in this movie in an interview. When questioned about this, NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne lied about Kelly’s appearance, because everyone in the NYPD, from the highest levels to the beat cops, lies constantly, to juries and judges and the press.

Kelly’s NYPD costs the city a lot of money. Not just in the “buying drones and military-grade noise cannons while people starve in the streets” sense (though that is one way) but in the constantly getting sued for brutality and wrongful imprisonment and so on way.

The 2004 Republican National Convention took place in New York, and in preparation for the convention Kelly and Bloomberg spent a lot of time spying on activists in order to figure out how best to illegally arrest hundreds of protesters. A judge ruled the NYPD tactics unconstitutional, opening the door to more lawsuits.

The NYPD is a world-leader in marijuana arrests. The vast majority of those arrested have been black men, a group the city has explicitly persecuted under Kelly and Bloomberg in a depressing variety of ways. Between 2002 and 2012 the NYPD made 440,000 arrests for low-level marijuana possession. Until Kelly finally told officers to stop doing so in 2011, a common police tactic was to trick or coerce people being frisked into taking drugs out of their pockets themselves, putting the marijuana in “public view” and making it an arrestable offense. (This is also illegal.)

Of course, another common NYPD tactic is to simply plant drugs on suspects.

And we haven’t even gotten to the massive ticket-fixing thing, which led to charges against 16 officers. And the mass demonstration of NYPD officers outside the courthouse following those arrests, in which the cops said they were “just following orders” and mockingly chanted “E.B.T.” at people lined up to receive benefits across the street. (And the officer indicted for trying to pay to have a witness against him killed.) At least the ticket-fixing was one of the very, very few incidents of NYPD criminality that was actually uncovered by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which has otherwise failed to police the police.

There are also the tapes produced by Adrian Schoolcraft, an officer who recorded NYPD activity in Bed-Stuy and revealed the widespread manipulation of arrest data designed to game “CompStat,” the much-vaunted Bloombergian data-driven police management program. Schoolcraft found that an NYPD cop “is expected to maintain high ‘activity’—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.” Schoolcraft also confirmed the existence of “quotas” for arrests, summons and frisks — something else the NYPD lied about for years. Cops were told to arrest people for petty crimes (or for nothing at all) and downplay more serious ones, in order to show that the police were busy but that serious crime wasn’t a problem. Schoolcraft’s superiors sent the whistleblower to a psych ward for six days. Kelly then kept the NYPD’s own internal investigation into his allegations secret for two years.

And let’s not forget the gun-running, the rapes, the various incidents of casual racism, and arrests of black public officials at the West Indian Day Parade. And, of course, lying about arresting journalists at Occupy Wall Street, and destroying the library, and everything else.

It’s hard to be more damning than that in my mind, and keep in mind that’s just a portion of the article.

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No evidence is proof of conspiracy when OWS is involved

You potentially have heard that The Weekly Standard bizarrely publicized yesterday that the Occupy Movement in the United States was going to speak with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his upcoming visit to the US. Specifically, the Standard noted,

A report today in an official outlet of the Iranian regime claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, will meet with members of the Occupy Wall Street movement […] ‘Ahmadinejad is also set to meet American university students, artists, intellectuals and elites, including Occupy Wall Street anti-capitalist protestors, despite the ongoing efforts made by the pro-Zionist lobbies to prevent direct link between American people and the Iranian president.'”

Yes, they uncritically took that statement as factual, after noting that this was released by the official outlet of the Iranian regime, and reading and republishing the quote about the pro-Zionist lobby trying to stop a meeting between Occupy “protestors” [sic] and President Ahmadinejad. And it’s not as if the Iranian government would like to co-opt the new media and international protests that brought down the dictatorship in Egypt!

Actually speaking with major figures in the Occupy Movement produces statements like – “Nobody in their right mind would meet with a fascist dictator like Ahmadenijad”. Still, the conservative media in the United States can’t even neutrally address the false information without their comments reading like Manchurian Candidate fanfiction. One commentator wrote,

Shawn Carrie, an activist with the Occupy Wall Street movement, also denied the report, telling Buzzfeed, ‘Nobody in their right mind would meet with a fascist dictator like Ahmadinejad.’ That’s why I believe OWS-Obama’s gang, has met and is meeting with the American hating thug from Iran.  The OWS-Obama’s gang, lost their minds many years ago.

I’ve written at length about the failings of purportedly “centrist” and conservative US media before, but there’s a terrifying problem revealed by the resistance of those media outlets’ readers to absorb impartially presented evidence that conflicts with their views. As much as terrible reporting deceives people, it’s effects cannot be easily resolved by better reporting. Misinformation is not simply solved. Extensive, constant, ever-reaching-further efforts to accurately and effectively inform people are the only possible means of allowing many people to remain more attached to reality than the commentator quoted above. The Daily Caller and other “respectable” conservative or “centrist” outfits have tried to reach a balance between spreading demonstrably untrue nonsense and impartial stenographer-like reporting. You just have to read the comments to articles like the above to realize this strategy isn’t working and is actively destabilizing the rationality of public discourse in the United States.

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