Archive for December, 2006|Monthly archive page

Who’s a Rat.com: List Police Informants and Undercover Agents

In Civil Liberties, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Laws & Regulation, Technology, US Politics on December 21, 2006 at 5:30 pm

An interesting piece:

Is it legal for a website to publish the names and photos of persons its users claim are criminal informants (often referred to as “rats” or “snitches”), or undercover police agents? A website called “Who’s a Rat” says it is doing just that.

While it’s understandable that judges and the police are outraged by the site, the site appears perfectly legal – and it seems it will remain so, unless it ever were to actually threaten informants or undercover agents.

Absent such a threat, the content of the web site is protected by the First Amendment. In this column, I’ll explain why – drawing upon a key precedent relating to speech online that may be linked to potential real-world violence.


Domestic Spying: Errors Cloud Data Mining

In Civil Liberties, Culture of Corruption, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, International politics, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Netroots, Technology, Terrorism, US Politics on December 21, 2006 at 10:58 am

Every once in a while the Cato Institute makes an intelligent statement (from Washington Technology):

Data mining’s high error rate makes it wrong for fighting terrorism, according to a new report.

The report by Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, and Jeff Jonas, chief scientist with IBM Corp.’s Entity Analytic Solutions Group, said that data mining results in false positive rates of more than 90 percent. The error rate cannot be reduced substantially, they said, because the underlying analysis depends on the existence of terrorism patterns. These are nearly impossible to discern, because such a small amount of data is available.

“The statistical likelihood of false positives is so high that predictive data mining will inevitably waste resources and threaten civil liberties,” they wrote.

Picture the Homeless, Longest Night of the Year

In class warfare, Direct action, Economic Justice, Land rights, Misc., Music, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 6:16 pm

NYC’s Picture the Homeless will be hosting a great event tomorrow night.

We wanted to remind you that tomorrow, on the longest night of the year, we will be holding our annual Homeless Memorial Service, to come together to remember homeless New Yorkers who passed away in 2006–and stand together to promote justice for homeless New Yorkers still living! This is a powerful, deeply moving event, and we encourage all friends and allies to come join us!
Thursday, December 21 at 6 p.m.

Judson Memorial Church

55 Washington Square South (SW corner of Washington Sq Park)

After this amazing event readers are welcome to join two of LiftWhileClimbing’s moderators and many of our allies at downtown’s M1-5 for a party, which will be collecting food for NYC’s City Harvest.

Vilsack Scolds Chertoff

In Economic Justice, Election 2008, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, Policing, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Sure, Vilsack wrote it with more than one eye on the primaries only 13 months away, but it needed to be written anyway:

In a blunt and stinging letter, the governor and the top officer of the Iowa National Guard on Tuesday called federal immigration officials’ actions in the Swift raids “completely unacceptable,” saying agents undermined the public’s trust in government, potentially jeopardized the safety of law enforcement personnel in Iowa and could have compromised undercover operations.

Gov. Tom Vilsack and Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, in a letter Tuesday to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, said they will not cooperate with federal immigration officials in the future unless they act more responsibly and provide better coordination with state officials.

by the way, am i the only one that thinks Chertoff looks like the Grim Reeper 

so, Senator, you WON’T be soft on terrorism?!?

In Global War On Terror, International politics, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Progressive Politics, religion & politics, Terrorism, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 10:43 am

You know you’re in rough shape when you slaughter the opposition in a general election and still have to combat framing like this “Key senator says Democrats will not be soft on terrorism.”

Brookings’ 10 Noteworthy Trends for 2006

In Economic Justice, HIV/SIDA, Housing, Immigration, Labor, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 10:06 am

Brookings Inst:

  • For the first time in 2005 there are more poor residents of suburbs than central cities.
  • Six percent of the population of large U.S. metropolitan areas lives in exurbs.
  • More than one-third of the nation’s loss of manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2005 occurred in seven Great Lakes states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • America’s older, inner-ring first suburbs make up 20 percent of the nation’s population and are more diverse and older than the nation as a whole.
  • The average U.S. household spends 19 percent of its budget on transportation, rendering household location a key component of housing affordability.
  • Nationwide, more than 4.2 million lower income homeowners pay a higher than average APR for their mortgage.
  • The leading refugee destination metro areas have shifted away from traditional immigrant gateways, like New York and Los Angeles, over the past two decades to newer gateways—such as Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland.
  • The fastest growing metropolitan areas for minority populations from 2000 to 2004 now closely parallel the fastest growing areas in the nation.
  • Middle-income neighborhoods as a proportion of all metropolitan neighborhoods declined from 58 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 2000, disappearing faster than the share of middle class households in these metro areas.
  • Of the $109 billion in federal appropriations dedicated to Gulf Coast funding In the first year after Hurricane Katrina, only $35 billion, approximately, went toward the long-term recovery of the region.
  • An opportunity to give to charity and have fun….

    In Misc., Music, New York City on December 19, 2006 at 10:55 am

    I’m helping to organize a benefit party for City Harvest this Thursday. See the details below:

    Bring your friends, bring your family, and bring your coworkers…………

    The 432 Thursdays kickoff event:
    Holidaze @ M1-5
    Thursday, 12/21/06,
    6pm until it gets shut down

    A benefit for City Harvest with DJ Knomad and DJ Kinetic playing an eclectic mix of hip hop, reggae, funk, soul, disco,rock, 80s, bmore, house, and more….

    Please bring your non-perishable food items for donation to City Harvest (not required for entry). See www.cityharvest.org for guidelines.
    This event will be sponsored by Corazon Tequila with the Corazon girls offering giveaways and drink specials. Also featuring $4 mixed drinks, $3 domestic beers, $2 shots all night OR an optional $40 top shelf open bar from 8-11pm.

    We’ll have a dancefloor, holiday movies playing on a big screen projector, a pool table, and more…

    432 Thursdays was born out of the idea that we couldn’t find a fun but affordable party on Thursday nights. A place that people could go and chill after work with a drink, or a party they could stay at late into the night and dance. Where drinks are cheap and entry is free, but doesn’t have that dive bar feel. An after work party with good music, good people, and the occasional special event.

    M1-5 is located at 52 Walker St. between Broadway and Church. It is two blocks below Canal St and easily accessible by the N, Q, R, W, 6, A, C, E trains.


    Detainee Transport Funds Violate Regulations?

    In Global War On Terror, Immigration, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 19, 2006 at 10:50 am

    From GovExec:

    The Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau may have violated federal funding regulations when it transferred employees and funds to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, its sister agency in the Homeland Security Department, for a detainee transportation program, according to an internal ICE document obtained by Government Executive.

    A February 2006 memorandum from ICE field managers to Julie Myers, the head of the bureau, and John Torres, then-acting director of ICE’s Office of Detention and Removal Operations, expressed concern that the agency broke the law in its haste to provide CBP’s Border Patrol with the transportation services. An ICE official testified last month that the bureau shifted $50 million worth of resources, including employees, to CBP in fiscal 2006 for the services.

    “Legally, there is a concern… that ICE [employees who] provide transportation services to CBP without reimbursement for such services is an improper augmentation of CBP’s appropriations,” the Feb. 2 memorandum stated…

    Bush Censors Science

    In civil, Culture of Corruption, Environment, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Laws & Regulation, Technology on December 15, 2006 at 1:56 am

    A very interesting article from the associated press. I found it here. Seems they’re no longer satisfied denying science’s findings: they’ve graduated to tooling it. A shame when you have to police “truth”. That’s usually a sign of weakness, I think.

    The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, the latest agency subjected to controls on research that might go against official policy.

    New rules require screening of all facts and interpretations by agency scientists who study everything from caribou mating to global warming. The rules apply to all scientific papers and other public documents, even minor reports or prepared talks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

    Top officials at the Interior Department’s scientific arm say the rules only standardize what scientists must do to ensure the quality of their work and give a heads-up to the agency’s public relations staff.


    “This is not about stifling or suppressing our science, or politicizing our science in any way,” Barbara Wainman, the agency’s director of communications, said Wednesday. “I don’t have approval authority. What it was designed to do is to improve our product flow.”

    Some agency scientists, who until now have felt free from any political interference, worry that the objectivity of their work could be compromised.

    “I feel as though we’ve got someone looking over our shoulder at every damn thing we do. And to me that’s a very scary thing. I worry that it borders on censorship,” said Jim Estes, an internationally recognized marine biologist in the USGS field station at Santa Cruz, Calif.

    “The explanation was that this was intended to ensure the highest possible quality research,” said Estes, a researcher at the agency for more than 30 years. “But to me it feels like they’re doing this to keep us under their thumbs. It seems like they’re afraid of science. Our findings could be embarrassing to the administration.”

    The new requirements state that the USGS’s communications office must be “alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature.”

    The agency’s director, Mark Myers, and its communications office also must be told, prior to any submission for publication, “of findings or data that may be especially newsworthy, have an impact on government policy, or contradict previous public understanding to ensure that proper officials are notified and that communication strategies are developed.”

    Patrick Leahy, USGS’s head of geology and its acting director until September, said Wednesday that the new procedures would improve scientists’ accountability and “harmonize” the review process. He said they are intended to maintain scientists’ neutrality.

    “Our scientific staff is second to none,” he said. “This notion of scientific gotcha is something we do not want to participate in. That does not mean to avoid contentious issues.”

    The changes amount to an overhaul of commonly accepted procedures for all scientists, not just those in government, based on anonymous peer reviews. In that process, scientists critique each other’s findings to determine whether they deserve to be published.

    From now on, USGS supervisors will demand to see the comments of outside peer reviewers’ as well any exchanges between the scientists who are seeking to publish their findings and the reviewers.

    The Bush administration, as well as the Clinton administration before it, has been criticized over scientific integrity issues. In 2002, the USGS was forced to reverse course after warning that oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would harm the Porcupine caribou herd. One week later a new report followed, this time saying the caribou would not be affected.

    Earlier this year, a USGS scientist poked holes in research that the Interior Department was using in an effort to remove from the endangered species list a tiny jumping mouse that inhabits grasslands coveted by developers in Colorado and Wyoming.

    Federal criminal investigators are looking into allegations that USGS employees falsified documents between 1998 and 2000 on the the movement of water through the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada. The USGS had validated the Energy Department’s conclusions that water seepage was relatively slow, so radiation would be less likely to escape.

    At the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists and advocacy groups alike are worried about closing libraries that contain tens of thousands of agency documents and research studies. “It now appears that EPA officials are dismantling what it likely one of our country’s comprehensive and accessible collections of environmental materials,” four Democrats who are in line to head House committees wrote EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson two weeks ago.

    Democrats about to take control of Congress have investigations into reports by The New York Times and other news organizations that the Bush administration tried to censor government scientists researching global warming at NASA and the Commerce Department.






    Targeted for their Appearance, ‘Wilson Four’ Immigration Case Tossed Out

    In Civil Liberties, Economic Justice, Immigration, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Race, US Politics on December 13, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Bout time this crap got thrown out…

    It looks like the long court saga against the Wilson Four is over. A federal immigration appeals board on Nov. 29 concluded that the former Wilson Charter High School students in Phoenix had been wrongly targeted by immigration officials at the Canadian border because of their Hispanic appearance.

    As a result, a federal immigration judge in July, 2005, was right to throw out the deportation cases against them, the board concluded in a statement rejecting the government’s appeal.


    A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the government hasn’t decided whether to pursue the case further. In June, 2002, the students traveled to upstate New York to participate in a solar-powered boat competition. During a side trip to Niagara Falls, immigration officials at the Canadian border interrogated the students for nine hours, and after determining they were in the country illegally, began deportation proceedings.

    NYC’s domestic partners face unfair choice – be cold or be alone

    In Civil Liberties, Economic Justice, Housing, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Progressive Politics, religion & politics, Sexuality, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 13, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Send an e-postcard to NYC Dept. of Homeless Services because Commissioner Hess can change this.

    I’ll be Home for Christmas, If Only in My Dreams

    In Culture jamming, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, International politics, Iraq War, Media Criticism, Misc., Music, US Politics on December 10, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me.
    So please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents on the tree.
    I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

    Back at my parents’ house for the weekend dog-sitting, I ran into a kid I grew up with yesterday. Because of stupid crap that happens between kids in junior high, we hadn’t spoken for more than 12 years. He recently got back from Iraq, and as he was talking about his time in Fallujah as a Marine a passing thought I had a few weeks ago sunk back into my head.

    I was being subjected to my father’s annual and earliest-yet addiction to Christmas music when”I’ll Be Home for Christmas” came on. It wasn’t until hearing the slow, methodical, depressing Frank Sinatra version of the song last December that I understood that this song is about a soldier fighting overseas, facing the Axis Powers, yearning to spend time with his family.

    This thought in mind, while sharing a beer with my childhood friend yesterday, I came to wonder if an artist as popular as Bing Crosby, who had originally recorded the song, would be able to end a song on such a somber note if the song had been recorded today. Would it be distributed as widely? Would it be bashed on conservative talk radio as anti-American? Would it be said that the morale of the boys fighting for democracy overseas was being damaged by those detractors expressing a soldier’s desire to be, not fighting a war thousands of miles from home, but unwrapping presents with the ones he loves?

    At the time, it seems, this was certainly not the case for the Irving Berlin song. The Patriotic Melodies project of the Library of Congress says:

    Within about a month of its being copyrighted the song hit the music charts and remained there for eleven weeks, peaking at number three. The following year, the song reached number nineteen on the charts. It touched a tender place in the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, who were then in the depths of World War II, and it earned Crosby his fifth gold record. ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows in both Europe and the Pacific and Yank, the GI magazine, said Crosby accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era.

    In an era where “liberals” are too often accused of being paternalistic in the push for regulation of the markets, I can only imagine the backlash from stores like Wal-Mart, talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, or Judeo-Christo-fascists like Pat Robertson if an artist with Bing Crosby’s status tried to release a song for the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan that is as deeply moving as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” can be.

    I have no doubt in my mind that these folks would drop the paternalistic anvil on the CD presses, in order to continue “supporting the troops” and to protect patriotic sentiment as much as possible. Nevermind they claim that it was Muhammed Atta, et al, who had showed disrespect even for their own lives by killing themselves in an attack on the US — if Americans, whether in the armed forces or not, express love of life and fear of death, these Americans would, I believe, be subjected to harsh accusations of being “anti-American” and “anti-troops.”

    Discussing soldiers overseas, facing death, is, I suppose, simply too reality based. Are there songs discussing these isses, reaching those heights on the charts that I’ve missed?

    Selling Candy: The Urban Job Market of Tomorrow

    In Blogs we like, class warfare, Economic Justice, International Trade, Labor, New York City, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 8, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    From Working Life:

    More than a month ago, I posted a short item about the mad scrum that erupted in Times Square when a few thousands people lined up for 65 jobs–at M&M’s new store. Well, actually, it turns out I underestimated the insanity. According to the Daily News yesterday, 12,800 people filled out applications for the 198 jobs (beats me why the difference in numbers on the jobs…I’ll chalk it up to bad reporting but I also didn’t check up on this independently so bad on me, too).

    Anyway, these jobs pay $10.75 an hour “plus health and other benefits,” according to the article–but there’s no description of the health benefits. Mark me down as skeptical that the benefits are anything more than a bare-bones plan with high deductibles and skimpy coverage. As for the store:

    M&M’s World offers themed clothing, dishware, piggy banks, watches and of course, chocolate. New York’s largest candy store has a two-story wall of M&M’s with 22 different color choices.

    Hey, I have a real bad sweet tooth so I’m not dissing the great societal benefit that M&M represents. But, these are the jobs that thousands of people are going bonkers to grab.  This is the great economic miracle we can look forward to.

    Photos from Protests for Sean Bell

    In Civil Liberties, Direct action, New York City, Policing, Race on December 8, 2006 at 10:39 am


    I wanted to post some photo galleries I found of recent protests surrounding the police killing of Sean Bell.  Unfortuneately, I was unable to make it, but it looks like things went fairly well.

    Photos from protest at NYPD Headquarters on 12/6/06 (courtesy of Fred Askew photgraphy)

    Photos from prtoests in Queens with New Black Panther Party (indymedia)

    Hey, what happened to the food theme?

    In Economic Justice, Food Justice, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Urban Planning / Space on December 6, 2006 at 11:30 am

    This month we originally planned on bringing you articles about food justice, access to food, and healthy eating. However, certain incidents (1, 2, 3)  have slightly shifted our direction over recent weeks.

    While that other stuff is more important, and very worthy of the distraction that it brings, I thought I could lighten the mood a little this morning by returning to food for a minute.

    I found the following article in the NYTimes about a food market that I never knew existed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Based on what I learned from this article, it sounds similar to the Chelsea Market in that it rents space to small independent vendors, including farmers from upstate NY. It is also interesting due to the fact that it is quite large (15,000 square feet) compared to most stores in the area, and that it caters to people from a variety of social backgrounds (not just to the gentrifying population). Here is some of the article:

    Some months ago, a friend told me about the Essex Street Market, the 15,000-square-foot enclosed food hall on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and I felt as if I were a soprano hearing the name Donizetti for the first time.

    The market has been in continual operation for the past 66 years. But it is thriving today as it never did, making available both the world of the bodega and the universe of the gourmand…That the market itself is shaped like a giant shoebox only adds to the sense that it has become a diorama of the city in demographic miniature. Hasidic men and Latina women come, as they always have, and they are joined now by young people of indeterminate sexuality, vocation or coiffure.

    Five years ago the market was only 60 percent full, said Jose Figuereo, one of its overseers. But because of low rents and an influx of more prosperous neighbors, 26 vendors now occupy every square foot of selling space.

    The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which runs the market, receives applications for new tenants on a weekly basis and, in a change from the past, will now rent only to food vendors. It leases space to vendors at $27 a square foot on average, less than a third the standard price food retailers pay in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn….

    While the market has welcomed purveyors like Ms. Saxelby, it has not given itself over entirely to epicurean gentrification. The indoor stalls are a good place to encounter yautia, a root vegetable that looks like the love child of a soup can and a coconut.

    In addition to yautia, and its cousins batata and apio — all root vegetables used in Hispanic cooking — it is still possible to find kosher wine here, at Schapiro’s, which has kept a presence on the Lower East Side since 1899.

    “There are people from the housing projects across Delancey who come in for milk religiously,” she said. (Ms. Saxelby’s comes from a small dairy in upstate New York and she sells it for $2.99 a quart.) “This tosses out all your assumptions about who people are and what they are going to like,” she added. “You don’t know who anyone is, really. Some people who you’d think are young hipsters, artist types, show up with E.B.T. cards,” she said. Ms. Saxelby sells Trillium, a Vermont cheese made from hand-ladled goat curd for $24.99 a pound, and she advertises her acceptance of electronic benefits transfer cards, the replacement for food stamps.

    The Essex Street Market exists as an urban planner’s vision of commercial utopia — the sort of retail space now all but non-existent in New York, where increasingly segregated social classes come together to share if not the actual experience of affluence, then the readily purchasable signifiers of it….

    While the market has welcomed purveyors like Ms. Saxelby, it has not given itself over entirely to epicurean gentrification. The indoor stalls are a good place to encounter yautia, a root vegetable that looks like the love child of a soup can and a coconut….

    In addition to yautia, and its cousins batata and apio — all root vegetables used in Hispanic cooking — it is still possible to find kosher wine here, at Schapiro’s, which has kept a presence on the Lower East Side since 1899….

    If Fiorello La Guardia arrived at the market today though, one imagines he would be quite pleased with what greeted him. Mayor La Guardia established the enclosed market — along with La Marqueta in East Harlem and the Arthur Avenue market in the Bronx, both still running — to eliminate the street peddler culture he found so odious. About half the pushcarts in the city were on the Lower East Side, said Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center at the CUNY Graduate Center and a scholar of lower Manhattan history.

    La Guardia sought to regulate the markets rigorously. Among the rules stipulated by the Department of Markets, in the 1930s, was a ban on shouting, hawking and the “use of abusive and lewd language.”

    The point of the markets, Ms. Wasserman explained, was to sanitize mercantile life in New York and divorce it from immigrant folkways.

    “La Guardia was half Italian and half Jewish, and he had a thing about explicit displays of ethnicity,” she said…..

    The Essex Street Market opened on January 10, 1940 with 475 stalls and 1,000 applications for them. Initially it did not do well because the Jewish and Italian immigrants to whom it catered preferred to shop on the street. It began to thrive as pushcarts disappeared and flourished in the 1950s with the arrival of a Puerto Rican population to the Lower East Side. For years before the current real estate boom though, the market was largely derelict.

    Jeffrey Ruhalter is a fourth-generation butcher who has spent the better part of the last four decades observing the changes in the market and the shifting demographics of the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Essex and Delancey Streets. Mr. Ruhalter’s great-grandfather Aaron Ruhalter opened a butcher shop on Orchard Street in 1923, one his grandfather moved to Essex Street Market when it opened….

    His father, he said, used to buy pigs’ feet in 100-pound buckets. “We were a poor man’s butcher for a very long time, because this was a very poor neighborhood,” he said. “In the ’80s if it had not been for food stamps we would have been out of business.”

    Though Mr. Ruhalter carries some hormone-free beef now, and strip steak and duck sausages to cater to customers who come to him from all over the city, he makes his living, he said, from the less glamorous offerings of a carnivore’s table: chicken, sirloin, stew meat.

    While I can’t say that I agree with LaGuardia’s sentiments of “Sanitizing mercantile life in New York and divorce it from immigrant folkways,” I must say that it’s great to see places like the Essex Street Market in existance. Not only are they interesting in terms of urban planning, they also provide great economic opportunities and access to good quality food, both of which are increasingly lacking (at least for those that can’t afford high priced grocers or don’t have grocery options available in their neighborhood).

    Read the entire article here.

    Memorial Ride for Eric Ng; Saturday, Wash. Sq. Park, 1pm

    In Direct action, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, New York City, Policing, Progressive Politics, US Politics on December 5, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    I need to be out of town this weekend, so I will unfortunately miss this.

    Please, if you are in the NYC area, are an activist, biker, punk, or just have some time and can show support and love for a good guy and the community he loved, please try to make it to Washington Square Park on Saturday.

    More about Eric here and there.

    And the question on my mind regarding Eric, Brad Will, Sean Bell, and others is discussed: What the fuck is going on?

    Protest against the NYPD for Sean Bell

    In Misc. on December 5, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    The following info was forwarded to me.  This is tomorrow, so anyone in NYC who is interested should try to make it down there.

    (I’m not sure which group(s) are organizing this, but it seems to be THE protest for this topic. )  Does anyone know if they have a permit?  I’m assuming that they do since it is at NYPD headquarters.

    NYC Police Are Out Of Control! City-Wide Protest Demonstration

    Sat Dec 2, 2006 7:25 pm (PST)

    December 6–NYCityWide Protest Demonstration Against Police Terror
    Wed Nov 29, 2006 5:27 am (PST)

    For Immediate Release
    Contact: Public Relations (718) 398-1766

    NYC Police Are Out Of Control!
    City-Wide Protest Demonstration
    NYPD Headquarters
    One Police Plaza, Downtown NYC

    Wednesday, December 6, 2006 at 4:30pm

    New York “The November 25th NYPD 50 bullet
    fusillade, resulting in the murder of unarmed
    Sean Bell, underscores the urgent need for a
    fundamental change in the NYC police
    department. The New York City Police
    Department has escalated its aggression toward
    the Black community across the city. Community
    leaders are mobilizing a grassroots resistance
    movement to demand Mayor Michael Bloomberg and
    Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly rein in their
    rabid police force.

    Petty incidents like sitting on your front
    porch; or drinking an open beer or playing your
    music too loud in your yard at a family
    barbeque are treated like acts of terrorism.
    Swarms of police descend on the hapless victim
    and the situation quickly escalates to police
    brutality, false arrests and imprisonment,”
    said Kamau Brown of Bedford Stuyvesant.
    It’s  happening all over the city. We have
    to back them up and the only way we can is to
    mobilize and organize against it together. One
    by one we can’t win, but together we can.

    The December 12th Movement, a human rights
    organization, will lead a protest rally to Resist Fascism and the Rise of the American Police Statee on Wednesday, December 6, 2006
    at 4:30pm at NYPD Headquarters – One Police
    Plaza, Downtown NYC. Community activists,
    elected officials, and grassroots community
    residents will speak out about what is
    happening on the grounds in the domestic
    war zone.

    The issues on the agenda include the police
    profiling of Black youth; NYPD / Homeland
    Security occupation of the Black community;
    police aggression, harassment and overkill, as
    well as President Bushs assault on Habeas
    Corpus; the erosion of civil rights; and Iraq
    war for oil.

    Another NYC Activist Killed

    In Culture jamming, Direct action, New York City, Progressive Politics, US Politics on December 4, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    I meant to post over the weekend…

    Eric Ng was a friendly and incredibly sharp activist and organizer. As he was riding his bike on Friday night he was struck at incredible speed by a drunk driver who had careened onto the bike path running parallel with NY’s West Side Highway. Eric passed at the scene of the accident.

    I knew him more socially than through direct action channels, but it was clear to me from our first conversation that he had a great understanding of the issues and was right on point. This is another difficult loss in recent weeks for the NYC activist community.

    Eric, I wish we had more of a chance… You will be missed, and I know I and our mutual friends will honor you in every way possible.

    More madness surrounds the shooting of Sean Bell

    In Civil Liberties, class warfare, New York City, Policing, Race, The War On Drugs on December 1, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    The Daily News ran an article today describing the Police force’s apparent desperation in trying to find more excuses for the shooting incident that took place in Queens this weekend. Luckily for us, they are only making themselves look more foolish.

    Black and targeted by NYPD
    Raids terrorize friends of victims
    in deadly Kalua Cabaret fusillade

    Around 6 a.m. Wednesday, LaToya Smith, 26, was playing in her bed in southeastern Queens with her 7-month-old son Jalyn. Just then, she heard a strange noise in her family’s darkened house. Her locked bedroom door suddenly burst open, and several uniformed cops burst into the room with flashlights and guns drawn.

    According to Smith, the cops ordered her to lie facedown on the floor.

    “My baby, my baby. Where’s my baby?” she recalls pleading to them as they hustled her into the living room. There, they gathered her brothers Timothy Smith, 19, and Stanley Smith, 23; her mother, Laura; the baby and Christopher Keys, 18, a friend who was staying in the apartment. Meanwhile, a dozen officers searched the entire place.

    Police officials said they found a loaded 9-mm. pistol in the apartment and a small bag of marijuana, whereupon they hauled the young woman and the three men to the 103rd Precinct stationhouse. They charged the men with gun possession, but released LaToya Smith.

    Police also are saying the apartment was a known drug-dealing location.

    But the real purpose of the raid was not to find guns or pot.

    All the cops’ questions at the stationhouse were about last weekend’s police shooting of Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield outside the Kalua Cabaret, Smith said.

    They kept asking if she knew the whereabouts of certain friends of the three men shooting victims.

    “If you don’t tell us what we want to hear, you know, you can get five years,” she says one cop told her.

    Thus, in a bizarre twist almost as inexplicable as the original 50-shot fusillade, the NYPD is raiding homes and picking up young blacks in southeastern Queens in an all-out effort to locate an alleged “fourth man,” a man investigators say was at the scene of the shooting and fled.

    Then at 6 a.m. yesterday, cops raided a second apartment in the Smith building and arrested Erskine Willliams Jr. and Jameek Bentson.

    Williams was hauled away for an unpaid $25 ticket from last year. But the real reason was his friendship with Benefield, whom he visited several times at the hospital this week. Williams said cops only wanted to know what he talked to Benefield about.

    Erskine Williams Sr., his father, is furious. The father is the unofficial spokesman for the Benefield family. He is also a local minister and the uncle of Smith and her brothers.

    “That’s a lie,” Williams Sr. said about the police drug allegations against the Smiths. “I live two doors down from there. I know what goes on there. The police will say anything.”

    Black leaders who learned of the raids in recent days say police would never use such heavy-handed tactics in a white neighborhood.

    “They can arrest every black person in Queens,” said Michael Hardy, one of the lawyers for the wounded men, “but none of those people were at the party or in the car with my clients.”

    “The NYPD is involved in character assassination so they can justify last weekend’s shooting in the court of public opinion,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “They are trying to make the victims into suspects.”

    But there is one big difference, Sharpton said, between last weekend’s shooting and the infamous killing of Amadou Diallo.

    “With Diallo, we only had the testimony of the policemen in the foyer. This time, we have seven or eight people who witnessed this shooting.”

    It was, after all, a bachelor party for Sean Bell that night. There were several friends of the dead man who left the club when it closed just before the shooting.

    Sharpton and lawyers close to Bell’s family are now saying some of those witnesses have yet to come forward.

    The facts of what happened outside the Kalua Cabaret are not yet fully known. But one thing is clear: The NYPD will not encourage any witnesses to come forward by breaking down doors in the black community.

    Originally published on December 1, 2006

    Repost: If It’s a Police Beating, I’d Rather Trust My Eyes

    In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Immigration, Policing, Race on December 1, 2006 at 11:18 am

    Continuing this week’s unplanned theme of police brutality, I found the following article. Although it strays away from the current situation in Queens, it gives a moving look into the writer’s personal experiences as well as a broad look at the topic in general……From Capital Times (Wisconsin) via Common Dreams:

    If It’s a Police Beating, I’d Rather Trust My Eyes

    by Roberto Rodriguez

    The young man is already down, but the blows to William Cardenas’ face from a Los Angeles police officer keep coming. The video is disturbing.

    And the flashbacks return. Alicia Sotero, 1996. Rodney King, 1991. And then my mind returns to 1979 and the streets of East Los Angeles. There, a young Mexican man is being pummeled mercilessly. My first instincts are to flee, but the beating by the 10 to 12 deputies is so vicious that I can’t. I take photographs instead and then, shortly, the batons turn on me.

    After a barrage of blows, I lay on the cold street in a pool of blood, from a cracked skull, handcuffed and charged with attempting to kill four police officers with a deadly weapon a camera. In the end, I win not one but two trials, but justice is slow as they take seven years.

    In the end, there is no end. The memories do go away, but they return every time a new videotaped beating surfaces. I recall the riot sticks, the death threats and the dozens of subsequent arrests. But most of all, what I remember is that for years, nobody pays any attention to me.

    More than a generation has passed and the trauma I live with is not strictly about my stirred memories but about why young people (usually of color) continue to be brutalized on U.S. streets. Only on the rare occasion that a videotape surfaces does even the word “justice” enter the conversation. Normally, young victims are beaten, arrested and do time. Many plea-bargain their way out of prison, which forfeits their date in court. This is considered a victory. Most remain anonymous and traumatized for life, without justice.

    What society is left with separate from false imprisonments is lots of untreated trauma, resentment and pent-up anger on the streets … with lots of hidden costs, including youngsters who are prone to violence, homicide, suicide and domestic violence. And this is due not strictly to the beatings. It is in the knowledge that the life of a person of color often matters little on the streets and in the courtroom. Our nation’s leaders are reluctant to say this. But that’s the truth and root of the problem.

    This is not a new phenomenon. In 2006, society is still carrying on the infamous Bartolomo de las Casas/Juan Gines de Sepulveda religious debates of the late early 1500s: Are they human? That’s what Europeans asked about indigenous peoples upon arrival to this continent. And yes, in a subliminal way, that same question is still being asked with similar results.

    The victims are primarily red-brown-black (similar to the U.S. prison population) and there is always a presumption of guilt.

    In this case, the police admit that the blows are disturbing, but we are informed that Cardenas is a gang member … therefore, the public is being primed to believe that he must be guilty or at least got what he deserved this before the investigation.

    No one deserves to be beaten. Beating someone senseless is always illegal especially if the force is unrelated to a lawful arrest.

    But even when we witness a brutal beating, we are told not to believe our eyes. That may explain why it is rare that the victim of police brutality ever sees justice. (Once in a great while family members of dead victims are compensated.)

    In the recent video, we are told that we are not seeing the whole incident. That’s what we were told about King and Sotero. Yet, to this day, I still believe my eyes. I trust them. What I don’t trust are public officials who justify horrific beatings and the media that have conditioned the public to find it acceptable.

    This situation is virtually a pandemic, but how is the public to know in an era when human rights are meaningless and when the media are preoccupied with fluff? At the root of all this is perhaps what UCLA professor Otto Santa Ana has noted in “Brown Tide Rising” that in this society, human rights seemingly correspond only to human beings. Nothing short of congressional hearings are necessary to finally put an end to this travesty. But what will it take to settle the 500-year-plus debate?

    Roberto Rodriguez, who is finishing his Ph.D. in communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the author of “Justice: A Question of Race.”

    And below is the video that the writer is referring to: