By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
As a New Yorker since 1953, I’ve never witnessed—even under the imperious Mayor Rudolph Giuliani—such wide-ranging attacks on New Yorkers’ fundamental constitutional personal liberties as those by our current police commissioner and mayor.
This nation’s Paul Revere of protecting civil liberties, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, asks if New York City is now “the prototype of a police state.”
Citizens—blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and members of targeted liberal groups—have been stripped by this blanket surveillance of the presumption of innocence; their Fourth Amendment privacy rights; and—the core of who we are—due process, as many thousands of names are packed into NYPD databases without any evidence of wrongdoing. Just “suspicious” of “association” with terrorists—or maybe having the wrong religion or color.
That Governor Cuomo has now joined vigilantes Kelly and Bloomberg reminded me of my conversations with a previous Governor Cuomo, Mario, on the Constitution. So well-versed in our founding document, he should have been on the Supreme Court. We sure need him there now.
If Andrew Cuomo, in view of his rising popularity, aspires to the presidency, I hope his father tutors him on how we remain self-governing Americans against a ceaselessly over-reaching government.
Bloomberg, with the self-assurance of a billionaire, instructs us that “everything the NYPD has done is legal, appropriate, and constitutional” (Daily News, February 25). I think he believes this, so ignorant is he of, to start with, the Bill of Rights.
Disagreeing is Michael Ward, heading the FBI’s Newark bureau. Aware, but not consulted by Kelly, of the covert presence of NYPD agents monitoring New Jersey mosques, restaurants, and bookshops frequented by Muslims, Ward says this freezes the relationship the FBI has built among Muslims and “makes the job of the Joint Terrorism Task Force much harder.”
Give that a thought, Andrew.
The rest of us should bear in mind that on July 12, 2004, Bloomberg endorsed legislation that, he said proudly, prohibits “the use of race, color, ethnicity, religion, or national origin as the determinative factor for initiating police action.” Moreover, this applied not only to the NYPD but also to “Peace Officers as defined in the Criminal Procedure Law, as well as special patrolmen appointed by the Police Commissioners.” Like infiltrators into lawful organizations?
And dig this, then, from the man known as Mayor Bloomberg: “Racial profiling will not be tolerated in our city. New York City is home to 8 million people of every race, ethnicity, and religion from all over the world.” He continued, thanking “Commissioner Ray Kelly and his staff . . . for their work on this legislation, it is our duty to do everything in our power to make sure those that call New York home feel safe and secure.”
Tell that to the New York blacks being stopped and frisked for their seventh and eighth times.
This March, Brad Lander of the New York City Council supported “a robust intelligence program to keep us safe.” He added that “they should have officers and surveillance cameras watching for unusual behavior in public places . . . But there are very important things that the NYPD should not do.”
Kelly, just like Bloomberg, is brusquely impatient with any who do not understand that everything the NYPD is doing to protect us is, of course, constitutional. He does not take kindly to Brad Lander’s insistence that the NYPD “should not send undercover officers into mosques and student groups, posing as members, to spy on free expression where they are not investigating a specific lead on a potential crime.”
Brad Lander then came up with the only constitutional, American way to require specific accountability from the NYPD on its procedures to protect everyone in this city from organized and freestanding terrorists in the world—including those who live and disguised among us as neighbors, workers, et al: Hire an NYPD Inspector General.
Of course, what follows will never happen so long as Bloomberg is in office, and that extended term blessedly ends next year. It also can’t happen if his successor retains Commissioner Kelly who, like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is righteously determined that something called the Constitution must not get in the way of saving our very lives.
New Yorkers must—even if the media are somnolent on the actual threat we face of becoming a police state—insist on finding out from each potential next mayor what specifically he or she will do to bring us back into the Constitution that Kelly and Bloomberg have locked into detention. Christine Quinn says she will keep master unconstitutional spy Kelly.
What I also find grimly clouding our future is that Police Commissioner Kelly has a more than 60 percent favorable rating among New Yorkers (except, of course, from blacks). So how many of us are going to give a damn whether the next mayor knows or cares about due process, presumption of innocence, equal protection of the laws, and why the Constitution was prevented from coming alive until We the People added the Bill of Rights.