Reacting to the NYPD’s announcement Thursday afternoon that police would randomly—but routinely—search the bags of commuters, one concerned New Yorker quickly created a way for civil libertarians to make their views black-and-white.
In a few outraged moments, local immigrant rights activist Tony Lu designed t-shirts bearing the text, “i do not consent to being searched.” The minimalist protest-wear can be purchased here, in various styles and sizes. (Lu will not get a cut. The shirts’ manufacture, sale, and shipment, will be handled by the online retailer. Lu encourages budget-conscious New Yorkers to make their own and wear them everywhere.)
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly had announced the legally obvious—that New Yorkers are free to decline a search and “turn around and leave.” But Lu, who is a lawyer at Urban Justice Center, warned that even well-intentioned cops could interpret people’s natural nervousness or anger as “reasonable suspicion.” The possibility of unjustified interrogation and even arrest is real, Lu said.
Although police promised they would not engage in racial profiling, Lu said that, as with all street-level policing, people of color and poor immigrants would be particularly vulnerable, especially if encounters lead to arrests.