Civil liberties watchdogs might not be going quietly into that good night commute.
If you think the civil liberties storm over random bag searches has passed—as the Daily News indicated in Monday’s lead editorial—think again. The New York Civil Liberties Union is still planning an announcement this week on litigation, a spokeswoman tells the Voice.
When that announcement will occur, and whether it will be about a lawsuit or the decision to postpone or refrain from filing one, are unclear. The NYCLU spokeswoman, while mum on the details, says the reason for the delay in the announcement (it was originally expected last week) is not that the organization is changing strategy but simply that it wanted more time to prepare for whatever it is they’re going to announce.
In the meantime, in lieu of any broadly conceived lawsuit, civil liberties groups are taking an individualized approach to the searches. Flex Your Rights is offering a guide to resisting the searches, and NYCLU is collecting riders’ stories about getting searched.
At the same time, ultraconservative Assemblyman Dov Hikind has made a complaint about racial profiling in the searches: He wants more of it. According to the News, Hikind at a press conference Sunday held up a set of photos of Arabic men and said, “The individuals involved look basically like this. Why should a policeman have to think twice before examining people of a particular group?” he said. “They all look a certain way. It’s all very nice to be politically correct here, but we’re talking about terrorism.” “Terrorism schmerorrism,” white boys Ted Kaczynski, Terry Nichols, and Timothy McVeigh might say! So might those Latinos who, at least according to Al Sharpton, believe they were stopped and searched by the NYPD because they looked like Arabs (The NYPD says it is not profiling in the subway screenings).
Most importantly, if anyone hasn’t seen the brilliant send-up of the “random” searches from The People’s Cube, see it here. It’ll keep you chuckling as you try to find the token booth clerk in our new, safer subways.
ANSWER: The man on the left is Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, wanted by the FBI for making possible terrorist threats against the United States. The gentleman on the right is Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa, Jr., all-around nice guy and loyal American. [Photo credit: FBI, State of Pennsylvania]