NYPD Sued for Violating Civil Liberties via “Clean Halls” Program

The New York Civil Liberties Union, the Bronx Defenders and the LatinoJustice have filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD over it’s stop-and-frisk-type “Operation Clean Halls” program that has officers patrolling private apartment buildings.

The NYPD is being accused of violating residents’ rights and the rights of their guests. The lawsuit is seeking an established set of guidelines for buildings to enroll in the “Clean Halls” program, the end of arrests of individuals for trespassing, no more asking residents or residents guests for ID while inside buildings and the awarding of compensatory damages to the named plaintiffs.

The three groups are also seeking an injunction on the program until the NYPD sets new parameters for Clean Halls’ continuation.

“Operation Clean Halls has placed hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, mostly Black and Latino, under siege in their own homes,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. “For residents of Clean Halls buildings, taking the garbage out or checking the mail can result in being thrown against the wall and humiliated by police.”

Clean Halls came into existence in the early 1990s, with the purpose of combating criminal activity in apartment buildings in high-crime areas. According to the NYCLU, Manhattan has just under 3,900 Clean Hall buildings and almost every private apartment complex in the Bronx participates in the program. Police officers patrol the floors and lobbies of buildings and stop, question and sometimes frisk anyone they come across inside the building.

Robin Steinberg, executive director of the Bronx Defenders, and McGregor Smyth, lawyer for the Bronx Defenders, spoke with the AmNews about their clients’ experiences with Clean Halls.

“The issue in the Bronx in particular is that in some neighborhoods, every private building is enrolled in the Clean Halls program,” said Smyth. “And what we’ll see is the police will swarm certain buildings and occupy the lobby and arrest people or sit outside of the building and arrest people walking by or patrol the hallways, stop residents and search them.”

Smyth also said some teens visiting friends in certain buildings are stopped, asked who they are visiting and if they can’t provide the last name of the friend, they are arrested for trespassing.

When asked if this program, along with surveillance of Muslims and street stop-and-frisk policies, reflect a bigger issue with the NYPD, Steinberg said, “I think that this is part of a campaign by the NYPD to over-police poor communities and people of color. We think it’s part of the larger strategy of the NYPD from top to bottom.”

Paul Browne, deputy commissioner of the NYPD, made the following statement about the program in an email to the AmNews:

“By challenging uninvited individuals, police are providing a level of safety to tenants that residents of doormen buildings take for granted,”

“Nobody feels safe when their children or grandchildren are being arrested without cause,” Steinberg said. “It leads people to believe that the police are more dangerous. This is not the kind of police activity that leads to safety. It leads to animosity between residents and cops. If it happened in another neighborhood—an affluent, white neighborhood—it would be unacceptable.”

“The primary goal is to make sure that the police follow the law and our clients are able to do laundry without having to show ID or go to a corner bodega without being under the threat of arrest or visit their neighbors so they can create that sense of community they desire,” said Smyth.


NYPD Spying on Liberal Groups

Undercover NYPD police officers attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence files on activists who planned protests around the country, according to interviews and documents.

It turns out that law enforcement has been using counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities.

The tactics used by the NYPD are similar to ones used ahead of New York’s 2004 Republican National Convention, when police monitored anti-war organizations, environmental advocates and even church groups nationwide.

Police claimed the spying was necessary to prepare for the huge crowds that were headed to the city, but documents obtained by The Associated Press revealed that the police intelligence unit continued to track political groups in 2008, after the convention ended.

In April 2008, an undercover NYPD officer attended the People’s Summit in New Orleans, a gathering of liberal groups opposed to U.S. economic policy and trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Two activists, Jordan Flaherty, a journalist, and Marisa Franco, a labor organizer for housekeepers and nannies were mentioned by name in one of the police intelligence reports obtained by the AP.

“One workshop was led by Jordan Flaherty, former member of the International Solidarity Movement Chapter in New York City,” officers wrote in an April 25, 2008, memo to David Cohen, the NYPD’s top intelligence officer. “Mr. Flaherty is an editor and journalist of the Left Turn Magazine and was one of the main organizers of the conference. Mr. Flaherty held a discussion calling for the increase of the divestment campaign of Israel and mentioned two events related to Palestine.”

The document reveals the latest example of how, in the name of fighting terrorism, law enforcement agencies around the country target groups that legally oppose government policies. The FBI, for instance, has collected information on anti-war demonstrators. The Maryland state police infiltrated meetings of anti-death penalty groups. Texas officials urged authorities to monitor lobbying efforts by pro Muslim-groups. Missouri counterterrorism analysts suggested that support for republican presidential candidate Ron Paul might indicate support for violent militias. State officials later apologized for those assertions.

By contrast, at the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests and in related protests in other cities, officials at the U.S. Homeland Security Department repeatedly urged authorities not to produce intelligence reports based simply on protest activities.

“Occupy Wall Street-type protesters mostly are engaged in constitutionally protected activity,” department officials wrote in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the website Gawker. “We maintain our longstanding position that DHS should not report on activities when the basis for reporting is political speech.”

At the NYPD, the monitoring was carried out by the Intelligence Division, a squad that operates with nearly no outside oversight. The division has been the subject of a series of Associated Press articles that illustrated how the NYPD monitored Muslim neighborhoods, catalogued people who prayed at mosques and eavesdropped on sermons.

The NYPD has defended its practices, saying the threat of terrorism means officers cannot wait to open an investigation until a crime is committed. Under rules governing NYPD investigations, officers are allowed to go anywhere the public can go and can prepare reports for “operational planning.”

Though the NYPD’s infiltration of political groups before the 2004 convention generated some controversy and has become an element in a lawsuit over the arrest, fingerprinting and detention of protesters, the surveillance itself has not been challenged in court.

Flaherty, who also writes for The Huffington Post, said he was not an organizer of the summit, as police wrote in the NYPD report. He said the event described by police actually was a film festival in New Orleans that same week, suggesting that the undercover officer’s duties were more widespread than described in the report.

Flaherty said he recalls introducing a film about Palestinians but spoke only briefly and does not understand why that landed him a reference in police files.

“The only threat was the threat of ideas,” he said. “I think this idea of secret police following you around is terrifying. It really has an effect of spreading fear and squashing dissent.”

Eugene Puryear, 26, an activist who attended the New Orleans summit, said he was not surprised to learn that police were monitoring it. He said it was entirely peaceful, a way to connect community organizers around the issues of racism and the rights of the poor. But he described it as a challenge to corporate power and said the NYPD probably felt threatened by it.

“From their perspective, they need to spy on peaceful groups so they’re not effective at putting out their peaceful message,” he said. “They are threatened by anything challenging the status quo.”

Orwellian NYPD Device Can See Through Clothing

The Department of Defense and the New York Police Department are developing a remote controlled device that could detect if individuals are carrying concealed firearms or explosives.

The “electronic frisking” device will give the NYPD the ability to see through clothes, backpacks and even walls. It uses electromagnetic energy waves and terahertz that can penetrate anything except metallic objects, sending back an image to a flat screen TV of suspected guns and explosives.

Although the current range of the electronic frisking device is limited, developers are working to expand its reach to 75 feet, meaning police could begin electronically scanning citizens on the streets of New York without their knowledge or consent. That possibility has raised concerns with civil libertarians like NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman, who told Fox News:

“Of course it’s worrisome because it implicates privacy when the police department tells us that anytime we walk down the street we’re going to be subject to a virtual pat down even though we’re not suspected of doing anything wrong.

There are also some concerns over whether the terahertz technology could be harmful to DNA.

CNN did a report on the tech that you can view below:

Occupy Wall St Returns to Zuccotti Park

Occupy Wall Street returned to Zuccotti Park Wednesday as the barricades surrounding the plaza were finally removed.

Hundreds of protesters went back into the lower Manhattan park in an attempt to reclaim the privately owned park that was the birth place of the national anti-greed movement.

Events were mostly peaceful until three demonstrators attempted to lie down to sleep, and were arrested by NYPD.

“We were recovering,” Occupier Felix Rivera-Pitre said about the movement’s low profile in recent months since the NYPD stormed the park Nov. 15 and removed everyone.

“Everything we had was lost during the raid.”

Rivera-Pitre, from Harlem, made headlines in October when he was punched by Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona during a peaceful march. Brandon Watts, 20, was also among the masses who returned to Zuccotti Park. He had a similar brutal encounter with officers on Nov. 17 that left a huge bloody gash on his forehead. Pictures of the incident made national headlines.

About 1:30 a.m. Wednesday around 50 to 70 protesters remained in the space and a handful attempted to stretch out on pieces of cardboard.

The park’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties, has banned the use of tents, tarps or sleeping bags and even forbids people lying down on the benches. The rules were introduced after hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators began camping out in the park in September. They remained for nearly two months until cops evicted them.

“You are not allowed to lay down or sleep in the park,” an NYPD officer warned the protesters through a microphone on Wednesday. “If you do not obey these orders, you will be arrested for trespassing. This is your final warning.”

Some protesters shouted back, “Go home, terrorist!” while others carried handmade “angry pacifists” signs.

When park officials moved to confiscate the cardboard, a fight ensued and two men and one woman were removed from the area in plastic handcuffs. The rest of the crowd shouted, “Shame, shame.”

Occupy Wall Street protesters first took over Zuccotti Park, which by law is open 24-hours-a-day, on Sept. 17 as part of their campaign for greater social and economic equality.

The movement has spread to dozens of countries around the world.

NYC Detective Convicted of Planting Drugs on Innocent People

Jason Arbeeny, a 14-year veteran of the NYPD who worked in the Brooklyn South unit was convicted of planting drugs on a woman and her boyfriend in 2007. Before announcing the verdict, Justice Reichbach scolded the department for what he described as a widespread culture of corruption endemic in its drug units.

“I thought I was not naïve,” he said. “But even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.”

Several narcotics officers in Brooklyn have been caught mishandling drugs they seized as evidence, and hundreds of potentially tainted drug cases have been dismissed. The city has made payments to settle civil suits over wrongful incarcerations.

Former detective, Stephen Anderson testified during the trial that officers in drug units, like the one Arbeeny worked in, often planted drugs on people. Anderson pleaded guilty to official misconduct over a 2008 incident involving drug evidence and faces two to four years in prison.

On Jan. 25, 2007, prosecutors said, Detective Arbeeny planted a small bag of crack cocaine on two innocent people.

Yvelisse DeLeon and her boyfriend, Juan Figueroa were the prosecutions main witnesses. Deleon testified that the couple drove up to their apartment building in Coney Island and were approached by two plainclothes police officers. She said she then saw Detective Arbeeny remove a bag of powder from his pocket and place it in the vehicle. “He brought out his pocket,” Ms. DeLeon told the court. “He said, ‘Look what I find.’ It looked like little powder in a little bag.”

The detective was also accused of stealing multiple bags of cocaine from the prisoner van to which he had been assigned but was found not guilty.

There was conflicting testimony during the trial about quotas in the department’s drug units, but Justice Reichbach said a system of flawed procedures led to the charges against Detective Arbeeny.

In the department’s Brooklyn South narcotics unit, for instance, drugs seized as evidence are not counted or sealed until they reach the precinct and can be handled by multiple officers along the way, Justice Reichbach said, adding that such unacceptable practices “pale in significance” to the “cowboy culture” of the drug units.

“Anything goes in the never-ending war on drugs,” he said, “and a refusal to go along with questionable practices raise the specter of blacklisting and isolation.”

Sentencing is scheduled for January. Arbeeny faces up to four years in prison.

NYPD officer on Wall st brags about using nightstick on protesters…

Courtesy, professionalism and respect? Not according to this officer. This officer is apparently looking forward to “giving his little nightstick a workout, hopefully” as he smugly brags about having used his nightstick on his own fellow citizens already. This guys is a thug with a badge that makes all hardworking police officers look bad.

NYPD using harsh tactics on Occupy Wall St. protesters…

We’ve already seen the majority of the mainstream media try their best to delegitimize the Occupy Wall St. movement only to have it spread and grow across the country. So it should come as no surprise when the corporate owned media chooses to ignore some of the confrontational, completely unnecessary harsh tactics being used by the NYPD to stop your fellow citizens from utilizing their right to gather and protest. Fortunately we live in a digital information age making it much easier to shine on a light on the ugliness for the whole world to see.