9 Frightening Things About America's Biggest Police Force
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The suppression of Cop Watch is just the tip of the iceberg. The NYPD has used counter terrorism tactics including monitoring, targeting and mass arrests against activists involved in nonviolent social movements across New York City.
5. Constant Intrusion and Surveillance
In the decade after 9/11, Americans' privacy rights have been violated in a variety of technologically intrusive ways, with the help of everything from spy drones to wiretaps. But few programs package together so many potential privacy infringements as ambitiously as the Domain Awareness System, (DAS) created by the NYPD in partnership with Microsoft.
24/7, DAS collects footage from CCTV cameras all over the city, checking the information against multiple databases, arrest records and 911 calls, and running it through license plate reader software that can track the movement of cars, and even take radiation readings. The department decides what information to archive and for how long. "Video will be held for 30 days and then deleted unless the NYPD chooses to archive it. Metadata and license plate info collected by DAS will be retained for five years, and unspecified “environmental data” will be stored indefinitely," writes Fast Company.
Said Mayor Bloomberg at a press conference, "What you're seeing is what the private sector has used for a long time. If you walk around with a cell phone, the cell phone company knows where you are…We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore."
But they promise not to spy on Muslims or anything crazy like that! The information is analyzed at a centralized location in downtown Manhattan. Pam Martens reported last year that the surveillance control center has spots for representatives of those famous crime-fighters, Wall Street's big banks. Reporter Neal Ungerleider from Fast Company also says he saw seats reserved for the Federal Reserve, Bank of New York, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and Citigroup.
At a press conference, Bloomberg also said that the department has plans to export the technology to other police departments, for a profit. So, the tax money spent enriching Microsoft will be recouped if all goes according to plan and the entire nation falls under DAS surveillance in a timely manner.
The DAS system is the logical culmination of a years-long campaign to load up Manhattan with surveillance cameras. Impressed by how thoroughly the city of London tracks the movements of its citizens, Mayor Bloomberg initiated the lower Manhattan security initiative in 2005 -- expanded to midtown a few years later -- whose primary objective was to cover Manhattan, underground and above ground, with cameras.
6. Police Brutality
Last winter, NYPD officer Richard Haste murdered an 18-year-old unarmed boy named Ramarley Graham in his bathroom. Video footage shows the teenager calmly walking into his parents’ home in the Bronx, quickly followed by a team of police officers who broke down the door without a warrant. According to witnesses, the police officers then rushed into the bathroom and shot and killed Graham at close range.
Graham’s case is but one of thousands of police brutality cases leveled against the NYPD. Over the last decade, brutality lawsuits and other claims against the NYPD have cost NYC taxpayers nearly $1 billion in settlements, reports the AP. One officer was sued seven times for using excessive force and brutality during arrests.
In one video taped assault in the Bronx last year, a police officer punched 19-year-old Luis Solivan in the face while another restrained him. According to Solivan, the police duo followed him to his house from the corner store, broke down the door without a warrant, pepper sprayed him, punched him in the face, and then handcuffed him and threw his head into the wall so hard that it left a hole.