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NYPD Snoop Declares Zuccotti Park A “Soft Target” for Terrorists: Really?

Plainclothes cop says the NYPD response to OWS is meant to stop the next 9/11, but a newly alleged terror plot suggests the police may have put protesters at increased risk.

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But if you see a crime in progress you have to take action, right?

Well, they don’t want us in there…That’s the whole thing.

But, if you see a crime taking place can you just let it go? Don’t you have to intervene?

Of course we do.

“Then what good is that camera?” I said, gesturing to the white non-surveillance truck. He went back to arguing that the camera was simply for the safety of those in the park due to the persistent terrorist threat, to which I responded with an incredulous look and a laugh. He said it was no joke and kept on pressing his point. The white truck, he continued contending, was absolutely vital to police efforts in keeping the park safe from terrorists. 

“Really?” I asked, pointing out that a short distance from the truck was a NYPD command post with a camera on its roof, a permanent, stationary camera on a light post, and then there was the Sky Watch surveillance platform, with its five cameras, down the street. “Isn’t it overkill?” I asked.

By this time, the gray-haired “bad cop” had rejoined us on the sidewalk and the two began moving away from me. 

Apparently, they had had enough. 

As a parting retort, the good cop offered up a variation on the Nuremburg defense. Listen, we don’t give the orders, we just follow them, he said as they moved the barricades and began jaywalking back across Liberty Street.

“Who do these orders come down from?” I called out as they walked off.

“Commissioner Kelly,” he responded.

“Kelly?” I asked again to make sure they had, indeed, blamed New York City’s police commissioner.

“Yeah,” said the “bad cop” and then they were gone.

(The NYPD failed to respond to AlterNet’s request for further clarification on Kelly’s role as the architect of the security response to the Occupy Wall Street protests.) 

The next day when I arrived on the scene, the protest in Zuccotti Park had indeed been wiped out, not by terrorists, but by the NYPD. Empty, except for uniformed park security personnel and later police, the park was still under the watchful eye of the white surveillance van and surrounded by dozens of police vehicles as it had been for weeks.

By the afternoon, a man wearing an NYPD TARU jacket was standing on the roof of the white truck, wielding a handheld video camera while, all day long, men wearing similarly monogrammed jackets and shirts entered and exited the vehicle. Inside, sometimes as many as six members of the unit, surrounded by multiple monitors streaming footage, digital video recorders storing it away and even a somewhat archaic fax machine, monitored the scene.

Later in the day, I noticed the “good cop” standing in the middle of Liberty Street, talking with other “special” policemen – not the rank-and-file officers in riot helmets who stood guard over the locked-down park throughout the day. He was later joined by his gray-haired partner. 

From behind the police cordon, I tried to get their attention so that I could follow up, but I could never quite get them to acknowledge me. Now,  it seemed, they were far less concerned about my reporting and were in a much lighter mood than before the encampment was destroyed. In fact, I noted, they were joking around and laughing hard.     

Cause for Alarm

Less than a week after the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Commissioner Kelly would announce that, after tracking him for two years, the NYPD had arrested a Manhattan man who had reportedly sought to build homemade bombs in order to carry out terrorist attacks. At a Sunday night press conference, Kelly alleged that 27-year-old Jose Pimentel sought to attack police cars in New York City, as well as post offices and U.S. troops returning from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The NYPD failed to respond to AlterNet’s questions about why it surrounded Zuccotti Park with a profligate number of police vehicles when these were, according to Kelly, known to be precisely the targets of a man who wished to become “a martyr in the name of jihad."