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Troubled Bridge over Water
September 10, 2002 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Troubled Bridge over Water You s'pose this is the real reason we're currently on orange?
posted by DenOfSizer (27 comments total)

 
that's what I like to see...man on the FBI terrorist list pulled over in a van on a bridge!
posted by evening at 12:17 PM on September 10, 2002


...with mis-matching plates.
posted by Witty at 12:18 PM on September 10, 2002


A fascinating account of a total non-event. (No slag against DenOfSizer - I think the value of the post lies in showing how little it takes to make a story).
posted by holycola at 12:18 PM on September 10, 2002


I wouldn't call it a story though. The bridge was closed down for a period of time. It makes sense that SOMEthing will be reported about it. It's not like the article is blowing anything out of proportion.
posted by Witty at 12:21 PM on September 10, 2002


Police started tailing the green Dodge Caravan after noticing its Indiana license plate was registered to a different vehicle.

How did they "notice" this before they started tailing the van?
posted by hilker at 12:30 PM on September 10, 2002


I'd say the cops are doing their job. nice work nyc pd.
posted by specialk420 at 12:35 PM on September 10, 2002


You s'pose this is the real reason we're currently on orange?

No.
posted by plexi at 12:35 PM on September 10, 2002


Perhaps Arabs visiting NY in September from INDIANA made them a bit suspicious... enough so to make them run a check on the license plate. say what you will, but their hunch was on to something... the plate was stolen. It's called police work.
posted by Witty at 12:37 PM on September 10, 2002


Because Arabs visiting NY in September from WYOMING would be totally expected?
posted by briank at 12:38 PM on September 10, 2002


Nope... also questionable. Enough to make simple license plate check.
posted by Witty at 12:46 PM on September 10, 2002


Police work indeed. Just like every Middle Eastern looking individual is checked thoroughly before getting on a plane. Keeping the streets safe just like they are keeping the skies safe. You know… that’s a good idea… checkpoints on each bridge we can search their entire car before they cross…
posted by bmxGirl at 12:46 PM on September 10, 2002


I agree that this is a good job by the NYPD, and, from the article:

"Police sources emphasized that the man has a common Arabic name and that investigators have not confirmed whether he is the same individual on the list. Besides suspected terrorists or associates, such lists also include many people simply wanted for questioning and not suspected of any crimes."

A good bit of responsible reporting and policing there I think.
posted by o2b at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2002


From the looks of the picture, the van had one of those swank plastic sheets over the side window, just the kind of thing that makes cops think, Damn, that there be an upstandin' citizen. Not checking those plates, he's sure to to have a perfectly clean record!

That the driver turned out to be Arabic had bearing only in that this traffic stop was reported.
posted by dhartung at 12:57 PM on September 10, 2002


There isn't enough information in the story to make any observations. It sounds like the story was spun somewhat afterwards. To run the plates before tailing the vehicle seems suspicious to me. More likely the vehicle was tailed, the plates were run and found to be from a different vehicle.

Tailing a vehicle in itself doesn't seem very unusual. I just spent 3 weeks travelling through the western U.S., I was tailed several times. I assume that my plates were run. I was never pulled over (my plates actually belonging to my vehicle and all). I think police do check on out of state vehicles from time to time.

In retelling the story to the press the officer in question may have been instructed to state that he tailed the vehicle after determining that its plates didn't match. Admitting you tailed the vehicle prior to having a real reason could be construed as saying you were tailing the vehicle because the occupants weren't white by people who like to stir up the muck.

I'm against racial profiling, I think its constitutionally dangerous, will generate too much spurious information for already overburdened agents to deal with and can quite possibly make it easier for terrorists to rely on recruiting non-traditional members to further their agenda. I can't verify that this was or wasn't a case of racial profiling. Police do play hunches, the race of the occupants may well have been unknown and sometimes even purely random checks will mean that people of Arabic descent are scrutinized.
posted by substrate at 1:02 PM on September 10, 2002


Perhaps Arabs visiting NY in September from INDIANA made them a bit suspicious... enough so to make them run a check on the license plate. say what you will, but their hunch was on to something... the plate was stolen.

Right. One can tell from looking at people from a distance that they are "Arabs". And a swarthy appearance in America is worth a police check. Ask any young black man in Los Angeles.

It's called police work.

It is called racial profiling. It is wrong.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2002


Oh lord... here we go on the racial profiling.
posted by Witty at 1:09 PM on September 10, 2002


Error - (604)ORA-00604: error occurred at recursive SQL level 1 ORA-00018: maximum number of sessions exceeded Error - (1012)ORA-01012: not logged on Exit:SELECT subtopic as "subtopic_title" FROM subtopic WHERE subtopicintid = 1 General error. Error - (1012)ORA-01012: not logged on

It's called spending hundreds of thousands on Oracle to back up your Web site, and then not catching exceptions when you run out of memory for the huge client processes. And it's wrong.
posted by nicwolff at 2:03 PM on September 10, 2002


Witty, registered defender of racial inequity.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:07 PM on September 10, 2002


cops run license plates all the time as they're driving around, it's all part of patrolling a neighborhood; i'd guess out-of-state plates are arousing a little more suspicion nowadays, which may be why they picked the van out of the crowd. the use of the term 'tailing' was probably a little creative journalism; more likely the cops found themselves driving behind the van, ran the plates, called in reinforcements and pulled em over. little hard to tell the race of someone through a tinted back window and seat headrests.
posted by bizwank at 2:13 PM on September 10, 2002


donkeyschlong: No. I'm just not willing to cover every arrest of someone non-white with the racial profiling blanket. Seems like cops can win for losing with people like FnM.
posted by Witty at 2:22 PM on September 10, 2002


Police sources emphasized that the man has a common Arabic name and that investigators have not confirmed whether he is the same individual on the list.

Whaddaya wanna bet they hold onto them for a while anyway . . . without charges . . . or releasing their names.
posted by mikrophon at 2:28 PM on September 10, 2002


It doesn't say how the whole thing started. Perhaps the police did see them and think "Arabs! Better stop them!" but I think it's more likely that it was a random check. I am a 35 year old white woman and have had my plates ran on numerous occasions. That's pretty much what officers assigned to traffic detail do - run plates - and most times they don't even have a reason. It doesn't make them bad cops. It makes them diligent in their job duties and I appreciate that.
posted by justlisa at 2:43 PM on September 10, 2002


The "real reason" to raise the alert levels is to serve as a precaution. No-one can say they didn't warn ya. But realistically I don't think any terrorist worth his or her salt is going to launch a serious attack on the one day of the year the world's on high alert.
posted by skylar at 3:09 PM on September 10, 2002


So we should let our guard down because tomorrow is the least likely day a terrorists would be silly enough to try something?
posted by Witty at 3:11 PM on September 10, 2002


Didn't anyone notice in the short article that it mentioned the van was speeding? Most likely that was the reason for the police to tail the van, run the plates, and pull it over.
posted by f00b4r at 3:54 PM on September 10, 2002


Didn't anyone notice in the short article that it mentioned the van was speeding? Most likely that was the reason for the police to tail the van, run the plates, and pull it over.

The link's a moving target (that is, it's been edited without notice). There was no mention of speeding at the time it was first posted.
posted by hilker at 4:08 PM on September 10, 2002


Have any of you complainers actually been to NYC? Do you know how many 'Arabs' live here, not to mention the many Hispanic men who could pass for Arab? No matter what your local indy rag says, every Arab (or Arab-looking person) is not racially profiled here. Even if the police wanted to, it would be completely impossible, given the sheer number of people. There were obviously many physical characteristics of this van that led to police suspicion (and the bridges are very carefully watched, especially lately), not to mention it was speeding (I've noticed online news stories are often edited on the fly; CNN seems to do this quite frequently, so I don't think the addition of the info about the van speeding is pernicious). This is not a social justice issue (not to mention because the drivers were quickly released), it's good police work, and I'm glad it's going on, especially since it seems to me that our weasly little mayor and his police commish seems to be letting the police force slide into inaction and disarray.
posted by evanizer at 6:29 PM on September 10, 2002


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