Ethnic profiling by dummies
July 31, 2005 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Ethnic profiling by dummies. A group of Sikh tourists visiting New York were "identified" as "foreign looking (read muslims). They were then handcuffed with their arms behind their backs and ordered to kneel on the pavement. Maybe this Sikh man has the right idea.
posted by lowgfr (54 comments total)

 
Plenty of people who are innocent get arrested. It's no big deal. The Sihks got released.

I work in NYC. I was not very far from the WTC when the attack occurred. There will be an even bigger attack in the future.

For comparison, the State of New York has a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence calls. Almost always, the man involved in an alleged altercation is arrested. Guily or not, the man is arrested, handcuffed with his arms behind his back, and hauled off to spend some time in jail. Most of the time, the charges are dropped for lack of evidence of lack of a complainant.

Many such domestic violence charges are filed as a strategy in divorce proceedings. A domestic violence charge can help a woman to gain a better financial settlement and custody of the couple's children.

So, what's the beef? This is a non-story. If we can stomach pre-emptory arrest of men for the greater good of deterring domestic violence, we can stomach pre-emptory arrest to stave off potential terrorist attack. Better to err on the side of caution. No harm done, and the city will be a little less likely to suffer another major attack if such security measures are used.
posted by Shouting at 7:46 AM on July 31, 2005


I got the impression Bloomberg was sort of mortified by this. Didn't he seek out the British consul to apologise in addition to saying sorry to the poor lads involved?

I can't remember where I read it, one of the local rags no doubt, but I saw comments attribute to him scolding the bus company.

Of course everyone I work with thinks the bus company did the right thing and they did "look suspicious". Sometimes I wonder how people navigate New York at all with all us nasty furriners wandering around.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:49 AM on July 31, 2005


It sounds like a single worker thought the men were acting suspicious, reported it, and the men were checked for contraband & released. The mayor has apologized and the men themselves said, "These things happen, don't they? We have no hard feelings. It certainly made our trip different, but didn't ruin it at all."

Perhaps some in the US may need an education on the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, but when I was in SE Asia, people ID'd me as everything between a Brit, a Canadian, an Australian and an American. Then again I wasn't posing a threat, and no fundies from my neck of the woods were coming to their neck of the woods to kill themselves in a crowd of innocent people in the name of Jesus. *shrug*
posted by dhoyt at 7:50 AM on July 31, 2005


For comparison, the State of New York has a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence calls

I don't think people are necessarily objecting to the police responding - they have to if a call is placed - although the humiliation factor in letting the guys be photographed cuffed up was pretty high. It's the sense that the bus driver saw a group of young Asian guys and immediately thought "terrorists!".
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:51 AM on July 31, 2005


Perhaps some in the US may need an education on the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim

Well it's not as if they were wearing turbans. This wouldn't have been any better if they were Muslim.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:53 AM on July 31, 2005


lowgfr, you might want to check some of your sources. In some of your links, you're talking about an event that just occurred. In others ("identified as...") you're talking about something that happened four years ago, in the days immediately following 11 September 2001...

The fact that you're also using that link to back up the assertion that anyone said "identified as foreign looking" seems rather foolish, since the author doesn't once use the words "identified" or "foreign" or even "looking."
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:58 AM on July 31, 2005


There will be an even bigger attack in the future.

You're sure about this? Can I get you to tell me where and when exactly? I'd prefer to be out of town. Gawd, I love how people who don't know anything more about the subject of "terra" than anyone else feel so free to opine with such certainty.

Plenty of people who are innocent get arrested. It's no big deal. The Sihks [sic] got released.

After being treated like dogs. Innocent people get arrested and then, if they have resources, sue for false arrest and imprisonment if the arrest was made without probable cause. Being Sikh is not probable cause. Too bad they don't arrest people for being thick-skulled. Maybe a turban will help with that.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:25 AM on July 31, 2005


I think this has been said before, but if they were serious about causing some sort of trouble, they probably would shave and take the turbans off - even dress in clothes that helped them blend in. The 9/11 dudes did.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2005


Let's take lowgfr's link phrase "Ethnic profiling by dummies" to imply that ethnic profiling by non-dummies would be more acceptable. The New York Times agrees:

Critics protest that profiling is prejudicial. In fact, it's based on statistics. Insurance companies profile policyholders based on probability of risk. That's just smart business. Likewise, profiling passengers based on proven security risk is just smart law enforcement...Truth be told, commuters need to be most aware of young men praying to Allah and smelling like flower water. Law enforcement knows this, and so should you.


Personally, I think they should take the treasures in the Met and other Manhattan museums and spread them out in less exposed locations. The people of NYC may of course hang around there if that's their inclination - they're quite a bit more fungible.
posted by jfuller at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2005


That NYT piece is an op-ed from "Paul Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow". The Hoover Institute is a conservative think-tank, and I don't think his opinions necessarily reflect the New York Times editorial board's opinions.

And Shouting is wrong again on the domestic violence issue. If there is a mandatory arrest policy in domestic violence, I haven't seen it enforced.

And anyone who is a-scared of foreigners should just stay away from big cities - they are always full of foreigners. Always have been, always will be.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:53 AM on July 31, 2005


maggiemaggie

People who are afraid to even list their place of residence on this site should stay away from lecturing those who are not.

Where do you live? Peoria?
posted by Shouting at 9:01 AM on July 31, 2005


Shouting : "People who are afraid to even list their place of residence on this site should stay away from lecturing those who are not."

Who's afraid to list their place of residence? I see that maggiemaggie doesn't mention it on her profile page, but for that matter, I don't list my homepage URL, and it certainly isn't because I'm afraid to.
posted by Bugbread at 9:10 AM on July 31, 2005


People who are afraid to even list their place of residence on this site should stay away from lecturing those who are not.

So Shouting, what's your home address? Phone number?

Yeah, didn't think so.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:12 AM on July 31, 2005


I live in Brooklyn.

I wasn't lecturing you, Shouting, I was pointing out an error.

Domestic Violence Reporting and Arrest Rates in New York

Sorry for the derail.
posted by maggiemaggie at 9:16 AM on July 31, 2005


For comparison, the State of New York has a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence calls.

That's an inaccurate comparison. If someone's spouse calls 911 and says, "My husband/wife is abusing me." They're reporting a crime and are in real immediate danger. Even if they're not actually being abused and the spouse is using the police as a weapon, the cops have to air on the side of caution, due to the dangers of domestic violence, and show up to do something
That's a far, far cry from calling the cops and saying, "My neighbors are brown people and that scares me. They might even be foreign. " That shouldn't ever be enough for an arrest. There's no reason for suspicion. It's not like these people were walking around with backpacks leaking white powder and smelling of burning wires and gunpowder or something.
It's never wise or good to take action against people based solely on their appearance or nationality. An easy and obvious example of the damage it causes is the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
Stopping brown people at the airport will never be as effective as quality investigation and intelligence gathering. Considering the variety of ethnicities in the world and the numerous groups that may want to do us harm, it's almost certainly ignorant and omissive to assume that they'll all be Arab Muslims. Just take a moment to think about all of the terrorist attacks and hijackings that have occurred in the past, oh, 20 years or so. There was a while when Central and South American folks were hijacking planes. There was a long period of time when the IRA was blowing things up pretty consistently. And (9/11 excluded) the most recent terrorist attacks in the US have been perpetrated by our own home-grown nut cases, like the DC snipers, the Unibomber, and the Oklahoma City bombing.
This is just obvious, man. There are plenty of other good, effective solutions to terrorism that don't involve continually alienating everyone who looks vaguely Persian.
posted by Jon-o at 9:28 AM on July 31, 2005


Ugh, can we just ignor the troll already?

Anyways, I was about to point out that in Vancouver, we just ended the largest and most complicated trial in Canadian history. The trial was about the Sikh terrorist bombing of an Air Inda flight. Fundamentalist Sikhs in Vancouver have a history of affiliation with terrorist groups and acts of terrorism, mostly against Indian Hindus and moderate Sikhs.

Not that this is really relevant to this particular instance, I just thought it worth mentioning.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:38 AM on July 31, 2005


Jon-o makes a point. Scotland Yard wasn't rounding up redheads and photographing them in humiliating situations when the IRA was conducting its horrific terror campaign.
posted by watsondog at 9:41 AM on July 31, 2005


"Personally, I think they should take the treasures in the Met and other Manhattan museums and spread them out in less exposed locations. The people of NYC may of course hang around there if that's their inclination - they're quite a bit more fungible."

Jesus. Thanks. I'm fungible. Fuck you too. I lived 10 blocks from the world trade center. I saw people die. I inhaled the ashes of burning corpses. And you know what? I really am not scared of terrorists. Any more than I'm scared of crackheads. Terrorism is, like crime, drunk driving and corruption, a fact of life of free societies. I like living in a big city, and i like living in a free society. The fact that it is more dangerous than the alternatives is a perfectly acceptable risk for me. If you are so scared that the risks of living in a free society outweigh the dangers, I suggest you move to north korea. I hear it's very very very safe. If you follow all the rules. All of them.


[back on topic]
This is poor police work. Inefficient, reckless, and arbitrary. Ethnic profiling by it's very nature is highly inefficient. Are there any studies that point to it's effectiveness? Is there any evidence that it works? Because, jfuller, from a purely statistical point of view, while it may be that certain groups of people are more likely to commit terrorism, the strongest correlative factor really isn't skin color at all. It's sort of like stopping every car that crosses the state border and looking for fireworks, instead of paying attention to the cars with out of state plates at the fireworks store.
posted by Freen at 9:45 AM on July 31, 2005


Shouting, I have an idea: because there's really no way to tell by looking at a person whether they're terrorist or not (ever heard of Tim McVeigh?), I propose the Authorities err on the safe side by keeping us all handcuffed and chained together and guard us with big shotguns as we use the subways or any other public space, just like the chain gang in "Cool Hand Luke". On the subway system, for example, they'd have assembly- and- distribution points (called "stops") where people with legitimate business in that area could be separated from the big chain gang and frogmarched off to their legitimate place of employment, where they'd be chained to their desks or machines and watched over by armed guards until it's time to be reassembled and taken back to our secure living compounds. I bet someday they'll considerately make life even more convenient for us by making the living compounds big enough to hold a factory and/or office building; that'll cost us taxpayers more money in the short run, but thing of how much money would be saved by not needing to use the subways anymore.
posted by davy at 9:50 AM on July 31, 2005


Fundamentalist Sikhs in Vancouver have a history of affiliation with terrorist groups and acts of terrorism, mostly against Indian Hindus and moderate Sikhs.

It's worth further clarifying that the Sikh radicals were fighting to establish an independent Sikh homeland in India, largely in response to the autocratic rule of the Gandhi dynasty in the 1980s (whose hardline approach to the Sikh radicals included knocking down an exterior wall of the Golden Temple in Amritsar - the Sikh Vatican - and rolling tanks into the inner sanctum). As less hamfisted approaches to dealing with the problem were adopted, Sikh terrorism receded. It has mostly disappeared from India, and Vancouver's Sikh community isn't thought of as much of a threat anymore, either.

Worth further clarifying that even at the height of the conflict, Vancouver cops didn't arrest people in turbans without provocation.
posted by gompa at 9:59 AM on July 31, 2005


People who are afraid to even list their place of residence on this site should stay away from lecturing those who are not.

Poor girl, she truely loved you if she could stand an arrogant asshole like you...probably she saw you are only afraid. May she RIP and may you find peace as well.
posted by elpapacito at 10:00 AM on July 31, 2005


What Jon-o said. Exactly.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:01 AM on July 31, 2005


All good points I perhaps should have mentioned, gompa. However, the fact that there are still apologists for the Air India bombers in Vancouver bug me. Even if they are no longer much of a threat.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:06 AM on July 31, 2005


Interesting comparison with the domestic violence policy of arrest, humiliate, incarcerate, then ask questions.

A friend of mine, a sufi Muslim (Saudi family, no turban), had this experience. He was serious about his religion, well-educated, and one of the quietest, most soft-spoken, calm, and well-centered people I've ever met. The kind who always thinks before speaking, doesn't gossip, is very slow to criticize, and always just naturally seems to understand everyones point of view in any situation. I literally never heard this person raise his voice in anger or even frustration in five years.

His wife (caucasian, Bosnian, now-ex) was picking up their child after one of his court-ordered access times. They were talking about something and he touched her shoulder like you would trying to gently get someone to focus on what you were saying. She calls 911, five (5) police cruisers show up, surround them in the street, cops jump out with guns drawn, they handcuff the guy, and take him to jail for the night. He gets out the next day because his boss (caucasian) comes to court, pleads his case and bails him out. I always wondered how long he'd have remained a guest of the state otherwise.

My take is the opposite. I don't think the way domestic violence calls are handled represents a justification for such treatment of bus-riders doing nothing but presenting an appearance. To me both reactions seem extreme, paranoid, and delusional in nature.
posted by scheptech at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2005


lowgfr: How did you get "ethnic profiling" from "after a bus worker reported that they seemed suspicious"?

Just more liberal jumping-to-conclusions and making-a-stink-without-any-hard-facts. You are as bad as your counterparts, the Shrub-blowers. tsk tsk
posted by mischief at 11:07 AM on July 31, 2005


Speaking of people acting suspicious, I think something to complain about is how everyone's so damned suspicious.

I guess, yeah, if we can prevent the certain larger attacks scryed by Shouting, then sure, whatever it takes. But damn, most people are like that woman from across the street on Bewitched anymore. Gossip gossip, spy spy spy gossip. Good god.

People need to mind their business.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:09 AM on July 31, 2005


Like my grandmother used to say, "If you can't say something nice about someone,... Come over and sit with US!"
posted by Balisong at 11:24 AM on July 31, 2005


I think shouting is suspicious. He keeps trying to derail. Maybe he should be taken out and questioned for a while on his day off.
If the cops are nice maybe they won't stick him in the nuts and drop him back by the greyhoundbus station at 3 in the morning. I wonder what his take on all this would be then.
posted by adamvasco at 11:36 AM on July 31, 2005


There will be an even bigger attack in the future.

As much as I dislike some of Shouting's posts, I completely agree with this.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2005


Come to think of it, lowgfr, how do you know that the bus driver wasn't himself muslim? Talk about profiling! Making assumptions about New Yorkers like that. tsk tsk x 2!
posted by mischief at 11:47 AM on July 31, 2005


There will be an even bigger attack in the future.

And tactics like these will do nothing to stop it, but will contribute to the well-justified negative reputation that the United States has built itself in the past 4 years.
posted by mosch at 12:03 PM on July 31, 2005


NotMyselfRightNow

The link was about the "difference between Sikhs & Muslims 101" for readers less enlightened than you.

Mischief

You're right. This was an assumption (perhaps an unfounded one!). I was unable to ascertain if any of the Sikhs were wearing turbans. If they were, this might be a fair assumption because a Muslim (& for that matter anyone from the Indian subcontinent) would be able to tell the difference between a Sikh & Muslim based on the fairly distinctive Sikh turban.
posted by lowgfr at 12:28 PM on July 31, 2005


So there's no Sikhs in New York? No one had ever seen Asian-looking men before these guys came from Birmigham?

Is this New York New York or New York, Kansas?
posted by funambulist at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2005


Frankly, everyone is assuming to know - based on that very brief article - the events surrounding the police activity in this case. I highly doubt it was a simple as, "hello 911? yes, there are some brown people here I need you to check out". I doubt it highly. The mayor apologized, the tourists weren't devastated, everyone lived. Calm down.

We live in a time of fear; some of it real, some of it foisted upon us by our government and some of it just bullshit. It's unfortunate, that in large cities, we risk the possiblility of being blown up with no notice, and yeah, it's unfortunate that sometimes citizens and visitors are haggled by the cops for maybe no good reason. Life goes on.

I don't see what happened as indicitive of some bigger problem. And although I don't believe racial profiling is at all a successful technique, you've got to be a total dumbass to not to think it's sensible to look twice at a middle easterner with a backpack and a bad attitude. You'd do it to a tatooed biker and not think it was anything but a reasonable act of self-preservation....but I doubt anyone would be acting all high and mighty over that.
posted by j.p. Hung at 1:06 PM on July 31, 2005


Come to think of it, lowgfr, how do you know that the bus driver wasn't himself muslim?

Or maybe Hindu or some other group having an axe to grind against Sikhs?

Also, those Sikhs seem to be real good sports about this whole wrongful arrest thing. *Suspiciously* good sports, if you ask me.
posted by sour cream at 1:14 PM on July 31, 2005


If this were a Vonnegut novel, they would be arrested again for being suspiciously good sports for being arrested though innocent.
posted by Bugbread at 1:39 PM on July 31, 2005


I can't wait to see the random, unjustified arrests of white people when the next domestic terrorist incident takes place, since people such as Shouting and his ilk seem to think it's so normal.
posted by clevershark at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2005


And tactics like these will do nothing to stop it, but will contribute to the well-justified negative reputation that the United States has built itself in the past four forty years.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:24 PM on July 31, 2005


I can't wait to see the random, unjustified arrests of white people when the next domestic terrorist incident takes place, since people such as Shouting and his ilk seem to think it's so normal.

It wasn't "random"—it was a sole bus company employee who thought the group of men were acting suspicious—and it wasn't an "unjustified arrest"—they were questioned and let go, not arrested. Read the article.

And no doubt the "next domestic terrorist incident" will involve Muslim nutjobs, just as those in London, Kenya, Spain, Bali, Egypt and so on, so why would "white" people be arrested? Your comment is a non-sequitir, top to bottom.

In any case, JP Hung nailed this story to the wall.
posted by dhoyt at 3:44 PM on July 31, 2005


dhoyt : "And no doubt the 'next domestic terrorist incident' will involve Muslim nutjobs"

Apparently, this is the sticking point, isn't it? You have no doubt that it will involve Muslims, while other folks figure it might be unabomber / Tim McVeigh type non-Muslims, and hence have doubt that it will involve Muslims. Since neither you nor the folks who disagree can see the future, we're both just talking about faith, in a certain sense (unless someone is ready to bust out statistics, but I suspect we don't have the minimal sample size to make a fair statistical analysis).
posted by Bugbread at 4:19 PM on July 31, 2005


Er, "faith, in a certain sense" just applies to people who have no doubt. If you suspect, but have some doubt, then it isn't a matter of faith, but belief (same idea, just weaker).
posted by Bugbread at 4:20 PM on July 31, 2005


dhoyt writes "And no doubt the 'next domestic terrorist incident' will involve Muslim nutjobs,"

That's what everyone said before Oklahoma City.

Also, Sikh != Muslim (you seem to have problems with that idea).
posted by clevershark at 4:28 PM on July 31, 2005


clevershark : "Also, Sikh != Muslim (you seem to have problems with that idea)."

Where does dhoyt show problems with that? In this thread, neither of his comments seem to show a problem, but you may be referring to another thread.
posted by Bugbread at 4:32 PM on July 31, 2005


bugbread writes "Where does dhoyt show problems with that?"

Well, if so, how relevant is it that, to quote him, "no doubt the 'next domestic terrorist incident' will involve Muslim nutjobs" in the context of this story? I suppose he could have meant by it that in his opinion there are no white Muslims, but that's an equally ignorant thing to say.
posted by clevershark at 4:37 PM on July 31, 2005


I was unable to ascertain if any of the Sikhs were wearing turbans

The photos are pretty clear
they weren't (couple of bald patches shining through and all!)
posted by jamesonandwater at 4:51 PM on July 31, 2005


This could be:

a) an horrific example of racial prejudice, of the exact form that can only serve to further alienate those who believe that western, "white" society holds a grudge against them, thus pushing them towards extremes of hatred and violence

or

b) a proportionate, measured response to a reasonable suspicion by a perfectly rational bus company employee that resulted in a brief investigation followed by the speedy exoneration of the innocent parties

...and d'you know what? None of these articles provides any supporting evidence either way (most of them being, essentially, the same article in several rewritten forms). But hey, why spoil a good argument...?
posted by flashboy at 4:51 PM on July 31, 2005


clevershark : "Well, if so, how relevant is it that, to quote him, 'no doubt the "next domestic terrorist incident" will involve Muslim nutjobs' in the context of this story? I suppose he could have meant by it that in his opinion there are no white Muslims, but that's an equally ignorant thing to say."

Exactly. If someone makes a mistake, call them out on the mistake, don't call them out on a mistake they didn't make, otherwise they aren't rebuffed, and now you're mistaken right there with them. Dhoyt's not assuming (as far as I can tell. Maybe in his head, he is, but he hasn't indicated it here) that Sikhs = Muslims, but he is assuming that Muslims = non-white.
posted by Bugbread at 5:01 PM on July 31, 2005


That's what everyone said before Oklahoma City.

Let's see statistics for suicide bombings committed globally by US militia groups which come anywhere close to the numbers achieved by Muslim militants. For every Tim McVeigh, there have been thousands of Mohmammed Attas. The "Bb-b-b-but what about McVeigh?" arguement has become a fashionable fallback, I realize, but it's vapid & dishonest in terms of statistics.

Also, Sikh != Muslim (you seem to have problems with that idea).

No idea what you mean here.
posted by dhoyt at 5:24 PM on July 31, 2005


The first story I read about this was in the NYT (here's a synopsis on another site), and it said the reason for suspicion was backpacks and "stuffed" pockets.

Also Sunday, a double-decker Gray Line tourist bus was evacuated in Midtown Manhattan after a supervisor for a bus company told police that five male passengers with backpacks and "stuffed" pockets had raised her suspicions.
posted by Orb at 5:29 PM on July 31, 2005


dhoyt : "Let's see statistics for suicide bombings committed globally by US militia groups which come anywhere close to the numbers achieved by Muslim militants."

Or, more accurately, since we're talking about who will perform the next terrorist attack within the US, and nobody has mentioned suicide or global attacks...

Well, off the top of my head, I can remember McVeigh, 9/11, Unabomber. That puts the odds at 66% in favor of white, 33% in favor of non-white (and 1% robot or time-traveller or something). Of course, I'm forgetting a lot, but I suspect that the numbers would just increase for white and decrease for non-white.
posted by Bugbread at 5:31 PM on July 31, 2005


bugbread:Well, there's Eric Rudolph too. But note that of the four of those, only 9/11 was a suicide attack.

Also, Raul Claudio allowed me to become more familiar with the Metuchen rail station that I ever really wanted to be.
posted by oaf at 7:15 PM on July 31, 2005


Jon-o, I agree with what you said, but I just have to make a couple of points about "alienating everyone who looks vaguely Persian":

All the terrorist acts carried out by Muslim fundamentalists in the US have been perpetrated by Arabs (however, I do believe an Iranian planted a bomb under the car of the captain of the Vincennes, which didn't result in any casualties), so the cops may be unfairly targeting anyone who looks Arabic, not Persian. I realize to some (white) folks all Middle Easterns look alike, but Persians generally look different than Arabs or Pakistanis etc.

I realize the Sikh tourists questioned by the cops weren't wearing turbans, but Persians don't wear turbans, period. The mullahs are the only Persians who wear turbans, and their style of turban is different than the ones worn by Sikhs. There is a small Arab Iranian minority in the south and southwest of Iran who wear the Arab headdress, but they're obviously of Arabic descent, they're not Persian (which is also an ethnicity).
posted by Devils Slide at 12:40 AM on August 1, 2005


Persians don't wear turbans, period. The mullahs are the only Persians who wear turbans.

That makes me sound like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth. What I mean is that to Persians, the turban is the equivalent of the clerical collar in American or European culture. You can't say Americans in general wear a clerical collar or a monk's habit, as only some members of the clergy wear them.

If you need me, I'll be in the corner responding to my own comments :)
posted by Devils Slide at 1:20 AM on August 1, 2005


having a deja-vu here...

flashboy: This could be: a) .... an horrific example of racial prejudice... or b) a proportionate, measured response to a reasonable suspicion by a perfectly rational bus company employee that resulted in a brief investigation followed by the speedy exoneration of the innocent parties

from the article jamesonandwater linked:

Mr Bloomberg, meanwhile, lashed out at the bus employee who called in a terror tip that sent about 100 officers — many of them armed with machine-guns — swarming into Times Square on Sunday morning. The officers surrounded and evacuated the bus as passengers held their hands above their heads.
"I would urge everybody, while we keep saying call the professionals … you also have to exercise some common sense," Mr Bloomberg said. "It turned out these people did not represent any threat whatsoever.

"It's a shame, and I certainly apologise on behalf of the city."


So, seems option b is out of the question already.

I guess it's more a case of lack of common sense and unreasonable panic than pure straightforward racism, after all I doubt that bus employee had never seen Indian-looking men in NY before, but he probably heard the British accents and with the recent London events just flipped out.
posted by funambulist at 1:52 AM on August 1, 2005


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