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Bikes Against Bush
April 10, 2007 4:39 PM   Subscribe

NYPD Intelligence Op Targets Dot-Matrix Graffiti Bike. More details on the premeditated arrest of Joshua Kinberg by the NYPD just before the 2004 Republican National Convention. Kinberg, now the CEO of FireAnt, was targeted by the "R.N.C. Intelligence Squad" for his Bikes Against Bush project. The police lost his Xtracycle. [Via BB.]
posted by homunculus (66 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Make sure to watch the video in the first link. And then remember that some people get mad when you point out that cops are thugs who are there to protect the status quo.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:46 PM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


McNulty's just trying to bring in a case worth solving!
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:57 PM on April 10, 2007


Interesting. A pretty effective demonstration of how free speech works in the US.
posted by dazed_one at 4:57 PM on April 10, 2007


"lost" -- sure.

What the cops did was completely illegal throughout, and they knew it was. We'll find soon it was totally in conjunction and with extensive help from the GOP themselves, i bet.
posted by amberglow at 4:59 PM on April 10, 2007


As long as by "find" you mean "never report in a the 'mainstream media' in any meaningful way".
posted by DU at 5:08 PM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


The No-fly list ain't shit compared to the even more pernicious 'No-Ride' list.

"Then they came for the Cyclists and I did not speak out. . ."
posted by isopraxis at 5:13 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


...are people really shocked by this?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:23 PM on April 10, 2007


FireAnt = Democracy = Azureus?

How many video blog / torrent / "im in ur ram, eating your cyclez" programs do we need?

Oh, also: Momma always said "Cops are like a box of choco-lates..."

It's usually either one extreme or the other. Either a good cop with a smidgen of common sense that tries to help people when he can, or a jerk cop who (as assumed by a large number of people) pull people over for some bullshit reason just to fill a ticket quota.
posted by Industrial PhD at 6:09 PM on April 10, 2007


And I suppose it's just a coincidence that we haven't had a terrorist attack since? Perhaps they got the right Xtracycle.
posted by 2sheets at 6:19 PM on April 10, 2007


Industrial PhD: It's usually either one extreme or the other. Either a good cop with a smidgen of common sense that tries to help people when he can, or a jerk cop who (as assumed by a large number of people) pull people over for some bullshit reason just to fill a ticket quota.

The problem is, the 'good' cops usually cover for the bad, which makes them just as bad in my book. There needs to be severe penalties for cops who witness other cops committing crimes and do nothing about it, or cover for them in any way, and they need to be scrupulously enforced.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:57 PM on April 10, 2007


is there anywhere i can send a few bucks to help finance another graffiti bike for this man?
posted by es_de_bah at 8:16 PM on April 10, 2007


I'm with amberglow DU. If a bike and some chalk powder get's these guy's panties in such a knot, how many horsepower could possibly be left under mainstream media's hood?

Though I am impressed how quickly they figured out that microcontrolers were the new molitov cocktail.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:41 AM on April 11, 2007


...are people really shocked by this?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:23 PM on April 10


... are people not really shocked by this? This is simply astounding and somewhat Jarryesque.
posted by juiceCake at 6:15 AM on April 11, 2007


Wait... what's shocking? The conflict between police and protesters in Seattle almost SHUT DOWN THE CITY, and the DC protest the next year did much the same thing, though only in the government areas. (I was there.) But Manhattan is a very, very crowded island: almost two million people living on a skinny twelve mile island! It's cramped and barely survives from day to day on food and supplies delivered by truck, and we can't afford to have protesters locking down the narrow streets and impeding traffic, especially downtown in the FINANCIAL CAPITOL OF THE WORLD.

Tactics that DC's wide streets and enormous public parks were designed to deal with would have led to a complete loss of order in NYC, and a lot of people would have been hurt, probably even killed in the ensuing backlash. A small accident-based traffic jam in Midtown can ripple outwards, locking large swaths of the grid. Ambulances need those streets, too. Non-compliant protesting and civil disobedience in this scenario is the literal equivalent of shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater. When the police are stretched as thin as they were in '04, facing massive retirements after 9/11 overtime, they couldn't afford to handle this scenario.

Granted, this is why the RNC abdicated its responsibility by using NYC as a background for its pandering bullshit, but once that decision was made, the NYPD had no choice but to try to deflate the protests. From a law enforcement perspective, anarchists are too dangerous to be left to their own devices, and the average city cop can't tell the difference between wimpy sidewalk painting and brick-throwing or college students chained arm-in-arm across Broadway. Maybe if the people who -can- tell the difference were willing to spend some time as public servants, rather than just making fun of cops from their cushy NGOs and largely irrelevant non-profits, we wouldn't have this problem.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:50 AM on April 11, 2007


We've had protests and marches and riots and rallies here for centuries already--people and police all know the difference. What the cops did was not just infiltrate and spy on all these groups, peaceful mostly, by the way, but actively deter all legal protests. It was at the order of the GOP i'm sure, and to show they could suppress the population and keep order (as if that would stop the next 9/11--not). Even with all the overreacting, midtown was still shut down, but it was because of the convention itself, not because of protests.
posted by amberglow at 8:00 AM on April 11, 2007


...are people really shocked by this?

When people decide that they no longer have to be outraged because they are no longer shocked, bad things happen.
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:28 AM on April 11, 2007


It was at the order of the GOP i'm sure

This is what bothers me about the controversy surrounding the convention. The NYPD had very good non-partisan reasons to avoid violent and disobedient protests, but everybody figures that because in this case their law enforcement suppressed progressives, they must be tools of the Republicans. I see from your profile you're a New Yorker, amberglow, so I find this position particularly surprising and more than a little forgetful or naive.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:31 AM on April 11, 2007


The GOP locks down every neighborhood that Bush appears in. They restrict movement throughout their path. They restrict attendance at all events, and have illegally thrown people out of them. They have been illegally spying on groups like Quakers and others for years and years, and it's exactly what was done here by the NYPD. They've been doing it for the whole administration.

There is no way the GOP did not coordinate with the NYPD in spying, planning, and cracking down on protesters. Protests and marches are a regular feature of NYC life, and always have been. This was different. This followed the GOP m.o.
posted by amberglow at 9:25 AM on April 11, 2007


The NYPD did not operate this way before. They knew most of the groups they were spying on and infiltrating were not violent. They knew that the bicycle was not a weapon. They knew more than enough, yet acted very differently this time.

The NYPD was directly stopped from using Nixon's nasty criminal tactics after Vietnam with specific laws. This was a return to them--illegally. Just as the Bush administration has returned to Nixon's spying and criminal acts to punish those who speak and act against them.
posted by amberglow at 9:30 AM on April 11, 2007


Look, I hear you. But you're confusing the Secret Service with the GOP, and you're ignoring the much higher demands of security placed on the Secret Service with an unpopular, horribly illegitimate president, a new terrorist threat, and an uncertain relationship between that new threat and the recently militarized progressive movements of the antiglobalization groups from the nineties.

I should say: I worked with the NYPD for several years, investigating police misconduct. I know and like many of New York police officers personally, and I feel, perhaps wrongly, that I understand the kinds of assholery, stupidity, and petty corruption they're capable of, compared with the kinds of complaints and accusations usually leveled at the department.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:40 AM on April 11, 2007


"anarchists are too dangerous to be left to their own devices"

Yes, and I hear jews run hollywood and that you can't trust black men around white women.
posted by 2sheets at 10:13 AM on April 11, 2007


And if anarchists were an ethnic group, instead of a self-identified group with certain common beliefs, that would make sense.
posted by Snyder at 10:45 AM on April 11, 2007


But you're confusing the Secret Service with the GOP, and you're ignoring the much higher demands of security placed on the Secret Service with an unpopular, horribly illegitimate president, a new terrorist threat, and an uncertain relationship between that new threat and the recently militarized progressive movements of the antiglobalization groups from the nineties.


An unpopular president does not mean you resort to illegal spying and infiltrating without cause. The new terrorist threat is still a much lesser threat than the old terrorist threat of Eric Rudolph and McVeigh and their ilk, who are not being infiltrated and spied on at all--every month there's a new news report of another rightwing nut with a massive weapons cache. Meanwhile there's not one leftwing or peace or antiwar or antiglobalization group with a weapons cache, unless bicycles and bandannas count. Nor did the NYPD or the Federal Government find any weapons in any of the many many groups they illegally spied on and infiltrated.

This is simply a slanderous lie: "recently militarized progressive movements of the antiglobalization groups from the nineties." Prove it. There's absolutely no evidence of this at all. Absolutely none. Nor has the NYPD nor Feds come forward with any.

Don't lie to make these people seem like terrorists or like terror threats--they're not.
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on April 11, 2007


Plus, neither the NYPD nor Feds make any distinction at all between Grandmothers for Peace and Quaker groups and jokey performance groups like Billionaires for Bush and actual violent groups (like ELF, but remember they're only against developments--not people, and not ever people, and not ever at political events or conventions or presidential appearances).

The only groups that have used violence against people and government figures over these years are rightwing groups, and they're still ignored. Explain that please. Where are the anthrax mailers? Where are the massive infiltrations and spying on the many many thousands of rightwing nuts?

It's disgusting to lie to justify these illegal police actions--simply disgusting.
posted by amberglow at 12:30 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Err... amberglow, I think we missed each other here. I have to apologize for my phrasing: when I wrote "recently militarized," I meant simply 'militant,' in the sense of committed and confrontational. I was one of them, in the nineties, and so I know a little of what I speak. But I went from 'militant' in an already metaphorical sense to 'militarized,' which is both clearly wrong and no longer a recognizable as a metaphor. I apologize for the confusion.

I'm not going to respond to the rest of it, because I think you were quite justifiably heaping scorn on a position that I do not hold. Again, my apologies for my poor choice of words.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:57 PM on April 11, 2007


anotherpanacea, I hope you understand that even though your position is mostly logical, it is illegal. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

...that's pretty clear. Even if it makes sense to arrest people because they're likely to become violent, and even if it were effective, it would still be illegal.

If your position is that this part of the constitution doesn't make sense, then say so.
posted by odinsdream at 1:10 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, olinsdream, my position depends completely on the practicalities of that word 'peaceably.' Like it or not, some groups involved in progressive politics, like some groups associated with the right, do not respect the law or understand the requirements of safety. Those groups conspire to break the law and get away with it. My own brand of civil disobedience requires me to face the consequences of my actions, even if the law that is enforced against me is unjust; the same cannot be said for many of the protesters I've met.

I'm thinking here specifically of the zealous anarchists who destroyed property and clashed violently with police in Seattle, DC, and Genoa, while escaping arrest by wearing masks and blending in with the non-violent protesters. However, this point could equally well be applied to the Ruckus Society, who sought to block traffic, shut down areas of the city, and then escape punishment for their "civil" disobedience by flooding the jails with protesters who were all instructed to refuse to identify themselves in an effort to overwhelm the system and escape punishment. These are people who are fighting 'the system' without much concern for the safety of their fellow citizens who they've decided are not human beings if they support 'the system.'

Some of the people who hate Bush hate him for good reasons; others are just looking for an outlet for their rage. Some are looking to impeach or replace him electorally, others are willing and eager to take 'direct action.' I'm just suggesting that these groups make it very hard for law enforcement to distinguish them from the law abiding sort. Frankly, there's nothing inherently unjust about plain clothes police officers attending open meetings without identifying themselves as employees of the police department, though it is illegal in some municipalities.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:51 PM on April 11, 2007


I'm thinking here specifically of the zealous anarchists who destroyed property and clashed violently with police in Seattle, DC, and Genoa, while escaping arrest by wearing masks and blending in with the non-violent protesters.
This is not new, and is the exact same thing they were doing throughout the entire 90s at every G8 meeting and other summits and things. Starbucks and McDonalds all over the world have been getting their windows bashed for well over a decade now. I still don't understand what the difference is, and what you mean by "militant" as something new. We just saw days and days of protests following Bush around South America--they were not different from other protests earlier.
posted by amberglow at 1:57 PM on April 11, 2007


I'm just suggesting that these groups make it very hard for law enforcement to distinguish them from the law abiding sort.

This is not true--a mentally retarded person knows that Billionaires for Bush, and Grandmas for Peace and Quaker peace groups are neither violent nor anarchists.

Frankly, there's nothing inherently unjust about plain clothes police officers attending open meetings without identifying themselves as employees of the police department, though it is illegal in some municipalities.
The lawsuit known as Handschu led to a 1985 consent decree that prohibited the NYPD from “commencing an investigation” into political, ideological or religious activities of an individual or group unless “specific information has been received by the Police Department that person or group engaged in political activity is engaged in, about to engage in or has threatened to engage in conduct which constitutes a crime. . . .” The Decree also imposed various procedural limitations as a check against abuse and as a vehicle for maintaining a “paper trail” in the event that violations of the Guidelines were to arise.

In September, 2002, the NYPD moved to modify the 1985 consent decree in the Handschu case. In a decision issued in February 2003, Senior United States District Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. held that the NYPD should be permitted to substitute the investigative standards employed by the FBI -- as set forth in the Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Terrorism Investigations, issued by Attorney General Ashcroft in May 2002 -- for the substantive and procedural standards previously set forth in the 1985 Consent Decree.10 ...


It's illegal here in NYC. And note how Ashcroft's name and the FBI pops up there, too. It's not naive to note the connection with the modification of Handschu and the FBI and Justice Department's also-illegal spying.
posted by amberglow at 2:04 PM on April 11, 2007


There's also no connection between terrorism and the above-mentioned groups--not even the violent anarchists. None.at.all. Protesting Bush and the GOP does not ever equal terrorism, no matter what Bush and the GOP says. Neither does protesting the Iraq war.
posted by amberglow at 2:07 PM on April 11, 2007


Protesting Bush and the GOP does not ever equal terrorism, no matter what Bush and the GOP says.

Would you please stop taking this stance, as if I somehow disagreed with you? It's a straw man.

a mentally retarded person knows that Billionaires for Bush, and Grandmas for Peace and Quaker peace groups are neither violent nor anarchists.

Sure, sure. But what about the Ruckus Society? They go around campuses doing workshops on civil disobedience, counseling students to use disruptive strategies in order to gain attention. Then those students go and join other groups. The protest scene is pretty small; the same names come up in a lot of different oraganizations.

There's enough overlap that some groups get investigated "just in case," when anyone who actually belonged to the culture could easily say it was absurd. And people change: they give up the tactics of their youthful indiscretions, or they become hardened by failure and outrage and become more violent. (The thing with the Quakers is just stupid, though.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:19 PM on April 11, 2007


Starbucks and McDonalds all over the world have been getting their windows bashed for well over a decade now.

By the way, the anarchists I've known who were willing to destroy property were also planning to punch the cop who came to arrest them for it. I've sat in interminable meetings arguing with people who felt that the goal of a protest was to "instantiate" the violence of the system, goading the police into greater violence by any means necessary: spitting, biting, wrestling, and mobbing. These anarchists didn't recognize any inherent authority worthy of respect from police, and thus chose not to grant them the monopoly on violence.

But maybe you and I know different anarchists.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2007


"just in case" is not a valid or legal reason to spy and infiltrate. Those Grandmas might hit the cops who arrest them too--violent pushy cops are not at all rare, and they rarely treat any protesters at all with any kind of respect.

But what about the Ruckus Society? They go around campuses doing workshops on civil disobedience, counseling students to use disruptive strategies in order to gain attention.
Civil disobedience is a strategy where you're expected to be arrested. That doesn't make it legal to infiltrate or spy on those people. Provoking an arrest is not new nor novel. Nor is it new nor novel to taunt cops. None of these things justify or make it legal to spy and infiltrate. None of these remove our rights as citizens.

I bring up terrorism and terrorists because of the Federal Govt's justifications for the spying and other illegal acts--they say it's because of terrorism. We already know that Federal terror watch lists and training exercises have specifically targeted leftwing groups but not ever rightwing groups--i've posted about it here. They've been conflating for years, and calling them terrorists for years too. If it's a strawman, it's their strawman and official US policy now, and they continue to use it to restrict our rights.
posted by amberglow at 2:56 PM on April 11, 2007


and here: Integrated Planning Guidance, Fiscal Years 2005-2011 --a Dept. of Homeland Security document outlining groups to watch out for in the coming years completely omits rightwing and militia groups and individuals as a threat. Clearly listed in the document? ELF and ALF--leftwing groups that destroy property, but have never murdered, unlike Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph and the many others who have arsenals and plenty of hatred, and have already proven themselves killers.
posted by amberglow at 3:01 PM on April 11, 2007


Civil disobedience is a strategy where you're expected to be arrested. That doesn't make it legal to infiltrate or spy on those people.

My point here is that it -is- legal, and also just, to infiltrate organizations planning to commit crimes. Planning to assault a police officer, for instance, is a crime, just as it is a crime to conspire to destroy property, or to so severely "disturb the peace" as to lock the grid in a large metropolis. Some of these are greater crimes than others, just as some are greater moral offenses. But it's a police department's job to prevent them ALL from happening, and they're not given a lot of tools to accomplish that job, while their hands are radically tied. The result is that they follow 'reasonable suspicion' and 'probable cause' wherever they may lead, and are sometimes led astray thereby.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:05 PM on April 11, 2007


You need proof of that tho--you don't have it. You haven't demonstrated it at all. Their hands are "radically tied" because they have repeatedly and extensively abused their power and broken laws--if you want anyone to say "oh, poor cops can't do their jobs" look elsewhere--it's no secret they don't deserve to have their hands untied. We have laws restricting them and the govt for very good reasons. Let cops and other fed law enforcement people show a record of good service first, then loosen them only if needed and only with very solid proof. You don't let cops loose based on the hope they won't abuse their powers. You look at how they've used and abused their powers in the past to decide how much power they get in future. The specific laws tying their hands are not for no reason.

And just today: President Bush's spy chief is pushing to expand the government's surveillance authority at the same time the administration is under attack for stretching its domestic eavesdropping powers. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:14 PM on April 11, 2007


Basically, they have never ever shown they can handle expanded power responsibly--why should they get it at all?
posted by amberglow at 3:15 PM on April 11, 2007


You need proof of that tho--you don't have it. You haven't demonstrated it at all.

Err, yes I have, to the extent possible on the internet. I relayed to you conversations in which I participated, and my own experiences in which law breaking was planned. If I had had the same experience of a planned bank robbery or murder, my testimony would constitute proof. What, for you, would count as proof?
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:37 PM on April 11, 2007


So, you go to court and persuade a judge that these people need to be watched because of this this and this. It's not hard at all. It's not tying anyone's hands either. What the NYPD did tho, was not that at all. They infiltrated and spied on many individuals and groups without going to a judge or anything first. They did not provide proof of intent to break laws.
posted by amberglow at 4:08 PM on April 11, 2007


They infiltrated and spied on many individuals and groups without going to a judge or anything first.

Yes. This is the effect of the 2003 modification of the Hanschu decree, which you cite:

In effect, Judge Haight approved preliminary inquiries of political activities by the NYPD in circumstances where there is “information . . . which indicates the possibility of criminal activity.” (Italics added.) The new Guidelines suggest that a preliminary inquiry must be authorized by the commanding officer of the criminal intelligence office of the NYPD with notification for final approval by the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence. But this suggestion is somewhat ambiguous. Res. 389-A seeks to clarify this potential ambiguity and to require explicitly that such authorization must be secured; that it must be in writing; and that a paper trail must be maintained in the office of the police commissioner.

That's from just below the section you quote. The NYPD appears to have abided by these provisions.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:15 PM on April 11, 2007


We actually don't know if they did that at all in every case or some cases or not at all. The NYPD still hasn't revealed what, when and how they did all this. And from the Wired link: ...He wonders whether to get involved in the lawsuits against the NYPD. He wants to see his file, and he suspects, from a close examination of his videotaped arrest, that his arrest was planned by authorities eager to shut down legitimate protests. The files are currently under a protective order, but the New York Civil Liberties Union is fighting to free many of them. ...

Meanwhile, this is what the focus on "counter-terrorism" and spying and infiltrating protest groups gets you: The FBI's terrorism trade-off: Focus on national security after 9/11 means that the agency has turned its back on thousands of white-collar crimes

The NYPD has very heavily beefed up their "RNC Intelligence Squad," and others. At what cost?

I don't see how you can give the NYPD the benefit of any doubts here--they won't even reveal what and how they operated. They've repeatedly abused their power and repeatedly lied as well.
posted by amberglow at 4:38 PM on April 11, 2007


from 2002: ...But the NYPD's court papers trumpet a clear theme: Meeting the mammoth task of preventing more terrorism will require infiltrating innocent lives. "Terrorists engage in a prolonged period of often lawful activity in preparation for their criminal acts. They escape detection by blending into American society. They may own homes, live in communities with families, belong to religious or social organizations and attend educational institutions," Cohen maintains.
The department wishes—without having to establish any evidence of a crime—to record names from organizations' mailing lists and petitions, photograph and videotape protesters, and plant undercover agents inside groups and events, according to its court filings. Among the requirements police want wiped from the Handschu agreement: routine oversight; paper records of surveillance; internal reviews of investigations; and publicly available summaries of basic information, such as the number of new probes opened in a year.
Another key target for extinction is the rule that all political investigations be confined to one unit, the Public Security Section. Meant to simplify police accountability, the requirement now poses a critical manpower problem, the city claims. "The NYPD cannot leave it to federal agencies alone to investigate terrorist activity," argues Cohen in his papers.
Indeed, the NYPD's potential reach as a spy network is enormous. The department employs approximately 53,000 people, with some 37,500 armed officers—more than triple the 11,400 noncivilian agents who work nationwide for the FBI, which has approximately 27,800 employees in total and operates a New York bureau of about 1500. The Immigration and Naturalization Service staffs about 36,000. (The Central Intelligence Agency's size is confidential.) ...

posted by amberglow at 4:42 PM on April 11, 2007


... In hundreds of reports stamped "N.Y.P.D. Secret," the Intelligence Division chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law, the records show. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:46 PM on April 11, 2007


I don't see how you can give the NYPD the benefit of any doubts here--they won't even reveal what and how they operated. They've repeatedly abused their power and repeatedly lied as well.

The fact is, amberglow, you've repeatedly confused the efforts of the contemporary NYPD with the DHS, the FBI, and the NYPD of thirty years ago. You're lumping all law enforcement into a single 'they,' like 'the Man.' That's disappointing. Individual cops lie and abuse their power ALL THE TIME. But the NYPD employs forty thousand cops, which is four times as many as the FBI. They're not all bad.

As for the files, we'll likely see them, once the FOIA requests run their course. But I bet that they'll show that the NYPD acted appropriately for the most part, and they'll end up paying for their screw ups. That's more than I can say for the FBI.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:52 PM on April 11, 2007


But I bet that they'll show that the NYPD acted appropriately for the most part, and they'll end up paying for their screw ups. That's more than I can say for the FBI.

I bet otherwise. They'll say it's for security reasons that they can't release the info, and some judge will agree. I don't know where your faith in their do-gooding comes from. It hasn't been in evidence for decades and decades, especially not for minorities or those of us who wish to use our shared public spaces to exercise our rights.
posted by amberglow at 6:51 PM on April 11, 2007


As a matter of fact, they've already done it: ... However, the city has asked a federal court to keep detailed records of this surveillance secret, fearing they will be "misinterpreted." ...

We'll never know what those files will show, which does not increase confidence in them having done the right thing.

The NYPD went to Federal Court over this. It's no big leap to associate their spying with national spying. From that link: ... The deputy police commissioner for intelligence, David Cohen, is a former CIA official who has made public statements linking investigations of political activity to terrorism investigations. One demonstrator who was arrested said he had been questioned by detectives with the terrorism task force. In all, the Times said, "In its preparations, the department applied the intelligence resources that had just been strengthened for fighting terrorism to an entirely different task: collecting information on people participating in political protests."

The broad scope of the NYPD surveillance and the use of anti-terrorism laws to crack down on protesters fit the pattern of overreaching investigation of lawful political activity. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:05 PM on April 11, 2007


if anarchists were an ethnic group, instead of a self-identified group with certain common beliefs

You don't know very many anarchists, do you?

There are as many anarchisms as there are anarchists. Many are staunch pacifists. Many are opposed to property destruction as a tactic.

And a lot of people who smash windows aren't anarchists. Smashing-windows isn't a sign of anarchism, it's a sign of window-smashing.
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:58 PM on April 11, 2007


amberglow: You're right; the city opposes the motion. But they'll lose, as they lost the last one. It says so right in the link you supplied:

"The NYCLU obtained the NYPD documents through the pre-trial discovery process, and the court granted permission to make the information public in January 2007."

The New York Times has already reviewed the other documents, which means it's already a matter of time before they're leaked or made public some other way, or the new document discovery process wins through the court systems. This is the second time you've quoted from a document that contains a direct refutation of your claims.

I don't know where your faith in their do-gooding comes from.

I don't have faith in their do-gooding. I have faith in the system, or at least the New York justice system. You know: the police who investigate the crimes and the lawyers who keep them honest? NYC is the really quite tops at this; they push and pull with the civil liberties unions or the various ethnic communities, play tough, try statagems, what have you, but the truth outs. Not everywhere; not in DC, for instance. But I believe in NYC.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:13 PM on April 11, 2007


The system having to clean up and repair after cops overreach-yet again--is not a good solution. It's not even tolerable.

The solution is for cops not to overreach in the first place (and to stop killing black people for no reason too--it was wrong with Bumpers and Stewart way back when, and it's still happening).

No papers have been released, and a Federal Judge has not ordered it so, even today. I'm not holding my breath waiting, and if you think it'll happen within this decade, you're dreaming.
posted by amberglow at 7:01 AM on April 12, 2007


anotherpanacea, I think this is one of our fundamental disagreements:

You have asserted that it isn't legal for protesters to do things that disrupt the "grid" in the city, or stop streets from flowing properly. I assume this is because you consider protests and their results to be an abnormal event. That is, you consider streets where traffic flows at a reasonable speed to be the norm in a city. I agree with that specifically.

However, I think we diverge in that I also think that our cities function best when people are allowed to protest freely, as is their right. If city services slow or stop due to the protest, that is by design. When I say design, there, I mean the design of normal democracy. In this case, police prevention of protests impedes a functioning democracy.

By crippling the right of the people to protest their government, you hurt the country, even if you get traffic flowing again for the day. To me, it's more important that we have a representative democracy than it is to get to work on time.

Do you agree?
posted by odinsdream at 3:50 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


You don't know very many anarchists, do you?


Actually, I've known and know plenty of anarchists, and considered myself one for a time. Even allowing that I'm ignorant of the various types of anarchists that exist, I do know that they're not an ethnic group that one can be bigoted against.

There are as many anarchisms as there are anarchists. Many are staunch pacifists. Many are opposed to property destruction as a tactic.

And a lot of people who smash windows aren't anarchists. Smashing-windows isn't a sign of anarchism, it's a sign of window-smashing.


What does this have to do with what I said?
posted by Snyder at 5:49 PM on April 12, 2007


olinsdream: How do feel when the protesters were Christian fundamentalists blocking access to an abortion clinic? How did you feel about the protesters in Little Rock who were taunting black school children going to school for the first time in an integrated classroom?

I actually don't see this as an either/or problem. I believe it is quite possible to preserve both city services and participatory democracy. (Sorry to nitpick, but the representative stuff is what happens inside those buildings we're protesting outside of.)

The key to keeping the both/and is to balance protest with the needs of public safety. This is easy to do when protesters are willing to march along approved routes or demonstrate in specific places. We block the routes beforehand, separate opposing groups so as to prevent violence, etc. But of course, some protesters don't want to be managed in this way, and I respect that.

Protesting national politics has become almost completely ineffective, but still people try. The key to a successful protest is media attention, and today's media outlets don't really care what you're shouting. So some protesters endeavor to break the law, pick a fight with the police, and grab the attention of journalists who don't leave their office for anything less than a riot. When you're breaking an unjust law, like sitting at a segregated Birmingham sandwich counter, I think that's noble. But laws against blocking traffic aren't unjust, so breaking them isn't noble.

To reiterate, I believe that political speech ought to be protected, and also that reasonable laws should be enforced. Since civil disobedience only works if you break the law, it doesn't really help to say: "Oh, we're not going to enforce -that- law today, since you're protesting." Disruptive protesters intend to keep pushing until they get a reaction, so we might as well enforce the laws and give them an opportunity to go to jail for what they believe.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:09 PM on April 12, 2007


Sorry, that first line should be "How do you feel when the protesters are Christian fundamentalists blocking access to an abortion clinic?"
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:10 PM on April 12, 2007


Protesting national politics has become almost completely ineffective, but still people try.

that really should read "almost completely ineffective except during political conventions, when protests are expected and covered widely by the media"
posted by amberglow at 11:11 PM on April 12, 2007


You'd have a really good point there, if Bush hadn't won.

The same Bush who lied, murdered, tortured, spied, and corrupted still managed to win a greater portion of the popular vote than he had when he was a 'compassionate conservative' simpleton. See what I mean by ineffective?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:49 AM on April 13, 2007


see, we'd never really know that, because of the fact that the NYPD corralled and too-heavily restricted all protests and even normal activity. They shut the neighborhood down, pretty much, and even merchants were against it. Throwing protesters into those warehouses by the river too (And not allowing media access) was incredibly silencing.
posted by amberglow at 7:33 AM on April 13, 2007


They also refused to issue permits for rallies in places like Central Park and Union Sq., etc, and actually mapped out where and how people could express themselves. There were no protesters allowed at the entrances and exits to the Garden, except during times when delegates and the media were inside or not there at all. There were no protests allowed at the party venues and other events. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:35 AM on April 13, 2007


Amberglow, I'll ask you again: How do you feel when the protesters are Christian fundamentalists blocking access to an abortion clinic?

If you think you should be able to keep people you don't agree with from getting to and from their offices, schools, hopsitals, and political events, what's to stop conservatives, white supremacists, misogynists, and homophobes from doing the same thing?
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:37 AM on April 13, 2007


Nothing is to stop them. Those people are allowed to protest, and others are allowed to counterprotest, and still others are allowed to escort and otherwise protect women who need those services, and those facilities themselves. It's called democracy, and all are allowed to protest.

With those people tho, there is a proven record of violence against clinics and providers as well as harassment of doctors and patients online and elsewhere--you don't need to go undercover or spy to know that. They actually have a proven and documented propensity towards violence against people and property, unlike Quakers and Billionaires for Bush and bike riders/message painters, etc. See the difference?
posted by amberglow at 9:10 AM on April 13, 2007


How about this way of looking at it, using your example: There are millions of people who are pro-life yet only vote and donate their beliefs. They attend rallies too, and listen to radio and other things that advocate against Roe v. Wade. There is a far far smaller subsection of that population (known to all) who actually block clinics and are willing to break the law and do civil disobedience to stop abortions, or even commit murder or bomb clinics.

What the NYPD did was travel the globe to infiltrate and spy on all those others who never have done violent or destructive things, even when common sense and a brain in their heads would have told them there was no risk of violence or terror from them at all. Saying they went overboard because of an abundance of caution does not begin to cover what they did--they did the equivalent of spying on everyone who voted GOP, watched the 700 club, or donated to Americans for Life or whatever they're called, etc. They didn't even bother looking for proof of intent of violence. They didn't do risk assessments of each group. They didn't do any of the normal things they should have done, before escalating to spying and infiltrating.

That's wrong. That's unAmerican. That's silencing free speech and protest. That's preventing all of us from exercising our rights. That's chillingly reminiscent of the Stasi or Russians or Big Brother. That's unacceptable to anyone who values our rights.
posted by amberglow at 9:18 AM on April 13, 2007


So, not only did they overreact and infringe on our rights, they did not perform accepted and standard investigative procedures. You have to ask why that was. Them refusing to release the info even today shows that their intentions were not in line with our Constitution or laws.
posted by amberglow at 9:21 AM on April 13, 2007


That's a wonderful set of overreaches and exaggerations, but I can't continue this conversation if you're going to be so absurd. The NYPD investigated groups who intended to protest during the RNC, not every democratic voter or campaign contributor, and it's both illegal and wrong to block the door to a clinic, a schoolhouse, or a convention just because you don't agree with what's going on inside. If you don't see that, then we don't share enough political ideas to converse.

they did not perform accepted and standard investigative procedures.

Since you've obviously never investigated anything, I don't know how you can speak with such authority. It may well be that there were overreaches, and I guess from your perspective the fact that these investigations have proceeded slowly is evidence of further collusion between the department and the Republican Party. I have been following the story, and I believe we will eventually know everything worth knowing about their operations. Only one of us is right on that score, and I'm banking on the one who worked for the Mayor's Office.

You've concluded that the NYPD didn't do risk assessments, but what do you think a risk assessment is? It's what we've been calling an infiltration: you send a plain clothes officer to check out the group's plans and meetings. So they were doing risk assessments. They were doing "all the normal things."

Then you start accusing the NYPD of silencing free speech, when just before you admitted that protesters were given time. Republicans deserve free speech, too, amberglow, and they certainly can't both talk at once. Pick up a book on first amendment law sometime. Politics isn't just shouting, shoving, and slapping the other guy with your "Impeach him!" sign. It's about deliberation, civil disagreement, and attending to the details of our shared world.

That's wrong. That's unAmerican. That's silencing free speech and protest.

This is so much histrionic bullshit. How can it be unAmerican to allow Republicans to have their convention without interruption? The NYPD has to preserve speech rights on both sides: both Republicans and Democrats deserve the right to speak. That can't happen if protesters are sabotaging the convention: that's "silencing free speech."

Look, if we're going to continue this conversation, please talk to me, not at me. Keep in mind that I'm: a) a human being, b) a fellow citizen, c) a Democrat, and d) not your enemy. We talk about these things because we're both concerned that our country be just, and we argue because we care about what the other person is saying. It's not about scoring points, because there's nobody here keeping score but you and me. Otherwise, why bother talking at all?
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:59 AM on April 13, 2007


Darling, don't spin me. Quakers are non-violent. Grandmothers are not a threat. A guy whose bike sprays sidewalk messages is not a threat.

How can it be unAmerican to allow Republicans to have their convention without interruption? The NYPD has to preserve speech rights on both sides: both Republicans and Democrats deserve the right to speak. That can't happen if protesters are sabotaging the convention: that's "silencing free speech."
They don't have an absolute right to have a convention without interruption--that has nothing to do with their free speech rights. No one stopped or tried to stop any Republican from speaking at any time. What protesters wanted was to be heard as well, and most weren't allowed to be. It's not right that groups should be spied upon and infiltrated. It's unjust.

Call it histrionics--i call it knowing my rights. Histrionics is using words like "sabotaging", darling.
posted by amberglow at 4:40 PM on April 13, 2007


This stuff wasn't done during any previous convention here--why was that?
posted by amberglow at 4:41 PM on April 13, 2007


And you don't have to spy or infiltrate or travel the globe to do risk assessment--especially for the vast vast majority of the groups spied on. There's no justifiication for what was done. Many of us are at risk simply for being alive in this country--don't talk to me or them about risk assessment--it's a daily task for millions of us right here at home in what's our city, not the GOP's nor the NYPD's. Go spy on your broomstick-raping and black-shooting and corrupt colleagues.
posted by amberglow at 4:44 PM on April 13, 2007


And if they weren't given info from the national spying agencies and the FBI, etc, i'm the queen of England. I've already shown you how they've identified all dissenters as potential terror threats, while ignoring rightwing threats.
posted by amberglow at 4:46 PM on April 13, 2007


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