Storm Sandy: New York marathon cancelled after protests

3 November 2012

The BBC’s Mike Wooldridge: “In some places frustration is now boiling over”

This year’s New York City marathon has been cancelled in the aftermath of the super storm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced.

In a statement, he said: “We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it.”

Plans to press ahead with Sunday’s event had prompted widespread anger in cyclone-ravaged parts of the city.

Ninety-six US deaths, 40 of them in New York, have been blamed on Sandy.

The storm had already killed 69 people as it swept across the Caribbean.

Across the US East Coast, some 3.5 million homes and businesses – 1.2 million in New York state alone – still have no electricity, four days after the storm made landfall.

Petrol shortages have also caused forecourt confrontations from New Jersey to Connecticut – one motorist was arrested after pulling a gun during an argument at a petrol queue.

In a bid to ease the fuel crunch on Friday, the US waived a law that normally bans foreign oil tankers from entering its north-eastern ports. Continue reading

Hurricane Sandy and the Mayor’s “Disaster Capitalist” Priority: The New York Marathon

Friday, Nov 02 2012

‘The city is talking about getting ready for the marathon… we’re pulling bodies out of the water’: Congressman lashes out at New York officials for pushing ahead with event … New York residents are angry that emergency services are diverted towards Sunday’s marathon … Generators could be used to provide power for homes left without electricity for four days

By Eddie Wrenn and Beth Stebner, One News Page (UK)

2 November 2012

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are still suffering black-outs, with wide swathes of the city still without electricity.  But the media centre for this Sunday’s New York Marathon – which is still going ahead despite the widespread devastation landed on the city – will no suffer such problems.  For organisers have installed two emergency generators, as well as a back-up, to keep news of the event flowing.

The three generators could provide power for 400 homes – and the revelation has prompted outrage in a city which, in parts, has suffered four nights without heat or electricity.

In Central Park today…

Ready for action: The New York Marathon will still go on despite the city's widespread devastationReady for action: The New York Marathon will still go on despite the city’s widespread devastation

In Staten Island today…

The other side: Dulce Espino (left) and Viridiana Cruz weep in their Staten Island neighborhood where many houses were completely destroyedThe other side: Dulce Espino (left) and Viridiana Cruz weep in their Staten Island neighborhood where many houses were completely destroyed

At a news conference Friday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his decision to go ahead with the marathon as a way to raise money for the city and boost morale less than a week after Sandy knocked out power and left a death toll of nearly 100 people.

He noted that his predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, went ahead with the New York Marathon two months after 9/11.

‘If you go back to 9/11, Rudy made the right decision in those days to run the marathon and pull people together,’ Bloomberg said.

The mayor added that the marathon’s organizers are ‘running this race to help New York City, and the donations from all the runners in the club will be a great help for our relief efforts.’

Earlier this week, the mayor said the race wouldn’t siphon off resources from the storm recovery, noting electricity is expected to be restored to all of Manhattan by race day, freeing up ‘an enormous number of police.’

The course runs from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on hard-hit Staten Island to Central Park, sending runners through all five boroughs. Continue reading

NYPD Official Admits Spying On Muslims Didn’t Generate A Single Lead Or Terrorism Case

[An oppressive dragnet of surveillance, harassment, stalking, and ostracism, this CIA/NYPD program of racial/religious profiling has been conducted and budgeted under the phony guise of “homeland security” and “criminal justice” — but its just Islamophobic repression without a shred of evidence to disguise or provide cover for it. — Frontlines ed.]

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Michael Kelley , Business Insider, August 21, 2012

The secret New York Police Department unit that spied on Muslims for more than six years never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo of the AP report.

The Demographics Unit – built with the help of the CIA in the wake of 9/11 – assembled databases on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropped on conversations, infiltrated Muslim student groups and mosques, cataloged every Muslim in New York with an Americanized surname, and even set up a surveillance hub in New Jersey.

But in a June 28 deposition, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati admitted he never created a lead based on a Demographics report since he arrived 2006 and wasn’t aware of any previous ones.

From AP:

Galati, the commanding officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division, offered the first official look at the Demographics Unit, which the NYPD denied ever existed when it was revealed by the AP last year. He described how police gather information on people even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of their ethnicity and native language.

The testimony was part of the Handschu case, a lawsuit that began in 1971 over NYPD spying on students, civil rights groups, and suspected Communist sympathizers during the 1950s and 1960s.

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, himself a target of ‘ill-considered’ prosecution, tweeted that the admission demonstrates “willful violation of 4th Amendment. No probable cause. Mere suspicion now justification for all kinds of injustice.” Continue reading

“Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street”

Law school clinics criticize NYPD response to Occupy protests

7/25/2012

NEW YORK, July 25 (Reuters) – New York police officers have used excessive force, made unjustified arrests and engaged in pervasive surveillance in violation of the rights of Occupy Wall Street protesters, according to a report released by two law school clinics Wednesday.

The report documents 130 separate incidents of alleged abuse by law enforcement authorities and calls for the creation of an independent inspector general to monitor the New York City Police Department.

Some critics of the department’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, have also called for an inspector general. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that such a position is unnecessary.

“Many of the reported allegations individually indicate clear violations of the government’s obligation to uphold assembly and expression rights,” says the 132-page report, which was produced after eight months of research.

The report, “Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street,” was authored by members of the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at Fordham Law School. It was delivered Wednesday to the NYPD, the Department of Justice and the United Nations. Continue reading

Thousands march in silence against NYPD’s ‘Stop and Frisk’

Democracy Now’s coverage of the Stop ‘Stop and Frisk’ march

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By Frederick Bernas, CNN — June 18, 2012

New York (CNN) — Rather than celebrating Father’s Day on Sunday afternoon, Horace Russell marched with several thousand people to take a stand against the New York Police Department’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy.

“I feel it every single day, practically,” said Russell, who works as a teacher in the Bronx. “I’ve been pulled over and pushed against fences, frisked, but have never been arrested.”

Russell’s story sounded familiar to many of Sunday’s marchers, who want to see action from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — either by abolishing or reforming stop-and-frisk.

Last year, nearly 685,000 people were stopped by officers in cases that ended with no meaningful charge, according to police department statistics. Of these, 87% were African-American or Latino, the police department says.

“They profile me because I’m a Rastafarian and I have dreadlocks, so therefore I get pulled over just for my looks,” said Russell.

Sunday’s silent march started at 110th Street and headed down Fifth Avenue, ending at 78th Street after passing Bloomberg’s townhouse on 79th Street.

“I don’t know a single black or Latino male who doesn’t say he is basically afraid to be out on the streets,” said the Rev. Stephen Phelps, a senior minister at the Riverside Church near West Harlem. He was one of a diverse group of faith leaders, and representatives of some 300 organizations , brought together by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Continue reading

New York: Police continue to expand Racial Profiling / “Stop and Frisk” program

[The “Stop and Frisk” police program of racist targeting, harassment, and stalking of Black and Brown people, is a comprehensive and systematic policy of enforcing white supremacist privilege–and non-white subjugation–which is so essential to the American capitalist system.  While it is openly maintained, even boastfully, in New York City, the same program exists, with minor variations and guises, throughout the country.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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203,500 made in first 3 months of 2012; critics claim profiling in play

Protests of the systematic “stop and frisk” program in New York City and elsewhere have brought a politically diverse number of activists and politicians into opposition to the program. Here, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio talks about a campaign to reform the NYPD’s stop and frisk program during a news conference Wednesday at New York’s City Hall.

By Edith Honan, Reuters, May 12, 2012

NEW YORK — New York police conducted more than 200,000 frisk searches in the first three months of this year, a 10 percent increase from the same period last year, even as critics say the practice often is racial profiling.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have long defended the program as one that saves lives and has helped bring violent crime down to historic lows, making New York one of the safest big cities in America.

But the New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups say that black and Latino New Yorkers are stopped with alarming frequency, even though in the great majority of cases they are found to have done nothing wrong.

Last week, the organization released a study that found that in 2011, police performed more stop-and-frisk searches of young black men than the total number of young black men living in New York.

So far this year, almost all of the stops have involved men, while blacks made up more than half of the stops and a third involved Latinos. About one in ten of those stopped were white and 3 percent of the stops were Asian.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said the demographic breakdown corresponded to crime data. The department provided the data to the New York City Council on Friday and to reporters on Saturday. Continue reading