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jtyost2 : newyorkcity   55

Autonomous shuttle to be tested in New York City
Boston start-up Optimus Ride will run vehicles on private roads at the Brooklyn Navy Yard site located on New York's East River.

The shuttle will help workers get around the large site.

Self-driving vehicles are being widely trialled around the world, but vehicles sometimes crash and some regulators have halted tests.

The company would not be drawn on details about the initial deployment.

In an email to technology site The Verge a spokesperson wrote: "The fleet of self-driving vehicles at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Paradise Valley estates will increase throughout the deployment period."

They added that the cars are designed to operate in "environments of 25mph."
newyorkcity  technology  automotive  software  selfdrivingtech 
march 2019 by jtyost2
A Shipping Manifest Said the Container Held Dried Fruit. Inside Was 3,200 Pounds of Cocaine.
The authorities were conducting a routine inspection aboard the M.S.C. Carlotta last month when a worn, teal shipping container caught their eye: The pins that held the containers’ doors in place appeared to have been doctored.

The Carlotta, a container ship, had just arrived in Newark from Buenaventura, Colombia, and the teal container was supposed to contain dried fruit. Instead, officers opened the doors to find something that stunned even the most experienced customs agents: 60 tightly wrapped bundles of white powder, each the size of a small trunk.

The bundles turned out to be 3,200 pounds of cocaine, the largest drug shipment to be intercepted at Port Newark in a quarter-century, a bounty worth $77 million on the street, the authorities said on Monday.

The discovery of the shipment underscored the reality that legal ports of entry remain the main channel through which illicit drugs flow, even though President Trump has contended that drugs are pouring over the unsecured sections of the southern border to justify building a barrier there.

The seizure on Feb. 28 also suggested the city’s market for cocaine was resurging, officials said, after several years during which heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, had dominated New York’s illicit drug scene.
cocaine  drugs  legal  crime  newyorkcity 
march 2019 by jtyost2
NYC to TX, and Back in the Closet
When I say living in Texas makes me feel threatened, I’m talking about things like keeping relationships and job security. I’ve developed friendships with people under the assumption that they were seemingly open to liberal ideas only to be smacked in the face with comments about them not wanting their kids in the Boy Scouts anymore, because of the organization’s new policy on gay scout leaders. And I’ve secured a position I love at a place I want to work at in the long-term, only to realize that my coworkers are homophobic, transphobic, and every other sort of phobic, and have no qualms about discussing it openly. I was “warned” about a gay guy in the building on my first day of work. So what do I do? I keep asking myself and I come up with nothing. I haven’t outed myself as bisexual because I’m not dating anyone and it hasn’t come up. Now I ask myself whether I should tell anyone at all. The answer in my head is a resounding no. Let them think I’m a permanent bachelor (I almost exclusively date men), and definitely don’t tell anyone about my night job writing gay romance. Confiding in anyone is an all around bad idea. It’s safer to keep it to myself because I have no union to protect me here. My service is “at will” — whatever the hell that means.
texas  legal  lgbqt  civilrights  humanrights  discrimination  politics  culture  government  newyorkcity 
october 2015 by jtyost2
NYC media coverage of black suspects is way out of proportion with black arrest rates - Vox
According to a report by the progressive research center Media Matters, New York City television stations give disproportionate coverage to crimes involving black suspects.

The Media Matters study found that between August 18 and December 13, 2014, the stations (WCBS, WNBC, WABC, and WNYW) used their late-night broadcasts to report on murder, theft, and assault cases in which African Americans were suspects at rates that far exceeded African-American arrest rates for those crimes.
race  racism  journalism  media  politics  ethics  newyorkcity 
march 2015 by jtyost2
NYPD Caught Editing Wikipedia Entries About Police Brutality Victims
The New York Police Department has anonymously edited and tried to delete Wikipedia pages about police brutality victims, Capital New York has discovered. Edits coming from 1 Police Plaza headquarters targeted pages for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo.

NYPD IP addresses were used to edit the Wikipedia page on the “Death of Eric Garner,” who was killed by police chokehold and inspired massive nationwide protests in the fall. Capital New York found that the department changed “Garner raised both his arms in the air” to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke,” and added the sentence “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” among other changes.

Someone at the NYPD also tried to delete the article on Sean Bell, an unarmed man who was gunned down by officers firing 50 bullets in 2006, arguing that “no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore.” The user wrote, “The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable.”
newyorkcity  police  politics  legal  ethics  government 
march 2015 by jtyost2
BBC News - Akai Gurley death: Policeman charged over fatal shooting
A police officer has been charged over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in a block of flats in New York City, according to a lawyer in the case.

Scott Rynecki told the Associated Press that Officer Peter Liang had been charged by a grand jury in the death of Akai Gurley, a black 28-year-old.

When grand juries declined to charge officers over the deaths of other black men, there were nationwide protests.

After Mr Gurley's death in November, police said it was an accident.

Mr Rynecki is the lawyer for Mr Gurley's partner.
police  legal  ethics  accountability  government  newyorkcity 
february 2015 by jtyost2
Stream of Foreign Wealth Flows to Elite New York Real Estate
On the 74th floor of the Time Warner Center, Condominium 74B was purchased in 2010 for $15.65 million by a secretive entity called 25CC ST74B L.L.C. It traces to the family of Vitaly Malkin, a former Russian senator and banker who was barred from entering Canada because of suspected connections to organized crime.

Last fall, another shell company bought a condo down the hall for $21.4 million from a Greek businessman named Dimitrios Contominas, who was arrested a year ago as part of a corruption sweep in Greece.

A few floors down are three condos owned by another shell company, Columbus Skyline L.L.C., which belongs to the family of a Chinese businessman and contractor named Wang Wenliang. His construction company was found housing workers in New Jersey in hazardous, unsanitary conditions.

Behind the dark glass towers of the Time Warner Center looming over Central Park, a majority of owners have taken steps to keep their identities hidden, registering condos in trusts, limited liability companies or other entities that shield their names. By piercing the secrecy of more than 200 shell companies, The New York Times documented a decade of ownership in this iconic Manhattan way station for global money transforming the city’s real estate market.

Many of the owners represent a cross-section of American wealth: chief executives and celebrities, doctors and lawyers, technology entrepreneurs and Wall Street traders.

But The Times also found a growing proportion of wealthy foreigners, at least 16 of whom have been the subject of government inquiries around the world, either personally or as heads of companies. The cases range from housing and environmental violations to financial fraud. Four owners have been arrested, and another four have been the subject of fines or penalties for illegal activities.

The foreign owners have included government officials and close associates of officials from Russia, Colombia, Malaysia, China, Kazakhstan and Mexico.
newyorkcity  realestate  economics  business  housing  legal  privacy  government  taxes  inequality  wealth 
february 2015 by jtyost2
NYPD Has a Plan to Magically Turn Anyone It Wants Into a Felon 
On Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton urged state legislators to consider increasing the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony. The change, he argued, would help New Yorkers "get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can't." It would also give cops an easy way to turn victims of their own worst impulses into the worst class of criminal.

In theory, a resisting arrest charge allows the state to further punish suspects who endanger the safety of police officers as they're being apprehended; in practice, it gives tautological justification to cops who enjoy roughing people up. Why did you use force against that suspect, officer? Because she was resisting arrest. How do I know you're telling the truth? Because I charged her with it, sir.
legal  ethics  politics  justice  civilrights  government  humanrights  newyork  newyorkcity 
february 2015 by jtyost2
A Blizzard of Privilege — TheLi.st @ Medium — Medium
Meanwhile, the travel ban, which also hit at 11pm, carried with it a penalty for contravention. But was there a penalty for employers who insisted their shift workers stay on until or past 11pm? Recall that when these decisions were made, New Yorkers were already well into their workday. Sure there was an emergency blast on our phones — thank you — but without that critical information, how many people were caught in limbo? Likely not any of the people Cuomo was considering when he announced the closure.

Mass transit in New York is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. (One that we pay for in our taxes in addition to fares.) The lack of it paralyzes the city — every worst-case scenario terrorist attack theory involves the subways being shut down. But this was not an attack. It was a “potential” weather event, and one that the city is set to deal with. The seeming casualness with which this decision was made, and received, suggests a limited understanding of how much of the residents of this city live — and that is nearly as alarming as the potential storm was itself.
newyorkcity  politics  government  inequality  wealth  culture  transportation 
january 2015 by jtyost2
After Cuomo’s surprise, overnight subway service continues without passengers :: Second Ave. Sagas
The problem with Cuomo’s decision is that it doesn’t make sense. It’s a noble goal to keep cars off the road so that emergency response teams and plows can move through the city unimpeded. But it ignores the reality of New York City — an often inconvenient one for Cuomo — to shutter the subway. Now, New Yorkers, from everyone building cleaning crews to service employees at bars who are on duty until 4 a.m. to nurses and hospitals on duty overnight, can’t get around the city because the Governor decided it was somehow a danger for a subway system that operates largely underground to keep running through a massive but hardly unprecedented snow storm. Cuomo doesn’t want to deal with headlines placing the blame for the next stranded subway on his shoulders so instead, the entire city is effectively shut down.
A great irony in the governor’s move is that the subway itself arose from the paralysis of the Blizzard of 1888. New Yorkers needed a way to get around in a snow storm, and the subways were the perfect antidote to surface congestion. Now, after two hurricanes during which it made sense to stop subway service due to serious flooding concerns, the governor has decided that favorable headlines trump urban life. After all these years, should we expect anything else from a governor who hasn’t recognized the role transit plays in driving New York City’s existence? Sadly, I guess not.
newyork  newyorkcity  AndrewCuomo  government  politics  subway  transportation 
january 2015 by jtyost2
EXCLUSIVE: Subways will run empty overnight during snowstorm, source says • The Brooklyn Paper
The lack of ground transportation options makes keeping the subway open all the more important, the transit source said.

“The underground lifeline should be open,” the source said.

During snowstorms, limited closures along low-lying, outdoor sections of track such as the Brighton B and Q line makes sense, but the majority of the subway system runs on underground and elevated lines that are largely protected from the storms’ impact, the insider said.

A Twitter exchange between a Transportation Authority data scientist and a New York Post reporter appears to corroborate the agency being caught off guard by the governor’s announcement. Shortly before Cuomo’s bombshell, the transit wonk wrote that outdoor portions of the N, A, and Q, lines may be suspended. But when the reporter pointed out Cuomo was saying the plug would be pulled, the worker deferred to public relations.

Later, the data scientist lamented that stranded New Yorkers might resort to loosely regulated services such as Uber to catch now-illegal rides through the storm.

“Not a good plan from the governor,” Samuel Wong wrote. “The startup procedures will be fun.”

The Brooklyn Paper has reached out to the governor’s office and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for comment and will update this story if we hear back.
subway  AndrewCumo  newyork  newyorkcity  transportation  safety  regulation 
january 2015 by jtyost2
NYC Turns Its Back on NYPD
The verdict is in: New Yorkers really don't like Pat Lynch and they really, really don't like cops turning their backs on the Mayor at police funerals.

I've written a number of pieces recently on the war between the NYPD - or at least major elements of it - and Mayor de Blasio. As I've written, my major question has been, where do New Yorkers fit in? Now we have New Yorkers verdict - a new poll out from Quinnipiac. And New Yorkers have a resoundingly negative verdict on the back turning and the general behavior of the NYPD leadership over recent weeks.

New York City voters disapprove of police officers turning their backs on the Mayor at police funerals by 69% to 27%. 77% think police union President Pay Lynch's "blood on his hands" remarks were "too extreme" and no racial or gender subset of the population considers the comments "appropriate."

Though there are big differences across the city's racial groups 47% of New Yorkers say de Blasio's actions since he began his run for Mayor show he supports the city's police. 37% say the opposite.

Finally 52% of New Yorkers (versus 38%) says police discipline has broken down.
newyorkcity  politics  police  poll  PatLynch  BilldeBlasio 
january 2015 by jtyost2
Judge Orders NYPD to Release Records on X-ray Vans
A state judge has ordered the New York City Police Department to release records on a secretive program that uses unmarked vans equipped with X-ray machines to detect bombs.

The ruling follows a nearly three-year legal battle by ProPublica, which had requested police reports, training materials, contracts and any health and safety tests on the vans under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

ProPublica filed the request as part of its investigation into the proliferation of security equipment, including airport body scanners, that expose people to ionizing radiation, which can mutate DNA and increase the risk of cancer.

Richard Daddario, then the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of counterterrorism, told the court in 2013 that releasing the documents would hamper the department’s ability to conduct operations and endanger the lives of New Yorkers.

Disclosing them, he said, would “permit those seeking to evade detection to conform their conduct to the times, places and methods that avoid NYPD presence and are thus most likely to yield a successful attack.”

But Supreme Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan called the NYPD’s argument “mere speculation” and “patently insufficient” to outweigh the public’s right to know.
newyorkcity  politics  legal  lawsuit  terrorism  security  ethics  civilrights  freedomfromsearchandseizure 
january 2015 by jtyost2
How Much Arrests and Tickets in New York City Have Declined - NYTimes.com
The New York Police Department’s drastic drop in arrests and tickets continued for a second week. Officers made half as many arrests in the seven days through Sunday
newyorkcity  politics  government  protest  crime  police  statistics 
january 2015 by jtyost2
Drop in New York Police Arrests Continues for a Second Week
Hundreds of officers have now twice turned their backs when the mayor eulogized the two officers shot in their patrol car by a man who targeted them for their uniforms. In his first comments on the police protests, Mr. de Blasio said on Monday that such displays were “disrespectful” to the families of the men killed, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

“I also think they were disrespectful to the people in this city, who, in fact, honor the work of the N.Y.P.D.,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Mr. Bratton, who before the second funeral, on Sunday, asked officers to put aside their grievances, went further, calling it a “selfish” act.

“Come demonstrate outside City Hall, come demonstrate outside Police Headquarters,” he said. “But don’t put on your uniform and go to a funeral and engage in a political action.”

Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Bratton held the news conference to draw attention to the city’s success in driving down crime, even as stop-and-frisk encounters plummeted. Robberies and murders, they said, dropped to their lowest level since 1963, when the department began collecting reliable statistics.

The downturn in enforcement activity, though, threatened to reopen a question that Mr. de Blasio had seemingly put to rest in his first year in office: Would crime rise under a liberal mayor promising policing reforms?

During the first week of the enforcement declines, in fact, crime went down. But in the second week, the statistics showed an uptick: Robberies rose 13.5 percent over the week, to 361 from 318 a year ago. Murders increased to 11 for the week that ended Sunday, from seven in the same week a year earlier.

The numbers, disclosed on Monday, reveal a downturn in nearly every category of arrest and all three categories of summons activity, parking violations, (down 93 percent to 1,191 from 16,008); traffic infractions (down 92 percent, to 749 from 9,349); and low-level crimes (down 91 percent, to 347 from 4,077).

Richard Aborn, the leader of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, said he expected the drop to correct itself. “The only thing more critical to the cops right now than their outrage is their sense of duty,” he said, “and they’re not going to abandon that for a long period.”

How much revenue the city might lose, as a result, was not immediately clear. The city took in $546 million in parking fine revenue during the 2014 fiscal year, according to Doug Turetsky of the city’s Independent Budget Office, an average of about $10.5 million a week.

Robert Cassar, the head of the union for police traffic agents, said his uniformed personnel — who are now doubled up on their rounds — were at even greater risk than patrol officers to attacks. “Our guys, we don’t have guns,” he said.

“We’re being very cautious,” he added. “We don’t want to enrage the public.”

Across the city, officers made a total of 2,401 arrests, compared with 5,448 for the same week the year before, a 56 percent decline. That included 17 percent fewer arrests for major felonies, which declined to 472 from 568.

The declines came after a drastic drop in activity that began shortly after the murder of Officers Ramos and Liu in Brooklyn, and continued across all 77 precincts in the city.

Police union leaders also sought to dissociate the declines from any organized work action, though they have urged their members to put their own safety first, which could curb enforcement in all but the clearest situations that called for an arrest.

The sustained declines, however, suggest something of a coordinated effort, even if it was not sanctioned by union leaders.

“People are talking to each other,” Edward D. Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said on Sunday. “It became contagious.”

He added that there had been no decrease in police service. “All of the 911 calls are being responded to,” Mr. Mullins said.

Mr. Bratton said he had no intention of departing from the proactive approach to policing, addressing minor offenses to head off major crimes following a strategy often known as “broken windows,” which he helped pioneer during his first stint as New York City police commissioner in the 1990s. “We’re not going back to that period of time; never again,” he said.

He called attention to the roughly 17,000 police officers who live in the city, a majority of the force. “I think officers are very mindful that if this city were allowed to be de-policed, some of the first who would be affected would be their families,” he said.
newyorkcity  politics  government  police  protest  crime  legal  BillDeBlasio 
january 2015 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York mayor rebukes police over funeral snub
The mayor of New York has rebuked hundreds of the city's police officers who turned their backs on him as he spoke at the funerals of two officers.

Bill de Blasio said the public snubbing had been disrespectful to the families of the two men and to the city.

Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot dead last month by a gunman with a grievance against the police.

Many police have resented the mayor's expressions of sympathy for anti-police protesters in recent months.

"Those individuals who took certain actions the last two weeks, they were disrespectful to the families involved. That's the bottom line," Mr de Blasio told reporters at police headquarters.

"They were disrespectful to the families who lost their loved ones. I can't understand why anyone would do such a thing in the context like that."

Mr de Blasio also dismissed suggestions that police had been working to rule since the killing of the two officers.

He described the apparent fall-off in arrests and court appearances for minor offences as an aberration.

"I certainly don't think a few very aberrant days suggest anything compared to what you see over the course of the whole year," he said.
police  newyorkcity  government  politics  economics  protest  BillDeBlasio  race  racism 
january 2015 by jtyost2
BBC News - Wenjian Liu funeral: Police snub New York mayor again
Hundreds of police officers have turned their backs on the mayor of New York at the funeral of the second of two officers shot dead last month.

Wenjian Liu, a son of Chinese migrants, was killed with his partner Rafael Ramos on 20 December by a gunman with a grievance against the police.

Speakers lined up to pay tribute at the service in a Brooklyn funeral home.

In the street outside, hundreds turned their backs to a video screen when Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke.

Many rank-and-file members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) resent Mr de Blasio's expressions of sympathy for anti-police protesters in recent months.

The double murder by an African American gunman who claimed to be avenging black men killed by white police stunned the city.

New York police commissioner Bill Bratton had urged officers to refrain from any further "act of disrespect", saying in a memo, "A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance."
police  politics  BillDeBlasio  newyorkcity  protest 
january 2015 by jtyost2
NYC Labor May Break With Police Union - BuzzFeed News
New York City’s top progressives have backed away from any direct confrontation with the city’s largest police union, even as union leaders continue to criticize the mayor following the shooting of two officers.
But the silence of non-police unions may not last long into the new year.
That will depend on the actions of Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and whether he continues his public campaign against Mayor Bill de Blasio, sources with knowledge of union thinking say. Unions were instrumental in getting de Blasio elected and are considered among his closest allies.
“Those that are closer to traditional institutional players will probably, hopefully, be more willing to shun those who are using an inappropriate tone,” one senior union official told BuzzFeed News.
While labor’s silence regarding Lynch has been, in part, out of respect to the families of the two murdered NYPD officers — de Blasio also called for a moratorium on political rhetoric and demonstrations in the weeks surrounding the funerals — sources said it was also an act of “solidarity” to avoid union-on-union warfare.
newyorkcity  police  politics  BillDeBBlasio  PatrickLynch  union 
january 2015 by jtyost2
The NYPD's 'Work Stoppage' Is Surreal | Rolling Stone
So this police protest, unwittingly, is leading to the exposure of the very policies that anger so many different constituencies about modern law-enforcement tactics.

First, it shines a light on the use of police officers to make up for tax shortfalls using ticket and citation revenue. Then there's the related (and significantly more important) issue of forcing police to make thousands of arrests and issue hundreds of thousands of summonses when they don't "have to."

It's incredibly ironic that the police have chosen to abandon quality-of-life actions like public urination tickets and open-container violations, because it's precisely these types of interactions that are at the heart of the Broken Windows polices that so infuriate residents of so-called "hot spot" neighborhoods.

In an alternate universe where this pseudo-strike wasn't the latest sortie in a standard-issue right-versus left political showdown, one could imagine this protest as a progressive or even a libertarian strike, in which police refused to work as backdoor tax-collectors and/or implement Minority Report-style pre-emptive policing policies, which is what a lot of these Broken Windows-type arrests amount to.

But that's not what's going on here. As far as I can tell, there's nothing enlightened about this slowdown, although I'm sure there are thousands of cops who are more than happy to get a break from Broken Windows policing.

I've met more than a few police in the last few years who've complained vigorously about things like the "empty the pad" policies in some precincts, where officers were/are told by superiors to fill predetermined summons quotas every month.

It would be amazing if this NYPD protest somehow brought parties on all sides to a place where we could all agree that policing should just go back to a policy of officers arresting people "when they have to."
newyorkcity  police  protest  politics  government  harassment  discrimination  legal  justice  crime  ethics 
january 2015 by jtyost2
Report: Cop Turned Himself In For Allegedly Attacking MTA Worker At Subway Station: Gothamist
The conductor had been on the platform to let passengers know about service changes. The Post's source said, "He was livid about the service and took it out on the conductor." The MTA workers' union, TWU Local 100, says that another conductor pulled the attacker off the victim. The injured conductor was treated for head, neck and back injuries at a hospital.
WCBS 2 reports, "The officer"—who was off-duty during the incident—"told investigators the woman cursed at him after he asked her a question, and grabbed his phone to prevent him from taking her picture, police alleged."
No one has been charged. Yet.
legal  crime  police  accountability  newyorkcity 
january 2015 by jtyost2
The Benefits of Fewer NYPD Arrests - The Atlantic
Public drinking and urination may be unseemly, but they're hardly threats to life, liberty, or public order. (The Post also noted a decline in drug arrests, but their comparison of 2013 and 2014 rates is misleading. The mayor's office announced in November that police would stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession and issue tickets instead. Even before the slowdown began, marijuana-related arrests had declined by 61 percent.) If the NYPD can safely cut arrests by two-thirds, why haven't they done it before?

The human implications of this question are immense. Fewer arrests for minor crimes logically means fewer people behind bars for minor crimes. Poorer would-be defendants benefit the most; three-quarters of those sitting in New York jails are only there because they can't afford bail. Fewer New Yorkers will also be sent to Rikers Island, where endemic brutality against inmates has led to resignations, arrests, and an imminent federal civil-rights intervention over the past six months. A brush with the American criminal-justice system can be toxic for someone's socioeconomic and physical health.

The NYPD might benefit from fewer unnecessary arrests, too. Tensions between the mayor and the police unions originally intensified after a grand jury failed to indict a NYPD officer for the chokehold death of Eric Garner during an arrest earlier this year. Garner's arrest wasn't for murder or arson or bank robbery, but on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes—hardly the most serious of crimes. Maybe the NYPD's new "absolutely necessary" standard for arrests would have produced a less tragic outcome for Garner then. Maybe it will for future Eric Garners too.
legal  police  politics  government  ethics  newyorkcity  justice 
december 2014 by jtyost2
When New York City Police Walk Off the Job
The list of grievances adds up to very little, unless you look at it through the magnifying lens of resentment fomented by union bosses and right-wing commentators. The falling murder rate, the increased resources for the department, the end of quota-based policing, which the police union despised, the mayor’s commitment to “broken-windows” policing — none of that matters, because many cops have latched on to the narrative that they are hated, with the mayor orchestrating the hate.

It’s a false narrative. Mr. de Blasio was elected by a wide margin on a promise to reform the policing excesses that were found unconstitutional by a federal court. He hired a proven reformer, Mr. Bratton, who had achieved with the Los Angeles Police Department what needs doing in New York. The furor that has gripped the city since the Garner killing has been a complicated mess. But what New Yorkers expect of the Police Department is simple:

1. Don’t violate the Constitution.

2. Don’t kill unarmed people.

To that we can add:

3. Do your jobs. The police are sworn public servants, and refusing to work violates their oath to serve and protect. Mr. Bratton should hold his commanders and supervisors responsible, and turn this insubordination around.

Mr. de Blasio has a responsibility to lead the city out of this impasse, and to his credit has avoided inflaming the situation with hasty or hostile words. But it’s the Police Department that needs to police itself. Rank-and-file officers deserve a department they can be proud of, not the insular, defiant, toxically politicized constituency that Mr. Lynch seems to want to lead.
newyorkcity  police  politics  government  civilrights  protest  BillDeBlasio  EricGarner 
december 2014 by jtyost2
NYPD in ‘Work Stoppage’ Over de Blasio Rift -- NYMag
On the day two NYPD officers were fatally shot, a widely circulated memo purporting to be from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association told officers that "Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary." The group denied that it issued the memo, though its president, Pat Lynch, used language similar to what was in the document when he said there's "blood on the hands" of Mayor de Blasio. Regardless of who wrote the memo, it appears officers took the message to heart. The New York Post reports that NYPD officers are engaged in a "virtual work stoppage," citing statistics that show arrests in the city are down 66 percent for the week starting December 22, compared to the same period last year.
legal  newyorkcity  police  protest  politics  government 
december 2014 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urges unity after police shooting
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged his city to heal and support the families of two slain officers.

"Our first obligation is to respect these families," Mr de Blasio said, asking the city "put aside" debate and protests in the coming days.

He has been accused of stoking tensions between police and minorities after two officers were shot dead on Saturday.

The fatal shooting came after weeks of protests following the killing of an unarmed black man by New York police.

Eric Garner died after being placed in an chokehold by police in the summer. He was one of several black men or young boys killed by police in 2014.
BillDeBlasio  newyorkcity  police  politics  race  racism  culture  ethics 
december 2014 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley said 'watch what I'm going to do'
The man who shot dead two New York police officers told members of the public to "watch what I'm going to do" shortly before the attack, police say.

Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, had a history of violence and mental instability.

Candlelit vigils have been held in New York in memory of officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40.

Brinsley shot them as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday before running into a subway station and shooting himself.

Hours earlier, he had shot and wounded his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, at her home in Baltimore, Maryland, police said.
legal  crime  police  politics  IsmaaiylBrinsley  newyorkcity  government  ethics 
december 2014 by jtyost2
BBC News - Huge funeral for shot New York policeman Rafael Ramos
Tens of thousands of people are attending the funeral in New York of Rafael Ramos, one of the two policemen shot dead a week ago.

Vice-President Joe Biden praised the "finest police department in the world" at the service, attended by police forces from across the US and Canada.

Mr Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot after weeks of anti-police protests.

Police at the funeral again snubbed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had appeared to back some of the protests.

Funeral details for Officer Liu have yet to be announced. Officials say it will be held when relatives arrive from China.
police  politics  BillDeBlasio  newyorkcity 
december 2014 by jtyost2
Manhattan would need 48 new bridges if everyone drove. Here's what it would look like
Taylor arrived at that number by noting that 2,060,000 people commute to Manhattan daily. Under ideal conditions, a single lane can convey about 2,000 vehicles per hour, so to let 2.06 million cars on to the island within a four-hour period, you’d need at least 380 additional bridge lanes — or roughly 48 new eight-lane bridges.

Of course, you’d also need somewhere to put all those extra cars. Taylor calculates that they’d require about 24 square miles in total, which is exactly the land area of Manhattan. In other words, you’d need to build a layer of underground parking that takes up the entire borough to fit all the cars driven in by commuters.

Sure, all this is pretty speculative (and it assumes that all commuters would be driving in alone, including the 70,000 students — some of whom aren’t old enough to drive — that commute in daily).

But the thought exercise is still a pretty stark reminder of how efficient public transport is at conveying tons of people. Even if you built all those bridges, there wouldn’t be enough roads to route the 2.06 million cars underground to the imaginary layer of parking, among many other problems.

In other words, Manhattan as we know it simply wouldn’t exist if all its commuters drove.
newyorkcity  infrastructure 
december 2014 by jtyost2
NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner in chokehold won't face criminal charges - Vox
Eric Garner was a 43-year-old, 6-foot, 3-inch, 350-pound father of six who was killed in Staten Island on July 17 after an NYPD officer put him in a chokehold, which is prohibited by NYPD policy.

A medical examiner deemed Garner’s death a homicide, according to the Associated Press. Garner was killed by “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” said medical examiner spokesperson Julie Bolcer.

Police stopped Garner for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner had been previously arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in May, police told CNN. He had one pack of untaxed cigarettes when police moved in, according to New York Daily News.

Garner’s death was captured on video. One video, reported by New York Daily News, shows multiple police officers pulling Garner to the ground, with one officer grabbing the 43-year-old in a chokehold. Garner can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe,” numerous times before he died.
legal  usa  crime  justice  civilrights  humanrights  police  politics  accountability  race  racism  discrimination  harassment  culture  EricGarner  newyorkcity 
december 2014 by jtyost2
BBC News - Eric Garner: No charges in NY chokehold case
A grand jury has decided not to charge a white New York City police officer over the death of Eric Garner, a black man he placed in an apparent chokehold.

Following the grand jury decision, crowds gathered in New York's Times Square to vent their frustration.

President Barack Obama said it "speaks to larger issues" between minorities and law enforcement.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal investigation of potential civil rights violations in the case.

The Department of Justice will also conduct a "complete review" of material gathered in the local investigation, he said.

He urged those who planned to demonstrate against the grand jury decision to do so peacefully, and said he was continuing a review of how to heal a "breakdown in trust" between law enforcement officers and communities.
legal  crime  justice  ethics  accountability  EricGarner  police  usa  newyorkcity  government  civilrights  humanrights 
december 2014 by jtyost2
A Public Transportation Game Changer for People Who Use Wheelchairs
Driscoll and Dustin Jones, head of marketing and research at Wheely, have been creating a subway map simplified to display only the wheelchair accessible stations, and integrating Google Maps to give both exact GPS locations and street view images of the elevators. The app will also alert users to real-time elevator outages.
transportation  accessibility  newyorkcity 
august 2014 by jtyost2
Twitter / GeeDee215: In 2011, there were 120,000 ...
In 2011, there were 120,000 police stops of black/Latino boys btwn 14 and 18 in NYC. There were 170,000 black/Latino boys in NYC then.
newyorkcity  politics  government  legal  ethics  civilrights  humanrights  police  race  racism 
august 2014 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York police disband Muslim 'eavesdropping' unit
The New York Police Department has disbanded a secret programme designed to eavesdrop on Muslims to identify potential terrorism threats.

The Demographics Unit had dispatched plainclothes detectives to listen to conversations and build files on places frequented by Muslims, US media say.

The squad had been the subject of two federal lawsuits in the past, and drew ire from civil rights groups.

It is also said to have sowed Muslim mistrust for law enforcement.

"This reform is a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys," the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote in a statement.
newyorkcity  legal  politics  police  ethics  government  islam  religion  discrimination 
april 2014 by jtyost2
Judge Tosses Muslim Spying Suit Against NYPD, Says Any Damage Was Caused by Reporters Who Exposed It - The Intercept
A federal judge in Newark has thrown out a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for spying on New Jersey Muslims, saying if anyone was at fault, it was the Associated Press for telling people about it.

In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini simultaneously demonstrated the willingness of the judiciary to give law enforcement alarming latitude in the name of fighting terror, greenlighted the targeting of Muslims based solely on their religious beliefs, and blamed the media for upsetting people by telling them what their government was doing.

The NYPD’s clandestine spying on daily life in Muslim communities in the region — with no probable cause, and nothing to show for it — was exposed in a Pulitzer-Prize winning series of stories by the AP. The stories described infiltration and surveillance of at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools, and two Muslim student associations in New Jersey alone.

In a cursory, 10-page ruling issued before even hearing oral arguments, Martini essentially said that what the targets didn’t know didn’t hurt them:

None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not “fairly traceable” to any act of surveillance.

The NYPD didn’t publicize the program, the judge wrote. “The Associated Press covertly obtained confidential NYPD documents and published unredacted versions of these documents, as well as articles interpreting the documents.”
media  journalism  surveillance  religion  islam  legal  civilrights  privacy  government  police  newjersey  newyorkcity  ethics  freedom  freedomfromsearchandseizure  discrimination 
february 2014 by jtyost2
Court Gives NYPD Green Light to Conduct Religious Surveillance
Today, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the New York City Police Department’s broad surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. In a summary 10-page opinion, and without oral argument, the case was dismissed for lack of standing and because the court considered plaintiffs’ claims of discrimination from NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program not “plausible.” Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) case, Hassan v. City of New York, was brought on behalf of a broad group of American Muslims from a variety of backgrounds – including a decorated Iraq war veteran and the former principal of a grade school for Muslim girls – who have been subjected to invasive NYPD spying. The City had argued that the events of 9/11 justified broad surveillance of any and all New Jersey Muslims, without any indication of wrongdoing. Hassan is the first direct legal challenge to the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey.

“In addition to willfully ignoring the harm that our innocent clients suffered from the NYPD’s illegal spying program, by upholding the NYPD’s blunderbuss Muslim surveillance practices, the court’s decision gives legal sanction to the targeted discrimination of Muslims anywhere and everywhere in this country, without limitation, for no other reason than their religion,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. “The ruling is a modern day version of the discredited Korematsu decision allowing the wholesale internment of Japanese Americans based solely on their ancestry. It is a troubling and dangerous decision.”
police  legal  civilrights  religion  islam  government  newyorkcity 
february 2014 by jtyost2
Why Did the NYPD Use Horses on Occupy Wall Street Protesters? | The Nation
Since Occupy Wall Street began, police have coordinated mass arrests, beat members of the press with batons, pepper-sprayed demonstrators without provocation, and intentionally struck people with motor-scooters—to name only a few incidents. Using horses as crowd-control weapons in the middle of Times Square is yet another grievous example of the department’s insistence on employing disproportionately forceful, and callous, tactics.

To the horses’ credit, things could have gone much worse; no member of any species was seriously injured. The only real casualty, per usual, is the NYPD’s increasingly tarnished reputation.
animalrights  protest  OccupyWallStreet  newyorkcity  police 
february 2014 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York tackles the pre-school gap
New York's richest are going to have to pay for some of New York's youngest, under new Mayor Bill de Blasio's flagship plan for more pre-school places.

The proposed tax on those earning above $500,000 (£307,000) would provide free, full-day pre-school classes for every four-year-old.

It's the latest in a wave of expansions of pre-school education running across the United States.

President Barack Obama hailed the importance in his state of the union address last week, welcoming that 30 states were raising funds for more pre-school places.

"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education," said President Obama.

And he promised to put together a coalition of political leaders, businesses and philanthropists to campaign for widening access to pre-school education across the US.
taxes  education  politics  preschool  newyorkcity 
february 2014 by jtyost2
New York City Pantries Ran Out Of Food After Food Stamps Were Cut
After food stamps were reduced at the beginning of November, New York City food pantries and soup kitchens ran out of food, turned people away, and reduced the meals they handed out after experiencing a surge of demand, according to a new report from Food Bank For New York City.

The organization surveyed 522 food pantries and 138 soup kitchens and found that in November 2013, nearly half had either run out of food altogether or the particular kinds of food they need to make adequate meals. About a quarter had to turn people away since they didn’t have enough food, and another quarter had to reduce the number of meals they provided.

The survey asked them to compare conditions in November of last year to September and October, as well as to November 2012. Three-quarters saw a surge in visitors in November as compared to the months before, with 16 percent saying demand increased by more than 50 percent. Even more reported that the number of visitors climbed compared to the year before, making it likely that the uptick was about the food stamp cut, rather than seasonal changes. The report notes that “the SNAP cuts that took effect November 1 represent the biggest systemic factor reducing the food purchasing power of low-income people,” adding that “other factors that meaningfully affect emergency food program participation, like local unemployment, actually decreased in November 2013.”
newyorkcity  poverty  welfare  government  usa  inequality  snap 
january 2014 by jtyost2
De Blasio, in Private Speech to Aipac, Stresses Commitment to Israel
Mayor Bill de Blasio gave an unannounced speech at a gala of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the leading pro-Israel lobby group, in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday night, assuring its members that “part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel.”

The appearance at the New York Hilton was not listed on the mayor’s public schedule, and a reporter who tried to attend was escorted away by security.

In his speech, which was reported by the website Capital New York, Mr. de Blasio told the lobbying organization that Aipac would always have “a friend and ally at City Hall.”

The commitment to defend Israel is “elemental to being an American, because there is no greater ally on earth,” Mr. de Blasio said. Capital New York also posted excerpts from the mayor’s remarks online.

The mayor said New York City had a special bond with Israel not only because of its large Jewish population, but also because of shared values of democracy and open discourse, and the shared experience of confronting terrorism. “We take inspiration from Israel for how it has stared down terrorism and kept moving forward,” he said.

Mr. de Blasio said he had visited Israel three times, most recently with his wife and son. He said he was especially moved by visiting a city in the Negev desert near the Gaza Strip that has been the target of rocket attacks.
israel  politics  usa  diplomacy  government  BilldeBlasio  NewYorkCity 
january 2014 by jtyost2
$18M settlement for RNC arrests lawsuits in NYC
New York City has agreed to pay $18 million to settle dozens of lawsuits filed by protesters, journalists and bystanders who said they were wrongly arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention and held for hours in makeshift holding cells, lawyers said Wednesday.

The settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge, would end nearly a decade of legal wrangling over more than 1,800 arrests, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct or parading without a permit. Hundreds sued, saying they were illegally arrested by an overzealous police department. Nearly all the arrests were dismissed by the court or the defendants acquitted.

Neal Curley was 17 at the time of his arrest. He had come to the city from Philadelphia with his father to see a show and decided to join one of the protests. Curley was arrested crossing the street and held for 14 hours. In the time the case has been litigated, he graduated from high school and college and now is 26 and working at an art gallery.

"I'm glad it finally happened," he said of the case's end. "I hope it sets and important precedent that the right to free speech and assembly are basic American rights."

Deirdre MacNamara, another woman who sued, said she wasn't even protesting when she was arrested, just out buying a milkshake.

"If this average person can get arrested just walking down the street," she said, everyone should be worried.

Lawyers with the New York Civil Liberties Union had previously asked the judge hearing case to conclude that police didn't have probable cause to make mass arrests during the convention, at which President George W. Bush was nominated for another term.
legal  lawsuit  government  police  politics  freedom  freedomofspeech  freedomofprotest  usa  newyorkcity  aclu 
january 2014 by jtyost2
What Happens When a Homeless New Yorker Dies?
Roughly 7 million people live in New York City, and, like everywhere else in the world, some of them die. Sometimes, they die with no family and/or no money. In New York, a few thousand such people die each year in the city’s hospitals alone. But these people’s stories do not end with their deaths. What does the city do with the bodies? They’re buried on Hart Island.

Hart Island is located in the western part of Long Island Sound, a few miles offshore from the Bronx and only a bit farther from Queens. This tiny island—131 acres—has been uninhabited for years, at least by the living. Since 1869, the city of New York has used the island as a potter’s field, a burial ground for those who could not afford burial elsewhere. The potter’s field now takes up roughly 101 of the island’s 131 acres and is the largest tax-supported graveyard in the world.

More than 850,000 people have been buried on Hart’s Island, and roughly 2,000 more burials occur each year. Dismembered body parts constitute a small minority of the burials. An estimated one-third of the burials are of very young children. With one exception—“special child baby 1 1985,” the first child to die of AIDS in New York City—the bodies are buried in mass graves.

Children are buried in trenches numbering as many as 1,000 each, whereas adults—whose bodies are often disinterred when relatives later claim them—are buried in three sections of roughly 50 each. Want to see if you know anyone buried there? To find out, you need to peruse the records, which are maintained by the city’s Department of Correction—a strange quirk of how the island is administered.

Because of the cost of burying 2,000 or so bodies (or parts thereof) each year, the city uses prison labor for the job. Inmates from Rikers Island, New York City’s jail, are ferried over to Hart’s Island and paid 50 cents per hour to stack coffins for burial. Since the 1950s, the burials occur without any sort of ceremony; grave sites are not even outfitted with markers indicating those buried.

The city, generally, does not allow visitors, press, or tourists to see some still-present historical landmarks on the island, citing security concerns due to the fact that prisoners work there. The only exceptions made are to family members of the deceased, and even in that case, the visits must be scheduled with the Department of Correction and the visitors are not allowed to visit the gravesites unaccompanied.
newyorkcity  inequality  prison  history  culture  death 
december 2013 by jtyost2
Victory! NYC Airports Stop Killing Snowy Owls | Care2 Causes
An unusually large influx of snowy owls in the Northeast this winter might be exciting birdwatchers, but their attraction to airports has led to them finding themselves in the crosshairs.

Although no one is quite sure why the the owls who hail from the Arctic tundra are appearing in such large numbers, their draw to airports that resemble their preferred open habitat has led to safety concerns among aviation officials and the quick addition of snowy owls to the list of birds that airports can legally kill, complete with orders to shoot them on sight.

According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, five planes from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport were struck by snowy owls over the last two weeks.

Media reports about snowy owls being added to the kill list, which was followed by the news of three being shot at JFK led to outcry from the public and organizations, including Friends of Animals (FoA), Goose Watch NYC, Audubon New York and New York City Audubon, among others. A Care2 petition urging the Port Authority to cease fire gathered more than 63,000 signatures.

Opponents argued that not only is killing birds cruel, but it doesn’t address the problem of them being attracted to airports, or provide any sort of long-term solution. The Port Authority was urged to follow the lead of other airports that have taken steps to avoid killing birds in the name of safety, including Boston’s Logan International Airport, which has moved more than 500 snowy owls since relocation efforts began decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.

Not only does Logan trap and release birds unharmed, but it also uses other deterrents including the use of sound canons, landscaping to make the area undesirable to birds and lacing the grass with a bacteria that gives birds indigestion.

Fortunately for the owls, public pressure seems to have paid off. Following media reports and objections to its plans, the Port Authority quickly backtracked and issued a statement saying that it will stop killing owls and adopt non-lethal alternatives.

“The Port Authority is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to move immediately toward implementing a program to trap and relocate snowy owls that pose a threat to aircraft at JFK and LaGuardia airports. The Port Authority’s goal is to strike a balance in humanely controlling bird populations at and around the agency’s airports to safeguard passengers on thousands of aircrafts each day.”

The announcement came as a relief to many, but FoA is still planning on suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division, as well as the directors of these agencies, because the agencies chose to ignore federal law protecting owls under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which requires them to fully consider and disclose all of the options available before they can justify killing animals and move forward with a lethal approach.

“What happened to the snowy owls last weekend at JFK, and what is likely happening to many other birds near airports that can be relocated instead of shot, is not only a real-world travesty, it is a legal failure,” said Michael Harris, director of the FoA’s Wildlife Law Program.

Hopefully as more owls continue to move in this winter, the Port Authority will keep its word and other airports will take note of the humane options that are available to keep all airborne travelers alive and safe.
newyorkcity  animalrights  transportation  usa  airline  environment 
december 2013 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York to raise cigarette sale age
New York City Council has voted to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21. New York will now become by far the most populous place in the US to impose such a high age limit, the Associated Press reports. The new age limit includes electronic vapour cigarettes. Across the US there is a minimum age for smoking of 18. Some states have raised the limit to 19 and at least two other towns have raised it to 21. The bill's sponsor, City Councilman James Gennaro, said it would "literally save many, many lives".
NewYorkCity  politics  health  HealthCare  cigarette  legal 
october 2013 by jtyost2
New York City Passes Law Defending Rights of Pregnant Workers
The New York City Council has passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which states that employers cannot penalize a pregnant woman who needs a minor job modification to continue working during pregnancy or requires time off to recover from childbirth. Employers with four or more employees must provide a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions — something many women working in retail and service jobs have found their employers to be reluctant to do.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, has introduced similar legislation at the federal level. The Women’s Equality Act, a much broader law that included similar protections for pregnant workers across New York State, stalled in the Legislature last year.

Why are additional laws protecting pregnant women needed when they should already be protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act? Because the Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not require accommodation. An employer’s refusal to allow a pregnant woman to stay off ladders during her third trimester or keep a bottle of water nearby might not qualify as discrimination if all workers are subject to the same restrictions.

No one benefits from effectively forcing a pregnant woman to choose between protecting her baby’s health and looking out for that child’s future economic interests, and employers who are glad to see the back of a pregnant employee are shortsighted. As Dina Bakst, founder and president of A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center, wrote in an Op-Ed article that inspired Councilman James Vacca to introduce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act:

Employers might consider that providing accommodations to pregnant workers would even be good for the bottom line, in the form of reduced turnover, increased loyalty and productivity and healthier workers. With minor job modifications, a woman might be able to work up until the delivery of her child and return to work fairly soon after giving birth. If she were forced out instead, her employer would waste time and money finding a replacement. In the worst-case scenario, employers could be responsible for much higher medical costs if their workers were afraid to ask for accommodations and instead continued doing work that endangered their pregnancies.

Three-quarters of women now entering the work force will become pregnant while still working. In New York City, those women will be able to ask for the job modifications they need and plan a return to the work that supports them and their families. That is an outcome that benefits the city’s women, families, employers and taxpayers. The rest of the country should expect no less.
newyorkcity  legal  pregnancy  discrimination  employment  parenting 
september 2013 by jtyost2
New York in 'largest-ever guns bust'
New York City police have arrested 19 people in what authorities are calling the city’s largest-ever guns bust.

Police recovered 254 firearms, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The guns were brought to the city from the US states of North and South Carolina by traffickers travelling on buses, authorities said.

Mr Bloomberg is one of the most prominent proponents of strict gun control in the US, criticising the easy availability of firearms.

“Year after year guns flow into our city from states that don’t have common sense gun laws,” Mr Bloomberg said on Monday, adding that North and South Carolina were among the top three sources of guns used in crime in the city.

A large majority of the guns were purchased by an undercover police officer in 45 transactions since 2012, authorities said.

The 10-month investigation resulting in the arrests began after police learned that gun sales were taking place in a recording studio in the borough of Brooklyn.

An aspiring rapper had “posted images of guns and cash on Instagram”, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Two accused smugglers, Walter Walker and Earl Campbell, were among those arrested in sweeps that began on 2 August.

Both took multiple trips to New York to sell guns every week, authorities said.

The defendants travelled to the city on discount bus lines that do not require identification for boarding, loading the guns into luggage, police said.

‘One customer’
The undercover officer bought all that was offered to him, including parts of an assault rifle, Mr Kelly said.

He “made sure the NYPD was Walker’s only customer”, Mr Kelly said.

The firearms included high-capacity assault weapons, a fully automatic machine gun and handguns, police said.

The 19 were charged with numerous felony weapons charges.

The police commissioner said that through the course of the investigation, the gun sales took place at locations closer to the bus terminal, where the defendants believed they would be less likely to be intercepted than in Brooklyn.

A wiretap showed the defendants feared becoming ensnared by the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy, Mr Kelly said.

A federal judge this month ruled the aggressive street policing tactic unconstitutional and discriminatory. Mr Bloomberg’s administration has appealed the ruling.
legal  crime  guncontrol  weapons  politics  newyorkcity 
august 2013 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York 'stop and frisk' policy ruled discriminatory
New York City's police department deliberately violated the civil rights of thousands through its stop and frisk policy, a US judge has ruled.

Judge Shira Scheindlin said police chiefs "turned a blind eye" to evidence that officers had discriminated by race when making the stops.

She did not order an end to the policy, but appointed an independent monitor to reform the practice.

About five million stops have been made by city police over the past decade.

City officials have argued the policy has been key in reducing the city's crime rate.

In 2012, police stopped and frisked 533,042 people on the streets of New York, up from about 115,000 in 2002, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights.

That organisation brought the class-action lawsuit behalf of several New Yorkers who said they had been stopped without cause.

About 87% of those were black or Hispanic.

In about half of all cases, police merely asked questions. But in other cases authorities searched a bag or performed a full pat-down search.

About 10% of searches reportedly result in arrests, and sometimes weapons were seized.

During a 10-week trial, Judge Scheindlin heard from 12 people who had been stopped by police, as well as top officials with the NYPD.

The city had no immediate response to the ruling, but lawyers had argued the NYPD policed itself through several internal processes.

The judge rejected their arguments, writing in her opinion that paperwork by police alone showed at least 200,000 of 4.4 million stops between 2004-12 were made without reasonable suspicion.

"The city and its highest officials believe that blacks and Hispanics should be stopped at the same rate as their proportion of the local criminal suspect population," she wrote in her opinion.

"But this reasoning is flawed because the stopped population is overwhelmingly innocent, not criminal."
newyorkcity  legal  ethics  freedom  civilrights  privacy  warrant  police  politics  lawsuit  usa  government 
august 2013 by jtyost2
Kelly Said Street Stops Targeted Minorities, Senator Testifies
During a legislative debate in 2010 over the Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk encounters, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, met with the governor at the time, David A. Paterson, to defend the tactic’s importance as a crime-fighting tool.

According to a state senator, Eric Adams, who was at the meeting at the governor’s office in Midtown Manhattan, the commissioner said that young black and Hispanic men were the focus of the stops because “he wanted to instill fear in them, every time they leave their home they could be stopped by the police.”

Senator Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat who is a former captain in the New York Police Department, recalled the meeting as he testified in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday, as a trial over the constitutionality of the department’s use of the tactic entered its third week.

Commissioner Kelly, who is not being called to testify, said in remarks to reporters on Monday that Senator Adams’s characterization of what he said was “absolutely, categorically untrue.” Commissioner Kelly has also filed an affidavit in court, saying, “At that meeting I did not, nor would I ever, state or suggest that the New York City Police Department targets young black and Latino men for stop-and-frisk activity.”

It continued: “That has not been nor is it now the policy or practice of the N.Y.P.D.”

The disagreement between Mr. Kelly and Senator Adams is nothing new; the senator has long criticized the department for what he says are unlawful street stops. But Mr. Adams usually issues his criticism at one of the various street-side news conferences that he has held over the years — not in federal court as the only elected official scheduled to testify at the trial.

Given Commissioner Kelly’s robust denial, it is unclear how the judge hearing the case, Shira A. Scheindlin, will interpret Senator Adams’s recollection of one comment. Still, the senator’s testimony served to underscore one of the trial’s central constitutional questions: Do the police conduct street stops only when they observe individuals behaving suspiciously, or are the police increasingly stopping people without justification, as a way to discourage criminals from carrying guns in the street?

Supreme Court precedent permits officers to conduct brief investigatory stops if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the individual stopped is engaged in criminality. And Judge Scheindlin suggested on Monday that the Police Department’s record of reducing crime was not central to the trial.

“I have always said the effectiveness of the policy is not of interest to this court,” she said.

While police officials have emphasized the deterrent value of the stop-and-frisk tactic, deterrence has usually been characterized as a secondary benefit, rather than the reason that the police are engaging in the stops.

Mr. Kelly, in his affidavit, noted that he told Governor Paterson and Senator Adams about “my view that stops serve as a deterrent to criminal activity, which includes the criminal possession of a weapon.”

In his affidavit, the commissioner observed, “I said nothing at the meeting to indicate or imply that such activity is based on anything but reasonable suspicion.”

The meeting at issue occurred in July 2010, as Governor Paterson was considering whether to sign a bill that would force the Police Department to shut down an electronic database of people who had been the subject of street stops. Commissioner Kelly was trying to persuade Governor Paterson to veto the bill, while Senator Adams, a co-sponsor, spoke in favor of the legislation. The governor eventually signed the bill.
legal  discrimination  police  politics  StopAndFrisk  government  usa  newyorkcity  race  racism  RaymondKelly 
july 2013 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York City gets .nyc domain name approval
New York City is to get its own domain name, enabling local businesses and residents to starting using .nyc.

The city's petition for the creation of a .nyc domain name has been approved by net address regulator Icann.

This "puts New York City at the forefront of the digital landscape," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

New York is one of the first cities in the world to be granted approval, which will make it easier for people to search for organisations and content.

Applications to use the domain will open in late 2013, and in order to register, applicants must have a physical address in New York City.

A website - www.mydotnyc.com - has been set up to help interested residents and businesses with the application process.

Christine C. Quinn, a potential hopeful to succeed Mr Bloomberg as mayor, had pushed for the creation of domain in 2009 as speaker of the city's council.

"With a new top-level domain name, New York won't just be the greatest city in the world — we'll also be the greatest city on the internet," said Ms Quinn.

Mr Bloomberg has made expanding the city's burgeoning technology sector a signature part of his third term as mayor.

Several other cities, such as London, and Paris, have already passed Icann's "initial evaluations."
newyorkcity  internet  icann 
july 2013 by jtyost2
BBC News - New York men in court accused of 'X-ray terror plot'
Two US men have appeared in court accused of plotting to build an X-ray weapon to kill enemies of Israel and the US with lethal rays of radiation.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, and Eric Feight, 54, allegedly sought funding to assemble the truck-mounted machine.

But a synagogue, a Jewish organisation and the Ku Klux Klan alerted police after Mr Crawford approached them.

The men are charged with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists.

They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The authorities say they monitored the defendants, who are from New York state, to ensure they could not obtain a radiation source or harm members of the public.

It is alleged that in April 2012, Mr Crawford walked into a synagogue and "asked to speak with a person who might be willing to help him with a type of technology that could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies, specifically, by killing Israel's enemies while they slept".

An undercover investigator was assigned to record conversations with the two men. Mr Crawford, an industrial mechanic for General Electric, knew Mr Feight through his work as an external contractor for the utility.

FBI agent Geoffrey Kent said in the indictment: "Crawford has specifically identified Muslims and several other individuals/groups as targets."

Mr Crawford is said to have told an undercover investigator that "radiation poisoning is a beautiful thing".

According to the indictment, Mr Crawford said he harboured animosity to those he perceived as hostile to the interests of the United States, individuals he referred to as "medical waste".

Both of the accused also said they were committed to building the device and discussed technical specifications, according to the indictment.

Investigators allege Mr Feight designed, built and tested a remote control for the system. The damaging effects of the radiation would have affected their victims only days later, according to the alleged plan.

The two were arrested the same day as undercover investigators planned to offer access to a real but inoperable X-ray system.

"This case demonstrates how we must remain vigilant to detect and stop potential terrorists, who so often harbor hatred toward people they deem undesirable," prosecuting US Attorney Richard Hartunian said in a statement.
legal  crime  terrorism  newyorkcity  politics 
june 2013 by jtyost2
White People Stopped By New York Police Are More Likely To Have Guns Or Drugs Than Minorities | ThinkProgress
During the just-concluded trial on the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, the city argued that officers’ disproportionate targeting of black and Latino New Yorkers was not due to racial profiling but because each stopped individual was doing something suspicious at the time. The data, however, tells a different story: weapons and drugs were more often found on white New Yorkers during stops than on minorities, according to the Public Advocate’s analysis of the NYPD’s 2012 statistics.
White New Yorkers make up a small minority of stop-and-frisks, which were 84 percent black and Latino residents. Despite this much higher number of minorities deemed suspicious by police, the likelihood that stopping an African American would find a weapon was half the likelihood of finding one on a white person.
• The likelihood a stop of an African American New Yorker yielded a weapon was half that of white New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered a weapon in one out every 49 stops of white New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 71 stops of Latinos and 93 stops of African Americans to find a weapon.
• The likelihood a stop of an African American New Yorker yielded contraband was one-third less than that of white New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered contraband in one out every 43 stops of white New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 57 stops of Latinos and 61 stops of African Americans to find contraband.
It’s unlikely that the appropriate lesson to take from these findings is that stops of white people should increase because they are more likely to carry weapons and drugs. Rather, they suggest that police are excessively targeting minorities. Officers may be netting more successful stops of white New Yorkers because they are only likely to stop a white person when they actually suspect that person of committing a crime. Considering one officer’s testimony that superiors explicitly directed him to target young black men, minorities are judged by a much more flexible definition of “reasonable suspicion.”
usa  police  civilrights  freedom  freedomfromsearchandseizure  warrant  privacy  racism  discrimination  newyorkcity  politics 
june 2013 by jtyost2
Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member Rages Against 'Totalitarian' Bike Shares | ThinkProgress
In a bizarre video posted to the Wall Street Journal‘s website, the venerable paper’s editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz railed against New York City’s plan to create a public for-pay biking infrastructure, ominously warning that “the bike lobby is an all powerful enterprise.”
After the host of the video segment asked Rabinowitz why New York might want to make bikes more accessible to its citizens, Rabinowitz snaps: “Do not ask me to enter the mind of the totalitarians running this government of the city.” She goes on to suggest that the nefarious program is “what happens when you are run by an autocratic mayor or government before which you are helpless and that New York’s best neighborhoods are being “begrimmed…by these blazing blue Citibank bikes.”
wallstreetjournal  politics  MichaelBloomberg  newyork  NewYorkCity 
june 2013 by jtyost2
A Police Roll-Call Reminder - Women May Go Topless - NYTimes.com
In the cold of February, as New York City police officers gathered for their daily orders at roll call, they were given a rather unusual command, for both its timing and its substance: If they happened upon a topless woman, they were not to arrest her.

The command was read at 10 consecutive roll calls. Each of the city’s 34,000 officers, in theory, got the message: For “simply exposing their breasts in public,” women are guilty of no crime.

Whether any officer encountered such a brave-hearted, bare-chested soul is not clear, nor is the reason for the Police Department’s concern about such matters in the dead of winter.

One possible explanation lies in the person of Holly Van Voast, a Bronx photographer and performance artist known for baring her breasts.

The order was disclosed in an official memorandum contained in a federal lawsuit Ms. Van Voast filed on Wednesday against the city and the department. The memo makes clear that bare-breasted women should not be cited for public lewdness, indecent exposure or any other section of the penal law.

Even if the topless display draws a lot of attention, officers are to “give a lawful order to disperse the entire crowd and take enforcement action” against those who do not comply, the memo says. “Whether the individuals are clothed is not a factor in making a determination about whether the above-mentioned crowd conditions exist.”

The suit lists 10 episodes in 2011 and 2012 in which the police detained, arrested or issued summonses to Ms. Van Voast, 46, for baring her breasts at sites that included the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal, in front of a Manhattan elementary school, on the A train and outside a Hooters restaurant in Midtown. That last episode, the suit says, ended with her being taken by the police to a nearby hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Each complaint against her was dismissed or dropped, her lawyers said, for one simple reason: The state’s highest court ruled more than two decades ago that baring one’s chest in public — for noncommercial activity — is perfectly legal for a woman, as it is for a man.

But when Ms. Van Voast’s top came off again this year, her lawyers said, what had seemed to be an annual rite of spring did not follow. “I was aware that they stopped telling her to put a shirt on, stopped arresting her, stopped carting her off to mental institutions,” Ronald L. Kuby, one of her lawyers, said. “But I was not aware why.”

The memo does not allude to its origin, and a department spokeswoman declined to discuss what had precipitated it. The spokeswoman, Inspector Kim Y. Royster, said such memos were “periodically circulated to remind personnel of our policies.” She added that it “comports with the N.Y.S. Court of Appeals ruling on taking enforcement action against individuals for public nudity.”

The memo’s language is as clear as it is legalistic. Officers “shall not enforce any section of law, including penal law sections 245.00 (public lewdness) and 245.01 (exposure of a person) against female individuals who are simply exposing their breasts in public.”

Katherine Rosenfeld, a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady who is also representing Ms. Van Voast, saw a direct connection between the memo and her client’s public performances, often done in the character of a mustachioed “topless paparazzo” called Harvey Van Toast. “It establishes that they’ve been in error in all the times that they’ve charged her,” she said.

Ms. Van Voast, in her lawsuit, is seeking compensation from the city as well as punitive damages from several named and unnamed officers for her treatment, which the suit alleges constituted civil rights violations.

The memo reminds the officers that there are still times when they can detain, arrest or give tickets to women or men for being indecent in public — “if the actions of any individual rise to the level of a lewd act (e.g. masturbation, simulated sexual act), regardless of whether the individual is clothed above their waist,” or if the person is naked below the waist “and is not entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.”

Of a dozen patrol officers from precincts around the city interviewed on Wednesday, nearly all correctly cited the law on toplessness, though none would describe roll call discussions. Each declined to be quoted by name, citing departmental policy.

“It was told to us,” one said. “But I don’t remember if it was at roll call or in a conversation like this.”

Another said he remembered hearing last summer that “it’s legal to be topless if you’re a man or a woman.”

“I thought you had to have body paint,” a female officer said.

“No,” the first replied. “You don’t need that.”
newyork  legal  newyorkcity  gender  politics  culture  sexual 
may 2013 by jtyost2
Bloomberg’s big soda battle heads to court
New York City’s large-soda ban is slated to take effect next March – but not if the beverage industry has anything to say about the matter. It filed a lawsuit late Friday with the New York State Supreme Court, alongside 11 other organizations, challenging the new regulation.
This isn’t a first for New York City. When Mayor Mike Bloomberg proposed requiring all chain restaurants to post calorie labels, it went through two years of legal wrangling (partially over whether the regulation infringed on First Amendment free speech rights) before ultimately taking effect.
The challenge to the large soda ban has less to do with substance, more to do with procedural issues. The plaintiffs argue that the the Board of Health, which voted to implement the ban, does not have the authority to do so. Rather, that authority sits with the New York City Council, the lawsuit argues.
legal  politics  lawsuit  NewYorkCity  MikeBloomberg  health 
november 2012 by jtyost2
Bloomberg’s disregard for Rikers - Salon.com
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tellingly misinterpreted a reporter’s question during a pre-Sandy press conference Sunday. When asked about what would happen on Rikers Island — New York’s main prison complex –  during the storm, Bloomberg responded, “Jails are secure … Don’t worry about anyone getting out.”

He did not consider that the journalist was in fact asking about the well-being of the near 17,000-strong inmate population, incarcerated on water-locked landfill.

Last summer, when Hurricane Irene threatened the city, the discovery that there was no evacuation plan in place for Rikers evoked outrage from civil rights and prisoner advocates. All of New York’s other surrounding small islands were listed as possible evacuation zones ahead of Irene (which brought the city none of the damage promised by Sandy), but Rikers was not listed in evacuation plans at all.

This time, as Sandy arrives, evacuation zone maps show Rikers Island surrounded by areas colored brightly, marking risk zones B and C, but the little island itself is left grey and blank (see image below, via New York Times interactive map):
legal  ethics  humanrights  NewYorkCity  hurricane  HurricaneSandy  politics 
october 2012 by jtyost2
Sandy Could Really Flood the New York Subway System
Most people may not realize it—or never have occasion to think about it—but NYC’s subway system is susceptible to flooding. The possibility is quite real. We published this last year, and it still stands:

What most people don’t know is that we depend on just 700 fragile water pumps to keep the tunnels dry—some a century old.

In fact, if someone powered down all these pumps tomorrow, the entire subway network would be inundated in just a few hours. To give you an idea of how complex and massive this system is, it pulls 13 million gallons of water out of the subway on any sunny day. No rain. Not even a single drop of water from the sky. If Sandy manages to kill the power or any of the fragile old pumps protecting the system, there may be some serious problems.

On a rainy day, the pump system is absolute chaos, to the point where the MTA—NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority—lives in permanent panic, fearing events like Sandy, the hurricane system that is approaching the little town right now. “At some point, it would be too much to handle,” said the head of the hydraulics team back in 2006, Peter Velasquez Jr., “you’ve got rain plus wind. It basically would shut down the system. You hope not. You pray that it doesn’t.

“To give you an idea about how bad this could be, some of the oldest pumps in the NYCTA system were bought second-hand from the builders of the Panama Canal. I worked for the TA many years ago and even then the pumps were considered a serious problem. The Panama Canal was finished in 1914.”

This means that NYC’s hydraulic team—less than two hundred people—are now on full alert, ready to intervene and install additional portable water pumps in whatever stations are needed. This is not an easy task. When the water reaches a certain level it touches the third rail, which carries 625 volts. That makes the water extremely dangerous for these workers.
newyorkcity  government  infrastructure  politics 
october 2012 by jtyost2

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