ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

March 31, 2010

2010.03.31: 8 p.m. Tonight on PBS: MLK: A Call to Conscience

Filed under: Antiwar,Civil Rights,International Human Rights,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 9:25 am

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 9:25 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: 8 p.m. Tonight on PBS: MLK: A Call to Conscience

MLK

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/reports/episode-two-details.html

This second installment of Tavis Smiley Reports examines the forgotten agenda of Martin Luther King Jr., whose famed “Beyond Vietnam” speech, given at Riverside Church in 1967, led to an abrupt loss of his popularity in the last year of his life.

The program explores the relevance of King’s anti-war position to the current U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the significance of the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor bestowed upon both King and President Barack Obama.

Tavis Smiley Reports MLK: A Call to Conscience is based on dozens of hours of interviews with King’s friends and with scholars who study his legacy, including:

  • Dr. Vincent Harding, drafter of the “Beyond Vietnam” speech
  • Clarence Jones, King’s legal advisor
  • Dr. Cornel West, a leading expert on race in America
  • Dr. Susannah Heschel, daughter of activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
  • Dr. Clayborne Carson, director of the King Institute at Stanford University
  • Marian Wright Edelman, Organizer for the Poor People’s Campaign with King
  • Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning King historian

King’s closest advisors discuss the divisions within the civil rights movement over King’s opposition to the war in Vietnam—and the political and public fallout from his criticism of American foreign policy.

Dr. Vincent Harding, who is co-credited with writing the “Beyond Vietnam” speech, tells Tavis that King’s inner circle worried about the ramifications of the speech, both before and after he gave it.

“We were concerned, he was concerned, but he had really come to the point, as the speech is trying to say, where if he was to be a man of conscience, a man of compassion, he had to speak,” said Dr. Harding.

He added, “But it was precisely one year to the day after this speech that that bullet which had been chasing him for a long time finally caught up with him. And I am convinced that that bullet had something to do with that speech.”

March 19, 2010

2010.03.19: RE: RFP news

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2010 9:50 AM
To: Martin, Margaret; CRIMINAL BKLYN ATTYS ALL
Subject: RE: RFP news

Just in case anyone thinks that the scab (non-union RFP) groups aren’t our enemies, that $24.7 million the city pays them comes out of our funding. And that’s without any additional LAS funds they may get in this current RFP process.

_____________________________________________

From:  [M.]
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:46 AM
To: CRIMINAL BKLYN ATTYS ALL
Subject: RFP news

Lawyers Weigh in on Plan to Shift Conflict Cases to Group Providers

Daniel Wise

New York Law Journal

March 11, 2010

Deputy Criminal Justice Coordinator Shari Hyman faced close, sometimes hostile, questioning at a City Council budget hearing yesterday over a plan to move the handling of conflict cases from private criminal defense lawyers to groups like the Legal Aid Society.

More than 50 private lawyers, whose work for indigent criminal defendants would be sharply curtailed under the city’s plan, attended the hearing conducted by the City Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee.

The lawyers made clear their sentiments with waves of applause when panelists asked Ms. Hyman pointed questions, and groans of dismay at her responses.

Elizabeth Crowley, the head of the committee, started the questioning by asking Ms. Hyman what comparative data her agency had concerning the cost and effectiveness of private lawyers as opposed to institutional providers.

Ms. Hyman reported that the average per case cost for institutional providers is $306 compared to $873 for private lawyers working under the 18-B program.

The audience burst into applause when Ms. Crowley, D-Queens, followed up with a question suggesting that the 18-B lawyers’ costs were higher because they took many more cases to trial and spent more time on them.

Ms. Hyman defended the new plan, saying it would bring “sunlight” to the 14 percent of the criminal caseload not handled by legal services groups.

John Feinblatt, the city’s criminal justice coordinator, said in an interview that the city “is not interested in taking business from anybody,” but instead is “open to hearing all ideas and proposals” to carry out its responsibility for developing the “best system possible” for the representation of indigent criminal defendants.

Councilman Daniel Halloran, R-Queens, who is an 18-B lawyer, challenged Ms. Hyman for being unable to affirmatively state how many of the cases handled by 18-B lawyers are conflicts as opposed to cases surrendered by Legal Aid “willy nilly” to 18-B lawyers when the group’s clients asked for “a real lawyer.”

Mr. Halloran cited data, which his staff identified as coming from the Office of Court Administration, showing that 18-B lawyers are 17 times more likely to take a case to trial than Legal Aid lawyers.

Ms. Hyman’s lack of a direct answer to Mr. Halloran’s question, “Don’t you need statistics to evaluate whether tax dollars are being spent wisely?” drew audible groans from the audience.

Mr. Halloran told Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society who also testified, that he supported Legal Aid and recognized that it handled too many cases, according to a spokesperson for Legal Aid.

Mr. Banks, in statement to the Law Journal, said that “out of 240,000 cases that we handle each year, we are relieved from 14,000 cases when clients retain counsel or conflicts develop, including approximately 3,000 cases which are reassigned to 18-B lawyers.”

“While there has been a great deal of focus on the status of 18-B,” Mr. Banks noted, “our concern is ensuring that the Legal Aid Society continues its role as the primary defender in New York City because of our ability to provide greater resources and support for clients than others.”

New Approach

Last month, the Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office issued a request for proposals (RFP) from legal services organizations to handle conflict cases. Conflicts, which most commonly arise in multi-defendant cases, are now handled by private lawyers who have been certified under the 18-B program (NYLJ, Feb. 10).

The move to institutional providers would eliminate most of the work handled by 18-B lawyers. Private lawyers would continue to represent defendants in homicide cases, and get assignments in cases with more than two defendants.

Under the 18-B program, which is named for Article 18-B of the County Law, private lawyers are paid $75 an hour.

There are 1,109 attorneys certified by Appellate Division panels in the First and Second departments to represent indigent defendants at the trial level.

According to data maintained by the OCA, the city paid 18-B attorneys $47.8 million in calendar year 2008 for handling indigent defendants’ trial-level criminal cases.

In the RFP, city officials estimate there were some 34,300 conflict cases, most of them handled by 18-B lawyers, in the fiscal year that ended last June 30.

The RFP states that $8.7 million is available to fund contracts for groups to handle conflict cases.

All Contracts Up for Grabs

The RFP also opens to bidding contracts that have been awarded to the Legal Aid Society and five other groups to staff arraignment parts since 1994. The last time those contracts were opened for competition was in 2002.

The groups are responsible for completing any case they initially handle at arraignment.

In fiscal year 2009, according to the RFP, Legal Aid and the other groups handled more than 90 percent of the cases that passed through the arraignment parts.

Applications from groups interested in handling conflict cases are due on Monday. None of the groups that pick up their cases at arraignment have publicly declared their intention to expand their contracts to include conflict cases, though it is quite likely that several will do so.

In the current fiscal year (FY 2010), the Legal Aid Society received $79.1 million to represent indigent defendants at the trial level.

The five other groups received a total of $24.7 million for FY 2010, according to city data: NY County Defenders, $6.3 million; Brooklyn Defender Services, $5.8 million; Bronx Defenders, $4.9 million; Queens Law Associates, $4.9 million; and Battiste, Aronowsky & Suchow Inc., $2.8 million.

The RFP specifies that in order to qualify to handle conflict cases, a group must cover arraignment shifts, and are required to represent all defendants arraigned during those shifts except for cases exposing them to a conflict of interest.

In the four largest boroughs, Legal Aid handles 76 arraignment shifts per week and lawyers from the other four groups operating in those boroughs handle 16.

To the extent new groups receive contracts to handle conflict cases their current funding will have to be increased so they can accommodate the additional cases. The question will be whether the cost of increased funding will exceed the $75 per hour rate now paid to 18-B lawyers.

In a separate development yesterday, the OCA issued a new rule that could drive up the costs of groups representing indigent defendants. (See accompanying article.)

@|Daniel Wise can be reached at dwise@alm.com.

March 9, 2010

2010.03.09: Stand with the People of Gaza & Palestine – protest tomorrow 3/9/2010

Filed under: Antiwar,International Human Rights,Palestine — nyclaw01 @ 3:02 pm

From: Codling, Antonia
Sent: Monday, March 08, 2010 3:02 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Stand with the People of Gaza & Palestine – protest tomorrow 3/9/2010

The Butcher of Gaza is coming to NYC!
He Belongs in Prison, Not the Waldorf!

On March 9 there will be a $1000-a-plate fundraising dinner for the Israeli Occupation Forces, which murdered 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 400 children, in Gaza last year.

The criminal Gabi Ashkenazi, Chief of IDF General Staff, will be there too!
Stand with the people of Gaza and all Palestine!
Demand the end of U.S support to Israel!
Arrest and prosecute Ashkenazi and all Israeli War Criminals!

Protest! Tuesday, March 9th – 6 pm
Outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
49 St. and Park Avenue, Manhattan

——-
For more information, please contact info@al-awdany.org or call 718-228-8636.
Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition – NY http://www.al-awdany.org <http://www.al-awdany.org/&gt;

Support our work! Visit http://www.al-awdany.org/supportawdany.html to make a donation.

2010.03.09: RE: The realities of the First Amendment and free speech in the workplace

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 2:19 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: RE: The realities of the First Amendment and free speech in the workplace

Your argument is misplaced. We rely not on the First Amendment, but on ALAA’s past practice and Collective Bargaining Agreement:

§ 3.5 “The expression of personal religious, political, social or economic beliefs of each and every attorney is fully guaranteed and will never constitute grounds for discharge or relief from an individual assignment unless, in either instance, it can be demonstrated that such expression has, or will, directly interfere(d) with, and detract from, representation of a Society client so as to render said representation less than at the highest level of competence and effectiveness.”

§1.5 “The Union will have reasonable use of the Society’s internal communication mechanisms.”

Moreover, it does constitute a genuine hostile work environment under Title VII to selectively suppress speech in defense of Palestinian rights.

_____________________________________________

From:  G.

Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 2:08 PM

To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members

Subject: The realities of the First Amendment and free speech in the workplace

This is a slightly revised re-posting of an e-mail I sent earlier when Debbie and George presented the e-mail agreement to the membership.  I am re-sending it as the topic of “free speech” keeps coming up in a way that does not seem to take into account the realities of the First Amendment and its jurisprudence with regard to free speech in the workplace.  I am concerned that in the name of “free speech” rights which are not protected under law, we will forgo the wider latitude we currently possess that allows us to use the management e-mail system for union purposes.  That being said, as I have said  in the past, I believe a separate union e-mail listserv that is completely independent of the management listserv should be created.

What we risk by forgoing the opportunity of following the ALAA/Management e-mail agreements is a far greater loss at arbitration.  I will also point out that this agreement is, as I understand it, a temporary one and one that allows us a chance, as a union, to try to work together to formulate the details of a policy that meets the goals of all involved, both union members and management.  If you are uncertain about the risks of arbitration to our e-mail rights, I hope you have a chance to speak to your union delegate or to Debbie or George.  It seems like our best opportunity for maintaining as much control over e-mail speech as possible is to comply with this Agreement.

I want to briefly address arguments about the First Amendment and our “constitutional rights.”  The First Amendment does not apply to private employers and employees in the ways some have suggested during the course of this discussion.  We as private employees do not have a “constitutional right” to free speech on our e-mails.  The First Amendment applies to the government and to public employees.  Here is the text of the First Amendment:

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

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/about.aspx?item=about_firstamd

In addition to the plain reading of the Amendment, my understanding of case law (having worked as a Constitutional Law Teaching Fellow and an ACLU First Amendment fellow/litigator prior to coming to Legal Aid–although these things were some years ago and I do not remember all the specifics I once knew) is that the First Amendment has not been interpreted to mean that private employers cannot limit the speech of their employees.  Quite the opposite is true.  The First Amendment has consistently been found to apply to the government and to public employees.  That being said, my understanding is that even public employees do not necessarily retain full First Amendment protection in the workplace.

The First Amendment Coalition has the following on their website:

Political speech in the workplace

Although the First Amendment limits the restrictions that government employers can place on employee speech, private employers have much greater latitude to restrict employee speech. Both the First Amendment and the free speech right of the California constitution protect against state — and not private — action. See Golden Gateway Center v. Golden Gateway Tenants Ass’n, 26 Cal. 4th 1013, 1031 (2001)…In 2004, a California court rejected the claim of an employee that her termination by her private employer was a violation of “fundamental principles of public policy” such that she could recover damages from her employer in a lawsuit. Grinzi v. San Diego Hospice Corp., 120 Cal. App. 4th 72, 79 (2004). The court said that “the First Amendment free speech provision fails to establish public policy against terminations by private employers for speech-related activities because this provision applies only to government actions and expresses no public policy regarding terminations by private employers.” Id. at 77.

Here are some additional resources:

Please note that the following sites are the result of a very quick Google search.  I do not have the time or desire at this moment to engage in substantive legal research on this topic.  Obviously, anyone who is interested in learning more about the First Amendment in the workplace, can do so using Westlaw, etc.:

http://www.firstamendmentcoalition.org/2009/06/political-speech-in-the-workplace/

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/rel_liberty/free_exercise/topic.aspx?topic=workplace_religious_liberty

http://library.findlaw.com/2003/Sep/30/133065.html

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

G.

_____________________________________________

From:  Torres, Azalia

Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 1:58 PM

To:   ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members

Subject: RE: Pop-Quiz on Free Speech at LAS 101

I really don’t care what “drives” management “nuts”.  I do care about my right as well as any one else’s in my union to express their opinions on a variety of issues that very much affects our daily lives and influence our perspective on what our government is doing.  I don’t like a lot of what some have to say but I do and will defend their right to say it no matter how stupid, ignorant, arrogant, etc., I might think they are.

Scott, read through the whole “Pop Quiz on Free Speech”.   Today it’s folks objecting to anything that criticizes Israel. Tomorrow it could possibly be something dear and close to you. That’s why it’s important to defend rights from the onset of attacks not just when it’s convenient.

Antonia, thanks for adding to the process of enlightenment of our membership with regards to issues that should concern our collective union.

_____________________________________________

From:  S.

Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 12:57 PM

To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members

Subject: RE: Pop-Quiz on Free Speech at LAS 101

Again:

When are people going to realize that this is a LAS email system (despite what the contract says).  When are people going to realize that they are offending their colleagues by continuing to post to all what some view as incendiary email?

It’s exactly the same thing as if I constantly proselytized for my religion through mass email.  Completely inappropriate.

I take no email position on Israel, Hamas, or the new government in Thailand.  I do take a position on the arrogance of my colleagues who continue to post despite years of being asked not to.  Those who continue to post have little respect for the wishes of others.

Also, it’s not the “apartment available” and “adopt a cat” emails that are driving LAS nuts, its the ones I’m addressing.  And when LAS really cracks down on the email policy, whether they contractually can or not, I’ll know who to blame.

Aside from the Union endorsing a candidate, which is part of their job, please keep your politics to yourself.

_____________________________________________

From:  Letwin, Michael

Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 12:55 PM

To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members

Subject: Pop-Quiz on Free Speech at LAS 101

(Don’t cheat — you probably know the right answers* anyway).

1. Free speech exists precisely to protect the expression of opinions that other people may find:

A. Untrue.

B. Inflammatory.

C. Offensive.

D. Boring.

E. Annoying.

F. Upsetting.

G. Provocative.

H. Too controversial.

I. They really don’t like to hear.

J. All of the Above.

2. “Hostile work environment” means:

A. You really don’t like what someone else says or does at work.

B. “[D]iscriminatory workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age or sex. Additionally, the harassment typically must be severe, recurring and pervasive.”

http://employeeissues.com/hostile_work_environment.htm

3. Under ALAA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, a message entitled “Stand with the People of Gaza & Palestine – protest tomorrow 3/9/2010” is just as protected as a “non-work” message about:

A. Tillikim and the other Whales at SeaWorld (e.g., Edda Ness, 3/3/10).
B. Public Petition to Support Qing Wu (Christine Bella, 3/1/10).
C. Contacting Your Representatives on Health Care Reform (Debbora Gerressu, 2/22/10).

D. Food for thought, the next time you think of spending any of your money at Whole Foods (David Affler, 2/6/10).

E. Cocktail Reception to Raise Funds for the Victims of the Haitian Earthquake – 2/4/10 (Allen Popper, 2/2/10).

F. A bit of wisdom from Sarah Palin (Jeffrey Bloom, 11/19/09).

G. RE: Ted Kennedy has Come and Gone (Sam Roberts, 8/26/09).

H. Queens Charter Event 5-13-09 (Mary Anderson, 5/8/09).

I. All of the above.

4. When someone writes a message you don’t like, union and free speech principles entitle you to:

A. Ignore it.

B. Selectively block messages from the sender and/or about that topic.

C. Express your own opinion.

D. Whine loudly until management agrees to selectively censor the union e-list.

E. A, B and/or C.

5. Since “New ALAA Email Policy” went into effect on October 7, 2009, there have been at least 555 “non-work” messages — not one of them sent to a specially created group.

A. True.

B. False.

6. Since the “New ALAA Email Policy” went into effect on October 7, 2009, management has issued a public warning only against the one entitled “Stand with the People of Gaza & Palestine – protest tomorrow 3/9/2010.”

A. True.

B. False.

7. Since everyone has the option to selectively ignore and/or block unwanted messages, we can reasonably infer that the real purpose of selective censorship is to inhibit criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

A. True.

B. False.

8. People try to censor opinions they disagree with because they:

A. Have confidence in their own position.

B. Lack confidence in their own position.

9. I believe that Palestinian lives are just as precious as anyone else’s. (Be honest.)

A. True.

B. False.

10. In the last Sunday sermon before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. defended his opposition to the Vietnam War, explaining, “there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

A. Yes, I agree with Dr. King’s philosophy.

B. No, this doesn’t apply to positions that I deem “too controversial.”

—————–

*Answers

1:J

2:B

3:I

4:E

5:True

6:True

7:True

8:B

9:A.

10:It’s not about Dr. King, it’s about us.

 

2010.03.09: Pop-Quiz on Free Speech at LAS 101

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 12:55 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Pop-Quiz on Free Speech at LAS 101

(Don’t cheat — you probably know the right answers* anyway).

1. Free speech exists precisely to protect the expression of opinions that other people may find:

A. Untrue.

B. Inflammatory.

C. Offensive.

D. Boring.

E. Annoying.

F. Upsetting.

G. Provocative.

H. Too controversial.

I. They really don’t like to hear.

J. All of the Above.

2. “Hostile work environment” means:

A. You really don’t like what someone else says or does at work.

B. “[D]iscriminatory workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age or sex. Additionally, the harassment typically must be severe, recurring and pervasive.”

http://employeeissues.com/hostile_work_environment.htm

3. Under ALAA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, a message entitled “Stand with the People of Gaza & Palestine – protest tomorrow 3/9/2010” is just as protected as a “non-work” message about:

A. Tillikim and the other Whales at SeaWorld (e.g., Edda Ness, 3/3/10).
B. Public Petition to Support Qing Wu (Christine Bella, 3/1/10).
C. Contacting Your Representatives on Health Care Reform (Debbora Gerressu, 2/22/10).

D. Food for thought, the next time you think of spending any of your money at Whole Foods (David Affler, 2/6/10).

E. Cocktail Reception to Raise Funds for the Victims of the Haitian Earthquake – 2/4/10 (Allen Popper, 2/2/10).

F. A bit of wisdom from Sarah Palin (Jeffrey Bloom, 11/19/09).

G. RE: Ted Kennedy has Come and Gone (Sam Roberts, 8/26/09).

H. Queens Charter Event 5-13-09 (Mary Anderson, 5/8/09).

I. All of the above.

4. When someone writes a message you don’t like, union and free speech principles entitle you to:

A. Ignore it.

B. Selectively block messages from the sender and/or about that topic.

C. Express your own opinion.

D. Whine loudly until management agrees to selectively censor the union e-list.

E. A, B and/or C.

5. Since “New ALAA Email Policy” went into effect on October 7, 2009, there have been at least 555 “non-work” messages — not one of them sent to a specially created group.

A. True.

B. False.

6. Since the “New ALAA Email Policy” went into effect on October 7, 2009, management has issued a public warning only against the one entitled “Stand with the People of Gaza & Palestine – protest tomorrow 3/9/2010.”

A. True.

B. False.

7. Since everyone has the option to selectively ignore and/or block unwanted messages, we can reasonably infer that the real purpose of selective censorship is to inhibit criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

A. True.

B. False.

8. People try to censor opinions they disagree with because they:

A. Have confidence in their own position.

B. Lack confidence in their own position.

9. I believe that Palestinian lives are just as precious as anyone else’s. (Be honest.)

A. True.

B. False.

10. In the last Sunday sermon before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. defended his opposition to the Vietnam War, explaining, “there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

A. Yes, I agree with Dr. King’s philosophy.

B. No, this doesn’t apply to positions that I deem “too controversial.”

—————–

*Answers

1:J

2:B

3:I

4:E

5:True

6:True

7:True

8:B

9:A.

10:It’s not about Dr. King, it’s about us.

 

March 3, 2010

2010.03.03: Bob Herbert Nails the NYPD’s Racial Profiling. Again.

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 11:21 am

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 11:21 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Bob Herbert Nails the NYPD’s Racial Profiling. Again.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/opinion/02herbert.html?hp

March 2, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist

Watching Certain People

By BOB HERBERT

From 2004 through 2009, in a policy that has gotten completely out of control, New York City police officers stopped people on the street and checked them out nearly three million times, frisking and otherwise humiliating many of them.

Upward of 90 percent of the people stopped are completely innocent of any wrongdoing. And yet the New York Police Department is compounding this intolerable indignity by compiling an enormous and permanent computerized database of these encounters between innocent New Yorkers and the police.

Not only are most of the people innocent, but a vast majority are either black or Hispanic. There is no defense for this policy. It’s a gruesome, racist practice that should offend all New Yorkers, and it should cease.

Police Department statistics show that 2,798,461 stops were made in that six-year period. In 2,467,150 of those instances, the people stopped had done nothing wrong. That’s 88.2 percent of all stops over six years. Black people were stopped during that period a staggering 1,444,559 times. Hispanics accounted for 843,817 of the stops and whites 287,218.

While crime has been going down, the number of people getting stopped by the police is going up. Last year, more than 575,000 stops were made — a record. But 504,594 of those stops were of people who had done nothing wrong. They had committed no crime, were issued no summonses and were carrying no weapons or illegal substances.

Still, day after day, the cops continue harassing and degrading these innocent New Yorkers, often making them line up against walls, or lean spread-eagled on the hoods of cars, or sprawl face down in the street to be searched like criminals in front of curious, sometimes frightened, sometimes giggling, sometimes outraged onlookers.

If the police officers were treating white middle-class or wealthy individuals this way, the movers and shakers in this town would be apoplectic. The mayor would be called to account in an atmosphere of thunderous outrage, and the police commissioner would be gone.

But the people getting stopped and frisked are mostly young, and most of them are black or brown and poor. So Police Commissioner Ray Kelly could feel completely comfortable with his department issuing the order in 2006 that reports of all stops and frisks be forwarded and compiled “for input into the Department’s database.”

“They have been collecting the names and all sorts of other information about everybody who is stopped and frisked on the streets,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is fighting the department’s stop-and-frisk policy and its compiling of data on people who are innocent. “This is a massive database of innocent, overwhelmingly black and Latino people,” she said.

Police Commissioner Kelly has made it clear that this monstrous database, growing by a half-million or so stops each year, is to be a permanent feature of the department’s operations. In a letter last summer to Peter Vallone Jr., the chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the commissioner said:

“Information contained in the stop, question and frisk database remains there indefinitely, for use in future investigations. Therefore, there are no existing Police Department guidelines that mandate the removal of information once it has been entered into the database.”

He added, “Information contained within the stop, question and frisk database is used primarily by department investigators during the course of a criminal investigation.”

So the department is collecting random information on innocent, primarily poor, black and brown New Yorkers for use in some anticipated future criminal investigation. But it is not collecting and storing massive amounts of information on innocent middle-class or wealthy white people. Why is that, exactly?

Councilman Vallone is a supporter of the stop-and-frisk policy, but he is concerned about the innocent people in the database. As he told me on Monday, “I don’t support the indefinite keeping of this information regarding people who were not arrested or charged with any crime.”

The Police Department has no intention of changing its policy. A spokesman for Commissioner Kelly told me that information collected when the police stop an innocent individual “may be useful” in future investigations. The stored data may become useful “in the same way” that license plate information is useful, he said.

He cited the hypothetical example of someone in the course of a criminal investigation saying that he or she was at “a certain place at a certain time.” The information permanently stored in the stop-and-frisk database, he said, could help the police determine if “they were or they weren’t.”

His example would suggest that the innocent people stopped are nevertheless permanently under suspicion, which is, of course, the case.

2010.03.10: March 4: National Day of Action to Defend Public Education

Filed under: Austerity and Budget Cuts,Labor Solidarity — nyclaw01 @ 9:41 am

From: Herschel, Lucy
Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 9:41 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: March 4: National Day of Action to Defend Public Education

Demonstration tomorrow to protest Patterson’s proposed budget cuts and to defend public education, among other things.  Part of a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education, which comes out of a lot of protest throughout the past several months in California.  This demonstration is endorsed by the Transit Workers Union (under new reformist leadership), the Professional Staff Caucus (CUNY), and various reform groups within the Teachers’ Union.  Demonstration is at 4, but will definitely be going on after work.

************************************

 

Please forward widely

National Day of Action to Defend Public Education
Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Rally at 4 pm at Gov. Paterson’s office (633 Third Ave. @ 41st St.),
Then March to MTA Hearings at FIT
(Seventh Ave. @ 27th St.)

  • It’s not our crisis, we won’t pay!
  • No school closures!
  • No budget cuts, no tuition hikes!
  • No layoffs, no salary or benefit reductions, no union-busting!
  • Restore free student Metrocards!
  • No privatization of public schools!
  • Cancel all student debt!
  • Eliminate racism in the public school system!
  • Free public education for all from kindergarten to college!

NYC website: http://march4ny. wordpress. com/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook .com/groups. php#/group. php?gid=24400005 1960

Google group: http://groups. google.com/ group/march- 4-education- ny

Email: March4NY@gmail. com
National website: www.defendeducation .org

http://grassrootseducationmovement.blogspot.com/

 

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