Tuesday
Oct162012

The Sad State of Civil Liberties (continued)

Following up on our post on civil liberties in the United States and especially in New York, it is no surprise to see that Mayor Bloomberg and the ever powerful New York security establishment are opposed to a bill proposing to introduce an Inspector General for oversight of the NYPD.

The New York Times draws the parallel to the Mollen Commission investigation. Not to take anything away from the Mollen Commission, which was very much on target and quite transformative for cleaning up the NYPD practices (their excellent report can be found here), the situation is rather different.

The Mollen Commission was largely about cleaning up police practices and corruption. Though unpleasant and difficult for the political elites controlling the city, reducing police crime and corruption is not necessarily inconsistent with their objectives (think of this as a version of political centralization).

The main issues now concern investigating the erosion of civil rights under Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD leadership in the context of the illegal surveillance and entrapment of Muslim residents by the NYPD’s Intel division, the evermore intrusive stop-and-frisk program targeted at African Americans and Hispanics, and the NYPD’s heavy-handed and illegal suppression of any sort of dissent as witnessed by their intimidation of Occupy Wall Street activists. This makes external investigation by an Inspector General and preferably also by other organizations directly accountable to New Yorkers and human rights organizations such as the ACLU even more important today, and even more likely to be steadfastly opposed by those busy clawing back most of the civil liberties Americans and New Yorkers have enjoyed for the last several decades.

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