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Picture the Homeless
A View of the Broken Window Theory - From the Ground Up
October 21st, 2007;
Presentation for Marcus Garvey Park
Sisters and Brothers, Police Brutality does not happen in a vacuum! The marginalization and criminalization of sub-populations within our society is a very diverse and complex process; Brother Patrick Dorismond, was a security guard at Madison Square Garden, whom I knew personally was one of the good guys! Patrick wasn’t supposed to get caught up in racial profiling; he probably died having known little about the politics surrounding operation CONDOR. Operation CONDOR had produced tens of thousands of drug arrests across the city each year, amid complaints from citizens of color about civil rights abuses by the notorious T.N.T squad.
Consider that from 1990 through 1995, the reported crime index for New York City declined by nearly forty percent from 711,556 to 442,532. Yet during this period felony arrests only declined by some twelve percent. This is the politics of the criminal injustice system, and the prison industrial complex. Zero tolerance and massive overtime pay served to motivate police officers to make low level drug arrests that resulted in increased felony arrest rates of about 75 percent from 1990 through 1997. The marginalization and criminalization of certain sub-populations within our society as shown by rates of arrest and incarceration is but one aspect of the situation we are confronted with.
My sisters and brothers, just yesterday, in the national section of the New York Times pg. 27, Obama calls for ouster of Justice Department official after remark--- What remark? What official? Mr. John Tanner, the chief of the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division: What remark? ‘;Creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstances. Mr. Tanner told the National Latino Congreso--- ‘;Of course that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don’t become elderly the way white people do---! They DIE FIRST!;This is the mindset of the person we turn to at the federal level when local authorities fail to protect our hard won civil rights. This is why here in New York City at the present time, agents of this administration treat the homeless population, who are disproportionately people of color--- as though we are still living in the DRED SCOTT ERA - wherein people of color have no civil rights that the rest of our society is bound to respect!
These comments were made with respect to the voting rights issue and the requirements of a photo I.D. card. Why is Obama the only minority elected official calling for this racist goons speedy departure?
Let’s return to the so called ‘;Broken Window theory of policing. I consider this so-called BROKEN WINDOW method of policing to be at the very heart and foundation of the nation. And what is the BROKEN WINDOW theory? It is the concept that if law enforcement agents vigorously assert themselves to deter minor anti-social behavior, some of which is not even a crime, but mere offenses, that this effort will have a positive impact on major crime, resulting in increased public safety, which is in the COMMON GOOD!;This is a great theory on paper, but the question remains: How does this concept play itself out in the society at large? At a time when homelessness has reached record proportions, nationally as well as in our city, being homeless had been politicized and criminalized by this New York City Police Department, while this cities mainstream press has demonized these homeless New Yorkers, creating so-called ‘;Quality Of Life Offenses. ;In this climate homeless New Yorkers who are disproportionately people of color are treated like Afro-Americans during the infamous DRED SCOTT ERA! When Afro-Americans had no rights that white Americans were bound to respect. As a result, in every venue where law enforcement agents and the homeless interact it becomes a potential powder keg, and breeds potential POLICE BRUTALITY!;These so-called law enforcement agents constantly exceed their authority and act as though they have executive and legislative powers, as well as JUDICIAL ones! This behavior I contend MUST BE STOPPED! It makes all of us who dwell within this city less free. Unchecked, this amounts to a blatant form of DOMESTIC TERRORISM!
As one of the many leaders of the Picture the Homeless civil rights committee, and a member of our outreach ‘;Legal Clinic , I can tell you that police officers often write homeless people tickets for so-called disorderly conduct without stating what this alleged disorderly conduct consist of. Police often detain homeless people for so-called ‘Open Containers , without stating that it was an open container containing an alcoholic beverage, and how they knew it to be so! I suppose the rationale is that all people who appear to be homeless, with a brown paper bag in their hand is drinking beer!;Is this what PROBABLE CAUSE amounts to, in our great city in 2007? And is PUBLIC SOLICITATION (PANHANDLING) against the law? Our courts have said no! Why do police officers still harass homeless panhandlers? Even when they are not being aggressive, or impeding traffic, within the meaning of the statute? And if the members of this cities police department believe so profoundly in the broken windows theory--- Why don’t they practice it INTERNALLY, and start at ONE POLICE PLAZA! How does the chief ranking officer get mobbed-up? Where was Internal Affairs on this one? What message does this send to the rank and file? How do top cops get to be hit men for the mob? Far to many of our cities top police brass have been implicated in corruption and civil rights violations or both IT IS TIME FOR INTERNAL REFORM!
This I submit is the beginning of police abuse. First they abuse the trust then they abuse the citizen. This is the true essence of the broken window theory. As a result we are in dire need of police reform, both at the training level and in the area of redress.
At the training level the findings and recommendations of both the Knapp and Mollen commissions should be required reading, followed by a study of the Kerner report. ALL cadets should be quizzed on this subject matter before they are entrusted with our lives
Secondly, all cadets should be administered a psychological test similar to the test given to the potential jurors on Voir-Dire at the Angela Davis trial to weed out racial bias and prejudice!
And in the area of redress, I submit that it is long past the time when the tax payers of this city continue to pick up the tab for illegal, unconstitutional police behavior done outside the scope of their official duty! The city council and the state legislature should draft and pass legislation forthwith: this would let rouge cops know that they are on their own when their actions take them outside of the scope of their official duties, which is to uphold EXISTING LAW!;Victims of such illegal conduct should be able to seize assets and personal property. Such legislation would save vital tax dollar, and act as a real deterrent to future abuse!