New York, NY -- A report by the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) was released Thursday touching on 117 accounts of alleged NYPD disrespect and abuse.
Detailed in this report were trumped-up and ridiculous arrests over non-crimes, including the "crime" of "manspreading."
Manspreading, or man-sitting, is the practice of sitting in public transport with legs wide apart, thereby covering more than one seat.
The act of holding your legs open so wide that they extend in front of other seats is particularly uncouth. But is it an arrestable offense?
According to the report, the NYPD have engaged in heavy-handed policing by using manspreading to arrest people for the transit rule which bars the occupation of more than one seat.
According to the Prop report:
On a recent visit to the arraignment part in Brooklyn’s criminal court, PROP volunteers observed that police officers had arrested two Latino men on the charge of "man spreading" on the subway, presumably because they were taking up more than one seat and therefore inconveniencing other riders. Before issuing an [adjournment contemplating dismissal] for both men, the judge expressed her skepticism about the charge because of the time of the arrests: "12:11AM, I can't believe there were many people on the subway."
The judge dismissed the charges outright, but that is not always the case.
Manspreading arrests are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to numbers-driven policing in the subway system, which often takes place in the middle of the night, according to Gangi. Underground is where Broken Windows champion and police commissioner Bill Bratton got his start at the NYPD as transit chief, and fare evasion consistently ranks among the most common types of misdemeanor arrests. But the maddening tickets and criminal charges recounted in the PROP report come in many shapes and sizes, for behavior like puttinga foot on a subway seat or walking between cars (always illegal, whether or not you're bothering anybody). Gangi said that he has no concrete proof that quotas exist, but that it's the only explanation for the volume of questionable cases he sees coming through court.
One of the vignettes from the PROP's report details this quota system of abuse.
A police officer issued a summons to a man for walking between the cars of a stopped subway train. The officer apologized: “I’m sorry, but it’s the 26th of the month and I have to make my quota.”
To sum up the lack of logic applied in the aforementioned account, this officer was scared of getting reprimanded for not issuing enough citations for victimless crimes. So, in an effort to avoid the grief from his bosses, he issued a piece of paper which translates into the threat of violence for non-payment to a man who had not caused harm to anyone.
Does this make sense?
Perhaps one of the most horrifying accounts in the PROP report was of an African-American man who was kidnapped and brought to a hospital for 2 days to search his body for drugs.
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An African-American man was walking home with a bag of dog food in Brooklyn when three plainclothes officers grabbed him, accused him of swallowing drugs, and tackled him. After a strip search in the precinct and a series of forced and invasive medical tests over two days at Interfaith Hospital, no contraband was found. The hospital billed him $9,500 for its services.
Even if this man would've had drugs on him, which he did not, the only real criminals in this situation were the police officers. They assaulted a man, kidnapped him, deprived him of his freedom, violated the inside of his body, and charged him for this, all to search for a substance that their bosses tell them is "illegal." This man had harmed no one.
It is no question, criminals do not like the police. But to stop critical thought at this point, is entirely irresponsible.
The wedge driven between citizens and the cops comes from the harassment, arrests, deprivation of rights, and fear over the police enforcing laws for victimless crimes designed to generate revenue. The giant pink elephant in the living room can no longer be ignored. The government's war on drugs alone has laid waste to entire communities by pushing the sale of drugs into the black market, creating crime
The Free Thought Project has documented near countless examples of people being kidnapped, caged and killed for "crimes" with no victims.
A story that epitomizes this source of discontent for police comes from the case of Carsten Vogel. Vogel was a devout and outspoken supporter of the police, taking to social media to defend all things NYPD. One fateful day all that changed after he was victimized by the very people he'd been adamant about defending.
In January, Vogel was stopped for having a completely legal pocket knife which an NYPD officer "magically" transformed into a "gravity knife" with the flick of his wrist. The officer's ability to flick the blade out of the knife translated into Vogel's arrest. After becoming a victim of the NYPD's revenue collection and arrest quota scheme, Vogel is no longer adamant about defending the cops.
All too often we hear the ridiculous statement from the apologist crowd saying, "If you don't break the law, you have nothing to worry about."
However, that statement couldn't be further from the truth.
Former NSA official William Binney sums this myth up quite accurately, “The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does.”
Attorney Harvey Silverglate argues that the average American commits three felonies a day without even knowing it.
In reality, there are too many cases to count of innocent people, some who've been recognized as pillars of society, being attacked and imprisoned by a system that claims to protect them.
When people assert that not breaking the law protects them from police abuse, those of us with our finger on the pulse of this corrupt police state, answer back by stating, "it's only a matter of time before they are proven wrong."
Those of us who hold police accountable are often referred to as "cop haters" and "anti-cop." However, police officers are human beings, they are our brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers, and sons and daughters. To blindly hate a person because of a badge is irresponsible and dangerous as people should always be given the chance to change. However, equally irresponsible and dangerous is to blindly apologize for criminals and psychopaths because of that same badge.
Robert Higgs, an American economic historian and economist, sums up the current problem with police in America.
The whole Good Cop / Bad Cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone's anecdote about his uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop.
We need only consider the following:
(1) A cop's job is to enforce the laws, all of them;
(2) Many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked;
(3) Therefore every cop has to agree to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked.
There are no good cops.
The solution to the divide being created in this country between police and the citizens is an easy one. Police need to stop agreeing to enforce cruel and unjust laws and become good cops.