Dozens of current and former NYPD officers have come forward and backed a lawsuit against the NYPD that claims officers were forced to participate in an off-the-books quota system that prioritized the arrests of Blacks and Latinos. The officers coming forward have solidified the views of many who allege the entire system is racist.
The original lawsuit was filed by NYPD Lt. Edwin Raymond and 11 other officers back in 2015. Since then, more than two dozen other former and current officers have come forward, backing up the claims in the lawsuit which states officers were punished for not meeting their arrest quotas.
One cop, who is a plaintiff in the long-running lawsuit claimed a supervisor would ask him “Are you going to take someone’s freedom today?”
“If plaintiffs prevail in their suit, the CCRB would investigate arrests/summons made by officers under the supervision of the relevant commanders, as part of our new Charter mandate to investigate racial profiling and other forms of bias based policing,” the Civilian Complaint Review Board tweeted.
In new affidavits, set to be filed in Manhattan Federal Court, cops claimed they faced retaliation for not arresting enough people of color and say that white officers allegedly did not face the arrest expectations.
“On one occasion in the 40th Precinct a white supervisor asked an African-American police officer, ‘Are you going to take someone’s freedom today?’” Officer Charles Spruill, who retired in 2014, says in his affidavit. “The African-American police officer had no choice but to say, ‘OK, boss.’”
According to a report in the NY Daily News, taken together, the affidavits illustrate how the chance for lucrative overtime shifts has been used to induce cops to go along with commanders’ demands. They also show how performance monitoring — a program ostensibly to help cops get better at the job — has allegedly been used to punish officers who don’t meet arrest quotas.
“The NYPD has a lot of internal names for the arrest quota, but they all mean the same thing. That officers are supposed to bring in a certain amount of arrests and issue a certain number of summonses per month,” Officer Shawn Smalls, who retired in 2011, says in one of the new affidavits.
“The NYPD calls this arrest quota in the internal lingo of the police department many things. These code names include, but are not limited to, productivity indicators, goals, activity, expectations, condition, and/or performance goals.”
Naturally, the NYPD is denying all the claims, calling them "baseless."
“Individuals who are not part of this case have made some baseless accusations in new affidavits in an attempt to support plaintiffs’ meritless case,” a Law Department spokesman said. “Mr. Raymond’s claims have no legal merit.”
However, according to the lawsuit, not only were cops forced to make these arrests 5 years ago, they are still subject to the same quota system and the citizens they police still suffer as a result.
“As a result of the arrest quota system that has existed and continues to exist, NYPD police officers were incentivized to detain or further detain individuals for purposes of conducting warrant searches even when there was no reasonable suspicion,” the lawsuit reads.
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There is no doubt that there is racism in the America justice system. And, the area of government that is most responsible for maintaining a racist system, allowing racist actors to oppress their targets with impunity, and perpetuating the suffering and plight of millions through the persecution of morally innocent individuals — is law enforcement, especially their role in the war on drugs, and the predatory policing used to uphold that war.
Without a doubt, the war on drugs fuels the racist system by targeting minorities and the poor. It serves to increase interactions between police—who are often caught joining the force to act out their racist desires—and the citizens.
The drug war, from the police departments to the court systems, unequivocally targets and punishes minorities harder for the same victimless crimes for which their white counterparts receive slaps on the wrist.
As TFTP reported, a scathing report in Harper's Magazine, written by Dan Baum set the record straight and relieved all doubt over the intentions of the drug war. John Daniel Ehrlichman, counsel and domestic policy chief to President Richard Nixon, came clean on the real reason behind the war on drugs -- to criminalize blacks and hippies.
According to Baum, he tracked down Ehrlichman in 1994 at his engineering firm in Atlanta, Georgia.
“You want to know what this was really all about?” Ehrlichman bluntly asked Baum of the war on drugs. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
To this day, the racist intentions behind the war on drugs serve to further oppress black communities. The war on drugs is still creating criminals out of otherwise innocent individuals who're caught in possession of arbitrary substances, removing their opportunity for employment by giving them criminal records, and guaranteeing a difficult future within the working class. All the while, arbitrary "offenses" like jaywalking continue to be used to target minorities so cops can wage fishing expeditions to see if a person may be in possession of an illegal substance.
It is no coincidence that the ACLU refers to the drug war as the new Jim Crow.
As Graham Boyd wrote in 2001, in a report in NACLA:
The war on drugs subjects the United States to much of the same harm, with much of the same economic and ideological underpinnings, as slavery itself. Just as Jim Crow responded to emancipation by rolling back many of the newly gained rights of African-Americans, the drug war is again replicating the institutions and repressions of the plantation. And like slavery and Jim Crow, the drug war garners appalling levels of support. Each has its own rhetoric, each its own claims to unassailable legitimacy. The brutality of slavery was justified on economic and paternalistic grounds. Jim Crow pretended that separate but equal treatment sufficed, even as blacks faced daily lynchings and every form of overt discrimination. The drug war claims morality and protection of children as its goals, while turning a blind eye to the racial injustice it promotes. And with all three systems of oppression, much of society sits idly by, accepting the rhetoric that later will seem so unbelievably corrupt. We will one day understand that the war on drugs was a war on people and communities.
If we really want to deal a blow to this racist system we must strike the root. The drug war is one such root. Until we eliminate the cause of this strife, the suffering will continue. Until we realize that we are financing our own oppression and refuse to support the government programs that keep us in the days of Jim Crow, the tyranny will remain.
It is high time we realize this real solution to this real problem before the entire country is so divided that we enter a new American civil war.