Thursday, July 28, 2005

Random Subway Searches Turn Us All Into Snitches...

On Sunday, the police ordered tourists aboard a Gray Line bus to put their hands in the air before they were taken off and the bus was searched by bomb-sniffing dogs. Five men were handcuffed and later released.

[NOTE: They weren't just "Five men", they were five really Sikh-looking dudes...]


Thursday, July 28th, 2005

Subway Shakedowns: Necessary Security or Unconstitutional Violation?

Police authorities say they will not engage in racial profiling targeting Muslim, Arab and South Asian passengers because the searches are random. Yet that policy may be hard to enforce in practice. Eric Adams of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care told the New York Times "You can say 'no profiling,' but when you have a police department that has a history of profiling, it is going to practice what it knows."

In addition to the searches, frequent announcements in the subway and on buses urge riders to look out for suspicious behavior among other passengers, such as clenched fists, excessive sweating, or strong cologne -- all considered indicators of a suicide bomber. One such tip off on a double-decker tourist bus led to the unwarranted arrest last weekend of several Sikh passengers visiting New York from England.


and they don't work...


BILL GOODMAN: Oh, it's on several levels. The first is that I think the New York Police Department does have indeed, as Juan said, does have a history of racial profiling. We saw that with the street crime unit. And if Eric Adams, who as Mr. Brown points out, is a police officer who is on the job is worried about it, he probably knows very well what goes on on a very daily basis. So I do anticipate that despite the fact that they call it random, these are chaotic areas. They can pick out whoever they want and say, that person was the fifth or that person was the seventh. I expect you will see more Arabs, more South Asians, more Muslims targeted in these searches than others. So that's one area of concern.
Another area of concern is that these seem to me to be ineffective. It involves a massive intrusion of the Police Department in the daily lives of New Yorkers. And at the same time, as they say, you can voluntarily walk away from it. So if you can voluntarily walk away from it, what terrorist, what suicide bomber is going to say, ‘Yes, sure, search my bag?’

AMY GOODMAN: But you can't go back on the subway. You can leave and not get on the subway.

BILL GOODMAN: You can leave and then you can go -- if you are a terrorist, you can go to the next stop. You can walk four or five blocks and go to the next stop. And if it really is random, you are going to get in, probably. And if you are stopped there, you can go on to the next one.