We have discussed at length the NYPD's outrageous spying on Muslims in Newark and its racist stop-and-frisk abuses in NYC. Last week, we learned of new NYPD abuses that stretch beyond racial or religious profiling to political profiling.
New Orleans Spying
The Daily News reported last week that left-of-center organizations meeting in New Orleans in 2008 were infiltrated by the NYPD. This is a shocking finding because it seems to undeniably unjustifiable.
2004 Republican Convention
The previous defense of spying and infiltrating was a perceived need for the NYPD to have an over-the-top level of security and intelligence-gathering in the lead-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in NYC. The NYPD spying activities related to the convention are the subject of an ongoing law suit, and the NYPD may ultimately be found to have violated the Constitutional rights of individuals who sought to oppose the Republican Party platform. If Constitutional violations are found, we would nonetheless have sympathy with any law enforcement organization taking responsibility for the entire leadership of one of our two major political parties for up to a week. Learning to provide security in such a situation and adhere to the Constitution will be a task for other cities in the years to come, and we should pray that the participants in future conventions are kept as safe as the Republicans were in NYC in 2004.
NYPD Gone Wild in Louisiana
With no Republican Convention as an excuse, the NYPD sent spies to the New Orleans convention that brought together left-of-center groups. Four years after the Republican Convention in NYC, the NYPD was spying on organizations that opposed federal government policies, even when those groups met far from NYC.
In April 2008, an undercover NYPD officer traveled to New Orleans to attend the People’s Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
When the undercover effort was summarized for supervisors, it identified groups opposed to U.S. immigration policy, labor laws and racial profiling. Two activists — Jordan Flaherty, a journalist, and Marisa Franco, a labor organizer for housekeepers and nannies — were mentioned by name in one of the police intelligence reports obtained by the AP.
“One workshop was led by Jordan Flaherty, former member of the International Solidarity Movement Chapter in New York City,” officers wrote in an April 25, 2008, memo to David Cohen, the NYPD’s top intelligence officer. “Mr. Flaherty is an editor and journalist of the Left Turn Magazine and was one of the main organizers of the conference. Mr. Flaherty held a discussion calling for the increase of the divestment campaign of Israel and mentioned two events related to Palestine.”
The document is available here.
We are now completely convinced that these abuses will continue until Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly leave their current roles. Their departure cannot come too soon.