All Articles Tagged "NYPD"
Last month, we reported on missing autistic New York City teen Avonte Oquendo, whose body parts were found scattered in College Point, Queens. At the time, New York City police believed Oquendo initially drowned in the East River. And now, after an exhausting amount of attempts, the city’s Medical Examiner says he cannot determine how Oquendo died, according to The Daily News.
Avonte Oquendo, whose form of autism made him incapable of verbal communication, was last seen on October 4, 2013. Surveillance footage documented him running away from his school, Center Boulevard. For months search teams looked all around for Oquendo but eventually called efforts off. Vanessa Fontaine, Oquendo’s mother, has since filed an emergency lawsuit against the NYPD, seeking access to the investigation files surrounding her son’s disappearance. Unfortunately, she has been denied twice with the Manhattan Supreme Court deeming her request an “invasion of privacy.”
Check out a news report on Avonte Oquendo’s death in the video below.
Civil Rights Leaders, Retail Execs Create A Bill Of Rights To Protect Black Shoppers From Racial Profiling
Who would have thought it would ever come to this — that we need a bill of rights to protect black shoppers from racial profiling at retail stores?
Because shopping while black has become hazardous, civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and retail executives have developed list of rules that will be posted inside stores to ensure that black shoppers will not be racially profiled and targeted simply for buying expensive items, reports The New York Daily News.
According to the bill of rights, store employees who racially profile customers can be disciplined and possibly fired. Also, vulgar language or excessive force while detaining suspects is prohibited. Employees must “respect the basic civil and legal rights of any person suspected of a crime,” the list says.
Regulations must be applied nationwide and stores will be subject to internal tests to make sure they are in compliance. The list must be posted in common areas in the stores, available upon request and placed on store websites. Some stores have even promised to run ads publicizing the bill of rights to customers.
The bill comes after a string of racial-profiling allegations and lawsuits from black shoppers. To prevent this from happening again, a coalition of high-end retailers such as Barneys, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor and other department stores and civil rights leaders came up with a “bill of rights” to protect customers from “shop-and-frisk” practices.
Sharpton called the “best practices” agreement, which is the first of its kind between community leaders and the retail industry, as a step in the right direction. “The message I think is very simple,” said Ed Goldberg, Macy’s vice president. “We understand the gravity of the situation. . . . We subscribe to the document that’s going to be released by the retail council.”
The coalition, however, has been unable to convince the NYPD to participate. “We cannot have an agreement with the NYPD without the incoming commissioner saying, ‘We agree to that,’ ” said Sharpton, who has requested a sitdown with newly appointed Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. While Bratton’s office has yet to issue a statement, a spokeswoman for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio told the newspaper that the commissioner-designate would be happy to meet with the group.
“Mayor-elect de Blasio has said repeatedly that his administration will have zero tolerance for racial profiling of any kind,” said spokeswoman Lis Smith, adding that de Blasio “deeply appreciates” the retailers’ willingness to adopt the new policies.
Bratton was first police commissioner at a time when crime was rampant in New York City. However, he’s now working for a mayor who was elected on the premise that he would crack down on practices like stop-and-frisk that disproportionately impact the minority population of the city. He was credited for getting the city on a path to less crime, though some of his tactics were controversial. He went on to become a law enforcement leader in Boston and Los Angeles. It’s his record in LA, where traffic stops increased under his leadership, that has already got critics weighing in.
We’ll have to wait and see how Commissioner Bratton will handle this and a number of other issues he’ll be faced with.
Compared to last year, use of stop-and-frisk, which involves police officers searching passersby based on often flimsy evidence (a vague description, for instance) that they’ve done anything wrong, has dropped by 80 percent. But the debate still remains heated: Does the program contribute to lower crime numbers? New evidence suggests not, TheGrio reports.
Outgoing New York City Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD’s Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have always justified stop-and-frisk, which overwhelmingly targets Black and Hispanic residents, by assuring the public that crime has plummeted due to the program. But their persuasion is wearing thin as data finds that stop-and-frisk practices have dropped, yet the city’s crime hasn’t surged as Bloomberg and Kelly warned.
In July, August, and September of last year, there were 106,000 stops by the NYPD. The same time this year, there were 21,000 stops — an 80 percent decrease. According to data provided to the City Council, police confiscated 99 firearms, down from 198 last year, and 463 knives, down from 1,016.
The steep drop in stop-and-frisk is “good news,” says Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union. This is a testament that New York City can still be on the right track towards a safe city without tactics that racially profile minorities.
In fact, a recent study discovers that stop-and-frisk tactics are more ineffective than they are effective — only 1.5 percent of residents who were stopped-and-frisked were actually convicted for a crime and sentenced to more than 30 days in jail. “The study concludes that Stop & Frisk has little impact on the rate of violent crime,” PressTV says.
“Even as (Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s) administration doggedly defends its stop-and-frisk program in court and in the public, these numbers are tacit recognition that it’s misguided and not necessary for the public safety,” Lieberman adds.
The decline could be the result of Judge Shira A. Scheindlin‘s decree for the NYPD to make sweeping changes to the police force regarding stop-and-frisk practices after four minority men sued for being unfairly targeted. But as MN has reported, her ruling has been suspended as this point as a federal appeals accused her of being too impartial during the case.
Another reason behind the drops in stop-and-frisk are a new training course put in place by Commissioner Kelly to properly mold officers on how to approach a suspect without breaking any laws. NYPD authorities who work in high-crime areas are receiving the training.
There are also now consequences for officers who abuse stop-and-frisk. “The police department established an early warning system to identify officers who have received public complaints on the policy, and precinct commanders will be held accountable at weekly meetings,” TheGrio concludes.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio made a campaign pledge to end stop-and-frisk entirely.
Stop-and-frisk, a police tactic that uses an overwhelming amount of racial profiling, had been deemed unconstitutional. But wait. Shira A. Scheindlin, the judge who made the ruling, has been thrown out of the case by a federal appeals court, which has halted the NYPD’s abandonment of stop-and-frisk practices, the New York Times reports.
The Court of Appeals decided that Scheindlin was being biased in her August ruling that the NYPD had violated minorities’ Fourth and 14th Amendment rights. When the lawsuit against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics was filed six years ago, the panel alleges that Scheindlin steered the case into her courtroom. According to the three-judge panel, “Shira A. Scheindlin, ‘ran afoul’ of the judiciary’s code of conduct by compromising the ‘appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation,’” the NY Times said.
Ray Kelly, the head honcho of the NYPD and the biggest cheerleader for stop-and-frisk, was recently booed at Brown University with students chanting “Racism is not for debate!” “No question about it, violent crime will go up,” Kelly said shortly after Scheindlin’s ruling. He noted that the very population that’s most opposed to stop-and-frisk will be in the most trouble. “The losers in this, if this case is allowed to stand, are people who live in minority communities,” he said. Stats show 87 percent of the people stopped under stop-and-frisk in 2012 were black or Latino[...] just 7 percent were white. Plans to monitor the NYPD, which was supposed to push the department’s end to racial profiling as a crime-fighting strategy, has now been postponed.
“[Kelly] noted that 97% of shooting victims are black or Hispanic; [he] reasoned that similar demographics apply if a stop deters a killing and added that there have been more than 7,300 fewer killings in the 11 full years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure so far than in the 11 years before,” USA Today noted.
Bloomberg, who whole-heartedly supports Kelly’s stop-and-frisk practices, added, “The fact that fewer guns are on the street now shows that our efforts have been successful. There is just no question that stop-question-frisk has saved countless lives.”
John Koeltl is the new judge presiding over the case. The case will extend into 2014, after Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor is over. Bill DiBlasio, the Democratic mayoral nominee who’s far ahead in the polls over his Republican opponent, Joseph J. Lhota (a supporter of stop-and-frisk) noted that he was “extremely disappointed” by the court’s decision. “We have to end the overuse of stop-and-frisk, and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect.” DiBlasio said in a statement.
The racial profiling struggle is becoming far too real here in New York City. We told you about 19-year-old Trayon Christian, who was arrested outside of Barneys on Madison Avenue after he purchased a pricey Salvatore Ferragamo belt on his debit card. Then there were claims by Kayla Phillips, 21, that she was approached by undercover officers after buying a $2, 500 Celine bag in the same store earlier in the year. But they’re not the only ones stepping forward to tell their stories, and it’s not just Barneys that allows these things to happen (which black folks already knew).
Actor Rob Brown, known for his work on the HBO show Treme and from movies like Finding Forrester, Coach Carter, and the recent release, Don Jon, says that he was arrested this summer by officers in Macys in Herald Square after purchasing a $1, 350 Movado watch as a graduation present for his mother. He says she had just finished at Metropolitan Community College and he decided to buy her the pricey watch to congratulate her, and was going to take it to her graduation that day. While he waited for the watch to be cleaned and packaged because he picked the last one, a display, he ran over to Sunglass Hut next door to pick up some shades. While making a purchase there, Brown says he was approached by officers out of uniform who arrested him and accused him of using a fake card to buy the watch in Macy’s. Brown says he was handcuffed and walked into a holding area for shoplifters inside of Macy’s on an upstairs level.
“They kept telling me, ‘Your card is fake. You’re going to jail,” Brown said in an interview with the New York Daily News. He also said that officers gave him different reasons for why he was being detained and questioned, despite having multiple forms of ID on him. One explanation from cops was that a suspicious employee called police; then there was the excuse that police were in the store doing a sting operation to find a “crooked clerk.” Either way, Brown and his lawyer, John Elefterakis, say that after 45 minutes and checking through the actor’s bags, police realized they made a mistake and let him go. Though he was late because of the incident, Brown says he was able to make it to his mother’s graduation (police gave him a ride), but that didn’t stop him from sharing his distaste over the incident on Twitter soon after back in June:
“Got arrested at Macy’s while buying my ma a watch. Thought my card was fake cuffed me and tossed me in a cell. Then they realized they were d**ks.
Then the police drove me to my ma’s graduation. Trbl jb #NPYD
Careful [black] ppl. If you drop $1000 at @Macys #NYPD might lock you up for grand larceny BEFORE they ask you for ID. #stillappalled #kinda
Don’t be black while shopping @Macy’s Police might roll on u
A spokesperson for Macy’s issued a statement to say, “We are investigating the alleged claims, as we were just made aware of this lawsuit. We do not comment on matters in litigation.” But Sunday night they claimed that their employees had nothing to do with Brown being accused of fraud, but that it was an operation and decision made by the New York Police Department only.
When asked why Brown decided to come forward months later to share his story and sue, the actor says he was inspired by Trayon Christian’s ordeal at Barneys.
“He was brave. It’s my duty to follow through.”
Click to the next page to watch Brown’s full interview with Pix 11 about the incident at Macy’s and let us know what you think.
New York police are searching for a man accused of luring a 12-year-old girl into his car after promising her a meeting with rapper Nicki Minaj.
The victim and two friends were approached by a black male in his 20s posing as a modeling scout in the rapper’s native Queens on Sunday (Oct. 13). He convinced the teen pre-teen to get in his SUV while her friends left.
He is then accused of exposing himself and sexually assaulting the girl. She managed to escape and reported the incident to police, before receiving treatment at a local hospital.
Read more at EurWeb.com
Judge Rules Stop-And-Frisk In NYC Unconstitutional, But Will Continue To Allow It With Strict Regulations
Not too long ago, while moving about in Bed-Stuy, I witnessed two young men being stopped and frisked. Because they weren’t dressed in a stereotypical or seedy manner at all (button down shirts and jeans) I initially they were being stopped for something they did before turning on to the same corner I was on. But as I continued to be nosy, watched them get patted down against a brick wall (and yelled at), only to turn back around and see the police drive away as the men were left where they were standing, hella confused, I realized they clearly had done nothing. Whatever assumptions police had about these men they were clearly wrong about, and all it took to figure this out was to embarrass the men in front of a good number of other people and put a damper on their evening. If you were living under a rock, racial profiling is real.
Stop-and-Frisk has been a major topic for a while now, especially since findings were published in the Village Voice years back that exposed an overwhelming majority of those being stopped were black and Hispanic and that in reality, only one out of eight people were being arrested for actually doing something wrong. Well, according to ABC News, today U.S. District Judge Shira Sheindlin concluded that the current Stop-and-Frisk practice in New York City is unconstitutional as it unfairly allows cops to target black and Hispanic men far more than whites. While Mayor Bloomberg has a been a big advocate of Stop-and-Frisk, saying that the low crime rate over the last few years has been because of the practice, Sheindlin said to day that “Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime — preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example — but because they are unconstitutional they cannot be used, no matter how effective.”
The city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.”
While all of this was concluded, Sheindlin is allowing a form of Stop-and-Frisk to continue, but with major overhaul and strict regulations put in place.
Judge Sheindlin ordered that stop-and-frisk tactics only continue with the oversight of a federal monitor and that body-worn cameras will be attached to cops in one precinct per borough to keep an eye on officers. She also seeks to have a “community-based joint remedial process” take place in order to better the relations between cops and the community, seeing as the civil rights of many have been violated over and over where Stop-and-Frisk has taken place.
We’ll have to wait and see if this actually improves things, but as long as Stop-and-Frisk is allowed, cameras or no cameras, those in power will continue to profile folks by their race and treat those young men in the community minding their business as common criminals.
“Who owns the breast: child or husband?”
This is the tongue-in- cheek yet provocative question raised recently in Street Talk Naija, a Man on The Street sort of Nigerian web series, which you can watch on YouTube. Speaking with both women and men, the responses were pretty evenly split: half of the folks saying that since the primary purpose of the breast was for feeding, it therefore belongs to the children, while the other half argue that since the woman belongs to her husband, he “owns” everything about her, including her breasts.
Of course, while watching this, I had already summarized this to be a trick question. I mean, we all know that the woman owns the breast. After all, it is attached to her body so – husband or not – it is hard to claim ownership of something that is not in your physical possession. Likewise, just because breasts are also mammary glands doesn’t mean that women are not using the breast right if it’s for purposes outside of being a food source for a baby. Some women do get sexual pleasure from their breasts, and in fact, recent studies have found that ni**le stimulation activates the same brain areas as vaginal and clitoral stimulation. How and in what way her breasts are being used is solely up to her. The funny thing is that as obvious of a point as this was to me, not too many people in the video actually echoed a similar sentiment.
Yet before we attribute this to the backwards thinking of some indigenous Africans (because I know how some folks think), we in Western societies too find ways to enforce, albeit subtly, this belief that the use of a woman’s body is not of her own fruition. And it is a major reason why some folks responded with flat out ridicule when Angelina Jolie announced that she had both breasts removed in hopes of preemptively striking against a hereditary and aggressively deadly form of breast cancer. Nevermind her very real health concerns, keeping a pair of perky breasts was deemed by some as much more important. The negative reaction to her announcement should serve as a reminder that the female form, particularly the breasts, are still very much treated as public domain, created for the sole purpose of sexual arousal – regardless if she sees it that way or not.
Such as the case of Holly Van Voast, a Bronx photographer and performance artist, who filed a federal lawsuit against the city of New York for being repeatedly detained, arrested, and on one occasion, institutionalized, for daring to bare her breasts in public. The easy answer is to say, “Well of course what she did was lewd.” However, the same city, which saw Van Voast topless as obscene and sometimes mentally ill, had a completely different standard for men of all body shapes (including breast-size), who are free to walk around topless without repercussions, including the N*ked Cowboy, a pasty-skinned guy who walks around Time Square, strumming his guitar in just a pair of tighty-whities and cowboy boots.
It is also this double standard when it comes to displays of the female breasts, which has inspired Go Topless Day. According to Policy Mic, such a day looks to bring awareness to the need for gender equality in public decency laws, by protesting across the country in – you guessed it – no tops at all. And according to the New York Times, the Van Voast lawsuit, which was filed on the grounds that the public decency laws are bias, might have been the inspiration behind a recent shift in policy in the NYPD, which is now instructing its 34,000 police officers to stop arresting topless women for indecent exposure.
Despite the shift in NYC laws, women who opt to bare their chests still face an uphill battle in having their bare breasts not viewed as criminal or as a spectacle as demonstrated by video of last year’s Go Topless Day in New York City. In it, men followed around a bunch of topless protesting woman, drooling, ogling and taking pictures. Even as these women hope to convey a much bigger message of ending the need to make natural body functions and form dirty or illegal, the reality is that you can’t change the mindset of some, who still insist on putting their own definition on it – at least not right away. Up until the mid-1900s, men could be arrested for going out in public topless. Today, we have Rick Ross and nobody blinks an eye. Perhaps if more women are willing to bare it all in protest of these ridiculous laws, and more importantly, this mindset, it might change how we as a society view breasts. Basically, as a source of many things, from the giver of life and nourishment, to a part of our sexuality, to being the source of nothing at all.
Supporters Of Slain Teen Kimani Gray Express Frustration In Vigil Turned Violent, Family Arranges Another Vigil
While people are sending death threats to Michael Vick, ultimately causing him to cancel his book tour, the NYPD are still out here killing young boys. The most recent: Kimani Gray, a 16 year old from East Flatbush. According to authorities, on Saturday, March 10, Kimani was standing outside a East 52nd Street building near Snyder Avenue in East Flatbush, Brooklyn with a group of friends.
The officers noticed that Kimani distanced himself from his friends when plain clothes police officers emerged from an unmarked car. The officers said they saw Kimani fidgeting with his waistband. They claim that when they attempted to speak to him, he pointed a .38 caliber pistol at the officers.
Both officers fired at Kimani, hitting him in the legs and torso. Kimani was taken to Kings County Hospital but was declared dead on arrival. The officers were treated for trauma and tinnitus, a ringing of the ears.
Reports claim that when Kimani’s mother was informed of her son’s death, she also had to be hospitalized. She was released Sunday morning.
Gray had a criminal record, including charges from breaking into a car, possession of stolen property, grand larceny and rioting.
That’s the police’s side of the story. Witnesses to the shooting claim Kimani was running for his life, telling the cops to stop.
Others obviously felt there was an injustice involved and decided to hold a vigil for Kimani on Monday, March 11. Unfortunately, the vigil, in East Flatbush in Brooklyn moving toward the 67th Police Precinct station, turned a little rowdy. Accounts vary as to how extreme it got. New York Times’ journalist, Charles Blow tweeted: “My twitter stream tells me that it wasn’t a riot but a protest that became ‘unruly’ … ” Other reports claim the vigil turned into a riot when a group of teenagers started throwing objects at police officers, smashed car windows and attacked a pharmacy.
A City Councilman Jumaane Williams, whose district includes the neighborhood where Kimani was killed, called for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg to visit the community. He told the New York Daily News, “There’s a lot of anger here. This isn’t just from one particular shooting. A whole community has not been heard for far too long.”
A peaceful protest that included community leaders and elected officials was also held on Tuesday night. Dozens of people walked through the East Flatbush neighborhood where Gray was killed.
In response to the violence that erupted during the first vigil, the family has arranged for another vigil at 7pm tonight that will take place at Church Avenue and East 55th Street.
What do you think of this story? Are you more inclined to believe the police accounts or those who claim to have witnessed the incident? What do you make of the vigil turned violent?
“Guns For Greatness” Offers NY Youth Mentorship And Beyonce Concert Tickets In Exchange For Illegal Firearms
Gun buyback programs have become fairly popular in crime plagued cities. They offer all kinds of incentives to the public in an effort to get illegal firearms off of the streets. The latest gun buyback program to garner much attention is being spearheaded by Hip Hop mogul, Michael “Blue” Williams. Michael’s program, which is still awaiting approval from NYPD’s Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, seeks to take on the dutiful task of getting illegal guns out of the hands of New York’s youth in exchange for mentorship and tickets to Beyoncé’s highly anticipated “Mrs. Carter Show” concert, reports the Daily News.
“We want to get as many guns off the streets, and if this works, we’d like to support it,” Commissioner Kelly told the Daily News.
“The Beyoncé show is coming to Brooklyn; the Jay-Z show is coming to Yankee Stadium. Our goal is to reach out to individuals who are in my industry, in my world and who I have an association with and get their support. I think we should all work together to help get guns off the streets,” said Williams who is known for managing the careers of Outkast and Cee-Lo Green.
Once Commissioner Kelly approves the program, Williams is hoping to sit down with Jay-Z to negotiate some sort of tickets deal for Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s July Barlcays Center performance, in addition to Beyoncé’s August performance. Thus far Williams has raised $75,000 for his “Guns For Greatness” program, which he hopes to officially launch March 23rd at a Brooklyn church.
“This program aims to provide young people with an opportunity to receive guidance and inspiration from committed mentors, an important option that will enable them to experience possibilities other than a life surrounded by gun violence and unnecessary shootings and killing,” Williams expressed in his program pitch letter to Kelly.
Hot 97, IHOP and multiple record labels have already agreed to help out.
This sounds like a really great program. Hopefully it makes an impact.
In other Beyoncé news, shoe designer PMK recently released a custom made Isabel Marant wedge sneaker titled “The King Bey” for the singer, reports ELLE.