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De Blasio Is Elected New York City Mayor

November 05, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Prison Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World, White Privilege


Bill de Blasio shared a laugh with the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, right, at a campaign stop on Tuesday. | Damon Winter/The New York Times

From NYT:

Bill de Blasio, who transformed himself from a little-known occupant of an obscure office into the fiery voice of New York’s disillusionment with a new gilded age, was elected the city’s 109th mayor on Tuesday, according to exit polls.

His overwhelming victory, stretching from the working-class precincts of central Brooklyn to the suburban streets of northwest Queens, amounted to a forceful rejection of the hard-nosed, business-minded style of governance that reigned at City Hall for the past two decades and a sharp leftward turn for the nation’s largest metropolis.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat who is the city’s public advocate, defeated his Republican opponent, Joseph J. Lhota, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, by a wide margin.

Exit polls conducted by Edison Research suggested that the sweep of his victory cut across all of New York’s traditional divides. He won support from voters regardless of race, gender, age, education, religion or income, according to the exit poll.

The lopsided outcome represented the triumph of a populist message over a formidable résumé in a campaign that became a referendum on an entire era, starting with Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and ending with the incumbent mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

Throughout the race, Mr. de Blasio overshadowed his opponent by giving voice to New Yorkers’ rising frustrations with income inequality, aggressive policing tactics and lack of affordable housing, and by declaring that the ever-improving city need not leave so many behind.

Get Out the Vote NYC: Give Bill de Blasio Decisive Mandate

November 05, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege


Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee, on the R train in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on Monday. He says a big margin of victory could help him as he tries to get his policy initiatives put into effect. | Damon Winter/The New York Times

From NYT:

Concerned that his overwhelming lead in the race to be New York mayor could depress voter turnout, Bill de Blasio on Monday warned supporters against complacency as he sought to win with a decisive mandate that could propel his liberal agenda.

“By definition, in the political process, the more support you get in an election, the more ability you have to achieve your goals,” Mr. de Blasio, the Democratic nominee, told reporters after a visit to a senior center in the Bronx. “If we get a strong result, it will help us get our work done.”

But Mr. de Blasio’s Republican rival, Joseph J. Lhota, was not giving up the fight, urging New Yorkers to remember faulty predictions of the past, and comparing himself to Harry S. Truman on the eve of his unexpected victory against Thomas E. Dewey in 1948. “You’re going to be pleasantly surprised,” he said in an interview on WOR-AM (710).

Despite a highly publicized campaign, and predictions of a temperate, partly sunny day, experts are expecting only a modest turnout Tuesday, given Mr. de Blasio’s lopsided lead in the polls.

Jerry Skurnik, a Democratic political consultant, predicted that turnout would be around 1.2 million — about what it was in 2009, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was widely expected to win a third term. Another Democratic consultant, Bruce D. Gyory, predicted turnout between 1.1 and 1.25 million. There are 4.3 million active registered voters in New York City.

Mr. de Blasio, who leads by more than 40 points in some polls, is hoping to ride the wave of populist momentum that has sustained him since September, when he emerged from a crowded field to win the Democratic nomination for mayor. An overwhelming victory might help him win support for his long list of policy ideas, including his signature proposal — a plan to raise taxes on wealthy residents to pay for an expansion of prekindergarten and after-school programs.

“We need Bill de Blasio to have a mandate,” Rubén Díaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, said during Mr. de Blasio’s appearance in the Bronx. “We need to make sure his numbers are so high that no one can ever question his message.”

The Preposterous Removal of Judge Scheindlin

November 01, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From New Yorker:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit just chastised Shira Scheindlin, the trial judge in the case challenging the constitutionality of the N.Y.P.D.’s stop-and-frisk policy, for speaking out about the issue while the trial was going on. In a ruling today, the appeals court said Scheindlin’s statements suggested that her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” As a result, all further proceedings in the case, in which Scheindlin found that that city residents’ rights had been violated, will be transferred to another trial judge. The appeals court, in a footnote, in particular cited Scheindlin’s statements to me in a piece for The New Yorker, as well as to the AP and the New York Law Journal. (I have some familiarity with this sort of thing. )

This is preposterous. The Second Circuit took this action on its own, without even a request from the city (the defendant in the case). Apparently, it took the view that there had been such an egregious violation of the rules of judicial conduct that the court had to act on its own—sua sponte, as the lawyers say. It also stayed Scheindlin’s rulings aimed at reforming stop-and-frisk.

Scheindlin did nothing wrong. She talked about her judicial career and her history on the bench in a way that illuminated the work that all judges do. In my experience, it’s a common complaint from judges that the public doesn’t understand their work, and doesn’t care about what they do. Scheindlin’s conduct in this case exemplified the independent tradition of the judiciary. She should be honored for it, not scolded.

“Too many judges, especially because so many of our judges come out of that office, become government judges,” Scheindlin told me—one of the quotations that appeared in the piece. “I don’t think I’m the favorite of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District. Because I’m independent. I believe in the Constitution. I believe in the Bill of Rights. These issues come up, and I take them quite seriously. I’m not afraid to rule against the government.”

From Center for Constitutional Rights:

The Court of Appeals granted the City of New York’s request for a stay of the joint remedial process ordered in CCR’s stop-and-frisk lawsuit pending the resolution of the appeal and, without a request by the City, ordered that the case be reassigned to a new district court judge. We are dismayed that the Court of Appeals saw fit to delay the long-overdue process to remedy the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we are shocked that they cast aspersions on the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary and reassigned the case. The City carried out a whisper campaign against Judge Scheindlin but never once raised any legal claims of bias, even in its papers to the Court of Appeals. That, unprompted, they should reassign the case from a judge deeply steeped in the issues for the last 14 years, who gave the City every opportunity to defend itself in the course of this litigation, is troubling and unprecedented. We will keep you updated on next steps.

Court Blocks Stop-and-Frisk Changes for New York Police

October 31, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From NYT:

A federal appeals court on Thursday halted a sweeping set of changes to the New York Police Department’s policy of stopping and frisking people on the street, and, in strikingly personal terms, criticized the trial judge’s conduct in the litigation and removed her from the case.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, “ran afoul” of the judiciary’s code of conduct by compromising the “appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation.” The panel criticized how she had steered the lawsuit to her courtroom when it was filed in early 2008.

The ruling effectively puts off a battery of changes that Judge Scheindlin, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, had ordered for the Police Department. It postpones the operations of the monitor who was asked to oversee reforms to the department’s stop-and-frisk practices, which Judge Scheindlin found violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.

In a two-page order, the panel of three judges also criticized Judge Scheindlin for granting media interviews and for making public statements while the case was pending before her.

The use of police stops has been widely cited by the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as a crucial tool in helping drive the number of murders and major crimes in the city to historic lows. The police say the practice has saved the lives of thousands of young black and Hispanic men by removing thousands of guns from the streets.

The lawsuit claimed that blacks and Hispanics were singled out by the police for street stops even when there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Judge Scheindlin’s decision, issued in August, found that the stop-and-frisk tactics violated the rights of minorities in the city. With that decision, which came at the conclusion of a lengthy trial that began in the spring, she repudiated a major element of the crime-fighting legacy of Mr. Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.

NYC Council Overrules Bloomberg on Police Monitor and Profiling Suits

August 23, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege


Demonstrators rallied Thursday on the steps of City Hall in support of the City Council’s anticipated votes on policing issues. | Michael Appleton for The New York Times

From NYT:

The New York City Council voted on Thursday to override the mayoral vetoes of two bills that will greatly increase oversight of the Police Department and of its widespread use of stop-and-frisk tactics.

The votes amounted to a stinging personal defeat for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who had denounced the legislation as dangerous to New Yorkers, and the actions offered a stark reminder of his diminished ability to influence city politics in the waning months of his administration.

The 51-member Council, led by its speaker, Christine C. Quinn, who is running for mayor, voted overwhelmingly, 39 to 10, to create an independent inspector general for the department. A second bill, to expand the ability of New Yorkers to sue the police over bias-based profiling, passed with exactly the 34 votes necessary for an override; the 15 no votes included Ms. Quinn’s, consistent with her opposition when the issue was previously put to a vote, in June.

Council members were unmoved by repeated warnings from the mayor and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly that the legislation would jeopardize what the administration views as a signature achievement: a crime rate lower than what many hardened New Yorkers once thought possible.

“This is a historic day in the City Council,” Ms. Quinn said, addressing members at the start of voting.

“We’ve seen in this city policies and practices in the Police Department that have gotten out of hand,” she told reporters earlier in the day, referring to the stop-and-frisk tactic. “This is a practice that needs immediate reform. We are getting it done.”

Mr. Bloomberg denounced the Council’s move as election-year pandering and vowed to mount a legal challenge against the bias-based profiling bill. “Make no mistake: the communities that will feel the most negative impacts of these bills will be minority communities across our city,” he said in a statement, “which have been the greatest beneficiaries of New York City’s historic crime reductions.”

NYC Files Notices of Appeal in Stop-and-Frisk Cases

August 19, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From NYLJ:

New York City’s Law Department on Friday filed notices of appeal in the stop-and-frisk cases before Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin. Leonard Koerner, chief of appeals for Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, filed the brief notices in two cases, the main one being Floyd v. City of New York, 08-Civ.1034, where Scheindlin on Aug. 12 found the city violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, mostly black and Hispanic men, through police stops without reasonable suspicion. The judge also appointed a monitor, former corporation counsel Peter Zimroth of Arnold & Porter.

The second notice was filed in Ligon v. City of New York, 12-Civ-2274, where the judge found the city liable in January for stopping without reasonable suspicion people entering, leaving or walking in front of private buildings in the Bronx that take part in the New York Police Department’s Trespass Affidavit Program. The Ligon notice also covers the judge’s Aug. 12 remedial order overlapping with the one in Floyd.

While Koerner said in the Floyd notice that the appeal is “from each and every part of said opinions,” and had similar language in the Ligon notice, one issue to be litigated is the extent to which Scheindlin’s rulings can be considered “final orders” amenable to appeal. The next step is for the city to ask the judge for a stay and, failing that, make the same request at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

CI: Crimes of Style ~ Jean-Michel Basquiat

February 13, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

                  Crimes of Style ~ Jean-Michel Basquiat
by nancy a heitzeg

crown3

“Most Young Kings Get Their Heads Cut Off…”
Jean-Michel Basquiat, (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988)

crown 4

There are 20 trillion pieces of text, 30 trillion more numbers to be deployed in the illumination of criminal injustice. And so, every week we do.

Sometimes, however, it is simply best to let the artists have their say- with brushes, with paint, with exploding imagery. To let them distill that universe of trouble onto the canvass.

Just bring it, as Basquiat himself would say,

Boom! For real.”


(more…)

NYPD Arrests and Detains 7-Year-Old Over $5 Dispute

February 01, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From ThinkProgress:

The New York Police Department last month arrested and detained in handcuffs a seven-year-old boy over accusations that he stole $5 from a fellow elementary school student four days earlier. The December 4 incident came to light after Wilson Reyes’ parents filed a $250 million lawsuit against the NYPD, alleging the boy was verbally, physically and emotionally abused, intimidated, humiliated, embarrassed and defamed.

His parents snapped a photo of the boy handcuffed to a wall at the police precinct, which was published on the front page of the New York Post. The details of the incident are in dispute, including how long Reyes was detained, whether he actually stole the $5 and whether he physically assaulted the other boy in the incident. But reports confirm that charges were filed against the boy for robbery and weren’t dropped until December 26.

The alleged victim, a classmate who says he is frequently bullied by Reyes, told the New York Daily News that Reyes punched the boy and stole $5 as he was walking home from school on November 30, four days before police arrested him in a classroom in the Bronx. School officials told the Post the incident occurred off grounds and it is unclear whether the school solicited police intervention.

But whether or not Reyes was a “bully” does not explain why police allegedly pulled a seven-year-old boy out of class, let alone handcuffed him to a wall, days after the altercation was over and done with. The criminalization of young children, particularly as an alternative means of school discipline, is an alarming trend that disproportionately funnels minority students into the criminal justice system.