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.

The Billionaire Mayor’s 1 Percent City

September 10, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege, Workers' Rights

From Colorlines:

In response to a question from New York Magazine about whether de Blasio’s campaign represents “class-warfare,” Bloomberg piped in “class-warfare and racist.” Pressed to explain himself, Bloomberg said that though de Blasio himself is not racist, his “appeal” is such. Going in on the point, the mayor said that the public advocate was “using his family to gain support” and concluded, “I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s doing.”

To many New Yorkers, it seemed that de Blasio was doing what all political candidates do, and what Bloomberg himself did during three races for mayor: surround himself with loved ones at what is an inherently trying time. The current mayor campaigned extensively with his spry, elderly mother in 2001. His daughters have also been frequently by his side. As Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski noted, Bloomberg emphasized his Jewish heritage in order to appeal to that pivotal New York constituency. The mayor’s double standard on this matter is curious.

But what has truly set off the billionaire mayor is de Blasio’s emphasis on the city’s pervasive economic inequality, and that is where Bloomberg belabored his de Blasio comments to New York Magazine.

This “whole campaign that there are two different cities here … I’ve never liked that kind of division,” the mayor complained.

Though Bloomberg may not like the idea of economic divisions, the fault lines that have developed under his leadership are real and among the worst on the planet. As The New York Times reported last fall, the top 20 percent of the city’s income earners now make up to 40 times what the bottom 20 percent garner. This is a dubious distinction, according to the Times, “surpassed by a few developing countries, including Namibia and Sierra Leone.”

This almost unimaginable split between rich and poor in fact should not come as a surprise. It is the consequence of an economic policy in which the stated goal was to entice the world’s rich to live in New York by transforming the city into a luxury product. Bloomberg sums up his economic vision this way, “If we can find a bunch of billionaires around the world to move here, that would be a godsend, because that’s where the revenue comes in to take care of everybody else.”

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.

NYPD’s Ray Kelly: Blacks “understopped” by police

May 03, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, White Privilege

From Salon:

Echoing what Joan Walsh called Mayor Bloomberg’s “ugly” defense of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice, police commissioner Ray Kelly asserted Wednesday night that African Americans are “understopped” by police. During an interview with ABC, the commissioner and the policing tactic’s greatest defender, said that “African Americans are being understopped in relation to people being described as perpetrators of violent crime.”

While Mayor Bloomberg has been mayor, the NYPD has carried out over 5 million stop-and-frisks. Analysis by the ACLU of official police data found that over 86 percent of the stops were of black or Latino individuals. The analysis of police data also revealed that 88 percent of the stops did not result in an arrest or summons (and of course an even smaller proportion ever lead to a prosecution, or conviction). The number of innocent people stopped alone serves as ample riposte to Kelly’s suggestion that any demographic is “understopped.”

Kelly suggests that since 75 percent of violent crime victims describe the perpetrators as African American males, it is therefore valid to treat millions of black young men in New York as criminals without grounds. The fact that many perpetrators of violent crime in New York have been African American does not in turn mean that per se African Americans in New York should be assumed violent criminals. The logic is not only flawed, but perpetuates a policing system that, through quotas and targeting certain communities, confirms its own bias about who gets to be a criminal.

And, while we’re at it, here are a few relevant facts to challenge Kelly’s “understopped” claim: The number of stop-and-frisks carried out yearly since 2003 has nearly quadrupled. However, the number of weapons recovered from stops each year has remained pretty much constant. Meanwhile, marijuana arrests have spiked (while suspicion of drug possession is cited by police in less than 1 percent of instances as the reason for a stop). Federal statistics also consistently show that marijuana use is more prevalent among young white people than young black people.