Law and Disorder Radio – Stop and Frisk Lawsuit – Chris Hedges on Empire of Illusion – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

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StopFriskNYC stopCCR’s Second Stop and Frisk Lawsuit: Floyd, et al. v. City of New York

In the beginning of 2009, statistics show that 84 percent of the people who were stopped and frisked by the New York City Police Department were black or Hispanic. Very few stops yielded any contraband or weapons. Critics call these stops racially-oriented harassment and despicable. Not everyone stopped by police is frisked, however. About 59.4 percent of all Hispanics stopped were also frisked, 56.6 percent of blacks stopped were frisked and 46 percent of whites stopped were frisked. Whites had composed less than 16 percent of these stops in early 2009. The New York City Police Department insists the stops help fight crime. The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city and the Police Department over the stops.  Please visit Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.

Plaintiff David Floyd:

  • The case is surrounding stop and frisk cases, particularly in black and Latino communities.
  • I’ve been stopped in community over the past couple years. I live in Parkchester in the Bronx.
  • Both times I was stopped, I was going about my daily life. I work and go to school. The second time I was stopped, was on the premises where I live.  The first time I was stopped, they gave no probable cause and I asked for names and badge numbers.
  • The second time they said there were a string of robberies in the neighborhood. It’s a script that we found the police go by continually.
  • It’s almost as if you’re walking down the street and somebody jumps up out of nowhere to rob you. They go in your pockets, they take your wallet, but in this instance, what they try to walk away with is your dignity.
  • There are ways to very calmly challenge and ask questions but they don’t like that. I ask “why is it that I’m being stopped, do you have probable cause?” Part of our response as a community has to be to support young people, anyone and everyone who are getting stopped illegally.
  • You should make sure that they know, that you know your rights. People have cameras now, we need to make sure we document this constantly. Community members become activists so that internationally, there’s a voice that comes out.
  • The security industry is benefiting from tactics being used against black people here in the United States. Tactics that are being used against Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans. The tactics that the NYPD think are successful are being exported into other cities. There is a veil of accountability with the CCRB.
  • Challenging state violence is the responsibility of those who go through it.

Sunita Patel:

  • The important thing to remember is that the Constitution requires that police have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is about to be committed. In 2005, there were 400,000 stops.
  • We also allege in our lawsuit that there is a failure to train and discipline police officers that goes all the way up. It’s important that there is still this historic memory of Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima.
  • We are also seeking more accountability within the CCRB, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the body to hear civilian complaints regarding the NYPD. We think the CCRB should have its own prosecutorial or enforcement powers. There is a sense in the community: how can we bring change about when the system is so anonymous?
  • We also think there has to be a change in the way that police train rookie cops and undercover police officers that are flooding communities. Make the Road By Walking / Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
  • We don’t have the breakdown of arrests racially, yet. The number of stop and frisks are on the rise and we should take a stand against it. We think we will be able to obtain information about widespread practices

Guest – Sunita Patel, Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney. Sunita is involved with racial profiling, immigrant rights and other human rights litigation.

Guest – David Floyd, plaintiff in the case and Bronx resident, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement


Chris Hedges – Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

We are delighted to have back with us award-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges. His new book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle thoughtfully examines the erosion of American culture and levels a heavy criticism. Chris Hedges says we are living in a totalitarian society that is image-based. This image is not benign, he says. It is skillfully manipulated by for-profit corporations to get us to do things not in our interest. Right now, 40 million Americans are illiterate. In this media landscape, nuanced discussions of ideas are replaced by carnival barking and interruption, meanwhile newspapers and publishing companies are in decline. Hedges has called it a slow-motion coup d’etat where democracy and the Constitution are held up as ideals while the levers of power are driven by destructive forces.

Chris Hedges:

I think the best way to see how delusional we are as a culture is through prism of popular entertainment.

We’re of course a completely pornified society. The largest users of porn on the internet are teenagers.

What are the messages being pumped out, whether its the WWF or porn?

Porn isn’t the backlit shaved bodies of the Playboy Channel. It’s violence and not simulated violence.

The women are popping pain pills and require surgery after sex. When you look at the stills from Abu Ghraib, they could be stills from a set of a porn film, and I don’t think that is accidental.

The narrative that we use to explain ourselves to ourselves is no longer print based.

42 million in the US illiterate, 50 million semi-illiterate.

80 percent of American households didn’t buy a book last year. The danger of that is the images we are fed are skillfully done by those with an agenda and power. It is meant to confuse a brand with knowledge and not see the underlying structures of the corporate state.

We are a culture severing ourselves from verifiable fact and replacing it with a culture where lies become true where opinions and facts are interchangable.

Intellectual thought by its nature is subversive, because it questions structures and assumptions.

I think there has been tremendous cultural transformation, with the rise of the corporate state. Our form of inverted totalitarianism, which has been designed to shut out the bottom two thirds of the country.

The jobs that we are shedding are not coming back; we are entering a form of neo-feudalism.

A dream is something you strive towards, an illusion is something you live in.

The system has been so ethically perverted by corporations, that we now sit by passively and allow our for-profit health care industry to legally hold sick children hostage while parents bankrupt themselves trying to save their sons or daughters.

What kind of society I would like to see is one wresting back the government from the hands of the corporations. Once somebody is dead, they’re not worth anything in a commodity culture.

We have to walk out of the mainstream, don’t fall for what Ralph Nader calls the least worst.

Guest – Chris Hedges, the author of many books specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and society. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was also the Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times.