NYPD Bloomberg and Sleeping on Benches

Grind for December 23rd
“There are slavish souls who carry their appreciation for favors done them so far that they strangle themselves with the rope of gratitude.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

What Were You Thinking?

The Headline

Under Michael Bloomberg, NYPD spied on Muslim residents

The Grind

In the early 2000’s, the New York City Police Department paid civilians and officers to spy and report on the city’s Muslim residents.

So-called “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” infiltrated charity groups and student organizations, took pictures of people entering mosques, monitored sermons, recorded license plate and phone numbers, and chatted with Muslims at hookah bars.

Spies were paid to bait Muslims into making inflammatory comments. In one case, the NYPD even sent a spy on a whitewater rafting trip with students from The City College of New York.

The program was exposed in 2011 and shut down in 2014 after failing to identify a single criminal.

The Details

The surveillance operation was overseen by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who described the program as something he “expected” the police to do.

This is the same person who implemented “stop and frisk,” imposed regulations on trans fats, tried to ban large-size sodas, and prohibited the donation of bagels and other foods to the homeless due to salt and fat content.

Bloomberg conveniently apologized for the “stop and frisk” policy days before announcing his candidacy, but has failed to apologize for the Muslim surveillance program.

Based on his decisions as NYC Mayor, voters fear what sort of policies Bloomberg would push for if elected president.

“By inheriting a national striation of surveillance, someone like Bloomberg, who has a record of targeting minorities with these policies on a local level, would most definitely do so on a national level,” says Asad Dandia, a Muslim American who was spied on in New York City when she was 19 years old.

“I just don’t know how we could have the trust in him,” adds Moiz Mohammed, who was a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey when the surveillance program was exposed. “What is he going to do when he’s president and has much more authority and resources at his disposal?”

Not only are these policies a violation of the First and Fourth amendments, but they suggest disrespect for human freedoms and a narcissistic streak that makes Bloomberg believe he is smarter than everyone else. Do we really want that sort of person leading the country?

Not Fair

The Headline

Supreme Court: Sleeping in public is not a crime

The Grind

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a September 2018 ruling that cities cannot prosecute people for sleeping on the street if they are homeless.

Doing so is defined as “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is illegal under the US Constitution.

The Details

The original ruling, which came from the 9th Circuit, stems from a lawsuit filed by six homeless people living in Boise, Idaho. Plaintiffs sued over a local law that allowed police to ticket individuals for sleeping or camping on sidewalks and in parks.

In its ruling, the 9th panel was careful to specify that it was not asking Boise to construct shelters for its 5,000 homeless or unilaterally allow sleeping in all public areas at all times. Rather, the 9th ruled it improper to throw people in jail for sleeping in public areas based on the false premise that they had other options.

“Just as the state may not criminalize the state of being homeless in public spaces, the state may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of being homeless – namely sitting, lying, or sleeping on the streets,” wrote Judge Marsha Berzon.

Unfortunately there will always be people who fail and lose their homes, but being poor is not a crime.

Did you know… A man once sued his doctor because he survived his cancer longer than the doctor predicted.