Friday, February 20, 2009

Lawsuit Alleges Racial Profiling At Subway Checkpoints

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Brooklyn hospital manager who it says has been the repeated victim of racial profiling at NYPD subway bag search checkpoints.

Jangir Sultan, a 32-year-old native New Yorker whose parents are both from Kashmir says he has been stopped and searched by police officers three dozen times times since the NYPD initiated the subway checkpoint program in 2005. The suit alleges that Sultan’s South Asian appearance is the only factor that can explain this persistent targeting by police officers.

“The NYPD’s racial profiling has disrupted Mr. Sultan’s life making every subway trip a source of anxiety,” said Donna Lieberman , NYCLU executive director. “The NYPD must be held accountable for repeatedly singling out an innocent, hardworking young man for humiliating bag searches. Sadly, his experience is not surprising. The subway bag search program purports to be random but it is set up to invite police officers to engage in racial discrimination.”

The issue of profiling people at security checkpoints is a hot topic in the United States. Civil libertarians insist that security checkpoint checks should be random to avoid discrimination. But some security experts, like former NYPD police officer Gary Moskowitz, argue that police should always profile in their quest to stop criminal activity.

For example, to take it to the absurd, if a green obese tall woman robs a bank, why would police stop short purple thin men and question them?

Moskowitz says the profiling shouldn't be based solely on physical appearance but should also take into account a person's demeanor. The Israelis, with whom he has consulted, have been very successful in their profiling of potential terrorists.

The police department denies it profiles subway passengers. It says searches of bags are conducted at random intervals prescribed by a supervisor on the scene.

The lawsuit maintains that Sultan’s constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated and names the NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the city of New York as defendants.

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No_Strings said...

Why is it so hard for people to "Give" a little for the sake of a nation. I thought NY'rs had thicker skins. Gary Looked at me funny once, Maybe I should take him to court. I feel that If I looked like the guy who was wanted.. The police had better stop and question me. At least i know they are looking. Looks like a Duck..Quacks like a Duck....

Anonymous said...

looks like a duck, quacks likes a duck....TRUE. so where is the line? i sure think i can relate to the mans anger. But then again ask someone who lost a loved one on 911. im sure there is A LOT of anger there also.

Anonymous said...

I would have thought that as a citizen of a country that has concerns about potential terrorist attacks the least of anyone's worries would be about the relatively slight inconvenience of being 'profiled'. OK, I can see it as being irritating, but hardly a major inconvenience. These are the times we live in, this is todays reality.
Living in a society that has become super litigious is also the reality - sad isn't it when, as in this case, the money will come out of the public purse and could have been used for something positive - like terrorism prevention!

Anonymous said...

Well hmm let's see.....thousands killed, no murdered in the 9/11 attack by terrorist. Of course profiling is going on in places. Does the safey of our country not matter? I just saw a comment in the room where you, Gary, said it didnt bother you to be checked. Someone in the room said "you're white you shouldnt be offended" ?????? why? is that reverse racism? sigh its so frustrating.

Jodi H. from Colorado said...

To No_strings: Looks like a duck... quacks like a duck...? So this man looks like a southern Asian, but doesn't quack like one... he is American. However, I strongly suspect the word you were using "duck" as a substitute for was not "Southern Asian" but "terrorist".

(Could you please tell me what a "terrorist" looks like, I ALWAYS get a laugh out of peoples' answers to that)

If my suspicion is correct... you may wish to remember that the VAST majority of terrorist attacks on US soil have been carried out by Caucasian Protestant males between the ages of 20-45.

Should we begin "randomly" searching White christian dudes disproportionately? Of course not, because that would be incredibly stupid in addition to treasonous to the principles our nation supposedly stands for.
Therefore, it is BEYOND incredibly stupid and unconstitutional to do the same to a group responsible for 86% LESS domestic terrorism.

To Anonymous #1. Yes, I'm sure that many people who lost loved ones on 9-11 are angry too. They are deserving of compassion for their loss. However, their loss and suffering would not make it one whit less wrong to subvert the rights of anyone who is of medium skin tone. It is even MORE vile and odious for others to do so as their unauthorized proxy.

To Anonymous #2 First of all, the loss of the VITAL constitutional right to freedom to unreasonable search and seizure is a bit more than a mere inconvenience. I challenge you to name a SINGLE nation where the government having right to random searches has not been GREVIOUSLY misused. I also challenge you to find a single fascist takeover or genocide of the last century that did not begin as "reasonable efforts to protect the citizen from (fill in "evil" ethnicity or religion here)"

to Anonymous #3 You are partially correct in the final line in your post, comments against white people are racist. (and no, not reverse racist... just racist... the term "reverse racism" is ironically, mildly racist itself.)
Other than that, I must request you consider that Patrick Henry said "Give me Liberty or give me death" for a reason.

Our founding fathers risked all and many of my male ancestors died for the constitutional principals of this country. My only daughter just enlisted in the Marines to defend those freedoms. I'll thank you not to laud their erosion so you can feel safe.

If YOU wish to trade your freedom for safety... feel free to barricade yourself indoors 24-7 armed to the teeth. It's your right as an American. What is NOT your right as an American, is to nullify the sacrifices made to earn those freedoms by allowing and even pushing the systematic destruction of Liberty and Freedom. IE you do not have the right to give up MY rights and that of other Americans just so you can feel "safe"

Ben Franklin had this to say to the Philadelphia Assembly when they were debating how far the state could go in defending the state or public interest. "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The fact is, even if we had 5 9-11's in a year... terrorists would not kill NEARLY as many Americans as car accidents... maybe we should get rid of cars. There would still be FAR more children raped and murdered by their own parents than terrorists... maybe we should have all children raised by the state. Where do we draw the line?

Indeed, I consider all of these types of idiotic ideas that have become national mantras to be a FAR greater threat to my life and limb than the entire Taliban. (much less just some random Desi dude)

However, I will be the bigger person and not insist this gives me the right to tap the phones of, and randomly detain you idiots or anyone I think looks vaguely like they MIGHT be the same ethnicity. I'm funny that way.