Friday, November 18, 2011

Defective detectives up to the devil's business

When I read that detectives from police intelligence enter a church where dissenters have sanctuary and shelter, take inventory of the protesters, and pump a women's shelter volunteer for information on her clients, I have a hard time not seeing the KGB's Homeland Security's finger prints. And when I learn that the pastor has to spirit protesters out the church's back door because an unknown person is snapping photos of people who come out the front, call me conspiratorial if you like, but I believe authorities are instigating some sort of treachery. A couple of days ago I maintained that DHS and FBI should focus on real threats to homeland security instead of targeting occupiers in Nashville. The atrocious actions of NYPD sustain the widely held perception that orchestrated suppression is spreading:

“It is disconcerting that they would actually enter the sanctuary,” said the Rev. James Karpen, known as Reverend K, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on West 86th Street. “Here we had offered hospitality and safety, which is our business as a church; it just felt invasive”....

About 46 protesters had spent Wednesday night in the church. Just before 6 a.m. on Thursday, as the demonstrators began to stir before a major downtown protest, the two men in plainclothes came to the church door and asked the doorkeepers if they could use the bathroom, according to Mr. Karpen.

Instead, both men entered the sanctuary, one remaining near the door while the other advanced down the aisle, apparently counting the demonstrators in the pews, according to a witness who reported the episode and who asked his name not be published because he feared harassment by the police.

One of the men then went downstairs to a homeless women’s shelter, run in cooperation with B’nai Jeshurun, a local synagogue, and asked for information about who was sleeping there, said Elissa Weiss, the volunteer on duty ....

A demonstrator then confronted the men and asked them to write down their names and badge numbers. One identified himself as Detective Kevin G. Clancy, who according to 2006 police records is assigned to the intelligence division of the New York Police Department. The men then left.

“They are welcome to come in if they just say who they are,” Mr. Karpen said. “We have never had that kind of issue with the police before.

I appreciate that the pastor is "disconcerted," but implications of this level of surveillance are frightening and enraging. The direction local police seem to be taking goes down the road to perdition. If this country so goes, there is no return.

UPDATE:  DemocracyNow hosted a discussion on "New Military Urbanism," during which a legal observer of Occupy Wall Street noted the absolute brutality that increasingly characterizes policing protesters in cities:

"I was there to take down the names of people who were arrested... As I’m standing there, some African-American woman goes up to a police officer and says, 'I need to get in. My daughter's there. I want to know if she’s OK.’ And he said, 'Move on, lady.' And they kept pushing with their sticks, pushing back. And she was crying. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he throws her to the ground and starts hitting her in the head," says Smith. "I walk over, and I say, 'Look, cuff her if she's done something, but you don’t need to do that.’ And he said, 'Lady, do you want to get arrested?' And I said, 'Do you see my hat? I'm here as a legal observer.’ He said, 'You want to get arrested?' And he pushed me up against the wall."

If police administration naively assumes that they will not reap bitter fruit one day from the seeds they are sewing today, they are sorely mistaken.

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