Matt Taibbi reports:
An amazing lawsuit was filed in New York last week. It seems Mike Bloomberg’s notorious “stop-and-frisk” policy – known colloquially in these parts by silently-cheering white voters as the “Let’s have cops feel up any nonwhite person caught walking in the wrong neighborhood” policy – isn’t even the most repressive search policy in the NYPD arsenal.
Bloomberg, that great crossover Republican, has long been celebrated by the Upper West Side bourgeoisie for his enlightened views on gay rights and the environment, but also targeted for criticism by civil rights activists because of stop-and-frisk, a program that led to a record 684,330 street searches just last year.
Now he’s under fire for a program he inherited, which goes by the darkly Bushian name of the “Clean Halls program.” In effect since 1991, it allows police to execute so-called “vertical patrols” by going up into private buildings and conducting stop-and-frisk searches in hallways – with the landlord’s permission.
Read more in Rolling Stone.
Wouldn’t it make sense to put more cops on the streets as a visible presence instead of having them patrol residences? And while we look askance at Mayor Bloomberg and the police, let’s remember that thousands of landlords agreed to this, thereby exposing their tenants to what may be ridiculous and harassing encounters based on profiling. From the complaint:
Residents of some Clean Halls Buildings are stopped, questioned, and searched by NYPD officers on a regular basis -sometimes multiple times a week. For many young men of color in particular, being searched and seized by NYPD officers in and around their homes has become normalized and is simply a routine part of their lives.
Kudos to the NYCLU for filing this lawsuit. How was this going on for so many years, though, with so little public scrutiny?