There is no question that maintaining law and order in America’s most populace city, New York, isn’t an easy thing to do. But where is the line between necessary public safety measures and creating an openly totalitarian regime within the borders of a country founded upon the principals of personal liberty and freedom?
Many people would agree that officials in New York City crossed it long ago.
The events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 are ones that have defined our Nation for more than a decade. Fear of another mass casualty event in a heavily populated area has led police throughout the Nation to resort to Big Brother surveillance tactics assuming guilt before innocence and rampant spending on police power has bolstered many police departments to the point of domestic militarization. But nowhere is the phenomenon more visible than in the City of New York.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has become the poster boy for American nanny statism, was elected as the dust was still settling in the city following the World Trade Center attacks. In fact, New York’s mayoral primaries were ironically scheduled to take place on the very day that the attacks occurred. The primaries were moved to Sept. 25 of that year, and Bloomberg—a lifelong Democrat who changed parties for the election—emerged the victor on the Republican Party ticket.
In the general election Bloomberg—whose current net worth is around $22 billion and who owns 88 percent of the Bloomberg media empire including a New York radio station—faced a libertarian-leaning Democrat, Mark Green. Green’s campaign, however, was disadvantaged on many fronts.
First, he had criticized Mayor Rudy Giuliani who had become popular among many residents of the city because of his response to the 9/11 attack, for suggesting the city do away with the two-term limit on New York mayors. Giuliani had, however, been unsuccessful. He subsequently endorsed Bloomberg’s candidacy.
Green also lacked a financial war chest anywhere comparable to Bloomberg’s and planned to rely on public access media to advertise his campaign. Bloomberg’s hefty media relationships, meanwhile, earned him endorsements from a variety of major New York media outlets.
Another problem for Green was the fact that many fearful New Yorkers thought that he lacked the ability to protect the city from terror. Now, some in the city are beginning to learn that terror from law enforcement comes in more subtle but more disturbing ways when everyone is labeled a criminal.
It was “a terrorist-provoked, money-soaked aberration.”
That is how The Economist described some New Yorkers’ reaction to the Bloomberg victory, as some Democrats began to point out the Republican-soon-to-be-mayor’s Democratic roots. Perhaps the “R” next to Bloomberg’s name made New Yorker’s feel he would be a better protector. After all, war hawks are almost always notable Republicans. So how has Republican Mayor Bloomberg done in protecting his city’s more than 8 million residents? He’s done pretty well, if it is a city where only thugs, terrorists and toddlers reside.
One of Bloomberg’s first moves as mayor was to replace Giuliani’s police commissioner with Raymond Kelly, the man who had previously held the position a decade before under former mayor David Dinkins.
Kelly immediately stepped up the stop and frisk tactics adopted under the Giuliani administration and began a campaign to lower the number of reported violent crimes in the city by putting pressure on individual precincts to reduce reports of major crimes while increasing citations and arrests for lesser charges.
It has become a numbers game for New York police officers, rather than a devotion to law and order. This means that New York Police Departments, through means of constant surveillance and intelligence gathering, have created a massive dragnet capable of entrapping any individual who in any way finds himself on the wrong side of even a footnote in the law book.
And Kelly, under Bloomberg’s direction, has most certainly given the New York Police Department every means necessary to operate as a totalitarian force—or in the Mayor’s words, his “personal army.” The NYPD now commands about 33,000 officers, including some who gather information in foreign countries and other U.S. States that lie completely out of their jurisdiction; operates very closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency; and has an annual budget of around $4 billion.
Yes, crime has dropped in the city. But there has also been a marked increase in reports of innocent New Yorkers being abused by the “army” of NYPD officers instructed to use jackboot tactics to enforce the city’s totalitarian policy initiatives.
Such is evidenced by the following examples:
The New York Times reported this week that a group of friends in Brooklyn received citations from undercover police officers for drinking in public because they were enjoying alcoholic beverages on the stoop of their home on July 4. The citations are being fought, as the individuals’ stoop is several feet away from the sidewalk and separated by a private gate.
Upon being informed that according to the law, the individuals were indeed on private property, an NYPD officer responded, “I don’t care what the law says, you’re getting a summons.”
Early last month, The Times reported that a New York Supreme Court justice approached a scene of chaos on a New York Street as two police officers dealt with an unruly crowd. The judge called 9-1-1 and reported that the officers may have been in trouble and in need of assistance. Unfortunately, standing too close to the events unfolding before him caused one of the officers to become enraged at the judge and punch him in the throat. There are dozens of other instances like these.
It has been noted by many New Yorkers that Manhattan, the epicenter of the 9/11 attacks, has become a militarized fortress likened to the New York City portrayed in “Escape From New York” the 1981 dystopian film that predicts the city would operate in the future as a maximum security prison.
While the push has reportedly dropped violent crime rates in some areas of the city (if you believe the official numbers), it has done so at the expense of basic 4th and 5th Amendment rights. And as for the effectiveness of the massive counter terror arm of the NYPD, it turns out the “terrorist-provoked, money-soaked aberration” that it grew from serves ulterior motives. While Kelly argued in an editorial in Newsweek last month that his department has thwarted at least 14 full-blown terror attacks in the past decade, it has been pointed out that two of the 14 actually failed because of the perpetrators ineptitude rather than NYPD intervention. A handful of the “thwarted terror attempts” were actually set up by the NYPD, which then recruited weak-mined patsies to label as terrorists. And other “terror attempts” were actually cases in which the department labeled individuals with no plans but who had been critical of government or involved in protests as “terrorists”; in those cases, no charges were filed.
So why does Bloomberg need such a force if it really isn’t that effective? Simple, New York’s mayor is a full-blown totalitarian control freak. As he neared the end of his second term with the prospect of another run hampered by the same law that booted Giuliani, he lobbied the City Council to change the New York term limit law, and they did. He controls a media empire that is capable of shaping much of the information disseminated about him to be largely positive, hence his ability to be re-elected time and again. And now in his third term as New York’s mayor, Bloomberg is really letting his penchant for complete control to shine brightly; right down to what residents of his city are allowed to eat and drink.
Bloomberg’s version of New York City should serve as a reminder to the rest of the Nation as to what can happen when Americans cast aside freedom and liberty in the name of safety. Sept. 11 changed the course of thinking in the United States, and New York City was the place hardest hit. But, domestic armies, constant surveillance and a loving nanny state are not the enemies of terrorists; they are the enemies of freedom and liberty utilized by elitists who wish to control your every move.
The rest of the Nation can be derailed from a slower track to the same destination if patriots fight back against elites like Bloomberg. But, it isn’t going to happen by relying on Washington D.C.’s group of criminals.
It must start in hometowns much smaller than New York City with Constitutional sheriffs, city councils that believe in private property rights, local police departments that maintain relationships with community members and residents willing to stand up to any of their local government agencies when totalitarianism begins to manifest itself in the smallest of forms.
Totalitarians hate freedom and they fear groups of liberty-minded individuals. By keeping these things in mind and by exercising Constitutional rights that remain to the fullest extent, Americans can keep the totalitarian cancer from spreading to every locale in the United States.