[News] Mayor and police chief still silent in response to NYPD spying in N.O.
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 30 15:12:47 EDT 2012
Mayor and police chief still silent in response to NYPD spying in N.O.
* 27th August 2012
*By Jordan Flaherty*
/Editor's Note: Documents recently uncovered by Associated Press reveal
that the New York City Police Department traveled to New Orleans in 2008
to conduct surveillance operations. Louisiana Weekly contributor Jordan
Flaherty was among the named targets of the spying./
In a Pulitzer prize-winning series of investigations over the past year,
the Associated Press revealed that the New York City Police Department
was conducting spying operations on U.S. citizens across several states,
including as far away as here in New Orleans. However, the difference in
how cities have responded to the revelations highlights much of what is
wrong with our local political system, criminal justice system, and even
Compare New Orleans to Newark, New Jersey. When evidence of New York
City spying activities was uncovered, it became a major story across New
Jersey print and TV. Here in New Orleans, The Louisiana Weekly was the
only outlet to cover the story (although the Times-Picayune did reprint
the Associated Press story).
In New Jersey, politicians from across the political spectrum were quick
to condemn the spying program. New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris
Christie, told reporters that he was angered by the spying. "I don't
know if this NYPD action was born out of arrogance, or out of paranoia,
or out of both," he declared at a press conference. On the Democrat
side, Newark mayor Cory Booker called the spying program "offensive,"
and his police chief Samuel DeMaio assured residents that "this type of
activity is not what the Newark PD would ever do."
When Mayor Landrieu and Superintendent Serpas were asked for their
comment on the actions of the NYPD, both appeared to be completely in
the dark, and displayed little curiosity. "To be honest with you, I
think that's the first I'm ever hearing that," said Serpas when asked at
a recent press conference. "So I don't know anything about it one way or
another. I might have to catch up."
"I hadn't heard about it," agreed Mayor Landrieu, speaking at the same
press event. When asked if he approved of the NYPD actions, Landrieu
commented, "I don't like getting spied on," but had no further comment.
Ryan Berni, the mayor's director of communications, refused all
follow-up requests for comment. When asked if the mayor's office has any
comment or opinion on the story, he gave this three-word answer: "We do
In response to follow-up inquiries, NOPD spokesperson Frank Robertson
told me, "we have researched this incident and in no way is it
documented in our records." When pressed, via email, for any opinion on
the appropriateness of another city's police department conducting
surveillance activities in New Orleans, Robertson added this cryptic
phrase: "Surveillance is the epicenter on crime fighting initiatives."
This cavalier attitude is cause for concern. Mayor Landrieu has made
police reform a centerpiece of his administration's focus. When our
mayor and police chief show that they don't care about their citizens'
civil rights, and when our media and politicians treat these violations
less seriously than it would be treated in other cities, it adds to New
Orleans' status as a "second-class" city, and gives all of us, as
residents, second-class rights. Until we have a mayor and police chief
take these issues seriously, reform of our criminal justice system will
Jordan Flaherty is a journalist based in New Orleans, and the author of
Floodlines: Community and Resistance From Katrina to the Jena Six.
/This article originally published in the August 27, 2012 print edition
of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper./
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