[Marxism] Suit Accuses Police of Violating Rights of Residents in Private Buildings

Bonnie Weinstein giobon at comcast.net
Wed Mar 28 11:27:21 MDT 2012

Suit Accuses Police of Violating Rights of Residents in Private  
March 28, 2012, 11:29 am

Updated, 12:50 p.m. | A civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit on  
Wednesday accusing the New York Police Department of carrying out  
tens of thousands of unjustified stops in privately owned buildings  
in the city where the landlords have authorized officers to enter and  
given them keys.

The suit, which seeks class action status, mirrors a claim in a  
separate federal lawsuit against the Police Department involving  
stops inside public housing projects.

The Police Department has come under intense criticism for its stop- 
and-frisk practices, which detractors say unfairly and overwhelmingly  
targets blacks and Latinos. The Police Department argues that its  
tactics, including the patrolling of private buildings, have  
contributed to a sharp reduction in crime.

“By challenging uninvited individuals, police are providing a level  
of safety to tenants that residents of doormen buildings take for  
granted,” said Paul J Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan,  
involves what is known as the “Clean Halls” program and includes  
16,000 buildings throughout the city, many of them in the Bronx.  
Landlords who participate in the program register with the Police  

Civil rights lawyers say police officers view the invitation to enter  
— denoted by a metal sign outside a building — as a license to roam  
hallways, laundry rooms and stairwells questioning people and making  
arrests on charges of trespassing that are sometimes unjustified.  
Some residents feel compelled to carry identification when doing  
mundane tasks like retrieving mail or doing laundry for fear of being  
arrested for trespassing, the suit said.

Beyond that, officers have extended this practice to sidewalks around  
the buildings that participate in the program, according to lawyers  
for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Besides residents, visitors and people in the vicinity of the  
buildings are often stopped by the police.

As a result, the suit said, “Residents of some Clean Halls Buildings  
their friends, family members, and others not to visit them for fear  
that they will be stopped, questioned, searched, and issued summonses  
or arrested for trespassing by NYPD officers. Consequently, residents  
of Clean Halls Buildings are restricted in their ability to maintain  
familial ties, friendships, and other relationships with individuals  
of their choosing.”

At a news conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, several plaintiffs  
spoke of living under such conditions that too often feel like a  
police state.

The suit details the experiences of several residents of privately- 
owned buildings who claim to be stopped by the police even though  
they had committed any wrongdoing.

In one instance, a 17-year-old boy who lives in a building in the  
Bronx describes being stopped by the police and questioned after  
returning from buying ketchup for dinner. His mother, according to  
the suit, was asked by officers to come down to the lobby of the  
building and verify her son’s identify.

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