STARTLING PRESENCE OF POLICE WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS ON 42ND STREET ON SUNDAY

I emerged today at about 1:30 pm from Grand Central Terminal onto 42nd Street in the middle of that block between Lexington and Vanderbilt Avenues to discover a number of police in Nazi looking helmets holding huge automatic weapons.  I have only seen such arms in movies.  The images of the police in Denver and the twin cities during the DNC and RNC showed them similarly dressed but mostly armed with sticks, tasers, launchers of poison gas, etc. not huge automatic weapons.  These on 42nd Street did not stand in a long line, but alone and in twos along the sidewalk.

I write this because had I not been walking from the subway at Grand Central to 6th Avenue, I would never have known this police state manifestation was taking place.  The corporate media do not report on police abuse much less intimidation.  Only those of us who were there saw it.

I did not have a camera so I can only give a word picture of this event.  Patrice says I should have a camera with me at all times to record things like this.  I carried a lot of things in my hands and might not have used a camera even if I had one.  The fact that police arrest people who photograph them did not occur to me at the time, but it is a factor that we must all deal with today.  I frankly did not think about making photographs at all, but I wish I had, though I am not sure I want to be in jail today accused of being an enemy and deprived of all rights because of it.  The Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act give “legal” status to these police and to depriving citizens of rights.  We live in a police state.  It is not coming, it is here now.

The presence of armed national guard troops in Grand Central, especially after the events of September 11, 2001, was bad enough and has largely disappeared.  They were armed, but not with these kinds of weapons, nor were they helmeted.

This display of force is inappropriate in a city in any situation short of armed invasion by a foreign power, but even then not by police.

I saw evidence of the Mexican Day Parade which was scheduled in the morning from 41st Street south to 27th Street on Madison.  Families with lots of children waited for buses in front of the NY Public Library on 5th Avenue and walked west on 41st toward the subway stop on 6th Ave.

There was not so much as a fender bender traffic accident by way of civil disorder.

Clearly the display of force was intended for us, to intimidate and control us.

I wrote to Michael Bloomberg of this inappropriate use of police, demanding an apology to all of us in the city and a change from such tactics.  If these were members of some federal agency, like the police in Denver and the twin cities, I urged him to refuse to allow such intimidation in our city.

I may contact the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild for information about what we can do legally in these cases, if anything.  Ultimately, I suspect it is up to us, the people of this city and country, to demand redress of these grievances.  I am not sure how to do that now in this no longer democratic country.

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3 Responses to “STARTLING PRESENCE OF POLICE WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS ON 42ND STREET ON SUNDAY”

  1. nancy Says:

    George said on Monday that he heard on NPR that the “increased security” was because heads of state will be in New York on Tuesday at the UN.

    I am not deceived. Heads of state have come to the UN for decades and I have never seen this kind of police presence before. Grand Central Terminal, though beautiful and one of my favorite train stations, serves a local commuter line up the Hudson Valley and into Connecticut; just who do they think will arrive at the door of the station needing to be protected with those guns? The poor Mexicans, maybe, God forbid, some illegal immigrants among them, however might certainly be cowed by the sight. And people like me who are active in protest of the regime are certainly thinking about what risks we now run just to photograph police or make our views known by assembling on the streets. If New Yorkers are persuaded that this level of force is necessary, it will soon appear on the streets where protestors are, just as it did at the RNC and the DNC.

    Steven Lendman at ICH http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18430.htm reviewing Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine says that the regime uses “security threats” and “economic meltdowns” among other things “to impose its will everywhere.” He explains that Klein notes that “freedom [is] sacrificed when people are too distracted, cowed or bludgeoned to object.” I write here because about this and related events because I do not want to be too distracted or cowed to object.

    Never have I seen those guns before. Never have I seen these militarized federal agents used on New York City streets before. This is not about heads of state at the UN. It is about threatening us and I am not deceived. It is another step forward in the police state. I am not deceived. The only thing I may be able to do about this today is just to see the truth and not to be “distracted, cowed, or bludgeoned” into accepting this as normal or right or needed. This is an increase in the police presence of the US police state.

    I have objected, in writing to Bloomberg, for what that is worth.

    On the funny side, I had been listening to versions of the Internationale, that stirring French workers’ anthem whose lyrics come from a poem written at the time of repression of the Paris Commune in 1871 and could not get it out of my head on the subway ride from 86th Street to 42nd. I was literally singing it very quietly as I walked out the door and into the police. I kept on singing all the way to 6th Avenue.

    “C’est la lutte finale, Groupons nous et demain, l’Internationale sera le genre humain.”

    I don’t know about the “last battle” part of that but we definitely need to unite and find a way to make a better world for all people.

  2. nancy Says:

    Barbara sent the following remarks on the need to be vigilant:

    We have had police problems in Chicago as long as I’ve lived here. I’ve been a member of ACLU, Amnesty Intl, Lulac, Common Cause, an anti-death penalty organization, and the Southern Poverty Law Center a long time, and they have all helped and succeeded in some instances and in different ways.

    Amnesty INtl has accomplished a great deal in Chicago in recent years and has been the key factor in bringing several hi-level racist and brutal police officers to trial, after various groups and individuals had worked on this for decades in a couple of the cases. NAACP helped also, and it has actually taken the combined efforts of all the individuals and contributions to accomplish it. It’s just a life’s work – the same kinds of people will always be trying to dominate, grasp, and destroy, for their own satisfactions and gain, and the rest of us just can’t ever give up on fighting back. It’s like living in the Netherlands – we have to keep pushing back or we’ll be lost!

  3. nancy Says:

    David said that he had seen the police in the Nazi helmets and all the dark threatening gear near Bloomingdales some time ago. He noted the arrival of a large contingent of police in one of those huge shows of police cars with lights flashing and such that we see in Manhattan. Some of them got out of the cars and put on all that gear right on the street. When he asked why they were doing that he got no clear answer.

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