Friday, July 20, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #66 - Part 3

Outrage of the Week: NYPD falsely links Occupy to unsolved murder

The week's Outrage of the Week brings together two things, both of which I have talked about before but neither of them recently: the New York City Police Department and Occupy.

The NYPD and the city government are really full of themselves with regard to terrorism. As evidence of their supposed brilliance, the NYPD, its allies, and the media have repeatedly said the department has stopped or helped stop 14 terrorist plots against New York since September 11. The figure has been cited repeatedly in the media, by New York congressmen, and by the police commissar - er, commissioner - himself.

It's crap. Of the 14 supposed plots - as published by the NYPD - only three involve actual terrorist plots involving New York. And one of them, the 2010 Times Square bombing, the cops didn't even prevent: It just failed. The bomb didn't go off. Of the other two, one was uncovered by US intelligence and the other by British agents - in fact, in that one the plot involved blowing up airliners over the Atlantic (so no, not aimed at New York) and the only connection to New York was that one of those arrested carried flight information about flights into and out of the city, among other places.

Of the other 11 cases, there are three in which government informants played the major role, even to the point of creating the plot in order to ensnare people. Four more are cases whose credibility or seriousness has been questioned by law enforcement, including ones in which federal prosecutors wouldn't even bring charges. And the last four cases each involved an idea for a plot which never got beyond talk, including one - a proposal to bring down the Brooklyn bridge by cutting the supporting cables - which was abandoned before the cops even knew about it.

That's the record the NYPD thumping its chest about. Which definitely would be Clarabell territory but in this case it just forms the backdrop. I've gone after the NYPD before, for example, for its racist stop and frisk policy, its intrusions into privacy, and its illegal harassment and arrests of Occupy protesters.

But now, the New York cops have gone completely over the top and around the bend in their attempts to smear and discredit dissenters from the Wall Street barons who are the actual rulers of their city.

On March 28, Occupy staged a protest against New York City fare hikes and service cuts in its public transit system by chaining open gates at 20 subway stations across the city, so anyone could walk in for free. Well, just over a week ago, on July 10, the NYPD announced that a DNA sample taken from a chain at one of those sites matched a sample found at the scene of the unsolved brutal murder of a Juilliard student named Sarah Fox in 2004. And that, you have to understand, is how the police presented it: The unsolved murder of Sarah Fox has been linked to Occupy via DNA.

And that, of course, is how the media presented it: the New York Observer, The Gothamist, the Daily Mail (UK), Associated Press, the Village Voice, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Wall Street Journal, CBS New York, NBC New York, Gawker, every single one of them carried exactly the sort of headline the cops wanted: Every one of them had a headline along the lines of "DNA evidence links murder to Occupy Wall Street." Every one of them.

None of them even mentioned until at least several paragraphs into the story that the cops have no idea who the DNA on the chain came from and that in fact it could have come from anyone who touched that chain - which means it could have just as well been a rider with no connection to the protest at all. And not one of them mentioned the possibility of error except to deny it or mentioned the possibility of a contaminated sample at all. All that despite the fact that a report from the New York Civil Liberties Union a year before pointed to independent research showing, quoting,
an unexpectedly high incidence of error and fraud in the collection, handling and analysis of DNA evidence: mislabeling of samples, cross contamination of samples, misinterpretation of results, misrepresentation.
The research showed these problems in labs across the country, including those in New York City.

Nearly 24 hours after these screaming headlines, the story had a different take; investigators were reporting that “contamination at a city laboratory could have led to the match between DNA found at the murder scene of a Julliard student eight years ago and a chain used at a recent Occupy Wall Street protest.” In fact, a source who had been briefed on the investigation told the New York Times that both samples - the one from 2004 and the one from the chain - came from a Police Department employee who works with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

So there was no reason to connect any Occupy protester to the murder and even less than no reason to connect the movement as a whole to it. Yet, bluntly, that is exactly what the cops did. Consciously. Deliberately. And that is what the media went along with and amplified. Either consciously and deliberately or as the worst of incompetent, lazy, butt-kissing buffoons.

Now, some people will see the updates. And some of those will go "Oh, I see." But how many thousands will not? How many thousands will recall only the lurid headlines and - thanks to the lies of the cops and the complicity of the media - come away with the notion in the back of their minds that Occupy is harboring murderers?

It is an absolute outrage. The Outrage of the Week.


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