The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Social Issues]

Oh please....

Recent tragic incidents involving the New York City Police Department—including the death of Eric Garner, who was being arrested on Staten Island, and the death of Akai Gurley, shot accidentally by a young police officer in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project—have reinvigorated police critics. The criticism was especially pointed amid the broader national discussion about crime and race prompted by events in Ferguson, Mo.

The NYPD’s critics object, in particular, to the department’s long-standing practice of maintaining order in public spaces. This practice, referred to as Broken Windows or quality-of-life or order-maintenance policing, asserts that, in communities contending with high levels of disruption, maintaining order improves the quality of life for residents and reduces crime.

So let's look specifically at the Garner situation.

Exactly what window was he breaking at the time of his attempted arrest?

Remember, his "offense" was (allegedly) selling loose cigarettes -- and perhaps not even at the time he was "arrested"!

The article claims:

The majority of New Yorkers, including minorities, approve of police addressing disorderly illegal behavior, such as public drinking and drug use, fights, public urination and other acts considered to be minor offenses.

Public drinking and drug use harm nobody.  Notice the conflation here; public urination is an issue, provided you give people who are on the street (whether temporarily for an evening or permanent as homeless people) somewhere to take a***** without demanding they spend money first.  Fights are clearly a matter of disorderly conduct and are (unless conducted in a boxing ring) non-consensual for someoneand frequently involve the destruction of property (e.g. the barstool you crack over the other guy's head, or he cracks over yours.)

Now note that Garner's "offense" involved purely consensual conduct and that the purchase and possession of the item he sold is lawful.  That is, it's legal to purchase and own a cigarette.  The city simply declared it illegal for him to exchange one with you for something you possess (whether it be a dollar or a drink!) and then tried to deprive him of his freedom for exchanging a lawfully-acquired and owned thing with someone else.

This sort of thing is outrageous on it's face; it is this exact sort of law that is responsible for scorpion antivenom costing $30,000 a dose at the local hospital when 200 miles away you can buy it over the counter for $100!

And while Ferguson's supporters cite the fact that Brown apparently robbed a store of some cigarillos there was no want or warrant out for Brown at the time of the confrontation; that is, while the predicate offense had happened the reason for the confrontation was that he was "walking while black" outside the confines of a sidewalk.

Exactly who was being harmed by him doing so and how did that constitute a "broken window"?

There are many who claim that NY's "broken window" policing has contributed to or caused a decrease in crime.  Well, duh, but that's not the point and the reason is simple: If I search every single house every single day, and everyone in it, I can dramatically reduce gun violence by simply confiscating every gun I find, and I'll find a lot of them!  But we (correctly) identify this sort of unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of the citizens as irrational and unconstitutional.

I have no quarrel with enforcement of "broken window" laws where actual windows are broken.  That is, enforcement of laws against vandalism, public urination (provided there are lawful and reasonably-convenient places for anyone who happens to need to***** to do so), fighting, destruction of property and similar acts.  I note that the law against being drunk in public is usually cited as "drunk and disorderly" conduct -- note the and; it's not an "or" despite police protests to the contrary.

But Garner didn't break a window; he was in no way disorderly and the item he was alleged to have exchanged was lawful to both own and his acquisition of same facially appears to have been lawful (that is, he didn't steal the cigarettes.)

Bratton is not only wrong he's intentionally wrong, dissembling and ought to be held to a standard of conduct where such intentional deception -- that is, lying about the predicate of his department's actions, is not only unacceptable but should be considered felonious, as he is using it to attempt the justification of felony violations of your civil rights.

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