Congressman Jerrold Nadler was one of the politicians who attended yesterday’s protest march against the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy. He told The Politickerhe believes stop and frisk is “terribly violative of civil liberties” and, like other elected officials, he hopes the Department of Justice will investigate the policy.
However, Mr. Nadler is not optimistic about the possibility of a federal investigation because he said the DOJ didn’t respond to his call for them to investigate the NYPD’s conduct towards protesters and journalists during the raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park last November.
“I must say, the Justice Department has not been terribly responsive when some of us have asked for investigations for various things,” Mr. Nadler said.
Mr. Nadler went on to say one of the requests he was referring to was his push for a probe into the NYPD’s handling of the Occupy Wall Street eviction.
“We never got a satisfactory response,” he said of his call for an Occupy investigation. “I think we got a response, it was not satisfactory.”
At the time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the idea of an investigation into police conduct during the Occupy Wall Street raid was “ridiculous.”
Mr. Nadler said he and other members of Congress are working ot have stop and frisk investigated as a civil rights violation.
“A whole generation of mostly minority black and hispanic youngsters, number one, are to some extent traumatized, number two, their civil liberties, their civil right to walk down the street in peace are violated and, number three, you alienate entire communities from the police department,” said Mr. Nadler. “That’s all terrible for the City as well as terribly violative of civil liberties.”
Mr. Nadler said he rejects Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD’s claim the policy has helped reduce crime in the face of statistics showing the vast majority of stops don’t lead to arrests or the discovery of illegal weapons. He presented a hypothetical situation to illustrate his position.
“The Mayor’s rationale is that, well, you know, even though 90 percent find nothing, are totally innocent and out of 700,000 stops we got 600 guns, it’s worth it,” he said. “I mean, sure, if you suddenly used police state tactics and cordoned off–you suddenly unconstitutionally decided that we’re going to send in people and inspect without a warrant every apartment in a given neighborhood, I’m sure youd find a few guns. But we wouldn’t countenance that, nor should we countenance this. It’s exactly as unconstitutional and exactly as illegal.”
We asked Mr. Nadler whether he thought the investigation Attorney General Eric Holder is facing of the botched “Fast and Furious” program that saw weapons sent to criminals in Mexico in an ill-fated attempt to investigate drug cartels might prevent the DOJ from taking on potentially controversial investigations of the NYPD. Mr. Nadler said he couldn’t be certain, but though the “Fast and Furious” flap is “distracting,” he doesn’t think it hinders the DOJ’s ability to conduct investigations.
“I assume they’re in a position to take on investigations,” said Mr. Nadler. “I don’t think it takes up all their manpower and womanpower. But I’m only speculating, maybe it does.”