a Little Respect
several Common Council members present, community members
meet to voice their displeasure with the Albany Police Department
a lack of a better term, they raped me,” said a man through
choked-back tears. During a night filled with complaints against
the Albany police, the man, who would identify himself only
as a concerned parent, gave an emotional description of his
encounter with the APD. Alice Green, from the Center of Law
and Justice, and Albany Common Council members Barbara Smith
(Ward 4), Carolyn McLaughlin (Ward 2) and Willard Timmons
(Ward 5) listened as he described how he was searched by the
police on Central Avenue while attempting to pick up his daughter
at a friend’s house.
They were part of about 30 people gathered in the 100 Black
Men, Inc. building on Clinton Avenue in Albany to listen to
and voice concerns about racial profiling and police brutality
in their community.
A man who identified himself as a CDTA driver described how
he and 30 of his passengers watched as a youth was dragged
by the hood of his sweatshirt and then beaten by a group of
officers. The man claimed he has been suspended from his job
with CDTA for trying to file a complaint about the incident.
One man, who described the many times he says he has seen
youth being profiled and harassed by officers, said, half-laughing,
“The kids joke about whether they can make it to the store
without getting stopped.” Voices from the crowd rose up to
agree: “It’s true! It’s not funny!” and “They’re ‘walking
while black.’ ”
Over and over, community members described their frustration
with what they say are officers’ quickness to use violence,
the frequency with which police stop black youth and the lack
of response they get when they go to officials to complain.
Malik Wray, who oversaw the event, said, “We aren’t here to
engage the police department. We want the police department
here, but we want to be treated as we deserve to be treated,
as citizens, as taxpayers, as equal, and as any other citizens
would be treated.”
While Wray said he hoped to make audience members feel comfortable
enough to speak their mind, he began the meeting with a warning:
“We hope there is no one here in the police department who
will come back and strike out at anyone who speaks out here,
’cause some people didn’t come tonight ’cause they were afraid
of that.” Wray’s comments echoed a general fear expressed
by a number of those in attendance.
That fear may also explain why, when asked whether they had
filed a complaint with the Civilian Police Review Board, most
with grievances said they had not. It may also go a long way
toward explaining why the review board has not been as busy
as some community members feel it should be.
Alice Green said the relatively low number of complaints dealt
with by the CPRB also reflects problems in registering complaints.
She suggested complainants file with her office as well as
with the police. “We keep hearing that complaints filed at
the police department aren’t showing up,” said Green.
McLaughlin was visibly moved by the stories told and assured
the audience, “I hear these stories and I know they are all
true. I go to the police and I am treated just like you are.
Maybe I need to go and file these complaints myself.” While
McLaughlin’s passion seemed to ring true to the crowd, Alice
Green reminded everyone that she has tried to file complaints
on behalf of others—specifically, a complaint regarding the
2003 David Scaringe shooting—but the complaint was not heard
due to issues of standing.
Some participants suggested organizing groups to speak at
review board meetings so that their complaints would be heard
one way or another. Smith told the audience that if they wanted
change, they needed to make themselves heard at the Common
Council meetings. “You can go to the board, but it’s the council
that has the power to change the board,” she said.
After most of the crowd and politicians had filed out, there
was a discussion of what other meetings and actions could
be organized. But Timmons wanted to remind the remaining crowd
that they had a basic tool available to them, one he felt
too few were utilizing: “Our ward, the Fifth Ward, has the
largest population of all the wards, but our voter turnout
is lower than all the others. Maybe if the mayor sees the
community turn out we can get the changes we want.”
Tuesday, President Bush threatened to veto any
legislation that would block or delay a deal that
would put management of a number of U.S. ports
in the hands of a United Arab Emirates-owned business
(rather than the current British-owned one). A
day later, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan
told reporters that Bush became aware of the deal
only after it was completed. Why are they seemingly
hedging their bets? The New York Daily News
had confirmed that two White House officials have
longstanding ties to the Arab company. Also, Republican
members of Congress claim that they have enough
votes to override a veto.
Court Justice Antonin Scalia broke with his tradition
of banning television cameras and other press
from his appearances on Tuesday during a talk
on the use of foreign law in U.S. courts at the
American Enterprise Institute. What the cameras
caught were Scalia fuming about a persistent heckler
and demanding he be removed. But when staff grabbed
the man by the arm to escort him out Scalia insisted,
“Don’t use force.” Scalia had asked the man if
he had valid questions “apart from insults.” Later,
during a question-and-answer session, Scalia repeatedly
refused to answer questions, claiming they were
Senate Intelligence Committee will not be investigating
the NSA’s domestic wiretapping program. Said Sen.
Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), “An investigation at this
point would be detrimental to this highly classified
program.” But according to Sen. Jay Rockefeller
(D-W.Va.), the probe has been canceled under “heavy
pressure” from the White House. Roberts denies
robot” may call to mind terrifying images, but
with the physique of a 3-foot tall bumblebee and
no weapons, the new robotic security guard at
a primary school in Tokyo is not so threatening.
If you are entering or exiting the school it will
ask to scan your ID card. If you don’t comply
it will call a human staff member and request
that you wait. A digital camera in its head is
its only deterrent power.
Something bad happened there.”
—CDTA Route 18 bus, in the midst of a discussion
of haunted houses.
Nader, at a press conference Tuesday supporting
Alice Green, in response to a question about how
Green could convince Mayor Jerry Jennings to participate
in a debate.
Union Street Bed & Breakfast in Schenectady,
which has come under fire by some neighbors because
its owner hosts swinger parties on the premises
[“Ack! Sex! With Strangers!,” Between the Lines,
Feb. 9], was the target of undercover operations
by Schenectady police last year, the Times Union
has reported. Bob Alexson, the B&B owner, told
the TU that people he believes were undercover
cops offered to pay for sex, but he always refused.
The city said the investigation is considered dormant.
Opponents of the B&B’s parties have also argued
that a classified ad Alexson ran for a few weeks
this winter in Metroland’’s adult ad section
shows that he was running an “escort service.” The
ad, titled “Adult Fantasies,” sought “male and female
models for domination and fetishes” and gave the
B&B’s phone number. It did not mention pay or
escorts, and Alexson says none of the respondents
were paid. He said he had been seeking people to
help party regulars fulfill particular fantasies,
and that the ad would no longer be running.