It’s hard for me to believe, but a mere 30 years ago, students at Harvard and other Universities nationwide camped out in front of University Administrative Offices like Massachusetts Hall on the Yard and in Radcliffe Common demanding total Divestment of the Harvard Endowment Trust funds from South Africa because, among other things, of the (Afrikaner National Party-Ruled) Republic South Africa’s “Internal Passport” or Identity requirements, for violation of which laws all people (black or white) could be summarily arrested, but which laws were in fact used mostly to harass, the Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Tsonga, Ndebele, Swazis, Sotho, Venda, or other “Bantus and Kaffirs” of various stripes in white residential and business areas under Apartheid. Of course, we now know that the sole purpose of these protests was to destroy the anti-communist government of the RSA and make South Africa safe for socialists and dangerous for the former white rulers, and NOW the children of those protesters on Harvard Yard and elsewhere are FAIR GAME for arrest related to possession (or lack of) identity papers by the American Socialist Police State as it exists in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and just about everywhere else where the letter or spirit of the Patriot Act (adopted in 2001, a mere 7 years after the Fall of the “Evil” Apartheid Regime in the Republic of South Africa in 1994).
The following story reflects what is today STILL regarded as an abuse of the system by the police in New York City—once a beacon of urban freedom for the entire world. But it is close to the edge, and I predict that such arrests will soon become “normal” and accepted. Much the same as Gail Atwater’s warrantless (and utterly unwarranted) arrest in Lago Vista in May 1997 was once a scandal, and was four years later, in that same fateful year 2001, affirmed as an acceptable practice. The abomination of the Police Nation was predicted in the Southern Democratic Party’s Platform of 1948. Ironically, it was BY and THROUGH the Judicial and Executive Branches UNDER COLOR OF the Racially Divisive Civil Rights Movement that the Police State was instituted in the USA. And now all people, whether racially Black, White, Brown, Red, or Yellow, are subject to exactly the same privations of civil liberties as all other people, and so the goal of “Equality under the Law” (although the Law is now total tyranny for everyone) has finally been achieved.
Note to tourists visting New York: Don’t be caught out without your ID, or you could be caught in the city’s penal system for days, if the recent experience of 21-year-old college student Samantha Zucker is anything to go by.
Actually, Zucker barely qualifies as an out-of-towner, since she hails from the Westchester town of Ardsley. And the underlying charge that led to her tour in jail was a minor trespassing citation, dismissed by a presiding judge in no time.
But no matter: A vigilant NYPD officer deemed her a sufficient threat to public safety to have her handcuffed and jailed in two different cells across the length of Manhattan.
The whole ordeal began with a trip to Riverside Park, as Zucker recounts to New York Times columnist James Dwyer. Zucker is enrolled in a design program at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University; together with 80 of her colleagues, she spent a long day on Oct. 21 scouting out prospective employment scenarios in New York’s sprawling fashion industry. After pounding the pavement, she dropped off her bags at her West Harlem hotel. From there, she and fellow student Alex Fischer decided to stroll over to Riverside Park, to gaze out on the Hudson.
There was just one problem: The two park visitors arrived at around 3 a.m. on Oct. 22, and the park is officially closed to visitors as of 1 a.m. A police car pulled up, and the officers in it informed the two students of their trespass. Zucker and Fischer explained that they hadn’t known of the park’s curfew, and turned around to leave. By then, however, another NYPD car appeared, and the officer driving it announced he was citing them for trespassing, and demanded their IDs. Fischer produced his driver’s license and was let go–but Zucker had left her identification back at the hotel, two blocks away. She apologized, and told the officer that she could have Fischer or another friend fetch it.
But no dice. “He said it was too late for that, I should have thought of it earlier,” she told Dwyer. At that point, as Dwyer writes, the wheels of justice locked grimly into gear; Zucker was handcuffed and led into a surreal maze of detention:
For the next 36 hours, she was moved from a cell in the 26th Precinct station house on West 126th Street to central booking in Lower Manhattan and then — because one of the officers was ending his shift before Ms. Zucker could be photographed for her court appearance, and you didn’t think he was going to take the subway uptown while his partner stayed with her at booking, did you? — she was brought back to Harlem.
It’s not against the law, of course, to be out on New York’s streets without identification–but the courts can detain people without identification in jail until their arraignment in lieu of issuing them a summons. As Zucker waited in her cell for her court appearance, she heard NYPD employees marvel that the arresting officer didn’t permit her the opportunity to have a friend retrieve her ID. At another point, Zucker says, she heard two NYPD staffers say that the arresting officer–identified as Officer Durrell of the 26th District in Zucker’s police records–had a “short fuse.” When Zucker finally got her court appearance, the presiding judge dismissed her trespassing citation in less than a minute.
Durrell apparently worked off some tension by taunting his prisoner in her cell. “He was telling me that I needed to get a new boyfriend, that I should get a guy who takes me out to dinner,” Ms. Zucker said. “He mocked me for being from Westchester.” (For the record, Fischer is not Zucker’s boyfriend.)
The officer also instructed Zucker–twice–to refrain from calling him a profane name that she did not in fact utter. “I said, ‘Sir, I never used that word.’ ” Then again, projection is no crime–any more than being out in a park without an ID is.