Saturday, October 29, 2011

Observations from the Edge 10.29

I was at Liberty Square a couple days ago and had an interesting conversation. As we looked at the ring of interlocking steel barricades that now completely surrounds the park we started to talk about what the police in this country have become. In major cities they have become militarized to the point that it's hard to call some of the police departments anymore as they are more para-military organizations. They have all the toys and, in the case of Oakland, they want to play with them. I honestly think New York City probably has one of the best small militaries in the world, large enough to suppress all of Jersey in the event of any future Devils' Stanley Cup win.

You could use the so called 'War on Terror' as a reason for all that but none of these toys would have stopped the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. They don't seem to be able to stop drugs from entering the country or people from crossing the borders illegally. So what is their purpose? A question which we may all have to be answer one day soon.

But back to the barricades which started this whole ramble. I searched the New York Times archive and found an article from 2003 called “Steel Barriers Reinforce a Thinner Line of Blue at Parades, and the Bottom Line” (l, not sure if the link works without a subscription). At the time the NYPD already owned 12,000 of the stunningly beautiful things. I read elsewhere that the city now owns enough of them to completely surround the island of Manhattan in steel and right now they are everywhere, surrounding Liberty Square, the New York Stock Exchange, creating a veritable maze in the Financial District. Supposedly they are to keep protesters in the park and out of the street where they can restrict traffic yet the damn barricades themselves are in the street.

At a recent community meeting local resident Sabrina Espinal said “My biggest issue is the barricades, don’t care if they stay in that park 'til kingdom come. I just want the barricades down.”

Maybe the New York City Police Department is the real one occupying Wall Street.

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