September 26, 2011 / by emptywheel


If the NYPD Maces the First Amendment, What Will They Do with Anti-Aircraft Weapons?

The NYPD made the news yesterday twice.

First, for their over-reaction to the Occupy Wall Street protests. In the video above, street cops corral some women with orange mesh, so another cop–in the white shirt–could mace them.

As the NYPD was bullying people for exercising their First Amendment rights, Commissioner Ray Kelly was on 60 Minutes. He started by confirming he was the boss of all 50,000 people the NYPD had working for it (more than the FBI, 60 Minutes helpfully notes).

Pelley: You call it a hierarchical kind of organization. In other words, you’re the boss.

Kelly: That’s correct. That’s the way it works here.

Pelley: And you’ve got 50,000 people working for you.

Kelly: 35,000 uniformed police officers, 15,000 civilian employees. That’s correct.

Kelly went on to boast that the NYPD had the ability to take down a plane.

Pelley: Are you satisfied that you’ve dealt with threats from aircraft, even light planes, model planes, that kind of thing?

Kelly: Well, it’s something that’s on our radar screen. I mean in an extreme situation, you would have some means to take down a plane.

Pelley: Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?

Kelly: Yes, I prefer not to get into the details but obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.

Pelley: You have the equipment and the training.

Kelly: Yes.

Since Ray Kelly is “the boss” here, I assume he owns the over-reaction to Occupy Wall Street as much as he owns missing Najibullah Zazi and his Imam, who was an NYPD informant. Presumably, too, that means the guys trained to use anti-aircraft weapons have the same itchy trigger finger as the cop shooting mace in the video above.

The visible face of the NYPD–cops macing women in pens–offers reason enough to question the discipline and judgment of at least the supervisors running the department. Yet there’s a secret face of the NYPD, one that spies on Americans and, apparently, trains to shoot down planes, too. Given what we see in the visible face of the NYPD, how can we trust the invisible face to have anti-aircraft weapons?

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