New York City’s harassment of poor

I have been highlighting the many ways is people who are poor and/or nonwhite tend to be at the receiving end of harsher treatment from the police and other authorities if they run afoul of them for any reason when out in public. Now Matt Taibbi describes how New York City subjects them to harassment by the police even if they are not out in public but are inside their own apartment buildings. It is called the ‘Clean Halls’ program.

In effect since 1991, it allows police to execute so-called “vertical patrols” by going up into private buildings and conducting stop-and-frisk searches in hallways – with the landlord’s permission.

If you live in a Clean Halls building, you can’t even go out to take out the trash without carrying an ID – and even that might not be enough. If you go out for any reason, there may be police in the hallways, demanding that you explain yourself, and insisting, in brazenly illegal and unconstitutional fashion, on searches of your person.

You should read some of the cases he describes. He concludes:

Stories like this “Clean Halls” program are beginning to make me see that journalists like myself have undersold the white-collar corruption story in recent years by ignoring its flip side. We have two definitely connected phenomena, often treated as separate and unconnected: a growing lawlessness in the financial sector, and an expanding, repressive, increasingly lunatic police apparatus trained at the poor, and especially the nonwhite poor.

It has always been the case that the rich and powerful got preferential treatment under the law. 21st century America openly operates with two sets of laws, one for the rich and powerful and the other for the poor and powerless.


  1. says

    But of course: How dare the poor and nonwhite be anywhere other than at work or inside their homes! Heaven forbid our Wall Street master have to actually see any of the people they’ve helped impoverish.

    Also, it’s not specifically mentioned in Taibbi’s article but I’d bet actual money that this program started out as part of the War on (some) Drugs.

  2. M Groesbeck says

    Hey, anyone who objects to a landlord’s fundamental right to consent to body-cavity searches of tenants (it’s in the rental contract!) is a socialist!


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