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Violators of Human Rights

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By Peach1027
Words 5482
Pages 22
When I think of violators of Human Rights, one entity comes to mind and that entity is the New York Police Department. For far too long, the New York Police Department has continuously been accused of using excessive and abusive force to achieve arrests. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter to the officers whether these people are guilty or not. In the United States Constitution, it reads, “innocent until proven guilty” but according to the New York Police Department these people are “guilty until proven innocent.” This happens in the smallest and largest of situations, from a simple traffic stop to the arrest of a so called “lifelong” criminal. In this paper, through specific examples of the New York Police Department’s infringement upon the public’s basic human rights, I will prove not only is the New York Police Department in violation of United States law, but international law as well; specifically the Convention against Torture. I will also explain why it is vital to the safety of all New Yorker’s that these power hungry parasites be stopped!
From a very young age we all are brought up with the façade that all police officers, not just the NYPD, are there to “serve” and “protect” the public. For example, parents teach their children that when they are in trouble or they are scared, to try and find a police officer to help them. On television when children do this the police officers seem to be cordial and willing to help. In the real world, this is not the case. To the NYPD their badge seems to put in their head that the “power” they have, gives them the right to do whatever they want or however they want. A prime example of these officers not doing their job and displaying an utter disregard for the public’s safety and concerns goes to a situation experienced by someone close to me. A friend of mine was robbed at gunpoint outside his Brooklyn apartment building; the perpetrators accused him of hiring two of their “girls” and not paying for services. Outraged at this accusation, he informed these individuals they were mistaken, and he had never seen these women in his life. He was then forced into a car, where he began to seriously fear for his life. Once in the car, he tried to remain calm and explained that his family owned a bar in Bay Ridge and if they would take him there he could get them whatever they wanted; obviously saying this to remain in familiar territory. Upon reaching the bar, he saw a familiar face in an employee, at which time the 68th precinct was called. Once the police arrived, they refused to write up a police report stating, “You probably called those girls for their services, and couldn’t pay them.” Appalled at the officer’s accusation, my friend vehemently denied this and asked the officer’s “at the very least can you provide me a ride home?” The police officer retorted with a chuckle and said, “We are not a babysitting service, find your own way home!” This behavior is disgusting and absolutely uncalled for. As I understand it, police officers are supposed to investigate every complaint or accusation as a valid one. Sadly, this is only one example of millions of cases that go uninvestigated as if they don’t matter. The NYPD needs to put in their place, and defend the promises they swore to uphold.
Through recent research, there are incredible amounts of cases that center on the habitual human rights violations by the NYPD. A number of cases that support my argument are extremely violent, and it is absurd that any human being can commit such acts against another human being without any remorse; especially coming from an individual that has sworn to act professional, courteous, and respectful of the people of New York; these three words are displayed on every NYPD cruiser for all to see.
One of the most serious examples of the NYPD’s excessive and brutal use of power is the 1962 arrest of Brooklyn mobster Frank Lino.
“In 1962, the Bonanno crime family mobster Frank Lino was arrested for his alleged involvement in the shootings of two Brooklyn police detectives. The detectives, aged 28 and 56, were shot dead during a holdup of a tobacco store in Gravesend, Brooklyn, where Lino and two others netted $5,000. Lino was charged with the murders after supplying a getaway vehicle for one of the "stick-up men" so that he could then flee to Chicago. Lino was one of the five men charged after being taken to the 66th Precinct for an interrogation. During Lino's interrogation, he claimed that police officers drove staples into his hands and a broomstick up his rectum. He alleged that the abuse resulted in a broken leg and arm. Lino was later released with three years’ probation after he threatened to sue the city for police brutality. He also claimed that the uncontrollable blinking of his eyes was a direct result of the alleged beating.” (Wikipedia)
While the murders committed by Mr. Lino are unfortunate actions, it does not justify the heinous and extreme reaction by the officers of the 66th precinct. Unfortunately, the NYPD doesn’t care about justice or doing things by the book; all they care about is getting retribution for their fallen “brothers in blue.” Even though he was part of the crime indirectly, he did not pull the trigger, he merely drove the “get away” car. The actions that the NYPD allegedly used were beyond inhumane. Their job is simply to arrest him, question him, and bring whatever charges he is being accused of to a court of law: not through whatever actions the believed to be justified. Some of the actions of the NYPD are overlooked because they are just that “trusted members of the Police Department.” In late July 2012, police officers who obviously committed the crime of kidnapping were only being held on suspicion of this crime.” A kidnapped man was found bound and gagged in a police detective’s garage in Queens, leading to the detective’s suspension and the arrest of four other men, the authorities said on Saturday.”(Santora and Rashbaum – N.Y. Times) It is truly absurd that just because the suspected kidnapper is a 17 year veteran of the NYPD that he isn’t immediately arrested and processed through our legal system, just as any criminal would. If this or any other criminal act had been committed by a “normal” citizen, there would be no “suspicion” holding them back from the legal process. Here is yet another classic example of the NYPD lying to save their own butts. In the article, it stated that not only was the kidnapped victim found bound and gagged, but they also found a safe which contained several materials needed to make fake credit cards! How is it possible that not only did this police officer have a kidnapping victim in his garage, and also have these illegal materials in his possession, and yet he is only under suspicion? This is absolutely ridiculous! The next two examples of police brutality resulted in the direct deaths of two innocent people. First, a man dying from being forced into a chokehold during an arrest; and the second an innocent eleven year old girl dies of an asthma attack due to an officer’s negligence to performing CPR which would have saved the girl’s life. Is the NYPD so obsessed with power that they turn a blind eye to the simple fact that death is permanent? These two situations could have been avoided had the involved officers handled themselves in a professional manner, and dealt with these issues by the book. “On December 22, 1994, 29-year old Anthony Baez was choked to death by police officer Francis X. Livoti in the University Heights section of the Bronx. In 1998, Livoti was convicted of violating Baez' civil rights, and two other officers were convicted of lying on the witness stand at Livoti's trial.” (Wikipedia) This entire situation stemmed from a football game being played at 1:30 in the morning, and an officer who completely overreacted based on the individuals not heading his orders to go home. The Baez brothers were among the individuals involved in this football game, when they decided to ignore officer Livoti’s orders to “go home,” he took it upon himself to arrest one of the brother’s for disorderly conduct. Attempting to defend his younger brother, Anthony Baez crossed his arms by his chest and disputed the arrest. Officer Livoti then attempted to arrest Anthony, a fight ensued and through his aggressive forces forced Baez into a chokehold which later led to his death; an unnecessary death. “Livoti was the subject of several civilian complaints for excessive force, none of the complaints were substantiated and all of which (until then) had been dismissed by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.” (Wikipedia) If the Civilian Complaint Review Board had done their job correctly and made him answer to even the first complaint of many, then an innocent life potentially would have been saved; and Livoti would have been behind a desk doing paperwork instead of wreaking havoc on innocent people. The second of these incidents focuses on the death of 11 – year – old Briana Ojeda.
“In August 2010, 11-year-old Briana Ojeda died from an asthma attack after an NYPD officer denied her mother's pleas to perform CPR. Ojeda's mother allegedly was driving her daughter to the hospital when she took a wrong one-way turn in a neighborhood street and stopped to ask Officer Alfonso Mendez for help. Ojeda's mother claimed Mendez smirked at her and said, "I don't know CPR." and tried to ticket her. A bystander performed CPR and by the time an ambulance arrived, Mendez had left. After a one week manhunt, Mendez was identified and has been suspended without pay indefinitely. “(Wikipedia)
If Officer Mendez truly believes that writing a ticket for Ms. Ojeda traveling up a one way street as she rushed to the hospital to try to save her daughter’s life takes precedence over the possible and unjustifiable death of a child, than he doesn’t deserve the air he breathes. His actions are not only unacceptable, but borderline sadistic. It is truly mindboggling that he has only been suspended without pay, this sad excuse for a human being should rot in jail. As found in another article, the parents of Briana are planning not only to bring a civil suit against the City of New York, but her family is also pushing for new legislation – “Briana’s Law” which would make it a crime for Police Officers to ignore someone in a medical emergency. The thing that is most upsetting about this situation, besides the death itself is the reaction of the city or lack thereof. “"It is 17 days since Briana Ojeda passed away without any word of condolence or sympathy from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly or the mayor," Zelman said. "We have not heard a word from Police Commissioner Kelly. Where are you?" (Feeney-Daily News) This is utterly disgusting. The lack of compassion from both NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly as well as Mayor Bloomberg speaks for itself; the NYPD doesn’t care who they hurt, or how they get results. It is apparent Mayor Bloomberg is more concerned about how much soda the public drinks instead of how his officers facilitated the in senseless death of an eleven year old girl. No, your eyes are not deceiving you; the examples of the crimes committed by the NYPD are becoming more and more shocking. Here we look at 2 rapes committed by officers of the NYPD, the same officers that are sworn to serve and protect us. For one woman, her only mistake was putting trust in the NYPD by calling upon them to help her, the other woman was merely at the wrong place at the wrong time, and was targeted solely on the fact that she was a woman.
“In December 2008, two on-duty NYPD officers were charged with raping a woman whom they had been dispatched to help on a 911 call. Officers Kenneth Moreno, age 43, and Franklin Mata, age 29, were called to help a drunken woman climb out of a taxi and into her apartment in 2008. The woman testified that she awoke in her bedroom to being raped by Moreno; Mata was said to have acted as a lookout during the incident.” (Wikipedia)
It simply amazes me that these cops are such cowards. It’s not bad enough to prey on a woman, but the fact they had to prey on a drunk, and defenseless woman who simply had too much to drink, and was simply asking for help to get home is beyond any rational comprehension. The one thing cops always brag about is how tough they are. Well, taking advantage and raping any women just because they think they can get away with it, doesn’t make them tough. It makes them pathetic. What’s even worse is his partner stood around as a look out while he raped this woman. Surprisingly, there was a hint of justice in this case. Although they were acquitted of the rape charge, they were found guilty of making erroneous phone calls to their superiors in order to facilitate their entering her apartment three other times. Both officers were terminated from the NYPD. However, it doesn’t surprise me they were not found guilty on the rape charges. Seems like an abuse of power! This second rape case is even more disgusting because they police officer raped an innocent school teacher at gun point. It truly appalls me that our city officials continuously pump more and more funding into the NYPD only to cut money in education, which costs thousands of school teachers their jobs. The ironic thing here is it is the NYPD that we need to make cuts to.
“Not again! Yet, another NYPD cop was arrested over the weekend for raping a woman. Off duty officer Michael Pena was literally caught with his pants down after police were called to the scene of him attacking a schoolteacher early Friday morning while she was on her way to work in Inwood. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is alleging that Pena forced the schoolteacher into an alley at gunpoint and forced intercourse and forced her to perform oral sex. When a neighbor heard the attack and looked out her window to see him attacking the schoolteacher she called 911 and Pena was caught in the act apparently intoxicated. “(Zerlina – Feministing)
This disgusting member of the NYPD gives true meaning to what it is to be a cop. They think they are above the law, can do whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want. With these ideals, how can any member of the public feel safe? This officer not only took advantage of the power instilled in him by the City of New York, but took on the role of the very individual he supposedly tries to stop every day; he became the rapist, and the criminal who violently attacked a woman at gunpoint. At his trial, Officer Pena went on to have a pity party for him, and actually stated, “The DA is arresting cops, indicting cops…They’re trying to make an example out of me. There’s a lot I want to say about this,” he said. “Eventually, the truth will come out. Everything’s not black and white. There are shades of gray.” (Zalina – Feministing) This statement is so disgusting; I can’t fathom its very existence. It’s ironic, by making that statement he insinuated he was innocent; yet shortly after he made this statement, he confessed to the rape. I guarantee if these “rape cops” were directly affected by these unspeakable crimes, they would be singing a very different tune. The bottom line is, no one should get away with rape that includes the members of the “almighty” NYPD. One of the more memorable cases of Police brutality is the Abner Louima sodomy case. In remembering this case it is what opened my eyes to the unthinkable injustices that define who the NYPD truly are. “On August 9, 1997, Police Officer Justin Volpe in Brooklyn sodomized Abner Louima with a broken broom handle in the 70th Precinct bathroom. Officer Volpe eventually pled guilty and received a sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Other officers were also implicated and convicted on charges stemming from the initial cover-up.” The last part of this quote says it all; there is always a cover up when it comes to officers of the NYPD. They are so used to getting away with everything that when they eventually get caught, they need to find a way out; hence the large amount of cover ups. Earlier in the paper, it is mentioned how these officers stick up for their brothers in blue, here is yet another example of how the NYPD lies for one another, and sweeps things under the rug. At least in this case, justice took precedence and was convicted of their crimes. Unfortunately, these cover – ups are far too common, and justice is rarely served. The examples of human rights violations by the NYPD offered in this paper are a mere few of the thousands that occur on a daily basis. This is a sickening thought. These stories serve as a constant reminder why these individuals should not be trusted, should not be respected, but be feared. Some people may question this particular view, however, there may be some good in each situation but we always hear about the bad. Yes, I suppose there are a few officers that do their job “by the book,” and care about the welfare of the public. However, the majority rules in this situation because most do not. In these particular cases the bad outweighs the good, and until these crooked cops change their ways, the public view will remain the same. With all of this evidence piling up, the NYPD has made their bed and now they must lie in it. When it comes to Human Rights violations committed by the NYPD, one has to take a look at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.” ( The CCR is a great organization to turn to when huge entities such as the NYPD commit astronomical injustices. Currently, the CCR is involved in a federal class action lawsuit that is investigating the NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” policy which promotes racial profiling and unconstitutional stop and frisks. Even though I agree with the ultimate concept of the stop and frisk program, because of numerous past violations the NYPD is guilty of, they are now preparing to be under the watchful microscope of a judge at New York state’s highest court; The Court of Appeals.
There are many assumptions why officers of the NYPD have a history of being blatantly and unnecessarily aggressive. There is no doubt they see things that most of us can’t begin to imagine, and sometimes force is necessary, as long as they adhere to proper procedures. As found in James M Henslin’s Social Problems: a Down to Earth Approach there are several reasons why so many police officers are so aggressive, or become cops in the first place. It goes all the way back to the beginnings of their childhood, how they were treated, and the many situations they were put into as teens and young adults that laid the foundation to being what they are today. The most popular is being abused by family members, whether physical or sexual, or teased by their fellow students. It is apparent police officers abuse of power can possibly stem from these childhood traumas. It has been scientifically proven these traumas can effect or alter the brain; possibly pushing these individuals to be even more aggressive than what most would call normal. Yet this is still no excuse for these officers to commit any of the vile actions they have taken. Everyone in this world has problems but most of us don’t go around beating each other up every day. These cops seem to be on a severe power trip and in the back of their pathetic minds they justify these violent acts with self-pity.
When writing a paper such as this, we need to take a look at how the NYPD is not just violating Human Rights; but also International Law. According to the Convention against Torture, “Torture is a serious violation of human rights and is strictly prohibited by international law. As the use of torture strikes at the very heart of civil and political freedoms, it was one of the first issues dealt with by the United Nations (UN) in its development of human rights standards.”( Torture can be described as any form of inhuman or degrading treatment, which must not be accepted.
“Definitions of torture vary slightly but generally cover any act which: causes any pain or suffering; in intentionally inflicted upon a person; or is done to obtain information or a confession, punishment for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or to intimidate or coerce him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind; and is done at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”(
These acts are outlawed by International Law. This here is the connection between the Human Rights violations of the NYPD and the Convention against Torture. Hearing this makes one think deeper into what these officers are doing. There “are” torturing other human beings with their acts of violence and brutality. If criminally negligent people and corporations alike are held to these International Laws, shouldn’t the NYPD be held to this very same law? The actions of the NYPD are all too close to what torture is. In various writings some of the actions of torture are: “severe beatings, electric shock, sexual abuse and rape, prolonged solitary confinement, hard labor, near drowning, near suffocation, mutilation, and hanging for prolonged periods.”( by looking at the examples given earlier, don’t these sound familiar? Let us recap a few samples of the actions of the NYPD: rape by gun point, sodomy with the use a broomstick and antenna, refusal to save a life even that of a young child, and the outright physical beating of a man. There is one obvious common denominator in these cases, and that is shown through the actions of the NYPD. If we can’t control our own laws here in the United States; hence the NYPD being held accountable for these heinous acts, then how can we expect anyone to take these international laws seriously? In other words, if we can’t fix it at home how can we fix it worldwide? It is the duty of all governments to uphold the laws given, and to prosecute those who violate them. When an offender commits a crime over international borders, then the jurisdiction in which that crime can be prosecuted becomes international as well. In the cases of the NYPD, they indeed are violating international law, as it is stated in both the Geneva Convention and the Convention against Torture. While this seems to be an easy feat, unfortunately prosecutions are highly unlikely due to some of the legal obstacles that can derail the process. There are three major legal obstacles. First, “true universal jurisdiction and enforcement may prove problematic as countries incorporate international law into domestic law in different ways, resulting in varying definitions and penalties. (Torture may not be a specific crime in national law or it may be defined too narrowly.)” Another issue involves “national amnesty laws may shield perpetrators.” The final obstacle is that, “it may be difficult to find evidence. Torturers may hide their identities or choose methods that leave few physical traces. Evidence may be tampered with or destroyed.”( Although I don’t believe these criminals will ever change, and by criminals I mean the NYPD. Most people believe there is hope in reform. One such example, of this so called reform comes from the Brennan Center for Justice. The Brennan Center for Justice focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Some of the topics are finance reform, racial justice, and fight against terrorism; these are just to name a few. Currently they have adopted the daunting task of trying to come up with ways to reform the NYPD. After several suggestions of reform this group came up with the idea of the inspector general, who would report to the police commissioner. This task began with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“The establishment of an independent inspector general was one of the key recommendations of the commission that was formed in 1991 to review the LAPD’s operations after the videotaped beating of Rodney King made headlines across the country. Given its origin in traditional police misconduct scandals, the LAPD’s inspector general focuses on the department’s internal disciplinary process.”(Patel & Sullivan)
The famous case involving the beating of Rodney King woke up the importance of reform to the LAPD. Back when this happened, it appeared that the NYPD would not follow in their footsteps, that they felt they were more than capable of handling their own issues of police brutality; obviously not! Soon after the NYPD began seemingly was open to following in their footsteps. “A police auditor facilitates the implementation and maintenance of reforms because the auditor’s office is “a permanent government agency with both the authority and the resources to conduct continuing investigations of police issues.”79 Another advantage of the police auditor model, especially when compared to civilian complaint boards, is that auditors concentrate on systemic issues rather than on individual misconduct.”(Patel & Sullivan) This quote shares with us the means of only the beginning of reform. Change does not happen overnight, and unfortunately it will never fix all the issues, but it will give the citizens of New York a fair hand at possibly being treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. In 2004, the case of Floyd versus the City of New York was classified as a class action concerning police violations against human rights.
“There is no question that these types of lawsuits play an important role in addressing violations of the law by police and vindicating individual rights. But they are not a substitute for ongoing oversight. We rely, in the first instance, on our institutions of government to ensure that executive officials are operating within the law and to correct any violations. New York’s history of attempts to reform police practices through litigation shows the many challenges associated with such efforts and the ways in which an independent inspector general could work on an ongoing basis to identify needed reforms and to ensure that they are implemented.” (Patel & Sullivan)
Indeed, reform is difficult to bring about. However, this quote proves there are more than enough people willing to put in the dedication to implement these almost unattainable reforms. Some food for thought; throughout this paper I have given you many examples of the absolutely atrocious human rights violations due to the callous actions of the non-reactant NYPD. Being a man with strong political aspirations and values, I wholeheartedly believe the NYPD ought to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up, with men and women of honor and dignity and who truly care about the City of New York. Here then are some of my own examples of how the NYPD should go about achieving reform.
First off, upon graduation of the police academy, ALL members should be required to attend extensive sensitivity courses; and every two years thereafter. The reasoning behind this effort is to remind officers that even though they are dealing with potentially dangerous criminals, those criminals are still human beings. There is a way to handle any given situation, with respect, dignity, and class as opposed to being blatantly nasty, rude, and overly power hungry. It is a fact; strength comes from within, not the other way around.
Secondly, the officers need to be taught when it is necessary to use their weapons; this means all weapons such as guns, batons, and even fists. This should only occur when the officer is in imminent danger and has no other recourse. It should be known that shooting should be to disarm not to kill. This action also leads to the officers understanding of what police brutality is and where to draw the line. This includes the proper use of procedures in all situations both simple and complex.
Another suggestion, if any officer is even mentioned to have been involved in any violations concerning a citizens civil or human rights, that officer should be suspended until a proper and thorough investigation occurs. If that officer is found guilty of any wrongdoing through that investigation, that officer should be terminated immediately; along with the loss of their benefits and pensions! If any officer suffers from any mental or physical breakdowns due to an incident that happened while on duty, therapy and counseling should be provided to this officer. This is vital so that once put back on the street, they are not using their inner anger in any given situation; whether force is necessary or not.
One final suggestion, the study of proper police procedures should not end on graduation day. Officers should be required to be tested every two years to make sure they are knowledgeable, and kept up to date with any recent changes. As times change, so too will the way to handle different situations. Some of the veteran cops might not know how to deal with certain situations the way that a less experienced officer might be able to, and vice versa. The violation of human rights by the NYPD is far too common in this day and age. We see it on the news, we read about it in the newspapers, and we experience it on the streets of New York on a daily basis. If these examples of reform are put into action, I believe that crime statistics would fall, cases of accused police brutality would drop, the level of respect from citizens toward officers would skyrocket, and the City of New York would not only be a happier place; but a safer one as well.
While pondering the conclusion of this paper, with great pride I decided to turn to the noble words of two great presidents, George Washington and Ronald Reagan. George Washington being our first president, made this memorable statement, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”(George Washington) This quote severely represents the NYPD. They are never reasonable or eloquent but full or force and rage. Like fire, the NYPD is arguably necessary yet always dangerous. The NYPD is the servant of the people of the City of New York, and because of their excessive abuse of power, they have become the feared instead of the fearful master. What George Washington wanted for his country, was a nation united, with each citizen being treated with decency and recognized for their humanity.
In closing, there are no greater words to tie all the various aspects of my thesis statement together. Ronald Reagan was not only a great President, but a great humanitarian. If he were alive today he would be mortified at what has become of not only the NYPD but also government agencies everywhere. He cared about the people, what is right and just, and should be looked upon as what the NYPD and all government agencies ought to be. “We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” (Ronald Reagan) I couldn’t have said this better myself, the NYPD and it’s officers should be held accountable for their actions; and if we the people don’t make sure this happens than we are just as wrong for letting it go. It is time for reform, it is time for change, it is time to restore the American precept that individual is accountable for his actions.

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