Big embarassment for a quick-to-crow NYPD ...
'Link' between DNA from Occupy Wall Street protest
& Sarah Fox murder was actually product of a lab mess-up: sources
The NYPD lab employee who processed evidence from both cases will likely face departmental charges for not taking precautions to prevent tainting, sources said.
NY DAILY NEWS
July 11, 2012
A sloppy NYPD employee is responsible for a tantalizing DNA match that seemed to link the murder of Sarah Fox to an Occupy Wall Street protest, sources told the Daily News.
The worker, who processed evidence from both cases, will likely face departmental charges for not taking precautions to prevent tainting, the sources said.
The botched handling is an embarrassment for the NYPD -- which saw a potential break in a high-profile cold case morph into a red herring in one day.
The first sample of DNA was collected from a CD player found near the Juilliard student’s nude body in Inwood Hill Park in 2004.
The second surfaced on a heavy chain that Occupy Wall Street activists used to prop open a subway gate during a day of protests in the transit system last March.
Revelations that the genetic material came from the same person suggested a possible new lead in the frustrating mystery.
But detectives are back at square one after determining the culprit was in the NYPD’s ranks.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday, clearly upset word of the match had been leaked ...
Occupy Wall Street
City and Brookfield Turn On Each Other In Lawsuits Over Zuccotti Eviction
THE VILLAGE VOICE
By Nick Pinto
Mon., Aug. 27 2012
When the police forced Occupy Wall Street protesters out of Zuccotti Park in November, they were accompanied by Department of Sanitation employees in big trucks who hauled off the demonstrators' belongings. Some of that property was ultimately recovered, but thousands of dollars worth of books, computers, and other property were destroyed, prompting lawsuits against the city, the NYPD, and the Department of Sanitation.Now, as those lawsuits wind their way through federal court, the city's lawyers are claiming that police and Department of Sanitation employees had nothing to do with the lost or destroyed property. Instead, the city is blaming Brookfield Properties, the owner of the park.
The city is facing two lawsuits over the loss and destruction of property from the November 15 eviction: One by members of Occupy Wall Street's People's Library, which saw the loss or destruction of more than 2,700 books and $47,000 worth of property, and another by the livestreaming outfit Global Revolution TV, which alleges the destruction or loss of nearly 100 pieces of electronic equipment with a value of at least $45,000.
The interesting development in both these suits over the last few weeks is that the City has taken the surprising step of impleading Brookfield Properties as a third-party defendant in both suits, alleging:
"If the plaintiffs in the OWS Action were caused to sustain the damages alleged in the OWS Action through any negligence or want of due care other than the negligence or want of due care on the part of themselves, then said damages were sustained by reason of the negligence and want of due care by acts of commission or omission on the part of Brookfield, its agents, servants and/or employees."
Specifically, the city's response claims that Brookfield hired a carting company for the night of the eviction, and that that company took property from the park straight to a landfill, but that "City defendants played no role in, and did not authorize, the disposal of any property from Zuccotti Park."
It's an interesting claim, in part because it suggests a fissure in what many had assumed to be a close collaboration between City Hall and Brookfield Properties in the planning and execution of the eviction of Occupy Wall Street from the park.
It's also tricky because there's an abundance of evidence of the city's Department of Sanitation removing property from the park that night, but much less of Brookfield's alleged private contractors. Photos from that evening show men in Department of Sanitation uniforms removing property and throwing it into big trucks that bear the Department of Sanitation seal. And video shows the trucks rolling in:
"Our guys were there that night," says Jim Grossman, a spokesman for the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Union told the Voice.
Vito Terso, a spokesman for the Sanitation Department, also confirmed the department's involvement that night.
Brookfield has responded to the city's third-party complaint with its own plea, admitting that it hired a cleaning service, but offering a number of defenses. Among them: that the occupiers could have avoided damages by complying with police orders; and that anyway the city, "having expressly directed Brookfield and its employees, agents, and independent contractors with respect to the events alleged of November15, 2011, are barred from obtaining the legal and equitable relief they seek on account of their own actions and culpable acts and omissions."
"We were somewhat surprised when city impleaded Brookfield," said Norman Siegel, a lawyer representing the Occupy Wall Street librarians. Siegel said it's too soon to say what the city's decision to bring Brookfield into the lawsuits means, but the upcoming discovery process should offer a good opportunity to finally find out what happened the night of the eviction.
"We want to find out what happened that night -- specifically, who did what," Siegel said. "Now we've got the city starting to lay out it's version of events, and Brookfield starting to lay out its version. We're going to learn a lot."
More may become clear September 10, when the Library suit is scheduled for its next hearing.
Here's the sad part.
$45K (and the others) SOUND like a lot... but I guarantee you that that is small compared to the police, sanitation and other department overtime bills for this event.
And, add a bit of irony, fighting the lawsuits will cost more than just paying them.
Occupy activists commandeer anti-Occupy Wall Street rally
Protest backed by billionaire Koch brothers fizzles out
as Occupiers match numbers and attend with host of satirical signs
September 20, 2012
An Americans for Prosperity activist attempts to block
a counter protester's sign at a rally in Manhattan.
Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
A conservative rally billed as an opportunity to "stand up to Occupy Wall Street extremists" fell flat on Thursday when it was co-opted by members of Occupy Wall Street.
Supporters of Americans for Prosperity, a Tea Party-esque group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, gathered at the Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan to demonstrate against both Occupy Wall Street and President Obama.
But almost half of the sparse crowd were Occupy Wall Street protesters, smartly dressed and bearing signs parodying Americans for Prosperity's ultra-conservative message.
"My sign says: 'I'm dreaming of a white president, just like the ones we used to have,'" said Stan Williams, a labour organiser and member of the Occupy movement.
"There were some people, with my sign especially, who said why are you bringing race into it," said Williams, who is black. "But there were about five or six people who said: 'That's a great sign.'"
Warren Bancroft, co-founder of the satirical group Americans for Inequality, whose Facebook page describes the organisation as a "group of concerned citizens who cherish America's history of vast inequalities", was drawing approving nods from the Americans for Prosperity crowd as he loudly criticised the Occupy movement, arguing that "inequality plays a positive role".
"We're committed to reversing the narrative of inequality in this country," Bancroft said. "For the last year it's been dominated by the problems of inequality and the perils of inequality, but the truth is if you look at economic history, inequalities signal incentives to everyone in a dynamic market economy."
The dozen or so Americans for Prosperity supporters were almost matched in number by attendees pretending to be from Americans for Prosperity. Among other Occupy signs in the crowd were "Let them eat cake," and "I hate libraries", while a woman dressed in business attire had a piece of cardboard bearing the message "Every man for himself" – the quote attributed to Jesus Christ.
"There's a tradition of this," said a woman called Frances, an Occupy demonstrator who did not want to give her last name.
"There was a group called Billionaires for Bush that would dress up and they would come to demonstrations, and they would do a little skit about how they were billionaires and how they were very happy with the Bush tax cuts and the wars for oil.
"There's a tradition of street theatre and this was a little bit of street theatre."
Not all the parodists were necessarily affiliated with Occupy, however, with the Americans for Prosperity rally seemingly acting as a dog whistle for satire.
"I'm sick of the Occupy Wall Street protests … I'm sorry that I was born to a certain family and that I make more money than you. Maybe you should go and get a job," said a man who gave his name as John Wilker, who was clad in business attire and insisted he worked in the financial district.
"These are true patriots here. They're fighting the good fight to still make sure Americans such as myself are still given the opportunities that we've had for decades and decades and decades."
Wilker said he was not a part of the Occupy movement, but he and his companion Robert Stetson appeared to be engaging in the 'street theatre' Frances had mentioned.
"I think it's fine that the 1% earns far more than the 99%, that's how it should be. There should be a group of people that has worked hard, that has been able to set themselves apart. It's America," Stetson said. He and Wilker, like the Occupy infiltrators, were repeatedly questioned by the green T-shirt wearing Americans for Prosperity, rather derailing the rally and distracting from speakers.
The event had been organised as part of the group's "Failing Agenda" bus tour across the US. Americans for Prosperity has three coaches crossing the country, drawing attention to what it sees as Obama's failings on the economy, and Steve Lonegan, the organisation's New Jersey state director had described its stop outside the Rockefeller Center in New York as having an anti-Occupy theme.
But after Lonegan kicked off the rally just after 10.30am, summarising Obama's "failing agenda" and describing the need to "return ourselves to free market capitalism", bickering swiftly broke out in the crowd as Americans for Prosperity supporters sensed they were being infiltrated.
A red-haired Americans for Prosperity supporter was among the more vocal. "I built my own business, OK? Nobody gave it to me. I built it. What about you, who paid for your shoes? Who paid for your shoes?," she inquired as she tailed an Occupier bearing a "Let them eat cake" sign through the crowd.
"I was letting her know that my family, my mother – a single mother – had to support us," the red-haired woman told the Guardian. "That my mother took care of us and she was very poor. That when I was a little girl, we had to eat oatmeal, and our desert was a piece of toast with a little sugar on it. I let her know that my family had nothing and we boot-strapped our way up on our own."
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
But I can't stand it when people use their own misery and success as a measure for other people.
It is a mark of achievement to be able to go against tough times and come out on top, but many do NOT make it. What happens to them? Is it easier to try to facilitate the growth in the beginning or clear the deadwood later on?
While I am not one for completely isolating people from any form of stress or hardship, I am also not one that believe that hardship has to be lauded to the extent that it is somehow a blessing. Guarantee you that that "red haired woman" would have loved to have a little more than sugar on her toast now and again.
University of California pays out $1m in Occupy pepper-spray settlement
Settlement reached in lawsuit brought by Occupy protesters
who were pepper-sprayed by UC Davis campus police in November
September 26, 2012
UC will pay out $30,000 to each of 21 plaintiffs named in the complaint and an additional $250,000 for their attorneys to split
Link to this video
The University of California is preparing to pay about $1m to settle a lawsuit filed by demonstrators who were pepper-sprayed during an Occupy protest at UC Davis last autumn.
UC and plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed the preliminary settlement in federal court in Sacramento on Wednesday. The agreement is subject to the approval of a federal judge.
Under the proposal, UC will pay out $30,000 to each of 21 plaintiffs named in the complaint and an additional $250,000 for their attorneys to split.
The settlement also calls for the UC to set aside $100,000 to pay other individuals who can prove they were arrested or pepper-sprayed during the incident on November 18 2011.
The chemical crackdown prompted campus protests and calls for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after online videos shot by witnesses went viral.
Images of an officer casually spraying orange pepper-spray in the faces of non-violent protesters became a rallying point for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
A task force report released in April blamed the incident on poor communication and planning throughout the campus chain of command, from the chancellor to the pepper-spraying officers.
November 9, 2012
Occupy Sandy: A Movement Moves to Relief
By ALAN FEUER
ON Wednesday night, as a fierce northeaster bore down on the weather-beaten Rockaways, the relief groups with a noticeable presence on the battered Queens peninsula were these: the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Police and Sanitation Departments — and Occupy Sandy, a do-it-yourself outfit recently established by Occupy Wall Street.
This stretch of the coast remained apocalyptic, with buildings burned like Dresden and ragged figures shuffling past the trash heaps. There was still no power, and parking lots were awash with ruined cars. On Wednesday morning, as the winds picked up and FEMA closed its office “due to weather,” an enclave of Occupiers was huddled in a storefront amid the devastation, handing out supplies and trying to make sure that those bombarded by last month’s storm stayed safe and warm and dry this time.
“Candles?” asked a dull-eyed woman arriving at the door.
“I’m sorry, but we’re out,” said Sofia Gallisa, a field coordinator who had been there for a week. Ms. Gallisa escorted the woman in, and someone gave her batteries for her flashlight. As she walked away, word arrived that a firehouse nearby was closing for the night; the firefighters there were hurrying their rigs to higher ground.
“It’s crazy,” Ms. Gallisa later said of the official response. “For a long time, we were the only people out here doing relief work.”
After its encampment in Zuccotti Park, which changed the public discourse about economic inequality and introduced the nation to the trope of the 1 percent, the Occupy movement has wandered in a desert of more intellectual, less visible projects, like farming, fighting debt and theorizing on banking. While several nouns have been occupied — from summer camp to health care — it is only with Hurricane Sandy that the times have conspired to deliver an event that fully calls upon the movement’s talents and caters to its strengths.
Maligned for months for its purported ineffectiveness, Occupy Wall Street has managed through its storm-related efforts not only to renew the impromptu passions of Zuccotti, but also to tap into an unfulfilled desire among the residents of the city to assist in the recovery. This altruistic urge was initially unmetby larger, more established charity groups, which seemed slow to deliver aid and turned away potential volunteers in droves during the early days of the disaster.
In the past two weeks, Occupy Sandy has set up distribution sites at a pair of Brooklyn churches where hundreds of New Yorkers muster daily to cook hot meals for the afflicted and to sort through a medieval marketplace of donated blankets, clothes and food. There is an Occupy motor pool of borrowed cars and pickup trucks that ferries volunteers to ravaged areas. An Occupy weatherman sits at his computer and issues regular forecasts. Occupy construction teams and medical committees have been formed.
Managing it all is an ad hoc group of tech-savvy Occupy members who spend their days with laptops on their knees, creating Google documents with action points and flow charts, and posting notes on Facebook that range from the sober (“Adobo Medical Center in Red Hook needs an 8,000 watt generator AS SOON AS POSSIBLE”) to the endearingly hilarious (“We will be treating anyone affected by Sandy, FREE of charge, with ear acupuncture this Monday”). While the local tech team sleeps, a shadow corps in London works off-hours to update the Twitter feed and to maintain the intranet. Some enterprising Occupiers have even set up a wedding registry on Amazon.com, with a wish list of necessities for victims of the storm; so far, items totaling more than $100,000 — water pumps and Sawzall saw kits — have been ordered.
“It’s a laterally organized rapid-response team,” said Ethan Gould, a freelance graphic artist and a first-time member of Occupy. Mr. Gould’s experience illustrates the effort’s grass-roots ethos. He joined up on Nov. 3 and by the following afternoon had already been appointed as a co-coordinator at one of the “distro” (distribution) sites.
OCCUPY SANDY was initially the work of a half-dozen veterans of Zuccotti Park who, on the Tuesday following the storm, made their way to public housing projects in the Rockaways and Red Hook, Brooklyn, delivering flashlights and trays of hot lasagna to residents neglected by the government. They arranged for vans to help some people relocate into shelters. When they returned to civilization, they spent the night with their extra bags of stuff at St. Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
“They asked if they could crash here,” said Juan-Carlos Ruiz, a community organizer there who knew the Occupiers from their previous endeavors. “Those few bags became this enormous organic operation. It’s evidence that when official channels fail, other parts of society respond.”
When newcomers arrive at St. Jacobi — or at its sister site at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in nearby Clinton Hill — they undergo an orientation course during which the volunteering process is explained and people are quickly introduced to the movement’s guiding spirit. There is sensitivity training (“We’re here to listen and be human”) and door-to-door training for those going into stricken communities.
All participants are asked to write their first names on a piece of masking tape and to place it somewhere prominent on their bodies. The informal atmosphere results in classic Occupy exchanges: “If you have a car, you should cluster up and go see Alexis in the shearling hat.”
Occupy Wall Street is capable of summoning an army with the posting of a tweet, and many of the volunteers last week were self-identifying veterans of the movement, although many more were not. Given the numbers passing through the churches, both fresh-faced amateurs and the Occupy managerial class — a label it would reject — were in evidence.
The St. Luke’s kitchen sits in the basement of the church, beside a well-stocked pantry of donations that on Tuesday morning was overflowing with cans of kidney beans, bottles of chocolate syrup, gallon jugs of corn oil and enormous quantities of organic Arborio rice. The peanut-butter-and-jelly team was busy making sandwiches at a table. On the crew that day, there were a Yale University student, a chef on medical leave from an institutional kitchen, a tourist visiting from Luxembourg, a budding fiction writer and an independent radio producer with her 9-year-old son, Zachary.
“We’ve made everything so far,” Susie Lindenbaum, an actress, said. “Rice and beans. Beef chili. Rosemary noodles. A big bread pudding and vegan collard greens.”
Upstairs, contributions arrived around the clock, coming in by telephone or received in person by runners who hauled the goods from cars parked at the curb to a basement sorting space where everything was organized according to handmade signs (“Shoes Here,” “Drinks & Water Here”). Volunteer drivers shuttled these supplies to more than 20 “field sites” in the hardest-hit locations: Red Hook, the Rockaways and Coney and Staten Islands.
THE Occupiers sometimes say a disconnect exists between the highly functioning distro sites and the more chaotic centers in the field. On election night, for instance, the television network Comedy Central donated 11,000 prepackaged pieces of apple pie, and volunteers who were headed in the morning to Red Hook and beyond were ordered not to leave without an armful. Most of the pies did not make it to their destinations — not that Ms. Gallisa, the field coordinator working in the Rockaways, would have wanted them. By Wednesday afternoon, with the new storm rolling in, she and her outreach team were scurrying among their various storage sites, trying to secure their own supplies.
Bridging the gap between the churches and the field is Andrew Smith, 27, who early last week was holed up in the St. Luke’s organ loft working on a list of crucial chores for the next big project: neighborhood reconstruction. On a giant pad of newsprint, Mr. Smith had jotted down two words: “Guts Logistics” — Occupy Sandy was getting into the renovation business. Under this heading, there were three numbered tasks: “1) Remove damaged materials. 2) Let buildings air out. 3) Mold remediation.”
“The long-term needs are where the real problems are,” said Mr. Smith, an experienced Occupier who two months ago helped to plan the protests marking the first anniversary of the Zuccotti occupation. “Where we’re headed now is into cleanup and rebuilding.” Volunteer brigades were scheduled, he said, to deploy to damaged areas on Saturday and Sunday. A budget for further reconstruction was already being planned.
Indeed, after he finished his to-do list and took the subway south to St. Jacobi, a woman poked her head out from the Staten Island War Room and called to him loudly as he went by, “Andy, we need more construction workers!” Acknowledging her request, Mr. Smith went up to the second-story communications room, where a six-person team was working on the protocols for accepting contributions on the phone.
After listening for a moment, Mr. Smith tendered a suggestion and the man in charge — the name on his masking tape was Peter — sighed in exasperation. “Look,” Peter said, “the amount of self-organizing here, it’s coming a bit too fast. I’m losing track, all right?” One of his colleagues asked him if he had eaten yet that day; Peter replied that he had not. Mr. Smith reached into his backpack and handed him a sandwich.
Then one of the hot-line operators rushed into the room. It seemed the Red Cross was sending them — them! — a tractor-trailer full of fresh wool blankets.
“A tractor-trailer?” Mr. Smith exclaimed.
Utterly exhausted, he laid his forehead on the shoulder of the Occupier beside him.