Friday, July 22, 2005

Like This Wasn't Coming

So, now New York police plan to randomly search large bags prior to entry to the subway; no racial or ethnic profiling involved in the criteria, it's just 1 in 50. Several interesting things to note:

1. When this was announced yesterday, the all-important end of the sentence wasn't mentioned: you can refuse to have your bag searched, and although you won't be detained, you won't be allowed to board the train.

2. This is supposed to also include city buses, but oddly enough, most Manhattan-bound commuters don't ride the bus. And, most of the people of color who commute to a Manhattan job, do so by subway. Most Manhattan bus riders are Manhattan residents, who are usually White.

3. Pictures of the 4 suspects in yesterday's London incident have been released, as was the picture of the suspect in the first incident. 3 of the 4 suspects are very Black-looking. Even if the police don't plan to do any racial profiling, the court of popular opinion will. It's not as if White subway riders don't already, especially European tourists, and tourists from America's midwest and south, don't either carry their backpacks in front of them, or huddle really close together.

4. I've heard that commuter buses, buses from New Jersey and upstate new York, are randomly stopped. As a result of the first London bombings, cops have been riding commuter trains (Metro North, LIRR, and NJTransit), and bags will also be searched. How long will their heavily White middle class ridership put up with that? Have you ever seen some of these riders basically hurdle over you to catch a particular train?

5. Every "terror" expert, who has made a mint on their "consulting" services since 9/11, has said our food and water supplies, power plants, bio research facilities, and yes, our commuter venues, are vulnerable to attack (more so since 9/11). Having said that, and spent good taxpayer dollars on those messages, why weren't these measures taken earlier? We've put National Guard staff in places like Penn Station and the Port Authority, why didn't we put them on the trains?

6. Could it be the conspiracy theorist in me that thinks it's no accident that the UK has been involved in the Iraq War since the beginning, but it wasn't until shortly after Tony Blair's narrow re-election that these attacks in London came to pass? Hasn't anti-Western rhetoric from Islamic fundamentalists included Great Britain? And is it a coincidence that the shooting and killing of a suspect in London, whose police force is known worldwide for not carrying guns, has made front page news on the same day that hearings into Karl Rove's involvement in the outing of a CIA agent begin? Or that the renewal of the Patriot Act is up for vote (and passed by majority) right after the London bombings?

I suppose I should be happy about these attempts at keeping the public safe. I have to wonder, though, what will it take for people to finally feel safe? What is safe, anyway? And what will it cost?

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