Re: Patriot Act Raid at Indian restaurant

From: mongiovg (mongiovg@STJOHNS.EDU)
Date: Tue Apr 29 2003 - 19:55:14 EDT

Is there any independent confirmation for this story?  I have no doubt that
some terrible things are happening throughout the US, but I am suscpicious of
the fact that the author of the piece scrupulously omitted the name of the
restaurant. I have heard nothing of this in the media, and I think it unlikely
that a gang of NYC cops could have stormed a midtown restaurant and aimed
weapons at pre-theater diners without attracting some media attention. The
business about the cops forcing restaurant employees to crawl around on their
hands & knees under gunpoint doesn't ring true; nor does the bit about
mysterious agents in suits typing on laptops while this lockdown was taking
place.  Seems mighty fishy to me.

If the story turns out to be a fabrication, the repetition of it by
well-meaning lefties will have damaged the credibility of all those who
challenge the mainstream party line. Until I see some credible back-up for
this one, I'm treating it as a hoax. Can anyone supply further details?


>===== Original Message From gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM> =====
>Another message that I received from Cyrus.
>Cyrus remarked "Back to medieval times !!" in
>relation to the following story.  Yet, this type of
>repression is quite common in many (most?)
>contemporary bourgeois societies, isn't it? Does
>anybody have any *good* news to report today?
>In solidarity, Jerry
>Patriot Raid
>By Jason Halperin, Doctors without Borders, April 2003
>Two weeks ago I experienced a very small taste of what hundreds of South
Asian immigrants and US citizens of South Asian descent have gone through
since 9/11, and what thousands of others have come to fear. I was held,
against my will, under the Patriot Act. While I understand the need for some
measure of security and precaution in times such as these, the manner in which
this detention and interrogation took
>place raises serious questions about police tactics and the safeguarding of
civil liberties in times of war.
>That night, March 20th, my roommate Asher and I were on our way to see the
Broadway show Rent. We had an hour to spare before curtain time so we stopped
into an Indian restaurant just off of Times Square in the heart of midtown. I
have omitted the name of the restaurant so as not to subject the owners to any
further harassment or humiliation.
>We helped ourselves to the buffet and then sat down to begin eating our
dinner. I was just about to tell Asher how I'd eaten there before and how
delicious the vegetable curry was, but I never got a chance. All of a sudden,
there was a terrible commotion and five NYPD in bulletproof vests stormed down
the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were pointing them indiscriminately
at the restaurant staff and at us.
>"Go to the back, Go to the back of the restaurant," they yelled.
>I hesitated, lost in my own panic.
>"Did you not hear me, go to the back and sit down," they demanded.
>I complied and looked around at the other patrons. There were eight men
including the waiter, all of South Asian descent and ranging in age from
late-teens to senior citizen. One of the policemen pointed his gun point blank
in the face of the waiter
>and shouted: "Is there anyone else in the restaurant?" The waiter, terrified,
gestured to the kitchen.
>The police placed their fingers on the triggers of their guns and kicked open
the kitchen doors. Shouts emanated from the kitchen and a few seconds later
five Hispanic men were made to crawl out on their hands and knees, guns
pointed at them.
>After patting us all down, the five officers seated us at two tables. As they
continued to kick open doors to closets and bathrooms with their fingers glued
to their triggers, no less than ten officers in suits emerged from the
stairwell. Most of them sat in the back of the restaurant typing on their
laptop computers. Two of them walked over to our table and identified
themselves as officers of the INS and Homeland Security Department.
>While having some limited knowledge of the rights afforded to US citizens, I
explained that we were just eating dinner and asked why we were being held. We
were told by the INS agent that we would be released once they had
confirmation that we
>had no outstanding warrants and our immigration status was OKed.
>In pre-9/11 America, the legality of this would have been questionable. After
all, the fourth amendment to the constitution states: "The right of the people
to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against
unreasonable searches
>and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon
probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing
the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."
>"You have no right to hold us," Asher insisted.
>"Yes, we have every right. You are being held under the Patriot Act following
suspicion under an internal Homeland Security investigation."
>The Patriot Act was passed into law on October 26, 2001 in order to
facilitate the post 9/11 crackdown on terrorism. Like most Americans, I did
not recognize the extent to which this bill foregoes our civil liberties.
Among the unprecedented rights it grants to the federal government are the
right to wiretap without warrant, and the right to detain without warrant. As
I quickly discovered, the right to an attorney has been seemingly fudged as
>When I asked to speak to a lawyer, the INS official informed me that I do
have the right to a lawyer but I would have to be brought down to the station
and await security clearance before being granted one. When I asked how long
that would take,
>he replied with a coy smile: "Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe a month."
>We insisted that we had every right to leave and were going to do so. One of
the policemen walked over with his hand on his gun and taunted: "Go ahead and
leave, just go ahead."
>We remained seated. Our IDs were taken, and brought to the officers with
laptops. I was questioned over the fact that my license was out of state, and
asked if I had "something to hide." The police continued to hassle the kitchen
workers, demanding
>licenses and dates of birth. One of the kitchen workers was shaking
hysterically and kept providing the day's date?March 20, 2003, over and over.
>As I continued to press for legal counsel, a female officer who had been busy
typing on her laptop in the front of the restaurant, walked over and put her
finger in my face. "We are at war, we are at war and this is for your safety,"
she exclaimed.
>As she walked away from the table, she continued to repeat it to herself? "We
are at war, we are at war?how can they not understand this."
>I most certainly understand that we are at war. I also understand that the
freedoms afforded to all of us in the constitution were meant specifically for
times like these. Our freedoms were carved out during times of strife by
people who were facing brutal injustices, and were intended specifically so
that this nation would behave differently in such times. If our freedoms
crumble exactly when they are needed most, then they were really never
freedoms at all.
>After an hour and a half the INS agent walked back over and handed Asher and
I our licenses. A policeman took us by the arm and escorted us out of the
building. Before stepping out to the street, the INS agent apologized. He
explained, in a low voice, that they did not think the two of us were in the
>Several of the other patrons, though of South Asian descent, were in fact US
citizens. There were four taxi drivers, two students, one newspaper
salesman?unwitting customers, just like Asher and me. I doubt though they
received any apologies from the INS or the Department of Homeland Security.
Nor have the over 600 people of South Asian descent currently being held
without charge by the Federal Government. Apparently, this type of treatment
is acceptable.
>One of the taxi drivers, a US citizen, spoke to me during the interrogation.
>"Please stop talking to them." He urged. "I have been through this before.
Please do whatever they say. Please for our sake."
>Three days later I phoned the restaurant to discover what happened. The owner
was nervous and embarrassed and obviously did not want to talk about it. But I
>to ascertain that the whole thing had been one giant mistake. A mistake.
Loaded guns pointed in faces, people made to crawl on their hands and knees,
police officers clearly exacerbating a tense situation by kicking in doors,
taunting, keeping their
>fingers on the trigger even after the situation was under control. A mistake.
And, according to the ACLU a perfectly legal one, thanks to the Patriot Act.
>The Patriot Act is the just the first phase of the erosion of the Fourth
Amendment.  On the congressional table this summer is the Domestic Securities
Enhancement Act, also known as Patriot II. (Is it a missile or a piece of
legislation?) Among other
>things, this act would allow the Justice Department to detain anyone,
anytime, secretly and indefinitely. It would also make it a crime to reveal
the identity or even existence of such a detainee.
>Every American citizen, whether they support the current war or not, should
be alarmed by the speed and facility with which these changes to our
fundamental rights are taking place. And all of those who thought that these
laws would never affect
>them, who thought that the Patriot Act only applied to the guilty should heed
this story as a wake up call. Please learn from my experience. We are all
vulnerable so speak out and organize, our fourth amendment rights depend upon
it. ------------
>Jason Halperin lives in New York City and works at Doctors Without
>Sans Frontieres (MSF)
>Locker Associates, Inc. 225 Broadway Suite 2625 New York, NY 10007 Phone:
212-962-2980 Fax: 212-608-3077 email: Visit us on
the web at

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