A walk from one’s office to the subway on a July morning is a sketch of the state of civil liberties in today’s New York City. All the remnants of Pride Month hint at the incredible progress on LGBTQ rights in the past decade—marriage equality, the recent ban of the “gay panic” defense. Yet you gaze at the rainbow-themed advertising under the unblinking eye of surveillance cameras—cameras in the elevators and hallways of your office, multiple cameras in the aisles of the corner deli, cameras covering the sidewalk in front of apartment buildings, cameras in the lobbies of banks. A man passes by smoking marijuana in broad daylight; another is smoking on the stoop. There is little fear of getting hassled by the NYPD, apparently. Yet on the train, you are still warned over the public-address system that cops can inspect your bags and packages at will. Seated around you is New York City in all its shapes and shades. You wonder who among your fellow passengers lives in fear of ICE’s knock at the door.
New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman joined WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show on Wednesday for a special Independence Day Eve discussion of where civil liberties stand in New York City, a place known as a safe harbor for free expression that saw egregious civil-rights violations during the hey-day of stop-and-frisk and the NYPD demographics unit.
Hear our conversation below, or listen to the full show, which includes an interview with Brooklyn Councilmember Antonio Reynoso on Bushwick’s past, present and future.
Max & Murphy: NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman