Oh, and they doxxed the victim in the process. I took the liberty of blacking out the information from the vehicle registration.
For those of you who haven’t been following NYPD’s unjust prosecutions of (usually minority) residents for illegal knife possession, the city constabulary misinterprets a poorly-worded statue defining pretty much any common folding knife as a banned “gravity knife”. This 1958 law is a legacy of pearl-clutching politicians who watched too many James Dean movies and performances of West Side Story.
From The Village Voice:
The arrest by PSA 7 is an especially cute one, however, with the added forfeiture element. As the Voice has documented, the NYPD’s civil forfeiture program —ostensibly a way for law enforcement to deny criminals their ill-gotten gains — is in fact a revenue generating scheme that often robs poor people of hard earned money with no due process. Under New York’s forfeiture laws, cash and other property can be seized before a crime is ever proven or even formally charged. Recovering those assets, even when they’re never linked to criminal activity, is a byzantine process that victims often simply give up on. Similar programs at the federal and state level have become infamous as a tool used to prop up police budgets and distort the criminal justice process with a powerful financial incentive.
It’s not clear why the $18,000 was seized to begin with, and the NYPD didn’t respond to requests for more information about the arrest. But if it’s like the tens of thousands that have happened in the city over the last decade, it almost certainly involved simple possession of what appears to be a relatively unremarkable pocket knife, not a true gravity knife. Gravity knives are almost extinct on the modern market, and the knife in the image appears to be a rather run of the mill folding blade. (Commenters on Twitter immediately pointed out that the model pictured appears to be a style often carried by first responders, with a feature designed for safely cutting clothes and tangled seat belts after, say, a car accident.)
If the arrest turns out like many others do, it may end up in a dismissal of the charges after a probationary period, what’s known as an “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.” But under civil forfeiture laws, that may not help the suspect in this case. Assets seized under forfeiture regimes are essentially guilty until proven innocent; even if the charge goes away, the headache of recovering the seized cash likely won’t.
There are many reasons that while perfectly legal, carrying $18,000 in cash in NYC is a bad idea – including the fact that one is prohibited from carrying the proper tools with which to defend themselves. However, a Government shakedown and seizure should not be one of them.
City officials such as Mayor DerpBlasio and Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. claim that they want to improve relations with the minority communities that they ostensibly serve, yet continue with this bovine excrement. Crap like this engenders resentment of police and gets good cops killed.
What makes this all the more a travesty, is the fact that a bill which clarifies the definition of legal knives to protect knives that have a “bias towards closure” has passed both chambers of the NY Legislature and for some reason is yet to hit Governor Cuomo’s desk where it is still unclear if it will be signed, despite unanimous passage in the Senate.
There is also a federal court case challenging the law, and a decision is expected soon.