In Pam Martens article “Wall Street Firms Spy on Protesters In Tax-Funded Center” she discusses how recently it came out that there has been more than $150 million in taxpayer money going to equip a government facility in “lower Manhattan where Wall Street firms get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on law abiding citizens”. In line with recently dug up documents from 2005, the planning for this facility dates back more than six years.
It was found that “NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly promised Edward Forst, a Goldman Sachs’ Executive Vice President at the time, that the NYPD “is committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive security plan for Lower Manhattan …” Also according to these 2005 documents “Goldman’s deal included $1.65 billion in Liberty Bonds, up to $160 million in sales tax abatements for construction materials and tenant furnishings, and the deal-breaker requirement that a security plan that gave it a seat at the NYPD’s Coordination Center would be in place by no later than December 31, 2009.”
Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center will be running and observing 24-7 with more than 3000 live video feeds of the people on the streets. In addition to these cameras, “the NYPD either has or is working on face recognition software which could track individuals based on facial features.”
This project has been funded by “New York City taxpayers as well as all U.S. taxpayers through grants from the Federal Department of Homeland Security.” The NYCLU has written letters to the Commissioner about the fact that there have been no public hearings about this even though there have been “massive expenditures of public money.” In this letter to the commissioner, “the NYCLU also noted in its letter that it rejected the privacy guidelines for the surveillance operation that the NYPD had posted on its web site for public comment, since there had been no public hearings to formulate these guidelines. It noted further that “the guidelines do not limit police surveillance and databases to suspicious activity . . . there is no independent oversight or monitoring of compliance with the guidelines.” In a response from the commissioner he remarked that the privacy guidelines were written by Jessica Tisch “who has played a significant role in developing the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center.”
The article closes in saying “Wall Street is infamous for perverting everything it touches: from Nasdaq stock market, to stock research issued to the public, to auction securities, mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddic Mac, credit default swaps with AIG, and mortgage securitizations.” Also that if there had in fact been a hearing held to vote for this surveillance center, someone might have pondered what was to prevent Wall Street from tracking its employee whistleblowers heading off to the FBI offices or meeting with a reporter.
Title: Wall Street Firms Spy on Protesters In Tax-Funded Center
Publication: Truthout; Sunday September 23, 2011
Author: Pam Martens
Faculty Evaluator: Stephen Sax, RBC Wealth Management
Student Researcher: Chelane Beavers, Sonoma State University