By LOUIS FLORES
Attorney General Eric Holder returned to New York University today to deliver a keynote address about mass incarceration, returning to Vanderbilt Hall, where the nation's top law enforcement officer spoke exactly one week ago about corporate crime.
Expecting Mr. Holder were activists, again demanding that the Department of Justice answer a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act for records about the federal government's prosecution of activists, including of Lt. Daniel Choi, the armed services veteran, who led a public battle to overturn the U.S. military's discriminatory policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The underlying FOIA request was constructively denied by the DOJ, and an appeal was filed, seeking an answer from the DOJ.
Activists were also on-hand to demand that Mr. Holder appoint a commission to investigate corruption at the New York Police Department, including of its Internal Affairs Bureau.
Mr. Holder was expected to deliver his keynote speech at 1:30 p.m. today. However, he did not arrive using the front entrance to NYU's Vanderbilt Hall, as activists were expecting. Instead, it appeared that the attorney general entered and exited Vanderbilt Hall possibly through the building's garbage door, in order to avoid protesters.
During his keynote address, Mr. Holder spoke about the social aftermath following the murder of Michael Brown. "As we saw all too clearly last month – as the eyes of the nation turned to events in Ferguson, Missouri – whenever discord, mistrust, and roiling tensions fester just under the surface, interactions between law enforcement and local residents can quickly escalate into confrontation, unrest, and even violence." But the attorney general failed to even once mention the long history of the NYPD's use of brutality and even murder against the citizens the city's police department is charged to protect and respect. Even though the topic of the forum had been mass incarceration, the attorney general also failed to talk about the NYPD's controversial "Broken Windows" approach to policing, which critics charge disproportionately leads to the arrest of minority and low-income people.
The activists were able to confront U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. After Mr. Holder delivered his remarks, Congressman Nadler exited Vanderbilt Hall with a man, who brushed up against the artist and political commentator Suzannah B. Troy. Congressman Nadler would neither address the activists' demands for a commission to investigate NYPD corruption nor the physical contact his companion made with Ms. Troy. Ms. Troy filmed all of the videos posted in this report. As a result of the physical contact Congressman Nadler's companion made with Ms. Troy, the activists were unable to ask Congressman Nadler about the relationship between his office and the lobbying firm, Berlin Rosen. Amy Rutkin, Congressman Nadler's chief of staff, is married to Valerie Berlin, a name partner in Berlin Rosen.
After Long Island College Hospital, located in Brooklyn, closed, Berlin Rosen was identified as having a role in a "dark money" mailer that was sent by Mayor Bill de Blasio's nonprofit political arm, the Campaign for One New York. Berlin Rosen advises the Campaign for One New York, and the nonprofit's spokesman is Dan Levitan, a Berlin Rosen operative. The LICH "dark money" mailer, defending the closure of LICH, was deemed "unacceptable" by the good government group, Common Cause. Four years ago, when St. Vincent's Hospital closed in the West Village, the community requested help from Congressman Nadler, but he never opposed Rudin Management Company's $1 billion luxury condo conversion plan for St. Vincent's. Activists question the potential for corruption that might stem from the close relationship between the office of a sitting congressman and Berlin Rosen, an issue Ms. Troy raised in the narration portion of one of her videos.
Activists also confronted D.A. Vance, whose office, activists charge, drags its feet when it comes to investigating any kind of corruption, especially police corruption. In her video, Ms. Troy asked D.A. Vance about police corruption, including her own experience with being the victim of assault at her doctor's office almost two years ago. In Ms. Troy's assault case, she has raised the issue that the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau cannot police the police. In her video with D.A. Vance, Ms. Troy requested a new commission to investigate NYPD corruption, pointing out that Eric Garner, who died in the hands of NYPD, would still be alive if he were a white man.
Activists, such as Ms. Troy, find that no other issue galvanizes New Yorkers like the constant demand to investigate police corruption and to bring to an end the numerous routine violations of innocent people's civil rights and civil liberties by the NYPD. Outside Vanderbilt Hall, the media personality Katie Couric accepted a flyer from protesters, announcing an upcoming Columbus Day march for police reform : NYPD Five Points March.