Who Do the White Shirt Police Report to at Occupy Wall
Financial Giants Put New York City Cops On Their Payroll
by PAM MARTENS
OCTOBER 10, 2011
Videos are springing up across the internet showing
uniformed members of the New York Police Department in
white shirts (as opposed to the typical NYPD blue
uniforms) pepper spraying and brutalizing peaceful,
nonthreatening protestors attempting to take part in the
Occupy Wall Street marches. Corporate media are reporting
that these white shirts are police supervisors as opposed
to rank and file. Recently discovered documents suggest
something else may be at work.
If you're a Wall Street behemoth, there are endless
opportunities to privatize profits and socialize losses
beyond collecting trillions of dollars in bailouts from
taxpayers. One of the ingenious methods that has remained
below the public's radar was started by the Rudy Giuliani
administration in New York City in 1998. It's called the
Paid Detail Unit and it allows the New York Stock Exchange
and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly
charged with crimes, to order up a flank of New York's
finest with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on
The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no
medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member
of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to
arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not
New York City gets a 10 percent administrative fee on top
of the $37 per hour paid to the police. The City's 2011
budget called for $1,184,000 in Paid Detail fees, meaning
private corporations were paying wages of $11.8 million
to police participating in the Paid Detail Unit. The
program has more than doubled in revenue to the city since
The taxpayer has paid for the training of the rent-a-cop,
his uniform and gun, and will pick up the legal tab for
lawsuits stemming from the police personnel following
illegal instructions from its corporate master. Lawsuits
have already sprung up from the program.
When the program was first rolled out, one insightful
member of the NYPD posted the following on a forum: "...
regarding the officer working for, and being paid by, some
of the richest people and organizations in the City, if
not the world, enforcing the mandates of the private
employer, and in effect, allowing the officer to become
the Praetorian Guard of the elite of the City. And now
corruption is no longer a problem. Who are they kidding?"
Just this year, the Department of Justice revealed serious
problems with the Paid Detail unit of the New Orleans
Police Department. Now corruption probes are snowballing
at NOPD, revealing cash payments to police in the Paid
Detail and members of the department setting up limited
liability corporations to run upwards of $250,000 in Paid
Detail work billed to the city.
When the infamously mismanaged Wall Street firm, Lehman
Brothers, collapsed on September 15, 2008, its bankruptcy
filings in 2009 showed it owed money to 21 members of the
NYPD's Paid Detail Unit. (A phone call and email request
to the NYPD for information on which Wall Street firms
participate in the program were not responded to. The
police unions appear to have only scant information about
Other Wall Street firms that are known to have used the
Paid Detail include Goldman Sachs, the World Financial
Center complex which houses financial firms, and the New
York Stock Exchange.
The New York Stock Exchange is the building in front of
which the Occupy Wall Street protesters have
unsuccessfully tried to protest, being herded behind metal
barricades, clubbed with night sticks, kicked in the face
and carted off to jail rather than permit the last
plantation in America to be defiled with citizen chants
and posters. (A sample of those politically inconvenient
posters and chants: "The corrupt are afraid of us; the
honest support us; the heroic join us"; "Tell me what
democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like";
"I'll believe a corporation is a person when Texas
executes one." The last sign refers to the 2010 U.S.
Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal
Election Commission, giving corporations First Amendment
personhood, which allows them to spend unlimited amounts
of money in elections.)
On September 8, 2004, Robert Britz, then President and
Co-Chief Operating Officer of the New York Stock Exchange,
testified as follows to the U.S. House Committee on
"...we have implemented new hiring standards requiring
former law enforcement or military backgrounds for the
security staff...We have established a 24-hour NYPD Paid
Detail monitoring the perimeter of the data centers...We
have implemented traffic control and vehicle screening at
the checkpoints. We have installed fixed protective
planters and movable vehicle barriers."
Military backgrounds; paid NYPD 24-7; checkpoints; vehicle
barriers? It might be insightful to recall that the New
York Stock Exchange originally traded stocks with a
handshake under a Buttonwood tree in the open air on Wall
In his testimony, the NYSE executive Britz states that
"we" did this or that while describing functions that
clearly belong to the City of New York. The New York
Stock Exchange at that time had not yet gone public and
was owned by those who had purchased seats on the exchange
- primarily, the largest firms on Wall Street. Did the
NYSE simply give itself police powers to barricade streets
and set up checkpoints with rented cops? How about
clubbing protesters on the sidewalk?
Just six months before NYSE executive Britz' testimony to
a congressional committee, his organization was being sued
in the Supreme Court of New York County for illegally
taking over public streets with no authority to do so.
This action had crippled the business of a parking garage,
Wall Street Garage Parking Corp., the plaintiff in the
case. Judge Walter Tolub said in his opinion that
"...a private entity, the New York Stock Exchange, has
assumed responsibility for the patrol and maintenance of
truck blockades located at seven intersections surrounding
the NYSE...no formal authority appears to have been given to
the NYSE to maintain these blockades and/or conduct
security searches at these checkpoints...the closure of
these intersections by the NYSE is tantamount to a public
nuisance...The NYSE has yet to provide this court with any
evidence of an agreement giving them the authority to
maintain the security perimeter and/or conduct the
searches that their private security force conducts daily.
As such, the NYSE's actions are unlawful and may be
enjoined as they violate plaintiff's civil rights as a
The case was appealed, the ruling overturned, and sent
back to the same Judge who had no choice but to dismiss
the case on the appellate ruling that the plaintiff had
suffered no greater harm than the community at large.
Does everyone in lower Manhattan own a parking garage that
is losing its customer base because the roads are blocked
to the garage?
Some believe that Wall Street is given special privileges
and protection because New York City's Mayor Michael
Bloomberg owes his $18.1 billion in wealth (yes, he's that
1 percent the 99 percent are protesting) to Wall Street.
The Mayor was previously a trader for Salomon Brothers,
the investment bank made famous for attempting to rig the
U.S. Treasury market in two-year notes.
The Mayor's business empire which bears his name, includes
the awesome Bloomberg terminal, a computer that houses
enormous pricing data for stocks and bonds, research,
news, charting functions and much more. There are
currently an estimated 290,000 of these terminals on Wall
Street trading floors around the globe, generating
approximately $1500 in rental fees per terminal per month.
That's a cool $435 million a month or $5.2 billion a year,
the cash cow of the Bloomberg businesses.
The Bloomberg businesses are run independently from the
Mayor but he certainly knows that his terminal is a core
component of his wealth. Nonetheless, the Mayor is not
Wall Street's patsy. Bloomberg Publishing is frequently
in the forefront of exposing fraud on Wall Street such as
the 2001 tome "The Pied Pipers of Wall Street" by Benjamin
Mark Cole, which exposed the practice of releasing
fraudulent stock research to the public. Bloomberg News
was responsible for court action that forced the Federal
Reserve to release the details of what it did with
trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts to Wall Street
firms, hedge funds and foreign banks.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly may also have a soft spot
for Wall Street. He was formerly Senior Managing Director
of Global Corporate Security at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc.,
the Wall Street firm that collapsed into the arms of
JPMorgan in March of 2008.
There has also been a bizarre revolving door between the
Wall Street millionaires and the NYPD at times. One of
the most puzzling career moves was made by Stephen L.
Hammerman. He left a hefty compensation package as Vice
Chairman of Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2002 to work as Deputy
Commissioner of Legal Matters for the NYPD from 2002 to
2004. That move had everyone on Wall Street scratching
their head at the time. Merrill collapsed into the arms
of Bank of America on September 15, 2008, the same date
that Lehman went under.
Wall Street is not the only sector renting cops in
Manhattan. Department stores, parks, commercial banks and
landmarks like Rockefeller Center, Jacob Javits Center and
St. Patrick's Cathedral have also participated in the Paid
Detail Unit, according to insiders. But Wall Street is
the only sector that runs a private justice system where
its crimes are herded off to secret arbitration tribunals,
has sucked on the public teat to the tune of trillions of
dollars, escaped prosecution for the financial collapse,
and can put an armed municipal force on the sidewalk to
intimidate public protestors seeking a realignment of
We may be learning a lot more in the future about the
tactics Wall Street and the NYPD have deployed against the
Occupy Wall Street protestors. The highly regarded
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has filed a class
action lawsuit over the approximately 700 arrests made on
the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1. The formal complaint
and related information is available at the
organization's web site, www.JusticeOnLine.org.
The organization was founded by Carl Messineo and Mara
Verheyden-Hilliard. The Washington Post has called them
"the constitutional sheriffs for a new protest
The suit names Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly,
the City of New York, 30 unnamed members of the NYPD, and,
provocatively, 10 unnamed law enforcement officers not
employed by the NYPD.
The lawsuit lays out dwhat has been curtailing the
constitutional rights of protestors for a very long time
in New York City.
"As seen in the movements for social change in the Middle
East and Europe, all movements for social justice, jobs,
and democracy need room to breathe and grow and it is
imperative that there be a halt to law enforcement actions
used to shut down mass assembly and free expression of the
people seeking to redress grievances...
"After escorting and leading a group of demonstrators and
others well out onto the Brooklyn Bridge roadway, the NYPD
suddenly and without warning curtailed further forward
movement, blocked the ability of persons to leave the
Bridge from the rear, and arrested hundreds of protestors
in the absence of probable cause. This was a form of
entrapment, both illegal and physical.
"That the trap and detain mass arrest was a
command-level-driven intentional and calculated police
operation is evidenced by the fact that the law
enforcement officials who led the demonstration across the
bridge were command officials, known as 'white shirts.' "
In April 2001, I was arrested and incarcerated by the NYPD
while peacefully handing out flyers on a public sidewalk
outside of the Citigroup shareholders meeting - flyers
that warned of growing corruption inside the company. (The
unlawful merger of Travelers Group and Citibank created
Citigroup and resulted in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall
Act, the depression era investor protection legislation
that barred depositor banks from merging with high-risk
Wall Street firms. Many of us from social justice groups
in New York City had protested against the repeal but were
out maneuvered by Wall Street's political pawns in
Out of a group of about two dozen protestors from the
National Organization for Women in New York City, Rain
Forest Action Network, and Inner City Press, I was the
only person arrested. There was no civil disobedience
occurring. Rain Forest Action Network was handing out
fortune cookies with prescient warnings about Citigroup
and urging pedestrians to cut up their Citibank credit
cards. The rest of us were peacefully handing out flyers.
Chained to a metal bar inside the police precinct, I was
grilled on any crimes I might know about. I responded
that the only crimes I knew about were listed on the flyer
and apparently, in New York City, one gets arrested for
disclosing crimes by Wall Street firms.
A mysterious, mature, white shirted inspector who ordered
my arrest on the sidewalk, and refused to give his first
name, disappeared from the police report when it was
filed, blaming the arrest instead on a young police
officer. Citigroup is only alive today because the
Federal government inserted a feeding tube into Citigroup
and infused over $2 trillion in loans, direct investment
and guarantees as the company veered toward collapse.
The NYPD at the time of my arrest was run by Bernard Kerik
- the man President George W. Bush later sent to Iraq to
be the interim Interior Minister and train Iraqi police.
The President subsequently nominated Kerik to head the
Department of Homeland Security for the entire nation.
The nation was spared of that eventuality only because of
an illegal nanny popping up. Today, Kerik is serving a
four year sentence in Federal prison for a variety of
The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a Federal lawsuit
on my behalf (Martens v. Giuliani) and we learned that
the NYPD had arbitrarily established a policy to arrest
and hold for 72 hours any person protesting in a group of
20 or more. The case was settled for a modest monetary
award and the repeal by the NYPD of this unconstitutional
and despicable practice.
Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years. She spent
the last decade of her career advocating against Wall
Street's private justice system, which keeps its crimes
shielded from public courtrooms. She has been writing on
public interest issues for CounterPunch since retiring in
2006. She has no security position, long or short, in
any company mentioned in this article. She can be reached
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