The nation is transforming right before our eyes.
The economy–already precarious before the pandemic–is swiftly unraveling.
We also find ourselves gripped in civil unrest the likes of which we have not experienced in five decades.
As Frederick Douglass famously said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
But those in power never concede to change without prolonged struggle.
In that struggle lurks the potential for authoritarianism into which many countries have descended.
Some have not returned.
In March, the Justice Department (DOJ) considered using the COVID-19 outbreak to suspend constitutional habeas corpus (due process) rights.
Last week, New York State Supreme Court justice James Burke did just that, using the protests over police brutality to reject a petition intending immediate release of hundreds of protesters the New York Police Department had detained for over 24 hours.
Breaking: NYS Judge James Burke rules NYPD can now keep anyone (peaceful protestors arrested for curfew and criminal looters) detained for over 24 hours given these are extraordinary times. “It’s a crisis within a crisis", he said. "All writs are denied, BK, BX and manhattan"
— Bryan Llenas (@BryanLlenas) June 4, 2020
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:
Civil liberties protect ourselves from governments using “crises” and “emergencies” as justification to dismantle our rights.
This is suspension of habeus corpus, it is unconstitutional, and it is deeply disturbing that both NYPD is seeking it and a judge rubber stamped it. https://t.co/t3K4EoNB6j
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 5, 2020
LAS senior staff attorney countered judge Burke’s decision:
“The NYPD has no excuses with its 38,000 police officers and the best technology in the world, with all the money they are being given. They have no excuse to not process them in a timely manner.”
We strongly disagree with this ruling.
As of 6 PM tonight, 160 NYers citywide remain in custody 24+ hours after their arrest, which is some progress, but 160 NYers too many.
We'll continue to monitor this situation and we are ready to appeal if necessary.https://t.co/QTN3KOWdcl
— The Legal Aid Society (@LegalAidNYC) June 4, 2020
If Trump gets another term, this is going to be the norm.
We will be in full-on autocracy.
It’s already knocking at a door creaked slightly open.
Every day it blows open just a little wider.