Tale of a Pointless New York City Trespassing Arrest


New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer writes about the “pointless arrest” of Samantha Zucker, 21, of Pittsburgh, for not having identification when she was in a public park after its 1 a.m. closing hour. Zucker was handcuffed, and during the next 36 hours, was moved from a cell in a station house in Manhattan’s Harlem area to Lower Manhattan and then, because one officer was ending a shift before she could be photographed for her court appearance, was brought back to Harlem.

There she waited in a cell until a pair of fresh police officers were rustled up to bring her back downtown for booking, where she spent a second night in custody. The judge proceeded to dismiss the ticket in less than a minute. Dwyer calls cases like this a “staggering waste of spirit, the squandering of public resources, the follies disguised as crime-fighting.” Some 40,000 people each year — the vast majority young black and Latino men — are fed like widgets onto a conveyor belt of arrest, booking, and court, after being told to empty their pockets and thus commit the misdemeanor of “open display” of marijuana, Dwyer says, concluding that, “Such arrests are a drain on the human economy.”

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