What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Police Guarding Barnes and Noble?

So I went into Barnes and Noble the other day and was surprised to see two uniformed police officers in the store.  I thought at first that it was simply a guy shopping on a break.  Then I saw the second one and later approached them both when they were together.  I asked if they were specifically guarding Barnes and Noble.  They explained that they were on their day off and that they did this work on the side to make some extra cash.  I questioned the uniforms and they said that the department said they were allowed to wear the uniforms for the work.  They were kind of vague and trying to pander to the, "hey, we don't make enough money, you know, gotta get it somewhere."

Now fast forward a couple days and I'm in another Barnes and Nobles and there is another cop there in uniform guarding the place.  I asked him as well and got a bit more information.  Seems the department gets something out of it.  Some kind of money or something?  It was vague, but I have some serious questions about this here.

So lets rewind this whole thing now and put it into context.  For all intents and purposes, to the innocent onlooker, Barnes and Noble is protected by the New York Police Department.  They even don't bother hiring some crappy security firm, no they go all out and get the NYPD, uniforms, guns, and all.  WHAT!?!?!  I must admit this needs a little more research here, but that is NOT right as far as I'm concerned.  That is a private company that is being protected by the police, i.e. a private corporate interest being protected by the state, i.e. tax payer money being used to protect Barnes and Noble.  Granted Barnes and Noble is paying the officers personally, but where do those uniforms come from?  Who pays for them?  Who pays for their training?  And most importantly, what kind of message does that send?!  It tells me and anyone that doesn't think to ask that the state is willing to use their own means and mechanisms to protect corporate and private interests.  This of course is what we have been saying down at Occupy for months.  We are treated differently in security terms, the police crack down on the protests in disproportionate and hypocritical ways as per Bloomberg's dictate of the day - including in the protection of private property and interests - and now the NYPD is visibly protecting a private retail chain?  I think it is absolutely appalling, but not even remotely surprising.  yes, if the individuals want to do it on their own free time, and they want to wear whatever rent-a-cop uniform B&N has them wear, then so be it.  But full on NYPD uniforms?  Guns, badges, batons and all?  No way.  That's wrong on so many levels.  The state should not be protecting private corporate interests. 

(Oh wait, that is actually exactly what the modern capitalist state does... foreign policy, economic policy, bank bailouts, student loans, NAFTA, imperialism, structural adjustment programs..... all designed to promote national (or really the private interests of members of those nations) both domestically and abroad.... ..........sigh.......... shaking my head...) 

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