more on site...
(sorry for the big link but I don't think they will mind)
A month ago I experienced a very small taste of what hundreds of South Asian immigrants and U.S. citizens of South Asian descent have gone through
since 9/11, and what thousands of others have come to fear. I was held, against my will and without warrant or cause, under the USA PATRIOT Act.
While I understand the need for some measure of security and precaution in times such as these, the manner in which this detention and interrogation
took place raises serious questions about police tactics and the safeguarding of civil liberties in times of war.
That night, March 20th, my roommate Asher and I were on our way to see the Broadway show "Rent." We had an hour to spare before curtain time so we
stopped into an Indian restaurant just off of Times Square in the heart of midtown. I have omitted the name of the restaurant so as not to subject the
owners to any further harassment or humiliation.
We helped ourselves to the buffet and then sat down to begin eating our dinner. I was just about to tell Asher how I'd eaten there before and how
delicious the vegetable curry was, but I never got a chance. All of a sudden, there was a terrible commotion and five NYPD in bulletproof vests
stormed down the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were pointing them indiscriminately at the restaurant staff and at us.
"Go to the back, go to the back of the restaurant," they yelled.
I hesitated, lost in my own panic.
"Did you not hear me, go to the back and sit down," they demanded.
I complied and looked around at the other patrons. There were eight men including the waiter, all of South Asian descent and ranging in age from
late-teens to senior citizen. One of the policemen pointed his gun point-blank in the face of the waiter and shouted: "Is there anyone else in the
restaurant?" The waiter, terrified, gestured to the kitchen.
The police placed their fingers on the triggers of their guns and kicked open the kitchen doors. Shouts emanated from the kitchen and a few seconds
later five Hispanic men were made to crawl out on their hands and knees, guns pointed at them.
After patting us all down, the five officers seated us at two tables. As they continued to kick open doors to closets and bathrooms with their fingers
glued to their triggers, no less than ten officers in suits emerged from the stairwell. Most of them sat in the back of the restaurant typing on their
laptop computers. Two of them walked over to our table and identified themselves as officers of the INS and Homeland Security Department.
I explained that we were just eating dinner and asked why we were being held. We were told by the INS agent that we would be released once they had
confirmation that we had no outstanding warrants and our immigration status was OK'd.
In pre-9/11 America, the legality of this would have been questionable. After all, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states: "The right of the
people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants
shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized."
"You have no right to hold us," Asher insisted.
"Yes, we have every right," responded one of the agents. "You are being held under the Patriot Act following suspicion under an internal Homeland
[Edited on 5-5-2003 by Netchicken]