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(photo ripped off Fernandez Lab's website)

Arun Wiita was photographing the NYC subway rails for his 10-day summer project. While on 207th St and 10th Ave, an NYPD officer stopped and asked him what he was doing. Listening to Wiita's explanation, the officers then asked to see the photos and some ID. Wiita complied by presenting the photos, a New Jersey driver's license and a Columbia University ID.

According to Wiita on Gothamist, "[the officer] said that since I didn't have a NY State ID he couldn't run my information over the radio, and he would have to take me into the station at 145th St to check it out "in front of his peers". He then asked me to turn around and put my hands behind my back and then he handcuffed me." Wiita was detained for 30 minutes.

According to Metro, "police sources said officers question people photographing the city’s rail infrastructure on rare occasions, citing instances in which law enforcement officials have identified men taking photographs of city bridges and subways as Iranian intelligence agents and suspected Pakistani terrorists who were stopped by police while taking pictures of the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges."

I Google stalked Wiita, finding out that he works at the Fernandez Lab and hopes to receive his MD/PhD by 2009. The dude's now working with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in filing a lawsuit against the NYPD, who he believes detained him for his "South Asian or Middle Eastern appearance".

Laura, our Social Chair who sent us the articles, made this comment: funny how the cops didn't even take up his columbia ID or call the school to verify or anything of that nature..? even though i bet he could check an out-of-state id. MMMM, (channeling phil yu) thats racist!

But after the last run-in with the NYPD, how can we be surprised?


  1. May said...

    this is really random, but i ran into this guy on the subway. He was with Khin from AALDEF, and they were continuing the project of photographing subway stations--this time, they made the East Asian guy do it, though.  

  2. David said...

    but then wouldn't he be suspected of being a chinese/north-korean spy???  

  3. skyxie said...

    Maybe they'll think Al Qaeda and North Korea are WORKING TOGETHER!

    I can't believe I just made a reference to a movie that has not yet come out.  


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