The American Police State

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

After 9/11, many of us raised our voices in protest over the passage of the Patriot Act and the radical policies of the Bush/Cheney regime that are still a threat to American civil liberties and violations of the laws of this country. One of the most frightening aspects of the nebulous “war on terror’ has been the militarization of civilian police departments across the country and the increased violence and brutality of police officers against unarmed civilians. Increased and unchecked police abuse became evident in New York City and Oakland, California last fall with the brutal tactics used to end the Occupy Wall St. protests.

Now, in Anaheim, California, the same abusive tactics are being used against peaceful protests over the police shooting of an unarmed Latino man on July 20 that has triggered massive protests and another overreaction by the police to the unarmed civilian protests. Manuel Diaz, 25, and, according to the Anaheim police, a know gang member, was shot in the back and left to bleed in the street after fleeing the police. He was unarmed. The police reaction to the gathering crowds are well documented by cell phone videos and the local TV station. The police fired rubber bullets and bean bas at women and children and allowed a police dog to attack a child in a stroller, letting the dog attack the parents as they attempted to protect their child. All of these people are residents of the neighborhood where Diaz was shot.

It may have been the eight such incident this year in the home of Disneyland but it an exampled of a growing number of police shootings and brutal tactics that is becoming routine in “less white” America. In an article at Tomdispatch, Stephan Salisbury analyzes the Diaz and other shootings, who is being killed and at risk, in what numbers and how post 9/11 funding has made matters worse:

Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security has allocated $30 to $40 billion to local police for all manner of training programs and equipment upgrades. Other federal funding has also been freely dispensed.

Yet for all the beefing up of post-9/11 visual surveillance, communications, and Internet-monitoring capabilities, for all the easing of laws governing searches and wiretaps, law enforcement authorities failed to pick up on the multiple weapons purchases, the massive Internet ammo buys, and the numerous package deliveries to the dark apartment in the building on Paris Street where preparations for the Aurora massacre took place for months.

Orange County, where Manuel Diaz lived, now has a fleet of seven armored vehicles. SWAT officers turn out in 30 to 40 pounds of gear, including ballistic helmets, safety goggles, radio headsets with microphones, bulletproof vests, flash bangs, smoke canisters, and loads of ammunition. The Anaheim police and other area departments are networked by countywide Wi-Fi. They run their own intelligence collection and dissemination center. They are linked to surveillance helicopters.

In a study (pdf) conducted by  the Global Justice Clinic at New York University’s School of Law and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at Fordham Law School, the New York City Police Department was found to have ‘consistently violated basic rights’ during the Occupy Wall Street protests and showed a ‘shocking level of impunity’:

The study details the increasingly common practices of “excessive police use of force against protesters, bystanders, journalists, and legal observers; constant obstructions of media freedoms, including arrests of journalists; unjustified and sometimes violent closure of public space, dispersal of peaceful assemblies, and corralling and trapping protesters en masse,” the report states. [..]

The report is the first section of a several part series covering police response to Occupy protests in cities around the US, revealing a national epidemic abusive of power. [..]

The report claims the NYPD has also violated international human rights law, stating:

“Full respect for assembly and expression rights is necessary for democratic participation, the exchange of ideas, and for securing positive social reform. The rights are guaranteed in

international law binding upon the United States. Yet U.S. authorities have engaged in persistent breaches of protest rights since the start of Occupy Wall Street.”

In her last program at RT network, Alyona Minkovski discussed the aspects police state issues with FDL‘s founder, Jane Hamsher and Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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