Police shooting unarmed people, mostly people of color and the mentally disturbed, is not new. It’s been going on for years but with the advent of social media the world is now paying attention to America’s problem with its police. But it’s not as simple as a few bad apples. There are much deeper problems …
Oct 03 2016
Feb 05 2015
Bridgeport PD eyes driving simulators
by Brian Lockhart, CT Post February 1, 2015
Police Chief Joseph Gaudett is hoping a roughly $125,000 investment in a driving simulator can reduce those costs and the risks the men and women under his command face when on the road.
“If it helps prevent one serious accident that injures an officer or member of the community, then it is money well spent,” Gaudett said.
The day after he mentioned the idea to council members earlier this month, the chief appeared in court. He is being sued by a Bridgeport couple who claim that in 2010 Gaudett crashed his city-owned Cadillac Escalade into their car while he was on his cellphone.
Dec 07 2014
Reposted from Wednesday. The night before Thanksgiving is not the best time to post. ;-
After marching for about 4 hours and being on the front line when the police confronted the protesters and having only 6 hours of sleep, I’m exhausted. Still, I have all these random thoughts going through my head this morning as I process both what I directly experienced last night and the social commentary I’ve read since then. This may ramble or be disjointed. It may also be raw, unclear or not fully thought out. I’m seeing it as a snapshot into a frame of mind and body after a highly charged event. Nuggets to, perhaps, spark dialogue or lead to further exploration. I want to see what comes out in hopes of not losing any particularly valuable nuggets. So, here goes….
Dec 03 2014
I have 3 articles for you loosely related to Ferguson via racism, protest, and police murders.
The first is a law I think all states should have, in addition to police having to wear cameras that are on when they are on duty.
It took six years to get our wrongful death lawsuit settled, and my family received $1.75 million. But I wasn’t satisfied by a long shot. I used my entire portion of that money and much more of my own to continue a campaign for more police accountability. I wanted to change things for everyone else, so no one else would ever have to go through what I did. We did our research: In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified. There was one shooting we found, in 2005, that was ruled justified by the department and an inquest, but additional evidence provided by citizens caused the DA to charge the officer. The city of Milwaukee settled with a confidentiality agreement and the facts of that sealed. The officer involved committed suicide.
Aug 24 2014
… Occupation Is A Crime!” – chant being heard from protesters in Ferguson and at solidarity rallies around the nation.
Author’s Note: The Anti-Capitalist Meetup group felt that this is such an important subject that we decided to have me re-post an updated/more fleshed-out version of a diary I had already posted. I was wary due to the tenacious accusations of Anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to suggest that we relate to Palestinians as people. Still, that’s a First World problem. I have agreed to take that risk, again.
In a recent diary, a commenter expressed frustration when a conversation about the racism and tyrannical force being displayed in Ferguson prompted someone to bring up the Palestinians. The complaint was along the lines of “can we please just focus?”
I responded that many of my friends who are not White are quick to make the connection between what they experience here and what is happening in Gaza. Many of us see the linkage. Focusing actually means getting everybody to see that linkage and build solidarity.
The people in Ferguson have already made the linkage:
Did everyone else catch when protesters chanted “From St Louis to #Gaza end the occupation” because that was some powerful shit. #Ferguson
Jun 26 2014
The US Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the police need a warrant to search the contents of cellphones seized from people they have arrested.
The opinion of the court, delivered by chief justice John Roberts, recognised that many owners of modern cellphones “keep on their person a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives”, which may disclose a uniquely large volume of personal information if searched.
“Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience,” Roberts wrote. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life.
Reading his ruling from the bench, Roberts went on: “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple – get a warrant.”
As with the court’s ruling earlier this year limiting the use of GPS tracking by police, this is quite a victory for privacy in the modern age an the Fourth Amendment.
Feb 15 2014
The Philadelphia police have a new policy intended to eliminate the divide between the the city’s transgender citizens and the people sworn to protect them.
Historically police the world over have tended to use the wrong honorific (sir instead of ma’am or vice versa) and/or have declined to use our adopted names.
It’s enough to put fear into you or make you feel uncomfortable or uninvited.
–Samantha Dato, director of Philadelphia’s Trans Health Conference
The new policy, formally called Directive 152, was originally announced in December and addresses how officers will interact with transpeople and the housing, transportation, and processing of transgender inmates. It also addresses how to speak with reporters about transgender offenders or victims of crime.
In cases where a transgender victim has died, the policy states officers should “use pronouns and titles of respect appropriate to the individual’s gender identity as expressed by the individual.”
We were vulnerable because we had no real policy in place.
–Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey
For officers to start addressing people with their proper pronoun, that to me is totally amazing. I do want to see them come through with this.
It is amazing to me that we would be amazed at being treated respectfully. People should not get Brownie Points for not being rude.
Dec 08 2013
LEFT UNITY HAS BEEN CREATED! Yes, this is the new political party, not necessarily the reality of “Left Unity” itself. Like all births, it is never easy. But it has the possibility of actually changing electoral politics in Britain. And like all births, it should be recorded.
Tonight’s piece covers a piece of news, some coverage of the student occupations in Britain including two petitions in response to the actions of the universities to these occupations, and a short homage to Nelson Mandela and the endless hypocrisy of our mainstream politicians.
While, of course, the justifications for permanent austerity under the Tories and the pensionable age being shifted to 70 and tax breaks for married people whose earnings were over a certain level, while somehow continuing impoverishment of the majority were sort of glossed over (really if impoverishment of the majority is required for your system, wouldn’t you start to raise the obvious point that the system is NOT worth it?) were found all over the BBC following the Autumn Statement of Minister of the Exchequer, George Osborne, many things that should have been said never quite made it to the news of the BBC. Given that they have a 24-7 news channel; surely a few moments could have been spared from their extensive scheduling.
Jan 08 2013
Sometimes more reasonable adults need to be in charge.
Flipping Off Police Officers Constitutional, Federal Court Affirms
by Ryan J. Reilly
WASHINGTON — A police officer can’t pull you over and arrest you just because you gave him the finger, a federal appeals court declared Thursday.
In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled (pdf) that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”
Now if we only had them in schools
Terror Tots III: Maryland Student Suspended For Use Of Finger Gun
by Jonathan Turley
We have previously seen absurd examples of disciplinary actions taken under zero tolerance rules for drugs and guns (here and here and here). This includes cases involving kids using finger guns (here). Now Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Montgomery County has joined these ranks by suspending a six-year-old boy for making a finger gun with his hand and saying “Pow.”
OK? Or Overkill?
Nov 30 2012
The latest efforts by state authorities to protect the police who abuse their authority has been dealt a blow by the US Supreme Court. From the Chicago Tribune:
The Supreme Court refused on Monday to revive a controversial Illinois law that prohibited audio recordings of police officers acting in public places, a ban that critics said violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Without comment, the court on Monday let stand a May 8 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that blocked enforcement of the law, which had made it a felony to record audio of conversations unless all parties consented.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 7th Circuit called the law “the broadest of its kind,” and said it likely violated the free speech and free press guarantees in the First Amendment.
“After the Rodney King beating, Chicago police decided to use an old anti-eavesdropping law to protect themselves-a law which basically made it a felony to record a conversation unless all parties agree to be recorded,” said O’Donnell, giving part of the back-story. “That, in effect, meant you couldn’t shoot video of Chicago police because, of course, video recording normally includes sound.” [..]
“The good police officers in this country, which is to say most of the police officers in this country, have no problem with the Supreme Court’s decision this week,” said O’Donnell. “Thanks to federal judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, some Chicago cops-the bad ones-have something new to fear, tonight: your video camera.”
As a native Chicagoan, I remain astonished that citizens have allowed Alvarez to remain in office as she has publicly sought to strip them of their rights and block a tool that has been used repeatedly to show police abuse. For a leading and generally liberal jurisdiction, Chicago has the ignominy and dishonor of leading the effort to fight core civil liberties in this area. [..]
It is otherworldly to see these abuses occurring in two usually progressive jurisdictions of California and Illinois. Alvarez has become the leader of this rogue’s gallery of prosecutors who have strived to jail their own citizens for monitoring police in public. It is, to put it bluntly, a disgrace. While Alvarez failed in her latest bid, she and other prosecutors remain undeterred in their desire to see citizens punished for such videotapes – tapes that have featured prominently in establishing false arrests and police abuse. Before such filming, abuse claims were overwhelmingly rejected with the denials of the officers. Now, there is often undeniable proof – proof that Alvarez and others want barred under the threat of criminal prosecution.
Prof. Turley also points out that the trend to protect bad police is not over:
We have been discussing the continued effort of prosecutors and police to jail citizens who photograph or videotape police in public. For a prior column, click here. Now, in California, another such arrest has been videotaped in California as Daniel J. Saulmon was charged with resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer when the video shows him standing at a distance and not interfering in any way with the arrest.
The officer immediately demanded to know what Saulmon is doing when it is obvious, as Saulmon indicates, that he is filming the scene. Saulmon states that he does not want to speak to the officer when asked for his identification and the officer immediately puts him under arrest. Ironically, the officer then tells him that he doesn’t need any identification since that will be handled at the booking. [..]
Saulmon reportedly spent days in jail. Such jailings serve as a deterrent for abusive police officers since few citizens want to face such incarceration as well as the cost of defending against criminal charges. Even when later thrown out (which often happen to such charges), the message is sent and the officers are rarely disciplined. I have little doubt that this case will be thrown out. The question is whether people in California will demand action to discipline the officer, who swore to charges that are clearly invalid and abusive.
And these cases from Maryland and Massachusetts
In Maryland in July, Anthony Graber got a well-deserved speeding ticket, but his real mistake was posting footage from his motorcycle helmet-cam on YouTube. It showed an irate off-duty, out-of-uniform officer pulling him over with his gun drawn. Prosecutors obtained a grand jury indictment against Graber on felony wiretap charges, which carry a 16-year prison sentence.
In Boston in August, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unambiguously that the Constitution protects citizen videographers filming in public. In that case, attorney Simon Glik was walking past the Boston Common on Oct. 1, 2007, when he came upon three Boston officers arresting a man. Glik turned on his cellphone camera after hearing a witness say the police were being abusive. An officer told Glik to turn off his camera. When Glik refused, he was arrested for violation of the state wiretap statute, disturbing the peace and, for good measure, aiding in the escape of a prisoner.
The charges were dismissed after a public outcry, but in a later civil rights case, city attorneys fought to deny citizens the right to videotape police. The court rejected Boston’s arguments and found that the police had denied Glik his 1st and 4th Amendment rights.
Score one for the 1st and 4th Amendments.
Nov 18 2012
About 5,000 police officers marched through the centre of Madrid on Saturday to protest salary cuts and the thinning of their ranks as Spain grapples with its sovereign debt crisis.
The officers, who had travelled from across Spain. rallied three days after the nation was gripped by a general strike over the austerity cuts. Health and education workers have already taken part in similar marches.
“Citizens! Forgive us for not arresting those truly responsible for this crisis: bankers and politicians,” read one banner held aloft by a line of officers as they marched to the interior ministry.
Let’s face it: That’s a big step from this:
These patterns will repeat across the US, as the crisis moves from periphery to core, so this is a good portent.
Nov 20 2011
November 18th on the Quad at University of California, Davis:
A friend sent me the video. Perhaps because it was my alma mater. It opens on a damp, leaden day, so typical of Northern California in November. Yet, the weather has not deadened the mood of the students on the quad.
The police have come to evict their occupation. The students respond to the dismantling of their encampment by sitting in a wide circle around the officers. They sit with their heads bowed and their backs to the cops destroying their camp. Nothing more than that, just sitting with arms linked. The officers pass through the ring and the students make no effort to stop them. A crowd gathers to watch.
Some officers attempt to remove students from the ring and drag them away. The police seem compelled to force any behavior not scripted for us into submission with force. They never seem to ask themselves if the behavior is dangerous, or if it even matters to their mission. What would happen if the police simply ignored the ring of protestors sitting around them? But the people in the ring are saying “no” to authority with their bodies and that can not be allowed.
The commanding officer waves his men off the protesters. He crosses the ring to spray the entire line of students in the face with pepper spray. He does this with a casual air of a man spraying an insect. Batons are used to pry people apart. Police force the protesters to the ground and kneel on their backs to cuff them.