Posts Tagged ‘police use of force’

 

By John W. Whitehead
June 28, 2016

“Our carceral state banishes American citizens to a gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens… When the doors finally close and one finds oneself facing banishment to the carceral state—the years, the walls, the rules, the guards, the inmates—reactions vary. Some experience an intense sickening feeling. Others, a strong desire to sleep. Visions of suicide. A deep shame. A rage directed toward guards and other inmates. Utter disbelief. The incarcerated attempt to hold on to family and old social ties through phone calls and visitations. At first, friends and family do their best to keep up. But phone calls to prison are expensive, and many prisons are located far from one’s hometown… As the visits and phone calls diminish, the incarcerated begins to adjust to the fact that he or she is, indeed, a prisoner. New social ties are cultivated. New rules must be understood.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

In a carceral state—a.k.a. a prison state or a police state—there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches and probing eyes of government overlords.

In a carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite.

In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.

With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, “we the people”—the prisoners of the American police state—are being pushed that much further into a corner, our backs against the prison wall.

This concept of a carceral state in which we possess no rights except for that which the government grants on an as-needed basis is the only way I can begin to comprehend, let alone articulate, the irrational, surreal, topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass state of affairs that is being imposed upon us in America today.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we who pretend we are free are no different from those who spend their lives behind bars.

Indeed, we are experiencing much the same phenomenon that journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates ascribes to those who are banished to a “gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens” : a sickening feeling, a desire to sleep, hopelessness, shame, rage, disbelief, clinginess to the past and that which is familiar, and then eventually resignation and acceptance of our new “normal.”

All that we are experiencing—the sense of dread at what is coming down the pike, the desperation, the apathy about government corruption, the deeply divided partisanship, the carnivalesque political spectacles, the public displays of violence, the nostalgia for the past—are part of the dying refrain of an America that is fading fast.

No longer must the government obey the law.

Likewise, “we the people” are no longer shielded by the rule of law.

While the First Amendment—which gives us a voice—is being muzzled, the Fourth Amendment—which protects us from being bullied, badgered, beaten, broken and spied on by government agents—is being disemboweled.

For instance, in a recent 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for police to stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, effectively giving police a green light to embark on a fishing expedition of one’s person and property, rendering Americans completely vulnerable to the whims of any cop on the beat.

In a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the court for holding “that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.” Sotomayor continued:

This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants—so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact. That justification must provide specific reasons why the officer suspected you were breaking the law, but it may factor in your ethnicity, where you live, what you were wearing, and how you behaved. The officer does not even need to know which law you might have broken so long as he can later point to any possible infraction—even one that is minor, unrelated, or ambiguous.

The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal. The officer may next ask for your “consent” to inspect your bag or purse without telling you that you can decline. Regardless of your answer, he may order you to stand “helpless, perhaps facing a wall with [your] hands raised.” If the officer thinks you might be dangerous, he may then “frisk” you for weapons. This involves more than just a pat down. As onlookers pass by, the officer may “‘feel with sensitive fingers every portion of [your] body. A thorough search [may] be made of [your] arms and armpits, waistline and back, the groin and area about the testicles, and entire surface of the legs down to the feet.’”

If you still can’t read the writing on the wall, Sotomayor breaks it down further: “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong… So long as the target is one of the many millions of people in this country with an outstanding arrest warrant, anything the officer finds in a search is fair game for use in a criminal prosecution. The officer’s incentive to violate the Constitution thus increases…”

Just consider some of the many other ways in which the Fourth Amendment—which ensures that the government can’t harass you, let alone even investigate you, without probable cause—has been weakened and undermined by the courts, the legislatures and various government agencies and operatives.

Breath tests, blood draws: Americans have no protection against mandatory breathalyzer tests at a police checkpoint, although mandatory blood draws violate the Fourth Amendment (Birchfield v. North Dakota).

Ignorance of the law is defensible if you work for the government: Police officers who violate the law can be granted qualified immunity if they claim ignorance of the law (Heien v. North Carolina). That rationale was also applied to police who clearly used excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a pregnant woman during a routine traffic stop and were granted immunity from prosecution (Brooks v. City of Seattle).

Highspeed car chases: Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits (Plumhoff v. Rickard).

Noknock raids: Police can perform a “no-knock” as long as they have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular circumstances, would be dangerous or futile or give occupants a chance to destroy evidence of a crime (Richards v. Wisconsin). Legal ownership of a firearm is also enough to justify a no-knock raid by police (Quinn v. Texas).

Warrantless searches by police: Police can carry out warrantless searches on our homes based on a “reasonable” concern by police that a suspect (or occupant) might be attempting to destroy evidence, fleeing or hurt, even if it’s the wrong house (Kentucky v. King). Police can also, without a warrant, search anyone who has been lawfully arrested (United States v. Robinson) as well as their property post-arrest (Colorado v. Bertine) and their vehicle (New York v. Belton), search a car they suspect might contain evidence of a crime (Chambers v. Maroney), and search a home when the arrest is made on its premises (Maryland v. Buie).

Forced DNA extractions: Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime. Innocent or not, your DNA will then be stored in the national FBI database (Maryland v. King).

Strip searches: Police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense” (Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington). This “license to probe” is now being extended to roadside stops, as police officers throughout the country have begun performing roadside strip searches—some involving anal and vaginal probes—without any evidence of wrongdoing and without a warrant.

Seizures: For all intents and purposes, you’re “seized” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment from the moment an officer stops you (Brendlin v. California).

Search warrants on a leash: Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside (Florida v. Harris), but the use of a K-9 unit after a reasonable amount of time has passed during a stop does violate the Fourth Amendment (Rodriguez v. United States).

Police and DUI Checkpoints: Police can conduct sobriety and “information-seeking” checkpoints (Illinois v. Lidster and Mich. Dept of State Police v. Sitz).

Interrogating public transit passengers: Police officers are free to board a bus, question passengers, and ask for consent to search without notifying them of their right to refuse (U.S v. Drayton).

Warrantless arrests for minor criminal offenses: Police can arrest you for minor criminal offenses, such as a misdemeanor seatbelt violation, punishable only by a fine (Atwater v. City of Lago Vista).

Stop and identify: Refusing to answer when a policeman asks “What’s your name?” can rightfully be considered a crime. No longer do Americans, even those not charged with any crime, have the right to remain altogether silent when stopped and questioned by a police officer (Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada).

Traffic stops: As long as police have reasonable cause to believe that a traffic violation occurred, they may stop any vehicle (Whren v. U.S.). If probable cause justifies a vehicle search, then every part of the vehicle can be searched (U.S. v. Ross). A vehicle can be stopped even if the driver has not committed a traffic offense (U.S. v. Cortez).

Anonymous tips, careful driving, rigid posture and acne: Police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips (Navarette v. California). Police can also pull you over if you are driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, taking a scenic route, and have acne (U.S. v. Westhoven).

What many Americans fail to understand is the devastating amount of damage that can be done to one’s freedoms long before a case ever makes its way to court by government agents who are violating the Fourth Amendment at every turn. This is how freedoms, long undermined, can give way to tyranny through constant erosion and become part of the fabric of the police state through constant use.

Phone and email surveillance, databases for dissidents, threat assessments, terror watch lists, militarized police, SWAT team raids, security checkpoints, lockdowns, roadside strip searches: there was a time when any one of these encroachments on our Fourth Amendment rights would have roused the public to outrage. Today, such violations are shrugged off matter-of-factly by Americans who have been assiduously groomed to accept the intrusions of the police state into their private lives.

So when you hear about the FBI hacking into Americans’ computers without a warrant with the blessing of the courts, or states assembling and making public terror watch lists containing the names of those who are merely deemed suspicious, or the police knocking on the doors of activists in advance of political gatherings to ascertain their plans for future protests, or administrative government agencies (such as the FDA, Small Business Administration, Smithsonian, Social Security, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Mint, and Department of Education) spending millions on guns and ammunition, don’t just matter-of-factly file it away in that part of your brain reserved for things you may not like but over which you have no control.

It’s true that there may be little the average person can do to push back against the police state on a national level, but there remains some hope at the local level as long as we retain a speck of our independence and individuality—as long as we can resist the defeatist sense of double-consciousness (a phrase coined by W. E. B. Du Bois in which we view ourselves as inferior through the prism of our oppressors)—as long as we continue to cry out for justice for ourselves and those around us—as long as we refuse to be shackled and made prisoners—and as long as we continue to recognize that the only way the police state can truly acquire and retain power is if we relinquish it through our negligence, complacence and ignorance.

Unfortunately, we have been utterly brainwashed into believing the government’s propaganda and lies. Americans actually celebrate with perfect sincerity the anniversary of our independence from Great Britain without ever owning up to the fact that we are as oppressed now—more so, perhaps, thanks to advances in technology—than we ever were when Redcoats stormed through doorways and subjected colonists to the vagaries of a police state.

You see, by gradually whittling away at our freedoms—free speech, assembly, due process, privacy, etc.—the government has, in effect, liberated itself from its contractual agreement to respect our constitutional rights while resetting the calendar back to a time when we had no Bill of Rights to protect us from the long arm of the government.

Aided and abetted by the legislatures, the courts and Corporate America, the government has been busily rewriting the contract (a.k.a. the Constitution) that establishes the citizenry as the masters and agents of the government as the servants. We are now only as good as we are useful, and our usefulness is calculated on an economic scale by how much we are worth—in terms of profit and resale value—to our “owners.”

Under the new terms of this one-sided agreement, the government and its many operatives have all the privileges and rights and “we the prisoners” have none.

As Sotomayor concluded in her ringing dissent in Utah v. Strieff:

By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged. We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.

This commentary is also
available at www.rutherford.org.

h/t Wirecuter

Forget that “war on cops.” Unaffordable penalties, incompetent courts, and heavy-handed tactics are all evidence of an official assault on regular Americans.

 The cops raided my wife’s pediatric practice looking for a fugitive, last week.

Actually, let’s put the word “fugitive” in quotes. The story is an eye-opening tale in itself. It’s also a glimpse at how business-as-usual in courts and cop shops around the country screws with people’s lives and alienates the public from those who are allegedly their protectors.
My wife, Dr. Wendy Tuccille, was on her way to the office in Cottonwood, Arizona, when her phone rang. Frantic staff called to tell her that the clinic’s parking lot was full of cops, there to arrest one of her employees, C.H. (it’s a small town so we’ll stick with her initials), on an outstanding warrant.

When my wife arrived she found a gaggle of cops—12 to 15 she told me, some in battle jammies—in plain view at the rear corner of the building. The parking lot was full of police vehicles, in sight of families and children arriving to be seen and treated.
“Who’s in charge here?” she asked, demanding that they move the Fallujah reenactment out of view.
“We were already in the process of moving the vehicles at this time,” Cottonwood Detective Sergeant Tod Moore insisted in a statement to me. “It should be noted only 1 marked police unit was in the main parking lot area of the business.” (The clinic’s staff dispute that point.) Moore also claimed that only 10 officers were present. They included three detectives dressed in civilian clothes—and tactical vests—who arrived to initiate the arrest, joined by seven additional officers, including SWAT members, who transported another suspect with them on the trip to deliver the arrest warrant that the detectives hadn’t brought along.
C.H.’s crime? It was an eight-year-old “amended charge of 28-1381A1 DUI to the Slightest Degree,” according to Court Clerk and Associate Magistrate Anna M. Kirton. Kirton signed C.H.’s release order after my wife paid $1,300 to spare her employee 26 days in jail. More accurately, C.H. was arrested for making only partial payment of the fines and fees she’d been assessed, and for missing a court appointment that she never knew about.
“I was young and stupid,” C.H. told me about the day in 2008 when her 21-year-old self was pulled over for a broken license plate light. She and her friends had open beer bottles in the car, and a marijuana pipe that C.H. claims wasn’t hers, but which ended up in her purse. The original arrest, then, was for open containers and “drug paraphernalia,” which was pled down to an even lesser charge.
After a night in jail, C.H. went to court, only to discover that there was no record of her arrest or charge to face, so she was sent home.
Years later, she was pulled over again and arrested on the original charge after the court got its paperwork in order. As Kirton told me, “On January 19, 2011, the Defendant entered into a plea with the State. She plead guilty to an amended charge of 28-1381A1 DUI to the Slightest Degree, (13-3415A was dismissed per the plea).  She was sentenced to the mandatory minimum sentence required by law in the State of Arizona. Part of this sentence included fines and fees totaling $2005.00.”
Actually, that was all of the sentence—provided she made her payments.
That’s where things get a bit fuzzy. C.H. tells me she thought she paid in full. The court says otherwise. C.H. got married at that time, so things may have fallen through the cracks in the confusion. Court records show an official notice to C.H. returned because of a bad address on September 24, 2012 and a failure to appear recorded against her the next day. A warrant for her arrest was issued a week later.
The “bad address” in the court files is C.H.’s mother’s house. It was the first place the police looked for her last week, so they have it accurately recorded somewhere as the place to find her. That house stopped being her official mailing address sometime last year, but it remains a convenient place to contact her—it was her mom who told police about C.H.’s job.
For whatever reason, the court notice of a command appearance never reached C.H., she remained unaware that the county thought she still owed $1,300, and last week a small army showed up to collect.
For all of its drama, the arrest was nothing special, in itself—just part of a regular bureaucratic spring cleaning. In response to my (very pointed) query, Detective Sergeant Moore wrote, “a Verde Valley Wide Warrant Sweep was conducted by members of the Cottonwood Police Department to include SWAT Members, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, PANT [Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking], GIITEM [Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission], Camp Verde Marshall’s Office, Clarkdale Police Department, US Marshall’s Office and HSI [Homeland Security Investigations]. The purpose of this sweep was to try and reduce the large number of outstanding warrants currently held by the numerous agencies listed.”
But why the small army? (Neither the U.S.Marshals Service nor Homeland Security responded to queries by press time.)
“The teams were tasked to apprehend people who had a variety [of] offenses,” Cottonwood Patrol Division Commander Jody Makuch said in an email. “While we cannot predict the behavior of the people who fail to meet their obligations, we do have to be prepared for a worst case scenario to protect the public and the officers.”
They had a quota to meet, so they went with one-size-fits-all.

Read the rest here

Boise, ID – A mistrial was called in the case of police accountability activist Matthew Townsend, who faces a potential five-year prison sentence for writing a Facebook post critical of a Meridian, Idaho police officer who arrested him without justification. His new trial, which is scheduled for three days, will begin on February 29.

Trial Judge Lynn Norton prompted Assistant Ada County Prosecutor James Vogt to move for a mistrial during the opening argument of defense counsel Aaron Tribble after Townsend’s attorney mentioned that the original arrest involved an alleged jaywalking violation, and that Townsend is now charged with a felony for complaining about the arrest on Facebook.

As before Vogt stated the reasons for his objection, Norton instantly asked the prosecutor: “Are you going to move for a mistrial?” Tribble pointed out that the charge had been described as a felony, and that the size of the jury – fourteen panelists, evenly divided between male and female – made it clear that the offense being considered was a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. Vogt protested that the instructions to the jury do not permit them to be informed of, or take into account, potential sentencing options, and contended that they likewise “cannot take into account the degree of the offense.”

The Idaho Rules of Criminal Procedure do not address that question. Courtroom spectator A.J. Ellis, who recently served jury duty in neighboring Owyhee County, told The Free Thought Project that “during jury selection we were explicitly told that the case before us dealt with a misdemeanor offense.” Several trial attorneys contacted for comment by The Free Thought Project in multiple states likewise reported that a mistrial on the grounds cited by Vogt at Norton’s prompting struck them as a novelty.

Tribble’s opening argument was interrupted by objections no few than four times before Norton invited Vogt to move for a mistrial. Both the prosecutor and the clearly partisan trial judge (about whose previous behavior more will be said shortly) were visibly unhappy with Tribble’s presentation. He informed the jury that “I don’t think your time is going to be well served” by the trial, because the prosecution cannot prove a key element of the alleged offense. Specifically, that Townsend intended to prevent Corporal Richard Brockbank of the Meridian Police Department from testifying in the preliminary hearing on the misdemeanor charge.

There are nine elements to this offense,” Tribble pointed out to the jury. “The prosecution’s evidence addresses eight of them.” The ninth – intent – cannot be proven with the available evidence.

During his opening argument, Vogt repeatedly emphasized an artfully crafted and dishonestly cropped version of Townsend’s March 18, 2015 Facebook post:

Tomorrow, I go to pretrial at the Ada County Courthouse to claim that my charge of “resisting or obstructing” a supposed jaywalking investigation after Meridian Police Department – Idaho officer RICHARD BROCKBANK refused to charge me after I demanded that he charge me for the “crime” that he supposedly stopped me for, is terroristic in nature and in other ways unconstitutional and criminal.
The cop refused to charge me for said “crime” that he was accusing me of and so I walked away… and was soon after kidnapped and hauled away by several costumed State goons for my disrespect of officer Brockbank’s harassment towards me.
I’m hoping that the REAL reason I was harassed to begin with will be released by the State rather than I... we shall see. If my case isn’t dismissed tomorrow upon my request, I will begin a non-violent and legal shame campaign that will be remembered. HOA “upsets”, protests in the aggressors neighborhoods (I know where you all live- this is notification of knowledge and future protests, not a threat), mailers, door hangers, online ads, local and (hopefully) national media- I’ve done it before and I can do it again as well as other peaceful, but… annoying avenues will commence.
The State has 3 options: drop the charges and leave me alone; 2) Endure my non-violent retaliation (do you want to be the focus of my rage?); 3) Kill me and deal with those that know, love, and care about me. Make your choice.” (Emphasis added.)

That message was “tagged” to the Meridian Police Department, every media outlet in Boise, and – since Townsend didn’t know how to contact Corporal Brockbank directly – everyone with the surname “Brockbank” on Facebook.

Studiously avoiding Townsend’s explicit repudiation of violence or unlawful action, and the fact that this statement was directed not merely at Brockbank but the media, Vogt pretended that this was a direct threat to Officer Brockbank and his family. He did this by repeating, as if in a mantra: “I know where you all live … leave me alone or be the focus of my rage … kill me.”
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/idaho-activist-railroaded-court-jaywalking/#jSTQgH5AV2xUpRh0.99

“So you’re a Constitutionalist? We’ve had problems with this before!”

Long Valley, CA — Last month, the Feinman family was driving through a constitutionally questionable interstate checkpoint. This checkpoint is not on the US/Mexican border; it is along Highway 395N between California and Nevada.

When driving through these in-country checkpoints, you are not required to answer the agent’s questions (usually starting with “Are you a United States citizen?”). Nor are you required to consent to any searches.

As the Feinman’s drove through, they refused to be unlawfully searched, citing their 4th Amendment right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The agents, however, could have cared less about the Feinman’s rights, stating at one point that “this is my job.”

When the family refuses to back down, government force is escalated, and police officers are called in to violate the Feinmans even further.

As Mr. Feinman asserts his rights, he is threatened with being pulled out of the vehicle and having his children taken from him by CPS.

Mr. Feinman says he’d like to go, but these officers are determined to extort money from him (issue a citation) for flexing his rights. When he asks the cops if they swore an oath to defend the constitution, the cop asks, “So you’re a Constitutionalist?”

When Feinman confirms that he is a constitutionalist, the officer responds, “We’ve had problems with this before.”

At around the 13-minute mark, Feinman is issued an ultimatum, submit or have your window broken and we kidnap your entire family. During the process, these officers acted as if it were Feinman’s fault when all he was doing was refusing an illegal search.

Police acted as if some magical force compelled them to have to break the window and drag a family out of their vehicle. However, the fact of the matter is, they could have just let them travel freely.

Eventually, the window is smashed out, and all occupants were arrested, and the child was taken by CPS. According to the Feinman’s, they were then given an excessive bail amount to get out of jail.

This entire incident was over Mr. Feinman not wanting to be searched at the checkpoint. Referring to an illegal search as an “inspection” does not change the reality of the act.

What this video below highlights is the only tool the state has to force you to comply with their revenue generating and rights-violating police state measures — violent escalation. Comply or we kidnap, cage, or kill you.

After filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department (CPD), The Guardian has discovered over 3,600 people have been detained at a secure facility known as Homan Square. Notorious for allegedly denying access to defense attorneys and committing human rights abuses, the officers at this CIA-style black site have been accused of coercing confessions, committing torture, and shackling detainees for prolonged periods. Although the CPD has denied these accusations, the department has been marred with a history of abuse and corruption.

On February 24, The Guardian exposed a police detention facility in Chicago where arrestees were kept out of official booking databases, denied legal representation, and endured hours of physical and psychological abuse. After the CPD ignored several FOIA requests regarding their facility at Homan Square, The Guardian filed a lawsuit against the department in April requesting further information, including the number of people detained at Homan Square and video evidence of interrogations at the site.

The CPD has recently revealed that at least 3,621 people have been detained at Homan Square for crimes ranging from drinking in public to murder. Although Chicago’s population is 33% black and 32% white according to the 2010 U.S. census, over 82% of the disclosed Homan Square arrests consist of black residents. Only 8.5% of the detainees were white, while 6.7% were Hispanic.

“When I was a detective, occasionally I would arrest a white person,” recalled Lorenzo Davis, a former police detective who commanded a unit at Homan Square, “and the white detectives would be overly interested in why I was arresting someone white.”

According to the CPD, only three arrestees received visits from their lawyers between September 2004 and July 2015. In its investigation, The Guardian documented an additional eight times that attorneys were present at Homan Square. In four instances, lawyers accompanied their clients to Homan to turn themselves in to authorities. Two lawyers were allowed interviews with their clients, while in at least two other cases, attorneys assert that they were refused access to their clients.

In January 2013, Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid attempted to contact a client who had been detained at Homan Square. According to the attorney, officers changed her client’s name in the booking database before transferring him to the site at Homan Square. She finally located him after her client had been transported to a hospital with a head injury.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej recalled. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

In September 2013, Chicago attorney Julia Bartmes was denied access to a 15-year-old boy detained within the Homan Square facility. After interrogating the teenager for at least 12 hours, the CPD released her client without charges.

On May 16, 2012, the CPD arrested Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “NATO 3,” and detained him at Homan Square. Instead of entering Church’s arrest into an official booking database, officers reportedly left his wrist cuffed to a bench with his legs shackled together for approximately 17 hours. Denying him access to his attorney, the police repeatedly interrogated Church without informing him of his Miranda rights to remain silent. In April 2014, Church and his two co-defendants were convicted of possessing an incendiary device and misdemeanor mob action, but they were acquitted of the terrorism-related charges.

On October 20, 2012, CPD officers detained Angel Perez at Homan Square to convince him to turn into a police informant. According to a lawsuit filed by Perez, officers Jorge Lopez and Edmund Zablocki anally raped him with a gun to coerce his cooperation.

In September 2011, Jose Martinez was allegedly cuffed to a bench for nine hours at Homan Square without food, water, or the use of a restroom before being booked at an actual police station. In August 2006, Estephanie Martinez had to relieve herself in a Homan Square interrogation room when a guard repeatedly refused to take her to the bathroom. On February 6, Calvin Coffey defecated on the floor of an interrogation room after guards refused his requests to go to the bathroom for over two hours. According to his lawsuit, Coffey was ordered to clean it up with his skull cap.

Although the CPD denies any wrongdoing, the department has a history of torturing suspects in order to obtain false confessions. Between 1972 and 1991, Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men tortured hundreds of people to extract forced confessions from them. Convicted of perjury in 2010, Burge only spent four years in prison due to the fact that the statute of limitations prevents prosecutors from charging him and his fellow officers with multiple counts of torture. After costing Chicago and Cook County nearly $100 million in legal fees and settlements, Burge still receives a $4,000 monthly pension from the city.

Former Chicago homicide detective and Guantanamo Bay interrogator, Richard Zuley, was slapped with multiple lawsuits alleging he coerced confessions, threatened suspects’ family members, planted evidence, and committed torture. After retiring from the department, Zuley was assigned to interrogate Guantanamo detainee, Mohammedou Ould Slahi. According to Slahi’s testimony, Zuley tortured him, subjected him to mock executions, and threatened to bring Slahi’s mother to Guantanamo to rape her.

Since Rahm Emanuel assumed the office of mayor on May 16, 2011, at least 2,522 people have been detained at Homan Square. According to current police data, roughly 70% of the Homan Square detentions have taken place under Emanuel’s term. Additional FOIA requests have been filed requesting communications between the CPD and the mayor’s office regarding Homan Square.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/foia-lawsuit-reveals-3600-americans-detained-cia-style-black-site-homan-square/#BBbeVPjGiSrmw5Y3.99

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

– Martin Niemöller

It is natural, maybe even unavoidable, that one’s view of the world is based mostly on his own personal experiences. If you are white and living in an upscale suburban neighborhood, you may very well view police as friendly, professional and courteous. On the other hand, if you are black and live in a poor inner-city neighborhood, you are likely to view the police as just another dangerous street gang to fear and avoid.

The problem is not that either perception is “wrong.” The problem is that some people assume that their own experiences must match the experiences of everyone else. In middle-class white suburbia, it may usually be true that if you don’t cause trouble, the police won’t harass you (although that is becoming less and less true). So it is easy for such people to assume that if someone is being detained, arrested, or even physically assaulted by police, the person MUST have done something to deserve it. And predictably, this is the same viewpoint expressed by the well-paid, well-connected, and VERY well-controlled mainstream media.

But other people in other circumstances know and report a very different story, as many decades of rap illustrate (e.g., “Sound Of Da Police” by KRS-ONE).

However, recently there have been many stories of people who once believed in “law and order,” and who had faith in the “justice system” but have since learned the brutal reality of things. There have even been stories of black police officers being illegally harassed and detained when not in uniform.

The number of cases of police getting caught lying under oath, abusing suspects, planting evidence and falsifying reports may still surprise many, but they don’t surprise those for whom such injustice is a routine part of life. “They planted evidence!” “They got the wrong guy!” “The cop is lying!” or “I didn’t do anything!”

It’s easy for a spectator— especially one who has never been victimized by thugs in uniform—to assume that such claims are the desperate lies of criminals. But one day you may hear those words coming out of your own mouth knowing they are true, but also knowing that few people are going to believe your word over the word of those “brave men and women in blue.”

Despite the “protect and serve” rhetoric, the primary job of those who wear badges is to supply the politicians with money and power. Money by issuing citations for whatever technical infractions they can detect or fabricate, and power by punishing any who disobey the arbitrary commands of those in power.

Unfortunately, many of those who haven’t yet been victimized still imagine police to be the good guys. But how many “exceptions” make a rule? How many “bad apples” must be exposed before people recognize that the whole barrel is rotten? How many “isolated incidents” does it take for people to see the pattern?

When will people see that law enforcement is not just occasionally blemished by incidents of injustice, corruption and misconduct. Law enforcement IS injustice, corruption, and misconduct, sometimes legalized and sometimes not, but always excused and sanctioned by those who benefit from the racket. Those who have been on the receiving end of “the system” know this all too well, and the number of people in that category continues to grow.

On the bright side, this means that more and more people—even those well-off in upscale suburbia—are starting to learn the true, violent nature of government. It is not your friend. It is not your servant. It serves itself, and it does so at the expense of everyone else.

It may sound cliche, but the only way to have liberty and justice for anyone is to have liberty and justice for all. When whites stand up for blacks, blacks stand up for whites, rich stand up for poor and vice versa.

When decent people of all races, religions, cultures and backgrounds stand with each other against those who would oppress them—that is when violent oppression will end, and peace and justice will begin.

Denial is a powerful drug. It’s high time we get over the addiction.
Source- http://thefreethoughtproject.com/blacks-police-brutality-blacks-anymore/#kHe1hodrbWkpPQ8d.99

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Community leaders asked a judge on Tuesday to issue arrest warrants for two Cleveland policemen in the 2014 fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy carrying a replica handgun even as prosecutors mull charges against the officers.

* it was NOT a “replica handgun”-it was an Airsoft handgun with the orange safety tip removed

The move, a signal of distrust in the community toward the authorities handling the case, represents an attempt to bypass the local prosecutor’s office by using an obscure Ohio state law that allows citizens to request an arrest.

The two officers involved in the shooting are white and the boy, Tamir Rice, was black. This is one of a number of cases bringing fresh scrutiny to the issue of police use of force in the United States, particularly against minorities.

“Today, citizens are taking matters into their own hands utilizing the tools of democracy as an instrument of justice,” Olivet Institutional Baptist Church pastor Jawanza Colvin said in a statement.

Cleveland’s police department agreed last month on a plan to minimize racial bias and the use of excessive force after the U.S. Justice Department found a pattern of abuses against civilians by the local police.

Rice was shot outside a city recreation center last Nov. 22 while he played with a Airsoft-type replica handgun used in play combat.

Rookie police officer Timothy Loehmann fired at Rice twice within two seconds of arriving at the scene with his partner Frank Garmback in response to a 911 emergency call about a man with a gun outside the recreation center, according to authorities. The sixth-grader died the next day.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has said the evidence in the shooting will be presented to a grand jury to decide on whether to bring charges against Loehmann and Garmback after a county sheriff’s department completed its investigation last week.

Rice family lawyer Walter Madison said his clients were worried about the transfer of the case to the prosecutor in light of the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo in May in another case.

Brelo, who is white, was charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of a black man and a woman.

Those who will present citizens’ affidavits to a judge asserting “probable cause” in Rice’s death include a Case Western Reserve University professor and local clergy.

It was not clear whether the tactic will work. Joe Frolik, the local prosecutor’s spokesman, said Ohio’s constitution requires all felony charges be brought by a grand jury.

Baltimore, MD — A man was shot in the face after running away from Baltimore police Sunday morning. It was not indicated that the man hurt or threatened anyone in any way, but police officers were tipped off that he was in possession of a gun. The victim reportedly ran from police when they approached him, and he attempted to hide in a nearby garage.

The police have not given any details about what happened when officers entered the garage, aside from the fact that the victim was shot in the face, and that none of the officers were injured.

The victim, who still has yet to be identified. was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and listed in critical, but stable condition.

As the residents of Baltimore are still waiting for justice to be served in the murder of Freddie Gray, the police are still using excessive force on people engaging in non-violent actions. The war on drugs and the war on guns, have provided government agents with an excuse to criminalize vast portions of society, simply for carrying protection, or for making their own choices with their own bodies.

Meanwhile, violent crime in Baltimore has grown out of control as police divert all of their time and resources towards persecuting drug offenders since that provides an easier and more plentiful revenue stream. The blowback from the war on drugs creates a slew of problems from a violent black market, to gang violence, to contempt for law enforcement.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/baltimore-man-shot-face-running-police/#EQrpV7BXP2gLYxDF.99

via Wirecutter

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (CBS4)– The man whose home was destroyed during a standoff with police believes officers took extreme measures when they tried to capture the suspect.

“This is a para-military action, done by para-military thugs. This is not a police force,” said homeowner Leo Lech. “To blow holes in every side of this house for one suspect with a handgun.”

Robert Seacat was holed up in the Greenwood Village home for nearly 19 hours before officers were able to take him into custody on Thursday.

The home following the standoff (credit: CBS)

Lech is upset at how Greenwood Village police treated his home during the standoff that began Wednesday afternoon and ended about 9 a.m. Thursday. Seacat, 33, barricaded himself inside Lech’s home after seemingly running into it at random.

“If you look at the photos of Osama Bin Laden’s compound I would say his house looks better than mine does,” said Lech.

Mugshots Robert Jonathan Seacat from previous arrests

Mugshots Robert Jonathon Seacat from previous arrests (credit: Greenwood Village Police)

Lech does not agree with police tactics used that included a robot, explosives and a breaching ram that punctured exterior walls.

“The home is still a crime scene at this point,” said Matt Cohrs, Assistant to the City Manager of Greenwood Village.

According to police, just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday there was a shoplifting reported at a Walmart on East Hampden in Aurora. The suspect, believed to be Seacat, fled in a vehicle to a light rail station where he ditched the vehicle and was seen with a gun. Police attempted to chase him but were unsuccessful in apprehending him.

The home following the standoff (credit: CBS)

Police said Seacat somehow made his way to Greenwood Village where he entered Lech’s home with a 9-year-old boy inside. The boy managed to call 911, safely leave the home and was reunited with his mother. That’s when the standoff began.

Cohrs said they are working to determine who will be responsible for the home’s repairs.

“These incidents don’t happen every single day. Every incident is different and that’s why there’s a process that you follow and referring it to our insurance carrier already and beginning the work through that process,” said Cohrs.

Police sources at other local agencies told CBS4 that they too, would have used similar tactics to remove an armed suspect and that they didn’t feel the approach was excessive.

Those sources also said homes can be rebuilt but human lives cannot, whether its a police officer or a citizen.

Lech wants his home fixed but said some things cannot be repaired.

“There are things in there that can’t be replaced. You’ve destroyed a family’s life for nothing, absolutely nothing, due to poor decision making on the part of government officials,” said Lech.

Lech said his homeowner’s insurance company has warned him there is a small chance his policy won’t cover the damage because of a clause for “incompetent goverment” action.

Officers could be hesitant to draw their guns because doing so would result in more paperwork under the terms of the agreement, Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association president Steve Loomis said Wednesday. The agreement requires an officer to complete a report each time he or she points a gun at a suspect.

“It’s going to get somebody killed,” Loomis said. “There’s going to be a time when someone isn’t going to want to do that paperwork, so he’s going to keep that gun in its holster.”

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The head of the Cleveland police department’s patrol union said aspects of the agreement that mandates sweeping reforms to the city’s police department could put officers in danger.

Officers could be hesitant to draw their guns because doing so would result in more paperwork under the terms of the agreement, Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association president Steve Loomis said Wednesday. The agreement requires an officer to complete a report each time he or she points a gun at a suspect.

“It’s going to get somebody killed,” Loomis said. “There’s going to be a time when someone isn’t going to want to do that paperwork, so he’s going to keep that gun in its holster.”

Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled the agreement, known as a consent decree, Tuesday. It is meant to transform a police department that too often used excessive force and failed to conduct thorough internal investigations, according to an investigation by the Justice Department. The agreement will become legally binding once approved by a federal judge.

Loomis said he believes the 105 pages of reforms are a response to high-profile incidents that have happened nationwide, rather than to incidents that have happened in Cleveland, including the 2012 police chase that saw 13 officers fire at two unarmed people 137 times, the police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the death of a mentally ill woman after officers forced her to the ground.

“This is a political agenda,” he said. “This has nothing to do with the actions of the men and women of the Cleveland police department.”

Read the rest @ http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/05/union_head_says_aspects_of_cle.html#incart_m-rpt-1