10 Outrageous Tactics the Police Are Using and getting Away With

This is a recent article by John Knefel that first appeared in Alternet... It’s called 10 Outrageous Tactics Cops Get Away With. This will probably be one of the most sobering and important pieces you read all year.. I hope folks will take heed and truly understand whats happening right now.. There’s been a serious power grab right before us and very little push back, because folks are distracted or feel it won’t happen to them. many others have grown cynical and see the possibility of change as useless.. Whats useless is believing you can’t change things.. The first step in that is awareness followed by action.. That actions takes many forms.. It ranges from organizing and advocating to voting to harsh refusals to allow business to go on as usual..

As you are reading the article, below you may want to listen to this speech given in August 2008 by former political prisoner and Black Panther Dhoruba Bin Wahad, where he talks about the rise of the police state..

Below is the article explaining whats going on..

-Davey D-

Oaklandpolice-225Talk to someone who has never dealt with the cops about police behaving badly, and he or she will inevitably say, “But they can’t do that! Can they?” The question of what the cops can or can’t do is natural enough for someone who never deals with cops, especially if their inexperience is due to class and/or race privilege. But a public defender would describe that question as naïve. In short, the cops can do almost anything they want, and often the most maddening tactics are actually completely legal.

There are many reasons for this, but three historical developments stand out: the war on drugs provided the template for social control based on race; 9/11 gave federal and local officials the opportunity to ensnare Muslims (and activists) in the ever-increasing surveillance and incarceration state; and a lack of concern from the public at large means these tactics can be applied, often controversy-free, to anyone who resists them.

What follows are 10 of the innumerable tactics the police can use against a population often incapable of constraining their behavior
Police spy1. Infiltration, informants and monitoring. The NYPD’s Demographics Unit has engaged in a massive surveillance program directed at Muslims throughout the entire Northeast region, ignoring any jurisdictional limitations and acting as a secret police and intelligence gathering agency – a regional FBI of sorts. The AP’s award-winning reports [3] on the Demographics Unit helped bring some information about the program to light, including the revelation that its efforts have resulted in exactly zero terrorism leads. [4]

Although a lawsuit from 1971, the Handschu case, [4] “resulted in federal guidelines that prohibit the NYPD from collecting information about political speech unless it is related to potential terrorism,” legal experts worry that privacy rights have been so diminished that Muslims who are spied on may not be able to seek recourse. The AP quoted [5] Donna Lieberman in November 2011, who said, “It’s really not clear that people can do anything if they’ve been subjected to unlawful surveillance anymore.”

Muslims are not the only group that has been targeted. The AP reported [6] that the NYPD has also infiltrated liberal groups and protest organizers. Other cases of entrapment of activists, such as the NATO 5 [7] and the Cleveland 5, are also troubling. [8]

2. Warrantless home surveillance. Just in case you still think there must be some limit on how the authorities can surveil you, there’s this — a federal agency, not the police, but the larger point stands. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that it is legal for a law enforcement agent [9] to enter your house and videotape you without your consent. The case, United States v. Wahchumwah, revolved around a U.S. Fish and Wildlife undercover agent who recorded Wahchumwah without a warrant. The Ninth Circuit found the search to be “voluntary,” which led the EFF to write on its Web site: “The sad truth is that as technology continues to advance, surveillance becomes ‘voluntary’ only by virtue of the fact we live in a modern society where technology is becoming cheaper, easier and more invasive.”

The Ninth Circuit isn’t the only one who thinks warrantless video surveillance is perfectly OK. [10]

“CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge William Griesbach [11] ruled that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission — and without a warrant — to install multiple ‘covert digital surveillance cameras’ in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana plants were being grown.”

During the Bush years, Congress had to grant retroactive immunity to giant telecoms that engaged in warrantless wiretapping. It seems, the judicial branch wants to save Congress the trouble.

riot-police_9-2-083. Preemptive visits and harassment. One of the favorite tactics of police departments is targeting activists a day before a large event. We saw this on May Day in New York City, as cops descended on several activists’ apartments before the day of action, [12] and in Chicago before the massive No NATO protests. [13] The Cleveland 5 were also arrested before May Day, and back in 2008 the RNC8 were also preemptively arrested. [7]

4. Creating call logs from stolen phones. If you lose your phone in NYC and report it to the police, they’ll help you find it. So far, so good. Where the agreement turns pear-shaped, however, is what they do with your call logs. The NYPD subpoenas your call log from the day it was stolen onward, under the logic that the records could help find your phone.

But — and here’s the kicker — they get info for the calls you made on the day it was swiped, and possibly even info from your new cell phone if you keep your number. The information is added to a database called the Enterprise Case Management System, and the numbers are hyperlinked for cross-referencing. The call logs, all obtained without a court order and often without the victim’s permission or knowledge, could “conceivably be used for any investigative purpose,” according to the New York Times. [14]

5. Consent searches. Sometimes a cop gives you a command, but phrases it as a question, like, “Would you open your bag so I can look inside?” If you’re anything like the vast majority of people in the United States, you have no idea that you’re under no lawful obligation to answer in the affirmative. You can, legally speaking, ask if you are being detained, and if the answer is no, you are free to walk away. Or at the very least, not open your bag.

Cops are aware that they can intimidate someone they decide to search, and once they obtain “consent” – e.g. “Yes, man with a gun who is towering over me, you can look in my bag” – any evidence of criminality they find can be used in court. This method of searching people was developed, like several other tactics on this list, during the early 1980s when the Reagan administration ramped up the so-called war on drugs.

Many critics argue that the very idea of a “consensual” interaction between police and the public is impossible, if the police initiate contact. As Justin Peters writes [15], “[Police] know the average person doesn’t feel they’re in a position to decline a conversation with a cop.” A common tactic [16] is for officers to say they’ll let someone off with a warning, then proceed to ask a bunch of questions, even though the person is technically free to go.

Police-stopandfrisk-blue6. Stop and frisk. You’ve probably heard about stop and frisk by now, but for years this odious tactic – and close cousin to consent searches – went woefully underreported in establishment media. The NYCLU released staggering statistics for the year 2011 detailing the massive size of the program in New York City. One particularly memorable figure was that the NYPD stopped more young men of color than there are men of color in NYC. [17] (More information at stopmassincarceration.org [18].)
7. Pretext stops (Operation Pipeline). The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that cops are free to use minor traffic violations as a pretext to pull over people they suspect of committing drug crimes. Once pulled over, the police obtain “consent” – “Would you get out of the car and empty your pockets?” – and can go on fishing expeditions.

In the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ohio v. Robinette, “The Court made clear to all lower courts that, from now on, the Fourth Amendment should place no meaningful constraints on the police in the War on Drugs,” writes Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow. The Court determined [19] that cops don’t have to tell motorists they’re free to leave before getting “permission” to search their car.

In the mid-1980s, the DEA rolled out Operation Pipeline, a federal program that trained city cops in the shady art of leveraging pretext stops into consent searches. The discretionary nature of many of these searches resulted in massive amounts of racial profiling, so much so that some officials say [20] “the reason racial profiling is a national problem is that it was initiated, and in many ways encouraged, by the federal government’s war on drugs.”

8. Police dogs. Don’t consent to cops searching your bag? If you’re in a car or an airport, police can bring in the dogs to smell your stuff, and if the dog responds, they have probable cause to search you without your consent. “The Supreme Court has ruled that walking a drug-sniffing dog around someone’s vehicle (or someone’s luggage) does not constitute a ‘search,’ and therefore does not trigger Fourth Amendment scrutiny,” Michelle Alexander writes.

But if a dog barks or sits, shouldn’t we be comfortable with that triggering probable cause? Radley Balko has reported on the phenomenon of drug dogs giving false positives after reading cues from their handlers [16]:

The problem isn’t that the dogs aren’t capable of picking up the scent; it’s that dogs have been bred to please and interact with humans. A dog can easily be manipulated to alert whenever needed. But even with conscientious cops, a dog without the proper training may pick up on its handler’s body language and alert whenever it detects its handler is suspicious.

This is called the “Clever Hans effect,” [21] named after the horse who could do arithmetic by tapping his hoof. In reality, the horse could recognize the shift in his owner’s body language when he had arrived at the right number.

Drones police 9. Surveillance drones. The drones are coming, and the few illusions of privacy we cling to will soon disappear. The domestic market for drones in the next decade is estimated in the billions, [22] and police departments are chomping at the bit to implement this new technology. Drones already patrol the US-Mexico border, [23] and cities such as Seattle are moving toward using surveillance drones [24]. In August, a North Dakota court ruled [25] that the first-ever drone-assisted arrest was perfectly legal.

In our ever more authoritarian society, [26] expect politicians and the lobbyists who fund their campaigns to justify increased incursions into privacy in the name of security. The short-term incentives to value privacy have been all but forgotten, as “if you’re not doing anything wrong you’ve got nothing to fear” has gone from self-evidently absurd cliché to national motto.

10. Enlist the private sector. The comedian Chris Laker says of privatization: “You can’t privatize everything. Learned that from RoboCop.” But it seems police departments haven’t learned that lesson. In Arizona, police enlisted the help of the Corrections Corporation of America, a private, for-profit prison corporation, in a drug sweep of a public school. PRWatch reports: [27]

“To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schools-to-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director of the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organization that advocates for criminal justice reform.

fuck-the-police-occupy-oakland-marchThe privatization of nearly all aspects of public life, from education to law enforcement, is a trend we should all find disturbing, not least of all when a company that profits from locking humans in cages is directly involved in the arrest process.

The larger point here is obvious. In the last decade, the Bill of Rights has been shredded at the federal level and the local level. There are few constraints on police, FBI, NSA, and private intelligence companies when it comes to surveillance of the public. That many of these programs and tactics are discretionary exacerbates and magnifies conscious and subconscious racist and classist attitudes among those who carry them out.

written by John Knefel of Alternet


In the Wake of Recent Fed Raids in Oakland-There’s Lots to Reflect About this 4-20

Here in Northern Cali when the date 4:20 rolls around (no pun intended), many stick their chest out with pride and they celebrate. For one, Northern Cali is supposed to be home to some of the best strains of weed (cannabis ) on the planet.. I can’t personally attest to this, because I’ve never smoked in my life, but judging from the enthusiasm and constant visits on and off tour by artists from other parts of the country, I have no doubt about the assertions.

second, In recent years 4:20 has taken on heightened importance because California has been a state leading the way to legalizing weed. Here in Oakland, this has been ground zero. It’s home to numerous cannabis clubs which work in partnership with the city. There’s a world-renowned University called Oaksterdam where folks learn how to grow and cultivate…

The conversation in Northern Cali, Oakland in particular has long moved from, how high one can get, to serious discussions about the economy, agriculture and agribusiness, the failed war on drugs, the prison industrial complex, the healthcare system and healthcare practices and how the legalization of weed can impact these aforementioned areas. The conversation has turned away from ‘where to buy’ and ‘where to sell’ to studying farming, irrigation and growing techniques and the pros and cons of creating new strains of the cannabis plant. In short weed was not just some of seedy, back alley ‘gateway’ drug as some would like to suggest, instead its the center piece for a burgeoning industry and very serious culture movement attached to it..

During the recent economic downturn, California was hit hard and everyone from local mayors to our governors began to look at marijuana as a major cash crop that could uplift this economy on a variety of levels. From tourism to consumption, the taxes generated by marijuana have been impressive and that’s only with the engines toward legalization going a quarter of its speed. In Oakland we saw partnerships form with the city and local cannabis clubs. We even saw unions emerge around this as well. For example, people working at Oaksterdam were part of a union…

In recent months Oakland has been growing.. There’s new energy in the city, a renaissance of sorts. Lots of new people, new restaurants, a new spirit that landed the city as one of the top 5 destination places in the world according to the NY Times. Oaksterdam, not just the university but the legions of shops near and around Oakland’s new thriving uptown district was no doubt a key attraction as well. With all this in mind, one can imagine the shock and extreme anger and disappointment when DEA and US Marshalls showed up un announced on April 3 2012 to shut down Oaksterdam..

The initial word was the Feds were just targeting just Oaksterdam and the clubs it owned, but no one was buying that.. It sent shock waves throughout the Bay and the state and for the most part seemed like a cheap dog and pony show from the Obama administration to score some political points in other parts of the country where weed is seen as some sort of Holy evil. Many figured Obama could afford to make high-profile moves on California clubs and not lose too much sleep because the state is solidly blue and will remain so come the 2012 election.

His recent trip to Columbia where he re-emphasized that he doesn’t think legalization is the way to go while many heads of state in South America including Mexico think otherwise, hasn’t been encouraging. If the Obama administration continues the crackdowns on medical marijuana spots, many fear its a signal that he’s set to revamped the War on Drugs. Casual users will have to return to the streets and purchase product, there will now be fights and skirmishes to control lucrative drug turf and law enforcement is set to gear up and have payday by establishing task forces, hiring additional manpower and expanding prisons..In short there seems to be some serious economic incentives at play to keep weed ‘illegal’. Lots of big money players in the pipeline.

If weed does somehow finally go legal, there’s concern that this current setback is designed to allow time for those giant corps in agri-business sectors to reposition themselves to be the main beneficiaries. I can see a company like Monsanto suddenly becoming a major player who then turns around stifle growth by patenting weed seeds?

There’s a lot to think about this 4:20. Like I said earlier,  it used to mean big celebration, but nowadays all eyes are peeled looking out for the feds, their next raid and all the political, social and economic agenda they have in store.



Here’s an interview we did with B-Real from Cypress Hill not too long ago where he talks about the importance of 4:20


Rap COINTELPRO Pt 4: DEA vs Rap-A-Lot, Scarface & James Prince

Cedric Muhammad

For the past two days I have attended Congressional hearings on the Drug Enforcement Agency‘s (DEA) Investigation of Rap-A-Lot Records. While the hearings were called by Republican members of the House Committee on Government in an effort to provide evidence or to imply through innuendo that Rep. Maxine Waters and even Vice-President Al Gore intervened to slow or end a DEA investigation of James Prince, the head of Rap-A-Lot records, some of the most striking information revealed in the hearings was the extent to which the federal government had placed federal informants in not just Rap-A-Lot Records but throughout Houston’s 5th Ward section.

The federal government, with the help of the Houston Police Department, infiltrated Houston’s Fifth ward in a manner that can only be classified as military in nature. For at least 8 years, the DEA and Houston Police Department worked aggressively to form an intelligence network that would result in the conviction of James Prince and the shutting down of Rap-A-Lot records. It was also revealed in the hearings that the DEA has over 300 DEA agents in Houston alone and when combined with the Houston Police Department task force currently has over 400 people working the city in the “War on Drugs” effort.

Depending upon whose testimony you rely upon the DEA investigation of Rap-A Lot records began in early 1992 and possibly 1988 when two large cocaine busts were made. The DEA claims that since that time 20 arrests were made in connection with the investigation, with convictions ranging from drug use and sales to murder.

But in over 8 years the investigation never produced proof that the intended target, James Prince, formerly known as James Smith, was guilty of any suspected crimes.

James Prince Rap-A-Lot Records

During the hearings, DEA Special Agent In Charge Of The Houston Field Office, Ernest L. Howard spoke of the great effort and energy expended to attract and groom informants from Houston’s inner cities to be of help in the investigation. Agent Howard explained how difficult it was to “infiltrate the 5th Ward” and that the investigation made “no progress from 1992-1997” until the government began to have success in its efforts to recruit informants in the 5th Ward and inside of the Rap-A-Lot organization.

And Agent Howard left little doubt that the government was looking to use its informants and its intelligence network to build a case that would not only lead to the arrest of James Prince but would which would also shut Rap-A-Lot down, as a business enterprise.

And the manner in which the DEA hoped to do this was made clear during the investigation: the government hoped to get James Prince in jail and to shut the legitimate business activities of Rap-A-Lot records down under the Racketeering In Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) which allows the government to associate entire organizations/businesses with the criminal activities of its members.

RICO is the ultimate guilt-by-association statute in the federal government’s arsenal, which allows it to link the activities of executives with those of employees and individuals with that of corporations.

“The only way that we were going to get the target (James Prince) of this investigation was through a conspiracy”, Agent Howard stated during the hearings.

Agent Howard then offered that there were two individuals affiliated with Rap-A-Lot records which they hoped to arrest and/or turn into informants who would be “key to proving a conspiracy”.

A letter was also released during the hearings written by James B. Nims, Group Supervisor in the DEA, to Rep. Dan Burton (R-In), chairman of the Committee on Government Reform which revealed that multi-platinum artist, Scarface, was a significant target of the DEA investigation and that the DEA was working to get Scarface to turn against James Prince.

In the letter Nims writes to Burton:

“In regards to the US Attorney’s Office, we could not convince them to indict Brad Jordan, AKA “Scarface”, even though I strongly believe we had him tied in solidly on a federal drug conspiracy charge. This was devastating to the case as we felt that Brad Jordan could have provided us with important leads and information regarding Mr. Smith.”

Many close to the investigation say that an indictment against Scarface never occurred because the evidence against him was so weak and that the DEA was willing to do almost anything to pressure Scarface in an effort to get him to become an informant.

The reason that Rep. Maxine Waters was the focus of committee hearings was because of the fact that Rep. Waters wrote a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno in August of 1999, after Prince sought her help, fearing that his life was in danger due to the DEA /Houston Police Department investigation.

Rep. Waters wrote the letter which reflected her commitment to issues of civil rights violations, unlawful search and seizures, racial profiling and police brutality.

Prince especially believed that one of the officers on the case, Jack Schumacher, was harassing him and Rap-A-Lot in a manner that could have led to Prince’s death.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Rep. Waters asked Reno to give the matter her full consideration and attention. Republicans believed that Rep. Maxine Waters’ letter to Reno resulted in the investigation against Rap-A-Lot ending.

The reason that Al Gore’s name entered the hearings was because in March of 2000 Gore visited a popular Houston church, Brookhollow Baptist Church, where James Prince is a member. Prince is said to have given the church over $1 million in donations.

Three days after the Gore visit, agent Schumacher was given a desk job. Republicans sought to determine whether there was any connection between the Gore visit and the decision to move Schumacher.

In one of the hearings more bizarre moments Schumacher stated that he heard that Prince had made an illegal donation of $200,000 to the Gore campaign.

When pressed by Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) Schumacher admitted that the information regarding Gore and Prince was unsubstantiated. Schumacher told the committee, “It is third-hand information that has not been corroborated”. Schumacher said that he received the information from a source that he had never had contact with before.

Yesterday, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) who represents Houston, questioned Schumacher and Agent Howard regarding the allegations and innuendo that Vice-President Gore and Rep. Maxine Waters interfered with the DEA investigation.

The questioning revealed that there was no evidence that supported the claims.

In total, the investigation brought the power of the DEA, IRS and Houston Police Department against a Hip-Hop label.

Some say that the information that came out of the investigation that revealed how the government recruited informants in Houston’s inner cities reminds them of the tactics used by former FBI head J.Edgar Hoover who in 1968 established the “Ghetto Listening Post” in inner cities across the country – an effort that resulted in the recruitment of 3,248 informants.

The DEA Rap-A-Lot investigation is full of lessons for the Hip-Hop community.

Please read:

Dallas Morning News Full Coverage Of DEA Rap-A-Lot

Rap Case Suspension Wrong, DEA says

DEA Says Rap Drug Probe Ongoing

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, December 08, 2000