Sadly we have yet another troubling incident with police.. This time we have cell phone videos showing officers restraining an unarmed man who attempted to barricade himself in a store.. He’s shown being restrained by one officer, while another officer with a heavy baton beats him at least 10 times.. The man became unresponsive and later died.. The officers who remain unidentified are on administrative paid leave..
This troubling video comes two weeks after 8 Kern County Sheriffs beat an unarmed man named David Silva to death. An autopsy was released the other day saying the man died from a heart attack and not the beatings by 8 officers.. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of excuse is used for this beating in Sacramento..
All this comes on the heels of police officers shooting 26 year old Amos G Smith 8 times in the back of the head right here in the Bay Area.. This took place in Union City which is 20 miles south of Oakland..You can read about that HERE
I’ll say this as I did in the past, folks who organize around this need to push to make sure whenever there is allegations of police terrorism and abuse that there is a department completely separated from law enforcement that does the investigation.. That means the DA, the Coroner etc are not in the loop in any way.. Police routinely work with these individuals and departments and thus the relationships seem to compromise any sort of objectivity…
Also folks especially in Cali need to push and push hard to end the Policeman’s Bill of Rights which give cops damn near immunity to anything they do.. It keeps their names hidden from the public as well as their records.. So in the case of the 8 officers who beat the man to death in Kern County or the 6 officers who shot at two women delivering newspapers 100 while they were searching for renegade officer Christopher Dorner or in this recent incident in Sacramento, we have no way of knowing if they have history of abuse.. The Policeman’s Bill of Rights keep that hidden..The PBOR was enhanced and made more airtight last year..
As we close out its important to keep a close eye and hold these public servants who we give a badge and a gun accountable..While we have these disturbing incidents of brutality, we also have abuse of power as we are now seeing was the case with Boston Police, who everyone hailed after the Boston Marathon Bombing.. people cheered and toasted these officers for their work, while never questioning why they used 9 thousand officers to go searching door to door for one 19-year-old kid door to door..
We are now discovering that the elite unite within Boston Police known as BRIC.. were busy surveilling peace activists and anti-war demonstrators and wound up ignoring warnings about the two brothers, one who was on a terror list.. They became obsessed with with smashing down on citizens doing peaceful protest to the tune of millions of dollars versus following up on serious threats..In fact one of the people the Boston Police kept spying on wound up being a hero who helped saved lives during the bombing. His name is Carlos Arredondo a well known activist in the area.. Read about that HERE
There are three things all of us should be concerned about w/ this Christopher Dorner saga.. First they are now using drones to hunt this man down.. On the surface that seems like no big deal, but because they are hunting for a ‘cop killer‘ who has stated via his manifesto that he has more in his sights, the police will equip drones with technology and use procedures that up till now are not allowed.
No I don’t think they will ‘shoot’ him from the sky.. But drones can be equipped with very intrusive snooping tools totally violate or constitutional and civil rights… Drones can be equipped to do everything from see behind walls to intercepting emails, text message etc.. Up til now the fight has been to limit law enforcement to use drones for search and rescue type operations.. They want search warrants and other legal documents to be in place before police use them…
But now the country’s second largest police department, LAPD can go all out testing and setting a precedent on using drones on American soil..bypassing the fight against them and current limits placed on them..In the search for Dorner, how much of our privacy will be violated? What sort of record keeping will be done on any of us? The justification process has already started with media and law enforcement now dubbing Dorner as a ‘domestic terrorist‘…If he’s a terrorist does that allow the indefinite detention provisions of NDAANational Defense Authorization Act of 2013 kick in? Can people who are suspected of being in association or sympathizing with Dorner now subjected to provisions in NDAA or other anti-terrorist laws?
Adding to this climate are recent remarks from LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have him framing Dorner as someone who is has a reign of terror over the people of LA.. Are the people of LA in trouble or LAPD? Does the average person walking down the street need to fear Dorner? Is he going after them or LAPD?
As far as we know LAPD has 50 security units guarding family of officers mentioned in Dorner’s online uncensored manifesto and they have safe houses in place..I wont begrudge police the right to protect themselves from danger, but let’s be crystal clear, if everyone is under a reign of terror as suggested by LA’s mayor, what protections do we have in place? … Heck, lets move beyond Dorner to everyday scenarios…If any of us was threatened because we stood up to the neighborhood criminal/thug as we are told to do by police would be no such protections or bright spotlights in place? Would they launch a thousand person manhunt to bring about justice as they are doing now? hell in many of the departments here in Cali, we are being told some crimes will not be investigated including burgalries
Second thing we should be concerned about is this move to do people in without a trial or due process. We see this playing out in the world court with Obama’s drone policies. Many of us have cheered and gone along with justifying it even to this date.. We now see it translating down on domestic/ local levels.. The shooting of the 2 women by LAPD and the man by Torrance PD was police shooting to kill, not follow the law.. It was shoot to kill and not bring Dorner before the courts, a right all of us no matter how despicable our actions, have a right to.. We should not get used to such draconian policies because with a few slight twists and turns one of us may suddenly find ourselves at the receiving end of this type of action which is now moving in the direction of policy..
We should be concerned that none of the officers involved with those shootings have been arrested. Forget firing them or giving the victims money.. Where’s the zero tolerance policy? Where’s the same zero tolerance that toward police neglect and abuse that they routinely apply to us.. .. Let one of us accidentally shoot a cop…There would be no leniency.. But here we are acting like this is no big deal. Some have gone so far to say.. “This happens all the time in the hood’.. Maybe it does.. but now with the world watching, we best be pushing the cause and making this be the example in which such actions end because a steep price is paid.. In short don’t let it slide… Again I remind folks, the police are not letting the actions of Dorner slide..
Also related to this… Do not be fooled by the slick PR move of LAPD re-opening the case Dorner’s firing.. Don’t get me wrong that case should be re-opened for all the public to see.. Transparency is needed. But lets understand what that really look’s like. Transparency with LAPD starts with us asking the right questions. For example, we should get an answer the conflict of interests, that was raised in the Manifesto where the sergeant who was accused of kicking a suspect if she had working relationships and strong ties to those judging her..We also need to see her record to see if she had a history of violence as claimed by Dorner…. Lastly we should not stop with that case.. We need to vigorously check out all the others while simultaneously making sure the recent shooting of innocent by LAPD is punished.
The point I was trying to get across when I was on the news show Democracy Now this morning, is that Dorner blew the whistle on fellow officers and gave us information that the public has little and now no access to even if an officer is on trial.. We should not take that for granted or overlook it..He said his supervising sergeant has a long history of violence. If this is true can we see her records? Can we see the complaints filed or are they tucked away and shielded because of the PMBOR? Here’s the link to my Democracy Now appearance http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/11/wanted_for_killing_3_christopher_dorners
We should be pushing back and demanding such strict privacy be lessened.. I’m fearful after all is said and done, even the names of police will be hidden from us under the guise of ‘protecting’ them…
We should be concerned that what Dorner described in his manifesto seems to be a culture that severely punishes officers who whistle blow..It would be great if good officers who are subjected to witnessing abuses, but keep their mouths shut out of fear would find ways to help the public further open up the cracks we see around this Dorner case.. From looking at the legal documents files and the manifesto we see retaliation for reporting bad behavior as a recurring theme.. Contrast that with the current climate on the federal level where whistle blowers are routinely punished and then you can better understand why all of us should be re-thinking all of this.. ..You can download the Legal documents and court papers here..http://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/christopher-dorner-investigation-documents-deposition-legal-papers-challenging-lapd/
This is a recent article by John Knefel that first appeared inAlternet... 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..
Talk 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 1. 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  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. 
Although a lawsuit from 1971, the Handschu case,  “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  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  that the NYPD has also infiltrated liberal groups and protest organizers. Other cases of entrapment of activists, such as the NATO 5  and the Cleveland 5, are also troubling. 
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  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.”
“CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge William Griesbach  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.
3. 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,  and in Chicago before the massive No NATO protests.  The Cleveland 5 were also arrested before May Day, and back in 2008 the RNC8 were also preemptively arrested. 
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. 
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 , “[Police] know the average person doesn’t feel they’re in a position to decline a conversation with a cop.” A common tactic  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.
6. 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.  (More information at stopmassincarceration.org .) 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  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  “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 :
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,”  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.
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,  and police departments are chomping at the bit to implement this new technology. Drones already patrol the US-Mexico border,  and cities such as Seattle are moving toward using surveillance drones . In August, a North Dakota court ruled  that the first-ever drone-assisted arrest was perfectly legal.
In our ever more authoritarian society,  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: 
“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.
The 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.