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News :: Human Rights
Albuquerque Cops’ Killing Spree - New Weapons, Tactics from Iraq and Afghanistan Night Raids
13 Jul 2014
Modified: 10:32:46 AM
Across the country, outrage greeted the release of a video documenting a March 16 shoot-to-kill operation carried out by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The target was James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man with a history of mental illness who was “illegally camping” in the hills outside the New Mexico city. After shooting Boyd once, an APD assault team closed in on him as he lay prone, moaning: “I can’t move” and “Please don’t hurt me anymore.” They again opened fire; he did not survive.
Click on image for a larger version

ar-15_si.jpg
Far from an aberrant horror, Boyd’s killing was another grisly addition to the APD’s body count, which has continued to grow. At the time, a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of the department was underway. When its findings went public in early April, 23 people were revealed to have been shot dead by the Albuquerque police since 2010. Two months on, the APD has taken three more lives.

Long-simmering anger erupted as the Boyd video went viral, with hundreds taking to city streets on March 30. The APD responded with what it knows best: vicious repression. Ten hours into the demonstration, local riot cops, along with the National Guard and police from other cities, fired tear gas into the dwindling crowd, arresting six. On June 2, after Boyd’s autopsy had confirmed that the fatal bullet struck him in the lower back as seen in the grim footage, some 20 people—among them relatives of victims of police killings—entered the mayor’s office to stage a sit-in. Thirteen protesters were arrested, 12 of them on trespassing and other misdemeanor charges. The remaining person, David Correia, a University of New Mexico faculty member, was hit with a bogus fourth-degree felony: “battery of a peace officer.” It is no accident that this well-known opponent of police brutality was singled out. Drop all charges against the protesters now!

Victims of the APD’s terror are often homeless and/or mentally ill. Mostly, they are poor in a state that, with Mississippi, ranks among the poorest of all 50 states. One APD officer, who in 2011 gunned down a man, described his job on Facebook as “human waste disposal.” Such murderous appetite is nothing new to the department. In “The Return of the Albuquerque Death Squads” (CounterPunch, 23 November 2011), Correia described “the extrajudicial police shootings that turned 1970s Albuquerque into a killing field,” particularly targeting Chicano and Native American activists. When not outright killing people, the APD is busy torturing them. Cops fired stun guns at a deranged man who had doused himself in gasoline, setting him ablaze; at a 75-year-old homeless man for refusing to leave a bus stop; and at a 16-year-old boy for refusing to lie on a floor covered in broken glass.

The crimes of the APD should be met with massive, militant protest. As Marxists, we seek to direct outrage over cop violence into a fight against the entire so-called justice system and its police enforcers. Reformist socialist outfits active in the Albuquerque protests, however, preach reliance on the same justice system to allow some kind of popular control of the cops. One of them, the Solidarity group, calls to “organize and protest in the streets, in the ballot boxes and in the courts to ensure the DOJ holds the APD accountable” (16 April). “Accountable” to whom? Along with local police, the courts, prisons and armed forces, the DOJ is part of the bourgeois state apparatus—armed bodies of men whose job is to violently repress class and social struggle in service of the capitalist rulers. Society’s castoffs are especially vulnerable to the cops’ sadistic brutality.

The DOJ investigation found a pattern of the APD using deadly force “in an unconstitutional manner,” no news to city residents who live in fear of the thugs in uniform. The Feds often step into such situations to help with damage control and make a show of “cleaning up” local police so that they can more effectively go about their business of terrorizing the population. When the DOJ examines the conduct of its own, lo and behold, it turns up nothing. The FBI cleared its agents 150 times out of 150 shootings from 1993 to 2011, just as APD internal affairs and the local District Attorney’s “investigative grand juries” have given the cops a pass on all the shootings in Albuquerque. For that city, the DOJ proposes 44 remedies—including the usual palliatives like revising the “civilian oversight process”—none of which are to be implemented without the approval of the local cops!

Peddling measures to supposedly allow civilian oversight and control of the police is the stock and trade of the ANSWER coalition led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). When in 2010 PSL/ANSWER joined a National Day Against Police Brutality in Albuquerque, they proclaimed: “We want police accountability. We want the police oversight commission to have some power to represent the community” (PSLweb.org, 2010). Albuquerque is itself glaring proof of the worthlessness of such schemes. Its oversight commission dates back to the 1990s, when the APD was engaged in a similar killing spree. Over the years, the police chief has simply overruled the commission whenever it found a cop killing “unjustified.” On April 15, three commission members resigned, noting its impotence, complicity and cozy relations with APD brass. Today, PSL/ANSWER seem to have quietly shelved the call for more robust civilian oversight in favor of the no less bankrupt strategy of pressuring the mayor—who as the APD’s boss is complicit in its murderous rampages—to rein in the cops.

From Oakland to New York City, New Orleans to Boston, cop violence is endemic to the capitalist system, as are imperialist wars and occupations, the mass incarceration of black and Latino youth in this country and the poverty that stalks working people. The capitalist state cannot be reformed to serve the interests of the working class and minorities. The families of those who have been killed by the police have won some money in lawsuits and deserve every penny they can wrest from the city. What is necessary to win justice is to destroy, root and branch, the whole state apparatus that upholds capitalist class rule and in its place construct a workers state, laying the basis for the emancipation of all the exploited and oppressed.

See: Workers Vanguard - http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1048/albuquerque.html

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Despite accusations of excessive force, Albuquerque police purchase 350 AR-15 rifles

​The Albuquerque (New Mexico) Police Department has ordered a cache of high-powered rifles despite reprimands from the US Department of Justice, as well as widespread community protests, over the department’s recent record of excessive force.

Albuquerque police have called on a local vendor to supply 350 AR-15 rifles, according to KOB-TV, which cost approximately $1,000 each. The contract calls for the rifles to arrive over the next two years. Subsequent quantities of 50 rifles are part of the deal, if the department deems them necessary.

An AR-15 was used to kill James Boyd, a homeless man who was gunned down by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) in March. APD approached Boyd because he was camping in a mountain area outside the city. Video footage of the shooting quickly went viral, inciting mass demonstrations in the city and pleas with police to institute training programs that would better prepare officers for confronting the mentally ill.

The US Department of Justice recently released the findings of a 16-month review into the APD, stating that the department’s use of excessive force had caused a number of unjustified fatal shootings by officers in recent years. The DOJ recommended a “systematic change.” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels addressed Albuquerque Mayor Richard Barry in a 46-page letter, which discussed the circumstances around 20 fatal shootings by the APD between 2009 and 2013. Federal officials determined that in the majority of those cases where police killed citizens, the amount of force was unnecessary because the individual killed did present an immediate threat to anyone around them.

“We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies – including insufficient oversight, inadequate training and ineffective policies – contributed to the use of unreasonable force,” the letter said, as quoted by the Albuquerque Journal. APD Chief Gorden Eden said in May that officers would no longer be allowed to carry their personally-owned weapons, including AR-15s, while on duty. The DOJ review found that APD officers would acquire expensive weapons, considering them “status symbols.”

"I think it sends a contradictory message to the public, and I think it should raise concerns about how seriously they're actually taking the DOJ reforms," said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, of the APD’s new AR-15 order. The national ACLU recently released a report that found local police departments across the US are are increasingly more militarized, assuming a war-like stance in dealings with citizens and in using high-powered equipment previously reserved for the battlefield.

APD Union President Stephanie Lopez said around 320 officers have paid for training to shoot rifles, and that there is a need “to have these weapons on the street and within the department," she said. "I don't think it's militarizing the department," she added.

Lopez said an October chase for a shooting suspect, who targeted Albuquerque officers using an assault rifle, showed that more than standard handguns are needed by police. "They were ineffective," she said, in countering the suspect’s more-powerful weapon.

"The rifles were ordered as replacements for officers' authorized personally-owned rifles. They are being issued only to officers who are qualified to carry rifles and do not represent an increase in the number of rifles carried by APD officers. Chief Gorden E. Eden, Jr. ordered replacement side arms for all officers in a move towards standardization of weaponry. This is an extension of that program to ensure that officers who are authorized to use certain equipment are using the standardized equipment issued by the Department. The replacement rifles are the standard type of rifle used commonly by police departments throughout the United States and may be purchased by any person at a commercial retailer. The rifles cost approximately $1000 each and the bid was awarded to a local vendor."

Youtube video of the police SWAT Team killing the homeless camper - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwytoxMuk4U
See also:
http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1048/albuquerque.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwytoxMuk4U

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Re: Albuquerque Cops’ Killing Spree - New Weapons, Tactics from Iraq and Afghanistan Night Raids
13 Jul 2014
Modified: 04:56:19 PM
Durham cops lied about 911 calls

Several Durham police officers lied about non-existent 911 calls to try to convince residents to allow them to search their homes, a tactic several lawyers say is illegal. The officers targeted residences where individuals with outstanding warrants were thought to be living, and told them that dispatch had received a 911 call from that address, when no such call had been made.

However, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez says the 911 tactic was never a part of official policy. Last month, the department officially banned the practice, according to a memo from Lopez.

The tactic came to light at a court hearing on May 27, when a Durham Police officer testified it was part of official departmental policy. The hearing involved a defendant who had been charged with marijuana possession. (The INDY is not naming the defendant because the charges against her were dropped.)

In February, Officer A.B. Beck knocked on the door of the defendant's home in South-Central Durham. When the defendant answered the door, Beck told her—falsely—that someone in her home had called 911 and hung up, and that he wanted to make sure everyone was safe. The defendant permitted Beck to enter her home, where he discovered two marijuana blunts and a marijuana grinder.

When Beck took the witness stand, he admitted to fabricating the 911 story in order to enter the house. Beck testified that his true intent was to serve a warrant, though he never produced the warrant in the courtroom.

Beck further testified that the 911 ruse was permitted under a department policy in cases where domestic violence is alleged, recalled Morgan Canady, the defendant's lawyer.

During cross-examination, Canady quizzed Beck further.

Did you say there was a 911 hang-up? she asked.

Yes, he said.

But there was not a 911 hang-up?

No.

So you entered the house based on a lie?

Yes.

And this is your policy for domestic violence warrants?

Yes.

At that point Canady made a motion to suppress the marijuana evidence. Since the defendant's consent was based on false premises, Canady reasoned, the consent was not informed and voluntary. Marcia Morey, chief district judge for Durham County, allowed the motion to suppress the evidence.

"You cannot enter someone's house based on a lie," Morey said from the bench during the hearing.

Without the evidence, the district attorney's office dropped the charges.

"People have a constitutional right to privacy, and you can't fake someone out of their constitutional rights," said Durham defense attorney Brian Aus, who was not involved with the case. "You've got to be honest about this stuff."

Ten days after the case was dropped, Chief Lopez sent a memo to all police department personnel banning the 911 ruse tactic. The department provided a copy of the memo to the INDY.

"It has recently been brought to my attention that some officers have informed citizens that there has been a 911 hang-up call from their residence in order to obtain consent to enter for the actual purpose of looking for wanted persons on outstanding warrants," said the memo. "Effective immediately no officer will inform a citizen that there has been any call to the emergency communications center, including a hang-up call, when there in fact has been no such call."

Asked why Officer Beck considered the 911 ruse tactic permissible, a police spokesperson said, "the department is looking into that."

http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/durham-cops-lied-about-911-calls/Conten