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News :: Human Rights
Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
30 May 2014
Hired guns of the Ruling Class.
BOSTON — Every big city police department walks a fine line when it comes to the use of force, but an investigation found Boston police may be crossing that line too often.

One victim of a Boston Police officer battery was Michael O'Brian. “It came to the point where I basically accepted that I was going to die.” said Michael O’Brien as he relived a night in 2009 when he allegedly received a beating by a Boston cop that left him brain damaged. “He wrapped his arm around my neck and it squeezed my trachea, throat area, so much that I had no exchange of air,” O’Brien said. The altercation left him with bleeding in his brain, he said. O’Brien sued the police and the city and received a $1.4 million out-of-court settlement.

But that’s just one of more than two dozen police misconduct cases settled by the city over the last four years, at a cost of $5.6 million to the City of Boston.

The I-Team’s investigation found that figure for Boston tops a list of settlement money paid by other cities with equal or larger populations: Seattle, Washington; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and El Paso, Texas. Boston’s settlement numbers do not include a $3 million payout to the family of David Woodman, a college student who died in Boston police custody in 2008 on the night the Celtics clinched the NBA championship. “He was attacked from behind and beaten up and slammed down and handcuffed,” said the student’s mother, Cathy Woodman.

The city paid big money before the case even went to court.

“I know why they offered it to us,” Woodman said. “Because they wanted to shut us up. People don’t know the truth. The truth is they’re responsible for David’s death. They took his life.”
Was it police brutality? “Absolutely,” she said.

Boston Police Superintendent Frank Mancini is in charge of professional standards. Despite the settlement numbers, he told the I-Team he doesn’t think the department has a police misconduct problem. “No, I don’t. Absolutely not,” Mancini said.

Mancini declined to discuss the details of the cases settled by the city, saying those decisions are made at City Hall, not by the police. “We’re dealing with human beings and we’re dealing with very stressful situations out on the street,” Mancini said. “Any organization can improve and the important thing is we are seeking to improve all the time and to try to get better at what we do.”

We asked former Boston Police Lieutenant Tom Nolan, who served on the force for 25 years, if he thought Boston’s settlement numbers are too high. “They’re certainly higher than other similarly situated cities,” Nolan said. “Should that be a cause for concern? I think absolutely. I was around for the bad old days, and I know when I was a brand new police officer in 1978 that business was conducted at the end of a night stick and a fist.”

“We’re not there anymore, but it is still is a culture that privileges power and authority and force and we are seeing a slow sea change,” he said.

It’s a sea change too slow for David Woodman’s mother. “Our son is dead. And that doesn’t ever, that doesn’t go away,” she said.

We asked the office of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and his legal department, for a comment on our story. We never received a response.

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/05/29/i-team-boston-tops-list-of-police-/

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Re: Boston Police Misconduct
30 May 2014
Click on image for a larger version

BPD-B-2.jpg
A Boston Police Officer has been suspended without pay for four months after following a woman in his cruiser out of his jurisdiction and for no legal reason. Sgt. Joel McCarthy received the four month suspension, after which he will remain on probation. After pulling the woman over and giving her a traffic ticket late at night in Roxbury Sgt. McCarthy propositioned the woman. She refused. As she drove away Sgt. McCarthy began to follow her in his police car while still on duty. He used the onboard system to look up her address and other information. She parked in a lot and went into a Ducan Donuts hoping the policeman would have to leave. When she finally made it to her home thinking she had lost the officer, he was parked in front of her residence waiting for her. She escaped untouched as the police officer called out to her. She made a complaint to the authorities who believed her claims and investigated. Other police defended Sgt. McCarthy's behavior and said that it is not uncommon for an officer to ask to see an attractive woman they encounter in their work for meetings and favors. If this woman had had any prior trouble with the law she would not have been believed. Sgt. McCarthy took a chance even after running a background check on the woman and seeing she had no police record. He said he was just so attracted to her.

The Blackstonian would like to draw a parallel between this case and the many cases of officer misconduct, police brutality and the killing of civilians. In these cases officers are rarely if ever suspended. In this case which has been labeled “Stalking” the female victim was never touched or physically harmed. In the cases of police brutality and death of civilians, injuries range from bruises and black eyes, to internal organ damage and the most severe result, death. Both instances are abuses of power but how do we define the terms to effect a fair scale for punishment?

There have been quick and swift results, including suspension and termination for what I would consider “lesser” offenses. A racially offensive email calling Black people “banana eating jungle monkeys” is certainly less harmful than being shot in the back of the head at point blank range. Being followed by an officer to your home is “creepy” to say the least, but somehow it seems that an officer rupturing your orbital socket with a flashlight or damaging your kidney with repeated blows is far more severe.

As the City of Boston goes through this stage of growing pains, for both the COB Administration and BPD new brass, the most important work will be dealing with the past injustices and breaking through the disparities in order to balance the scales and reset to zero.

FROM BOSTON.COM

Details of an internal investigation by the department were released on Wednesday. They found Sgt. Joel McCarthy left his patrol district back in February to follow the victim for miles after pulling her over. Investigators also found McCarthy looked up her address and went to her home.

McCarthy was found to be in violation for conduct unbecoming, traffic enforcement, and neglect of duty.

FULL STORY HERE:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/05/22/boston-police-
Re: Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
30 May 2014
Click on image for a larger version

Boston Police Stalker.png
A video report about the 'police stalking' with the young victim in shadow out of fear of retaliation.

https://screen.yahoo.com/boston-police-officer-suspended-over-030700380.
Re: Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
31 May 2014
Modified: 07:00:48 PM
(CN) - Drivers have a First Amendment to peaceably film traffic stops, the 1st Circuit ruled, denying police officers immunity from a civil rights suit.
The incident at issue involves a March 2010 traffic stop on South Stark Highway in Weare, N.H.
Carla Gericke was following a friend, Tyler Hanslin, to his house when Sgt. Joseph Kelley pulled Hanslin over for a traffic violation at approximately 11:30 p.m.
Hanslin revealed that he had a firearm in the car, so Kelley told him to get out of the vehicle.
Gericke meanwhile had pulled into a nearby middle school parking lot to wait. Standing roughly 30 feet from Kelley, she pulled out a video camera and told Kelley that she was going to record the stop.
Unbeknownst to Kelley, Gericke's camera malfunctioned and would not record, but she continued to point the camera in his direction. The Boston-based federal appeals court noted that this technical glitch does not alter its May 23 ruling.
Gericke claimed Kelley never asked her to stop recording, or to leave the area.
But when Officer Brandon Montplaisir arrived at the scene, he arrested her for unlawful interception of oral communications, and seized her camera.
The charges were quickly dropped, but Gericke filed a civil rights suit against the officers and the town. Her case went to the three-judge appellate court after a federal judge denied the officers qualified immunity.
The officers argued there is no First Amendment right to film police officers during a late-night stop, when the officers faced two cars, each containing a driver and a passenger, one of whom had a gun.
Wrting for the court, Judge Kermit Lipez said that, even if Kelley had ordered Gericke to stop filming, such an order may only be constitutional if the officer "can reasonably conclude that the filming itself is interfering, or is about to interfere, with his duties."
Gericke's version of events does not establish that possibility, according to the ruling.
"Under Gericke's account, she was permissibly at the site of the police encounter with Hanslin," Lipez wrote. "It would be nonsensical to expect Gericke to refrain from filming when such filming was neither unlawful nor the subject of an officer's order to stop. In the absence of such restrictions, a reasonable police officer necessarily would have understood that Gericke was exercising a clearly established First Amendment right."

https://www.courthousenews.com/2014/05/29/68298.htm
Re: Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
04 Jun 2014
Click on image for a larger version

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Police violence and the American gulag

4 June 2014

Recent weeks have seen a proliferation of violent and often fatal attacks by police in cities and towns across the United States.

* Last week, an Atlanta SWAT team critically wounded a one-year-old toddler by throwing a flash grenade into a house in an early morning no-knock raid to serve an arrest warrant. The toddler remains in a medically induced coma and is fighting for his life. Such no-knock warrants are becoming increasingly common. Police carried out 50,000 such raids in 2005, up from 3,000 in 1981, and the American Civil Liberties Union estimates that between 70,000 and 80,000 no-knock raids occur each year in the US.

* Last Thursday, the Albuquerque Medical Investigator’s office released the autopsy report for James Boyd, the 38-year-old homeless man who was killed by police on March 16, confirming that he was shot in the back. Since that incident, Albuquerque police have carried out two further fatal shootings. The Albuquerque police department has been responsible for 25 deadly shootings since 2010, according to the US Justice Department.

* On May 20, three police officers in Salinas, California fired more than five shots at close range at migrant farm worker Carlos Mejía, killing him as he was backing away from them.

* On May 11, five California Highway Patrol officers in Imperial County, California, beat to death Tommy Yancy, a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, following a routine traffic stop.

* On April 27, Jason Conoscenti, 36 was shot to death in Long Beach, California as he fled from police officers.

* Last Friday, a grand jury indicted a Cleveland police officer on charges of manslaughter for the 2012 execution-style killing of two unarmed occupants of a disabled car following a chase. The officer “Fired at least fifteen shots ... downward through the windshield at close range as he stood on the hood” of the unarmed victims’ car, according to a federal prosecutor.

According to official statistics, the police on average commit between one and two “justifiable homicides” every day in the United States.

Last week, the Supreme Court provided legal cover for such homicidal attacks. The decision upheld “qualified immunity” for three Arkansas police officers who fired fifteen shots at a fleeing motorist and his passenger, killing both.

There is nothing accidental about the prevalence of violent attacks by police in America. It is of a piece with a massive prison complex that is without equal anywhere else in the world.

Last month, the National Research Council released a 440-page report entitled “The Growth of Incarceration in the United States,” documenting the vast increase in the US prison population. Since 1980, the share of the US population in prison has tripled. In the US, male high school dropouts are almost more likely to go to prison than not. Two thirds of black male high school dropouts born in the late 1970s have served time by their mid-30s.

About a quarter of all prisoners worldwide are kept in American prisons, despite the fact that the US accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population. The portion of Americans in prison is 50 percent higher than the next-worst country, Russia.

Conditions in American prisons are particularly horrific for the mentally ill and handicapped, who are increasingly being warehoused in America’s sprawling prison system as funding for mental health assistance is slashed.

Last month, a former employee of the Dade Correctional Institution near Miami filed a complaint with the Justice Department claiming that prison guards made a “sport” of abusing mentally ill inmates. He said they “taunted, tormented, abused, beat, and tortured chronically mentally ill inmates on a regular basis.”

The most horrific of these incidents was the killing of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate who died on June 23, 2012 after being forced into a scalding shower for over an hour. Guards had turned the shower into an impromptu torture chamber by breaking the internal door handles and controlling the flow of water from an external valve. No one has been held accountable for his death, and his autopsy has not been released.

The crowning symbol of the barbarism of the American “justice system” is the continuing use of capital punishment. The cruelty of this practice was graphically expressed in the execution on April 29 of Clayton Lockett, who was subjected to nearly three quarters of an hour of agony before succumbing to a heart attack. Lockett’s was the latest in a series of “botched” executions using untested drug cocktails from undisclosed sources.

State violence has always been a feature of capitalist rule in America, including the massacre of striking workers, the brutalization of African Americans in the Jim Crow South, and the routine repression and intimidation carried out by police departments across the country against working class and minority workers and youth. Police violence has been the precipitating factor in mass social upheavals throughout US history, including the ghetto uprisings of the 1960s.

This has been exacerbated since the eruption of the economic crisis in 2008. The escalation of police violence has gone hand and hand with the increasing concentration of wealth at the top, on the one hand, and the growth of unemployment, hunger and homelessness, on the other, as well as the eruption of American militarism internationally.

The reality of state violence and repression in America makes a mockery of Washington’s pretensions to be a beacon of democracy and human rights throughout the world. In fact, many of the tactics used by the police against the US population were pioneered in the US’s colonial wars. And increasingly, police departments are being militarized, with the addition of armored vehicles, attack helicopters, drones and the like.

The growth of police violence parallels the broader attack on democratic rights, including domestic spying, indefinite detention, drone assassinations and the elimination of any remaining restrictions on money in politics.

The United States “justice” system treats the poor and disadvantaged with total remorselessness, stuffing the prisons with people for the most minor offenses, while the bankers who crashed the economy and CEOs of energy companies whose violations of safety laws lead to the deaths of workers are given a free pass.

The American system of state repression and violence is not an accident or a blemish on an otherwise healthy system. It reflects the fundamentally brutal and violent character of the capitalist system, based on the exploitation of the working class. The only way to end the American gulag is to put an end to capitalism.

World Socialist Web Site http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/04/pers-j04.html
Re: Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
04 Jun 2014
Workers Vanguard No. 1047

30 May 2014



NYPD Frame-Up Machine

Earlier this month, three victims of the New York Police Department’s racist frame-up machine were exonerated. Robert Hill, Darryl Austin and Alvena Jennette were half brothers whose lives were destroyed through the combined efforts of cops and prosecutors. A black man from Crown Heights who suffers from multiple sclerosis, Hill spent the last 25 years behind bars for a murder in the late 1980s that he did not commit. The other two brothers were falsely convicted for a separate murder and locked away in prison hell, where Austin died 14 years ago at the age of 37 and Jennette spent 21 years until he was paroled in 2007. As Pierre Sussman, a civil rights lawyer who represents the brothers, stated: “This is a bittersweet result for a family devastated by the criminal justice system. While Mr. Hill is gaining his freedom and his brother Alvena recovering his good name, their brother Darryl died alone in a jail cell” (New York Times, 6 May).

At the center of this outrage is NYPD detective Louis Scarcella. His methods as a member of the Brooklyn North homicide squad (which covers Crown Heights, Bushwick, East New York and other poor, mainly black neighborhoods) from 1987 until he retired in 1999 have provided grist for a year-long New York Times exposé that unearthed the details of the frame-up of the brothers. Getting convictions in at least 350 cases over this period, Scarcella built a reputation of solving crimes that nobody else could, some of them years old. He was, according to the New York Times (8 April), “one of the most successful detectives in New York City history.”

The secret to his success was simple. In the words of the fictional Bronx assistant district attorney Larry Kramer, a character in Tom Wolfe’s biting novel Bonfire of the Vanities about greed and racism in 1980s New York: “What I do for a living is, I pack blacks and Latins off to jail.” This reality is all too familiar to many city residents. The cops routinely round up whomever they can find, usually black or Latino, concoct some sort of evidence, beat out a confession and railroad the accused to prison. Case solved. Scarcella certainly did little to hide how he got the job done, including by producing witnesses like Teresa Gomez, a drug-addicted prostitute who supposedly saw crime after crime. Known by lawyers as “Louie’s go-to witness,” Gomez would feature at the trials of the three brothers.

Scarcella first attempted to get Hill convicted based on testimony from Gomez that she spotted him killing somebody in a crack den. Hill was acquitted after a private investigator showed that the closet door keyhole through which Gomez claimed to have witnessed the murder did not exist. Undeterred, the detective dragged Hill back to court over another alleged shooting, this time out on the street, which Gomez again purportedly watched unfold. On the stand, she admitted to lying at Hill’s first trial, got basic facts of the new crime wrong and was so belligerent that the judge threatened to strike her testimony. Nonetheless, Hill was convicted.

When it came to framing up Austin and Jennette in a murder case that had gone cold after some two years, Scarcella once again tapped Gomez to testify and once again she got basic facts wrong at the trial. No physical evidence was presented linking the accused to the crime. However, as with Hill, such “details” did not get in the way of a guilty verdict. Last month, the newly installed Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson disclosed that the police at the time knew witnesses saw somebody else commit the murder, but did not turn over this information to the defense lawyers as required by law. Soon after, the DA finally admitted that Hill, Jennette and Austin were innocent and asked the court to vacate their convictions.

These announcements were damage control by the Brooklyn DA’s office, itself a major part of the apparatus that churns out victims for the penitentiary. As one attorney for the now discredited detective observed, Scarcella’s arrests “were authorized by a senior prosecutor” and all “evidence was thoroughly vetted and continuously reviewed.” Under the glare of public scrutiny, former district attorney Charles Hynes, who had held the position beginning in 1989, directed the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) last May to investigate every murder conviction in which Scarcella was involved—some 57 in all. In September, amid ongoing fallout, Hynes lost the Democratic primary to Thompson, a black former federal prosecutor who promised to clean up the DA’s office. (After losing to Thompson in the primary, Hynes switched sides and ran in the November general election as a Republican—and lost to Thompson, again.)

Who will be investigating the investigators? A 22 June 2013 posting on the ProPublica investigative journalism Web site noted that Hynes had appointed one John O’Mara to head the CIU. O’Mara was deputy chief of the homicide unit when Scarcella worked there and later served as top prosecutor in that unit. The ProPublica piece further observed that two New York State judges, several accomplished lawyers at some of the city’s more respected firms, four senior officials in the Brooklyn DA’s office and no doubt many others “are linked in at least one, suddenly noteworthy way: they prosecuted cases over the last two decades with Louis Scarcella.” In an attempt to give the appearance of some distance from wrongdoing, Thompson brought in a Harvard law professor as the new chief of the now renamed Conviction Review Unit (CRU).

The CRU is currently examining 90 cases, including more than 20 not involving Scarcella. Despite all the fanfare surrounding it, for more than a year the CRU has dragged its feet. “They’re saying, wait, wait, wait. How long do you want people to wait?” Derrick Hamilton told the Daily News (6 April) about his attempt to clear his name of the murder for which he served 20 years before being paroled. The exoneration of Hill and his brothers was the first—and so far only—decision the CRU has made.

The city rulers and such bourgeois mouthpieces as the Times consider it safe to dig up dirt on Scarcella and Hynes now that those they ensnared have rotted for decades in prison. Any further exonerations resulting from the current investigation would be long overdue, and whatever damages are awarded to the wrongfully convicted would be far too little compensation for the very real crimes committed against them. However, the actual aim of this project is not to provide a modicum of justice, but to whitewash a legal system rooted in exploitation and oppression by pinning the blame on a few “rotten apples.” Organ​ized violence in furtherance of the rule and profits of the bourgeoisie is the very purpose of the capitalist state—the cops, prosecutors, courts and prisons. When the dust has settled over the Scarcella scandal, the capitalist masters and their media lackeys will pat themselves on the back for cleaning things up…and the machinery of repression will grind on.

Scarcella: No Aberration

Scarcella was not the “rogue detective” described by the Times. On the contrary, his frame-ups are but the tip of the iceberg in the NYPD, as with police departments across the U.S. Or as Jennette later put it, “There are probably thousands of cases like mine.” One such case is that of Jabbar Collins, a black man who served 16 years in prison on murder charges until he was released in 2010 once it came out that Michael Vecchione—a star prosecutor under Hynes—and the cops had invented, distorted and withheld evidence.

What set Scarcella apart was his zeal for convictions. He was especially known for getting confessions through violence. “After that kind of treatment,” defense attorney Ron Kuby told the New York Times almost 20 years ago regarding one of Scarcella’s victims, “I think he was ready to confess to any crime in the city” (19 November 1996). Scarcella has boasted that “there were cases where suspects talked to one detective and they got nothing, and they called me and I got statements. A lot of guys don’t know how to talk to people” (11 May 2013). If “talking to people” didn’t work, Scarcella manufactured witnesses. Prosecutors in Hynes’ office would take it from there.

Scarcella made his name in the frame-up of David Ranta, the first of the cases examined by the Times. Ranta was falsely convicted in the 1990 murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger, an Auschwitz survivor and leader of the Satmar Hassidic sect, then as now an important Brooklyn voting bloc. During a botched robbery of a diamond courier in Williamsburg, thieves shot Werzberger in the head to take his car to escape. Then-mayor David Dinkins offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Hynes attended Werzberger’s funeral and vowed to bring the killer to justice. Scarcella took command of a 40-detective team.

After the original suspect died, Scarcella interviewed a convicted rapist, then in jail for several robberies. Aiming to cut a deal, he passed Scarcella the name of Alan Bloom, a drug-addicted acquaintance facing up to a century in jail for dozens of robberies. In exchange for immunity from Hynes for the murder and a reduced sentence for the robberies, Bloom “confessed” to Scarcella that he had participated in the diamond courier robbery and gave the cops what they wanted: the name of the supposed mastermind, a white drug-addicted unemployed printer, David Ranta. There was no physical evidence linking Ranta to the murder. The diamond courier testified that Ranta was “100 percent not” the robber. Four of five witnesses in the first lineup also did not identify Ranta.

To make his case, Scarcella claimed that Ranta had confessed, amazingly without even having been prompted, although the confession was not taped. Scarcella admitted he did not show witnesses photographs of other suspects. Meanwhile, Ranta had passed a polygraph test backing up his innocence. But the rabbi’s killing had become a big political issue, and someone had to go down. So Ranta was convicted and for more than 20 years languished behind bars. In March 2013, he was finally freed as part of the official cleanup in response to the Scarcella revelations, with the city agreeing to a $6.4 million settlement. The day after his release, Ranta suffered a massive heart attack.

The Scarcella-Hynes method is just one possible toxic cocktail of frame-ups, racism and violence. Southern towns and Northern metropolises alike are full of examples. Take Tulia, Texas. In 1999, some 10 percent of its black population was rounded up and jailed as part of the “war on drugs.” Most were finally released in 2003 after the whole operation was exposed as a grotesque frame-up. To the west in Albuquerque, New Mexico, police have shot 40 people since 2010.

In NYC’s poorest borough, the Bronx—where convictions are handed down in only 46 percent of jury trials, compared to rates between 71 and 88 percent elsewhere in the city—prosecutors favor other dirty tricks. Notably, they have resorted to dragging out trials so that defendants rot in Rikers Island for years. In January 2013, 73 percent of all Bronx felony cases exceeded time targets set by the courts. Prosecutors have taken vacations in the middle of trials and otherwise obstructed the supposed right to a “speedy trial,” which on paper is grounds for dismissal. Defendants routinely spend years in jail only to be let off, while those convicted often are sentenced to less than the time they spent waiting in jail for trial.

The State Cannot Serve Workers, Oppressed

It is not hard for Thompson to posture as a reformer, given how venal Hynes was as DA. But at the time of his election in 1989, Hynes also assumed the mantle of reform, having served as a special prosecutor going after police corruption and prosecuting white racists who attacked black youth Michael Griffith in Howard Beach, Queens, in 1986. Thompson showed his true colors as an attorney in the U.S. Treasury Department, where he played a key role in the cover-up “investigation” of the 1993 FBI/ATF massacre of over 80 men, women and children of the integrated Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas.

The capitalist state functions the same under liberal Democrats as it does under right-wing Republicans, whatever the differences in rhetoric. The Scarcella-Hynes string of false convictions started under the administration of the racist pig Ed Koch, continued while black liberal David Dinkins ran City Hall and kept on going after Rudy Giuliani assumed office. In the first three months under new Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio, known as a critic of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, the total number of misdemeanor arrests in the city barely budged compared with the same period last year. His selection of one of Giuliani’s police commissioners, Bill Bratton, to head the department points to the continuity in the NYPD over the decades.

As elsewhere, in New York City during the 1980s and 1990s, the “war on drugs” meant open season on an entire generation of black ghetto youth, thrown on the scrap heap by the capitalist rulers. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in manufacturing and other sectors of the economy had been lost since the 1960s. The thugs in blue were unleashed on the streets. From the cop killing of black grandmother Eleanor Bumpers in her apartment in 1984 to the police torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in Brooklyn in 1997, the NYPD ran up a long record of racist brutality. So widespread is police terror that the city paid some $100 million in lawsuits during fiscal year 2011; such claims jumped by 20 percent the next year.

The Central Park Five may be the most infamous of these cases. The cops and courts—with the help of the bourgeois media—framed up five black and Latino youths aged between 14 and 16 for the brutal rape of a 28-year-old bank executive out for a run in 1989. Only in 2002, after the confession of the actual rapist was confirmed by DNA evidence, were they exonerated, having served their entire sentences. (See “The Central Park Five and Racist Capitalist Injustice,” WV No. 1017, 8 February 2013).

Replicated in cities across the country, the “war on drugs” grotesquely found its foot soldiers in Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other black Democrats. Draconian mandatory minimum and “three strikes” sentencing laws, expanded use of the death penalty and a deep erosion of the rights of those accused of crimes were all results of this crusade. So too was the quadrupling of the prison population over the last four decades to over two million, the majority black and Latino. And the tortures of America’s dungeons are legion, from beatings at the hands of sadistic guards to solitary confinement. We demand the decriminalization of drugs as well as the abolition of all other laws against “crimes without victims”—prostitution, gambling, pornography, etc.

The all-sided repression and countless frame-ups from the outset of the “war on drugs” through today is proof positive that the capitalist state is the mailed fist of the ruling class and cannot be reformed to act in the interests of working people and the black masses. Hill, Jennette and Ranta deserve whatever recompense they can claw from the bourgeois courts. But true justice—for them and all the exploited and oppressed—will be done only when the capitalist order with its barbaric state institutions is shattered by a proletarian socialist revolution, establishing a society where those who labor rule.

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1047/nypd.html
Re: Police Misconduct
08 Jun 2014
Click on image for a larger version

State police car.png
A State Police Trooper with Iraq and Afghanistan occupation training pulled a woman over and demanded she perform oral sex on him. He told the woman not to report the rape, or he would get her and the police would stand behind him. She reported the roadside police rape and enough evidence came from the woman that an investigation was launched and the State Trooper was facing a higher standard of conduct than in Iraq or Afghanistan. So, he killed himself.
State Police quiet about probe, trooper suicide
By David Abel
| Globe Staff August 01, 2013
State Police refused to answer questions Wednesday about the nature of an alleged crime Sunday by a trooper who was relieved of his duties and then committed suicide the next day.
They also refused to release the trooper’s name, although other state officials and an online obituary identify him as Gregory J. Jasinskas, 40, a former Marine and National Guard member from West Bridgewater
State Police officials said Tuesday that the trooper took his life Monday afternoon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Devens.
They said he was being investigated for an alleged “criminal act” that occurred early Sunday while he was on duty. He was stripped of his service firearm and relieved of duty, pending the investigation.
He later told two people that he intended to harm himself before police found him dead of a self-inflicted wound.
“I am not commenting further,” said David Procopio, a spokesman for the State Police.
James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, said he understands why police are reluctant to speak now about the case, but he said there is a public interest in learning the details of the alleged crime.
“Ordinarily, you would want them to release information about the actions of public employees,” he said. “In the short term, they certainly should respect the grieving family.” Fox added: “But eventually there’s a public interest in having the nature of the alleged transgressions released.”
Jaskinskas, who was married, had worked for the State Police since June 2005. He has served in the National Guard for 20 years and served three tours of duty overseas.
“You couldn’t find a better man,” said Shannon-Lee Douglass, an administrative assistant at the State Police who has known him since he began working as a trooper. “He was a hero who protected our freedoms.”
She declined to comment on the alleged crimes and whether he experienced any trauma as a result of his service overseas.
A funeral will be held for Jasinskas Friday morning at St. Bridget Church in Abington.
David Abel can be reached at David.Abel (at) globe.com.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/07/31/state-police-mum-trooper-inv

State trooper who was under investigation commits suicide at Devens hotel
⦁ By Martin Finucane


state trooper who had been relieved of duty because he was being investigated for a crime committed suicide Monday afternoon at a hotel in Devens, State Police said.
The trooper had allegedly committed a crime early Sunday while on duty. An investigation was initiated Sunday. Once the investigation began, the trooper’s use-of-force equipment, including his service firearm, were confiscated, and he was relieved of duty, State Police said in a statement.
On Monday, the trooper told two people he intended to harm himself. Those people contacted State Police, who searched for the trooper and found him dead of self-inflicted wounds in the Hilton Garden Inn in Devens.

The 40-year-old trooper had been on the force since June 2005. His name and duty assignment are not being released at this time, State Police said. Neither were any other details of the incident, including the type of crime the trooper allegedly committed.
Devens is a former Army installation that is being redeveloped by the state that includes parts of the towns of Ayer, Harvard, and Shirley

http://www.boston.com/2013/07/30/state-trooper-who-was-under-investigati
Re: Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
09 Jun 2014
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NEENAH, Wis. — Inside the municipal garage of this small lakefront city, parked next to the hefty orange snowplow, sits an even larger truck, this one painted in desert khaki. Weighing 30 tons and built to withstand land mines, the armored combat vehicle is one of hundreds showing up across the country, in police departments big and small.

The 9-foot-tall armored truck was intended for an overseas battlefield. But as President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America’s “long season of war,” the former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.

During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.”

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Kevin Wilkinson, the police chief of Neenah, Wis., said having a vehicle built for combat would help protect his officers. Credit Darren Hauck for The New York Times

When the military’s mine-resistant trucks began arriving in large numbers last year, Neenah and places like it were plunged into the middle of a debate over whether the post-9/11 era had obscured the lines between soldier and police officer.

“It just seems like ramping up a police department for a problem we don’t have,” said Shay Korittnig, a father of two who spoke against getting the armored truck at a recent public meeting in Neenah. “This is not what I was looking for when I moved here, that my children would view their local police officer as an M-16-toting, SWAT-apparel-wearing officer.”



A quiet city of about 25,000 people, Neenah has a violent crime rate that is far below the national average. Neenah has not had a homicide in more than five years.

“Somebody has to be the first person to say ‘Why are we doing this?’ ” said William Pollnow Jr., a Neenah city councilman who opposed getting the new police truck.

Neenah’s police chief, Kevin E. Wilkinson, said he understood the concern. At first, he thought the anti-mine truck was too big. But the department’s old armored car could not withstand high-powered gunfire, he said.

“I don’t like it. I wish it were the way it was when I was a kid,” he said. But he said the possibility of violence, however remote, required taking precautions. “We’re not going to go out there as Officer Friendly with no body armor and just a handgun and say ‘Good enough.’ ”

Congress created the military-transfer program in the early 1990s, when violent crime plagued America’s cities and the police felt outgunned by drug gangs. Today, crime has fallen to its lowest levels in a generation, the wars have wound down, and despite current fears, the number of domestic terrorist attacks has declined sharply from the 1960s and 1970s.

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Police departments, though, are adding more firepower and military gear than ever. Some, especially in larger cities, have used federal grant money to buy armored cars and other tactical gear. And the free surplus program remains a favorite of many police chiefs who say they could otherwise not afford such equipment. Chief Wilkinson said he expects the police to use the new truck rarely, when the department’s SWAT team faces an armed standoff or serves a warrant on someone believed to be dangerous.

Today, Chief Wilkinson said, the police are trained to move in and save lives during a shooting or standoff, in contrast to a generation ago — before the Columbine High School massacre and others that followed it — when they responded by setting up a perimeter and either negotiating with, or waiting out, the suspect.

The number of SWAT teams has skyrocketed since the 1980s, according to studies by Peter B. Kraska, an Eastern Kentucky University professor who has been researching the issue for decades.

The ubiquity of SWAT teams has changed not only the way officers look, but also the way departments view themselves. Recruiting videos feature clips of officers storming into homes with smoke grenades and firing automatic weapons. In Springdale, Ark., a police recruiting video is dominated by SWAT clips, including officers throwing a flash grenade into a house and creeping through a field in camouflage.

In South Carolina, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s website features its SWAT team, dressed in black with guns drawn, flanking an armored vehicle that looks like a tank and has a mounted .50-caliber gun. Capt. Chris Cowan, a department spokesman, said the vehicle “allows the department to stay in step with the criminals who are arming themselves more heavily every day.” He said police officers had taken it to schools and community events, where it was a conversation starter.

“All of a sudden, we start relationships with people,” he said.

Not everyone agrees that there is a need for such vehicles. Ronald E. Teachman, the police chief in South Bend, Ind., said he decided not to request a mine-resistant vehicle for his city. "I go to schools,” he said. “But I bring ‘Green Eggs and Ham.’ ”

The Pentagon program does not push equipment onto local departments. The pace of transfers depends on how much unneeded equipment the military has, and how much the police request. Equipment that goes unclaimed typically is destroyed. So police chiefs say their choice is often easy: Ask for free equipment that would otherwise be scrapped, or look for money in their budgets to prepare for an unlikely scenario. Most people understand, police officers say.

"When you explain that you’re preparing for something that may never happen, they get it,” said Capt. Tiger Parsons of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office in northwest Missouri, which recently received a mine-resistant truck.

Pentagon data suggest how the police are arming themselves for such worst-case scenarios. Since 2006, the police in six states have received magazines that carry 100 rounds of M-16 ammunition, allowing officers to fire continuously for three times longer than normal. Twenty-two states obtained equipment to detect buried land mines.

In the Indianapolis suburbs, officers said they needed a mine-resistant vehicle to protect against a possible attack by veterans returning from war.

“You have a lot of people who are coming out of the military that have the ability and knowledge to build I.E.D.’s and to defeat law enforcement techniques,” Sgt. Dan Downing of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department told the local Fox affiliate, referring to improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs. Sergeant Downing did not return a message seeking comment.

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The police in 38 states have received silencers, which soldiers use to muffle gunfire during raids and sniper attacks. Lauren Wild, the sheriff in rural Walsh County, N.D., said he saw no need for silencers. When told he had 40 of them for his county of 11,000 people, Sheriff Wild confirmed it with a colleague and said he would look into it. "I don’t recall approving them,” he said.

Some officials are reconsidering their eagerness to take the gear. Last year, the sheriff’s office in Oxford County, Maine, told county officials that it wanted a mine-resistant vehicle because Maine’s western foothills “face a previously unimaginable threat from terrorist activities.”

County commissioners approved the request, but recently rescinded it at the sheriff’s request. Scott Cole, the county administrator, said some people expressed concerns about the truck, and the police were comfortable that a neighboring community could offer its vehicle in an emergency.

At the Neenah City Council, Mr. Pollnow is pushing for a requirement that the council vote on all equipment transfers. When he asks about the need for military equipment, he said the answer is always the same: It protects police officers.
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“Who’s going to be against that? You’re against the police coming home safe at night?” he said. “But you can always present a worst-case scenario. You can use that as a framework to get anything.”

Chief Wilkinson said he was not interested in militarizing Neenah. But officers are shot, even in small towns. If there were an affordable way to protect his people without the new truck, he would do it.

“I hate having our community divided over a law enforcement issue like this. But we are,” he said. “It drives me to my knees in prayer for the safety of this community every day. And it convinced me that this was the right thing for our community.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/us/war-gear-flows-to-police-department
Re: Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
10 Jun 2014
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According to the court complaint, the police were called to Josie’s Bar in Everett on the evening of March 14, following “allegations of trespassing” committed by Fountain.

Shortly afterward, Officer Sabella, who had responded to the scene, attempted to arrest Fountain and take her into custody.

It’s alleged that “[d]uring this arrest process, the [p]laintiff sustained a blunt force injury to her head, lost consciousness and then had what appeared to be seizure-like symptoms.”

Following this, the complaint claims that Cataldo was called by an unidentified individual in regard to Fountain’s medical condition; a second call to the ambulance service a few moments later claimed that she was having an asthma attack.

The complaint alleges that “Cataldo arrived at the scene at some time thereafter, and then left the scene without examining the [p]laintiff or rendering any medical aid.”

It’s claimed that Fountain was “kept in a holding cell for the duration of the night, and then … released from custody at approximately” noon the following day, “after being charged with various offenses.”

After her release from custody, the complaint alleges that Fountain “felt dizzy and sick” when she was picked up by her aunt, and was subsequently taken to the emergency room by her brother.

The complaint alleges that an “examination and MRI by physicians at Whidden Hospital revealed that the [p]laintiff had sub-cranial bleeding caused by blunt head trauma and it was recommended that she be transported to Massachusetts General Hospital for specialized care for her head injury.”

The lawsuit alleges two counts against Cataldo for failing to provide Fountain with medical treatment, and for inflicting emotional distress on her as a result of not providing that medical treatment.

It also alleges two counts against Officer Sabella for using excessive force during Fountain’s, and for failing to provide her with medical treatment.

The complaint reserves the right to include additional defendants, should the need arise at a later date

Open Media Boston contacted both the Everett City Solicitor’s office, and the Cataldo Ambulance Service for a press statement in response to the allegations, but did not receive a response.

Fountain’s attorney was contacted to elaborate on the allegations contained in the complaint, but could not be reached before the filing of this report.

The case will be heard in Boston by US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock

http://openmediaboston.org/content/ambulance-failed-treat-injuries-after
Re: Boston Tops List Of Police Misconduct Settlements
16 Jun 2014
The high cost of obtaining police misconduct records in Massachusetts

Dr. Q ( Mass Cop Block http://masscopblock.org/2013/07/ )

The Telegram & Gazette, a Worcester-based newspaper, recently published an article about a state trooper with a history of receiving citizen complaints because of his behavior (see here for more details) http://masscopblock.org/what-does-it-take-for-a-state-trooper-to-be-fire/. The Telegram & Gazette was able to access the complaint records because of the Massachusetts Public Records Law, a statute that allows anyone to request copies of all kinds of records from local and state government agencies.

When you hear the term “public records,” you might imagine that these documents are freely accessible to any members of the public who request them. In reality, getting copies of public records often carries enormous costs.

In theory, the government must make a good faith attempt to respond to public records requests within 10 days and the fees they charge must be reasonable. In practice, government agencies are often able to get away with wrongfully delaying the release of time sensitive information, using loopholes to charge exorbitant amounts of money for records, illegally destroying public records before they can be copied, and even flat out ignoring requests as The Boston Globe reported in a 2009 article titled “High costs can make open records seem closed.” There are no consequences for failing to comply with the public records law. A government employee who breaks this law cannot be fined or charged with a crime.

Police departments typically justify fees by pointing out that they must redact certain information from records. There are certain types of information that police are allowed or required to redact before they can release records to the public. For instance, if police released a complaint, they might have to redact identifying information about the complainant to protect his or her privacy. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with redacting certain information, but it becomes a problem when it makes fees so high that the cost of obtaining records is too much for many people to afford.

I asked Thomas Caywood, the author of the Telegram & Gazette story, how much the newspaper was charged for the complaint records. He told me that the Telegram “paid $800 up front based on [the] state police estimate, but [the] actual cost was a couple of hundred less.” The state police eventually refunded the difference, but that means the paper was still charged $600 for the records. The Telegram obtained about 60 pages of documents, so the paper was charged about $10 per page.

In 2008, the Telegram & Gazette became involved in a lengthy public records dispute with the Worcester Police Department. After the Telegram published an article about Worcester police officer Mark Rojas shooting a family’s pet dog to death, the paper began receiving numerous letters from readers who said they had also been abused by the officer. In April, 2008, the Telegram & Gazette sent the police a public records request for Rojas’s entire internal affairs file.

The police department charged the paper $1,500, money which it quickly accepted, but it did not release the more than 1,500 pages of documents until December. When the documents were released, they were heavily redacted to the point that “776 pages contained little or no information,” according to the Telegram & Gazette. In one case, the police had literally blacked out an entire page.

To get access to the remaining 700+ pages of Rojas’s internal affairs file, the Telegram & Gazette was forced to sue the police department. Though these documents are public records, Worcester bureaucrats spent taxpayer money to defend the city against the lawsuit and keep them secret. A judge ultimately ruled that their reasons for withholding the information were “clearly without merit.” It took more than two years from the initial public records request before the Telegram & Gazette was finally able to get copies of the remaining pages.

Those pages contained some of the most disturbing information about Officer Rojas which might explain why the Worcester Police Department was so desperate to conceal them from the public (read more about this story here).

I also have some experience requesting police misconduct information. In 2011, I was contacted by a student at UMass Lowell who had been threatened by a campus police officer for video-recording the police as they broke up a fight. The officer approached the student and yelled at him to “Shut that fucking thing off before I slap you!” When I brought the incident to the attention of the campus police chief, he launched an investigation that eventually resulted in the officer being disciplined.

I made a public records request to get a copy of the report of the investigation. I was told that I would have to pay $245 dollars in fees for what I was told was a 20-page report (it was actually 19 pages) — more than $10 per page. I was unable to spare the money, so I asked readers of my site to donate it to me. Three generous individuals stepped up the the plate and I was able to get the report released, scan it, and post it on my website. If they hadn’t, the only copy of the report would probably be sitting in a filing cabinet in the HR department of UMass Lowell and never seen by the public.

I have had other negative experiences trying to obtain police records. In one case, I tried to obtain some documents from the Fitchburg Police Department. After my first request was completely ignored, I sent a second letter on July 25, 2011. That time, I received a three sentence boilerplate letter signed by Officer Brian Rouleau, the head of the Records Department. The letter claimed that a “severe shortage in staff” prevented the department from considering my request right away, but that it would be looked into at an unspecified time in the future.

I gave the police the benefit of the doubt and waited a reasonable amount of time in the hope that they would send a follow-up letter that answered my request. After giving the police more than a month, I called the Records Division on September, 5, but could not reach Officer Rouleau, so I left a message on his voicemail asking him to call back. He returned my call the following day and told me that my request would be looked over by Captain Linda Swears, but that Captain Swears was on vacation and would not be able to respond to my request until September 12. Captain Swears never called me.

I called Officer Rouleau back on September 13. When I told him that Swears never contacted me, he told me that he would look into the request himself. Officer Rouleau called me back later that day and told me that he found the documents I was seeking and spoke with City Attorney Mike Ciota about my request. Ciota reportedly told Rouleau that the documents I was seeking fell under a C.O.R.I. exemption and could not be released. Two days later, I received a second letter which reiterated what Officer Rouleau told me over the phone.

In the age of the internet, this is simply inexcusable. We should not have to send requests or pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees to potentially hostile police departments in order to access their records, especially those dealing with misconduct. Our tax dollars already pay for the creation and maintenance of these records. We should not have to pay twice. Police departments should be required to post this information to the internet in easily navigable databases in a timely manner and there should be serious consequences for departments that do not comply.

The government is funded with the public’s tax dollars, so it must be as transparent to the public as possible so that we may hold it accountable. This is especially true when it comes to the police, one of the most extraordinarily powerful institutions in our society. The police can search and seize our property, issue fines, use force (including deadly force), and lock people in jail. Their courtroom testimony can turn people into felons, strip them of many of their basic rights, and send them to prison. They have special legal privileges that make it harder to convict them of crimes or sue them.

Police are simply too powerful to be allowed to operate in the dark. They should not be allowed to hide their records behind a wall of fees, delays, and other impediments.

http://masscopblock.org/2013/07/
Rapist State Trooper Remembered
23 Jun 2014
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By: Erin Smith

A state trooper, accused of sexually assaulting a woman early Sunday after forcing her to drive to a secluded spot while on duty, was found dead a day later of an apparent suicide in a Devens hotel room, Brockton’s top cop said.

Trooper Gregory J. Jasinskas, 40, was under investigation for allegations of sexually assaulting a Brockton woman behind a store on Route 24 in Avon early Sunday, Brockton Police Chief Emanuel Gomes told the Herald. He confirmed his department was drawn into the investigation Monday after state police asked his officers to go to the alleged victim’s home and “refer her to the state police.” Brockton police officers also assisted in the hunt for Jasinskas on Monday after authorities received reports he intended to harm himself, Gomes said


Birth: Mar. 18, 1973
Death: Jul. 29, 2013

Trooper Gregory J. Jasinskas of West Bridgewater, formerly of Abington, born March 18, 1973, died July 29, 2013. He was the loving husband of Marie Jasinskas M.D. of West Bridgewater; loving son of June (Orlosky) Jasinskas of N.H. and the late Frank Jasinskas; loving brother of Nicole Mori and husband Brant of Calif.; loving grandson of Albina Orlosky of Abington. Greg was in the U.S. Marines and National Guard for 20 years and served three tours of duty for his country.

Funeral from the Quealy & Son Funeral Home, 116 Adams St., Abington, Friday, Aug. 2, at 8 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass in St. Bridget Church, Abington, 9 a.m. Visitation Thursday 4 to 7 p.m. Interment in Central Cemetery, Halifax. For directions and online guest book, www.quealyandson.com.

Published in The Patriot Ledger on July 31, 2013 .

Burial:
Central Cemetery
Halifax
Plymouth County
Massachusetts, USA

Created by: Carol Bestick
Record added: Jul 31, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 114685638
Dr. Maria E. Jasinskas, MD

http://www.enterprisenews.com/x916855233/West-Bridgewater-man-serving-in
Battlefield USA: American police ‘excessively militarized' - ACLU study
24 Jun 2014
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Inheriting both the weapons and the mindset of the US military, police are becoming militarized and ‘hyper aggressive’ in their approach to maintaining security on the streets of America. New study calls on police not to treat people as ‘wartime enemies’.

The tragic story of Jose Guerena, 26, who served as a Marine in the Iraq War, only to be killed by ‘friendly fire’ at his home in Tucson, Arizona, is becoming a disturbingly familiar one across the country.

On the morning of May 5, 2011, Guerena’s wife alerted him when she heard strange sounds and the silhouette of a man standing outside their home. Guerena got his wife and child into a closet, grabbed his rifle, and went to investigate. This proved to be a deadly mistake. A SWAT team opened fire on Guerena, who died on his kitchen floor with multiple wounds and without medical attention.

As it later emerged, the SWAT unit raided a number of residences in the neighborhood, turning up nothing more than a small bag of marijuana. No drugs were found in the Guerenas’ home.

Created in the late 1960s as “quasi-militaristic” units designed to handle emergency situations such as riots, hostage scenarios, and active shooter situations, the number of SWAT squads have since surged, and are “used with greater frequency and, increasingly, for purposes for which they were not originally intended—overwhelmingly to serve search warrants in drug investigations,” according to an ACLU report, entitled ‘War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.’

The report examines 818 SWAT operations from July 2010 to last October, which were conducted by more than 20 law enforcement agencies in 11 states.

Today, paramilitary squads are better equipped to fight terrorists in foreign lands than serve and protect US civilians at home, and are becoming a dark chapter to America’s newfound capacity for “needless violence” and treating its citizens like “wartime enemies,” it said.

The 98-page document details the militarization of state and local law enforcement agencies, courtesy of expensive federal programs, which are dispensing “weapons and tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight.” Although explicitly aimed at fighting drugs, the strategy is backfiring, sowing fear and discord among citizens, many of whom are starting to fear police as much as criminals.

As the United States winds down its military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, local police forces are getting the used ‘hand-me-downs’ from the US military. This makes some American communities resemble the latest occupied zones with police dressed in combat fatigues and driving MRAPs and carrying AR-15s down Main Street.

“Using these federal funds, state and local law enforcement agencies have amassed military arsenals purportedly to wage the failed War on Drugs…But these arsenals are by no means free of cost for communities. Instead, the use of hyper aggressive tools and tactics results in tragedy for civilians and police officers, escalates the risk of needless violence, destroys property, and undermines individual liberties,” according to the report.

One bit of curious hardware being distributed to local police forces from the government’s military closet is the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle, which gives troops protection from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Using media sources, ACLU put the number of towns that now possess the armored carriers at around 500. Among the lucky recipients, Dallas, Texas, has one, as does Salinas, California and even the Utah Highway Patrol.

The report noted that even Ohio State University Police owns one of the MRAPs in order to give a sense of “presence” on big football game days.

The results of the report revealed a worrying trend: “If the federal government gives the police a huge cache of military-style weaponry, they are highly likely to use it, even if they do not really need to.”

Case in point: Gwinnett County, Georgia, which received at least 57 semi-automatic rifles, mostly M-16s and M-14s. One-third of the county’s SWAT deployments dealt with drug investigations; in half of them, the SWAT team broke down the door to get inside, “and there was no record in any of the reports that weapons were found.”

Other examples were provided in Concord, Keene, and Manchester, quaint New Hampshire towns in close proximity to each other, yet each took advantage of DHS grants to buy the military-grade armored BearCat (the amount of grants received by these agencies ranged from $215,000 to $286,000). Justifications for the need to acquire such vehicles pointed to weapons of mass destruction and the threat of terrorism.

The Keene police department, for example, cites in its application (which trumps Ohio State University’s need for armored vehicles to provide “presence” at big football games), the annual pumpkin festival as a potential terrorism target that requires the assistance of an APC.

Military-style mentality invades police

Another leftover from America’s military adventures abroad is the peculiar military mindset that allows US personnel to survive in hostile lands. Equally unsettling as spotting armored vehicles winding through the tree-lined streets of otherwise quiet American neighborhoods is the spectacle of local police officers receiving military-style combat training.

The US Department of Justice described the boot-camp conditions being used to train new police recruits.

According to a Bureau of Justice Report, “the majority of police recruits receive their training in academies with a stress-based military orientation. This begs the question: is this military model—designed to prepare young recruits for combat—the appropriate mechanism for teaching our police trainees how to garner community trust and partner with citizens to solve crime and public order problems?”

As a result, a so-called “warrior” mentality inside local police forces is “pervasive and extends well beyond hostage situations and school shootings, seeping into officers’ everyday interactions with their communities,” the report said.
The report describes a PowerPoint presentation that was delivered to Cary, North Carolina, SWAT team members entitled “Warrior Mindset/Chemical Munitions” for all Emergency Response Team personnel.

The National Tactical Officers Association (according to its website, the NTOA “strives to provide our members with the tools they need to protect an increasingly dangerous society”) urges trainees to “Steel Your Battlemind” and defines “battlemind” as “a warrior’s inner strength to face fear and adversity during combat with courage. It is the will to persevere and win. It is resilience.”

The question, however, is whether such an approach to policing is conducive to creating peace on the streets of America? An escalation of police operations going awry are growing cause for concern among civil rights groups.

In early June, for example, a toddler was severely burned and left unable to breathe on his own when a Georgia SWAT team tossed a flashbang grenade in his crib during a drug raid - over a single meth sale of $50. Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, a 19-month-old, was asleep in his portable crib in the same room as his parents and three older sisters, when police opened the door to the converted garage and threw the stun grenade in.

In the ACLU’s study, SWAT units forced entry into a person’s home using a battering ram or other breaching device in 65 percent of drug searches.

As the report emphasizes, the training documents do not suggest that SWAT teams “should constrain their soldier-like tactics to terrorism situations.” Moreover, the majority of SWAT raids examined for the report “took place in the context of serving search warrants at people’s homes—not in response to school shootings or bombings.”

'It's a war zone in the US' - Interview with Indiana sheriff

The survey discovered that 62 percent of SWAT missions were for drug searches. Some 79 percent involved raids on private homes, and a similar proportion were carried out with warrants authorizing searches. However, just 7 percent of the incidents fell into those categories for which SWAT was originally designed to handle, such as hostage situations or shootings.

It is this type of military mindset, compounded with excessive firepower, which is turning many American communities into veritable tinderboxes, which only requires the slightest provocation to spiral into senseless violence and death.

The survey, which provided a small picture of the overall trend, reported seven cases where civilians died in connection with the deployment of SWAT units, two of which appeared to be suicides. Another 46 individuals were injured, often as the result of physical force by officers.


http://rt.com/usa/168072-us-drugs-swat-police/
Re: Albuquerque, New Mexico rally to protest police brutality
25 Jun 2014
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A march and rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico were held on June 21 to protest violence by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), in particular the series of fatal shootings that have taken place over the last several years. The rally was organized by the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, the ANSWER Coalition and local community groups. Speakers at the rally included an ex-APD officer and several family members of people killed by the APD.

Reports in the media indicate that the APD planted at least one undercover officer among the demonstrators, who held a “die-in” and mock trial that delivered a guilty verdict against Police Chief Gorden Eden. In 2012 the same sergeant who was present at the rally undercover—and whose name has not been revealed by the APD—shot 20-year-old Dominick Solis-Mora in the stomach outside a West Side restaurant during an undercover drug sting.

Following a familiar pattern, the officer was subsequently cleared by the Bernalillo County District Attorney of wrongdoing. A local news outlet has asked why the sergeant would be at a lawful demonstration with a camera and whether he was gathering intelligence on protesters and other members of the community who are not suspected of criminal activity. There has been no response.

APD officers have shot 36 people since January 2010, killing 26, an extraordinarily high number given that Albuquerque’s population is only slightly more than a half million.

Saturday’s rally was not the first protest in the city against police violence. Previously demonstrators shut down two City Council meetings and held a sit-in at the mayor’s in early June. The latter action resulted in 13 arrests.

Last April, the US Department of Justice announced the findings of a 16-month investigation into the APD, which described the APD’s systemic pattern of violating citizens’ civil rights, particularly through the use of force. It also noted that city and police leaders failed to hold officers accountable. World Socialist Web Site supporters attended the march and rally. They distributed the June 16 WSWS perspective headlined Militarization of police in America.

The WSWS spoke to several of those at the demonstration. Zac Britton came to Albuquerque from California to join the protest. He is a member of the Coalition for Justice for Andy Lopez.

“I’m from Santa Rosa, California. That’s the place where 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot dead by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. We’ve had 61 deaths at the hands of law enforcement since 2000. That’s the year when the US Commission on Civil Rights came in, because during the ‘90s we had a spate of killings by law enforcement. They had a list of recommendations, none of them were followed, and because of that, 61 deaths later, we’re in 2014.

“The vast majority [of victims] are people who are mentally ill. I think there’s an issue of inadequate training for law enforcement in Sonoma County with regards to dealing with people who have mental illness.”

Zac was asked what he believes to be causing the police violence. “I think the biggest contributing factor is probably the militarization of the police.

“All these military veterans come back and become police officers. Some of them have PTSD and they can get triggered very easily. Deputy [Erick] Gelhaus, who killed Andy Lopez, was a military veteran and he had PTSD.”

Darell Lorenzo Wellington is from South Carolina but now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital. No stranger to the tensions between the citizenry and the police, he was living in Savannah, Georgia at the time of the botched execution of Troy Davis, which shocked public opinion. He is well aware that Albuquerque is not unique in terms of police abuse.

“Nine cities have been investigated. I was at least inspired by the DOJ report, which everyone should read. It is very blunt about the situation. Obviously Albuquerque has had a problem with violence for years. You hear about it in Santa Fe.

“A lot of people want an oversight board that has real teeth in it. I’ve lived in communities with very bad relations with police before… I know that those relations could hit rock bottom to the point that the average person tends to think that the police are more of a threat than any local criminal. That’s the bottom line and there are whole big swaths of big cities with hundreds of thousands of people who have that sentiment, and that is no exaggeration.”

Frances Madeson has written about the prison system in New Mexico. She was carrying a sign denouncing the Secretary of the New Mexico Correction Department’s Secretary, Gregg Marcantel, as a “slave catcher.” The WSWS asked her why she was at the protest. “This is my opportunity to push back against the authoritarian state,” she replied.

Frances explained the sign. “Marcantel is the secretary of the New Mexico Department of Corrections. Pretty much needlessly, he issued an RFP [Request for Proposal] to expand the for-profit women’s prison in Grants [a city in western New Mexico] by over 200 women, an increase of 39% at a time when crime is actually on the decline, when the criminal justice reform committee at the legislature has just begun its work in reforming the criminal code.

“Seventy-five percent of the women who are currently incarcerated are there for drug-related crimes. A very miniscule portion of women who are incarcerated are there for violent crimes. Unfortunately, in this Corrections Corporations of America-run prison, they actually receive a premium for the bed rate for solitary. So women…are being pushed into solitary. Literally, I hear that the stock price is posted daily over the punch clock where the employees come in and punch in and out. If they see profits going down they know just what to do.

“The ACLU and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty in October 2013 issued an 18-page report… It’s called ‘Inside the Box’. It documents the abuses of solitary confinement. We actually have a situation in Grants, where there are retarded women, mentally ill women, they’re doped up—75% of the women are doped up with heavy psychotropics—and they’re shoved into solitary confinement.

“Secretary Marcantel just pulled a stunt a few weeks ago, where he incarcerated himself in the Supermax prison in Santa Fe for two days. Do you know what the average length of solitary confinement in New Mexico is? Over a thousand days. Almost three years!

“What we’re fighting is really important. Not only does this report come out in October about all these abuses about solitary confinement, but the Department of Corrections is so arrogant that they then are trying to expand the prison without curing the abuses that are documented in ‘Inside the Box.’”

Frances said she saw a connection between what was happening in the United States with the policies of the US government abroad. “I think the whole Guantanamo Bay prison is a good canary in the coalmine. Everything that is happening at the prison at Guantanamo has come home to roost.”

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/25/albq-j25.html
RCalifornia man uses surveillance drone to keep an eye on cops from above
25 Jun 2014
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The Los Angeles Police Department is waiting for approval before it begins using a pair of recently acquired unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor events in Southern California, but a local man has already beaten them to the punch.

Forty-two-year-old Daniel Saulmon of Torrance, CA has been using a camera-equipped drone of his own during the last month or so to get a bird’s-eye-view of area happenings from high above the ground. Coupled with a passion for photographing police activity, Saulmon’s unusual hobby has made him well known among local law enforcement officials.

“If there’s police activity in my area that’s close by, I generally will go and try to record it and document what I see,” Saulmon recently told local news network KTLA.

“I don’t want to say the police don’t supervise themselves, but in a way there might be a little bit of truth to that,” he added.

Indeed, from the Rodney King beating more than two decades ago to the massive manhunt law last year for suspected cop killer Chris Dorner, the LAPD has not had an easy time avoiding scandal. Despite ongoing issues pertaining to police brutality and abuse, however, amateur photographers who set out to surveill law enforcement officials in the area have undergone heavy duty harassment in recent years and, as RT reported in the past, have even been considered terrorists according to official LAPD policy.

Saulmon has for years been recording police activity with a handheld, run-of-the-mill video recorder, and his footage has routinely found its way to the web and attracted thousands of hits. Now his newest aerial footage is starting to make the splash.

One of Saulmon’s most recent videos uploaded to YouTube is drone-filmed footage of police in Gardena, CA conducting a DUI checkpoint. So far it’s been viewed more than 33,000 times and is included on a playlist of more than 300 videos uploaded by Saulmon to an account administered under the alias “Tom Zebra.” Other clips posted to his page include aerial footage from outside LA’s Staples Center and drone-captured video taken from outside and on top an Air Force base in the city of El Segundo where he also captured an encountered with investigators not too happy with the UAV hobbyist.

In a profile published in the Los Angeles Times this week, journalist Joseph Serna wrote that Saulmon’s “recordings are well known to South Bay officers.”

Nevertheless, Saulmon said that he believes he’s working well within the legal constraints right now. The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, has asked hobbyists to keep personal drones within sight if they’re soaring in US airspace, and the agency is still drafting rules for commercial drone use.

"My attorney told me there isn't really much regulation on them," Saulmon told the Times. "I don't think it's a substitute for a hand-held camera, but it’s definitely a complement."

“I have to use common sense with it,” he added. “It’s easy to fly. I would have to really go out of my way to be reckless and cause a problem with it.”

On his YouTube page and website, however, Saulmon shows that he has without a doubt landed himself in trouble with the law more than once. His “Mistaken Bacon” site shows countless confrontations with cops stemming from Saulmon’s amateur recordings, and on his Facebook profile he openly discusses numerous run-ins with the LAPD and other officers of the law that have yielded arrests and threats alike. According to a post on the Photography Is Not A Crime website, Saulmon was arrested six times for video recording the police as of last August. During the recently KTLA news report, anchor Kimberly Cheng said the charges have never stuck.

“I don’t care how many times they arrest me, I’m not going away,” he told the website at the time. “I’m going to get as close as I can to see what’s going on so they will stop violating people’s rights."

Less than a year later, Saulmon has accomplished as much not be acquiring telephoto lenses, but by taking to the sky. Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Times that others may soon follow suit.

"Once drones become widely used in our society, there's going to be a lot of concern," Lynch told the paper this week. "It's because they're so in-your-face. It's easy to see the drone, it's easy to recognize the privacy implications."

Meanwhile, the LAPD is still struggling with adopting their own rules before a pair of drones it plans to deploy during area emergencies. The office acquired the aircraft from the Seattle Police Department recently, but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that he “will not sacrifice public support for a piece of police equipment” and plans to “thoroughly vet the public's opinion on the use of the aerial surveillance platforms” before the drones are adopted.

The FAA expects that as many as 7,500 hobbyist drones could be traversing American airspace during the next half-decade


http://rt.com/usa/168164-daniel-saulmon-drone-camera/