AuthorTopic: Official Global Police State Thread  (Read 63738 times)

Online Eddie

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Re: Official Global Police State Thread
« Reply #390 on: July 18, 2017, 06:14:52 AM »
Such a miscarriage. The way the DEA uses civil forfeiture to rob people is shameful. 

By using civil forfeiture they put all the onus on the property owner. They don't have to prove anything. You have to prove you made your money (or paid for your house, or car) with funds obtained legally, and if you can't afford to go to court you just lose. End of story.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Online RE

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Re: Official Global Police State Thread
« Reply #391 on: July 18, 2017, 06:19:31 AM »
Such a miscarriage. The way the DEA uses civil forfeiture to rob people is shameful. 

By using civil forfeiture they put all the onus on the property owner. They don't have to prove anything. You have to prove you made your money (or paid for your house, or car) with funds obtained legally, and if you can't afford to go to court you just lose. End of story.

You probably lose even if you DO go to court.  Of course, Trumpovetsky is not likely to have his property confiscated, unless he keeps pissing off the Deep State.


Offline DoctorWhom

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Re: Official Global Police State Thread
« Reply #392 on: July 18, 2017, 10:53:26 AM »
Such a miscarriage. The way the DEA uses civil forfeiture to rob people is shameful. 

By using civil forfeiture they put all the onus on the property owner. They don't have to prove anything. You have to prove you made your money (or paid for your house, or car) with funds obtained legally, and if you can't afford to go to court you just lose. End of story.

You probably lose even if you DO go to court.  Of course, Trumpovetsky is not likely to have his property confiscated, unless he keeps pissing off the Deep State.


The DEA is fascinating when you see them from "outside The Matrix". It's like how in the movie the metaphor for what's happening in the virtual world is some kind of multi-dimensional hieroglyphic computer code. Or maybe it wasn't that fancy. I don't know. Just make up whatever bullshit.

This point is that this is how you can actually see reality in a sense - and in a deeper way than "The Matrix" implies, but with less specific insight, of course. The explanation for this is pretty simple. You take for granted there's a world external to your mind and that it correlates with its subjectivity on some level (e.g. otherwise you wouldn't feel "consistently" fearful in certain dangerous situations - there's a lot of variability here, but obviously there's enough consistency that we survive as a species).

The DEA is responsible for the patterns we're able to form in our minds since drugs influence this pattern formation. Or rather, the DEA is responsible for not only blinding the human species but also facilitating multi-billion dollar international drug operations that in turn facilitate actually heinous crimes such as human trafficking, which includes child sex slave trafficking. Of course drugs are also a health issue, so we lose all that data. And how much data is that over the decades? How badly have the DEA made us even more fucking retarded as a species than we already were?

I know the DEA doesn't visit here but I have a message for them. We've seen enough of people like Carl Sagan and Neil Degrasse Tyson and other buffoonery. What we need is to start spreading the truth about this species - about what this Universe is going to do to it. Even if this entire plague of apes united and tried to solve the fact the Sun is going to destroy it, it'd fail. Yeah yeah, you could live on outer planets, or knock the Earth into an outer orbit with an asteroid.

Or maybe we have the collective intelligence to elect a psychopathic narcissist fuckwit in times approaching our greatest existential crises, and how, pray tell - and you better pray since it's precisely as useless as everything else we do - is this "global brain" of ours suppose to accomplish a single thing that's not somehow completely fucking us over? How?

That's right. It's impossible. And thank the DEA for being parasitic exemplars. To think the Universe is dying for these cowards. Fucking waste. I hope their children come to see the darkness I see.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 10:55:49 AM by DoctorWhom »
I have nothing to ask but that you would remove to the other side, that you may not, by intercepting the sunshine, take from me what you cannot give.

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Ban on laptops in airplane cabins lifted, federal officials say
« Reply #393 on: July 21, 2017, 01:20:45 AM »
This lasted long.  ::)

It had to be the dumbest idea yet out of the Security Apparatus.  The logistics of trying to enforce it were out of the question.


Ban on laptops in airplane cabins lifted, federal officials say

DALLAS -- The ban on laptops in the cabins of planes flying from the Middle East to the U.S. is over, federal officials said Thursday as large airports in the region have taken other steps to increase security.

Those measures include checking electronic devices to make sure they don't contain a bomb, and pulling more people out of airport lines for additional screening.

    Laptop ban prompted after explosive test destroyed airplane, DHS chief says

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that all airlines and airports with flights departing for the U.S. had met the agency's first phase of new security measures, which were announced in late June but not described in any detail.

No airlines are under restrictions for large personal electronic devices anywhere in the world because each has implemented additional security measures that ultimately make the global aviation community more secure, CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports.

Officials released a statement to CBS News saying communication between the DHS and Transportation Security Agency led to the increase in airline safety.

"The quick and decisive action taken by airlines, nations, and stakeholders are a testament to our shared commitment to raising the bar on global aviation security. Airlines were able to implement the necessary enhanced security measures because of the close coordination and extensive communication between aviation partners and DHS/TSA," the statement read. "As we continue to secure global aviation in the coming weeks and months, this communication and partnership between the private sector and the U.S. government will be imperative."

In March, the U.S. imposed a ban on laptops in the cabins of planes coming into the country from 10 Middle Eastern airports. This week, King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the last of the 10 to comply with U.S. security measures and exit the laptop-ban list.
Electronics ban on U.S.-Saudi Arabia flights lifted
Play Video
Electronics ban on U.S.-Saudi Arabia flights lifted

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the laptop ban was a "pause," a stopgap measure until airports could make other security improvements. It grew from fear that terrorists were working on bombs that can be hidden in devices such as laptop and tablet computers.

"We tested it on a real airplane on the ground, pressurized (as an airliner is during flight), and to say the least it destroyed the airplane," Kelly said Wednesday at a security conference in Colorado. He added that intelligence reports indicated terrorists lacked the ability to detonate such a bomb remotely -- meaning they couldn't trigger a bomb in the cargo hold while sitting in the cabin.

Some safety experts cautioned, however, that putting devices with lithium ion batteries that are prone to overheating in cargo increased the risk of fire.
More terrorists gaining knowledge to build laptop bomb, source says
Play Video
More terrorists gaining knowledge to build laptop bomb, source says

Now the Federal Aviation Administration is telling airlines that that devices with lithium batteries should be put in carry-on baggage and not placed in checked luggage -- the advice that existed before the March order covering large electronics devices in the cabin.

Kelly said most of the new security measures will not be visible to passengers. He said, however, that there will be additional testing of devices -- to make sure they are working computers and not a disguised bomb -- and more people will be pulled aside for extra screening. He did not say how agents will decide who gets pulled aside.

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Ferguson Deja Vu All Over Again
« Reply #394 on: September 16, 2017, 12:22:42 AM »
Shall we dance again?


Post Nation
Protests erupt in St. Louis after former cop who shot driver acquitted on murder charges
by Mark Berman, Wesley Lowery and Andrew deGrandpre September 16 at 12:39 AM

Play Video 1:34
Protests in St. Louis after ex-cop acquitted of murder
Protesters took to the streets of St. Louis on Sept. 15, after a white police officer was found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of a black man in 2011. (Reuters)

More than a dozen people were arrested Friday as hundreds of demonstrators in the St. Louis region marched into the night following the acquittal of a white former police officer who was charged with murder last year for fatally shooting a black driver after a car chase.

Prosecutors charged Jason Stockley, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer, with murder for killing Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011. According to the probable cause statement, Stockley was caught saying he was "going to kill this motherf‑‑‑er, don't you know it" and was heard telling another officer to drive into Smith's slowing car.

The court document, submitted by the St. Louis circuit attorney, said Stockley then approached Smith's window and fired five times into the car, hitting Smith "with each shot" and killing him. In addition, prosecutors accused the officer of planting a gun on the victim: there was a gun found in Smith's car, but it was later determined to only have DNA from Stockley.

[Former St. Louis police officer charged with murder in fatal 2011 shooting of black man]

Judge Timothy Wilson, the circuit judge who heard the case in a bench trial, acquitted Stockley on the murder charge as well as a charge of armed criminal action in a 30-page order released Friday morning.

Wilson wrote that he was "simply not firmly convinced" of Stockley's guilt, saying that "agonizingly," he went over the case's evidence repeatedly. Ultimately, Wilson said, he was not convinced that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley "did not act in self-defense," as the former officer had said.

Following the verdict, Smith's mother, Annie, said the judge made the wrong decision.

"Justice wasn't served. I can never be at peace," she told Fox2Now.

In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Stockley, 36, who relocated to Houston, acknowledged the hurt Smith's family is feeling. "I know everyone wants someone to blame," he told the newspaper, "but I'm just not the guy."

When asked why he agreed to address the case, tears filled his eyes. "Because I did nothing wrong," he said. "If you're telling the truth and you've been wrongly accused, you should shout it from the rooftops."

A West Point graduate who served with the Army in Iraq, Stockley said that his job as a St. Louis cop grew so dangerous, he began carrying unauthorized weapons with extra rounds.

"I accept full responsibility for violating the rules," he said. "But it's not a moral crime. It's a rule violation."

Protesters gather Friday in St. Louis after a judge found a white former St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley, not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, who was fatally shot following a high-speed chase in 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Anthony Lamar Smith holds his daughter Autumn Smith. (Courtesy of Christina Wilson via AP)

Local and state officials said they were prepared for potential unrest following the acquittal. Some schools in the St. Louis area were shuttered and events in the region were postponed as the verdict loomed.

In the afternoon, police used pepper spray on protesters blocking their path, while demonstrators smashed the front windshield of a police SUV, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Later in the evening, roughly 1,000 protesters descended on the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, throwing rocks and breaking windows, according to the Post-Dispatch. They were met by about 200 police in riot gear who tried to disperse them with tear gas.

The mayor did not appear to be home.

Thirteen people were arrested and four officers suffered injuries in the protests, though none went to the hospital, according to St. Louis Police.

On Friday night, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who had put the state's National Guard on standby ahead of the verdict and potential protests, said he was "heartened to see so many people who were upset or hurt by this verdict who came out to peacefully protest." He also chastised those who engaged in violence, saying it "is not going to be tolerated here in the state of Missouri."

Before the verdict was announced, Greitens stood with Christina Wilson, Smith's fiancee, to deliver a joint message asking people to protest peacefully.

"If you feel like you want to speak out, speak how you feel," Wilson said at the news briefing. "And whatever comes to you, just do it in a peaceful way."

Greitens, speaking after Wilson, said he knew people could feel pain after the verdict, but asked them not to "turn that pain into violence."

"One life has been lost in this case, and we don't need more bloodshed," he said.

[Video footage shows Minn. traffic stop that ended with Philando Castile’s death]

“They boxed us in and started pepper-spraying us,” said Mackenzie Marks, who had her eyes washed out after being pepper sprayed. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Neil J. Bruntrager, an attorney for Stockley, said in a telephone interview that the judge's detailed opinion explaining the verdict was his "best effort in that regard to make sure people understand why he did what he did."

"That to me is invaluable," Bruntrager continued. "Because if you read this, if you truly read this, you can't come away with any other conclusion other than what he concluded."

The potential for unrest has gripped the St. Louis region, which was rocked in 2014 when an officer in suburban Ferguson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.

That shooting prompted intense, sometimes violent protests, as did the decision months later not to indict that officer, Darren Wilson. The case, and the protests that followed, garnered worldwide attention, and in many ways kick-started the nationwide focus on police officers' use of deadly force, particularly against black men and boys.

Since Ferguson, police shootings or other uses of force — and decisions not to charge the officers in most of the cases involved — have set off heated protests in New York, Baltimore, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charlotte and other cities across the country.
Play Video 0:40
Michael Brown's father says he's 'praying' for St. Louis
Michael Brown Sr., whose son was shot and killed by police in 2014, says he's praying for the city of St. Louis following the acquittal of a former police officer in the 2011 shooting death of a black man. (Reuters)

But the specter of Ferguson has lingered over the broader St. Louis area, which last month marked the third anniversary of Brown's death. It has also fueled a change in the way local officials respond to shootings and potential protests, with officials in some cases hurrying to release information to avoid becoming the "another Ferguson," as one civil rights leader put it after a police shooting in his community.

[Minn. officer acquitted in shooting of Philando Castile during traffic stop, dismissed from police force]

Krewson, the city's mayor, said in a statement Friday that she is "appalled" by what happened to Smith.

"I am sobered by this outcome. Frustration, anger, hurt, pain, hope and love all intermingle," she wrote. "I will continue my work to create a more equitable community."

Before the verdict, activists in the St. Louis region pledged "mass disruption" should Stockley wind up getting acquitted, vowing the outcome would "look a lot like Ferguson."

Demonstrators began gathering in the streets after the acquittal Friday, growing in size as the day wore on.

Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, said Smith "died unnecessarily" in 2011.

"This region — and our country as a whole — have seen too many deaths caused by police, with little accountability for the officers or department involved," Mittman said in a statement.

Smith's death preceded the wave of police shootings and other uses of force that captured national attention recently. Stockley was ultimately charged last year after new evidence emerged from the St. Louis city police and the FBI, according to the circuit attorney, who did not disclose what that was. According to the circuit attorney's office, the St. Louis police's internal affairs investigators contacted them in March 2016 with this new evidence that ultimately made the prosecutor pursue charges.

Former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley. (St. Louis Police Department via AP, File)

Prosecutors said during the trial that they believe Stockley, who left the St. Louis police force in 2013, planted a gun on Smith after the shooting.

Attorneys for Stockley said the officer acted in self-defense because he feared that Smith was going to shoot him. When he testified, Stockley denied planting the gun in Smith's car, saying he first touched it when searching the vehicle.

In his order acquitting Stockley on Friday, Wilson said he did not believe evidence supported the prosecution's argument that the officer planted the gun.

Wilson outlined a history of the case, saying that Smith's car crashed into a police vehicle before driving off. Stockley fired shots at Smith's car before they pursued him in a high-speed car chase that Wilson said lasted three minutes, endangered drivers and pedestrians and was "stressful" for the officers involved.

According to Wilson's account, which in part is based on the dashboard camera from the police car, Stockley approached Smith's car with his hand on his holstered gun and then appeared to wrestle "with something or someone at the window." Stockley is then seen drawing his gun and firing.

A medical examiner later said that Smith had been shot five times, with one bullet going through Smith's heart, Wilson wrote. The medical examiner could not say whether Smith was reaching for anything when he was shot.

Wilson said that he did not believe Stockley's actions after the pursuit were "consistent with the conduct of a person intentionally killing another person unlawfully," noting that Stockley did not immediately open fire when approaching Smith's car and adding that the officer had been told Smith had a gun.

"No one promised a rose garden, and this surely is not one," Wilson wrote.

Wilson also discussed Stockley's comment about killing Smith, saying that the pursuit was stressful for the officers involved, noting that "people say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment or while in stressful situations."

Bruntrager, Stockley's attorney, said that while it is terrible when someone loses their life, Stockley felt some "personal satisfaction" because Wilson's order showed he viewed the former officer as credible.

"Particularly police officers who've been through this," Bruntrager said of officers facing charges or possible charges after fatal shootings. "They know what they know, they know what they saw. When they hear someone say yes, I believe that is what happened, that makes a difference."

Officials begin erecting barricades outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse in St. Louis. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

The decision to charge Stockley last year came as the number of law enforcement officers charged for deadly on-duty shootings has increased, which experts have attributed to an increase in video evidence and public pressure. But the increased number of charges have not led to more convictions, which remain very rare in cases involving officers charged for shooting someone or using deadly force while on-duty.

In the span of a week this summer, juries opted against convicting three police officers charged in high-profile shootings that were captured on video. In each of those cases, the video and the case prompted protests and unrest. In each of those cases, prosecutors filed charges and decried what had happened. Each case ended with an acquittal, showing what law enforcement officials and experts say are the limitations of video evidence.

"This not guilty verdict of a police officer who violently killed a citizen is another slap in the face to the black community in St. Louis. And a shot in the heart to the family of the victim," Missouri State Rep. Michael Butler (D-St. Louis) said in a statement issued Friday morning, adding that the verdict has left him "appalled."

"This system and all the politicians calling for peace are ignoring the pain this verdict causes our communities. Anthony Lamar Smith is dead from a violent act and you want us to be peaceful? You want us to not feel anger? The very people paid to protect us are killing us, paid to make peace are perpetuating violence, and we are supposed to be peaceful?" he wrote. "We will be nonviolent but we will not settle on peace. No justice. No peace."

This story has been updated since it was first published.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2017, 12:29:21 AM by RE »

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St. Louis protests continue, police arrest more than 100 people
« Reply #395 on: September 18, 2017, 01:41:46 PM »

Post Nation
St. Louis protests continue, police arrest more than 100 people and vow: ‘This is our city’
by Mark Berman September 18 at 4:19 PM
Play Video 1:16
Police and protesters clash in St. Louis after acquittal of ex-officer in killing of black man

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets during clashes with protesters early on Sept. 16 after former police officer Jason Stockley, who is white, was acquitted in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. (Reuters)

Demonstrations continued Monday in St. Louis over the acquittal of a former police officer charged with murder, as marchers gathered for a protest just hours after authorities said they had arrested more than 100 people during a third consecutive night of unrest.

The protests, which authorities say have shifted toward vandalism and violence at night, have rocked St. Louis, where memories remain fresh of the mayhem that erupted in 2014 after a white police officer fatally shot a black teenager in suburban Ferguson. That shooting, and a later decision not to charge the officer, set off intense, sometimes violent protests, and it also marked the beginning of a wave of demonstrations against police use of deadly force that gripped cities across the country in recent years.

The latest protests began almost immediately after Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, was found not guilty Friday morning. Stockley shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011 after a car chase.

[Police and protesters clash in St. Louis after former officer who shot black driver acquitted on murder charges]

Authorities said that during the chase, Stockley could be heard saying he was "going to kill this motherf‑‑‑er, don't you know it." Prosecutors also accused Stockley of planting a gun in Smith's car, noting that the weapon was found with only Stockley's DNA on it.

Stockley said he had no plan to kill Smith and could not recall making the comments about killing him, and he denied planting the gun, saying that he was trying to find the weapon when he went into Smith's car.

Judge Timothy Wilson, the circuit judge who heard the case in a bench trial rather than one presented to a jury, released a 30-page opinion Friday saying he was "simply not firmly convinced" of Stockley's guilt.

Wilson said he "agonizingly" went through the evidence, which included video footage captured inside the car as well as recorded from a restaurant surveillance camera and a witness's cellphone. Ultimately, Wilson said, prosecutors did not convince him that Stockley "did not act in self-defense."

After Wilson's order was released, marchers began gathering in the streets of St. Louis, which had tensed up Friday as the verdict was expected to be announced. Demonstrators pledged "mass disruption," and they grew in size throughout the day Friday but remained largely peaceful, according to authorities and media accounts.

Police officers watch demonstrators Sunday. (Joshua Lott/Reuters)

However, St. Louis police Chief Lawrence O'Toole said that after nightfall, the calm demonstrations had given way to "agitators" who "began to destroy property and assault police officers."

The same pattern would recur Saturday and Sunday: Peaceful protests during the day giving way to smaller groups and acts of violence at night. Accounts from the scene described people hurling water bottles, rocks and chairs, smashing windows and damaging numerous businesses in the city.

Police decried the vandalism and sought to project a sense of command over the unrest. In a news conference early Monday, O'Toole said more than 80 people were arrested late Sunday and called them "a group of criminals [who] set out to break windows and destroy property." A police spokeswoman later increased that arrest count, saying Monday afternoon that more than 100 arrests were made.

O'Toole outlined damage to property, including broken windows and flowerpots, and said law enforcement officers were hit with "chemicals and rocks," adding that these officers suffered minor or moderate injuries and would return to duty soon. He also said police confiscated five unused weapons from demonstrators.

"The city of St. Louis is safe and the police owned tonight," O'Toole said of the Sunday night protests. He said later: "We're in control. This is our city, and we're going to protect it."

[Ex-officer acquitted in St. Louis slaying: ‘I did nothing wrong’]

Protesters on the ground, though, have criticized police for responding to the demonstrations with riot gear.

"Do they think this will make us feel safe?" Keisha Lee of Ferguson told Reuters.

Police have announced more than 100 arrests since the demonstrations began Friday, and they have also described injuries to a number of law enforcement officers. Some of these injuries were minor, O'Toole said, but his department also said some were more serious, including a 26-year-old female officer whose jaw was broken, and a 43-year-old male officer who had his shoulder dislocated, both after being struck by bricks.

Demonstrators protest outside the St. Louis Police Department headquarters Sunday. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Some of the local and state officials responding were not in office during the Ferguson unrest, including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), elected last year, and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, elected earlier this year. Greitens, who appeared with Smith's fiancee to plead for peaceful protests and called up the National Guard before the verdict, also appeared to draw a direct, critical comparison with those in power during previous protests.

"In the past, our leaders let people break windows, loot, start fires," he wrote on Facebook over the weekend. "They let them do it. Not this time. Tonight, the police arrested the vandals."

These officials also drew lines between what occurred during the day and at night. Krewson, whose home was damaged Friday night, said during the briefing early Monday that "the vast majority of protesters are nonviolent, but for the third day in a row, the days have been calm and the nights have been destructive."

At least one of those arrested was Mike Faulk, a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, according to that newspaper. Faulk was released on Monday afternoon, more than 13 hours after his arrest, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Faulk did not respond to a request for comment Monday, nor did editors at the Post-Dispatch.

He did respond on Twitter with a note appreciation for his colleagues, family and friends, his first tweet since early Monday morning when he noted that police had blocked in people, members of the media included:

A photographer for the Post-Dispatch, a veteran of protest coverage, also reported early Monday that after police made arrests, officers could be heard chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets."

He also reported that the same thing was heard by several other people at the scene.

After the sun rose Monday morning, just hours after O'Toole and Krewson spoke, demonstrators had gathered at the St. Louis City Hall. The group chanted and clapped, and at least one held aloft a sign saying: "No justice, no peace."

While in front of City Hall, a group of demonstrators could also be heard chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets."

The protesters paused Monday morning and moved from the roadway to allow a firetruck and ambulance to respond to a call, after which the marchers gathered once again in the middle of the road.

These demonstrations, which have extended for a fourth day and show little sign of abating, are the latest to erupt after a deadly shooting by law enforcement, a decision by prosecutors not to pursue charges or a verdict acquitting an officer involved.

In many cases, these eruptions follow relatively quickly on the heels of a shooting, though there are exceptions, like the protests that followed the November 2015 release of video footage showing a Chicago police officer fatally shooting a teenager more than a year earlier.

This shooting occurred in 2011, well before Ferguson became the first of many cities — including Baltimore, San Francisco, Cleveland, Baton Rouge, Seattle and Charlotte — where deaths involving police officers prompted intense unrest and drew nationwide scrutiny.

Charges against officers for on-duty shootings or other uses of deadly force are rare, though prosecutions have increased in recent years, which experts attribute to a combination of political pressure and more video evidence. Convictions, though, are still very rare. In June, three trials involving officers charged in controversial shootings captured on video ended without convictions; officers in Minnesota and Wisconsin were acquitted, while an Ohio jury deadlocked in the third case.

[What a police officer said about a fatal on-duty shooting that was seen worldwide]

The St. Louis case prompting the ongoing protests surged back into the public consciousness Friday when Wilson, the circuit judge, released a 30-page order explaining why he acquitted the officer of a murder charge as well as a charge of armed criminal action.

Wilson wrote that Smith's car crashed into a police vehicle before driving off. Stockley fired shots at Smith's car before pursuing him in a high-speed car chase that Wilson said endangered drivers and pedestrians and was "stressful" for the officers involved.

It was this stress that Wilson cited when discussing Stockley's comment about killing Smith, writing in his opinion that "people say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment or while in stressful situations."

Wilson also wrote that he did not believe Stockley's actions after the chase were "consistent with the conduct of a person intentionally killing another person unlawfully." He wrote that Stockley was told Smith had a gun and did not immediately open fire as he approached Smith's car.

Wilson also wrote that Stockley approached Smith's car with his hand on his holstered gun and appeared to wrestle "with something or someone at the window" before drawing his gun and firing. Smith was shot five times, with one bullet going through his heart, Wilson wrote.

Neil J. Bruntrager, an attorney for Stockley, praised Wilson for outlining his decision in great detail, which he said allowed the public to fully understand what factored into the acquittal.

"This is Tim Wilson's best effort in that regard to make sure people understand why he did what he did," Bruntrager said. "That to me is invaluable. Because if you read this, if you truly read this, you can't come away with any other conclusion other than what he concluded."

Stockley left the St. Louis police force in 2013 and has moved to Texas. After his acquittal, he detailed his side of what happened.

"I can feel for and I understand what the family is going through, and I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I'm just not the guy," Stockley told the Post-Dispatch in an interview Friday.

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FAA proposes ban on large electronics in checked baggage
« Reply #396 on: October 20, 2017, 07:21:58 PM »
This is getting absurd.  First you can't bring electronics into the cabin, now they want to ban them from checked baggage.  How are any bizness people going to get work done?  Besides that, many other devices besides laptops have Li-I Batts.  If you are going on a hunting trip in Alaska, you're not allowed to brin you new ultra-bright Tactical Flashlight that can blind a Bear?  How about your FRS Walkie Talkies?

There is an obvious and simple solution to this, simply REMOVE the Batts from the devices and have a special fireproof cabinet to store them during the flight.  This would also have the benefit of forcing the manufacturers to make the batts easily romovable and replaceable, killing some of the planned obsolescence.

Well, by the time this passes, flying will not have too long to go anyhow.


FAA proposes ban on large electronics in checked baggage
Explosive batteries are becoming a serious safety concern.

While most of us probably keep our laptops and other large electronics in our carry-on bags, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) still wants to avoid the risk associated with exploding lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft. According to an official FAA document uploaded by PetaPixel's Michael Zhang, the agency is proposing a ban on large personal electronics (anything bigger than a cell phone) in checked baggage.

The FAA conducted 10 tests of laptops inside of suitcases. A heater was set against the lithium ion cell to force the battery to overheat. In one of the tests, a can of aerosol dry shampoo was in the suitcase. The currently permitted shampoo ignited from the overheating battery and caused a fire that could not be extinguished by a cargo-hold fire suppression system typical of most airlines. Other tests found similar results with other "dangerous goods" like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol.

While banning this particular combination of items in checked baggage would be the logical next step, the FAA writes that doing so would confuse passengers even more. "We believe that it would be difficult for passengers to understand and correctly meet requirements that vary based on the specific content of their checked baggage," the FAA said in the document. "Complexity increases the likelihood of non-compliance and continued presence of the risk." Requiring that these items be carried on in airplane cabins remains the simplest method, according to the FAA. Cabin crews are more effective than automated cargo systems at stopping any fires from spreading, says the FAA.

The agency presented its results and recommendation to the ICAO Multidisciplinary Cargo Safety Group that met in Paris in July. Members of the group agreed to revisit the guidelines around large electronic devices, with plans to ban them from checked baggage altogether. The current document was presented to the Dangerous Goods Panel, a multi-national working group that tells governments what provisions to introduce into national legislation. The proposed ban is set to be discussed this week and next. We've reached out to the FAA for more details and will update this post when we hear back.

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OK, it's all perfectly clear now...  ::)


Can you pack laptops in your luggage? Your questions answered on the government's proposed laptop ban
Associated Press

    Joan Lowy, Associated Press

A traveler takes her laptop out of her bag for scanning at JFK airport in New York City on May 17, 2017. Joe Penney/Reuters

    The Trump administration banned laptops in the cabins of some planes because of security risks.
    Now, the Federal Aviation Administration is looking at banning them in checked luggage because of their potential to start fires.
    Here's what's going on, and what could happen next.

WASHINGTON (AP) — First the U.S. government temporarily banned laptops in the cabins of some airplanes. Now it is looking to ban them from checked luggage on international flights, citing the risk of potentially catastrophic fires.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently recommended that the U.N. agency that sets global aviation standards prohibit passengers from putting laptops and other large personal electronic devices in their checked bags.

The FAA says in a filing with the International Civil Aviation Organization that the lithium-ion batteries in laptops can overheat and create fires.

Some questions and answers about the shifting U.S. policy.
Why is the FAA worried about this danger now?

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer watches over travelers at Los Angeles International Airport on July 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty Images

The FAA has long been concerned about the potential hazardous of lithium batteries. The agency's tests of the risks of shipping large quantities of batteries as cargo on airliners showed that when a single battery overheats, it can cause other nearby batteries to overheat as well. That can result in intense fires and the release of explosive gases.

Based on those test results, the FAA was able to convince ICAO two years ago to ban cargo shipments of lithium batteries on passenger planes and to require that batteries shipped on cargo planes be charged no more than 30 percent. The risk of overheating is lower if the battery isn't fully charged.

More recently, the FAA conducted 10 tests of fully charged laptops packed in suitcases. In one test, an 8-ounce aerosol can of dry shampoo —which is permitted in checked baggage — was strapped to the laptop. A heater was placed against the laptop's battery to force it into "thermal runaway," a condition in which the battery's temperature continually rises. There was a fire almost immediately and an explosion within 40 seconds with enough force to potentially disable the fire suppression system.

Other tests of laptop batteries packed in suitcases with goods like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol also resulted in large fires, although no explosions.
Isn't the government contradicting itself?

Flight Passengers use their laptops on a flight out of John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York, U.S., May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The different messages are the result of two agencies with different missions: security versus safety.

Last March, the Department of Homeland Security imposed a ban on laptops in the cabins of planes coming into the U.S. from 10 Middle Eastern airports to prevent them from being used as a tool in an attack. Many passengers put their laptops in their checked bags instead. The ban was fully lifted in July after airports in the region took steps to improve security.

This ban is being sought by the FAA, which is focused on the risk of an accidental explosion more than the prospect of a terrorist attack.
When will I have to stop packing my laptop?

FILE PHOTO - A TSA worker loads suitcases at the checked luggage security screening station at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan

There are no guarantees that there will be ban on packing laptops in checked bags.

The FAA is presenting its case at a meeting this week and next of ICAO's dangerous goods panel. European aviation safety regulators, aircraft manufacturers and pilots' unions have endorsed the proposal.

Even if the panel were to agree with the proposal, it would still need to be adopted at higher levels of ICAO. And it would only apply to international flights.
What about domestic flights?

This is unclear. Individual countries can decide whether to implement domestic bans. The United States has not indicated if it will do so.

The effect of such a ban may not be great, since many passengers don't check bags to avoid surcharges, and those that do often prefer to carry on electronics.
Will the US keep pushing for the international ban?

FILE PHOTO: A Delta Airlines jet takes off from Washington National Airport in Washington, U.S., August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

This is also unclear. The FAA, which favors the ban, is handling negotiations for the U.S. at the ICAO meeting. But, for future meetings, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is having another agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, take the lead.

It's not clear if that agency, known as PHMSA, will share the FAA's position.

PHMSA previously led dangerous goods negotiations, but the Obama administration put the FAA in charge after congressional Democrats complained that PHMSA officials were too cozy with the industries they regulated.

The Transportation Department said in a statement that PHMSA "has a unique and highly effective" approach to regulating the transportation of hazardous materials, and that it will consider what impact any change in aviation rules might have on transportation. The statement also said PHMSA will collaborate with the FAA.

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Our Ever-Deadlier Police State
« Reply #398 on: October 28, 2017, 04:09:37 AM »

 Our Ever-Deadlier Police State

Mr. Fish

None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States—which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year—are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities. By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016.

Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons.

Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder. And for poor Americans, basic constitutional rights, including due process, were effectively abolished decades ago.

Jonathan Simon’s “Governing Through Crime” and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” point out that what is defined and targeted as criminal activity by the police and the courts is largely determined by racial inequality and class, and most importantly by the potential of targeted groups to cause social and political unrest. Criminal policy, as sociologist Alex S. Vitale writes in his new book, “The End of Policing,” “is structured around the use of punishment to manage the ‘dangerous classes,’ masquerading as a system of justice.”

The criminal justice system, at the same time, refuses to hold Wall Street banks, corporations and oligarchs accountable for crimes that have caused incalculable damage to the global economy and the ecosystem. None of the bankers who committed massive acts of fraud and were responsible for the financial collapse in 2008 have gone to prison even though their crimes resulted in widespread unemployment, millions of evictions and foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies and the looting of the U.S. Treasury to bail out financial speculators at taxpayer expense. We live in a two-tiered legal system, one in which poor people are harassed, arrested and jailed for absurd infractions, such as selling loose cigarettes—which led to Eric Garner being choked to death by a New York City policeman in 2014—while crimes of appalling magnitude that wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth are dealt with through tepid administrative controls, symbolic fines and civil enforcement.

The grotesque distortions of the judicial system and the aggressive war on the poor by the police will get worse under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. There has been a rollback of President Barack Obama’s 2015 restrictions on the 1033 Program, a 1989 congressional action that allows the transfer of military weaponry, including grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers and .50-caliber machine guns, from the federal government to local police forces. Since 1997, the Department of Defense has turned over a staggering $5.1 billion in military hardware to police departments.

The Trump administration also is resurrecting private prisons in the federal prison system, accelerating the so-called war on drugs, stacking the courts with right-wing “law and order” judges and preaching the divisive politics of punishment and retribution. Police unions enthusiastically embrace these actions, seeing in them a return to the Wild West mentality that characterized the brutality of police departments in the 1960s and 1970s, when radicals, especially black radicals, were murdered with impunity at the hands of law enforcement. The Praetorian Guard of the elites, as in all totalitarian systems, will soon be beyond the reach of the law. As Vitale writes in his book, “Our entire criminal justice system has become a gigantic revenge factory.”

The arguments—including the racist one about “superpredators“—used to justify the expansion of police power have no credibility, as the gun violence in south Chicago, abject failure of the war on drugs and vast expansion of the prison system over the last 40 years illustrate. The problem is not ultimately in policing techniques and procedures; it is in the increasing reliance on the police as a form of social control to buttress a system of corporate capitalism that has turned the working poor into modern-day serfs and abandoned whole segments of the society. Government no longer makes any attempt to ameliorate racial and economic inequality. Instead, it criminalizes poverty. It has turned the poor into one more cash crop for the rich.

“By conceptualizing the problem of policing as one of inadequate training and professionalization, reformers fail to directly address how the very nature of policing and the legal system served to maintain and exacerbate racial inequality,” Vitale writes. “By calling for colorblind ‘law and order’ they strengthen a system that puts people of color at a structural disadvantage. At the root, they fail to appreciate that the basic nature of the police, since its earliest origins, is to be a tool for managing inequality and maintaining the status quo. Police reforms that fail to directly address this reality are doomed to reproduce it. …Well-trained police following proper procedures are still going to be arresting people for mostly low-level offenses, and the burden of that will continue to fall primarily on communities of color because that is how the system is designed to operate—not because of the biases or misunderstandings of officers.”

In a recent interview, Vitale told me, “We’ve been waging a war on drugs for 40 years by putting people in prison for ever longer sentences. Yet drugs are cheaper, easier to get, and at a higher quality than they’ve ever been. Any high school student in America can get any kind of drugs they want. Yet we persist in this idea that the way to respond to the problem of drugs, and many other social problems, is through arrest, courts, punishments, prisons. This is what Trump is playing to. This idea that the only appropriate role for the state is one of coercion and threats—whether it’s in the foreign policy sphere or in the domestic sphere.”

Police forces, as Vitale writes in his book, were not formed to ensure public safety or prevent crime. They were created by the property classes to maintain economic and political dominance and exert control over slaves, the poor, dissidents and labor unions that challenged the wealthy’s hold on power and ability to amass personal fortunes. Many of America’s policing techniques, including widespread surveillance, were pioneered and perfected in colonies of the U.S. and then brought back to police departments in the homeland. Blacks in the South had to be controlled, and labor unions and radical socialists in the industrial Northeast and Midwest had to be broken.

The fundamental role of the police has never changed. Paul Butler in his book “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” and James Forman Jr. in his book “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America” echo Vitale’s point that the war on drugs “has never been about public health or public safety. It’s been about providing a cover for aggressive and invasive policing that targets almost exclusively people of color.”

“People often point to the London Metropolitan Police, who were formed in the 1820s by Sir Robert Peel,” Vitale said. “They are held up as this liberal ideal of a dispassionate, politically neutral police with the support of the citizenry. But this really misreads the history. Peel is sent to manage the British occupation of Ireland. He’s confronted with a dilemma. Historically, peasant uprisings, rural outrages were dealt with by either the local militia or the British military. In the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, in the need for soldiers in other parts of the British Empire, he is having more and more difficulty managing these disorders. In addition, when he does call out the militia, they often open fire on the crowd and kill lots of people, creating martyrs and inflaming further unrest. He said, ‘I need a force that can manage these outrages without inflaming passions further.’ He developed the Peace Preservation Force, which was the first attempt to create a hybrid military-civilian force that can try to win over the population by embedding itself in the local communities, taking on some crime control functions, but its primary purpose was always to manage the occupation. He then exports that model to London as the industrial working classes are flooding the city, dealing with poverty, cycles of boom and bust in the economy, and that becomes their primary mission.”

“The creation of the very first state police force in the United States was the Pennsylvania State Police in 1905,” Vitale said. “For the same reasons. It was modeled similarly on U.S. occupation forces in the Philippines. There was a back and forth with personnel and ideas. What happened was local police were unable to manage the coal strikes and iron strikes. … They needed a force that was more adherent to the interest of capital. … Interestingly, for these small-town police forces in a coal mining town there was sometimes sympathy. They wouldn’t open fire on the strikers. So, the state police force was created to be that strong arm for the law. Again, the direct connection between colonialism and the domestic management of workers. … It’s a two-way exchange. As we’re developing ideas throughout our own colonial undertakings, bringing those ideas home, and then refining them and shipping them back to our partners around the world who are often despotic regimes with close economic relationships to the United States. There’s a very sad history here of the U.S. exporting basically models of policing that morphs into death squads and horrible human rights abuses.”

The almost exclusive alliance on militarized police to deal with profound inequality and social problems is turning poor neighborhoods in cities such as Chicago into miniature failed states, ones where destitute young men and women join a gang for security and income and engage in battles with other gangs and the police. The “broken windows” policy shifts the burden for poverty onto the poor. It criminalizes minor infractions, arguing that disorder produces crime and upending decades of research about the causes of crime.

“As poverty deepens and housing prices rise, government support for affordable housing has evaporated, leaving in its wake a combination of homeless shelters and aggressive broken-windows-oriented policing,” Vitale writes. “As mental health facilities close, police become the first responders to calls for assistance with mental health crises. As youth are left without adequate schools, jobs, or recreational facilities, they form gangs for mutual protection or participate in the black markets of stolen goods, drugs, and sex to survive and are ruthlessly criminalized. Modern policing is largely a war on the poor that does little to make people safer or communities stronger, and even when it does, this is accomplished through the most coercive forms of state power that destroy the lives of millions.”

The accelerated assault on the poor and the growing omnipotence of the police signal our transformation into an authoritarian state in which the rich and the powerful are not subject to the rule of law. The Trump administration will promote none of the conditions that could ameliorate this crisis—affordable housing; well-paying jobs; safe and nurturing schools that do not charge tuition; better mental health facilities; efficient public transportation; the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure; demilitarized police forces in which most officers do not carry weapons; universal, government-funded health care; an end to the predatory loans and unethical practices of big banks; and reparations to African-Americans and an end to racial segregation. Trump and most of those he has appointed to positions of power disdain the poor as a dead weight on society. They blame stricken populations for their own misery. They seek to subjugate the poor, especially those of color, through police violence, ever harsher forms of punishment and an expansion of the prison system.

“We need an effective system of crime prevention and control in our communities, but that is not what the current system is,” Alexander writes in “The New Jim Crow.” “The system is better designed to create crime, and a perpetual class of people labeled criminal. … Saying mass incarceration is an abysmal failure makes sense, though only if one assumes that the criminal justice system is designed to prevent and control crime. But if mass incarceration is understood as a system of social control—specifically, racial control—then the system is a fantastic success.”

Click here to see Chris Hedges interview writer Alex Vitale.

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A Story of Two Blockades
« Reply #399 on: December 17, 2017, 01:47:28 AM »

A Story of Two Blockades

Marching up First Avenue (Photo by Joanne Kennedy)

New York City and Yemen

by Brian Terrell / December 15th, 2017

On December 11, in response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, more than 50 concerned people, including representatives of various peace, justice and human rights organizations and communities, gathered in New York City’s Ralph Bunche Park, across First Avenue from the United Nations. Our message, which was communicated on signs and banners and by speakers addressing the rally, was simple and direct: end the war crimes being committed by the military of the United States along with Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners abetted by the US and end the blockade of Yemeni ports.

For more than two years, Saudi/US bombing has targeted civilian infrastructure: Hospitals, schools, factories, markets, funerals, sea ports, electrical power stations and water treatment facilities. US drones strikes and incursions by US Special Forces into Yemen have killed civilians as well. Armed conflict has directly taken the lives of some 12,000 people, but that tragic number is greatly exceeded by the number of those who are dying from a combination of malnutrition and otherwise easily preventable ailments and diseases like respiratory infections, measles, and cholera, including more than 1,000 children each week. 20 million of Yemen’s population of 28 million people are food insecure and few have access to clean drinking water. More than half of the hospitals in the country are not functioning.

Early in November, the already onerous blockade of Yemen’s ports was made practically total, prompting the United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs to warn that, unless the blockade of Yemen was fully lifted, “… there will be a famine in Yemen… It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”

On November 27, limited exceptions to the blockade were made for humanitarian aid shipments alone. The resulting tightly controlled deliveries have been decried as an empty and vastly insufficient gesture by humanitarian aid groups, who are calling for the ports to be opened to all humanitarian and commercial shipments. Under this pressure, President Trump issued a very brief statement calling upon the Saudis to “completely allow food, fuel, water and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it.” Trump’s uncharacteristically polite request was not backed by anything much at all, much less by a freezing of US arms sales to the Saudis, nor did it address the practice of the US Air Force refueling Saudi fighter jets in mid-air or the US’ own drone strikes in Yemen.

Clearly, the times demand that more be done to counter this dire threat and some voices are being raised. Along with robust diplomatic efforts, there are legislative attempts to curtail arms sales to the Saudis. There have also been fasts, vigils and protests such as occurred in New York and other cities on December 11.

After speeches, songs and a powerful minute of silence, the rally moved up First Avenue to both the US and the Saudi Permanent Missions to the United Nations, led by banner reading “STOP US-SAUDI WAR CRIMES” and “LIFT THE BLOCKADE”, followed closely by officers of the New York City Police Department. Some of us felt compelled by conscience to stand in the doorway of the US Mission and after a short time, we were arrested for violating the “obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic” provision of the New York Penal Law regarding disorderly conduct. 15 of us, carrying photos of Yemeni child victims, were taken into custody and transported to the cells of the 7th Precinct on the city’s Lower East Side.

Blocking the door, US mission to UN (Photo by Joanne Kennedy)

I could not help but wonder as we were handcuffed and loaded into vans, how those police officers could listen so impassively to the denunciations of crimes against humanity being committed and to the disclosures of a blockade that threatens the lives of millions, orchestrated from the buildings we stood before. How could these officers, then, after hearing our pleas and the stories of starving children without reaction, move so decisively to remove our nonviolent obstruction to the perpetrators of those crimes? Did they not wonder if they were arresting the wrong people?

The blockade of Yemen is an atrocious crime of the highest category, a violation of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international pacts. The US participation in the war on Yemen is a violation of the war powers provisions of the United States Constitution, at the very least. The imposition of our modest “blockade” of the United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations, in contrast, threatened no one. No one got sick or died because we stood in that doorway. In New York State, disorderly conduct is a violation, not even considered a crime at all. Still, the NYPD choose to ignore murder committed on its beat and to expend its prodigious resources to arrest and to prosecute law abiding citizens who demand an end to the crimes against Yemen.

The author, photo courtesy of the NYPD

Our protest began in Ralph Bunche Park, named after one of the founders of the United Nations and the first black American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950. Carved into the stone pavement there are these words from Mr. Bunche that speak to the present crisis in Yemen and to the many conflicts in the world today: “Peace, to have meaning for many who have known only suffering in both peace and war, must be translated into bread or rice, shelter, health, and education, as well as freedom and human dignity – a steadily better life. If peace is to be secure, long-suffering and long-starved, forgotten peoples of the world, the underprivileged and the undernourished, must begin to realize without delay the promise of a new day and a new life.”

Brian Terrell lives in Iowa and is a Co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence. In recent years he has visited Afghanistan three times and has spent more than six months in prison for protesting at drone bases. For more information email
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Why Killer Cops Walk
« Reply #400 on: December 19, 2017, 04:28:39 PM »

December 19, 2017
Why Killer Cops Walk

by Todd Morten

Photo by Roscoe Myrick | CC BY 2.0

When asked by a local activist what is so complicated about the case of Justine Damond, the Australian woman who was shot by police officer Mohamed Noor shortly after placing a 911 call, county attorney Mike Freeman said this:

    “I have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the moment he shot the gun he feared for his life, and he used force because he thought he was going to be killed. But he won’t answer my questions, because he doesn’t have to, OK? We all have Fifth Amendment rights, and I respect that.”

His answer should perplex most people with even a minimal understanding of criminal law because it is actually the exact opposite of what he would have to prove at trial.  But, the prosecutor’s blunder was not just an honest mistake.  While it might be said that a good prosecutor will spend a lot of time imagining defenses (and in these cases the defense is not complicated) and therefore the cop’s defense has been uppermost in his mind and hence the slip up, we should not for one second believe that is why he said what he did.

The reason the prosecutor said that his burden is to prove that the cop reasonably feared for his life, a ridiculous claim, is because his brain in this particular case isn’t preoccupied with prosecuting the cop.  Far from it.  His mind is concerned and has been concerned for the past several months of how to avoid prosecuting the cop.  One can almost hear the relief in his voice when he references the 5th amendment, a thing prosecutors typically don’t like because it frustrates their cause, and cops not only don’t like but don’t understand.  “Whew, thank my lucky stars for that darned ol’ 5th amendment! Normally my boys would get a really juicy statement out of the poor sucker, but thanks to the protections of the inner sanctum and us telling the cop NOT to talk to us until he has a lawyer, I don’t have to worry about that!”

Last week a former Mesa, Arizona police officer was acquitted by a jury of both murder and manslaughter. The Mesa jury did not believe that firing five rounds from an assault rifle at a man begging for his life while trying to pull up his gym shorts and having had committed no crime whatsoever warranted any sort of punishment.  Even taking into account the high burden of proof the prosecution has to meet in a criminal case, it should astound and infuriate us that police officers are routinely given a pass after engaging in reprehensible conduct.

The fact is that police officers as criminal defendants are simply unique. Police officers do not face the same risks by going to trial that other criminal defendants face due to the nature of the system to which they belong because the law is designed to protect them in a way that none of us others is protected. Imagine shooting your neighbor as he’s watering the grass and then later explaining to the jury that the sprayer he was holding looked a lot like a gun.

If that sounds like an oversimplification, consider looking at the circumstances surrounding Daniel Shaver’s death a few more times.  In my lawn-watering scenario, imagine now that cop was called to the neighborhood based on information that someone was standing outside his house wielding a handgun.  The officer arrives and sees what looks like a man watering the grass, but, it’s getting dark and while the officer does say that the man was holding a garden hose, it also looked like he might have been holding a small caliber pistol in the same hand.

Enter now an “expert” law enforcement officer to testify that the particular watering device does resemble a small-caliber handgun and it wouldn’t be entirely out of bounds for a police officer to believe the man had been holding a gun.  Next, the jury gets an instruction from the judge that says, basically, “If you believe that the officer was reasonable in his belief that the dead guy was holding a gun, you must find him not guilty”

What “expert” cops know under the law based upon their “training and experience” will never be available to non-cops facing prosecution under similar circumstances, and it shouldn’t be.  Reasonableness is not something that should be cleverly defined in such a way that the result is cops being permitted to abuse or kill innocent civilians.  And we should should reject all talk about cops having to make “split-second decisions without the benefit of hindsight”, a phrase which is meaningless when time after time it’s obvious that officers had an abundance of time to consider alternatives to shooting to kill. Daniel Shaver could easily have been handcuffed (though he scarcely needed to have been!)

Is it time to consider dismantling and then rebuilding the criminal justice system when it comes to these deadly police/citizen encounters? Is it time for white people to consider that movements like Black Lives Matter have advanced goals that will save the lives of people of all races?
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Todd Morten is a deputy public defender at the El Paso County Public Defender’s Office in El Paso, Texas. He lives with his wife and five children, on the east side.

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Homeland Security’s Multibillion Dollar Comedy Show
« Reply #401 on: December 28, 2017, 12:04:21 AM »

December 27, 2017
Homeland Security’s Multibillion Dollar Comedy Show

by James Bovard

Image by James Bovard.

After the 9/11 attacks, Congress and the Bush administration pretended that unlimited federal spending was one of the best ways to thwart terrorist threats. In 2002, Congress created the Homeland Security Department (DHS), sweeping some of the most inept federal agencies, such as the Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), into the new mega-department. Congress also created numerous programs — some run directly by FEMA — to shovel out more than $30 billion in anti-terrorism funding to local and state governments.

As Sen. Tom Coburn (R–Okla.) observed a few years ago, “FEMA’s lax guidelines and oversight made the agency a virtual rubberstamp for most anything that grant recipients creatively justified as related to homeland security — regardless of how loosely related.” Louisiana Homeland Security grant recipients spent $2,400 for a lapel microphone and $2,700 for a teleprompter. Fort Worth, Texas, spent $24,000 of a federal anti-terrorism grant on a latrine-on-wheels. Other Texas local governments spent Homeland Security grants on “a hog catcher for Liberty County, body bags, garbage bags, Ziploc bags and two 2011 Camaros at $31,000 apiece,” as a Senate report revealed.

DHS approved a Michigan police department’s spending $6,200 of its grant on 13 sno-cone machines. The Senate report noted that local officials “defended the sno-cone purchases saying the machines were needed to treat heat-related emergencies.” DHS also asserted that the machines were “dual purpose” because they “could be used to fill ice packs in an emergency.”

The Jacksonville Urban Area Security Initiative used a DHS grant to produce an 8-minute film entitled “Domestic Terrorism: The First Line of Defense.” The film urged viewers to report any suspicious activity and to be especially wary of people are “alone or nervous” or people “of average or above average intelligence” (unlike the people who made the film). People were also told to be on the lookout for residents who displayed “increased frequency of prayer or religious behavior.” As a Techdirt analysis pointed out, “Broadly defined ‘suspicious behavior’ is a great way to make every citizen a suspect … and justify every violation of personal privacy. If you need warrantless wiretaps or a reason to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens, all you have to do is start listing everyday activity as ‘suspicious.’”

Anti-terrorism funding has proven to be a boon for the travel industry. Many DHS grant recipients paid to send their employees to the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit in 2012, which took place at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa on an island near San Diego. Invitees were told that “this luxury resort features over 460 guestrooms, five pools, three fantastic restaurants overlooking the bay, a world-class spa and state-of-the-art fitness center. Paradise awaits.” The highlight of the conference was a “zombie apocalypse” show featuring “40 actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit…. Conference attendees were invited to watch the shows as part of their education in emergency response training,” as a Senate investigation reported. This type of federally subsidized mass-shooting rehearsal did not spur any protests from anti-gun groups.

DHS handouts make state and local law-enforcement agencies more intrusive and punitive. DHS has given a number of grants to purchase license-plate readers for police patrol cars. One California urban area spent $6 million on the readers, which were used to detect vehicles with “excessive traffic violations.” Two years ago, DHS solicited proposals for private companies to create a national database on license-plate data that could disclose exactly when and where citizens drive. The subsequent firestorm caused DHS to temporarily back off from its proposal but it was rolled out again in 2015.

Maryland used federal Homeland Security grants to equip hundreds of police cars with license-plate scanners that create almost 100 million records per year detailing exactly where and when each vehicle travels. The grants also paid for stationary cameras that recorded license plates passing on nearby roads. The massive databank, which mortifies the ACLU, has been almost a total failure at nailing violent criminals or car thieves or terrorists. Instead, almost all the license-plate alerts involve scofflaws who failed to take their cars in for mandatory vehicle-emissions tests.

Local governments and agencies in the Chicago area spent $45 million in Homeland Security grants to set up a network of surveillance cameras known as “Project Shield.” The system was justified as an anti-terrorist measure but was shut down after it was recognized as a boondoggle. A Chicago Tribune editorial derided the program as “Project Sieve.” Some of its equipment failed to function in hot or cold weather. Almost 20 percent of the equipment was misplaced or stolen. Idiotic decisions were made in where to place the surveillance cameras — in police-station lobbies for example. Congressman Michael Quigley (D–Ill.) denounced Project Shield as “corruption which makes us less safe.”

After the heavy-handed police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, Barack Obama publicly fretted about the militarization of police. But many of the worst abuses have long been funded by DHS. A Senate report noted, “‘Militarized’ vehicles and bomb detection robots top the list of ‘must have’ equipment being purchased by law enforcement teams around the country.”

Many police departments use DHS grants to purchase the same type of armored personnel carriers used by the U.S. military. The most popular model is the BearCat — an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. The Keene, New Hampshire, police department justified using federal funds to purchase a BearCat because of rowdiness at a local pumpkin festival. An Arizona police department used a BearCat to carry out a raid on a cockfight organizer. A police department in Washington state used its BearCat to “pull over drunk drivers.” The Clovis, California, Police Department displayed its BearCat at a local Easter egg hunt. A Senate report noted, “Police departments rave about the vehicles’ ‘shock and awe’ effect saying the vehicles’ menacing presence can be enough of a deterrent for would-be criminals.” Unfortunately, there is no way to deter police departments from spending federal dollars to intimidate local taxpayers.

Police departments are also using DHS grants to buy drones to conduct surveillance over their entire domains. As the Senate report explained, “Given the proliferation of military drones used in war operations, local police now want similar equipment in their arsenal of crime-fighting tools.” Senator Coburn warned, “The deployment of these types of surveillance machines raises important questions about American citizens’ constitutional rights and the appropriate balance between improving security and freedom. Federal, state, and local policymakers must carefully consider whether new law-enforcement tools and strategies protect freedom or threaten civil liberties.” But few members of Congress have shown any interest in reining in federally funded abuses.

Federal grant money is enabling local police to buy other military-style devices. As a Senate report noted, “Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) machines were originally developed for use by the military as a nonlethal way to repel adversaries, including Iraqi insurgents or pirates, by making a loud and intense sound that is capable of damaging hearing.” Pittsburgh used $88,000 of DHS grant money to buy a “long-range acoustic device” and used it on protesters at a 2009 international summit in Pittsburgh, leading to at least one lawsuit from a victim claiming permanent loss of hearing.

Federal anti-terrorism grants are also spurring pointless intrusions around the nation. The Washington, D.C., subway system has been plagued by high-profile violent attacks by riders (as well as horrendous service which occasionally kills passengers). The feds’ solution? Special grants of $10 million or more per year to bankroll police to accost travelers before they enter the subway system and search their purse, briefcase, backpack, or whatever. Metro officials insisted that the searches were no big deal because they would be very brief — unless, of course, police found a reason to arrest someone or detain him for questioning. Police rely on hand-held explosive-detection devices which are well known to be ludicrously inaccurate (and can be triggered by hand sanitizer or soap). A Washington Post reporter noted that “many of those transit commuters still have the option of traveling by car, where their property is likely to be safe from police search as long as they don’t commit a crime, a distinction no longer available to Metro riders.” The police search teams are not deployed in response to any credible threat; instead, they are simply sent out to establish police presence. This is akin to the “security theater” that TSA has made famous. But news that police conduct warrantless searches of passengers entering subway stops quickly spreads on social media. If someone wants to avoid the hassle (or the discovery of the nuclear bomb in his suitcase), he merely needs to go to a different metro station a mile or two away.

Federal anti-terrorism grants have been a great political success regardless of pervasive waste, fraud, and abuse. As author and New York Times reporter James Risen (who was targeted for years by both the Bush and Obama Justice Department for national-security leaks he received) observed, the “homeland security–industrial complex” has been a windfall for Washington. Politicians have “learned that keeping the terrorist threat alive provides enormous political benefits…. A decade of fear-mongering has brought power and wealth to those who have been the most skillful at hyping the terrorism threat,” enhancing the “financial well-being of countless federal bureaucrats, contractors, subcontractors, consultant, analysis and pundits.”

The Trump administration has proposed curtailing some anti-terrorism grants to state and local governments but it remains to be seen whether Congress gets on board. What does the United States have to show for tens of billions of dollars of Homeland Security antiterrorism spending by local and state governments? Michael Sheehan, former New York City deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, observed, “I firmly believe that those huge budget increases have not significantly contributed to our post–9/11 security.” But the war on terrorism has been an unmitigated victory for Leviathan and politicians at every level of government.
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More articles by:James Bovard

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors. He is on Twitter at @jimbovard. His website is at  This essay was originally published by Future of Freedom Foundation.


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