White America Has Outlawed Existing-While-Black

That’s the only conclusion I can come to after a day spent reading about 18 year-old unarmed black kid Mike Brown’s murder by a white cop with a god complex. It’s 2014, and we’re still a society in which black parents have to explain to their kids how not to get killed by the police, and a society in which a black man can get executed for selling untaxed cigarettes, a black woman for opening her door to police, a young black man for lying face-down as the police compelled him to., and a black man can’t be assaulted by a white one without getting pepper-sprayed and detained. Meanwhile, white people can carry assault rifles wherever they wish, and even brandish them at police without getting shot instantly, but a black man can’t carry a BB gun in Wal-Mart without getting executed by police. An unarmed black teenager gets murdered by a policeman, and a white pundit wants to know why President Obama won’t offer the murderer condolences for having given in to the impulse to destroy an innocent human being.

Are we happy, white Americans? This is the country we’ve made. Remember all that tough-on-crime talk that’s kept us electing people who’ve promised more cops with more powerful weaponry? Remember how we all panicked after 9/11 and decided it was okay if our police were turned into paramilitary units? And how we’ve put all this heavy weaponry in the hands of white people who disproportionately target black people?

I want you to look at what’s happening in Ferguson, to the people who are peacefully protesting a black teenager’s murder.

An unarmed black protestor retreats from police, who have enough firepower to reduce him to random chunks of meat. Image credit: Whitney Curtis, NYT

An unarmed black protestor retreats from police, who have enough firepower to reduce him to random chunks of meat. Image credit: Whitney Curtis, NYT

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My Country ’tis of Thee, Bad Land of Police Brutality

This is what America’s Finest are up to these days:

Note the technique: the insouciant stoll, the pepper spray held at a casual yet effective angle, the expression that says he could just as easily be spraying cockroaches as students, because they’re equally vermin to him. Note that his safety and the safety of others is in no way imperiled by a bunch of students sitting on the ground, yet he feels it necessary to spray them full in the face with a chemical weapon because they were, y’know, protesting. Defying his authortay. Can’t have that.

This is Lt. John Pike. You can go say hello.

ucdavis.edu">japikeiii@ucdavis.edu rt @ Welcome to the internet Lt. John Pike of UC Davis http://t.co/lnLjlwxo #ows
@JC_Christian
Gen JC Christian

Let him know what you think of actions and injuries like this:

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood. [emphasis added]

If, like me, you have no desire to speak to that piece of shit directly, contact the UC Davis police directly. Maybe you can send them a link to this video and ask them how this comports with their mission to protect and serve the students of UC Davis. And you can let UC Davis know what you think on their Facebook page.

Read this letter from UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi trying to explain away the violence:

And then let her know what you think of her excuses. Maybe just send her a copy of this letter, if you’re too disgusted to write one of your own.

Actions like this are truly disgusting. This is an outrageous way to respond to people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. But it also shows how terrified those at the top are. They’re terrified enough to make their precarious position even worse by attacking students for the crime of sitting in front of tents.

Keep ‘em running scared.

Occupy.

Rising Up

I’m making an exception to my “no links to HuffPo because they are a repository for woo and wackaloonery that should not be rewarded” because this is important:

Jesse Kornbluth: The Police Riot at Berkeley: If They’ll Beat a Poet Laureate, Will They Kill a Student?

Go read it in its entirety before coming back here. Yes, even if you despise HuffPo as much as I do.

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Phoenix PD Behaving Badly

Note to police departments that think intimidating bloggers will help cover up their corruption: you’re only guaranteeing we all find out about your supreme dumbfuckitude.

This is becoming an old story. Blogger gets fed up with an out-of-control police department and starts exposing their actions to the public, police department proves the blogger right by trying to prosecute the blogger for vague crimes that really amount to “saying bad things about powerful people.” But in this case, the police actually raided the blogger’s home and seized virtually everything.

In what should send a frightening chill down the spine of every blogger, writer, journalist and First Amendment advocate in the United States, Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department.

Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging.

The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment – which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation.

[snip]

The warrant apparently listed “petty theft” and “computer tampering with the intent to harass” as the probable cause for the warrant, neither of which would justify seizing so much material. And the petty theft charge is truly absurd:

The allegation of “petty theft” against Pataky stem from photos he posted on his blog of police name plates that appear to have been taken from within the department. He said he actually made the plates himself.

Interestingly, almost everything he gets on the department comes from good cops within the department blowing the whistle:

“We were going to shut down the website after that but then all of a sudden all these good cops started hitting the site and sending us tips,” he said.

He said they would also deliver all kinds of internal documents from within the department exposing everything from a cop with multiple DUIs to another cop whose son was a child molester and was trying to get on the force (and was eventually arrested).

“We have about 50 to 100 retired and active cops who provide us information,” he said.

Phoenix has a serious problem. And now they’ve ensured their dirty laundry’s aired far and wide. This may be news to them, but there’s too many bloggers on the intertoobz to intimidate us all, or even enough.

To which all I can say is, good.

Sheriff Joe Jumps the Shark

Apparently, being treated as some sort of redneck hero for dying jail underwear pink and creating tent cities has rather gone to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s head. He was always an authoritarian bully, but he’s been getting crazier and crazier over the years. This year, it appears, he’s finally tipped himself right over into fascism:

I’m spending my Christmas vacation in lovely Maricopa County, AZ, this week with my in-laws. And I have to tell you that, thanks to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his gang of thugs deputies, I’ll be somewhat relieved when I leave.

After all, how would you like to live in a place where law enforcement actually arrests you for applauding briefly at a public county council meeting? Where they threaten and intimidate you just for showing up in the first place?

That’s what’s been happening here.

It all has to do with an anti-Arpaio group called Maricopa Citizens for Safety Accountability, which formed last spring in response to investigative reports and studies demonstrating that Arpaio’s insane obsession with illegal immigrants was destroying his office’s ability to actually deal with real law enforcement work.

MCSA’s members have been turning up at meetings of the county Board of Supervisors and trying to speak, but the board refuses to let MCSA do so except for brief comment periods at the end of its meetings. Moreover, the board meetings are now patrolled by a huge contingent of deputies who treat the citizens who attend like criminals.

Last week, they went even further:

[snip]

And, of course, deputies and security agents at the Board of Supervisors meetings have begun to arrest spectators. That development came Wednesday.

During the meeting, Board of Supervisors chairman Andy Kunasek warned spectators that they were being disruptive by applauding speakers, but deputies neither dismissed nor arrested spectators who applauded an animal advocate or a public transportation advocate who sang a birthday song for Kunasek.

The scene was different when about 15 spectators stood and clapped for 20 seconds after a Maricopa Citizens group member spoke critically of Arpaio during her turn at the lectern.

Deputies arrested Joel Nelson, Jason Odhner, Monica Sandschafer and Kristy Theilen on allegations of disorderly conduct and trespassing.

[snip]

Deputies made the arrests in a clear attempt to intimidate people associated with Maricopa Citizens, said Carlos Calindo, who attended the meeting.

“It is incredible the way they behaved,” said Calindo, who is not a member of the citizens organization. “You come in there and the atmosphere is incredibly oppressive. They yell at you. They scold you. They try to intimidate you. It is improper.”

Must be because Faux gave him a teevee show. He thinks he’s acceptable.

It’s time for me old home state to wake up and smell the reality. Joe must go.

Time to Publicize: Bush Turning Military on Citizens

Woozle announced this in comments, and Glenn Greenwald had a typically superb article on it a few days later. Now we have a chance to take action:

Bush Illegally Turns Army Inwards – Urge Moderators to Raise Issue During Presidential Debates

For more than 200 years, federal laws have protected the American people against the use of military forces on our own soil. Strengthened in 1878 by the Posse Comitatus Act, these laws have guaranteed that the federal government could not use the military for domestic law enforcement purposes.

Without such protection, the federal government could use the might of our army to violate state and individual rights. Moreover, minor incursions by the military into domestic law enforcement activity could lay the foundation for the imposition of martial law at a moment’s notice. This is one slippery slope we don’t want to start sliding down.

That is why we should all be deeply disturbed by the news that President Bush has assigned the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team to be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army component of Northern Command (NorthCom). According to an article in Army Times, the soldiers could be called upon for a variety of tasks, including quelling “civil unrest.” They are apparently engaged in training with shields and batons, beanbag bullets, and Tasers.

We need to raise awareness about this threat to our liberty immediately. The American Freedom Campaign believes the best method available at the moment is to send an email to the hosts of the next two presidential debates, urging them to ask the candidates whether they would fully enforce the Posse Comitatus Act.

Click on over and let the media know it’s time to get the word out. Especially after what’s happened with Denver and St. Paul, I’m not willing to let Bush play with turning the military on the citizenry come election time. The more public this is, the better chance we have of preventing abuse.

Not that I think a public spotlight will stop this regime, but it couldn’t hurt.

Terror In St. Paul

I found this originally through AOL’s comedy video channel, but it’s not comedy – it’s real terror, and it’s a stark reminder of just how out-of-control our police agencies got during the RNC.

These people were being herded. This didn’t seem like crowd control – it seemed like a cruel game, police drunk on their own power letting their inner thug loose, knowing the crowd was too weak to strike back.

This is our country if the Republicons stay in power. This is just a taste of what they consider appropriate.

Bitter, isn’t it?

It’s .50 Caliber, but It’s Not a Killing Machine. Honest.


Pop quiz time. This is a photo of:

A. A new U.S. Army Special Forces Unit

B. A mercenary group for hire

C. The Richland County, SC Sheriff’s Department’s shiny new toy

Tell me just what the fuck cops need with armored personnel carriers. Especially after their behavior in Minnesota, which we’ll be exploring in depth here within the next day or so, once the apoplexy’s managable.

This is just insane:

Radley Balko notes another community that has gone ultra-militarized (and, as he says, “Who wants to set an over under on the first time they use this thing to bust a pot dealer?”)

Police Mag (March, 2008)

The Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department has acquired an armored personnel carrier complete with a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun for its Special Response Team.

Sheriff Leon Lott told the Columbia State newspaper that he hoped the vehicle, named “The Peacemaker,” would let the bad guys know that his officers are serious.

“We don’t look at this as a killing machine,” Lott told the paper. “It’s going to keep the peace. We hope the fact that we have this is going to save lives. When something like this rolls up, it’s time to give up.”

“Letting the bad guys know you’re serious” is not a good answer to “What the fuck do you need with an APC?”

You only use “a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun” for one thing – killing as many people as you can. It’s not meant to keep the peace. It’s meant to destroy enemy soldiers. That’s what enormous fucking machine guns are for.

They are not for police agencies, which are ostensibly tasked with saving lives rather than spraying indiscriminate death down upon the nation’s citizenry. Although, after the last week, I’m not too sure about law enforcement’s role as the thin blue line anymore. “Jack-booted thugs” seems more accurate.

Eight years ago, I loved and trusted this nation’s peace officers. A few bad apples occasionally gave the whole barrel a bad taste, and a few agencies needed their corrupt asses kicked, but on the whole, I knew they were there to serve and protect.

Does that motherfucking tank look like a peace officer’s weapon to you?

Do the mass arrests, the torture, the brutality, the spying, and the thuggery in St. Paul remind you more of America or the Iron Curtain?

How long do you think it’ll be before America has its own Tienanmen Square? How long before a protester gets run down by some macho wanna-be Rambo in a policeman’s uniform and an APC?

But no, this is America.

We always do the world one better.

Fuck running down a single individual. There’s a gargantuan gun mounted on that baby – fire it up. Spray hot lead all over those vegans and those flower-children. Show ‘em who’s boss.

This country is on an extremely dangerous trajectory. Just imagine what would have happened if one of these APCs had been present at Kent State. In Denver. In St. Paul.

The restraints of democracy and decency that used to at least somewhat protect this country from excesses of police brutality have been removed. The Constitutional protections that kept us from becoming another Myanmar, Tibet, Russia, El Salvador, a hundred others, aren’t simply being eroded – they’re being blasted away. Bush removed the torture taboo, started playing dictator, and it’s all the signal others needed to start playing right along with him. After all, if the President can do it, why not the local police department? It’s not wrong. It’s not illegal. The White House attorneys said so.

And here we see the real reason for the neocons’ hatred of communist regimes: it wasn’t moral outrage, it was jealousy. Why else leap so quickly to demolish the freedoms they pay lip service to? That kind of power over the mind and body of their citizens was something they could only dream of – before Bush started making their dream a reality.

We’re sliding into totalitarianism. It’s time to stop the slide. Don’t let the people you love vote their own freedoms away.


(Tip o’ the shot glass to Ed Brayton)

While the Media Titters over Palin, Police Torture Protesters

I’ll have much, much more on the unbelievable conduct of the police in St. Paul. I’ve been following the reports all week, and it’s fucking beyond outrageous. But this tips me right over the edge:

Here’s the news from the streets of St. Paul and the cells of the Ramsey County Jail

Jason was tased seven times on the street, while completely unresisting. We just heard from him-he’s still pulling copper out of his hip from the taser gun, has a long, deep laceration in his leg that is still untreated, was beaten up badly and has a black eye, a hurt mouth and many lacerations, but says he’s doing great. Elliot Hughes, a sweet, nineteen year old who came to our day camp, was badly beaten when the cops knocked him off his bicycle. They stepped on his chest, and he was coughing blood all night but received no medical treatment. The guards were calling him ‘Princess’ and making homophobic remarks. We heard from Jason that last night, Elliot was making noises to protest not receiving any food for more than twelve hours. Twelve officers entered his cell. Screams were heard for over five minutes. He was tasered three times, maced, and beaten, then removed and the men were told he was being taken to a restraint chair.

[Starhawk]

To put it bluntly, uniformed “law” enforcement in St. Paul and Ramsey County:

  • torture with electroshock weapons (Tasers)
  • torture with chemical weapons
  • stomp on a young man’s chest
  • cruelly (perhaps fatally) deny medical care to a victim spitting up blood (the fancy medical name is hemoptysis) from thoracic trauma
  • respond to calls for food with torture by beating, Taser, and chemical weapons: the same chemical weapons known to cause respiratory arrest and death in victims with pulmonary disease. “Spitting up blood” is a symptom of pulmonary disease so severe as to require emergency medical evaluation.
  • then tie up the victim in “restraint chairs” known to exacerbate pre-existing breathing difficulties in some victims of thoracic trauma.

You know, I’d gathered a few items of police fuckery from Denver, but never posted them because I got distracted by other matters. I figured I’d save them for a larger post on our expanding police state. But I look at the contrast between the overzealousness in Denver, and it’s like comparing children with cap guns to a rifle brigade.

You already heard from PZ how the police have been conducting unlawful raids, how they’ve been shutting down protesters on the flimsiest of evidence, and how they’ve arrested journalists. Now they’re engaging openly and shamelessly in torturing detainees.

I wonder where they could’ve gotten the idea that was at all acceptable in a polite society?

There’s just not enough profanity in the universe to express my outrage.

Much more on such matters later, when I’m less speechless. But in the meantime, if you’re inclined to phone some people and civilly yet forcefully advise that maybe it’s a little premature to bring Guantanamo tactics to the mainland for use against vegans, peaceniks, and a few window-breaking anarchists, Firedoglake’s got the contact list.