The Real Victim in the Brock Turner Rape Case: Aaron Persky

Aaron Persky, the judge who gave Stanford athlete Brock Turner 6 months after Turner was convicted of rape in a trial before Persky’s court, is facing a recall election today. As someone who cares deeply about the rule of law, I hope to fuck California voters throw him the hell off the bench. And while he deserved to be removed for his behavior from the bench, behavior dating back years, I couldn’t wait to comment until after the election because of the new interview in which he paints himself as the victim of uninformed masses who advocate mob rule in place of justice, starting with his own recall.

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Justice For Sale: Reality Winner, National Security, and Constitutional Rights

Reality Winner stands accused of illegally leaking a document written by the US intelligence community which assesses an important part of Russia’s efforts to change the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The document leaked became the basis for a tremendous amount of reporting that, the Senate concluded, ultimately increased national security because internal warnings by the Intelligence community were getting insufficient attention at the policy level. Nonetheless, she’s being pursued with particular relentlessness and with an almost malicious indifference to justice. A year after her arrest, it’s time to look again at her case in its context.

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Why Don’t Victims Report Rape? (Part Eleventy-Eight)

The Charlotte Observer can help answer this! They have a story up about the experience of a woman named Leah McGuirk (who appears to be quite the bad-ass). Less than a month ago, McGuirk went to a bar at a mall-type thing with lots of bars/restaurants called the EpiCentre (yes, spelled like that even though it’s in the States). How did that go for her? Let’s read!

she suffered seizure-like symptoms, blurred vision and had trouble standing up after consuming two-thirds of one drink

Like any normal young woman in the US, she came to the most logical conclusion and evidence-supported conclusion available:

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Lycée Arago Arrests Reminiscent of Rampant Illegality in Trump Inauguration Arrests & Prosecutions

Nearing a year and a half ago now protestors in DC demonstrating against Trump’s inauguration were subjected to mass arrest, in many cases without probable cause. The treatment they received was shameful and illegal (though it is unlikely that any court will ever punish the officers involved), and the prosecutions that followed have been worse. The occupation of a high school in Paris, France on the 22nd of May (coincident with a larger protest march nearby) is now granting the French legal establishment to fuck things up just as badly as we have in the US.

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Fascist Policing: Milwaukee Edition; AKA No One Is Talking About Sterling Brown

I’m not sure why, but since the video of Sterling Brown’s mistreatment was released no one on FtB seems to have covered the malicious violence police committed against Brown, a rookie NBA player who may not be a superstar (yet) but is already playing a large contributing role for his team in his first year. From that, we can guess he’s making significant money and had significant local fame even before this incident put him repeatedly in the news. (BTW: I Have Forgiven Jesus spoke about this in anticipation of the video’s release, but we did not yet know what it showed.)

It’s been hard for me to start this piece. This story falls in an awkward place for me. It lacks the immediate, universal concern that appears to exist here on FtB when cops kill someone, but it’s also far more serious than the quotidian racism in policing that I also cover.

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Fascist Policing: Sacramento Edition II

Today I’d like to talk about the story of a man who wasn’t beaten by the cops, wasn’t arrested by them (at least in this encounter), wasn’t even searched by them. I want to talk about his story because it goes to the heart of the Black encounter with fascist policing today: the everyday, relentless, low-level harassment of Black residents of the US.

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Cops vs Volunteers: Race Has Nothing To Do With It, Of Course

I found yet another example of police officers abusing their powers in order to indulge their prejudices over on RawStory. While I’m sure that university sororities have done plenty of good things (heck, even fraternities, I’m sure, have done plenty of good things) there is so much awfulness in Greek life that one could reasonably (though erroneously) suppose that I’m resolutely against sororities and all they stand for.

While that’s not true, one has to wonder about this cop from the Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol:

As a part of the adopt a highway program, members of Sigma Gamma Rho were picking up trash alongside Highway 83 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when a cop accused them of fighting each other, according to COED News.

Throughout the conversation the officer contradicted himself, according to Sigma Gamma Rho member Shawna Naomi.

Originally the officer said: “I’ve never seen anyone out here cleaning and I’m responding to a call.” Later it was revealed the cop “called in” the report himself.

After the women explained to the officer why they were cleaning the highways even pointing to the “adopt a highway sign” with their sorority name on it the cop still asked to see their IDs.

There’s a picture of the women out doing the work and enjoying themselves. At least a couple are wearing jackets or sweaters with big greek letters on them making their sorority affiliation entirely obvious. So when they were pointing to that equally-obvious official green sign declaring that their sorority has volunteered to clean up that stretch of highway, it wasn’t as if their affiliation was in any way in doubt.

Of course, the PSHP is sure to release a statement at any moment that this had nothing to do with race. So one has to ask: is it the PSHP that is resolutely opposed to sororities and everything they stand for?

Just asking questions!

 

 

 

 

 

Body Cams in Virginia

Some cops in Virginia just made life harder for a huge number of other cops … by doing the right thing. WTVR has an account up of a Black woman’s interaction with an unidentified Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputy. It seems the woman, Dawn Hilton-Williams, created a facebook post with a video describing the encounter, and characterizing it as a lynching.

“I was just bullied by a racist cop, who threatened to pull me out of the car,” said Hilton-Williams in the 11-minute long Facebook video.

“This is where we got lynched. This is where we got lynched, even in today’s day.”

She goes on to explain that the cop threatened to drag her out of the car, not to kill her, but that in these times, if you’re black, when you get dragged out of a car anything might happen next:

… you get shot or you get Tased, or you get Sandra Blanded

But the cops, perhaps not realizing the consequences, immediately released the body cam video of the traffic stop to defend themselves against charges of racism. Sheriff Brian Roberts explained the thinking behind releasing the video:

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That’s it. Take his guns away forever.

Florida passed somewhat interesting legislation in the aftermath of the MSD High School shootings. Although I and my reader would both have preferred dramatic restrictions on private gun ownership and access and hate crazy-blaming, there still could be some utility in the statutory provisions which allow police to assume that when one makes threats that one is at least potentially a danger to others. To that end, the law allows police to deliver those who make what appear to be serious threats (and some others who give indications of being a danger to the public) into the hands of mental health professionals.

The law has complex ramifications for a number of aspects of civil society, including the operation of the First Amendment’s protections of expression generally and the media specifically. Until I see more about how the courts interpret the state legislation and how local authorities mis/use its provisions, I’m going to have trouble  determining whether I find it a net positive or not. Still, the first person they picked up under the law was probably a reasonable choice and doesn’t foreshadow abuse. That person is Christian Nicholas Velasquez.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, cops initially keyed on Velasquez

after getting reports from the [University of Central Florida] community about a user on the online social media platform Reddit called “TheRealUCFChris” who called Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz and Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock heroes.

In an interview with police which happened either immediately before (more likely) or immediately after (it’s not entirely clear) a relatively short evaluation confinement in a mental health institution, Velasquez was clear that although he did make those comments, he couldn’t really see himself following in their footsteps:

“I can’t imagine myself ever doing that. It would take a lot to push me over the edge.”

Still, despite that and similar statements as well as not being found dangerous to the point of requiring confinement by the evaluating doctor, cops felt concerned enough that they applied under a new provision of the law to ban Velasquez from owning a gun for a period of one year. The civil order also prevents or penalizes certain other behaviors, and amounts to a new type of restraining order sought not by a victim but by a law enforcement agency. This new type of restraining order is known as a “risk protection order”.

The Florida judge responsible for deciding whether the emergency order authorizing the hospital say and other very short term measures thought Velasquez’s initial detention was well in-line with the wording and intent of the new law, saying (according to the Sentinel):

“I don’t disagree with the issuing of the initial temporary injunction. I think that’s exactly what the statute provides for.”

Nonetheless, the judge did not believe that the state met the legally required burden for a longer term injunction and declined to convert the emergency order into the new risk protection order with a duration of one year.

People will have different feelings about the law, though I think it’s pretty clear in this case that the authorities acting under the law were interpreting it reasonably and not abusively exploiting the margins of the power granted under statute. It was being used as intended, whatever you think about the intent. I don’t know if the judge had the law right, though it’s likely he did. So the first attempt at use of the law probably went about as well as anyone could hope.

After the hearing was concluded and the decision rendered, Velasquez’s attorney expressed disappointment with the law and its use against her client. Why would the government even want to take away – even temporarily – her client’s right to access guns? After all, she said, quoting her client, he just

wanted to look like a badass on Reddit.

Huh.

 

 

 

Fascist Policing: Yet Another Modest Proposal

So,  NJ.com, an aggregator of content from semi-major newspapers all over New Jersey, has details of a couple of instances of police beating folks without even a decent pretext. The stories are in two separate articles, but they’re entirely routine. In the first a child who took the family car for a drive before getting a driver’s license spooked when a cop wanted to pull him over and drove into a cable:

The teen, who was unlicensed and driving his parent’s car, crashed a sedan into a suspension wire at the corner of Edwin and Bergen streets following a brief police chase.

It’s not entirely clear to me, but my best (although imperfect) understanding of the situation after reading the sources I could get was that the “chase” amounted to something between half a block or up to a few blocks, where the teen, spooked after a cop wanted to pull the car over (probably legitimately, an unlicensed kid is likely to be making many unsafe mistakes in driving) but drove into the wire before any real “chase” could be said to begin.

What happened next was a vicious beating of the teen by the first responding officer – probably also the officer that first attempted to pull over the teen’s car. That officer, Joseph Reiman, is a brother of the mayor of the same city, Carteret, in which the beating took place.

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