Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Police Cannot Handle.....

It now appears for the time-being that I have fallen into documenting police shootings and other forms of police misconduct (see here and here)

We are well aware that we have a problem with police shootings, especially of unarmed black men.  But there are other cases that police do not handle well and need attention paid as well.

So, besides unarmed black men, here are some other situations that police have some issues with:
  • peaceful protestors
  • jaywalkers
  • mental illness
  • babies

Assault/Knocked Unconscious
An 84-year-old Manhattan man is suing the NYPD for $5 million over an alleged jaywalking incident gone terribly awry.  Kang Chun Wong, who was suspected of jaywalking, was allegedly ambushed by a swarm of NYPD officers, knocked unconscious on the street, and handcuffed in a hospital emergency room.
 At least we're not sexually assaulting people like other cops do
Amanda Jo Stephen, 24, was arrested in Austin, Tex. after cops caught her jaywalking while she jogged near the University of Texas.
Florida police said they followed procedure when they Tasered accused jaywalker Zikomo Peurifoy three times when he refused to provide identification after police stopped him for allegedly jaywalking.
The video....may now be shown to officers as an example of how to properly handle an uncooperative suspect.

"Jump-out" Stops (similar to Stop and Frisk) Michigan ACLU (emphasis mine)
So-called "jump-out" stops, which have been widely reported in the media in Saginaw. The stops include officers from various agencies staking out certain communities of color and descending upon individuals who are allegedly violating city ordinances or state laws, including minor infractions such as jaywalking.
The police officers use these minor infractions as an excuse to search the individual, ask for identification and question the individual about other crimes in the area. The ACLU of Michigan asks the DOJ to investigate whether the Saginaw stops are similar to the unconstitutional New York-style stop-and-frisk program and how neighborhoods become "target areas" and whether race-based presumptions may drive those decisions.

Whether a police officer’s mistake of law can provide the individualized suspicion that the Fourth Amendment requires to justify a traffic stop.
Page 17 (PDF pg. 25)
Citizens who wish to engage in activities that are highly regulated or otherwise likely to attract police attention may face state intrusion even if they carefully research when, where, and how they are permitted to conduct their desired activity. Even more casual activities, though legal, may form the basis for stops, searches, and seizures:
A man is lawfully walking down a street that has no sidewalk. An officer mistakenly believes
that walking in the street violates an ordinance prohibiting jaywalking. The man is stopped and searched.
 ACLU Report, The War on Marijuana in Black and White

Case Study: DeMarcus Sanders, Waterloo, Iowa

emphasis mine
Mr. Sanders feels like being an African American in Waterloo makes him a target
for the police. Mr. Sanders was arrested for marijuana possession again last July. Two
plainclothes police officers stopped him one night for crossing the street in downtown
Waterloo against the light. They said his jaywalking had nearly caused an accident. Mr. Sanders said he was in the crosswalk, and there were no cars or other pedestrians at that hour.


SWAT shoot mother and 14 month old black boy

emphasis mine
A SWAT team arrived at Ms. Wilson’s rented house in the Southside neighborhood early in the evening of Jan. 4 to arrest her companion, Anthony Terry, on suspicion of drug dealing, said Greg Garlock, Lima’s police chief. Officers bashed in the front door and entered with guns drawn, said neighbors who saw the raid.
Moments later, the police opened fire, killing Ms. Wilson, 26, and wounding her 14-month-old son, Sincere, Chief Garlock said. One officer involved in the raid, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a 31-year veteran, has been placed on paid administrative leave.
 Woman in Missouri sues police after miscarriage
A woman who lost her premature baby a day after she was thrown in jail is suing the police department and two arresting officers who repeatedly ignored her pleas for medical help.
 The officers stopped Salva after they saw her placing a fake temporary tag on the back window of her car. 
 The tape shows Salva telling the officers she is having a miscarriage and is bleeding. On the tape, an officer identified as Schnell, who has worked for the department for less than two years, walks away from the car and tells his partner: “She just gave me a line of excuses. She said she’s bleeding. She said you can check her.”
SWAT team throws flash-bang grenade into baby's crib ACLU Report (See also 124 violent SWAT raids a day)
 One of the officers threw a flashbang grenade into the room. It landed in Baby Bou Bou’s crib.
The 19-month-old had been taken to an intensive burn unit and placed into a medically induced coma. When the flashbang grenade exploded, it blew a hole in 19-month-old Bou Bou’s face and chest. The chest wound was so deep it exposed his ribs. The blast covered Bou Bou’s body in third degree burns.
 The SWAT team was executing a “no knock” warrant to search for someone who did not live in the home that was raided: Bounkahm’s nephew, who was suspected of making a $50 drug sale. 
SWAT Team Throws Flashbang into Home of Pregnant Woman (from same ACLU report)
Knowing there would likely be a pregnant woman inside, a SWAT team still opted to break down the door of a home and throw a flashbang grenade inside in order to execute a search warrant in a drug case. Once inside the home, SWAT officers found one man, one pregnant woman, and a four-year-old child.
The ACLU report on the Militarization of the police has many other situations.  Read the report when you have a chance.

Flash-bang burns 12 year old girl with 1st and 2nd degree burns
Police in Montana were preparing to raid a home at (address) looking for drugs. Before entering an officer deployed a stun grenade, which is meant to disorient by emitting a bright flash. To achieve this, the police dropped the grenade through a window, which landed inches next to a sleeping child.
The officer, unaware that the grenades have a time delayed detonation, and thinking his was a dud, went to deploy a second. It was in this moment that the first grenade ignited, making contact with the sleeping pre-teen girl's flesh..."She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms."
While [Police Chief] St. John's statement is touching, his rhetoric is lacking. The police department has yet to offer to pay for the young victim's medical bills.

A recent report from Kevin Gosztola on the story of Joseph Jennings,  killed by police in Kansas

In Kansas, Ottawa police shot and killed Joseph Jennings, an 18-year-old who was mentally ill, on August 23. At least two officers on the scene were well aware that he suffered from seizures and had responded to a call one day ago to take him to the hospital.
"He just got out of the hospital. He’s suicidal. Don’t shoot. Please don’t shoot." Both Smith and her husband attempted to help the officers so this did not end so tragically.  “I went over there trying to assist them. I had guns in my face.”
Police decided to use a taser, but Smith asked the officers not to use the weapon because Jennings suffered from seizures and had heart problems. So, police decided to fire beanbag rounds at him instead.
Never did he reach for a weapon. They beanbagged him two more times. He lost his balance. They beanbagged him again. He was getting ready to go down. His arm came up a little, and they opened fire on him—24 rounds.”
Ottawa police have claimed 8 officers were involved. Smith maintained that it was at least 14 police officers, who participated in the shooting incident.
Smith is upset with what police officers on the scene did, but she wanted it to be clear she has no “vendetta” against police.
“We are not angry toward the police department,” Smith explained. “We understand they had policies and procedures in place to protect and serve the community. However, those same two officers that were here that night when they assisted in taking him to the hospital and had his stomach pumped knew him, knew his mental state. That’s what gets me and rips my heart out the most.”

New York Times Article Headline: Police Confront Rising Number of Mentally Ill

The article headline is noticeably different in the article than the link to the article.
Police Shootings of Mentally Ill Suspects are on the Upswing

Schizophrenic boy killed by police--previous calls to police had helped child--death leads to new training of police

She asked her husband to call 911. Two officers arrived, she said, and started calmly speaking with the 18-year-old. Then, she said a third officer from another police force showed up and escalated the situation, which quickly spiraled out of control. Less than a minute later, Keith had been tased and was struggling with the first two officers to arrive.
“Then, I heard the gun go off and saw my son start bleeding,” she said.
Fired but not arrested
The Dallas police officer who shot a mentally ill man in a disputed incident caught on tape was fired Thursday.

Police Chief David Brown also announced Officer Cardan Spencer would be charged with first degree aggravated assault. But a judge reportedly refused to sign the arrest warrant and now the case will be referred to a grand jury.
Mentally ill black woman killed after threatening police, but new investigation demanded since Ferguson
Officers were serving an emergency court order to take the 50-year-old woman to a mental health care facility, police said.
 The investigation comes amid protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the Aug. 9 killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.
 Phoenix police said Cusseaux, who is black, confronted them when she opened her front door just as officers had got through a security door. She then raised the hammer and went at the officers, police said.
 Mentally ill man shot in the back
After shooting their mentally ill son in the back, the Tampa Police Department assured the dead man's parents that officers would get specialized crisis intervention team training.

An 8 On Your Side investigation learned that five years later, TPD walked away from that promise.
"He needed to go to the hospital where he could be understood, where he could be appropriately treated," Stan Skipper said of his son, David.

"They shot five times, three of them hitting David. He had turned to go back into his apartment and they hit him in the back," David's mother, Carol Skipper remembers.
The Skippers called Tampa Police the night of November 9, 1998 to help them take their paranoid schizophrenic son, David to the hospital. They had successfully Baker Acted  David on 19 other occasions.
Maine Press Herald series, Police deadly force and the mentally ill
Five separate fatal shootings of mentally ill people by Maine police in 2011 prompted the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram to examine law enforcement's use of deadly force. Since 1990, police have fired on 101 people, many of them mentally ill, and in every case the state attorney general ruled that the shooting was justified.
LAPD chief faces tense crowd over shooting of mentally ill man
Conflicting accounts about Ford's death have emerged. An LAPD statement, citing a preliminary investigation, said Ford tackled one of two gang officers who approached him on West 65th Street and reached for the officer's gun, prompting both officers to open fire. But a friend of Ford's family told The Times that she witnessed part of the incident and saw no struggle between the officers and Ford.
The killing occurred days after another police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., that left an 18-year-old, unarmed black man dead and sparked violent protests that have intensified national scrutiny of police conduct. By contrast, the Los Angeles protests following Ford's death have been peaceful.

Peaceful Protestors

Ferguson, Missouri

 New Report documents worldwide crackdown on dissent and protest October 2013 (emphasis mine)
In a major new report, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations details a global crackdown on peaceful protests through excessive police force and the criminalization of dissent. The report, "Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest Around the World," warns of a growing tendency to perceive individuals exercising a fundamental democratic right — the right to protest — as a threat requiring a forceful government response. The case studies detailed in this report show how governments have reacted to peaceful protests in the United States, Israel, Canada, Argentina, Egypt, Hungary, Kenya, South Africa and Britain.
The report’s name comes from a police report filed in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets of Toronto to nonviolently protest the G-20 summit. A senior Toronto police commander responded to the protests by issuing an order to "take back the streets." Within a span of 36 hours, more than 1,000 people — peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights monitors and downtown residents — were arrested and placed in detention.

Anti-Fracking protest in Canada turns violent after police advanced on peaceful protestors
What started as a peaceful protest by the Mi’kmaq First Nation in Elsipogtog, New Brunswick against a shale gas project has now spun violently out of control. After the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) advanced on the anti-fracking protest, demonstrators clashed with police, chemical agents were deployed and at least half a dozen police vehicles were destroyed by Molotov cocktails.
Turkey, Taksim Square, Gezi Park
Turkish youth began peacefully protesting the redevelopment plans this morning with singing and book readings in the public space, but as more people congregated, the protest (while still peaceful) began to take on more of an anti-Erdogan theme. And that’s when the police arrived, turning a peaceful protest into what is already being termed Bloody Friday.
Police retaliation against the peaceful protestors was violent, brutal, unnecessary, and inhumane. They were clearly aiming not to diffuse the large crowds, but to hurt as many protestors as possible. Police attacked the large crowds with tear gas grenades, water cannons, and rubber bullets, aiming directly for individuals. Many have been reported to have lost sight, been grievously injured, had brain damage, and even died as a result of these supposed “crowd control” techniques.

Eyewitness account of police riot against peaceful Muslim protest in Australia

The three phases of Egypt’s popular protests

creeping violence:

The new wave of protests has reignited the old debate about violent and nonviolent protests. Many protest movements started peacefully and then slowly turned to violent confrontations. Failure to achieve the aspired outcomes can tempt some protesters to push the boundaries of peacefulness under the slogan of “resisting the police” and “reject submission.”

In Ukraine, after weeks of responding peacefully to police brutality, a group of protesters decided to take the fight to the police, including members of the far-right party Svoboda. In Venezuela, a group of academics and politicians have written a letter deploring what they describe as “a wave of violence from minority and extremist sections of Venezuela’s opposition,” citing physical assaults on government institutions, including gunshots and Molotov cocktail attacks on the state TV channel and a state governor's residence. Egypt also had its share of violent confrontations. The rise of mysterious groups like the Molotov movement, which regularly claim responsibility for violent attacks on the police, signals a new turn toward violence by the “anti-coup movements,” particularly after the ruthless, forced end of the Islamists’ sit-ins in Cairo in August 2013.

Anger is a natural human response to brutality; it can lead to irrationality and emotional response. However, it is counterproductive and self-defeating. Police brutality is not just aimed at restoring order but also, after triggering violence, it is used as a pretext for more brutality. Revising the history of protests helps increase understanding of the deeper impact of violent protest on the strength of the state. In her book Why Civil Resistance Works, Erica Chenoweth found that violent resistance movements, even if they succeed, can create a lot of long-term problems.

Losing peacefulness is like banging on the wall after losing the door key. It will either drain one’s energy or break the wall, but both are futile and potentially destructive, and can ruin the state that the protesters initially aim to salvage.

Occupy Wall Street

Most recently the case of Cecily McMillan made headlines Sparrow media

The Nation
Two years ago, a young activist named Cecily McMillan attended a protest at Zuccotti Park marking the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. When police moved in to clear the demonstrators, a cop roughly grabbed her breast—photos show an ugly bruise—and she ended up being injured so badly that she had a seizure and ended up in the hospital. In a just world, she would be getting restitution from the City.
Interview with Cecily McMillan on Democracy Now!

Scott Olsen Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen interview on Democracy Now!
Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old former U.S. Marine who served two tours in the Iraq War, was critically wounded after being shot in the head by a police projectile at Occupy Oakland.
Just over two months ago, on October 25th, the 24-year-old Iraq war veteran was taking part in a protest in defense of the Occupy Oakland encampment. By the time the night ended, Olsen was hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured skull and brain swelling. He had been shot in the head by a police projectile while the police were firing bean bags and tear gas to clear the Occupy protesters.
At the time of the shooting Olsen, who served two deployments in Iraq, was wearing military fatigues and a Veterans for Peace T-shirt. Moments after he was shot, police fired a bright flash grenade at a group of Occupy protesters who attempted to help treat him. Soon after that, the protesters carried him away as blood streamed down his face.

** side note Scott Olsen talks Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks
AMY GOODMAN: Scott, as we travel around the country to Occupy encampments, there are veterans everywhere in these encampments. One of the Iraq War vets that you have been standing up for, speaking out for, is Bradley Manning. You, too, were interested in computers. Can you talk about whether you knew him, why Bradley Manning is important to you, who is now facing a court-martial, facing life in prison, possibly death, accused for leaking documents and videos when he was in Iraq, uploading them to WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website?
SCOTT OLSEN: Yeah. Bradley Manning, I didn’t know him until he hit the news. And as soon as I heard about him, as soon as I saw the documents that he leaked, or allegedly leaked, I could see myself almost in his shoes, because I—you know, I, when I was in the Marine Corps, I had access to many of the same types of files. And, you know, if I wanted to, I could have gone up and got them, and—but I didn’t see any that, you know, were particularly—pointed to any particular crimes. But he came across a lot. And what he did is—that’s true heroism. I mean, he faced up against a real enemy. And I think that those documents also tie in with what we are seeing today with this global awakening, with all this information, has been another pile on top of the tinder that’s sparked Occupy, that’s sparked the Arab Spring. It’s played into that, as well.

14 Specific Allegations of NYPD Brutality During Occupy Wall Street Atlantic Magazine
An investigation undertaken by law clinics at NYU, Fordham, Harvard, and Stanford has concluded, after eight months of study, that the NYPD abused Occupy Wall Street protesters and violated their rights on numerous occasions during the 2011 protests that radiated out from Zuccotti Park.
Here is the full report and reports of police brutality start on pages 71 and 72
Reports, videos, and allegations of unjustifiably aggressive and excessive police force against bystanders, protesters, legal observers, and journalists have been a constant and persistent feature of the Occupy protests. Witnesses and victims have reported allegations of such incidents frequently since Occupy started.
The most frequent form of force allegedly used by police against protesters, bystanders, and journalists is bodily force, including through:
• Pushing;
• Shoving, tackling, or throwing forcefully backwards, to the ground, or against a wall;
• Dragging along the ground;
• Hair pulling;
• Hitting or punching, including to the head and face; and
• Kicking, including to the head and face.  

Wikipedia Law Enforcement and the Occupy Movement

The Huffington Post has its own collection of articles about police brutality and the Occupy movement.

Bay Citizen Video shows officers dragging a professor and a student to the ground by their hair
A video showing police at the University of California, Berkeley, dragging two protesters, including a professor, to the ground by their hair during an Occupy protest earlier this week has stoked outrage among some faculty and legal experts.
UC Davis pepper spray incident  YouTube

Police use of pepper spray to disperse “occupy” demonstrators at UC Davis has set off a firestorm of protest, the suspension of two officers, and calls for the school’s chancellor to resign.
Video of the incident at the University of California campus, showing demonstrators sitting peacefully on a sidewalk as officers sprayed them with a red mist of pepper spray at very close range, quickly went viral.

Mass surveillance of Occupy Protest Movements

Occupy Wall Street and the broader Occupy movement was not only subjected to physical police brutality, but was under mass surveillance too as we learned later, the FBI monitored the Occupy movement using counter-terrorism agents and tactics.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records.The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan —Federal Hall and the Museum of American Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street.”
An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist.
The F.B.I. was concerned that the movement would provide “an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty and poverty issues.


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