Category: Justice

Guns with history

Overdue. And the gun nutballs, the NRA, the folks who absolve themselves of any responsibility about gun safety – are crapping their tidy whities.

The folks who produced this PSA had a representative of the NYPD on the scene for the whole production, they used prop guns. They also told the truth about gun deaths that could have been prevented if paranoids didn’t have a lobby big enough to scare admittedly chicken-hearted politicians.

Speaking as someone who has been a gun owner for 60 years – Go get ‘em, folks! Gun sense starts with gun safety, human safety – not rightwing paranoia.

When will the United States deal with history of racist murders?


First lynching the FBI ever “solved”

The US justice department will be accused in front of the United Nations on Thursday of failing to account for hundreds of African Americans who disappeared or were murdered by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan during the civil rights era.

The UN’s human rights council in Geneva will be told at a special meeting of its working group that the wave of racial violence that swept through the deep south in the 1940s, 50s and 60s has never been accounted for, despite a congressional law passed seven years ago that instructed the FBI to look again at the issue. The message will be delivered to the UN by a team of lawyers and civil rights experts from Syracuse University who have investigated scores of cold cases of race murders that have never been brought to justice.

They will tell the UN – as part of the world body’s review of the human rights record of the US that reaches a climax in May – that they have compiled a list of more than 300 suspicious killings that the FBI have not even recognized, let alone cleared up. By that calculation there have been hundreds, possibly thousands, of individual murderers who have killed in the name of white supremacy and enjoyed total impunity…

The UN spotlight falls at a time of rising concern about the unresolved nature of America’s sordid history of race killings. It follows the recent publication of a study by the Equal Justice Initiative that identified almost 4,000 lynchings in the country between 1877 and 1950 – vastly more than previously reported.

The issue has also been heightened by growing public concern about contemporary police shootings of unarmed black people such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York. The Syracuse experts will invite the UN to draw a parallel between the recent spate of police shootings and killings in the civil rigohts era, many of which occurred with the active co-operation or silence of local law enforcement agencies.

One more overdue class of justice ignored, dismissed, falsified by our political establishment. With few exceptions, even self-described liberals rely on lousy information and excuses from the Department of Justice, the FBI. Phony reports which neither recognize real numbers and real reasons. Racism is something that “other people” are guilty of as far as American law enforcement is concerned. More self-deception.

Not until the era of Mississippi Burning could the FBI even claim to have solved a lynching. And they didn’t do the grunt work in that case either. Civil Rights activists, groups constituted to fight for legal protection for civil rights workers, knew from the beginning where to look for the murderers of Schwerner, Goodman and Cheney. The FBI dragged their feet, as ever. They were pushed by public pressure into finally doing something useful.

The FBI track record through the whole disgraceful history of racist murders in the United States was absolutely perfect up till then. No lynchings were ever solved by the FBI. None. Zero.

Serbia arrests seven men over 1995 Srebrenica massacre — finally

srebrenica-massacre
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Serbia is to mount its first trial over one of Europe’s worst atrocities: the massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men by Serbian forces in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995.

Following a war crimes investigation, police arrested seven suspects in Serbia on Wednesday in the first such domestic operation in almost 20 years after the massacre, which was declared under international law to have been an act of genocide – the sole such act during the wars in the former Yugoslavia…

The seven men arrested at various locations in Serbia on Wednesday are suspected of having taken part in the mass murder of around 1,000 men at a warehouse in Kravica outside Srebrenica, a small hilltown in eastern Bosnia where Bosnian Muslims were held in a UN “safe haven” and besieged by Mladic’s forces for three years until the denouement in July 1995 resulted in the worst single atrocity of the war and the biggest massacre in Europe since the Nazis.

RTFA. It would be too kind to simply say this is overdue. I’ll leave the double-speak to the politicians.

Part of the DOJ report on Ferguson that didn’t make the Network News

protect and serve, my ass

In the city of Ferguson, nearly everyone is a wanted criminal.

That may seem like hyperbole, but it is a literal fact. In Ferguson — a city with a population of 21,000 — 16,000 people have outstanding arrest warrants, meaning that they are currently actively wanted by the police. In other words, if you were to take four people at random, the Ferguson police would consider three of them fugitives.

That statistic should be truly shocking. Yet in the wake of the Department of Justice’s withering report on the city’s policing practices, it has gone almost entirely unmentioned. News reports and analysis have focused on the racism discovered in departmental emails, and the gangsterish financial “shakedown” methods deployed against African Americans. In doing so, they have missed the full picture of Ferguson’s operation, which reveals a totalizing police regime beyond any of Kafka’s ghastliest nightmares…

It turns out that nearly everyone in the city is wanted for something. Even internal police department communications found the number of arrest warrants to be “staggering”. By December of 2014, “over 16,000 people had outstanding arrest warrants that had been issued by the court.” The report makes clear that this refers to individual people, rather than cases – people with many cases are not being counted multiple times…

This complete penetration of policing into everyday life establishes a world of unceasing terror and violence. When everyone is a criminal by default, police are handed an extraordinary amount of discretionary power. “Discretion” may sound like an innocuous or even positive policy, but its effect is to make every single person’s freedom dependent on the mercy of individual officers. There are no more laws, there are only police

And this is precisely what occurs in Ferguson. As others have noted, the Ferguson courts appear to work as an orchestrated racket to extract money from the poor. The thousands upon thousands of warrants that are issued, according to the DOJ, are “not to protect public safety but rather to facilitate fine collection.” Residents are routinely charged with minor administrative infractions. Most of the arrest warrants stem from traffic violations, but nearly every conceivable human behavior is criminalized. An offense can be found anywhere, including citations for “Manner of Walking in Roadway,” “High Grass and Weeds,” and 14 kinds of parking violation. The dystopian absurdity reaches its apotheosis in the deliciously Orwellian transgression “failure to obey.” (Obey what? Simply to obey.) In fact, even if one does obey to the letter, solutions can be found. After Henry Davis was brutally beaten by four Ferguson officers, he found himself charged with “destruction of official property” for bleeding on their uniforms.

I agree with the authors. The odds that Ferguson is the worst example of institutionalized racism in America is unlikely. The town certainly is representative of the process, though. Whether you take a close look at small town America or urban clusters like Los Angeles or Atlanta, Chicago or New York, the same racist opportunism is at play.

That carries forward to the final conclusion in this piece. Eventually, police departments consider all human beings to be nothing more than a resource for funding. We are objectified into an underclass, nothing more than lumpen targets for scorn, to be harvested like sheep. To be slaughtered like sheep.

Time to grow some horns.

Dunno how dumb these crooks are – but, the coppers are pretty smart

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Some of the stolen goods recoveredLakeville PD photo

The imprint of a license plate in a snowbank proved to be the undoing of a couple suspected of a series of burglaries in Massachusetts.

A Lakeville police officer investigating a home break-in traced the imprint to a pickup truck that matched the description of a vehicle seen at other burglaries.

Chief Frank Alvilhiera told The Enterprise of Brockton on Monday that the truck was traced to a Dartmouth hotel…A search of a hotel room uncovered more than 300 stolen items, including jewelry, watches, wallets, laptops and cameras. Alvilhiera estimates the goods are worth at least $10,000.

Meanwhile, Robert Beaucaire and Amy Peters face charges including breaking and entering and larceny.

Something good besides lots of snowshoeing had to come from all that snow on the South Shore.

The push for US colleges to divest Israel investments grows and flowers

The lecture hall had filled quickly. Several students wore keffiyehs, the traditional Palestinian headscarves, while another sat draped in the Israeli flag.

It was time for a ritual that has become increasingly commonplace on many American college campuses: A student government body, in this case at the University of California, Davis, would take up Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, and decide whether to demand their school divest from companies that work with the Jewish state.

In the United States, Israel’s closest ally, the decade-old boycott-divestment-sanctions movement, or BDS, is making its strongest inroads by far on college campuses. No U.S. school has sold off stock and none is expected to do so anytime soon. Still, the current academic year is seeing an increasing number of divestment drives on campus. Since January alone, student governments at four universities have taken divestment votes…

The boycott-divestment-sanctions movement grew from a 2005 international call from Palestinian groups as an alternative to armed struggle over control of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967 and Palestinians seek for an independent state.

BDS advocates say the movement, based on the campaign against South African apartheid decades ago, is aimed at Israeli policy, not Jews, in response to two decades of failed peace talks and expanded Israeli settlement of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

But supporters of Israel say that boycotting the country is no way to make peace, especially since many BDS supporters do not differentiate between protesting Jewish settlements on occupied lands or Israel as a whole.

The Jewish settlements are only part of the apartheid practices of Israel and I’m not quite certain why the AP rolls this out as a straw man. Apartheid is codified bigotry allowing only second-class citizenship to Palestinians – strictly enforced throughout every part of political life in Israel and the land that nation invaded and controls by force of arms.

In the U.S., activists have pressed for boycotts of Israeli products and cultural events, and divestment by churches and others. None of these efforts has gained as much momentum as the campus divestment movement.

Pension funds in the United States, like CALPERS, representing thousands of employees in California, ranging from teachers to police, is considering divesting all Israel-based investments. They are not alone.

The campaign will continue. In the American Jewish community, the percentage of young people who believe identity with and unconditional support for Israel is necessary – is a minority. Nor will they adopt the specious argument that opposition to Israel’s policies is somehow anti-Semitic. That canard is dead and gone except among reactionary True Believers.

Just as the campaign against apartheid in South Africa was long and difficult – this, too, shall succeed.

Geeks + Democrats = Net Neutrality


Yes – there’s still the risk of Big Money court battles ahead

Senior Republicans have conceded…that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.

And Republicans on Capitol Hill, who once criticized the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet,” now say they are unlikely to pass a legislative response that would undo perhaps the biggest policy shift since the Internet became a reality…

The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission. But for now, Congress’s hands appear to be tied.

The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.

In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks…

“We’ve been outspent, outlobbied. We were going up against the second-biggest corporate lobby in D.C., and it looks like we’ve won,” said Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit technology foundation that runs Firefox, a popular Web browser, referring to the cable companies. “A year ago today, we did not think we would be in this spot.”

The net neutrality movement pitted new media against old and may well have revolutionized notions of corporate social responsibility and activism. Top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements were upended by the mobilization of Internet customers and users.

Our beneficent Telecom rulers and their Republican flunkies will not stop pimping their case, of course. The lies they constructed as part of their agitprop during the campaign to influence the FCC will become a plank in the Republican campaign for the White House in 2016.

Should they win full control of the United States government – those of us who stay behind in the GOUSA to fight a rear-guard action against the building of a Brave New World of Corporatism [Mussolini felt that sounds better than fascism] will no doubt be relegated by law to dial-up, standard def and B&W TV. And flip phones.

Malcolm X challenged America’s vast political and social jailhouse

Fifty years ago today, assassins killed black power activist Malcolm X during a speech to the Organization for Afro-American Unity at New York City’s Audubon Ballroom. Although they ended the life of one of the 20th century’s most dynamic leaders, they did not kill his impact. His insights into racism and freedom are as necessary today as when he first spoke them. A half-century after his murder, Malcolm X may still be one of our best guides for making sense of American racism, the evil that once again roils the country in unrest.

Malcolm X’s enduring influence owes in part to the truth of his metaphors, his way with words and the relentlessness of his criticism — in particular, his depiction of the United States as a prison. In making the comparison, he gave voice to the confinement he saw in a white supremacy still evident.

“Don’t be shocked when I say I was in prison,” he often told his audiences. “You’re still in prison. That’s what America means — prison…”

To Malcolm X, prison was more than its bricks and mortar. It was a metaphor for racism. Prisons use armed force to deny the mobility, insult the integrity and restrict the civic and political participation of its captives. And for the black audiences who heard Malcolm X speak — men and women who went to underfunded schools, worked dangerous and low-paying jobs where they could find them, faced harassment in employment lines or welfare offices, were forced to live in only certain neighborhoods and in many parts of the country were barred from voting by police and vigilante organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan — the United States did mean prison.

Prison, then, was an exaggerated form of the daily indignities black women and men faced. What made this metaphor ring so true is that black communities — years before the launch of the war on drugs — were already heavily policed and disproportionately incarcerated…

Imprisonment was the price of blackness. It respected neither class nor crime: Black people were incarcerated for protesting racism, engaging in antisocial activity or simply living in a neighborhood subject to pre-emptive policing.

At the time that Malcolm X began to challenge the prison of America in the late 1950s, the United States incarcerated fewer than 200,000 people in prisons and jails. Today, that number has metastasized to more than 2.3 million people, almost half of whom are black. Accounting for a mere 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 25 percent of the world’s prison population.

I was lucky to hear, to listen to this wonderful voice calling for freedom. The idiots who rail against Malcolm’s message as intimidating to whites illustrate their own guilt, their fears of being found out. Too ignorant to see that class is as critical as color.

I stood in the middle of hundreds of Black residents of Harlem in the 1950’s. Took the train to New York, to Harlem, to get to Lewis Micheaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore once every month or so. The only white face in a crowd filling an intersection and stopping all traffic from proceeding while a slender giant stood elevated on one corner. He spoke of freedom and justice. And more than once he recognized this class brother willing to stand and say, “Fix it, brother!”

Some of the best early days of my personal awakening.

Jailed months awaiting trial, man released after his “drugs” proven to be vitamins

joseph-burrell

A Minnesota man who was arrested in November on drug charges has been released after the “most expensive and most accurate test” available found that the drugs in his possession were over the counter vitamins…

Joseph Burrell was arrested on two felony counts of drug possession on November 14, 2014. According to police, Burrell was initially stopped for driving out of a grocery store parking lot without his lights on. When police searched his vehicle, they found a bag containing powder that a field test determined could be an amphetamine.

Burrell — who acknowledged that he had used drugs in the past, but that he had also just finished in-patient treatment at the New Beginnings drug treatment center in nearby Waverly — insisted that the substance was not illegal, and that he had purchased it to deal with a chronically sore shoulder.

Prosecutors pressured him to plead guilty, but Burrell told the Free Press that he “couldn’t plead guilty [to possessing] something I knew wasn’t a drug. They set my bail at $250,000 for vitamins.”

The charges were dropped after prosecutors used a more sophisticated means of analyzing the powder and discovered that it did, in fact, consist of legally available vitamins.

“I had been sitting in the jail since November with my bail set at $250,000,” Burrell told the Free Press. “Then, two days before trial, they dropped the charges and let me go.”

Accurate field tests, a timely trial, reasonable bail – seems to me I read somewhere these are all part of how a modern police department, justice system, function.

Is that too difficult for Minnesota to comprehend?

Of course, it reminds me of the time I was busted by customs coppers at Prestwick Airport in Scotland. About to be charged for the white powder in a plastic bag in my backpack, I finally convinced the most obstreperous of the lot to snort just the tiniest bit to test for any narcotic effects.

When little bubbles popped out of his nose he finally admitted I was telling the truth when I said it was Woolite! While his mates rolled on the floor laughing.

Thanks, Joseph