Tagged: police

Mexico — Evidence of the missing

memories of murder

The view from the hills around Iguala, Mexico, was stunning. But the more Christopher Gregory walked along the paths, the more his eye was drawn to the objects scattered along the way: scraps of clothing, beer bottles, trash. To him, these castoff items were possibly linked to the hundreds of people reported missing — presumably kidnapped, if not killed — by drug cartels that have long operated with impunity…

Little more than six months after 43 students were abducted and presumably killed in Iguala in Guerrero State, Mr. Gregory is wondering about all the other people who have vanished in that region. He had wanted to do a project on the missing students, but abruptly changed his mind when, during the early stages of the search, a mass grave was found with the remains of 28 people.

None of them were the students.

That became a flash point for him and Jeremy Relph, a writer with whom he had teamed up for the story. Once they got to Iguala, they discovered that disappearances had been going on for years, and on an alarming scale. While the government has put the tally of missing people in Guerrero State at about 120 from January to November of last year, local advocates working with families reported that some 400 people had been reported missing in Iguala alone in recent years.

“The photo is an evidentiary document,” he said. “There is no way to witness these kidnappings or document these violations of human rights, other than to point at the residue and try to have a conversation about what it means, how it looks like and how do we navigate these complex social and political issues, as well as the psychological issues. You can’t believe anybody or trust anybody in these areas because for all intents and purposes, they’re lawless.”

RTFA. Take a good look at what lawless means. You don’t need to go to the Arabian Peninsula or the Horn of Africa.

Secret deal between FBI and police hides spying from the courts

Innovation = police state
Innovation + Police State = Lots of profits + no oversight

The FBI is taking extraordinary and potentially unconstitutional measures to keep local and state police forces from exposing the use of so-called “Stingray” surveillance technology across the United States, according to documents obtained separately by the Guardian and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Multiple non-disclosure agreements…revealed in Florida, New York and Maryland this week show federal authorities effectively binding local law enforcement from disclosing any information – even to judges – about the cellphone dragnet technology, its collection capabilities or its existence.

In an arrangement that shocked privacy advocates and local defense attorneys, the secret pact also mandates that police notify the FBI to push for the dismissal of cases if technical specifications of the devices are in danger of being revealed in court.

The agreement also contains a clause forcing law enforcement to notify the FBI if freedom of information requests are filed by members of the public or the media for such information, “in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels”.

The strikingly similar NDAs, taken together with documents connecting police to the technology’s manufacturer and federal approval guidelines obtained by the Guardian, suggest a state-by-state chain of secrecy surrounding widespread use of the sophisticated cellphone spying devices known best by the brand of one such device: the Stingray.

“The device has the ability to pull content, so all the sudden your text messages are at risk, your phone calls are at risk, and your data transmission, potentially,” said John Sawicki, a former police officer who consults attorneys on technological evidence, of the Stingray device made by Harris Corporation…

The ACLU has shown that at least 48 agencies across 20 states likely use the devices. Documents obtained by the Guardian show police from states as such as Texas, Florida, Washington, Minnesota, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, Illinois,Arizona, and California utilize the devices.

The Florida agreement – obtained from the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office by the Guardian after a series of Stingray-related Freedom of Information Act requests sent over the past seven months – reads in part:

“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will, at the request of the FBI, seek dismissal of the case in lieu of providing, or allowing others to use or provide, any information concerning the Harris Corporation wireless collection equipment/technology, its associated software, operating manuals, and any related documentation.”

Law enforcement agencies that sign NDAs similar to the one in Hillsborough County are barred from providing “any information” about the Stingray-style devices in search warrants, pre-trial hearings, testimony, grand jury proceedings, in appeals or even in defense discovery. Per the agreement, police can only release the “evidentiary results” obtained with the device.

RTFA. Just in case you mistakenly thought you lived in a country where constitutional freedoms were honored and the government is working to bring a new level of transparency to law enforcement.

Dumb crook of the day

A Maine man who’d been wanted by police for several weeks made a couple of critical mistakes that led to his capture – he sent out social media messages pinpointing his location.

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office had been looking for Christopher Wallace, of Fairfield, in connection with a burglary in January.

Police tell the Morning Sentinel that on Sunday night they received tips from people who said Wallace had posted on Snapchat that he had returned to his Fairfield home.

So, police went to the house.

While they were searching with permission of the resident, they were tipped off that Wallace had posted a new Snapchat message saying police were in the house looking for him and he was hiding in a cabinet.

He was found in the cabinet.

There is dumb. Then there is compulsively dumb.

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.

France presents citizenship to Malian hero of Kosher market standoff

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What should have been an average workday for 24-year-old Malian, Lassana Bathily, an employee of a Parisian kosher supermarket, turned into a hostage nightmare that shook the world just days after one of the deadliest attacks in France in decades.

On Friday, Jan. 9, Bathily, a practicing Muslim, went far beyond his daily responsibilities as a shopkeeper. He courageously aided law enforcement and store patrons through one of two simultaneous standoffs…

His actions inspired a Change.org petition, which compiled more than 300,000 signatures, calling for him to be granted French citizenship and the Legion of Honor. French officials agreed.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve declared Bathily a hero and announced that the country would expedite his citizenship and naturalize him next Tuesday for his bravery.

Bathily came to customers’ aid that fateful Friday, when attacker Amed Coulibaly stormed into the busy Hyper Cache as shoppers prepared for the Sabbath. The gunman threatened to kill the hostages if the police didn’t release brothers Säid Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, the men responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attack who were, at the time, engaged in a separate hostage standoff in the French countryside.

Bathily valiantly guided costumers into a cold-storage space for protection, turned off the refrigeration, and fled the shop to notify the French police of the heist.

Initially the police considered him a suspect and handcuffed him for an hour and a half…Bathily was eventually able to convince police that he was not an accomplice, but an employee who could aid in the unnerving standoff.

With his knowledge of the store, he provided authorities with critical information about the layout and location of the hostages. Despite their collaborative efforts, four customers were killed that day. Nevertheless, Bathily emerged as the heroic civilian during 54 hours of violence that wracked the nation.

With France now experiencing heightened Islamophobia and anti-Semitism after the attacks, Bathily said he was not fazed by some of the divisiveness.

“We’re brothers. It’s not a question of Jews, Christians or Muslims,” Bathily declared. “We’re all in the same boat, and we have to help one another to get out of this crisis.”

Just one more ordinary working man rising to the demands of crisis around him.

An object lesson for the idjits who descend to bigotry in the face of perceived danger.

Which states lead the way in mass incarceration

Following the start of the war on drugs in the 1970s, America’s prison population skyrocketed as the country locked up even the lowest-level drug offenders in hopes of tamping down on drug use and the crime wave of the 1960s through 1980s.

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While incarceration can help bring down crime to some degree, criminal justice experts generally agree US imprisonment has become an ineffective deterrent to crime as it’s extended far beyond the point of diminishing returns. Federal and state data shows there is no correlation between decreases in the prison population and rises in crime. And an analysis by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project found the 10 states that shrunk incarceration rates the most over the past five years saw bigger drops in crime than the 10 states where incarceration rates most grew…

So far, there has been a small reversal. The overall imprisonment rate dropped, particularly in California, in the past few years. And the US corrections population — the number of people in jail, prison, parole, and probation — in 2013 dropped to its lowest point since 2003, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

But the reversal hasn’t been enough to keep up with the rapid decline of violent crime across the country. Federal statistics show that the incarceration rate fell by roughly 1 percent between 2000 and 2013, even as violent crime fell by about 27 percent in the same time period.

Which begs the usual question: Are Americans stupid or ignorant?

We know what our politicians are. Cowards, opportunists, careerists. Simple public opinion, the pressure of national sentiment is rarely sufficient to overcome so-called lobbying from those who profit from a useless status quo. Whether that lobbying come from the Koch Bros or the [NRA] gun manufacturers lobby is irrelevant. Corporate special interests overrule the needs and wants of the American people – unless those people seriously stand up and raise a glorious noise. Dissent and demonstration catches the attention of even the least competent politician.

There is a corporate prison lobby that ties in nicely with Tea Party Republicans, police benevolent associations, leftovers from the Confederacy – reactionary dunderheads all. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens get to fund these storehouses for the inopportune, pick up the tab for backwards political decisions.

Nixon’s War on Drugs still marches down the highway to Nowhere.

One more police shooting of unarmed Black man ruled a Homicide

An unarmed black man was shot three times by Los Angeles police officers, once each in the back, side and arm, according to a coroner’s report released on Monday, more than four months after his death.

The autopsy on Ezell Ford, which was first obtained by the Los Angeles Times, officially classifies his death as a homicide. It was released ahead of a Wednesday deadline imposed by the city’s mayor.

Ford, a mentally ill 25-year-old, was shot dead 11 August after police say he lunged for an officer’s gun. Police have released few details about why Ford was stopped in his South Los Angeles neighborhood by two officers assigned to the department’s anti-gang unit. A statement released shortly after Ford’s death said two officers attempted to stop him on a sidewalk, but he “continued walking and made suspicious movements” before the interaction escalated.

If you’re one of our readers outside the United States – understand that a suspicious movement includes believing you have human rights if you’re not white.

Los Angeles Police Department chief Charlie Beck said blah, blah, blah

Police officials say they delayed release of the autopsy to allow time for witnesses to come forward. They have made public pleas for witnesses from the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood to contact them…

Yes, progress is being made in the society that Republicans and other idjits say is a post-racial society – and also believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

In that vein, in Congress, the House Majority Whip – Republican Steve Scalise – says it was just ignorance on his part when he was guest speaker at a convention for white supremacists as a state representative. The “progress” part is admitting he’s an ignoranus.