police brutality

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SOS USA

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 28/08/2020 - 12:54am in

Heather Cox Richardson: Natural, social and political turmoil at record levels. Continue reading

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Bill Moyers and Heather Cox Richardson on Her Daily Letters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 30/07/2020 - 8:54am in

Last fall Heather Cox Richardson started writing small essays on the history behind today’s politics and posting them on her Facebook page as LETTERS FROM AN AMERICAN. Today over half a million readers, and counting, wait for her daily dispatches. Continue reading

The post Bill Moyers and Heather Cox Richardson on Her Daily Letters appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Nuremberg Trial Prosecutor’s Warning About Trump’s War on the Rule of Law

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 2:05am in

Given the death toll from COVID-19 and the continuing public outcry over police brutality in the United States, it may have gone largely unnoticed that on June 11, President Trump issued an executive order targeting the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Hague-based war crimes tribunal that the United States has refused to join. Continue reading

The post Nuremberg Trial Prosecutor’s Warning About Trump’s War on the Rule of Law appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

 Portland  Mayor Condemns Masked Federal Agents Abducting Protesters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/07/2020 - 3:26am in

Anonymous masked federal agents in military uniforms jump out of unmarked minivans, abducting seemingly random people on the street in Portland, frightening new viral videos show. Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC have been sent to the city to tamp down of 49 days of continuous demonstrations against racist police brutality. The move appears to be the Trump administration’s latest tactic to crush the nationwide protests that erupted in late May over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police.

One video shows individuals in battle fatigues pull up beside a small group of people on a deserted Portland street, arresting one man without identifying themselves or saying anything and putting him into the back of a minivan. “It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets,” said Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, who has been working on issues of police brutality on protestors for weeks. “It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay,” he said, adding that he found the new events “terrifying.”

Repressive tactics have increased since Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf began involving himself and his department in the protests, with federal agents firing tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators. Homeland Security has justified its invasion, claiming that Portland has been “under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property.” The DHS claims that “violent anarchists” have wrecked the city, although the examples of destruction they give, such as graffiti and throwing rocks, appear trifling in comparison to abduction. Wolf himself arrived in Portland recently, declaring that, “Our men and women in uniform are patriots. We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch.”

Wolf’s actions have received strong condemnation from demonstrators, human rights groups, and even local politicians who have unequivocally told federal agents to leave. Mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler claimed that, “This is clearly a coordinated strategy from the White House. It is irresponsible and it is escalating an already tense situation. Remove your heightened troop presence now,” adding that the city neither needed nor wanted their help. Local congressman Earl Blumenauer was similarly forthright, placing the blame for the violence on government forces. “Chad Wolf just arrived in Portland. Here’s my message: go home Chad and take your unlawful DHS agents with you. The Trump admin has no place occupying and inciting violence in our community,” he tweeted late last night.

The demonstrators can also count on the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, who issued a statement reading, “Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland are being assaulted — shot in the head, swept away in unmarked cars, repeatedly tear gassed — by uninvited and unwelcome federal officers. We won’t rest until these federal officers are gone.”

The “shot in the head” comment refers to the case of Donavan LaBella, a 26-year-old protester shot outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland on Saturday. LaBella was holding a speaker over his head when police shot him in the face at close range with a rubber bullet. Video shows him instantly collapse on the street. Even as others retrieve his body, a large pool of blood is already noticeable where he fell. LaBella’s mother confirmed he survived the incident, but that he needed facial reconstruction surgery, with doctors inserting a titanium plate into his head.

Portland has been a hotspot of protest since the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 and has seen seven weeks of nightly demonstrations. The Trump administration decided to confront the protests with force rather than negotiate or co-opt them, the president infamously suggesting the National Guard should shoot any “looters.” A recent poll found that two-thirds of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement. Thus, it is unlikely that the new escalation of violence will win the president many new supporters, something he may need come November’s election.

Feature photo | Police stand as protesters gather during a demonstration, July 16, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Beth Nakamura | The Oregonian via AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post  Portland  Mayor Condemns Masked Federal Agents Abducting Protesters appeared first on MintPress News.

Aurora Police Violently Crackdown on Peaceful Vigil for Black Man Killed in Police Chokehold

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 30/06/2020 - 2:17am in

Clad in full riot gear, wielding batons and pepper spray, police in Aurora, Colo, broke up last night’s vigil to the memory of 23-year-old massage therapist Elijah McClain  — a man killed by the same police force last August. The day had begun with demonstrations organized by the local chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. At 8.30 p.m. a somber violin vigil was held in the city’s Center Park, where dozens of musicians, including children from local orchestras, congregated to mourn his killing last year. Videos of the event show the police charging the sizable crowds, spraying protestors with pepper spray and beating them with their batons.

Elijah McClain was an introverted 23-year-old black man killed by the police in August of 2019. A quirky, pacifistic vegetarian, he was described by those who knew him as a “child-like spirit.” A lover of music, in his spare time he would visit shelters to play his violin to the homeless cats and dogs, believing it comforted them (hence yesterday’s violin vigil). On the evening of August 24, he was on his way home from buying his brother an iced tea at the convenience store, when he was accosted by three officers, Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema, who claimed they were on the lookout for a suspicious person.

The officers quickly put McClain in a now-banned carotid chokehold, cutting off blood supply to his brain. They claimed that the 5’6” 140-pound McClain, medically diagnosed with anemia, fought back with “crazy strength,” and therefore instructed medics to inject him with ketamine, a drug often reserved for tranquilizing horses. He was pronounced brain dead after arriving at the hospital.

Bodycam footage from the event, however, tells another story, showing McClain gasping for air repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” and officers threatening to unleash their dogs on him if he moved a muscle. Officers also admit that he had done nothing illegal. His final words were:

I can’t breathe. I have my I.D. right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.

His last words pleading for air closely resemble those of other high profile black victims of police violence, Eric Garner (choked to death by NYPD in 2014) and George Floyd (choked to death by Minneapolis police in May). Indeed, without the protest movement engulfing the nation, it is very likely that McClain’s name would have been forgotten, becoming a statistic; one of over 1,000 civilians police kill, on average, every year in the U.S.

Like with Garner and Floyd’s killers, there has been no justice for McClain. A series of courts refused to prosecute the NYPD officer filmed killing Garner, and he was only fired from his job in 2019. Meanwhile, authorities declined to arrest Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin until protestors threatened to take over the entire city. It was only on June 20, after huge local rallies and a petition signed by over 3.8 million people that the Aurora Police Department even removed all the officers involved in the killing from regular duty. The message delivered appears to be that it is not the officers’ conduct that led to their censure, but the public outcry forcing police to act.

The actions of the Aurora Police Department come at a time of heightened scrutiny of law enforcement and are sure to add fuel to the fire to those calling for the defunding or abolition of the police entirely. Between May 26 and June 3 the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker identified 180 assaults on journalists covering the protest, 149 of them by the police. This weekend the NYPD broke up an LGBT pride march celebrating the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, where cops ransacked a gay bar in Manhattan. Meanwhile, in Detroit, a police car plowed through a crowd of around a dozen Black Lives Matter activists yesterday. The incident was caught on camera.

A recent Reuters poll found that 39 percent of Americans favored entirely dismantling the police altogether. It is unlikely that the event in Aurora will endear them to any of the undecided population concerned about police brutality.

Feature photo | Officers in riot gear guard the police department Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Aurora, Colo., during a rally and march over the death of Elijah McClain. David Zalubowski | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Aurora Police Violently Crackdown on Peaceful Vigil for Black Man Killed in Police Chokehold appeared first on MintPress News.

Amid Accusations of Violence, Some Say National Guard Should No Longer Staff Voting Stations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/06/2020 - 4:48am in

The national guard has assisted or plans to assist election workers in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Indiana, raising concerns, especially in communities of color, about law enforcement mixing with the democratic process – a historically fraught relationship. Continue reading

The post Amid Accusations of Violence, Some Say National Guard Should No Longer Staff Voting Stations appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

NYPD Cop Caught Choking Man On Camera Has Long History of Attacking Black People

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/06/2020 - 2:31am in

Barely a week after the state made the practice a criminal offense, New York Police Department officer David Afanador was caught on camera yesterday choking a black man unconscious. Video of the incident in Queens shows Afanador and other officers apprehending 35-year-old Ricky Bellevue as his companions plead for his safety: “Stop choking him bro… He’s choking him! let him go!” one says. Bellevue was taken to a local hospital after losing consciousness.

Bellevue’s lawyer, Lori Zeno, Executive Director of Queens Defenders, claimed his head had been bloodied and his wrists were swollen. “He was on such a hard chokehold that he couldn’t speak to say he couldn’t breathe,” she said, echoing the final words of George Floyd and Eric Garner, two other black men suffocated by police.

Despite the massive media attention and protest movements they sparked, Garner’s killer was not fired for five years, while it took four days of nationwide insurrection before Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer who killed Floyd, to be arrested. Perhaps fearing a similar uprising, the NYPD immediately announced they were suspending Afanador without pay, the city’s police commissioner Dermot Shea stating that “immediate action was necessary” given how “disturbing” the incident was.

Perhaps more disturbing, however, is Afanador’s long history of violence and brutality towards those he is charged with protecting and serving, especially to African-Americans. In 2014, for example, he faced up to seven years in prison for the brutal assault of a black teenager, in addition to official misconduct and gun possession charges. Video of the incident shows Afanador drawing his weapon on the teen, who had his hands up and using it to smash his teeth in. Afanador and his partner continue to attack him as he is lying dazed on the ground, punching and slapping his face. He and his partner were found innocent of all charges.

The not guilty verdict was delivered by Judge Danny Chen, who, as New York City publication Gothamist reported, reduced the sentence for Peter Liang, the officer who killed African-American man Akai Gurley to probation and sentenced two vigilantes who admitted to beating up a gay black college student so badly it left him blind in one eye, to only community service. As Afanador left the courtroom acquitted, the New York Post noted at the time, he was “surrounded by jubilant fellow cops” celebrating the decision.

In 2008, Afanador was part of a group of officers who were performing a strip search on a man in the street. According to an official complaint, a shocked bystander, Ranique Williams, began to record the event and ask for their names and numbers. The officers immediately assaulted him, punching and slapping him in the head and stealing his phone. They proceeded to handcuff Williams, lifting him off by the cuffs, causing him excessive pain, and continued to punch in the face and assault him while handcuffed. Afanador and his colleagues then started a malicious prosecution against Williams in an attempt to cover for their false arrest and seizures. The City of New York paid Williams $37,500 in a settlement.

A year later, according to another official complaint, Afanador was part of a group of police officers who arrested and brutalized George Smith for no reason, breaking his collarbone and refusing to get him medical treatment, later lying about the incident later to cover themselves.

In 2015, Afanador was allegedly part of a group of three plainclothes officers who illegally entered a Brooklyn house and assaulted an African-American woman. When her sister tried to intervene, they shouted “shut the fuck up you black bitch,” and arrested her too, ransacking the house while putting a gun to their heads. After their brother appeared he was also beaten up. As one of the sisters tried to protest, an officer told her, “I’m sick and tired of you, you fat black bitch,” slamming her head into a wall. She was taken – virtually naked – to the police station. The officers were accused of excessive force, failure to intervene, false arrest, malicious prosecution, municipal liability, unlawful entry, and unlawful stop and search. New York City paid out $70,000 to the victims. A 15-year NYPD veteran, New York’s payroll records show Afanador makes $103,408 – over three times the median U.S. income, according to the census bureau.

While authorities at both a national and state level have moved to ban the dangerous and deadly chokehold Afanador used, it is far from clear whether it will change police behavior. The NYPD had already banned chokeholds in 1993, yet between 2014 (Garner’s killing) and June 2020, the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board reported 996 allegations from locals saying they had been subjected to one, suggesting police violence like that displayed in the Afanador video is a systemic, not an individual problem. When left to rot, bad apples, the saying goes, spoil the entire bunch.

Feature photo | New York police officers David Afanador, left, and Tyraine Isaac, right, leave state court following their arraignment, Nov. 5, 2014, in New York. Bebeto Matthews | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post NYPD Cop Caught Choking Man On Camera Has Long History of Attacking Black People appeared first on MintPress News.

A Short History of Black Women and Police Violence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 3:48am in

Despite, or perhaps because of, their own vulnerability to state-sanctioned violence, Black women have been key voices in the struggle to end it. Continue reading

The post A Short History of Black Women and Police Violence appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Brutal Force

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 2:40am in

American police violence is widespread and out of control.

“It Will Take Me Just Under Twenty Five Years to Pay off the First Surgery” – Journalist Blinded by Cops Speaks Out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/06/2020 - 3:42am in

Journalist and photographer Linda Tirado was standing near a police line in Minneapolis May 29, covering the George Floyd protests engulfing the city. All of a sudden, her face “exploded” in her own words. She had been shot from close range in the eye, permanently blinding her. Her goggles shattered and tear gas entered the wound, causing even more pain. The police had shot her. Protestors pulled her away from her attackers, put her into a vehicle and drove her to the hospital where they were unable to save her eye, but were able to give her a $58,000 bill, likely the first of many.

Now, in a wide-ranging interview with writer Luke O’Neil, she spoke out about the ordeal, brutal policing, and the state of America today.

 

I’m “Completely F***ed”

Tirado revealed that her first reaction to receiving the enormous bill, initially slated to be $2,900 per month, was to laugh. Tirado is a freelance journalist supported by readers via Patreon, not the most lucrative profession. The hospital finally settled on a $100 monthly payment. “It will take me just under twenty five years to pay off the first surgery,” she said, adding that she was “completely fucked.” “I’m in for $58,000 so far between two surgeries. And those are just the ones I know about. I’ve got a few more surgeries coming up… there’s no fuck off way that’s going to happen,” she added.

 

“It sucks to be poor”

Tirado is probably best known as the author of the book Hand To Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, an account of the grim reality of how the nearly half of the Americans who live paycheck to paycheck survive, or “288 pages of It sucks to be poor,” in her own words. She was also the author of a viral article in the Huffington Post that explained to privileged readers why poor people’s decisions are not irrational but make perfect sense given the dystopian economic realities they live under. Growing up poor herself, she says, has given her the strength and perspective to cope with the ordeal. “I think the only reason I’m dealing with this so well is I think poverty and low wage work is just as brutal and visceral as losing an eye to a police bullet. It’s just that people don’t think of it that way because it happens to more people,” she told O’Neil.

She compared what happened to her in Minneapolis to her previous jobs on farms and in factories. “When that’s your job you kind of know that you’re going to be permanently disabled at some point, and it’s a crapshoot for how many good years you’re going to get,” she said, “I made it to thirty seven man. I did ok. And how fucking bleak is that?”

 

“A few bad apples” spoil the bunch

As a journalist and photographer, Tirado spent a good deal of time in Ferguson, Missouri, a city that exploded in anger after the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. Yet nothing she saw there prepared her for the violence in Minneapolis. “I thought St. Louis cops were going to be the worst I ever saw. Then I got to Minneapolis and I was like, holy fuck, it’s next level up here,” she said, “People had told me you’re going to Minneapolis, be careful, those guys don’t fuck around.” While many have tried to downplay the actions of officers like Derek Chauvin, claiming that they represent merely a few bad apples, Tirado sees it a different way, noting that the metaphor explicitly states that bad apples spoil the entire bunch.

She shared her final photos of the fateful night on her Patreon page, taken right before the incident. They appear to show Minneapolis police officers pointing weapons directly at her. She told CNN there is no way they “could have mistaken me with a professional camera for anything but working press.”

Tirado is currently suing the City of Minneapolis for damages and injunctive relief. In her announcement, she acknowledged that, because the taxpayer will foot the bill for any damages, a substantial portion of anything won will go towards local community initiatives. Since no other group has been documented using foam bullets, it is not certain if the police will argue against their culpability; “It could very well have been us,” stated police spokesperson John Elder, when commenting on the case.

If one good thing has come from the police crackdown, Tirado argues, it is that an increasing number of Americans have come to see the ugly reality of life for so many and have turned against the government and the system itself. She said that for generations raised on Rush Limbaugh, Trump was a godsend, and his rise deeply troubled her. “I’ve been using the fascism word openly since 2015,” she said, but now so many more are beginning to realize the danger she saw five years ago. “The landscape has changed,” she concluded.

Feature photo | A police officer prepares to shoot tear gas Friday, May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis. John Minchillo | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post “It Will Take Me Just Under Twenty Five Years to Pay off the First Surgery” – Journalist Blinded by Cops Speaks Out appeared first on MintPress News.

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