Tag Archive: militarized police

The Thin Blue Line Is a Burning Fuse

fuseFrom Crimethinc.

Why Every Struggle Is Now a Struggle against the Police

It should have come as no surprise yesterday when the grand jury in St. Louis refused to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who murdered Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri. Various politicians and media outlets had labored to prepare the public for this for months in advance. They knew what earnest liberals and community leaders have yet to acknowledge: that it is only possible to preserve the prevailing social order by giving police officers carte blanche to kill black men at will. Otherwise, it would be impossible to maintain the racial and economic inequalities that are fundamental to this society. In defiance of widespread outrage, even at the cost of looting and arson, the legal system will always protect officers from the consequences of their actions—for without them, it could not exist.

The verdict of the grand jury is not a failure of the justice system, but a lesson in what it is there to do in the first place. Likewise, the unrest radiating from Ferguson is not a tragic failure to channel protest into productive venues, but an indication of the form all future social movements will have to take to stand any chance of addressing the problems that give rise to them.

A profit-driven economy creates ever-widening gulfs between the rich and the poor. Ever since slavery, this situation has been stabilized by the invention of white privilege—a bribe to discourage poor white people from establishing common interests with poor people of color. But the more imbalances there are in a society—racial, economic, and otherwise—the more force it takes to impose them. (more…)

RRFM Participants Accuse Police Chief Blue of Cowardice

From Really Free Carrboro

raid

This Saturday, at 2 pm, hundreds of people will converge at Carrboro’s Town Commons to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Carrboro Really Really Free Market. This event has been promoted for months and will surely draw some of Orange County’s most progressive and community-minded residents.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue has chosen this Saturday, at 2 pm, to hold a “Question and Answer Session” on the other side of town about why he believes it is necessary for the Chapel Hill Police Department to own and utilize military-style heavy weaponry.

This is no abstract question for Chief Blue. In November 2011, he ordered a military-style raid in the middle of downtown Franklin Street, sending men with loaded assault rifles to threaten and arrest peaceful demonstrators and passersby in response to the occupation of the long-disused Yates Building. This police raid generated tremendous controversy, provoking widespread outcry and several protest marches: for once, the systemic violence of the police, which is usually only obvious to the disenfranchised, was front and center in public discourse.

Even in this situation, Chief Blue never acknowledged any error. We can only conclude that military-style raids in which armored officers point assault rifles at passersby are part of his vision of appropriate policing in Chapel Hill. Ferguson is not so far away after all: if this is how he responds to protests on Franklin Street, how much more brutally will these weapons be used against poor people and people of color, those on the receiving end of most of the violence of the police?
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Orange County Leads NC In Military Surplus Armored Vehicles For Police

A V150 used by the Saudi Arabian National Guard in 1991.

A V150 used by the Saudi Arabian National Guard in 1991.

From Chapelborro

According to Department of Defense data published last week by the New York Times, law enforcement agencies in Orange County have acquired more military surplus armored vehicles than any other county in the state.

In the wake of the heavily-armed police response to protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, a federal program to direct military surplus to local law enforcement agencies is coming under renewed scrutiny. The 1033 program dates back to 1997. In the last year alone it funneled nearly half a billion dollars worth of military gear to police departments and sheriff’s offices across the nation.

Since 2006, Orange County law enforcement has acquired six armored vehicles using the 1033 program, according to the Times.  By comparison, Wake County, with a population of just under one million, received only two armored vehicles, while Durham County, with twice the population of Orange, received none. Only 16 of North Carolina’s 100 counties purchased armored vehicles of any kind using the federal program. Stanly, Cabarrus and Davidson counties each boast four. (more…)

The US government doesn’t want you to know how the cops are tracking you

stopitFrom The Guardian

All across America, from Florida to Colorado and back again, the country’s increasingly militarized local police forces are using a secretive technology to vacuum up cellphone data from entire neighborhoods – including from people inside their own homes – almost always without a warrant. This week, numerous investigations by major news agencies revealed the US government is now taking unbelievable measures to make sure you never find out about it. But a landmark court ruling for privacy could soon force the cops to stop, even as the Obama administration fights to keep its latest tool for mass surveillance a secret.

So-called International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers – more often called their popular brand name, “Stingray” – have long been the talk of the civil liberties crowd, for the indiscriminate and invasive way these roving devices conduct surveillance. Essentially, Stingrays act as fake cellphone towers (usually mounted in a mobile police truck) that police can point toward any given area and force every phone in the area to connect to it. So even if you’re not making a call, police can find out who you’ve been calling, and for how long, as well as your precise location. As Nathan Freed Wessler of the ACLU explained on Thursday, “In one Florida case, a police officer explained in court that he ‘quite literally stood in front of every door and window’ with his stingray to track the phones inside a large apartment complex.”

Yet these mass surveillance devices have largely stayed out of the public eye, thanks to the federal government and local police refusing to disclose they’re using them in the first place – sometimes, shockingly, even to judges. As the Associated Press reported this week, the Obama administration has been telling local cops to keep information on Stingrays secret from members of the news media, even when it seems like local public records laws would mandate their disclosure. The AP noted: (more…)