Tag Archive: police brutality

Obama’s Police Reforms Ignore the Most Important Cause of Police Misconduct

police_scary_ap_imgThese well-meaning changes will simply reproduce racial inequality.

From The Nation/ By Alex S. Vitale

President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing has released a long list of reforms to American policing, some of which, including independent police prosecutions and dramatically scaling back the role of police in schools, are true advancements. However, there are also major pitfalls in the report’s reliance on procedural rather than substantive justice.

Liberal police reforms of the 1960s, including the Katzenback Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice and Johnson’s Safe Streets Act, were intended to achieve similar ends of improving police community relations and reducing police brutality through police professionalization and a host of procedural reforms. The result of this process, however, was the massive expansion of policing in the form of SWAT teams, the War on Drugs and, ultimately, mass incarceration.

Princeton political scientist Naomi Murakawa, in her book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America, details how the liberal assessment of the problems of race failed to take seriously the role of racial domination in the structuring of the criminal-justice system. Instead, they focused on the need to create a criminal-justice system that was more professional and less arbitrary in its meting out of punishment against people of color. Embedded in this approach was the misconception that the negative attitudes of blacks about the police were based on a combination of poorly trained and biased officers on the one hand and exaggerated feelings of mistrust by African-Americans, derived from their social and political isolation, on the other. (more…)

Taser International and Cops Profiting from Police Brutality

antipoliceFrom AlterNet/By Michael Arria

Taser International, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of body cameras, has direct connections to some police chiefs who have been advocating on its behalf.

According to an AP report, the company is covering travel costs for cops that praise their products at international conferences. It’s also hiring retired chiefs as consultants, after their cities sign contracts with Taser. After the police chief in Fort Worth, Texas obtained a contract with the company, he wrote one of their representatives an email, insisting that he deserved a raise. In Salt Lake City, the police department bypassed City Council approval to secure a contract with Taser and, in Albuquerque, Taser’s connection to the police chief sparked an investigation by the city’s inspector general.

After the death of Michael Brown, body cameras became a staple of calls for police reform. President Obama proposed a $75 million effort to equip departments with the cameras, in an attempt to quell distrust of police. The move was supported by a number of liberals, but it was also adamantly supported by Taser International. According to aNation story by Raven Rakia, Taser has seen its stock price double since Michael Brown was killed. The company viewed Brown’s murder as, ” massive awareness campaign’ for police body cameras.” (more…)

Durham: Two days of protest are marked by arrests, prayers

pigscumFrom News and Observer

— On a day when members of African-American churches across the country wore black to protest fatal police shootings of unarmed black men, they were joined by members of four Triangle congregations who gathered in one of East Durham’s most troubled neighborhoods.

The group of about 75 people prayed, marched and blocked two intersections Sunday afternoon in a renewal of public protests against the killings. The event came less than a day after police arrested 11 people during a protest-related attempt to block the Durham Freeway in which police in riot gear confronted marchers. (more…)

Police “Reforms” You Should Always Oppose…

1-caution-police-stateFrom US Prison Culture

I read today that President Obama has offered some measures for ‘reforming’ the police.

Here is a simple guide for evaluating any suggested ‘reforms’ of U.S. policing in this historical moment.

1. Are the proposed reforms allocating more money to the police? If yes, then you should oppose them.
2. Are the proposed reforms advocating for MORE police and policing (under euphemistic terms like community policing run out of regular police districts)? If yes, then you should oppose them.
3. Are the proposed reforms primarily technology-focused? If yes, then you should oppose them because:
a. It means more money to the police.
b. Said technology is more likely to be turned against the public than it is to be used against cops.
c. Police violence won’t end through technological advances (no matter what someone is selling you).
4. Are the proposed ‘reforms’ focused on individual dialogues with individual cops? And will these ‘dialogues’ be funded with tax dollars? I am never against dialogue. It’s good to talk with people. These conversations, however, should not be funded by tax payer money. That money is better spent elsewhere. Additionally, violence is endemic to U.S. policing itself. There are some nice individual people who work in police departments. I’ve met some of them. But individual dialogue projects reinforce the “bad apples” theory of oppressive policing. This is not a problem of individually terrible officers rather it is a problem of a corrupt and oppressive policing system built on controlling & managing the marginalized while protecting property.

What ‘reforms’ should you support (in the interim) then? (more…)

Police Violence Is Not A Problem Because Of Its Invisibility

pigparade

Officers wearing riot gear walk through a park in downtown St. Louis on Sunday.

From Ben Brucato

For months, in response to the killing of Michael Brown, Ferguson and Saint Louis have been sites of ongoing rebellion, with frequent actions of solidarity throughout the United States. Last week, after a grand jury declined to indict Michael Brown’s murderer, Officer Darren Wilson, protests erupted across the country.

In response, today US President Obama proposed a national program to outfit 50,000 police officers with body-worn cameras. Many, including Michael Brown’s family, advocate in favor of wearable cameras for police. Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange.org wrote today that, “If what happened between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson had been captured on video, we would not be here today—and Michael Brown might be alive.” This advocacy is predicated on the idea that police violence is a problem because it remains hidden.

For most of a century, police studies have operated under the idea that policing’s most crucial function—the use of force in the production of social order—is something that occurs outside of the public view. In their influential book, Above The Law, Jerome Skolnick and James Fyfe explained this hidden quality of policing has historically been a defining one, but that it was changed with the video recorded beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers.

Policing’s new visibility, as John B. Thompson calls it, is a consequence of surveillance that is rapidly approaching ubiquity. An institution once defined by operating outside of public view is now on exhibition as a result of cameras. Not only are private and government security cameras capturing many spaces—public and private alike—on video, but dash-mounted cameras in police cruisers and weapon-mounted cameras have produced a kind of self-surveillance (in addition to their primary intended functions of gathering evidence to criminally implicate civilians). On-officer wearable cameras, first developed by Taser, were developed from earlier stun-gun cameras (which, captured the moments before Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. was shot and killed by police in White Plains, NY).

If we believe police violence is a problem as a result of it being hidden from public view, we should expect to see a crisis in the police institution over the past two decades since the beating of Rodney King. As Skolnick and Fyfe wrote, “in the absence of videotapes or other objective recording of gratuitous violence, brutality rarely causes public controversy and is extremely difficult to prove.” But as I wrote last week, police violence appears to be on the rise in the presence of this new visibility. As much as we might hope for a simple, technological fix to the problem of police violence, more cameras are not the answer. (more…)

Help Andy Raise Legal Funds!

andyFrom You Caring

Andy is a queer-identified 20 year old West Philly resident, environmental activist, and volunteer at LAVA community center.

On August 23rd Andy was arrested while attending a demonstration in solidarity with those protesting in Ferguson, MO following the murder of Michael Brown. While walking on the sidewalk during the protest, he was tackled to the ground and kicked by multiple officers, arrested, and non-consensually brought to the hospital for injuries that the police had inflicted. Because the police took away the bandages he had been given in the ER, he had to take care of his injuries on his own, while in jail. He has since been slapped with a large emergency room bill. He was held for around 28 hours with little food or water, and was subject to intimidation and threats of multiple felony charges and federal involvement. Instances like this are not unusual.  In fact, these circumstances – violent arrests, legal threats, withholding medical treatment and intimidation – are common in suppression of dissent against police brutality.

Andy now faces six misdemeanor charges, for which the DA’s office has already demanded at least $1,500 in damage.

In addition, the publication of Andy’s legal name and residence by local media outed him as transgender to the community, violating his privacy and potentially putting his safety at risk.

We have been making every effort to fundraise for Andy and have already raised some money.  However, we still have a large amount left to raise.  Please help us out to whatever extent you are able!  If you would prefer to mail a check, please contact us for a mailing address.  Thank you!

– See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-andy-raise-legal-funds-/253232#sthash.3TNYiNeA.dpuf

Act Two: St. Louis Erupts After Another Police Murder

ferguson-poster_small-for-webFrom Anarchist News

10/10/2014

The following events occurred Wednesday and Thursday of last week, prior to four days of planned peaceful protests by Left groups. In addition, on Monday night 100-150 people attempted an occupation of the QT in Shaw, South St. Louis. They were dispersed by riot police, but not before the cops arrested 17 and were then pelted with rocks. In the words of one participant, “The official narrative of this weekend will be massive, nonviolent, confrontation. But, like all official narratives, it is not completely accurate.”

Just after dusk on Wednesday night in St. Louis, a cop killed 18 year-old Vonderitt “Drew” Myers. This is the third incident of cops killing black men in two months – sadly this is not above average. What is above average, though, is people’s response to it. Like Mike Brown, there has been debate about whether he was fighting back, whether he was armed, whether stealing cigars or shooting at police is something you should be killed for. To us, this doesn’t matter. We are against the police and all that they do. (more…)

Do We Really Want Cops With Body Cameras Filming Everything They See?

policecameraFrom Mother Board

Police departments across America are eagerly fitting their officers with surveillance cameras that record the public from a cop’s point of view. The technology was trotted out as a way to keep police accountable—to cut back on brutality, acquit wrongfully accused officers, and bust the ones that abuse their power.

Framed with that noble intention, there’s plenty to commend about law enforcement’s latest toy. But folks are singing the praises so loudly it’s drowning out a host of crucial privacy questions that need to be asked as we creep toward nationwide police surveillance.

And creeping we are: A growing number of police departments are adopting the cameras, which are worn attached to glasses or a uniform. The New Orleans police jumped on the bandwagon yesterday, joining the likes of Oakland, Las Vegas, Seattle, and others that already use the cameras. Los Angeles is in the middle of a Hollywood fundraising campaign to purchase 500 body-worn cameras for the LAPD. In New York City, a federal court suggested the NYPD try out a pilot program to cut back on unconstitutional stop-and-frisks.

Lord knows the police need policing, and there’s logic in assuming that if your actions are watched and recorded all the time you’re more likely to behave responsibly—be you civilian or cop. But seen another way, camera-fitted policeman smacks of a surveillance-happy government that’s gone a bridge too far. Even if it’s possible to privacy-invade someone into good behavior, that doesn’t mean it’s not an unsettling can of worms to open. (more…)

Chapel Hill Hits the Streets for Ferguson

acab graf
The Rally and the March

On the night of Friday, August 22nd, a rally was held in front of the Chapel Hill post office to support the protesters and rioters in Ferguson. An anarchist student group, the UNControllables, initially called for the rally, and other groups like the Black Student Movement and the UNC Ebony Readers Poetry Group promoted and participated in the event. Handbills were also distributed door to door, on car windshields, and at apartment complexes throughout town. This was only one of several events that have occurred in the Triangle area with regards to Ferguson—the week before saw a large vigil in Durham, a nighttime attack upon the Chapel Hill Police HQ, and events at various churches.

The rally began with speeches about growing up Black in this white supremacist culture, about the fear and hatred of the police, about local struggles like the marches and attacks against the Durham Police last winter. One speaker brought some to tears with a poem that exclaimed, “I always wanted daughters, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to teach my sons how to be black men.” Another speaker followed up, “That is why this march is happening in Chapel Hill. It’s not just Ferguson, but the United States.a (more…)