Tag Archive: police state

Cell Phone Guide for US Protesters

cellphone1From Electronic Frontier Foundation

With major protests in the news again, we decided it’s time to update our cell phone guide for protestors. A lot has changed since we last published this report in 2011, for better and for worse. On the one hand, we’ve learned more about the massive volume of law enforcement requests for cell phone—ranging from location information to actual content—and widespread use of dedicated cell phone surveillance technologies. On the other hand, strong Supreme Court opinions have eliminated any ambiguity about the unconstitutionality of warrantless searches of phones incident to arrest, and a growing national consensus says location data, too, is private.

Protesters want to be able to communicate, to document the protests, and to share photos and video with the world. So they’ll be carrying phones, and they’ll face a complex set of considerations about the privacy of the data those phones hold. We hope this guide can help answer some questions about how to best protect that data, and what rights protesters have in the face of police demands. (more…)

In Legal Battle Over Grand-Jury Secrecy, Ninth Circuit Court Sides with The Stranger

The doors of the Ninth Circuit courthouse in downtown Seattle—the same courthouse that was vandalized on May Day 2012, sparking very aggressive law-enforcement activity over people's political beliefs.

The doors of the Ninth Circuit courthouse in downtown Seattle—the same courthouse that was vandalized on May Day 2012, sparking very aggressive law-enforcement activity over people’s political beliefs.

From The Stranger

Well, the court sided with The Stranger for the most part.

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit published its opinion about our ongoing fight with the federal government over how secret its grand jury proceedings should be. The short version: They wanted automatic and almost total secrecy and opacity, we wanted transparency—or at least some clearly argued standards about why certain documents should be sealed and kept away from the public. On Friday, the court found in our favor. We won. Mostly.

The background: In the summer of 2012, law-enforcement officials began handing subpoenas to activists around the Northwest, ordering them to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle. These weren’t all polite knocks on the door—in some instances, agents battered their way into activists’ homes before sunrise with guns drawn. The grand jury was supposedly investigating what happened on May Day, 2012, when demonstrators in an anti-capitalist march smashed out the windows of stores, banks, and the Ninth Circuit Federal Courthouse downtown.

The investigation landed several political activists in jail for months. Some, like Matthew Duran and Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik, spent a few of those months in solitary confinement for reasons the federal government and the detention facility still refuse to explain.

These activists weren’t accused of any crime—prosecutors acknowledged they weren’t even in town on May Day. They were imprisoned because they appeared before the grand jury as ordered but refused to answer troubling questions about other people’s social habits and political opinions. (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…)

The Making of “Outside Agitators”

This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

From Crimethinc.

On August 19, ten days after police murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a slew of corporate media stories appeared charging that“criminals” and “outside agitators” were responsible for clashes during the protests. CNN alleged that “all sides agree there are a select number of people—distinct from the majority of protesters—who are fomenting violence,” quoting a State Highway Patrol Captain, a State Senator, and a former FBI assistant director to confirm this.

Today’s militarized police understand that they are operating on two different battlefields at once: not only the battlefield of the streets, but also the battlefield of discourse. So long as most people remain passive, the police can harass, beat, arrest, and even kill people with impunity—certain people, anyway. But sometimes protests get “out of hand,” which is to say, they actually impact the authorities’ ability to keep the population under control. Then, without fail, police and politicians proceed to the second strategy in their playbook: they declare that they support the protesters and are there to defend their rights, but a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch. In this new narrative, the enemies of the protesters are not the police who are gassing and shooting people, but those who resist the police and their violence. When this strategy works, it enables the police to go back to harassing, beating, arresting, and killing people with impunity—certain people, anyway.

Sure enough, a few hours after these articles about “criminals” and “outside agitators” appeared, the St. Louis police killed another man less than three miles from Ferguson. Here we see how defining people as “criminals” and “outsiders” is itself an act of violence, setting the stage for further violence. You can predict police behavior at protests with a fair degree of accuracy based on the rhetoric they deploy in advance to prepare the terrain.

So when we hear them say “outside agitators,” we know the authorities are getting ready to spill blood. All the better, from their perspective, if people buy into this rhetoric and police themselves so no officer has to get his hands dirty. This is often called for in the name of avoiding violence, but self-policing returns us to the same passivity that enables police violence to occur in the first place. How many people would have even heard about Michael Brown if not for the “criminals” and “agitators” who brought his death to our attention? Self-policing also preserves the impression that we all choose this state of affairs of our own free will, reinforcing the impression that anyone who does not is anoutsider. (more…)

What They Mean when They Say Peace

policestateFrom Crimethinc.

The Forces of Peace and Justice

“I’m committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail,”Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said in Ferguson on Saturday, August 16, after a week of conflicts sparked by the police murder of teenager Michael Brown. “If we’re going to achieve justice, we first must have and maintain peace.”

Is that how it works—first you impose peace, then you achieve justice? And what does that mean, the forces of peace and justice? What kind of peace and justice are we talking about here?

As everyone knows, if it weren’t for the riots in Ferguson, most people would never have heard about the murder of Michael Brown. White police officers kill over a hundred black men every year without most of us hearing anything about it. That silence—the absence of protest and disruption—is the peace which Governor Nixon wants us to believe will produce justice.

This is the same narrative we always hear from the authorities. First, we must submit to their control; then they will address our concerns. All the problems we face, they insist, are caused by our refusal to cooperate. This argument sounds most persuasive when it is dressed up in the rhetoric of democracy: those are “our” laws we should shut up and obey—“our” cops who are shooting and gassing us—“our” politicians and leaders begging us to return to business as usual. But to return to business as usual is to step daintily over the bodies of countless Michael Browns, consigning them to the cemetery and oblivion.

Governor Nixon’s peace is what happens after people have been forcefully pacified. His justice is whatever it takes to hoodwink us into accepting peace on those terms—petitions that go directly into the recycle bin, lawsuits that never produce more than a slap on the wrist for the killers in uniform, campaigns that may advance the career of an activist or politician but will never put an end to the killing of unarmed black men. (more…)

Daniel McGowan Sues the BOP

daniel_mcgowan_FREE!From HuffPost:

Daniel McGowan may have been the first person thrown in solitary confinement for writing a HuffPost blog. Now he’ll be the first person to sue the Bureau of Prisons over it.

The environmental activist and former prisoner filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the prison system over an April 2013 incident in which U.S. Marshals threw him in a Brooklyn federal jail — ironically, for criticizing earlier violations of his free speech.

“The Bureau of Prisons does not like criticism and their reaction was unsurprisingly to try and crush someone who stepped out of line,” McGowan told HuffPost Tuesday in an email.

After a federal judge labeled him a terrorist in 2007 for arson committed with the Earth Liberation Front, McGowan spent years in some of the federal prison system’s most restrictive prisons, the communication management units (CMUs). The Bureau of Prisons denies it, but internal prison files strongly suggest McGowan was placed there because of his continued outspoken association with the environmental movement. (more…)

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…)

Students Express Support for Attack on Police Headquarters

durmcopbannerFrom The Daily Tar Heel

An anonymous group of local anarchists took responsibility for vandalizing Chapel Hill police cars last week.

Someone smashed in the back window of three Ford Crown Victoria cars parked at the Chapel Hill Police Department at 828 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, according to police reports .

Another car was spray-painted. Total damage was valued at $2,200 to the four cars, which ranged in years from 2008 to 2011, the police reports state .

The anonymous anarchists posted a blog taking responsibility for the vandalism on the Prison Books Collective website. (Prison Books Blog Editors’ note: the blog post referenced was reposted from anarchistnews.org and is not original content of the Prison Books Collective. We thought this was quite obvious, but local journalists seem to be having a problem with this.) The Prison Books Collective meets monthly at the Internationalist Books and Community Center to write letters to political and politicized prisoners in the United States .

Lt. Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police, did not return requests for comment.

Jesse Gardens , a member of the student anarchist group UNControllables, said his group wasn’t affiliated with the damaged cars, but he supports the demonstration.

Gardens said after Chapel Hill police, armed with assault rifles, arrested eight people who were occupying the Yates Motor Company building on Franklin Street, it’s good for police to know residents are watching .

“People here have a good reason to want to disable the weapons and equipment police here have,” Gardens said. “The smashing of the police cruisers sends the message that people are watching.” (more…)

UNC Radical Rush 2014: The First Wave of Events

rrFrom Radical Rush Week

UNC Radical Rush 2014 is a week of events (9/2 to 9/9) celebrating the possibilities for liberation and political struggle in the UNC community.

We need to find each other. 


Did you come to UNC hoping to fight oppression? Do you dream that this university would be a space against capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, and ecocide?  Are you looking for the on-campus resources that will connect you with the struggle against drones, surveillance, empire, deportation, austerity, sweatshops and war?
Did you come to UNC hoping to build worlds that blossom and sustain diversity? Are you hoping to build spaces where people can speak justice, and do just things together? What beautiful thing would you build as you build a community?

Radical Rush is an experiment in connecting communities with one another, and people with communities.


Let’s make the UNC campus a more vibrant space of solidarity, struggle and social justice.

(more…)

Raleigh, Durham police using device that tracks cellphone data

stingrayFrom WRAL

— Police in Raleigh and Durham are using a controversial tool to fight crime.

Commonly called Stingray, the small suitcase-sized technology acts like a cell tower and allows police to track cellphone data. Critics say the devices, which are also in use in Charlotte and Wilmington, invade people’s privacy because they can collect information on the location and activity of cellphones.

“It is a very concerning technology because of its capability, but it’s also concerning because it’s so secretive,” said Sarah Preston, policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s North Carolina chapter.

Raleigh police have used Stingray for five years, police department spokesman Jim Sughrue said Monday, but he didn’t provide any other information regarding use of the device. (more…)