Police Abusing Power

83 of 366

in 23.03.2012, 365: the 2012 edition, 365:2012, Day 83, Police Abusing Power, Video

83 of 366

  • Photo owner: Jay Daverth
  • Date Taken: Fri, 2012-03-23 19:59
  • Date Uploaded: Fri, 2012-03-30 09:42
  • Views: 12
Need shot. Still driving. Point, click ... done!
03 May

Forget boycotting. It's time to break Arizona

in Immigration, Police Abusing Power, Racism

I'm surprised how many people I would ordinarily consider sane are finding creative ways to rationalize the rancor driving Klu Klux Klarizona's new immigration policy (yeah, you know who you are).  With a straight face, some have even chastised me as though I should be accustomed to carrying paperwork as a guest in a foreign country (btw - no paperwork needed) and then have the audacity to act as though I am hyperbolic in suggesting that the law dismantles the fourth amendment in deference to criminalizing skin color.   Millions of lawful residents - and yes, born and bred American citizens - are being targeted to assuage the xenophobia stoked by the election of a black president.  But hey, who cares – it’s not about you, right?  I thought Robert Greenwald highlighted the hypocrisy best:

Image: Ku Klux Klan, a Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from arete13's photostream

I'm probably not going to get pulled over and questioned about my citizenship while driving in Arizona. I'm probably not going to have to carry my birth certificate in my car to prove I was born in the United States. And let's be honest: The only reason this is true is because I am not a Latino.

Exactly.  Let's be honest here - if we were having a problem with illegal Canadian workers, this law would never have passed because nobody wants to profile white people. So after decades of being either ignored or used as a political football by mainstream politicians, it's great to see Latinos starting to get organized, but screw boycotting Arizona.  Does anyone honestly believe that the state would miss any of the kind of people that would bother? 

No, Arizona's government has crossed the line and doesn’t need a spanking – it needs to be broken.  Here's a good start.  If you have brown skin or even if you can just speak with a plausible accent - grab some summer vacation time, hop on a plane, train, or automobile and head down to Arizona.  Spend the day at the park, in the mall, or driving up and down main street.  Make yourself seen.  Get pulled over.  If you want to lop this atrocity off at the knees then you gotta take it to the only thing these people understand.  Money.  Make this law too expensive to enforce and it goes away.  Yeah ... it's that easy. Oh, and note for the Democratic party: You want a winner for 2010?  The hop on board here before the GOP wises up.  You may have done next to nothing to woo Latinos over the past decades ever but now's your chance.  The only reason not to is if you're worried about pissing off the racist right and guess what - they ain't votin' for y’all anyways.

27 Mar

Appeals court rules that police can electrocute anyone they damn well please

in Civil Rights, Judicial Failures, Police Abusing Power

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Seattle police were operating within the law when they tasered a pregnant woman – tasered her again, and then tasered her a third time – while she was strapped into the driver’s seat of a car with no keys in the ignition.  In an unusually strongly-worded opinion, the dissenting judge, Marsha Berzon, called the decision “off the wall” and chastised her colleagues:

“I fail utterly to comprehend how my colleagues are able to conclude that it was objectively reasonable to use any force against Brooks, let alone three activations of a Taser, in response to such a trivial offense," she wrote. … Berzon said the majority's notion that Brooks obstructed officers was so far-fetched that even the officers themselves didn't make that legal argument. To obstruct an officer, one must obstruct the officer's official duties, and the officers' only duties in this case were to detain Brooks long enough to identify her, check for warrants, write up the citation 10085096athe-bill-of-rights-fourth-amendment-postersand give it to her. Brooks' failure to sign did not interfere with those duties, she said. Furthermore, Brooks posed no apparent threat, and the officers could not have known how stunning her would affect the fetus, or whether it might prompt premature labor — another reason their actions were inexcusable.

The most stunning aspect of this case – aside from, you know, the electrocution of a defenseless pregnant woman for having the audacity to not be nice to her bullies, is that the defense was able to successfully argue the use of force was justified based on the potential threat the victim might pose at some hypothetical point following the traffic stop.  Hall wrote: "It seems clear that Brooks was not going to be able to harm anyone with her car at a moment's notice. Nonetheless, some threat she might retrieve the keys and drive off erratically remained, particularly given her refusal to leave the car and her state of agitation."

Yes.  And she also could have also been hiding a bomb in her trunk, been planning to download copywritten materials, or had a genetic mutation allowing her to spit acid out of her eyes.  Yet we are afforded protection by the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution against having to defend ourselves against potential crimes when there is no reasonable expectation that such crimes will be committed.  As the prosecution and single sane judge rightfully argued, being angry at a traffic stop is not a crime, refusing to sign a ticket is not an arrestable offense, nor is it against the law to resist an illegal detention.  It IS, however, unlawful to physically assault a helpless pregnant woman who poses no threat to your safety.  

This trend is disturbing – not simply the fact that wearing a badge seems to make anything you say a de facto lawful order – a fact that most minorities in the U.S. are already familiar with, but that the courts – and worse, the American people – seem to be increasingly willing to bypass constitutional liberties in favor of authoritarianism.  As digby points out - “where are all the anti-authoritarian libertarians now? It seems as if they only care about the constitution when it comes to taxes and guns. Someone else's right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket? Not their problem.”

25 Jun

Fixing Airport Security

in Civil Rights, Police Abusing Power, Security Studies, Terrorism, TSA / Homeland Security

Nobody knows more about airport security that Bruce Schneier, and his work on subverting the TSA formed one of the central arguments of my doctoral thesis.  Bruce has a new essay up that is worth checking out – if for no other reason than the importance of keeping this issue alive:

book-sos-175wThe Constitution provides us, both Americans and visitors to America, with strong protections against invasive police searches. Two exceptions come into play at airport security checkpoints. The first is "implied consent," which means  that you cannot refuse to be searched; your consent is implied when you purchased your ticket. And the second is "plain view," which means that if the TSA officer happens to see something unrelated to airport security while screening you, he is allowed to act on that.

Both of these principles are well established and make sense, but it's their combination that turns airport security checkpoints into police-state-like checkpoints.

The TSA should limit its searches to bombs and weapons and leave general policing to the police - where we know courts and the Constitution still apply.

16 Jun

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Finally Releases Video of Trooper Attack on Paramedic

in Civil Rights, Police Abusing Power

This is not pretty and definitely NSFW (or kids for that matter).  It’s always the bad seeds that get the spotlight in these cases, which is too bad for the rest of the force, but behavior like this part and parcel of management and hiring practices.  People like this should not get to carry a badge or gun under any circumstances.  Period.

Let me walk it down for you. An ambulance, with Maurice White acting as supervisor and paramedic, is taking an elderly woman, who had collapsed, to the hospital for treatment. Her worried family follows.

Trooper Daniel Martin, who was responding to a stolen car report, came up behind the ambulance on a two-lane country road. In Oklahoma, those shoulders are notoriously tricky for even a car to pull off onto. But there's another factor involved. As the dash cam clearly shows, a car is on the right-hand shoulder, partially obstructing the highway. Just as the highway patrol pulls up behind the ambulance, the medical unit must swing out to avoid colliding with the parked car.

Let me repeat that, because it's important: if the ambulance's driver, Paul Franks, had immediately pulled over when the racing trooper came up behind him, he would have created an accident. It is impossible to safely pull over while slamming into another vehicle.

30 Oct

Another cop caught on film assaulting the innocent

in Civil Rights, Police Abusing Power

In case the video isn't clear enough, this guy was targeted because he was a community leader for bicycle activism.

When will these guys ever learn?  I suppose once the force starts admitting people with a slightly higher IQ.  Seriously, though - for every jerkoff like this, I'm sure there are 10 guys who are more interested in doing their job than abusing the uniform.  But unfortunately, for every jerkoff like this, there are a thousand who didn't find themselves caught on camera.