Monthly Archives: July 2015

Ignoring Calls by Human Rights Experts, Medical Community, Israel OKs ‘Legislative Foundation for Torture’

Israeli parliament approves bill allowing the force-feeding of prisoners

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published July 30, 2015

Palestinian women take part in a demonstration in a mock cage to support Palestinian detainees on hunger strike. (Photo: Joe Catron/flickr/cc)

The Israeli parliament on Thursday passed a law allowing for the force-feeding of prisoners. It has been criticized as providing “a legislative foundation for torture.”

Medical organizations, including the Israeli Medical Association, have denounced force feedings as violating human rights and medical ethics.

The bill passed the body, known as the Knesset, 46-40. According to a Knesset statement released Thursday:

If the request [to the court for permission to force-feed a prisoner] is authorized, the prisoner can be fed against his will and a prison guard can use “reasonable” physical force to ensure the prisoner is fed. The treatment, the law states, must be administered in the presence of a doctor.

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Fighting Both Sides of the Same War: Is Turkey Using Attacks On ISIL As Cover for Assault on Kurds?

Originally published July 29, 2015 by Democracy Now!

Republished under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

Occupy World Writes Editorial Comment: 
Since our inception, we have stood firmly in support of the Kurds and the struggle they face throughout the region. We continue our plea to the United States government to remove the PKK from their list of recognized terrorist groups. When one considers all the facts of the matter – to support Turkey’s actions against the Kurds while recognizing the Kurds as the only force capable and willing to repel ISIL – only contributes to instability and strengthens ISIL’s resolve. To continue this indecisive policy will result in the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

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European Mining Dispute Illustrates Risks of Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals

A Canadian corporation is seeking damages after being blocked from creating an open-pit mine over environmental concerns

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-28-15.

Rosia Montana in Romania. (Photo: Cristian Bortes/flickr/cc)

Rosia Montana in Romania. (Photo: Cristian Bortes/flickr/cc)

Offering a stark warning of how corporate-friendly trade pacts like the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) put both democracy and the environment at risk, a Canadian company is seeking damages from Romania after being blocked from creating an open-pit gold mine over citizen concerns.

Gabriel Resources Ltd. announced last week that it had filed a request for arbitration with the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a body not unlike the secret tribunals that critics like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have warned against.

The corporation’s Rosia Montana open-pit gold mine project stalled after a series of protests in cities across Romania in 2013 demanded Gabriel’s plan be dropped. As Common Dreams reported at the time, Romanian residents and environmental activists have opposed the mine since it was proposed in the 1990s, charging that it would blast off mountaintops, destroy a potential UNESCO World Heritage site, and displace residents from the town of Rosia Montana and nearby villages. In particular, local communities opposed the use of cyanide as part of the extraction process.

Such opposition led to widespread street protests in 2013, which in turn pressured the Romanian Parliament to reject a bill introduced by the government that would have paved the way for the mine.

Now, Gabriel Resources, which holds an 80 percent stake in the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, says (pdf) the country has violated international treaties. Bloomberg reports that in 2013, Gabriel threatened to seek as much as $4 billion of damages should Romanian lawmakers vote to oppose its gold and silver project in the country.

But as Claudia Ciobanu, a Romanian freelance journalist based in Warsaw, wrote on Monday, “Gabriel is…effectively trying to make Romanians pay for having pushed their legislators to do the right thing.”

She continued: “With the vast expansion of the use of investor-state dispute settlement brought about by the TTIP…Romanians and other Europeans can only expect more of such cases. According to some analyses, the TTIP and a few other trade agreements negotiated at the moment would expand the coverage of investor-state arbitration from around 20% to around 80% of investment flows to and from the U.S. and the EU. Additionally, current experience shows that developing countries are much more often targets of corporations than rich ones.”

Or, she concluded, “The recent case opened by Gabriel Resources against Romania serves as an omen of what Europe’s future may look like if citizen power is not restored.”

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Mexico Investigation Unearths More Mass Graves, but Still No Answers

On Sunday, parents of the Ayotzinapa students, missing for 10 months, led hundreds through the streets of Mexico City to call for justice

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published July 27, 2015

Photo via Twitter.

Photo via Twitter.

The search for 43 college students who vanished in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero 10 months ago has turned up at least 60 clandestine graves and 129 bodies, the Associated Press revealed Monday.

However, none of the remains found in those graves has been linked to the missing youths, “and authorities do not believe any will be,” the AP reports. The 43 leftist student-teachers were allegedly abducted by police in Iguala, Mexico on September 26, 2014 then handed over to a local drug gang that claims to have murdered them and burned the bodies. The students’ relatives largely reject this narrative, accusing the government of a cover-up. Continue reading

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‘Corporate Influence Has Won’: House Passes Anti-GMO Labeling Bill

Legislation dubbed the DARK Act had backing of powerful groups who poured money into defeating state-level GMO-labeling efforts

Written by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-23-15.

A sign in support of GMO labeling seen in North Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Tony Webster/flickr/cc)

A sign in support of GMO labeling seen in North Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Tony Webster/flickr/cc)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation that would block states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods, or GMOs—a move that consumer rights groups decried as corporate power defeating Americans’ right to know what’s in their food.

The bill, H.R. 1599—dubbed the “DARK Act” (Deny Americans the Right to Know) by its critics—passed 275-150. (Click here to see the roll call…)

It was backed by the food industry, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Monsanto Company, which have poured money into defeating GMO labeling initiatives.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, a group that opposed the bill, explains: “The bill that passed includes provisions that would preempt states from labeling GMOs or enforce already passed GMO labeling provisions (like Vermont’s Act 120), and would prohibit states from having any oversight of GMO crops, for example, a county-wide ban on growing GMOs or GMO-free zones in certain organic seed-producing areas. Instead, this bill would create a voluntary federal GMO labeling standard for companies, weakening already deficient regulations.”

It was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), who said following the vote that bill “provides needed clarity in food labeling.”

Among those disappointed in the passage of the legislation is the Center for Food Safety.

“Passage of this bill is an attempt by Monsanto and its agribusiness cronies to crush the democratic decision-making of tens of millions of Americans. Corporate influence has won and the voice of the people has been ignored,” stated Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) was also opposed to the bill, and cited widespread public support for labeling GMOs.

“It’s outrageous that some House lawmakers voted to ignore the wishes of nine out of 10 Americans,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for EWG.

The outcome of the vote was a “foregone conclusion,” he continued, because “this House was bought and paid for by corporate interests.”

But Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association, stressed that the fight is far from over—so expect resistance.

“We are committed to stopping this outrageous, anti-consumer, anti-democracy legislation from succeeding,” Cummins said. “We will do so by mobilizing a massive opposition movement that transcends political party affiliations, and that unites consumers of all ages with organic farmers and retailers whose livelihoods are threatened by this legislation, and with the medical and scientific experts who are outspoken about the potential health and environmental risks associated with GMO crops and foods.

“It’s time to hold every member of Congress accountable. Either they stand with Monsanto and Big Food in support of the DARK Act, or they stand with the overwhelming majority of their constituents for truthful labeling and consumer choice,” Cummins stated.

Instead of H.R. 1599, hundreds of farm, public interest and environmental organizations have urged (pdf) passage of bipartisan legislation that would require labeling of GMOs.

For now, the battle moves to the Senate, where, as the Des Moines Register reports, no similar legislation exists.  EWG’s Faber says his group is “confident the Senate will defeat the DARK Act.”

Kimbrell expressed optimism as well, stating, “We remain confident that the Senate will preserve the rights of Americans and stand up for local democracy.”

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‘Dark Cloud’ of ALEC Converges at Annual Corporate-Political Lovefest

This week, San Diego hosts ‘a festival of closed-door deal-making by politicians, corporate executives and lobbyists’

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-23-15.

Photo via YouTube

Photo via YouTube

Fighting to protect dark money. Attacking federal efforts to rein in carbon pollution. Undermining local democracy.

These are just some of the “hot topics” on the agenda this week as conservative lawmakers, corporate lobbyists, and top GOP candidates from around the country gather in San Diego for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s annual meeting.

“A dark cloud is headed our way in the form of a shadowy lobbying organization that buys loyalty from state legislatures with untraceable corporate dollars and threatens the very fabric of our democracy,” San Diego County Democratic Party chair Francine Busby wrote in advance of the conference.

ALEC, Busby explained, “is a ‘bill mill’ funded by corporations and billionaires. It creates ‘model legislation’ by and for industries, which right-wing legislators then take back to their statehouses and enact into law.”

Miles Rapoport, president of the grassroots advocacy organization Common Cause, described the meeting as “a festival of closed-door deal-making by politicians, corporate executives and lobbyists,” at which “[t]hey gather to do the public’s business in private, fashioning legislation that undercuts the public interest in things like clean air and water, quality public schools, economic fairness and participatory democracy.”

It was with these charges in mind that more than 1,000 labor, social justice, and environmental advocates rolled out the unwelcome mat for the ALEC legislators and lobbyists on Wednesday, saying they didn’t want the corporate-backed group in their city.

“This is a no ALEC zone. I mean, we don’t want ALEC in our city or, quite frankly, in our state,” Mickey Kasparian, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said at the rally in downtown San Diego. “This is California. We fight for workers’ rights. We fight for affordable healthcare.”

But as the Center for Media and Democracy’s Brendan Fischer pointed out this week, “[i]n many ways, San Diego is an appropriate setting for ALEC’s conference.”

The city has served as a “petri dish for ALEC’s agenda,” he said, citing a successful and corporate-backed campaign that forced the city council to rescind a popular minimum wage measure.

Meanwhile, environmentalists warn that the draft conference agenda indicates that ALEC will pursue a familiar course in the coming year. According to Aliya Huq, climate change special projects director for Natural Resources Defense Council, the group is pushing measures to “defend polluters, hinder clean energy development, and obstruct climate solutions.”

Model bills up for discussion this week, Huq wrote, include the “State Power Accountability and Reliability Charter (SPARC),” which seeks to chip away at the EPA’s carbon pollution limits on power plants; the “Act Providing Incentives for Carbon Reduction Investments,” aimed at weakening and delaying existing state renewable energy standards; and the “Resolution Concerning Special Markets for Direct Solar Power Sales.”

This final bill, Huq writes, “is a real gem in ALEC’s long-running strategy to subvert solar markets.”

But “[r]ooftop solar gives consumers choice; shouldn’t we be working to make it available to more people not fewer?” Huq asked. “Furthermore, Econ 101 taught us that the hidden costs of fossil pollution is a market failure, and solar incentives level the playing field for clean energy to protect public health and the environment. These attacks are most likely coming from vested polluter interests (including some ALEC members who are actual regulated monopolies) that want to protect their profits.”

In a separate blog post on Monday, CMD’s Fischer noted that ALEC’s new offshoot focused on local government, the American City County Exchange (ACCE), will also meet in San Diego this week.

“Local democracy has led to some significant policy wins in recent years, with cities like Philadelphia guaranteeing workers paid sick days, and places like Denton, Texas banning fracking,” Fischer wrote. “ALEC’s response to cities and counties acting as laboratories of democracy has traditionally been to crush it, through state ‘preemption’ laws that prohibit local governments from raising the minimum wage, or regulating GMOs, or building municipal broadband.”

With ACCE, Fischer charged, “ALEC and its corporate backers are taking the fight directly to the local level, urging city and county officials on the one hand to give up their authority to protect the health and economic well-being of their constituents, and on the other to push policy measures to advance corporate interests.​”

According to news reports, two Republican presidential hopefuls—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee, the ex-Arkansas governor—are scheduled to speak at the conference on Thursday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) canceled his scheduled Friday appearance.

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Exposed: Big Brother Targets Black Lives

Government spying can be an ‘effective way to chill protest movements,’ warns Center for Constutitonal Rights

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-24-15.

Documents released to The Intercept by the Department of Homeland Security show that the federal agency monitored National Moment of Silence protests like the one pictured above, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/cc)

Documents released to The Intercept by the Department of Homeland Security show that the federal agency monitored National Moment of Silence protests like the one pictured above, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/cc)

Participants in Black Lives Matter protests have marked an all-too-common rite of passage for social justice movements in the U.S.—they’ve been systematically spied on by the federal government.

According to exclusive reporting from The Intercept published Friday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been monitoring and collecting data on the two-year-old movement since protests against racism and police brutality erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer.

The revelations are based on an analysis of hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request. As journalist George Joseph reports, the cache of documents “indicate that the department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful. The reports confirm social media surveillance of the protest movement and ostensibly related events in the cities of Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York.”

The documents—which Joseph notes “may well represent a small fraction of state surveillance against Black Lives Matter”—show that in some cases, DHS produced minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements in demonstrations and in other cases “planned  surveillance of…seemingly innocuous events, two of which were associated with historically black neighborhoods.”

Joseph writes:

The tracking of domestic protest groups and peaceful gatherings raises questions over whether DHS is chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights, and over whether the department, created in large part to combat terrorism, has allowed its mission to creep beyond the bounds of useful security activities as its annual budget has grown beyond $60 billion.

For its part, DHS told The Intercept in an email that “the DHS National Operations Center statutory authority…is limited to providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture for the federal government, and for state, local, tribal governments as appropriate, in the event of a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster.”

But Baher Azmy, a legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, countered that the concept of “providing situational awareness” is problematic in and of itself.

“What they call situational awareness is Orwellian speak for watching and intimidation,” Azmy told The Intercept. “Over time there’s a serious harm to the associational rights of the protesters and it’s an effective way to chill protest movements. The average person would be less likely to go to a Black Lives Matter protest if the government is monitoring social media, Facebook, and their movements.”

As Raven Rakia, a journalist who investigates state surveillance and policing, pointed out to The Intercept, Friday’s revelations fall into the government’s well-documented pattern of spying on and suppressing black social movements and groups. “There’s a long history of the federal agencies, especially the FBI, seeing black resistance organizations as a threat to national security,” Rakia said.

However, neither government surveillance nor the overt repression widely reported in the media seems to have deterred the strengthening movement, which will gather for its first ever national convergence this weekend in Cleveland.

Read The Intercept‘s full exposé here.

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Cries of Betrayal, Calls to Organize as Obama Approves Arctic Drilling

‘With this decision, President Obama has given Shell an open invitation to turn the Chukchi Sea into an energy sacrifice zone,’ said Marissa Knodel of Friends of the Earth

Written by Sarah Lazare, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-22-15.

Activists in Seattle protest against Shell's Arctic drilling plans, which were formally approved on July 22, 2015. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Activists in Seattle protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans, which were formally approved on July 22, 2015. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon gave the final go-ahead for Royal Dutch Shell PLC to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea near Alaska, flouting fierce public opposition to the extraction over the severe danger it poses to the ocean ecosystem, climate, and coastal communities.

“The president has made a big mistake allowing Shell back into the Arctic,” declared Center for Biological Diversity Alaska director Rebecca Noblin in a press statement released Wednesday. “The risks of a devastating oil spill in this harsh environment are just too great, particularly for a company with such poor performance record. This is a reckless move by a country that is still struggling to reduce its impact on global warming.”

The permits granted Wednesday mean that the oil giant can commence with drilling exploratory wells as soon as its vessels and equipment reach the sea. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced it has included some conditions, limiting Shell to “drilling only the top sections of wells and prohibit Shell from drilling into oil-bearing zones.”

But campaigners say that the restrictions are weak, and the fact that Shell will now be permitted to drill in the Arctic constitutes a deep betrayal of Obama’s own pledge to make tackling climate change one of his top three priorities during his second term.

Moreover, the decision comes as scientists warn that to avert a climate catastrophe, the majority of fossil fuel deposits around the world must remain unused.

As the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune said in response to the Shell announcement on Wednesday: “The simple truth is that if we are to meet our climate goals, we must leave the vast majority of dirty fuels—including 100 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s oil—in the ground.”

“With this decision, President Obama has given Shell an open invitation to turn the Chukchi Sea into an energy sacrifice zone, threatening both the resilience of the American Arctic Ocean and his climate legacy,” Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Marissa Knodel declared Wednesday. “Shell will pollute the environment, threaten endangered species, impair the subsistence practices and livelihoods of coastal communities, and take us further down the path of climate disruption.”

Greenpeace USA declared in a tweet on Wednesday that “Shell cleared a major hurdle to drill in the Arctic, but it’s not too late for [the president] to stop them.”

Campaigners say the growing climate justice movement—which has protested Arctic drilling from land and sea—will not be discouraged by Wednesday’s development, and in fact, will pick up the pace.

“The fight to keep the Arctic Ocean off limits to Big Oil is not over, and climate activists will not let our future be dictated by Shell,” said Knodel. “President Obama will bear responsibility for the damage that Shell wreaks in the Arctic.”

Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, said Wednesday that protesters are already preparing to respond to the administration’s decision: “Now all eyes are on Portland as Kayakativists converge on the City of Roses for Round 2 of the People vs. Shell.”

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Five Years Later, the Unfulfilled Promise of Dodd-Frank

Five years after the law’s enactment, fewer than two-thirds of its 390 rules have been completed

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-15.

Despite Dodd-Frank's stated goal of reining in reckless banking, Washington, D.C. regulators keep giving Wall Street the green light. (Photo: GLing526/flickr/cc)

Despite Dodd-Frank’s stated goal of reining in reckless banking, Washington, D.C. regulators keep giving Wall Street the green light. (Photo: GLing526/flickr/cc)

With several key promises of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act still unfulfilled, “Americans cannot be comforted that Wall Street will not wreak havoc again,” according to a new report from the watchdog group Public Citizen.

“Five years after President Barack Obama signed this legislation, Dodd-Frank remains largely incomplete,” said Bartlett Naylor, Public Citizen’s financial policy advocate and author of the report, Dodd-Frank is Five: And Still Not Allowed Out of the House (pdf), published Tuesday.

“Major portions of the law have yet to be codified into specific rules,” Naylor explained. “Many enforcement dates are set well into the future, and certain rules are not yet being implemented and enforced to the fullest extent of the law.”

Dodd-Frank, signed into law five years ago Tuesday, “promised that America would never again be held hostage by banks that are too big to fail, but that promise remains unfulfilled,” Public Citizen said in a statement. “Instead, industry-captured regulators and members of Congress hungry for campaign contributions from Wall Street continue to delay and dilute the law.”

In fact, of the 390 rules required by the law, fewer than two-thirds have been completed; 60 rules have yet to be finalized, while another 83 have not even been proposed, according to a tally by law firm Davis Polk.

The report specifically looks at the status of key Dodd-Frank provisions including the Volcker Rule, which bans proprietary trading or short-term speculation; the “living will” stipulation empowering regulators to break up big banks that don’t provide a “credible” plan for an orderly resolution under the bankruptcy code should they fail; and restrictions on banker pay schemes that reward excessive risk-taking.

In all three areas, regulation has been stalled or stymied, Public Citizen declares—a reality the report attributes to the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, D.C.

“Regulators and lawmakers who put Wall Street interests ahead of public interests aren’t fulfilling the law’s intent,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Instead of rolling back key provisions, our officials should be taking full advantage of this important Wall Street reform law to protect Main Street financial markets.”

Of course, Public Citizen points out, “the Wall Street reform law, even if well implemented, was not a complete answer to financial challenges.”

As Campaign for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage wrote in an op-ed on Tuesday:

The banks still “frankly own the place,” in Sen. Richard Durbin’s immortal words, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has only begun to unveil the revolving door between Wall Street and it regulators that often neuters the law. Wall Street continues to deploy legions of lobbyists to avoid sensible regulation. It remains the leading source of dough for the leading presidential candidates in both parties. The Wall Street Journal reports that in the first month of reporting, Clinton raised about $300,000 from people working in the six biggest banks, while Bush pocketed $144,000 from Goldman Sachs employees alone. And that’s not counting the big money donations for their superPACs.

“That’s why all progressives should be pushing for greater reforms,” Borosage wrote, “even while fending off efforts of the bank lobby to cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to cut budgets of regulatory agencies, and to weaken or repeal core elements of Dodd-Frank.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has decried recent attempts to water down Dodd-Frank, spoke with the advocacy group Americans for Financial Reform about the legislation in an interview published Tuesday:

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Facing Down Taser, Sandra Bland Was Told By Officer: “I Will Light You Up!”

Betraying arrest report, newly released footage shows how arresting officer violently escalating traffic stop by threatening unarmed black woman with Taser

Written by Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-15.

In one shocking moment, the officer,  tells Bland that if she does not get out of her car he will "light her up." Subsequently, after she objects to having her head banged against the ground and telling him that she suffers from epilepsy, Encinia responds by saying, "Good." (Image: Screenshot/Youtube)

In one shocking moment, the officer, tells Bland that if she does not get out of her car he will “light her up.” Subsequently, after she objects to having her head banged against the ground and telling him that she suffers from epilepsy, Encinia responds by saying, “Good.” (Image: Screenshot/Youtube)

While many questions still remain about what exactly happened to Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell before she was found dead under mysterious circumstances on July 13, those looking for answers about why she was initially placed under arrest three days earlier were offered a look at devastating dash-cam footage released by the Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday evening which showed the arresting officer, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia, actively escalating a situation with violence and threatening the unarmed black woman with a Taser.

The manner in which the escalation occurred led law enforcement officials to say that Encinia had not followed department procedures and failed to “maintain professionalism” during the arrest.

In one shocking moment, the officer,  tells Bland that if she does not get out of her car he will “light her up.” Subsequently, after she objects to having her head banged against the ground and telling him that she suffers from epilepsy, Encinia responds by saying, “Good.”

As the New York Times reports, several Texas lawmakers who were shown the footage said it is clear that Bland should never have been treated in such a manner nor ultimately taken into custody by police. “This young woman should be alive today,” said State Representative Helen Giddings, Democrat of Dallas.

According to the Times:

Ms. Bland, an African-American from the Chicago area who had come to Texas for a job at her alma mater, Prairie View University, was arrested after she was stopped July 10 for a failure to signal a turn.

The video also confirmed an account from the family’s lawyer that the confrontation between Ms. Bland and the trooper, Brian T. Encinia, escalated after she refused the officer’s order to put out a cigarette, said [State Senator Royce West, Democrat of Dallas].

Neither the Taser nor the confrontation over the cigarette were mentioned in Officer Encinia’s incident report, which was released on Tuesday by the Waller County district attorney’s office.

Watch the footage [Warning: Graphic and strong language]:

Mother Jones reports:

In a press conference late Tuesday, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said that Encinia failed to “maintain professionalism” throughout his interaction with Bland, and that he has been taken off the street and placed on administrative duty for duration of the investigation into Bland’s death. In answer to a reporter’s question, Texas state Sen. Royce West said that the dash cam footage showed that Bland should not have been taken into police custody.

The subsequent death of Bland has continued to raise troubling questions since she was found hanged on the morning of July 13. A medical examiner report and the county sheriff’s office ruled her death a suicide, but during the three days Bland spent in jail, Bland’s family members said they spoke to her on the about posting bail, and that a suicide seemed “unfathomable.” An hour before she was found, Bland had asked to use the phone again, county officials said.

On Monday, officials in Waller County released additional details about the morning Bland died, including surveillance video footage showing the hall outside of cell 95, where Bland was held. Citing interviews with family members and with the bail bondsman who was among the last to speak with Bland, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said it is “too early to make any kind of determination” and that “this investigation is still being treated just as it would be a murder investigation,” signaling that he had not ruled out any motives and would explore all leads and evidence, including videos, fingerprints in her cell, and the plastic bag found around her neck.

And Time magazine adds:

The Bland case is the latest in a string of high-profile incidents around the country that have highlighted the strained relationship between the African-American community and local police.

Around two minutes into the 52-minute video, Bland changes lanes without signaling, and the police officer pulls her over. After several minutes while the officer sits in his cruiser, presumably going over paperwork, he returns to the vehicle to find Bland is upset.

“You seem very irritated,” he says. She responds by saying that she only changed lanes because she felt the officer was speeding up behind her.

The officer then asks Bland to put out her cigarette, and when she refuses, he orders her to step out of her car. When she refuses, he opens her car door and orders her repeatedly to step out, while she argues that she did nothing wrong.

The encounter soon turns physical.

“Step out or I will remove you,” he says repeatedly. “Get out of the car now, or I’m going to remove you. I’m going to yank you out of here.”

On Twitter, the reactions to what the newly released footage reveal about the arrest included expressions of outrage and confirmed for many that Bland should never have ended up in that jail cell in the first place.

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