Tag Archives: police accountability

Criminalizing Dissent: Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Enters Fourth Week

Published 12-9-2017 by Unicorn Riot

Scene from J20 protest. Photo: It’s Going Down

 

Washington, DC – Several weeks into the first trial of the individuals who were mass arrested during President Trump’s inauguration in DC on January 20 (J20), the prosecution is almost ready to rest its case. The arrests occurred at 12th & L streets when police chased, trapped, and surrounded the ‘anti-capitalist and anti-fascist’ protest march.

The first trial group comprises those who insisted on their right to a speedy trial. Jury selection began on November 15, and the trial itself started with opening arguments on November 20. The next group of defendants exercising their right to speedy trial is set for trial later this month but may be delayed to January; many other trials for the remaining defendants are scattered throughout 2018. Continue reading

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Black Lives Matter Supporters Call Attention to Graphic Video of Arizona Shooting

“Consider that Shaver might well be alive if only the Mesa police department had long ago adopted reforms of the sort that Black Lives Matter suggests.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-9-2017

Daniel Shaver, left, was shot to death by Office Philip Brailsford, right, in January 2016. Prominent Black Lives Matter supporters have drawn attention to his death as the latest clear sign that major policing reforms are needed in the U.S. (Photo: @NolanHack/Twitter)

Black Lives Matter activists were among those who used social media on Friday and Saturday to call attention to the case of Daniel Shaver, a 26-year-old man who was shot to death by a police officer in Mesa, Arizona in January 2016.

A disturbing, graphic video of the shooting was released shortly after the officer who killed Shaver, who was white, was acquitted of second-degree murder.

The video shows Shaver following the officer’s instructions to crawl toward him and begging him not to shoot. Continue reading

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Ayotzinapa three years later: new light, few answers

A reconstruction of the events surrounding the disappearances of the 43 Mexican students has highlighted the mistakes authorities commit. Sadly, we may never get to the bottom of what really happened.

By Manuella Libardi. Published 9-26-2017 by openDemocracy

Credit: Forensic Architecture.

The third anniversary of the the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College students (known as normalistas) in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico has come and has brought new developments with it.

Forensic Architecture, a London-based agency that conducts research on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights organizations, and political and environmental justice groups, has reconstructed the events of Sept. 26 and 27, 2014, which is presented as a forensic tool for parents, investigators and the general public to further the investigation. The interactive platform depicts a vivid account showing federal and state police agents in the vicinity at the moment when 43 students disappeared from Iguala. Continue reading

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Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville

by A.C. Thompson and Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, and Karim Hajj, special to ProPublica, Aug. 12, 2017, 11 p.m.

Photo: Billy Baldwin/Twitter

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – There was nothing haphazard about the violence that erupted today in this bucolic town in Virginia’s heartland. At about 10 a.m. today, at one of countless such confrontations, an angry mob of white supremacists formed a battle line across from a group of counter-protesters, many of them older and gray-haired, who had gathered near a church parking lot. On command from their leader, the young men charged and pummeled their ideological foes with abandon. One woman was hurled to the pavement, and the blood from her bruised head was instantly visible.

Standing nearby, an assortment of Virginia State Police troopers and Charlottesville police wearing protective gear watched silently from behind an array of metal barricades – and did nothing.

It was a scene that played out over and over in Charlottesville as law enforcement confronted the largest public gathering of white supremacists in decades. We walked the streets beginning in the early morning hours and repeatedly witnessed instances in which authorities took a largely laissez faire approach, allowing white supremacists and counter-protesters to physically battle.

Officials in Charlottesville had publicly promised to maintain control of the “Unite the Right” rally, which is the latest in a series of chaotic and bloody racist rallies that have roiled this college town, a place deeply proud of its links to Thomas Jefferson and the origins of American Democracy.

But the white supremacists who flooded into the city’s Emancipation Park – a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee sits in the center of the park – had spent months openly planning for war. The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, encouraged rally attendees to bring shields, pepper spray, and fascist flags and flagpoles. A prominent racist podcast told its listeners to come carrying guns. “Bring whatever you need, that you feel you need for your self defense. Do what you need to do for security of your own person,” said Mike “Enoch” Peinovich on The Right Stuff podcast.

And the white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville did indeed come prepared for violence. Many wore helmets and carried clubs, medieval-looking round wooden shields, and rectangular plexiglass shields, similar to those used by riot police.

Clad in a black, Nazi-style helmet, Matthew Heimbach told ProPublica, “We’re defending our heritage.” Heimbach, who heads the Traditionalist Workers Party, a self-declared fascist group, said he was willing to die for his cause and would do whatever it took to defend himself. He was surrounded by a brigade of white supremacists, including members of the League of the South and the National Socialist Movement.

By the time Heimbach and his contingent arrived in downtown Charlottesville shortly before 11 a.m., what had started hours earlier with some shoving and a few punches had evolved into a series of wild melees as people attacked one another with fists, feet, and the improvised weapons they’d brought with them to the park. White supremacists and anti-racists began blasting each other with thick orange streams of pepper spray.

The police did little to stop the bloodshed. Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State, wearing body armor and desert camo, played a more active role in breaking up fights.

Shortly before noon, authorities shut down the rally and the related demonstrations and marched the white supremacists out of the park and into the streets.

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy defended the police tactics. “I’m not in the business of throwing our police department under the bus, because they’re doing the best job they can, ” said Bellamy. “I don’t think the police officers were just twiddling their thumbs.”

The skirmishes culminated in what appears to have been an act of domestic terrorism, with a driver ramming his car into a crowd of anti-racist activists on a busy downtown street, killing one and injuring 19 according to the latest information from city officials. Charlottesville authorities tonight reported that a 20-year-old Ohio man had been arrested and had been charged with murder.

Two state police officers also died in a helicopter crash.

At a brief press conference this evening, Virginia officials declined to answer questions about the police response, but said they were not taken surprise by the violence or the number of protesters. “This could have been a much worse day,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, “We planned for a long time for today’s incidents.”

Charlottesville police Chief Al Thomas said at least 35 people had been injured – many of them from violent encounters between white supremacists and the counter-protesters. He said nobody had been wounded due to confrontations between police and the public.

In the weeks leading up to the protest, city and state officials put together a detailed plan for the rally, mobilizing 1,000 first responders, including 300 state police troopers and members of the National Guard. Judging from how events unfolded today, it appears that the strategy was to avoid direct confrontations with the protesters.

Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor who has worked on police reform efforts in Los Angeles, said it was too early to assess the law enforcement response in Charlottesville.

But she said a strategy of disengagement generally works to embolden unruly crowds.

“If things start to escalate and there’s no response, it can very quickly get out of control,” she said. “Individuals can and will get hurt.”

But an overly forceful response, she said, can also make the situation worse. Krinsky said attempts to seize weapons might have led to more clashes between police and protesters. “Trying to take things away from people is unlikely to be a calming influence,” she told ProPublica.

A good strategy, she said, is to make clashes less likely by separating the two sides physically, with officers forming a barrier between them. “Create a human barrier so the flash points are reduced as quickly as possible,” she said.

A.C. Thompson and Karim Hajj reported from Charlottesville, Va. Robert Faturechi reported from New York.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Watch: Baltimore Cops Keep Accidentally Recording Themselves Planting Drugs on People

By Everett Numbers. Published 8-2-2017 by The Anti-Media

Officers planting evidence appear to be growing a tree of corruption at the Baltimore Police Department, as the second release of suspicious body camera footage in two weeks has led to more dropped drug charges.

On Tuesday evening, Baltimore defense attorney Josh Insley released BPD body camera footage showing officers apparently faking the recovery of drugs from a woman’s vehicle. The three videos led the Baltimore state attorney’s office to drop charges against Insley’s client, Shamere Collins, on Monday, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Insley plans to sue the police department to seek justice for Collins, 35, who was pulled over on November 29, 2016, when police say they observed what looked like a drug deal involving the passenger of her vehicle, according to the Sun.

None of the names of the seven officers who responded to the traffic stop have been released by the BPD. Two of those officers, however, have been suspended pending an internal affairs investigation, and other cases involving those two officers are also being delayed, the Sun reported.

The city’s public defender office described the video as showing “multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence,” according to the newspaper.

At one point in the recordings, after officers found nothing around the driver’s seat or in the rest of the vehicle, body cameras were turned off.

A half hour later when they were turned back on, a different officer appeared at the driver’s side of the car and passively asked, “Did anybody check this compartment?” while simultaneously leaning down and soon standing back up with a black plastic bag in hand.

The move was quick, but it’s unclear whether that was why none of the officers standing by responded to his question. Police also claimed that the officer who picked out the plastic bag had been conducting surveillance before the traffic stop and therefore knew better where to look.

“Oh here you go,” the officer then stated. “Oh yeah. That’s the weed smell right there.”

Body cam footage from earlier in the traffic stop showed a man who appeared to be the passenger being handcuffed as he told the officers, “You crooked. You set motherf***ers up. That’s what you do.”

What a generalization. Not all cops are crooked. But just in case, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis sent a reminder memo this week to all officers regarding body camera policy.

“In the event your body worn camera is not activated during the recovery of evidence, under no circumstances shall you attempt to recreate the recovery of evidence,” Davis wrote, according to the Sun.

Tampering with or planting evidence isn’t specifically mentioned in the letter, but so-called recreating the recovery of evidence is. The fact remains, however, that there are now multiple ongoing internal affairs investigations into multiple officers over body camera footage of evidence mishandling while other officers were nearby.

Two weeks ago, body camera video of a January incident was released. Officer Richard Pinheiro inadvertently filmed himself placing a baggy of pills in an alleyway as Officers Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson stood some distance away on a sidewalk. Pinheiro was suspended and the other two are on administrative duty as the investigation continues.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby has confirmed to multiple news outlets that she dropped 41 felony drug and gun cases that would depend on those three officers’ testimonies. The Baltimore Sun reported that an additional 55 cases are under review, 27 of which will not be interrupted as they reportedly contain strong evidence that is independent and corroborative.

This article is republished under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

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NYPD Catches Itself Selling Stolen Goods, Blames Business Owner

By Carey Wedler. Published 10-8-2016 by The Anti-Media

One Police Plaza- NYPD headquarters. Photo: Youngking11 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One Police Plaza- NYPD headquarters. Photo: Youngking11 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

New York, NY — A business owner in Manhattan is suing the city after being forced to waive his fourth amendment rights and potentially forfeit his business because an NYPD officer sold illegal goods at his store.

You read that right.According to a lawsuit filed this month by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal advocacy group, an undercover NYPD detective attempted to sell stolen electronics to customers at Sung Cho’s laundromat in Inwood, which located near the northern tip of Manhattan, in 2013. After the officer successfully sold stolen goods to two people — one inside the store and one outside — the city threatened Cho with eviction “merely because a ‘stolen property’ offense had happened at his business,” the legal organization’s website explained. Continue reading

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