Tag Archives: police accountability

The other epidemic: white supremacists in law enforcement

Law enforcement agencies have been breeding grounds for far-right ideology for decades, and it’s not just an American problem.

By Simon Purdue,  Published 8-6-2020 by openDemocracy

George Floyd protests on their ninth day in Miami. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC

 

As protests continue to bring cities across the United States to a standstill, the problem of racist policing is more evident than ever before. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis PD was just the latest in a long line of violent assaults on people of color by law enforcement, and his name joins an ever-growing list of people who have been killed by those who are sworn to protect and serve. The United States is grappling with the issue of police racism in front of the world, and the scale of the conversation currently happening is unprecedented, and sadly still not enough.

While the unconscious bias of some officers of the law has been laid bare for all to see, the conscious and hateful bias of others has remained largely in the shadows. The systemic issue of racial profiling is evident, but the hidden epidemic of far-right activism in police forces around the country is an insidious and even more dangerous threat. The links between the police and organized racism are as old as the institutions themselves. Continue reading

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Prohibited From Holding Police Officer to Account, Federal Judge Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn ‘Qualified Immunity’

“Those who violate the constitutional rights of our citizens must be held accountable. When that day comes we will be one step closer to that more perfect Union.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2020

Image: change.org

Handing down a ruling to dismiss a civil lawsuit which alleged a police officer violated a Black man’s Fourth Amendment rights during a traffic stop in 2013, a federal judge in Mississippi made clear that he sided with the plaintiff—and demanded the U.S. Supreme Court overturn legal precedent that makes it nearly impossible for the judicial system to hold officers accountable for rights violations. 

Calling for an end to qualified immunity, which dates back to a 1982 ruling and shields police from civil liability in most cases, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves turned his ruling into a plea for justice for plaintiff Clarence Jamison as well as countless other Black Americans who have faced violent abuse and deadly use of force by officers. Continue reading

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New Investigation Reveals How Fossil Fuel Giants Are Amplifying Militarized Police Forces

“This report sheds a harsh and needed light on the ways police violence and systemic racism intersect with the climate crisis.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-27-2020

Saint Paul, Minnesota police officers covered in riot gear march and line up during the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center.. Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The same industries fueling the climate crisis and disproportionately polluting Black and brown communities across the U.S are bankrolling police foundations, groups which can help militarize local police departments.

That’s according to a new investigation from transparency group Public Accountability Initiative and its LittleSis project. Continue reading

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Federal Crackdown in Portland Provokes Solidarity Protests Across the Country

“This is my first protest,” said a 45-year-old woman who joined the “Wall of Moms” at a Saturday demonstration in Seattle.

-By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2020

Oakland protest – late night/early morning of July 26, 2020. Photo: Amber Stewart/Twitter

People took to the streets in communities across the United States on Saturday in solidarity with ongoing protests against police brutality in Portland, Oregon that have been met with a forceful and widely criticized response from federal agents deployed by President Donald Trump, who has said he will send teams to other major U.S. cities.

Early Saturday evening, speakers at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California delivered remarks about systemic racism, police misconduct, and racial injustice before the crowd marched past murals of Black Americans killed by law enforcement to the city’s police headquarters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Continue reading

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Trump Threat to Unleash Secret Police in Other US Cities Slammed as Scheme to ‘Steal the November Election’

“The exercise also has the advantage for Trump of entrenching a new form of secret police and of turning federal agents into instruments of his authoritarianism.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2020

Screenshot: ABC News

Amid mounting criticism over the deployment of unidentified federal agents to Portland, Oregon—where they have been driving around in unmarked vehicles and snatching people off the streets—civil liberties advocates are increasingly concerned that President Donald Trump will similarly send “secret police” to other Democrat-led cites across the country as part of a 2020 campaign strategy to sow chaos and further his law-and-order message.

“Part of Trump’s reelection strategy is to scare the white suburbs, which polls show have soured on him, with ‘urban’ (read: minority) violence,” University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole wrote Monday for his website Informed Comment. Continue reading

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Police with lots of military gear kill civilians more often than less-militarized officers

A police tactical team in Ferguson, Mo., responds to 2014 protests against a white officer’s killing of Michael Brown, a young Black man. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Casey Delehanty, Gardner-Webb University

Police departments that get more equipment from the military kill more civilians than departments that get less military gear. That’s the finding from research on a federal program that has operated since 1997 that I have helped conduct as a scholar of police militarization.

That finding was recently confirmed and expanded by Edward Lawson Jr. at the University of South Carolina.

This federal effort is called the “1033 Program.” It’s named after the section of the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act that allows the U.S. Defense Department to give police agencies around the country equipment, including weapons and ammunition, that the military no longer needs. Continue reading

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Trapped: why George Floyd’s death resonates so deeply

Shared archetypes can be immensely powerful in the struggle to uproot racism.

By Nilufar Ahmed.  Published 6-28-2020 by openDemocracy

Protesting the Murder of George Floyd, Washington, DC, May 31, 2020. | Wikimedia Commons/Ted Eytan. CC BY-SA 2.0.

The brutal death of George Floyd and the protests it has sparked have had remarkable effects in communities all over the world. Statues glorifying slavers have been removed in the US and UK, and murals supporting Black Lives Matter have spread across the globe.

Sadly, the death of Black people at the hands of the police isn’t a new phenomenon, so what precipitated this response now? Part of the answer lies in timing, with both police violence and Covid-related mortality heavily shaped by race. “We are not conflating these separate
incidences,” as the Black and Asian Counselling Psychology Group puts it, “but highlight them together to demonstrate how racism permeates and impacts Black lives.” Continue reading

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Polls: Four Weeks of Protest Have Radically Altered American Views on Police

American voters now support sweeping changes to policing; 83 percent want a ban on racial profiling, 92 percent want police to be required to wear body cameras and White Americans’ concern over police violence has increased by 50 percent since 2019.

By Alan Macleod  Published 6-19-2020 by MintPress News

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Just four weeks of protest have radically altered Americans’ views on the police and what their role in society should be. Once almost exclusively the domain of activist groups, moves to comprehensively change, defund or even abolish the police are rapidly gaining momentum with the public.

new study published this week by Data for Progress shows that voters overwhelmingly (58 percent to 24 percent) support the creation of a new agency of first responders to deal with problems in the community – an agency that would explicitly undermine the police’s purview. The public would like to see the service, whose agents would resemble social workers more than police officers, take over a great number of situations police currently deal with, including mental health crises, drug addiction problems (including overdoses), and issues regarding homelessness. Significant numbers of people want to see the new agency tackle issues like spousal abuse and all non-violent crimes as well. “For elected officials looking to strengthen their communities and take action in the face of mass protest on police brutality, creating a non police first-responder agency proves to be a popular option that deserves their attention,” the report concludes. Continue reading

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‘Deeply Disappointing’: Supreme Court Slammed for Refusing to Examine Doctrine That Bolsters Police Immunity

“Recent events demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to stand up for the rule of law and abolish qualified immunity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2020

George Floyd protests in Washington DC. Photo: Rosa Pineda/CC

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear several cases involving a longstanding legal doctrine giving police officers and other government officials sweeping immunity from civil lawsuits, a decision that comes in the midst of a nationwide uprising against police brutality and racial injustice.

The doctrine of “qualified immunity” has come under growing criticism from lawmakers and rights groups since the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. As CNBC explained, “the burden imposed by qualified immunity on victims of police violence is exacerbated by the fact that prosecutors rarely charge officers for excessive force violations, often leaving civil lawsuits as the only remaining avenue.” Continue reading

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‘I Took the Helmet Off and Laid the Batons Down’: Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn’t Disperse Their Town’s Protest—They Joined It

“Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity.”

By Common Dreams. Published 5-31-2020

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson joins protesters as they walk for George Floyd. Screenshot: YouTube

Amid a national wave of uprisings against police brutality in response to last week’s brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota—but in contrast to a wave of aggressive and violent responses from law enforcement to those demonstrations—a scene in Flint, Michigan that played out Saturday evening offered an alternative to aggressive police tactics as a local sheriff and his fellow officers laid down their riot gear and joined with those members of the community who came out to voice their outrage and sorrow.

When Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, his deputies, and local officers were confronted by community members who marched on the Flint Township police station, witnesses described how Swanson told the crowd he wanted their pleas to be heard and that the police wanted to be in service of their demands and the protest itself. Continue reading

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