Tag Archives: War on drugs

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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Top 5 Stories You Missed in 2016 While Everyone Mourned Dead Celebrities

By Jake Anderson. Published 1-3-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Chris Barker

First of all, let me confess that I shed some tears when David Bowie died. I know all 20+ of his albums by heart, and it felt like a piece of my childhood had disappeared. A few years ago, when Philip Seymour Hoffman died, I also cried. It’s a strange emotional symbiosis that occurs when you mourn for a deceased celebrity, and the point of this article is not to cast aspersions. However, 2016 has basically become known as the year a bunch of celebrities died, so there’s no better time to assess the phenomenon (and make sure it doesn’t distract us from other issues).

Over Christmas weekend, millions of people mourned the loss of George Michael and Carrie Fisher. They were advocates for gay rights and mental illness, respectively, and the nation reeled from the passing of two beloved iconic figures. Earlier this year, music legend Prince passed away, devastating tens of millions of fans for whom the musician represented everything from their adolescence in the 1980s to political statements of gender-bending. The list of celebrities who died in 2016 is extensive and, for some, unnerving. Continue reading

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Big Pharma Exposed for Knowingly Causing Opioid Epidemic, Ushering in a Heroin Nightmare

By Claire Bernish. Published 5-6-2016 by The Free Thought Project

Photo: Iowa DPS

Photo: Iowa DPS

Big Pharma created the legal opiate addiction epidemic and its outgrowth, rampant heroin abuse, because pharmaceutical corporations’ own addiction to profit arguably trumps any concern it may have had for patients. Though the accusation may seem harsh, the evidence has never been more apparent thanks to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times — which presents a scathing condemnation of the company behind the notorious painkiller, OxyContin.

Two decades ago, Purdue Pharma began marketing OxyContin — a chemical cousin to heroin — with the claim its 12-hour “smooth and sustained” dosing would revolutionize the treatment of pain. However, the claim is not only problematic in that its duration is often hours less than promised — leading patients to experience symptoms of withdrawal — but Purdue knew that before the painkiller ever hit the market. Continue reading

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Feds Helped Hide Investigation into Big Bank’s Money Laundering for Drug Cartels

By Carey Wedler. Published 2-2-2016 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge ruled last week that the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) will be forced to share a report on its business practices with the public — a decision both the bank and the Department of Justice (DOJ) fought in court to prevent. The report is based on the findings of an ongoing government audit of the bank initiated amid revelations in 2012, that it laundered money for drug cartels and terrorist organizations.

When HSBC’s sordid dealings were discovered in 2012, the DOJ declined to press charges, arguing the bank was too important to prosecute. As the Guardian reported at the time, Assistant Attorney General Larry Breuer argued “the Justice Department had looked at the ‘collateral consequences’ to prosecuting the HSBC or taking away its US banking license. Such a move could have cost thousands of jobs, he said.” Continue reading

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Ayotzinapa: an unheard cry for justice

In the end, Ayotzinapa “was the State”, inasmuch as it was, and continues to be, the result of impunity and systematic abusive practices within the various levels of government in Mexico.

By Gema Santamaria. Published 9-25-2015 at openDemocracy.

"Ayotzinapa was the state". Flickr. Some rights reserved.

“Ayotzinapa was the state”. Flickr. Some rights reserved.

One year has passed since 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School in the state of Guerrero were disappeared by perpetrators whose identity remains unknown and whose crimes remain unpunished. The brutality attributed to the disappearance and alleged killing of the students, as well the covert and overt involvement of public officials and security personnel, put an end to the silence and inertia that seemed to had taken hold of Mexico.

Despite the several episodes of brutality and impunity shaking the nation over the last decade, including the mass killing of 22 civilians in Tlatlaya in the State of Mexico only two months before Ayotzinapa, no event had produced such a national sense of indignation as the disappearance of the 43 students.  Ayotzinapa shattered at once the image of stability, cohesion, and economic modernization so carefully crafted by president Peña Nieto since the moment he took office in 2012. Ayotzinapa demonstrated that violence and insecurity were far from becoming an ancillary topic in the public agenda and that despite the government’s otherwise successful economic reforms, security and justice would continue to reflect the state’s incapacity to establish the rule of law. Continue reading

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Hiding in plain sight: the history of the War on Drugs

The War on Drugs was a direct response to the African American uprisings of the 1960s. Its racist and repressive effects continue to be felt today.

By Paul Bermanzohn. Published August 13, 2015, by ROAR.

Photo: A scene of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, by Don Hogan Charles.

Photo: A scene of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, by Don Hogan Charles.

Recent US history, from the 1960s until today, shows the War on Drugs to be a crusade of repression against African American people, incarcerating millions to prevent a renewal of the struggle for freedom.

We need to look at the whole picture of this drug war, not just a fragment or a piece of it. Most writers on this subject either get lost in the details or cannot see past the lie that the US is a “democracy.” In either case they often fail to see the realities of this history, even though the facts are clear. Presenting well-known events in chronological order clarifies the inner connection among these events and brings out their larger significance.

Indeed, placing the history in sequence makes it plain: the Great Migration brought on a Great Rebellion. A vindictive Great Repression was orchestrated to crush the Great Rebellion and prevent its continuation. Masked as the so-called “War on Drugs,” which has swept millions into prisons and jails across the US, the Great Repression has, in effect, punished generations for the “sins” of their ancestors — those who dared to rebel.

This repression is still underway today. Its effects are clearly racial. But, camouflaged as a “War on Drugs,” it has allowed the country’s rulers to appear “colorblind” or race-neutral — as if they are merely enforcing the law.

The Great Migration

In the early 20th century, fleeing the decaying Jim Crow system of agricultural labor in the fields and farms of the South, millions of African Americans moved out, seeking jobs in the military-industrial centers of the North, the mid West and the West. From World War I to the 1960s, millions migrated from virtual chattel slavery in the South to wage slavery in the North. They found little improvement.

Herded into old ghettos, or into quickly-created new ones, they found discrimination, barely habitable housing with a constant threat of dislocation by projects of urban renewal, or “Negro removal.” Giant housing projects, little more than stacks of shacks, were built to house the many migrants. Overcrowded and neglected schools provided poor or non-existent education for their children.

The misery was compounded by relentless police abuse. When Malcolm X spoke of “the so-called Negro out here catching hell,” he was talking about (and to) this group. Malcolm lived this experience and became the spokesman of urban ghetto dwellers. The desperation and outrage experienced by these migrants made explosion inevitable.

The Great Rebellion

Violent repression of civil rights demonstrators seeking basic respect combined with the migrants’ sufferings to ignite a series of mass urban uprisings across the US. These insurrections are generally seen as individual explosions, city by city, but to grasp their cumulative significance we need to see them as a single process: African Americans striving for freedom in racist America. The rebellion was at the heart of the ’60s and drives American politics to this day, even under the nation’s first black president.

These rebellions are generally dismissed as “riots” and their significance erased.

Kenneth Stahl titled his website and book on the Detroit Rebellion of 1967 The Great Rebellion, but I expand the use of this term to include all these uprisings. Virtually all were precipitated by violent police attacks or rumors of such attacks. Since officials often lie, it is impossible to know what exactly happened in every case, but at any rate a large number of uprisings took place across the country: over 300 cities rose up in the ‘60s, according to the best estimates.

The first insurrection, in New York City, was touched off by a police murder. The initial focus of the demonstration, called for by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), was the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. However, when in the early morning of July 16, off-duty police Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan killed 15-year-old African American student James Powell, CORE decided to change the focus of their protest to police brutality in Harlem.

The protest was peaceful, but rage at the murder grew into a mass confrontation with police. Bands of looters operated in Harlem’s streets at night. Upheaval soon spread to Bedford Stuyvesant. After the New York City insurrection abated, like a series of aftershocks, smaller uprisings took place throughout the area, in upstate NY, NJ and Pennsylvania.

A year later, on August 11, unrest broke out in Watts, LA. Among the first targets of looters were gun stores — and they made full use of their weapons. For almost a week, people fought the police and army to a standstill. Black and white looters working together led King to state that “this was not a race riot. It was a class riot.” The Situationist International even treated the rebellion as a “revolutionary event,” with looting seen as a rejection of the commodity system, “the first step of a vast, all-embracing struggle.”

In 1966, there were 43 civil disturbances of varying intensity across the nation, including a notable uprising in Chicago, where the Puerto Rican community exploded into a week-long rebellion after a police shooting. On April 4, 1967, King delivered what is probably his most important speech: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break SilenceThe relevance of this speech is often downplayed, and if mentioned at all, it tends to be portrayed as King’s speech opposing the US war in Vietnam. It was much more.

In the address, King embraced the world revolution saying, “if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.” He called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and called for an end to “the giant triplets of racism, materialism and economic exploitation.”

The speech galvanized the anti-war movement. Just eleven days later, on April 15, 1967, over 400,00 people marched to the UN to demand an end to the war. It was the first demonstration I ever attended. I vividly remember the excitement in the gathering place, Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, still packed with marchers, when word came that the front of the march, which filled the streets the whole way, had reached the UN over a mile away. The movement’s power continued to grow as the spirit of revolution spread.

In just a few years, the US military began to disintegrate. Eighty percent of soldiers were taking drugs. Combat refusals, naval mutinies and fragging incidents — soldiers shooting their officers — became widespread.

In 1967, over a hundred instances of violent upheaval were recorded. Most notably were the uprisings in Newark, were the violence was sparked by rumors of a black cab driver being killed by police after decades of housing discrimination and massive black unemployment, and the one in the Motor City, Detroit, where 43 people were killed after 12,000 soldiers descended upon the city in an attempt to quell the protests.

The Great Repression

The year ’68 proved to be the watershed. The Rebellion reached its peak and the initiative was seized by the forces of order, who subsequently organized the Great Repression. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was killed, probably by government assassination. His murder, one year to the day after his revolutionary speech, strikes some as a signal sent by the government to deter people from taking the revolutionary path. If this is so, it did not work. Following King’s murder the largest insurrection occurred. Over 100 cities exploded.

The Holy Week Uprising was the most serious bout of social upheaval in the United States since the Civil War. The largest insurrections took place in Washington, D.C.BaltimoreLouisvilleKansas City, and Chicago — with Baltimore experiencing the most significant political events. The Liberal Republican Governor of Maryland, Spiro T. Agnew, gathered African American community leaders and subjected them to a dressing down for not supporting the US government strongly enough. Seeking to divide and conquer, he said: “I call upon you to publicly repudiate, condemn and reject all black racists. This, so far, you have not been willing to do.”

Agnew’s speech received national headlines and led to his role in the presidential elections later that year, which centered on the urban uprisings of the preceding decade and created the miserable legacy of today. US politicians refined a coded language to conceal their racial motives. The Republican candidate Richard Nixon ran against the liberal Democrat Hubert Humphrey. The civil rights movement drove not only the KKK; it also drove overtly racist language underground. It did not end either.

The election centered on Nixon’s call for “law and order,” a slogan that meant a tough response to insurgents (called “rioters”) and the still popular notion that politicians should be “tough on crime.” Crime, disorder and violence became synonyms for being black.

Nixon eagerly stated to work on a war on drugs before his inauguration. Early in his presidency, he outlined his basic strategy to his chief of staff: “[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

Nixon’s diabolical efforts to develop a War on Drugs along these lines involved the highest officials in the US government, including William Rehnquist, later appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Reagan. Nixon initiated a war on crime as well as the War on Drugs, setting the pattern for future presidents.

Following in his predecessors’ footsteps, Reagan outdid Nixon in his get-tough-on-crime policies and oversaw the steepest rise in incarceration rates. Bill Clinton signed into law an omnibus crime bill in 1994, increasing capital offenses and the federal “three strikes” provision mandating life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes. He poured over $30 billion into militarizing the nation’s police. His group, the Democratic Leadership Council, brought much of the Democratic Party to embrace coded racial politics in order to win over white voters.

For a new beginning

As a movement to stop violent police repression grows across the nation, some of our current rulers seem to understand that they have a tiger by the tail. The Clinton team has begun to suggest that mass incarceration might end. Clinton, herself, as part of her presidential campaign, called “for a re-evaluation of prison sentences and trust between police and communities.”

The Black Lives Matter movement recognizes that discontent fueled by mass incarceration contributes to the movement to stop police murders. Less well-recognized is that granting the police immunity is itself part of the generalized repression of African Americans. The system of mass incarceration rests on a high degree of police discretion in choosing whom to suspect, interrogate and arrest, and in how to do these things. Restricting the police can hardly be allowed if the police are to continue the overall project of racial repression.

Part of developing a new revolutionary movement is to reclaim our history. The masters keep us enslaved by blinding us to our collective strength. The story of the ‘60s uprisings is one rich in power and agency; this is the reason why the rulers want to erase this period from the collective memory altogether.

At the same time, we must also recognize that the uprisings of the ’60s failed. Despite the vast strength revealed in the Great Rebellion, our enemies were able to use the images of violence and looting to further the divisions in US society and to institute their vengeful repression with at least the passive consent of the “white” majority. Time and again, the mainstream media proved a powerful tool in promoting the image of black and brown people as violent, criminal and dangerous.

It must be acknowledged that widespread looting and violence frightened the “white” majority, making it easier for the rulers to split the people and institute the Great Repression. King’s revolutionary non-violence had a much different effect on the American people. This must be pondered by serious revolutionaries.

Conditions for a new revolutionary movement are gradually maturing. There are growing rebellions seeking a new way of life throughout the world. In the US, an ever-spreading movement affirms the value of black lives as increasing numbers of European-American youth take up the struggle of African Americans as their own. Such a movement may, in time, bring an end to the socially constructed notion of whiteness, eliminating a key pillar of the rulers’ domination.

In the Virginia colony in the 17th century, the masters were horrified to see African and European laborers combine to seek to destroy the system of enslavement. Their response was to create a sharp division in condition between their African and their Europeans slaves. They “invented” the white race to split the laborers and preserve their power — a remarkably effective and durable approach.

Race is a social construct devised and manipulated by our masters to maintain their rule. Only by eliminating class society, which continues to depend on racism, can racism as such be swept away.

Paul Bermanzohn, son of Holocaust survivors, is a retired psychiatrist and lifelong political revolutionary. He was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, in which five of his close comrades were killed. His web site is Survival and Transformation.

This article is an edited version of a talk presented at a meeting of the End the New Jim Crow Action Network, on 14 July 2015 (Bastille Day), Kingston, NY.

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Where The Criminals Are The Police – Guerrero Edition

While we at Occupy World Writes recognize that our media has pretty much given up on reporting the news, sometimes we’re still surprised by their lack of coverage of vital stories happening around the world. Instead of providing us with an unbiased accounting of current events, they focus instead on the sensational.

Our news broadcasts are filled with stories about Ebola, yet the chances of an Ebola epidemic occurring in the US are close to nonexistent. They cover things such as Occupy Wall Street and the Ferguson protests when they first start, but then ignore them as soon as a new shiny story comes around, even though the protests are still happening and the issues that started them are still present. And, sometimes, they almost completely skip the story, even though it’s happening right next door.

Protest demanding the resignation of the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre. Photo via www.lainfo.es

Protest demanding the resignation of the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre. Photo via www.lainfo.es

A month ago tomorrow, a group of students from Ayotzinapa Normal School – a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico – traveled to the nearby city of Iguala to protest against what they said were discriminatory hiring practices. Police opened fire on the buses the students were travelling in, killing three of them and three more people in nearby vehicles. 43 students were seen being loaded into police vans; that’s the last time they were seen.

The speculation around the city was that the police reaction was related to the mayor’s wife having an event in the city on that day; police officers had been told to prevent the students from disrupting her event. Which brings us to the next twist in the story; the mayor’s wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, is part of the Pineda family. The Pineda family is known to have controlled the drug trafficking in Guerrero for the Sinaloa Cartel, and were associates of a group known as Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), a spinoff of the criminal group Los Beltran Leyva.

After the leader of Guerreros Unidos revealed that the police had handed over some of the students to the group and ordered their executions, dozens of police officers were arrested. The mayor was fired, and he and his wife went into hiding. Last week, the State Capitol building in Chilpancingo was heavily damaged by fire in demonstrations demanding that the governor step down. Which brings us to this week.

On Wednesday, protesters burned the Iguala city hall, and tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City and other cities in protests over the disappearance of the students and the failure of the government to find them. Also on Wednesday, Mexico’s Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam ordered the arrest of Jose Luis Abarca (the former mayor), his wife, and an aide, alleging they masterminded the attack. On Thursday, the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre, stepped down.

Since the disappearance of the students, a dozen mass graves with remains of burned and dismembered bodies have been found in the area, but authorities claim none of the bodies were the missing students. As horrible as this sounds, it’s just a drop in the bucket.

Around 26,000 people have gone missing in the last eight years in Mexico, according to a list compiled by the administration before the present one headed by Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto. The level of corruption and collaboration between the army police and the cartels is staggering. And, to a large degree, we’re responsible. The “war on drugs” is what gave birth to the cartels; without the huge profits that the drug trade generates, there wouldn’t be the violence and corruption perpetuated by the cartels and gangs throughout Latin America, and we wouldn’t see anywhere as much corruption in those countries’ governments and security forces that we do now.

What can we as a nation do? Put in place a sensible drug policy. Instead of attempted nation building in the Middle East, why don’t we worry about closer to home instead? Put the money we spend in Iraq, Afghanistan and the like into building up our neighbors in Latin America. Make it so the citizens of Latin America have other options to make a good living and feed their families other than working for the cartels. It would be a win/win for everybody; not only would the cartels’ grip on those countries and the violence resulting from that diminish greatly, but we’d have fewer people crossing our border in search of a better, safer life.

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