3 ways to celebrate Constitution Day

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 8:35 am by

constitution day

Today is Constitution Day. On September 17, 1787, our Founding Fathers ratified our Constitution, which provided for life, liberty, freedom, and prosperity. When you donate to BORDC, you are supporting those Constitutional rights we hold so dear.

Want to celebrate Constitution Day this year?  Here are three ways how:

1. Urge the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act.

This past month has brought this nation a lot of turmoil. Shootings of young people of color have become commonplace. Rather than investigate these tragedies, local police agencies have further violated the rights of communities that organize peacefully to raise their concerns, compounding abuses of the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments with First Amendment violations.

Write to Congress and let them know that equal protection is important. BORDC has been working on this issue for years, and we need your help.

2. Stop the NSA from spying on us.

It seems as though we are repeating the early days of the Bush administration. Fear mongering is rampant. The NSA continues to spy on you, and your family, invading your privacy and undermining your freedom of thought. The CIA is undermining human rights principles that have stood since we established them 50 years ago. More than ever, our country needs grassroots activism.  More than ever, we need support from people like you. You can also help out by signing this letter to Congress to express your concerns.

3. Start a local campaign.

BORDC is happy to work with you to help you start your own local campaign. Are you concerned about the state of your constitutional rights? Do you want to recruit friends & neighbors to join in the fight? You can get started by using our Grassroots Toolkit to start a campaign of your own. And also remember that donating to BORDC helps us help others.

Black actress detained for kissing her White companion: is an end to racial profiling in sight?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:30 am by

Racialprofiling

Actress Daniele Watts was accused of prostitution this weekend after kissing her companion. A Los Angeles Police Officer assumed she was a prostitute because she, a Black woman, kissed her companion, a White man, in public. In the meantime, law enforcement agencies are still trying to figure out how and why Michael Brown was shot and killed. Even now, nearly six years after his inauguration, people still can’t stop talking about President Obama’s race.

Our society is fraught with racial tensions, bigotry and everything in between. What are our lawmakers doing to help? First introduced in 2001 by Sen. Russell Feingold (D. Wisc) and Rep. Jon Coners (D. Mich), the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) has been both popularized and unreasonably shot down in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. So it is no surprise that in the wake of recent  tragedies that people are once more pushing for its passage. But will it finally come to be? Or will it once again succumb as a piece of legislation that is forever wanted but never actualized? Read the rest of this entry »

United States Constitution Day 2014: An Irrelevant Document?

Monday, September 15, 2014 at 8:30 am by

This guest post was written by Roger deRoos.  Constitution Day is September 17.

constitutiondaypicThe Preamble to the United States Constitution, adopted on September 17, 1787, reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”. A less than perfect document, the Constitution did not extend voting rights to landless citizens, women, Native Americans, and blacks.  However, Article V provided for “Amendments to this Constitution” that have corrected many of the faults.

Article VI reads, “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding”. Read the rest of this entry »

Police militarization: spending money on things we don’t need

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 11:22 am by

Anyone who was alive 13 years ago remembers the horrific images of what happened on September 11, 2001. In the wake of the attacks on 9/11, U.S. government programs began to help local police agencies obtain military equipment. More than a decade after 9/11, we are still fighting an ideology.  Finally, lawmakers are questioning why these small town police agencies need armored and mine-resistance vehicles, automatic weapons, and camouflage clothes.

Two days ago, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Capitol Hill. Some senators were critical of the programs that give police military equipment. Read the rest of this entry »

Resistance is futile: The violent cost of challenging the American police state

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 9:01 am by

This guest post by John Whitehead was originally published on September 9 by The Rutherford Institute and is reprinted with permission.

“Police are specialists in violence. They are armed, trained, and authorized to use force. With varying degrees of subtlety, this colors their every action. Like the possibility of arrest, the threat of violence is implicit in every police encounter. Violence, as well as the law, is what they represent.”

—Kristian Williams, activist and author

If you don’t want to get probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed, don’t say, do or even suggest anything that even hints of noncompliance. This is the new “thin blue line” over which you must not cross in interactions with police if you want to walk away with your life and freedoms intact.

Resistance_585x585

The following incidents and many more like them serve as chilling reminders that in the American police state, “we the people” are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”

For example, police arrested Chaumtoli Huq because she failed to promptly comply when ordered to “move along” while waiting outside a Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant for her children, who were inside with their father, using the bathroom. NYPD officers grabbed Huq, a lawyer with the New York City Public Advocate’s office, flipped her around, pressed her against a wall, handcuffed her, searched her purse, arrested her, and told her to “shut up” when she cried out for help, before detaining her for nine hours. Huq was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Read the rest of this entry »

The police are taking your cash at traffic stops

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm by

cashActivists within our community have been speaking out and fighting against police militarization for some time. The issue was recently thrust into the limelight of public opinion after last months’s tragic shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, various media programs have begun shining a light on the issue of police militarization, the various way in which it occurs, and ways for people to fight against it.

Recently, The Washington Post ran an investigative series on police militarization. While the pieces of lengthy, they do an excellent job of explaining how police use their power to confiscate cash during routine traffic stops.

The first in the series was published on September 6 and is titled Stop and Seize. This piece discusses the concerns inherent in traffic stops, and how police officers take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists who are not changed with crimes. The article discussing technology police use to watch motorists, and includes videos, documents, and retells specific stories regarding cash seizures.

On September 7 and September 8, The Post followed up with two more investigative pieces: Police Intelligence Targets Cash and They Fought the Law: Who Won? We encourage you to read these deeply informative pieces and share you comments.

Warning against the danger of criminalizing provocative Facebook postings

Monday, September 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm by

dislikeWeighing in on a case that will significantly impact expression on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats (it was never proven that he intended to threaten anyone) and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular song lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page.

The Rutherford Institute’s amicus brief in Anthony D. Elonis v. United States of America argues that the First Amendment protects even inflammatory statements that may give offense or cause concern to others unless the statements were a credible threat to engage in violence against another and made by the defendant with the intent to cause fear in the alleged victim. The case arises out of Facebook postings made by Anthony Elonis expressing his anger about events in his life, and which were based upon rap lyrics of artists such as Eminem and a comedy sketch of the group The Whitest Kids U’ Know. Read the rest of this entry »

Government surveillance in public spaces: is your data safe?

Friday, September 5, 2014 at 11:41 am by

big brotherBy Zack Youngren

Zack Youngren is a student at Northeastern University and front end web developer at a medium sized software company. He studies computer science and has particular interests in data analytics, privacy, and legislation surrounding information technology.

Significant public thought and scrutiny is being placed on the collection of data, including what is being collected and by what means. Should the government be collecting photos of your license plates? The metadata of your phone calls? The contents of your online exchanges? Over the past year since the Snowden leak, more thought has been given to what the government does with that data, insofar as storage and security, protecting it from not only people who might wish to access it illegally, but also from people with legitimate access that would use it for illegitimate means. Read the rest of this entry »

Torture report coming soon

Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm by

stop tortureThe Senate sent President Obama it’s torture report in April for declassification.  This report took five years to make. After innumerable redactions were made by the Obama administration, the report was nonsensical. “Redactions are supposed to remove names or anything that could compromise sources and methods, not to undermine the source material so that it is impossible to understand,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., a member of the committee, said Sunday in a statement. “Try reading a novel with 15 percent of the words blacked out. It can’t be done properly.” Additionally, the blacking out of  supporting evidence, such as proof that information derived from torture actually came from other intelligence sources was quite troubling.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein expects the executive summary of her staff’s long-awaited report on the torture of American detainees to be ready for public release before the end of September, she said in an unaired segment of her “Meet the Press” interview this weekend (starts at 10:25 of the video).

Feinstein said:

“What we are engaged in is working with the administration to see that the redaction is such that it does not destroy the report. If you redact the evidence — heavily — then we cannot sustain our findings. We will not put out a report that does not enable us to sustain our findings. And I believe that that is understood. Progress has been made. I think the report will likely come out in the second half of September sometime — but it won’t come out until it is readable and understandable.”

 

538 people killed by tasers

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm by

The militarization of our country’s police force has become a much-talked-about and controversial topic over the last several weeks. With officers shooting our citizens and residents, many may be wondering whether taser use may be a more effective way for police to restrain combative individuals without taking lives.

Indeed, using a taser to immobilize an adult seems like a good idea when you consider the alternative would be to pull out your gun and kill the guy. But it’s important to know the facts: As of April 2013, there have been 538 taser-related deaths in the United States since 2001.  Some of those killed were children.

Truth Not Tasers and Electronic Village have been compiling a list of North Americans who died after they were tasered since 2001 and the statistics are staggering. More than 790 people have died since 1984 as a result of being tasered, and 530 of those deaths have occurred just since 2001.

Additionally, it seems that taser use is targeted at both racial minorities and people with mental illness.  The video above involves a case of an 11-year-old girl with autism who was found naked, walking beside a highway.  Though an eyewitness described the girl as calm, the police officer who appeared on the scene tazed her. This is merely one example of the possible problems with tazing.

BORDC is aware of the concerns regarding tasers and is taking action and reaching out. In Berkeley, California, police are asking the City Council for tasers.  The City Council wants a study. The Coalition for TASER Free Berkeley is convening a diverse panel to discuss their experience with tasers to help Berkeley make an informed decision. Tomorrow, BORDC’s Executive director will be part of a panel discussion regarding  taser effects on various communities, people with mental illness, previous cities’ experience with tasers, and how taser use would be monitored and police officers held accountable.

If you are in the Berkeley area, please join the discussion at 1939 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94704 at 7 p.m.

Other panelists will include:

  • Aram James, Activist and former Public Defender in Palo Al
  • Barbara Ann White, Berkeley NAACP representative and Berkeley Mental Health
  • James Chanin. Founding member of the Police Review Commission and Civil Rights lawyer
  • Jeremy Miller, Program Director, Idriss Stelley Foundation, Co-organizer of the successful campaign to stop San Francisco from getting TASERs

This event is free, open to the public, and is wheelchair accessible.