Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Police are trained to shoot to kill

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 5:46 pm by

shoottokillInformation released yesterday indicates that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown, suffered facial fractures as a result of a struggle the two had. But does this struggle–which caused Wilson to suffer an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket”–warrant gunshots?

Witnesses have come forward to corroborate Wilson’s version of events. It is difficult to believe that a struggle with police (even one in which a police is punched in the face) warrants gunshots.  Indeed, nearly all police SOPs require that an officer be able to show that the response was “proportionate” to the offense. While these guidelines do not ban the use of tactics that may kill, they at least set the standard for proportionality.  Police officers are trained in how to restrain suspects, even when those suspects are attacking them. So why the gunshots?  Why the killing?

The truth is that police are trained to shoot to kill. This guide states that deadly force is justified “to protect the officer or others from what is reasonably believed to be a threat of death or serious bodily harm; and to prevent the escape of a fleeing violent felon who the officer has probable cause to believe will pose a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

Regardless of the facts of Michael Brown’s case, it is clear that police training and protocols must be reexamined.  Police officers should not have the power and authority to kill people.  To learn more about how you can help, contact BORDC at info@bordc.org.

 

Yet another black man is killed in Missouri

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 10:44 am by

After 11 days of protests after the police murder of Michael Brown, people are still in the streets.  Now they have another reason: A police officer shot and killed another black man, 25-year-old Kajieme Powell, this time in St. Louis City–fewer than three miles from the unrest in Ferguson. Right after noon yesterday, police say a man with a knife charged officers. Police are still trying to determine what happened and keep the peace.

A crowd former shortly after the 12:20 p, shooting, carrying signs and protesting. “Hands up! Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot!” they chanted. According to police, Powell shoplifted energy drinks from a local market.  The second time he did this, police were called to the scene.  When police arrived, they say Powell charged the officers with a knife once.  The second time he charged, they say, they opened fire.

Witnesses on the scene gave reports. One witness said, “The store owner and the alderwoman said the suspect was armed with a knife, acting erratically, pacing back and forth in the street talking to himself.” Another witness reported Powell saying, “Kill me.” (more…)

Activists speak out against police militarization

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 8:00 am by
copmorph
Vernellia Randall is author of Dying While Black, a book about living in our nation’s racist society. In discussing the events in Ferguson, MO regarding the murder-by-police of Mike Brown, Vernellia said:

“This isn’t about one boy being killed or about one town. It’s about the lives of all African Americans. What’s surprising to me is that there isn’t more protest and outrage. Just recently, in the town where I live, a black man, John Crawford, picked up a toy gun in Wal-Mart and he got killed by a policeman–even though this is an open carry state.”

BORDC’s Executive Director agreed, and spoke directly to the militarization of US police departments:

“The only thing more disturbing than the use of military tactics and weapons to suppress dissent in violation of constitutional rights is the use of US taxpayer dollars to pioneer those abuses in foreign countries used as laboratories for policing tactics. From automatic license plate scanners to shot spotter audio listening devices, surveillance drones to tear gas and SWAT teams, local policing has emerged as a part of the military industrial racket. But while the trend remains disturbing nationally, communities across the country have taken action to prevent and roll back the militarization of their police forces.”

Since the protests in Ferguson began, the public is becoming more aware of the programs that exist to give police departments military weaponry.  Once such program, 1033, has been in existence since the 1970s. Michael Shank, associate director for legislative affairs at Friends Committee on National Legislation, just co-wrote The New York Times op-ed Get the Military Off of Main Street. In it, he said:

“Ferguson’s police force got equipped this way thanks to the Pentagon, and it’s happening all over the country. The Department of Defense provides military-grade weapons and equipment to local law enforcement agencies through the 1033 program, enacted by Congress in 1997 to expand the practice of dispensing extra military gear. … To date, the Pentagon has donated military equipment worth more than $4 billion to local law enforcement agencies. And the giving goes on, to police forces in all 50 states in the union.”
For information about what you can do to stop police militarization, contact us. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Turning cops into soldiers in the wake of Mike Brown’s murder

Monday, August 18, 2014 at 8:55 am by

ferguson-policeA week after Mike Brown was shot, people are still taking to the streets.  After a week of protests, the governor of Missouri announced yesterday that an overnight curfew had been helpful to maintain the peace in Ferguson.  Yet police fired smoke grenades and tear gas into crowds despite the fact that Captain Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and commander in charge of overseeing activity and security in Ferguson, that such drastic measures would not be taken to enforce the curfew.

For the past week, residents of Ferguson have come into conflict with very heavily armed police officers.  How well armed is the suburban Ferguson P.D.?   How heavy are their military assault vehicles that  poured gas on a burning protest? And how did this happen?

Since the early 1990s, state and local police departments obtain some of their military-style equipment through a free Defense Department program. While the portion of their gear that comes from the program is relatively small (most of it is paid for by the departments or through federal grants), detailed data from the Pentagon illustrates how ubiquitous such equipment has become.

The militarization of our country’s police forces is not new. The recent events following the murder of Mike Brown has highlighted how important it is that we end this practice and stop making soldiers of our police forces.

Intern opportunities with BORDC

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 11:51 am by

Are you passionate about civil liberties, the Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution?  Are you a good speaker? Do you love to write?  Would you like to get college credit for working on something you feel strongly about?  Most importantly, do you want to make a difference?

If so, we’d love to hear from you.  BORDC is currently looking of interns for the fall semester of 2014.  Preference will be given to candidates located in or near Northampton, MA; Washington DC; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco Bay Area, CA; New York, NY; and Raleigh/Durham, NC. We are looking for people who can work between 15 and 20 hours per week.  Though we are not in a position to offer compensation, we are more than happy to work with your college or university to enable you to receive credit for this internship.4.1.1

Qualifications

We are seeking individuals who are interested in our issues and are familiar with current events relating to government secrecy, surveillance detention, and torture.  In order to intern with BORDC, you must be computer literate with good Internet research skills, demonstrate excellent written and verbal communication skills, and be a self-starter able to prioritize and work often without direct supervision. If you have experience working as part of a nonprofit organization, even better!

Responsibilities

Intern responsibilities are based upon the skills and interests of the candidate, as well as what BORDC may need at any given moment.  Responsibilities and activities may include:

  • Research and write blog posts, action alerts, press releases, and newsletter articles on issues including government surveillance, racial and ethnic profiling, and executive accountability for human rights abuses.
  • Engage allied local organizations on behalf of BORDC and present proposed reforms as a vehicle for coalition building.
  • Help facilitate organizing efforts.
  • Organize local student groups and assist with development of campus organizing guide.

Academic Credit

Interns are encouraged to make arrangements to receive academic credit for their internships. BORDC will accommodate the requirements of credit-earning internships as much as possible.

To Apply

Email a cover letter and resume to jobs@bordc.org.  In the subject line, please indicate where you are located.  Applications due by September 12, 2014.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Another black man shot by police

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 9:14 am by

michael-brown-shootingAnother young black man was shot and killed last Saturday.  Michael Brown, 18, was gunned down by a police officer on the afternoon of Saturday, August 9 in a St. Louis suburb. He was shot multiple times and killed by a Ferguson police officeroutside an apartment complex. Police say the shooting occurred after a struggle for the police officer’s gun.   But local residents aren’t so sure.

Having graduated from Normandy High School in St. Louis in the spring of 2014, Brown was scheduled to start classes at Vatterott College, a Missouri trade college, this past Monday, August 11.  On the day of his death, he was visiting his grandmother, who lives in Ferguson, MO, a working-class suburb of St. Louis.

When he was shot, Brown was unarmed.  Indeed,  all shell casings found at the scene were from the police officer’s gun. Furthermore, at least one shot was fired from the police car. Brown was killed while he was standing about 35 feet away from the car.

Shortly after the shooting, a crowd gathered on the scene.  Protests began and continued through Saturday afternoon.  Another protest at the Ferguson Police Department headquarters happened Saturday evening. The number of demonstrators varied—a CNN report says that there were up to a thousand protesters at the peak of the demonstrations, while other reports say there were about two hundred. Adding insult to injury, police shot into the crowd during Saturday afternoon’s protests.

(more…)

The tyranny of the Nanny State, where the government knows what’s best for you

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 10:05 am by

This guest post by John Whitehead was originally published on August 11 by the Rutherford Institute. 

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

—C.S. Lewis

Surveillance cameras, government agents listening in on your phone calls, reading your emails and text messages and monitoring your spending, mandatory health care, sugary soda bans, anti-bullying laws, zero tolerance policies, political correctness: these are all outward signs of a government—i.e., a societal elite—that believes it knows what is best for you and can do a better job of managing your life than you can.

of all tyranniesThis is tyranny disguised as “the better good.” Indeed, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this is the tyranny of the Nanny State: marketed as benevolence, enforced with armed police, and inflicted on all those who do not belong to the elite ruling class that gets to call the shots. Thus, this explains the recent rash of parents getting charged with negligence and arrested for leaving their kids alone for any amount of time, whether at a park, in a store, in a car, or in their front yard—another sign of what C.S. Lewis referred to as tyranny exercised by “omnipotent moral busybodies.”

For example, working mom Debra Harrell was arrested, spent 17 days in jail, lost custody of her daughter, and if convicted, could spend up to 10 years in jail all because she let her 9-year-old daughter play alone at a nearby park. Single mother Shanesha Taylor, unemployed and essentially homeless, was arrested for leaving her kids in her car during a 40-minute job interview. (more…)

2 Chicago men arrested for participating in activism

Monday, August 11, 2014 at 9:55 am by

Stop_and_FriskKevin Tapia and Felipe Hernandez—young Latino men from Chicago’s southwest side—spent the weeks leading up to the Affordable Care Act’s enactment going door-to-door on behalf of their community, informing residents of the imminent changes laid out in the new law. They found jobs with Grassroots Collaborative and worked to make sure that the citizens of their local neighborhoods would be covered in time for the March 31 deadline.

With the law’s rollout less than a week away, Tapia and Hernandez’s efforts had brought them to Garfield Ridge—a predominately white neighborhood. There they were greeted by four police officers who stopped them, frisked them and charged them with unlawfully soliciting business. Though the Chicago Sun-Times initially reported that the police were responding to a local 911 call presuming Tapia and Hernandez’s work to be little more than an attempt to scam the elderly, Grassroots Collaborative have highlighted the incident as an obvious example of racial profiling.

The precedent for a legal framework regarding stop and frisks was established in 1968 via the United States Supreme Court’s seminal ruling in Terry v. Ohio. The Court’s decision indicated that—in the absence of probable cause for an arrest—the Fourth Amendment to the United State’ Constitution protects citizens from police interrogation and frisks unless the officer can outline a “reasonable articulable suspicion” for a stop and frisk.

Probable cause is often subjective but even the most seasoned prosecutor would be grasping at straws in arguing that these officers acted within their purview when they stopped, frisked and arrested Tapia and Hernandez. The officers were responding to a deeply speculative neighborhood call two young men were engaging in entirely nonviolent behavior. What basis they had for fearing Tapia and Hernandez were armed and dangerous wasn’t clear at the time and hasn’t become any clearer since. (more…)

Help us help others: intern with BORDC

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 11:57 am by

We_Can_Do_It!Are you passionate about civil liberties, the Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution?  Are you a good speaker? Do you love to write?  Would you like to get college credit for working on something you feel strongly about?  Most importantly, do you want to make a difference?

If so, we’d love to hear from you.  BORDC is currently looking of interns for the fall semester of 2014.  Preference will be given to candidates located in or near Northampton, MA; Washington DC; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco Bay Area, CA; New York, NY; and Raleigh/Durham, NC. We are looking for people who can work between 15 and 20 hours per week.  Though we are not in a position to offer compensation, we are more than happy to work with your college or university to enable you to receive credit for this internship.

Qualifications

We are seeking individuals who are interested in our issues and are familiar with current events relating to government secrecy, surveillance detention, and torture.  In order to intern with BORDC, you must be computer literate with good Internet research skills, demonstrate excellent written and verbal communication skills, and be a self-starter able to prioritize and work often without direct supervision. If you have experience working as part of a nonprofit organization, even better!

Responsibilities

Intern responsibilities are based upon the skills and interests of the candidate, as well as what BORDC may need at any given moment.  Responsibilities and activities may include:

  • Research and write blog posts, action alerts, press releases, and newsletter articles on issues including government surveillance, racial and ethnic profiling, and executive accountability for human rights abuses.
  • Engage allied local organizations on behalf of BORDC and present proposed reforms as a vehicle for coalition building.
  • Help facilitate organizing efforts.
  • Organize local student groups and assist with development of campus organizing guide.

Academic Credit

Interns are encouraged to make arrangements to receive academic credit for their internships. BORDC will accommodate the requirements of credit-earning internships as much as possible.

To Apply

Email a cover letter and resume to jobs@bordc.org.  In the subject line, please indicate where you are located.  Applications due by September 12, 2014.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Bring your concerns to Congress this month

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 10:59 am by

congress-recessWashington D.C. has pretty much shut down.  Beginning last Friday night, Congress packed up and left town for five weeks.  There will be no hearings in session.  This happens every August due to a mandatory break that occurs each year beginning the first week of August and extending past Labor Day Weekend.

But just because Congress has taken a vacation doesn’t mean you have to.  August is a great time to reach out to your Senators and Representatives and let them know your concerns on the issues.  BORDC has compiled a list of talking points that may help guide you in addressing the issues with the people who represent you. It’s time to let Congress know that you care and that you want change.