Archive for the ‘Action Alerts’ 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.

1 more way to support BORDC without opening your wallet

Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 11:18 pm by

Amazon-Smile-LogoDo you shop on Amazon?  If you do, there’s an easy way to support BORDC through the purchases you already make.

The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible AmazonSmile items and there’s no cap on how much they will donate. It’s simple!  Just sign onto AmazonSmile with your Amazon user name and password.  Enter “BORDC” into the search field, and continue to shop as your normally would.

This is a great way to support our campaign efforts that help protect all individuals in this country without having to open your wallet.

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.

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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.

Civil liberties advocates and government whistleblowers call for immediate resignation of CIA Director John Brennan

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm by

Civil liberties advocates, prominent government whistleblowers and human rights activists have joined with Senator Mark Udall’s (D-CO) call for the immediate resignation of CIA Director John Brennan in light of CIA spying on Senate Intelligence Committee computers.

A few months ago, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) rocked Washington by challenging the CIA for illegally spying on Congress and stealing documents, in a speech described by Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) as the most significant he had seen among thousands in his 40 year career in the Senate.

CIA Director John Brennan vehemently denied those allegations at the time, but this week’s news makes clear that the CIA did in fact obstruct justice in its ongoing effort to evade accountability for its torture crimes. While President Obama has reiterated his support for Brennan despite the CIA’s continuing crimes under his leadership, members of Congress including Senator Udall (D-CO) have appropriately called for his removal.

According to Shahid Buttar of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee,

“It’s bad enough that the CIA got away with torture undermining US national security, as well as its destruction of videotape evidence, without ever facing the mandatory prosecution required by law. Spying on the Senate committee investigating the Agency’s torture crimes adds insult to injury, mocks the separation of powers, and represents yet another example of the CIA’s obstruction of justice. Brennan should either resign or be forcibly removed by Congress. The Agency has undermined US national security for long enough, and should not be allowed to violate the law yet again with impunity. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake.”

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Secrecy, government watchlists, and due process: why you should care

Friday, August 1, 2014 at 8:00 am by

The Intercept recently obtained the “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, which, among other things, reveals that American citizens can be placed on the government’s main terrorism database, as well as the no-fly list and selectee list, based on “reasonable suspicion.” The report was developed by 19 government agencies, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI, and offers a mere glimpse inside the overly broad and unnecessary surveillance practices of the American government.

FISA

In early July, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act enabled the monitoring of over 7,000 email addresses, many of whom belonging to American citizens that have led highly publicized, exemplary lives and have never before been suspected of terrorist activity. Because the FISC operates in complete secrecy—only the Justice Department and the FBI are permitted to attend its proceedings on domestic surveillance—it is impossible to assess how the court applies the standard of ‘probable cause’ in cases of suspected terrorism or espionage. But its rulings are notoriously one-sided: In its 35-year history, the court has approved 35,434 government requests for surveillance, while rejecting only 12.

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After the House watered it down, Sen. Leahy introduces a new US FREEDOM Act.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 7:55 am by

Yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced legislation that would restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records and requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities.

freedom act

The updated version of the USA FREEDOM Act released yesterday builds on legislation passed in the House in May, as well as the original legislation Leahy introduced with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) last October. The legislation bans bulk collection under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and other surveillance authorities, requires the government to narrow the scope of a search to a clearly defined “specific selection term,” adds needed transparency and reporting requirements, and provides key reforms to the FISA Court. In an editorial on Monday, the New York Times wrote “the bill represents a breakthrough in the struggle against the growth of government surveillance power.”

Leahy noted the legislation provides significant reforms of surveillance authorities, while carefully maintaining the role of law enforcement and intelligence agencies and their responsibility to protect national security.

In his floor statement, Leahy said:

“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago,” Leahy said in a floor statement.  This is an historic opportunity, and I am grateful that the bill has the support of the administration, a wide range of privacy and civil liberties groups, and the technology industry.”

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