Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

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.

 

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.

200,000 warrantless searches performed by the FBI

Friday, August 15, 2014 at 9:05 am by

ben franklinOn August 7, BORDC co-sponsored an event in Salt Lake City, about how Utahns can help stop the NSA dragnet. This blog post includes the prepared remarks of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson.

During the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, US intelligence agencies engaged in widespread illegal misconduct, far outside the checks and balances of constitutional government. The FBI, after engaging in warrantless wiretapping, tried to blackmail Martin Luther King, Jr. into committing suicide.  The CIA hired the Mafia to try to assassinate Fidel Castro.  The CIA supported the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected government.  In the COINTELPRO program, the FBI, in the name of national security, conducted illegal investigations of people and organizations engaged in lawful conduct, meted out secret punishments, and promoted violence, broke up marriages of civil rights workers, falsely labeled people as government informers to provoke reprisals against them, and effectively prevented citizens from speaking, teaching, writing, and publishing.  The FBI and CIA also engaged in a massive letter-opening campaign, all without warrants and with knowledge of its illegality.

 There are times when our government rises to the occasion and casts a light on wrongdoing that inspires us as as to the grand possibilities of our democracy in safeguarding our liberties and providing us the truth about what our government is doing, and what it has done.  The Church Committee, during 1975-76, investigated and disclosed to the American people horrendous abuses by the intelligence community, providing the sort of disclosure and wisdom that restores the health and integrity of our threatened republic.  It demonstrated that vigilance and an insistence upon the truth are, indeed, essential to our freedoms and democracy.  The Church Committee’s work serves as an inspiring object lesson for what urgently needs to happen if we are to keep our republic.

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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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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…)

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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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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Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC July Newsletter

Monday, July 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm by

Constitution in Crisis

July 2014, Vol. 13 No. 07


Journalists reveal government monitoring political activists

Earlier this month, journalists revealed the names of five American targets of the NSA’s surveillance dragnet.  This was the first time that Americans who have never been arrested, or even suspected of terrorist activity, have been individually identified as targets for government monitoring.

Since the story was published, Greenwald has spoken candidly about the reasons for his delay in reporting the names, as well as why it matters. As he explained to Wired magazine, “This is the first time that there’s a human face on who the targets are….I think it’s important for people to judge—are these really terrorists or are these people who seem to be targeted for their political dissidence and their political activism?”



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To view campaigns supported by BORDC at a glance, visit our interactive campaign maps for local coalitions addressing surveillance and profiling by local law enforcement, or military detention under the NDAA. To get involved in any of these efforts, please email the BORDC Organizing Team at organizing (at) bordc (dot) org. We’re eager to hear from you and help support your activism!

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Cornel West supports Mothers Against Police Brutality

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 12:24 pm by

policeHundreds flocked to Dallas’s Friendship-West Baptist Church on June 20 as renowned intellectual Dr. Cornel West spoke at a town hall meeting sponsored by Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) . West spoke with passion and candor on the desperate reality of police overstepping their authority and encouraged those in attendance to join the fight against police brutality.

“Dr. West’s message was exhilarating, uplifting, challenging and painfully truthful. His message left seeds of hope and uprooted some deep seedlings of oppression in the Dallas communities,” said MAPB founder Collette Flanagan. “Our sense of responsibility and ownership in our families and community was awakened.” Flanagan says her organization has registered more volunteers than ever before and credited MAPB supporters for “stepping up to the plate.”

MAPB’s next event is a public hearing for families that have lost loved ones to police brutality. The group will be inviting city officials, Dallas Police Chief Brown and local and state politicians. Flanagan feels it’s important for them to see the carnage left behind when unarmed children are killed by policemen and “stolen” from their families. Planning is underway to hold the event in August.

The Emperor’s New Clothes: The naked truth about the American police state.

Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm by

This guest post by John Whitehead was originally published on July 8 by the Rutherford Institute. 

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself…Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”                                                                                                               —H.L. Mencken, American journalist

It’s vogue, trendy and appropriate to look to dystopian literature as a harbinger of what we’re experiencing at the hands of the government. Certainly, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm have much to say about government tyranny, corruption, and control, as does Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Yet there are also older, simpler, more timeless stories—folk tales and fairy tales—that speak just as powerfully to the follies and foibles in our nature as citizens and rulers alike that give rise to tyrants and dictatorships.

One such tale, Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, is a perfect paradigm of life today in the fiefdom that is the American police state, only instead of an imperial president spending money wantonly on lavish vacations, entertainment, and questionable government programs aimed at amassing greater power, Andersen presents us with a vain and thoughtless emperor, concerned only with satisfying his own needs at the expense of his people, even when it means taxing them unmercifully, bankrupting his kingdom, and harshly punishing his people for daring to challenge his edicts. (more…)