Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

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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Restore the Fourth works to strengthen the USA FREEDOM Act

Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 9:00 am by

Restore the Fourth’s Chicago chapter rang in July in a lively fashion. After the House of Representatives watering down the proposed USA FREEDOM Act to resemble “little more than a Trojan horse” languishing in congressional purgatory, privacy advocates reached out to US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to invite him to strengthen the bill’s incarnation in the Senate.

In an email correspondence, organizer John Bumstead said his organization has engaged both Durbin’s office and the media. The group’s efforts focus on eliminating from the proposed legislation its measure extending for an additional two years beyond its present 2015 expiration date the sunset for Section 215 powers  under the Patriot Act.

Restore_the_Fourth_Logo

RT4 Chicago is planning a weekly flyering/postcard campaign in support of a Patriot Act Section 215 sunset pledge, which would formally usher the controversial law out of existence by adhering to the 2015 expiration date. Bumstead says the campaign’s rationale lies in the relative ease of convincing legislators to not vote for something to continue as opposed to sticking their necks out in support of something. He adds the campaign may also switch gears as necessary to focus on other topics, such as killing the USA FREEDOM Act if his group is dissatisfied with the resulting bill.

Chicago residents moved by RT4’s work attended a public meeting on July 3 at Chicago’s CivicLab and are organizing an RT4-wide event in honor of Orwell Day on August 4.

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.

New study confirms: domestic terror prosecutions contrived

Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:08 am by

Last week, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) and Project SALAM (Support And Legal Advocacy for Muslims) released a 175-page study of the government’s prosecution strategy in domestic terrorism cases. The study, Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution, reveals that the era of J. Edgar Hoover may be less far removed from the Bureau’s operations than most observers realize. The introduction explains that:

[T]he war on terror has been largely a charade designed to make the American public believe that a terrorist army is loose in the U.S., when the truth is that most of the people convicted of terrorism-related crimes posed no danger to the U.S. and were entrapped by a preventive strategy known as preemptive prosecution.

This week, they will host a press conference to discuss their discoveries on on Thursday, June 12 at 11 a.m. in New York City at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Anyone interested is invited to attend.

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Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Have the Police Become a Law Unto Themselves?

Friday, May 23, 2014 at 9:41 am by

This guest post by John Whitehead was originally published on May 19 by the Rutherford Institute. 

“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

Living in a free society means not having to look over your shoulder to see whether the government is watching or fearing that a government agent might perpetuate violence upon you.

Unfortunately, as I detail in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, subjected as we are to government surveillance, body scanners, militarized police, roadside strip searches, SWAT team raids, drones, and other trappings of a police state, “we the people” do not live in a free society any longer.

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The cost of liberty? Or what will cost us our liberty?

Monday, April 28, 2014 at 9:30 am by

Lady_Liberty_New_YorkThe 9/11 incident and subsequent terrorist attacks have left the American people living in a perpetual state of fear. As a result, the public has largely deferred to those actions that the government has deemed as “essential” to national security. The proliferation of already contested, by the public and legally, practices such as racial profiling, deportation of individuals without due process, and the militarization of the police – may appear to be promoting the public welfare but it can be seen that they are imposing too high of a price. In exchange for the perception of safety, the people are sacrificing the civil rights and liberties that American ideals rely upon.

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April 5 day of action against deportation: 2 million, 2 many!

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm by

Original commentary by Alok Bhatt published April 7, 2014 on the  Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission blog.

IMG952671At around 3:00pm on the chilly afternoon of Saturday, April 5, members of Connecticut’s immigrant community, representing over ten cities across the state, converged on the Abraham A. Ribcoff Federal Building (Federal Building) in Downtown Hartford to rally against the nearly 2,000,000 deportations perpetrated under the Obama administration. The Federal Building houses Connecticut’s primary immigration court, from which many community and family members have been  banished from the United States, often for non-violent offenses. In Connecticut, approximately 35% of deportation proceedings initiate without any criminal conviction.
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Lights, camera, arrested: Americans are being thrown in jail for filming police

Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 9:03 am by

Original Commentary by John Whitehead published on March 10, 2014 by the Rutherford Institute

031214-filimg-police-lgOnce again, the U.S. government is attempting to police the world when it should be policing its own law enforcement agencies. We’ve got a warship cruising the Black Sea, fighter jets patrolling the Baltic skies, and a guided-missile destroyer searching the South China Sea for the downed Malaysia Airlines flight. All the while, back home in the U.S., our constitutional rights are going to hell in a hand basket, with homeowners being threatened with eviction for attempting to live off the grid, old women jailed for feeding crows, and citizens armed with little more than a cell phone arrested for daring to record police activities.

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44 Years a Prisoner: The Case of Eddie Conway

Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 9:41 am by

Original commentary by Amy Goodman published on TruthDig.com March 5, 2014.

Marshall “Eddie” Conway walked free from prison this week, just one month shy of 44 years behind bars. He was convicted of the April 1970 killing of a Baltimore police officer. Conway has always maintained his innocence. At the time of his arrest and trial, he was a prominent member of the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party, the militant black-rights organization that was the principal focus of COINTELPRO, the FBI’s illegal “counterintelligence program.” The FBI, under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, surveilled and infiltrated Black Panther chapters from coast to coast, disrupting their organizing activities, often with violence.

(Image: Ars Skeptica/cc/flickr)The prosecution alleged Conway was behind the fatal shooting of Baltimore police officer Donald Sager. The case hinged on the testimony of a police officer and a jailhouse informant, who claimed Conway described the crime while they were sharing a cell. Former Baltimore NAACP President Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, a longtime supporter of Conway’s, told The Baltimore Sun: “This was when the COINTEL program was at its height. … They did not have a witness who saw him there. They had no fingerprints or evidence there. They basically convicted him on the basis of what we now call an informant.” A global movement grew calling for Conway’s release. In 2001, the Baltimore City Council passed a resolution asking the Maryland governor to pardon him.
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A victory in Asheville for civil rights and communities of color

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 9:07 am by

Seal_of_Asheville,_North_CarolinaWe must always remember Rome was not built in a day. This is a story about an incredible victory that took place in Asheville, North Carolina in September 2013 where its residents organized to fight back against racist policing and to protect the rights of immigrant communities, and won.

The Asheville Resolution that passed was a unanimous decision made by city council that now holds government officials liable for harassment and torture based of factors such as:  race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, religious or political opinion or activity, or immigration status.
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