Posts Tagged ‘racial profiling’

The end of childhood in the era of the emerging American police state

Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm by
Lockdown-640x348

[Credit: Zen Gardner]

Original commentary by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute published on December 16, 2013.

It wouldn’t be a week in America without another slew of children being punished for childish behavior under the regime of zero tolerance which plagues our nation’s schools. Here are some of the latest incidents.

In Pennsylvania, a ten-year-old boy was suspended for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate, using nothing more than his hands and his imagination. Johnny Jones, a fifth grader at South Eastern Middle School, was suspended for a day and threatened with expulsion under the school’s weapons policy after playfully using his hands to draw the bowstrings on a pretend “bow” and “shoot” an arrow at a classmate who had held his folder like an imaginary gun and “shot” at Johnny.  Principal John Horton characterized Johnny’s transgression as “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm” through the use of an imaginary bow and arrow.

(more…)

News Digest 12/03/13

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm by

Current News 

12/3, Editorial, The Detroit News, Government should pull back on forfeitures

12/2, Kevin Gosztola, FIREDOGLAKE, NSA Sent Home Talking Points for Employees to Use in Conversations with Family & Friends During Holidays

12/2, Cory Doctorow, Bing Bong, How big corporations and government spy agencies surveil and sabotage activist groups

12/1, Ross Anderson, The Guardian, Work and surveillance in a post-Snowden world

12/1, Lawrence Roberts, Bloomberg, Feinstein Says U.S. No Safer From Terror Than Two Years Ago

11/23, Eyder Peralta, NPR, Miami-Area Police Force Accused Of Rampant Racial Profiling

What’s yours is now the government’s: civil forfeiture and the “war on terror”

Monday, November 11, 2013 at 9:53 am by

Civil asset forfeiture sounds like a a dry legal term, but it has a deeper impact on people’s lives and our justice system than you might expect. It’s a practice that threatens property rights, rewards discriminatory policing, and has interesting and unexpected connections with the violations of constitutional rights that have come to define the “war on terror.” Civil asset forfeiture refers to the process of law enforcement seizing property — like cars, money, or houses — suspected of being involved in, or paid for by, illicit activities. This occurs without a charge or conviction because bizarrely, civil forfeiture law names the property itself as the defendant in the lawsuit, rendering the owner’s innocence irrelevant. It is difficult if not impossible to challenge civil asset forfeiture, and police disproportionately apply this practice to poor people, immigrants, and people of color who are already disempowered by the legal system.

(more…)

FBI’s Suspicious Activity Reports threaten privacy and first amendment

Friday, November 1, 2013 at 1:09 pm by

fbiIs an upside down American flag a reasonable indication of criminal activity? What about a group of young Middle Eastern men speaking a non-English language? Does the presence of Muslim women at a shopping mall suggest an intent to commit a crime? Is an artist photographing buildings necessarily a terrorist threat? According to the FBI, these first amendment protected actions are suspicious activities. These are all examples from the summaries of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) acquired by the ACLU and originally produced by the Central California Intelligence Center and the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.

The stated purpose of SARs is to collect information about criminal activity that may be related to “terrorist pre-operational planning,” which can then be shared among the different levels of the government. These reports could be issued by local law enforcement officers or could be the result of tips from the public.

(more…)

Protestors face down urban shield war games in Oakland CA

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm by

Between October 25 and the 28, an intimidating list of over 150 police departments, federal law enforcement agencies and private corporations participated in a series of militarized war games using the city of Oakland California as if it was their personal playground.

The exercises unfolded as various “real world” scenarios where local law enforcement agencies competed against one another from a central “Red Command.”

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 5.51.30 PM

“In past years, Urban Shield has featured hostage-taking scenarios involving animal rights activists, and the bombing of an oil platform by Anarchists. In an interview, Sheriff Ahern said the scenarios are sourced from threats made to law enforcement and government agencies over the past five to ten years that have been documented by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. “Many of those threats have used the formats of anarchy, in the form of white supremacy, of Muslim extremism,” Ahern said. “We simply use threats we’ve received over the last five to ten years that have been documented through our regional intelligence center.” (Eastbay Express)

(more…)

Unleashed and Unaccountable: New report from the ACLU reveals extent of FBI abuses

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 9:30 am by

WEB13-FeaturePage-FBI-MainImageEvery 90 days for the past seven years, the government has acquired the full billing records of every American’s daily telephone calls. Though the use of  of secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders, the FBI has forced telecommunications companies to hand over records revealing such details as who individuals call, the length of those phone calls, and the locations of the callers. As the ACLU explains in a new report titled, “Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI’s Unchecked Abuse of Authority,” these secretive, unconstitutional, and ineffective invasions of privacy have become a mainstay in the post-9/11 domestic surveillance enterprise.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, several significant changes in law and policy have vastly expanded the power of the FBI, enabling it to conduct widespread warrantless surveillance and utilize broad investigative authority. The passage of the Patriot Act and the accompanying secret interpretation of Section 215 have allowed the FBI to spy on Americans and gather an unprecedented amount of information about their personal lives.

(more…)

Stop and Frisk found unconstitutional, communities vindicated

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm by

friskOn Monday, August 12, New Yorkers won a historic victory with a federal court ruling that the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) use of stop and frisk policing violated the constitution. Judge Shira Scheindlin found the tactic, as had been argued by the plaintiffs and their attorneys, the Center for Constitutional Rights, violated both the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

To remedy the violations of rights that the court found had affected thousands of New Yorkers between 2004 and 2012, the Judge mandated a number of court supervised changes. The order imposes important reforms on the NYPD related to stop and frisk. The court appointed an independent monitor to oversee the process of bringing the NYPD’s tactics in line with the constitution, required trials of officer worn body cameras in each borough and mandated community input into the reform process. Police body worn cameras have shown excellent results reducing the use of force by police officers and complaints against them. In Rialto, California the use of cameras resulted in a 60% drop in the use of force by police officers.

However, to ensure better policing for all New Yorkers, it will still be crucial for the New York City Council to overturn the mayor’s veto on the two bills championed by Communities United for Police Reform. These bills will greatly expand profiling protections to insure that New Yorkers are not targeted by police for their identity and establish an Inspector General for the NYPD. The council is scheduled to vote on the veto override on August 22.

(more…)

News Digest 08/02/13

Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm by

Grassroots groups push better policies in Seattle and San Francisco

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 8:13 am by

1079057_10151812027390452_2095675618_o

Tuesday, July 23, was an exciting day for grassroots organizers on the west coast fighting against overbroad national security policies that extend to immigration enforcement. Coalitions in San Francisco County and King County (which includes the city of Seattle) both moved forward with legislation that would curtail the participation of local law enforcement in mass deportation.

Local action is particularly important as “immigration reform,” in the form of severe border militarization and increased enforcement, moves through Congress.

In King County, the committee on Law, Justice, Health, and Human Services held its first public meeting on a policy proposed by celebrated civil rights leader King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. The room was packed with supporters of the new policy.

The proposal, based on the language of a policy adopted by Santa Clara County, California in 2010, would limit county compliance with detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to those inmates who have been convicted of violent or serious felony. The hearing made the need for the legislation, and the huge amount of support for it, very clear.

(more…)

Ray Kelly nomination to lead DHS? A disaster for We the People

Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 9:44 am by

mobThe primary concern of the Secretary of Homeland Security is the safety of the US, and since the position’s creation, that has largely meant enlisting the country in the “war on terror.”

As Janet Napolitano steps down as Secretary of Homeland Security, President Obama has looked for a new candidate to fill the position. Raymond Kelly, Police Commissioner of New York, has been cited as a possible successor to Napolitano, but his appointment would likely exacerbate the profiling and surveillance of Muslims throughout the country.

A Secretary of Homeland Security should be able to protect this country from true acts of terrorism and harm without eroding the civil liberties of American citizens of any faith, but Kelly’s possible appointment puts this possibility into question.

Raymond Kelly served as police commissioner for the NYPD from 1992 to 1994, and again from 2002 to the present. During his second term, New York City was shaken by the attacks of 9/11, and (speaking from my own observations as a native New Yorker) stricken by a xenophobic, anti-Muslim paranoia.

Kelly fed this paranoia, developing the Demographics Unit of the NYPD (now the target of a constitutional challenge), which was specifically designed to map and track Muslim Americans in the Tri-state area absent any suspicion of wrongdoing. The unit did not notify local law enforcement or elected officials when the surveillance took place outside of New York City, essentially subverting local law by fiat.

(more…)