You didn't forget about Ferguson did you?

Because important events are still happening there.  In fact, a protest is going on today, September 10, 2014.  The protest will shut down part of Highway 70 beginning at 3pm to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case:

Long-time St. Louis activist Anthony Shahid will lead protesters across Interstate 70 today, shutting down the highway to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case.

Protesters plan to meet at 3 p.m. at Hanley Road and then block the highway.

“It is going to cause people some discomfort, it is going to cause inconvenience to people,” says Eric Vickers, one of the organizers of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, about the highway protest. “That is a small price to pay to change the conditions for African American youth, and it is a very small price to pay to bring justice to Michael Brown. The Wednesday civil-disobedience action will be the start of a direct action campaign that will continue and will escalate until our demands are met.”

St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough, who is currently handling the local criminal prosecution of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot and killed Brown in August, has refused to step down from the case despite repeated calls from Ferguson protesters for his removal. Now that Governor Jay Nixon has called off the state of emergency in Ferguson, he has no authority to name a new prosecutor in the Brown case.

But that hasn’t stopped protesters, especially the newly formed Don’t Shoot Coalition, from demanding a new prosecutor. Many have questioned McCullough’s objectivity since his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty by a black man when McCullough was twelve years old.


No End in Sight for Darren Wilson Case as Grand Jury Term Officially Ends Wednesday

A grand jury has been considering evidence for three weeks now in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and the hearings will likely continue for at least another month despite the official term for the jury ending tomorrow.

Ed Magee, spokesman for the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office, tells Daily RFT that the grand jury will proceed to meet in special session after its four-month term ends Wednesday. Last month, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch estimated that the grand jury would weigh evidence surrounding the August 9 shooting death of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown through mid-October. Today Magee suggested that that timeline might be optimistic.”The process won’t be concluded until next month at the earliest,” says Magee.

During its special session, the grand jury will only review the Wilson case. Jurists had been meeting on Wednesdays during its official term on the grand jury but that could change under the special session.

“There are twelve of them, so the meetings will probably be held at different dates and times to accommodate their schedules,” says Magee.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that unlike most criminal cases, prosecutors are not telling the grand jury what charges they think Wilson should face. Instead, the prosecutor’s office is presenting evidence to the jurists as it receives it, allowing the grand jury to consider all the photos, videos, testimonies, ballistics and other details involved in the investigation. Such a process greatly adds to the time the grand jury convenes but is also viewed as a more transparent way of presenting evidence in high-profile crimes. After the hearings conclude, the grand jury will help determine what charges to bring against Wilson — if any.

Magee tells Daily RFT that the only grand jury in recent history to convene as long as the Wilson case was in 2000 when two undercover officers shot and killed two suspects in a drug sting at a north county Jack in the Box. In that case, which carried many of the same racial overtones and public outcry as the Michael Brown shooting, the grand jury declined to indict the officers.

 


Why did Michael Brown’s body lay on the ground so long following his murder?

After Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer near his grandmother’s apartment complex, his body stayed in the street — sometime covered, sometimes not — for about four hours.

Photos of the body spread rapidly on social media, fueling the anger of a crowd already distraught at the death of an unarmed black teenager. Weeks later, many point to the delay in moving Brown’s body as the first sign of police breaking trust and mishandling the case. Even Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters he was uncomfortable with the long wait before Brown was transported to a nearby morgue.

So what took so long?

Jackson responded that “gun shots” nearby delayed investigators on scene, and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar pointed to the complexity of the investigation into Brown’s death at the hands of an officer.

“This is a very complicated investigation, as it should be,” Belmar said. “We need to make sure this investigation is done right.”

But to get the whole story, you have to hear from Calvin Whitaker, the man responsible for moving Brown’s body. Whitaker, a funeral director who handles moving bodies for St. Louis County, explained his side of the story to John Pertzborn on Fox2Now.

Police called Whitaker and his wife, who is also a funeral director, to pick up Brown’s body at 2:01 p.m., two hours after Ferguson Police Officer shot Brown. Whitaker arrived at 2:25 p.m. to find a tumultuous, angry crowd.

“It was very hectic, you could cut the tension with a knife,” Whitaker tells Fox2Now. “Police could not control the crowd.”

At one point, Whitaker heard gunshots nearby, just as Jackson told reporters in the days after Brown’s shooting. Whitaker and his wife don’t carry bullet-proof vests, so police told them to “hunker down” in their car to keep safe.

“There were times when we feared for our lives,” Whitaker says. He and his wife stayed in the car for two hours waiting for police to control the crowd. “It took so long because we could not do our job. It was unsafe for us to be there…There was nowhere for us to go.”

The only thing that could calm the crowd down long enough for Whitaker to take Brown’s body away was a plea from Brown’s family. Whitaker says he remembers family members begging the crowd to step back, saying, “”They will not pickup my son, they are not safe.”


Michael Brown’s Family Demands Officer Arrest at Tense Ferguson City Council Meeting

There were several extremely tense moments last night at Greater Grace Church at the first Ferguson City Council meeting since the shooting death of Michael Brown one month ago. Police presence in the lobby of the church was heavy as attendees walked through metal detectors. The first time proceedings screeched to a halt amid shouting came after Mayor James Knowles announced that, per normal procedures, each speaker would be allowed three minutes of public comment, but no one on the council would answer questions.

Knowles did, however, receive tepid approval at the first reading of several bills designed to reform parts of the municipal code that, in the wake of the shooting, have been highlighted as unfair to the city’s minorities and working poor. But as the public comment period began (the “fill out a comment card” system falling apart almost immediately), it was clear many in the audience felt the new bills were just platitudes.

“We’re not going to let you go back to business as usual,” said local activist Ashley Yates. “We’re going to hold you accountable. How many police officers have been let go? We’re gonna make sure they all get let go.”

The bills read last night would repeal an automatic fee for having a vehicle towed, toss out certain fees for municipal court cases, limit to 15 percent the amount of money the city’s general fund can receive from court fines and make a failure to appear in municipal court no longer a separate offense. Knowles also announced a bill for the formation of a citizen review board as well as an outstanding warrant recall program set for September 15 to October 15. Much of what Knowles said on these items was read from the same statement announcing the changes from the day prior — read more about that here.

If the changes to the city law were meant as an apology, it was clearly too late for Terri Franks, the mother of twin seventeen-year-old boys who she says have been constantly pulled over since they got their licenses a year ago, swamping her with court fees.

“You make your money off of our backs,” she said. “I’m constantly coming to court for something as frivolous as a blinker not being on.”

Michael-John Voss, an attorney with the ArchCity Defenders, told Daily RFT that the changes the city is making are “great,” though they stopped far short of what he and his colleagues are asking the city to do: Grant total amnesty to Ferguson residents with nonviolent warrants and fines sitting on their records, these being mainly for traffic offenses.

“You can see the anger and resentment here,” said Voss. “[The city] has to divide the administration of justice from the desire to raise revenue…there has to be a real commitment to show it’s not about the money.”


You didn't forget about Ferguson did you?
{advertisement}

Abortion Rights News

 

Politicians love to interfere in a woman’s right to choose.   It’s always under the pretense of “guarding the sanctity of life” or “protecting the life of the unborn”.  There’s never any regard for the woman carrying the fetus.  Never any concern for her well-being. Such is the case, once again in Missouri:

Overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a measure tripling the waiting period for an abortion is one of several priorities for Republican lawmakers this week during the veto session.

Nixon, a Democrat, was uncharacteristically critical of the bill, saying its lack of an exception for victims of rape and incest was a “glaring omission” that was “wholly insensitive to women who find themselves in horrific circumstances.”

Bill handler Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he’s confident both chambers will override the veto.

“We’ve got the votes, so unless some of the Democrats in the Senate decide to filibuster, it’ll go through just fine,” Sater said.

The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote of 22-9, one shy of the 23 needed for an override. The House passed it 111-39, more than the 109 needed for an override. The Senate’s missing Republican vote belonged to Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, who was absent because his mother died.

He supports the bill, saying he doesn’t “think waiting is too much to ask of someone before they terminate a life.”

 

It’s far too long if a woman does not want to be pregnant any longer.  See, this is the problem they have:  they aren’t looking at women as thinking human beings capable of making decisions about their bodies (with the informed opinions of their doctors).  THAT, and they think an embryo or fetus is something special.  They’ve no regard for the right to bodily autonomy, nor the right to self defense (the latter is granted by the former) for women.  It’s sickening to see a fucking fetus valued more than an existing woman.

 


 

 

The Dawn of the Post Clinic Abortion

Access to abortion services can range from relatively easy to virtually impossible, depending on where a woman lives.  Some countries (including the oh so democratic and progressive and wonderful and gah gah gag me with a spoon United States) ostensibly allow legal abortions-but anti-abortion activists have been successful in closing many clinics or throwing up tremendous obstacles to this basic right of all women.  Other countries like those in Latin America, Africa, or Asia often have severe restrictions on abortion, or the procedure is outright banned. Thankfully, there are determined people like Rebecca Gomperts who, through the use of modern technology and a strong desire to reduce the suffering of others, have helped women across the globe terminate their pregnancies on their own terms.  In this article, read about Gomperts first attempts to help women obtain the abortion drugs misoprostol and mifepristone (formerly RU-486), the obstacles she faced and continues to face in her attempt to use the internet to assist women in obtaining abortion inducing drugs, and the frustration felt by women around the globe who want nothing more than to end their pregnancies  (you’ll want to kick back somewhere comfortable-the article, well worth reading, is lengthy):

(excerpt)

Gomperts is a general-practice physician and activist. She first assisted with an abortion 20 years ago on a trip to Guinea, just before she finished medical school in Amsterdam. Three years later, Gomperts went to work as a ship’s doctor on a Greenpeace vessel. Landing in Mexico, she met a girl who was raising her younger siblings because her mother had died during a botched illegal abortion. When the ship traveled to Costa Rica and Panama, women told her about hardships they suffered because they didn’t have access to the procedure. “It was not part of my medical training to talk about illegal abortion and the public-health impact it has,” Gomperts told me this summer. “In those intense discussions with women, it really hit me.”

When she returned to the Netherlands, Gomperts decided she wanted to figure out how to help women like the ones she had met. She did some legal and medical research and concluded that in a Dutch-registered ship governed by Dutch law, she could sail into the harbor of a country where abortion is illegal, take women on board, bring them into international waters, give them the pills at sea and send them home to miscarry. Calling the effort Women on Waves, she chose Dublin as her first destination.

Ten women each gave Gomperts 10,000 Dutch guilders (about $5,500), part of the money needed to rent a boat and pay for a crew. But to comply with Dutch law, she also had to build a mobile abortion clinic. Tapping contacts she made a decade earlier, when she attended art school at night while studying medicine, she got in touch with Joep van Lieshout, a well-known Dutch artist, and persuaded him to design the clinic. They applied for funds from the national arts council and built it together inside the shipping container. When the transport ministry threatened to revoke the ship’s authorization because of the container on deck, van Lieshout faxed them a certificate decreeing the clinic a functional work of art, titled “a-portable.” The ship was allowed to sail, and van Lieshout later showed a mock-up of the clinic at the Venice Biennale.

As the boat sailed toward Dublin, Gomperts and her shipmates readied their store of pills and fielded calls from the press and emails from hundreds of Irish women seeking appointments. The onslaught of interest took them by surprise. So did a controversy that was starting to brew back home. Conservative politicians in the Netherlands denounced Gomperts for potentially breaking a law that required a special license for any doctor to provide an abortion after six and a half weeks of pregnancy. Gomperts had applied for it a few months earlier and received no reply. She set sail anyway, planning to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks if the license did not come through.

When Gomperts’s ship docked in Dublin, she still didn’t have the license. Irish women’s groups were divided over what to do. Gomperts decided she couldn’t go ahead without their united support and told a group of reporters and protesters that she wouldn’t be able to give out a single pill. “This is just the first of many trips that we plan to make,” she said from the shore, wrapped in a blanket, a scene that is captured in “Vessel,” a documentary about her work that will be released this winter. Gomperts was accused of misleading women. A headline in The Telegraph in London read: “Abortion Boat Admits Dublin Voyage Was a Publicity Sham.”

Gomperts set sail again two years later, this time resolving to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks. She went to Poland first and to Portugal in 2004. The Portuguese minister of defense sent two warships to stop the boat, then just 12 miles offshore, from entering national waters. No local boat could be found to ferry out the women who were waiting onshore. “In the beginning we were very pissed off, thinking the campaign was failing because the ship couldn’t get in,” one Portuguese activist says in “Vessel.” “But at a certain point, we realized that was the best thing that could ever happen. Because we had media coverage from everywhere.”

Without consulting her local allies, Gomperts changed strategy. She appeared on a Portuguese talk show, held up a pack of pills on-screen and explained exactly how women could induce an abortion at home — specifying the number of pills they needed to take, at intervals, and warning that they might feel pain. A Portuguese anti-abortion campaigner who was also on the show challenged the ship’s operation on legal grounds. “Excuse me,” Gomperts said. “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about, O.K. . . . I know what I can do within the law.” Looking directly at him, she added, “Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.” She pointed at the man. “You have never given birth, so you don’t know what it means to do that.”

Two and a half years later, Portugal legalized abortion. As word of Gomperts’s TV appearance spread, activists in other countries saw it as a breakthrough. Gomperts had communicated directly to women what was still, in many places, a well-kept secret: There were pills on the market with the power to end a pregnancy. Emails from women all over the world poured into Women on Waves, asking about the medication and how to get it. Gomperts wanted to help women “give themselves permission” to take the pills, as she puts it, with as little involvement by the government, or the medical profession, as possible. She realized that there was an easier way to do this than showing up in a port. She didn’t need a ship. She just needed the Internet.

Gomperts no longer works from a boat. Eight years ago she started Women on Web, a “telemedicine support service” for women around the world who are seeking medical abortions. She and a small staff share a one-room office in Amsterdam on a residential street, where red-and-pink flowers bloom on the balconies of brick buildings. Early in July, I went to visit the space, which has six workstations with computers, a few shelves and a filing cabinet with the sticker “Trust Women.” A large window opens onto a courtyard, where a Cupid fountain bubbles.

 


Wendy Davis, gubernatorial candidate for Texas, revealed in a memoir that she had two medically necessary abortions:

Davis writes in Forgetting to be Afraid that she had an abortion in 1996 after an exam revealed that the brain of the fetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides. She also describes ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.

Davis disclosed the terminated pregnancies for the first time since her 13-hours filibuster — a parliamentary maneuver that required her to talk non-stop to try to run out the time on proposed legislation — last year over a tough new Texas abortion law.

Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.

She writes that the ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994 during her first trimester. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary. Such pregnancies generally aren’t considered viable, meaning the fetus can’t survive, and the mother’s life could be in danger. But Davis wrote that in Texas, it’s “technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such.”

Davis said she and her former husband, Jeff, wound up expecting another child in 1996. After a later exam revealed the brain defect, doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery.

“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis writes. “She was suffering.”

<

p class=”story-body-text story-content”>You may remember Wendy Davis from her nearly 12 hour attempt to filibuster Senate Bill 5 back in June 2013.

Abortion Rights News

News From Ferguson

Ferguson Police Begin Wearing Body Cameras

The Ferguson Police Department is now wearing lapel cameras. The department began doing so three weeks to the day that unrest in Ferguson began with the shooting death of 18-year-old unarmed teen Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson.

Ferguson mayor James Knowles told those in attendance of a special St. Louis Public Radio town hall forum last week entitled “Ferguson and Beyond” that the department had been equipped with cameras, though he said he was unsure when officers would begin using them.

 

Police Officers everywhere should be required to wear body cameras.  It will help ensure they act in an ethical manner, and provide evidence of their actions as well as those of citizens.  I hope more departments will make use of these cameras because police brutality is out of control.


Black Lives Matter Riders

On Saturday afternoon, Tarah Taylor, a labor organizer from Houston, knocked on St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s door in Kirkwood.

A group of nine young people stood behind her anxiously waiting for a response.

“Unfortunately he wasn’t home,” she said, “but if he was home, I would have told him that the people of Ferguson have lost faith in the county being able to review this case fairly and it’s imperative that he listen to them.”

Taylor drove 12 hours from Texas to join a group of 400 young people from around the country for the “Black Lives Matter Ride” – a call to action to end state violence against black people. Joining local activists, the “riders” participated in several actions on Saturday, including the National March on Ferguson, a protest in front of the Ferguson Police Department and a picnic to raise the moral among the Ferguson community.

And, about 25 people canvassed in Kirkwood educating the prosecutor’s neighbors about why he should recuse himself from the Michael Brown case. McCulloch is overseeing the investigation into the fatal shooting of the unarmed teen shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

“That’s the ethical thing to do and the right thing to do to move forward towards healing in this community,” Taylor said.

 


 

A Ferguson Conversation With Kevin Powell

Now what?

“Although the response to Michael’s death was atypical, some would argue that the social context that gave rise to his death was normal,” said M.K. Stallings, of the History Museum.

“The racial disparities indicate law enforcement targeting African Americans is normal. Being stopped by reasons unclear to the person subject to that type of policing is normal. Some people are concerned about the idea that this community is about to return to normal.”

That didn’t seem to be an option as Powell addressed the people who filled the foyer and lined up both sides of the stairwell.

“We’re going to be here for a while, but this isn’t the end – this is the beginning,” Powell said. “Hashtag Ferguson is all over the world, y’all – and nothing is going to change if we don’t come together as sisters and brothers.”

Though the goals were outcomes, action plans and takeaways, much of the dialogue was rooted in personal narrative about their experience in the trenches of West Florissant – protesting Brown’s death and standing up against police aggression.

“As I saw young brothers and sisters out there marching, my first thought wasn’t ‘stop, wait out the process’ or ‘y’all should vote,’” Powell said. “I thought ‘we’ve been voting for a long time. Let’s be real about this.’ My first thought was that it was incredible that these young people were saying, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore.’”

They expressed their sentiments on “#Ferguson” through personal accounts, poetry and even song. Washington University’s poetry collective WU Slam performed a portion of their poem “Black Boy.”

 

Black boy born to die.

Black boys get stole. Black boys sink on standing ground. Black boy sink in court of law. Schools sink black boys.

Black boys sink down into the ground.

Born to die dead at birth.

Straight A black boy, better get that degree, because black boy got to apply to be free – and even then that [expletive] is not guarantee.

 […]

“My name is Ashley. I’m black and I’m feminist, and I apologize for neither,” a young woman wearing a Washington University T-shirt said. “I want us to think about the role of black women in leadership. I’ve seen a lot of men get up and grab the microphone, but I ask you to make some room for us, too. We are not exempt from police brutality or racial profiling.” 

 

 


 

 

National March On Ferguson Draws Thousands

 

 

<

p style=”text-align:center;”> 

News From Ferguson

Police Brutality, Knowing your Rights, & Ferguson

In Florida, Non-Submission to a Police Beating is “Attempted Murder”

 

The assault began when an officer named Ronald Cannella who had attempted to pull over a man named Livingston Manners for allegedly running a stop light dragged the driver from his vehicle and threw him to the ground in a gas station. It’s quite likely that Manners, in justifiable fear for his safety, sought a well-lit area for the encounter with the brigand.

Security camera video shows that Manners was compliant and non-aggressive as the officer tried to “build the stop” by searching his vehicle. The officer eventually reached into the vehicle and pulled Manners from it, and the victim does nothing to resist, holding his hands face-up and to the sides. Cannella can be seen putting a forearm on the face and the throat of his victim, and then punching him repeatedly. Although no audio is available, it’s certain that this attack was punctuated with the rapist’s refrain, “Stop resisting!”

Cannella eventually places the victim on his back and appears to be attempting to place a chokehold on him. Manners defends himself with a maneuver similar to the “guard” position from Jiu-Jitsu, trapping the uniformed assailant’s arms and holding him at bay for roughly 45 seconds until the aggressor’s comrades arrive.

At no point in the struggle is Manners seen making an aggressive move, or touching the throat of the assailant. It is possible that the victim applied a lapel choke – but if he did so this came after Cannella had already repeatedly struck him and, apparently, attacked his own throat first.

Although Cannella claimed in his report that he feared for his life (the default emotional state of police officers, who are trained to see the public as enemy combatants rather than fellow citizens), and that during the ninety-second scuffle Manners choked him into unconsciousness, the cop is still on top and apparently in control when other officers arrived to beat and tase Manners into submission.

Cannella claimed that Manners “locked his legs around my body preventing my escape” while he “forcefully grabbed my throat and strangled me.” Yet in the video, Cannella displays no difficulty extricating himself and standing up once a fellow costumed enforcer arrived on the scene. Any breathing difficulty he experienced was most likely a reflection of his panic and poor cardiovascular conditioning, rather than actions taken by his victim.

In addition to the peculiar offense called “resisting without violence,” the charges against Manners include “attempted murder” for allegedly placing his hands on the throat of the armed and violent stranger who had him pinned to the ground, beating and attempting to choke him.

I become more and more disgusted with law enforcement as the days go by.  I had some idea that police brutality was bad, but I had not idea it was this bad.

 


 

 

Ferguson Aftermath: California City Tells Cops to Get Rid of Police MRAP

 

The Davis City Council adopted a resolution this week that orders the city to come up with a plan to drop the MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected), originally developed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and acquired by the city through a government surplus program. The armored vehicles have been distributed to local law enforcement agencies, especially after the wars wound down and the Pentagon’s budget was reduced.

A large crowd largely opposed to the city’s MRAP gathered at the city council meeting for the resolution vote. A petition had circulated around town calling for Davis officials to get rid of or repurpose the MRAP.

“I would like to say I do not suggest you take this vehicle and send it out of Davis, I demand it. I demand it!” announced a man attending the meeting wearing a “Tank The Tank” t-shirt, according to the local CBS affiliate.

Many in Davis are concerned that the military vehicle could be used against political demonstrations or protests, as was the case in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month when local law enforcement responded to civil unrest over the police killing of an unarmed teenager with what many saw as a heavy-handed, militarized posture.

 


 

Commander Shoves Gun in Suspects Mouth, Taser in his Groin- Released Without Bond

 

Commander Glenn Evans of the Chicago Police Department, and 28-year department veteran, was released without having to post bond on Wednesday, despite being charged with two felonies.

Evans is charged with official misconduct and aggravated battery after prosecutors allege he put a gun deep in a suspect’s mouth as he was restrained, held a taser to his groin, and threatened to kill him.  The incident occured on Jan. 30, 2013, yet the officer was just stripped of hid badge and gun on Wednesday morning.

Evans is now working desk duty at police headquarters, and a dozen officers reportedly stood in during his bail hearing.

Police reports indicate the incident began when Evans saw his alleged victim, Rickey J. Williams, holding a handgun in the street. No weapon was recovered.  Williams was arrested for reckless conduct, but the charges were later dropped, according to the Sun Times.

The Sun Times also reports that dozens of citizen complaints have been filed against Evans over the past two decades, yet only two complaints have resulted in discipline.

The Chicago Tribune reports that at least nine excessive-force complaints were filed against Evans between 2001 and 2008 alone, and while he cost the city tens of thousands in payouts, he was not disciplined for any.

 


A Half Dozen Cops Beat This Homeless Man to a Pulp Then Attempt to Steal Witness Phones

In a horrifying 2 minute long video shared to Facebook on August 5, a mob of Antioch Police are seen violently attacking a handcuffed homeless man on the corner of L St. & Buchanan. The man was tased, hit with batons, bit in the face by a K9- twice, and rendered unconscious, according to witnesses.


 

What You Need to Know About Filming & Photographing the Police


 

Ferguson Man Forms an Inspiring Team with Cop Watchers to Hold Police Accountable

Amidst the infighting between Americans and polarizing coverage by the mainstream media over the justification of Michael Brown’s death, there lies a story unfolding in Ferguson that is less focused on the future outcome of the undoubtedly lengthy road to justice ahead of the community, and more focused on an immediate, practical solution
for the citizens of Ferguson. Among the perceived heroes and villains that have played their part in the neighborhood, a true leader is emerging. Thirty-four year old, father of three, David Whitt has taken it upon himself to step into the roll of peacemaker, communicator and innovator.

David lives about 500 feet from ground zero, where the Michael Brown and Darren Wilson confrontation began and ended. In his modest apartment, changing diapers and taking care of his family, it seems that David would be an unlikely candidate for the shoes which he has filled in his community since the watershed moment of Michael Brown’s death and the events that have transpired. However, don’t tell him that. David clearly states that he believes that it is his duty to take action and not stand by while his community scrambles for answers. He is providing an answer.

In a true act of fate, during the aftermath of the Brown slaying, David met a couple of activists that are helping his vision come to fruition. In his own words, David said, “God sent me two angels”. Showing his true character,  David invited these activists into his home where they lived with his family for the greater part of the past two weeks. Together they formed a plan to arm the citizens in David’s community. Not with guns or ammunition, but with cameras. Since the group initially had the idea, a couple of weeks ago, they have collectively raised over three thousand dollars to equip the community of Ferguson with 40 plus cameras.

Police Brutality, Knowing your Rights, & Ferguson

Police Brutality, Knowing your Rights, & Ferguson

In Florida, Non-Submission to a Police Beating is “Attempted Murder”

 

The assault began when an officer named Ronald Cannella who had attempted to pull over a man named Livingston Manners for allegedly running a stop light dragged the driver from his vehicle and threw him to the ground in a gas station. It’s quite likely that Manners, in justifiable fear for his safety, sought a well-lit area for the encounter with the brigand.

Security camera video shows that Manners was compliant and non-aggressive as the officer tried to “build the stop” by searching his vehicle. The officer eventually reached into the vehicle and pulled Manners from it, and the victim does nothing to resist, holding his hands face-up and to the sides. Cannella can be seen putting a forearm on the face and the throat of his victim, and then punching him repeatedly. Although no audio is available, it’s certain that this attack was punctuated with the rapist’s refrain, “Stop resisting!”

Cannella eventually places the victim on his back and appears to be attempting to place a chokehold on him. Manners defends himself with a maneuver similar to the “guard” position from Jiu-Jitsu, trapping the uniformed assailant’s arms and holding him at bay for roughly 45 seconds until the aggressor’s comrades arrive.

At no point in the struggle is Manners seen making an aggressive move, or touching the throat of the assailant. It is possible that the victim applied a lapel choke – but if he did so this came after Cannella had already repeatedly struck him and, apparently, attacked his own throat first.

Although Cannella claimed in his report that he feared for his life (the default emotional state of police officers, who are trained to see the public as enemy combatants rather than fellow citizens), and that during the ninety-second scuffle Manners choked him into unconsciousness, the cop is still on top and apparently in control when other officers arrived to beat and tase Manners into submission.

Cannella claimed that Manners “locked his legs around my body preventing my escape” while he “forcefully grabbed my throat and strangled me.” Yet in the video, Cannella displays no difficulty extricating himself and standing up once a fellow costumed enforcer arrived on the scene. Any breathing difficulty he experienced was most likely a reflection of his panic and poor cardiovascular conditioning, rather than actions taken by his victim.

In addition to the peculiar offense called “resisting without violence,” the charges against Manners include “attempted murder” for allegedly placing his hands on the throat of the armed and violent stranger who had him pinned to the ground, beating and attempting to choke him.

I become more and more disgusted with law enforcement as the days go by.  I had some idea that police brutality was bad, but I had not idea it was this bad.

 


 

 

Ferguson Aftermath: California City Tells Cops to Get Rid of Police MRAP

 

The Davis City Council adopted a resolution this week that orders the city to come up with a plan to drop the MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected), originally developed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and acquired by the city through a government surplus program. The armored vehicles have been distributed to local law enforcement agencies, especially after the wars wound down and the Pentagon’s budget was reduced.

A large crowd largely opposed to the city’s MRAP gathered at the city council meeting for the resolution vote. A petition had circulated around town calling for Davis officials to get rid of or repurpose the MRAP.

“I would like to say I do not suggest you take this vehicle and send it out of Davis, I demand it. I demand it!” announced a man attending the meeting wearing a “Tank The Tank” t-shirt, according to the local CBS affiliate.

Many in Davis are concerned that the military vehicle could be used against political demonstrations or protests, as was the case in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month when local law enforcement responded to civil unrest over the police killing of an unarmed teenager with what many saw as a heavy-handed, militarized posture.

 


 

Commander Shoves Gun in Suspects Mouth, Taser in his Groin- Released Without Bond

 

Commander Glenn Evans of the Chicago Police Department, and 28-year department veteran, was released without having to post bond on Wednesday, despite being charged with two felonies.

Evans is charged with official misconduct and aggravated battery after prosecutors allege he put a gun deep in a suspect’s mouth as he was restrained, held a taser to his groin, and threatened to kill him.  The incident occured on Jan. 30, 2013, yet the officer was just stripped of hid badge and gun on Wednesday morning.

Evans is now working desk duty at police headquarters, and a dozen officers reportedly stood in during his bail hearing.

Police reports indicate the incident began when Evans saw his alleged victim, Rickey J. Williams, holding a handgun in the street. No weapon was recovered.  Williams was arrested for reckless conduct, but the charges were later dropped, according to the Sun Times.

The Sun Times also reports that dozens of citizen complaints have been filed against Evans over the past two decades, yet only two complaints have resulted in discipline.

The Chicago Tribune reports that at least nine excessive-force complaints were filed against Evans between 2001 and 2008 alone, and while he cost the city tens of thousands in payouts, he was not disciplined for any.

 


A Half Dozen Cops Beat This Homeless Man to a Pulp Then Attempt to Steal Witness Phones

In a horrifying 2 minute long video shared to Facebook on August 5, a mob of Antioch Police are seen violently attacking a handcuffed homeless man on the corner of L St. & Buchanan. The man was tased, hit with batons, bit in the face by a K9- twice, and rendered unconscious, according to witnesses.


 

What You Need to Know About Filming & Photographing the Police


 

Ferguson Man Forms an Inspiring Team with Cop Watchers to Hold Police Accountable

Amidst the infighting between Americans and polarizing coverage by the mainstream media over the justification of Michael Brown’s death, there lies a story unfolding in Ferguson that is less focused on the future outcome of the undoubtedly lengthy road to justice ahead of the community, and more focused on an immediate, practical solution
for the citizens of Ferguson. Among the perceived heroes and villains that have played their part in the neighborhood, a true leader is emerging. Thirty-four year old, father of three, David Whitt has taken it upon himself to step into the roll of peacemaker, communicator and innovator.

David lives about 500 feet from ground zero, where the Michael Brown and Darren Wilson confrontation began and ended. In his modest apartment, changing diapers and taking care of his family, it seems that David would be an unlikely candidate for the shoes which he has filled in his community since the watershed moment of Michael Brown’s death and the events that have transpired. However, don’t tell him that. David clearly states that he believes that it is his duty to take action and not stand by while his community scrambles for answers. He is providing an answer.

In a true act of fate, during the aftermath of the Brown slaying, David met a couple of activists that are helping his vision come to fruition. In his own words, David said, “God sent me two angels”. Showing his true character,  David invited these activists into his home where they lived with his family for the greater part of the past two weeks. Together they formed a plan to arm the citizens in David’s community. Not with guns or ammunition, but with cameras. Since the group initially had the idea, a couple of weeks ago, they have collectively raised over three thousand dollars to equip the community of Ferguson with 40 plus cameras.

Police Brutality, Knowing your Rights, & Ferguson

Ferguson, MO Updates

Missouri police sued for $40 million over actions in Ferguson protests

A group of people caught up in unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white officer killed a black teenager, sued local officials on Thursday, alleging civil rights violations through arrests and police assaults with rubber bullets and tear gas.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, says law enforcement met a broad public outcry over the Aug. 9 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown with “militaristic displays of force and weaponry,” (and) engaged U.S. citizens “as if they were war combatants.”

The lawsuit seeks a total of $40 million on behalf of six plaintiffs, including a 17-year-old boy who was with his mother in a fast-food restaurant when they were arrested. Each of the plaintiffs was caught up in interactions with police over a period from Aug. 11 to 13, the suit allege.

Named as defendants are the city of Ferguson, St. Louis County, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Delmar, Ferguson police officer Justin Cosmo, and other unnamed police officers from Ferguson and St. Louis County.

 

I hope this lawsuit is successful.  The Police of Ferguson acted horribly and violated the Constitutional rights of the citizens of Ferguson in many ways, and they should be made to pay for it.  And as this article points out, why weren’t the cops wearing badges?  One of the plaintiffs in the case was arrested, along with her son, at McDonald’s for “failure to disperse”.  

 

The lawsuit states 38-year-old Tracey White and her 17-year-old son entered the McDonald’s at the intersection of West Florrisant and Ferguson on Wednesday, August 13, after attending an afternoon rally and march. The two were waiting for White’s husband to pick them up when a number of officers, including Cosma, stormed the restaurant “in what appeared to be army uniforms.” They ordered everyone to get out. 

White states that police began harassing her son after he came out of the bathroom. When she protested the treatment, she was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and told she was under arrest because she would not “shut up.” White attempted to hand an iPad she was holding to her son, and then he too was arrested. Both were transported to Clayton, where they were told they had been arrested for “failing to disperse.” Police released them five hours later.

This is authoritarianism run amok.  With racism sizzling all around.    Make me want to spit.  

 


 

Digital Ally says camera inquiries up five-fold after Ferguson shooting

 

Digital Ally Inc forecast full-year revenue of about $22.5 million, encouraged by a “five-fold” rise in inquiries for its wearable cameras from police departments in the aftermath of the fatal shooting in Ferguson this month.

The forecast translates into a 26.4 percent jump in revenue from $17.8 million in 2013.

The fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked demand to hold law enforcement officials accountable and in turn fueled interest in companies such as Digital Ally and Taser International Inc.

The company’s 2014 revenue forecast was first reported by USA Today on Thursday, citing Chief Executive Stanton Ross, according to a regulatory filing on Friday.

Digital Ally said on Thursday it had received its first camera order after the Ferguson incident from the Michigan police department.

 


 

Petition Asks GoFundMe to Return Profits from Fundraisers for Officer Darren Wilson

Color of Change, founded after Hurricane Katrina to empower black people, has launched a petition demanding that GoFundMe return the profits it has made from campaigns for Wilson. The fundraising site automatically charges 7.9 percent and 30 cents per donation in the U.S. and Canada.

“GoFundMe should return any money it has made from Darren Wilson fundraising pages, and take them down immediately,” the petition says. “Profiting off the killing of Michael Brown is not okay. Profiting off of racially-motivated donors is not okay.”

Color of Change says it has 83,000 signatures so far and is aiming for 100,000.

On the petition, Color of Change says GoFundMe will be violating its own terms of service through the “financial exploitation of a crime” if Wilson is charged in relation to Brown’s shooting.

 


 

 

National March on Ferguson Leads Protesters to Police Station

Michael Brown’s parents Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, with activist Anthony Shahid (left).  Photo via Bryan Sutter for the  River Front Times.

 

 


 

 

Lawyer, NAACP Say Newly Released Recording Captures Audio of Michael Brown Shooting

A newly discovered snippet of video from an unnamed Canfield Green resident allegedly contains audio of the gunfire that killed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown. Much has been made already about the number of shots heard — about ten or eleven — and the pause between the volleys, though the tape has not yet been declared authentic by the FBI or the St. Louis County Police Department.

However, Adolphus Pruitt, president of the local St. Louis NAACP chapter, says he believes the audio is the real deal. He says his office has acted as a liaison between the witnesses who are afraid to come forward for fear of retribution and the FBI agents investigating the case. That’s how he met the man who made the tape as well as his lawyer, Lopa Blumenthal.

“I met at the attorney’s office, and they played it and gave us a copy of our records,” Pruitt says. “I’m convinced.”

 


Heal STL: Ferguson Nonprofit Braces for More Violence If Darren Wilson Isn’t Indicted

The nightly violent standoffs between police and protesters in Ferguson may have stopped, but the anger that fueled two weeks of unrest here — anger at police, at elected officials, at oppression — remains.

And if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson isn’t charged with a crime for shooting and killing unarmed teen Michael Brown, anger could again swell into chaos.

“If there isn’t an indictment, we’re going to see the same thing again,” says Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who has emerged as one of the leaders behind the movement for change and peace in Ferguson. “That’s predictable. It’s going to get bad.”

But this time, community leaders won’t be caught off-guard and “flat-footed,” as French says, by the anger. By the time the grand jury decides on Wilson’s fate five or more weeks from now, things will be different.

That’s where Heal STL comes in.

 

(don’t read the comments, they’ll make you want to break something)

 

Ferguson, MO Updates

This country needs to talk about Ferguson and more

From The Good Men Project, an article about a school district that banned the discussion of the events in Ferguson.

On Thursday, August 21, the following message was released to parents of students in Edwardsville School District 7–a district roughly 30 miles outside Ferguson, MO.

Subject: Discussion of the Ferguson/Florissant Incident

On Friday, August 15, 2014, and Monday, August 18, 2014, Dennis Cramsey, EHS Principal, and I were inundated with calls from parents complaining that some EHS teachers were biased and injecting their own opinion regarding the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18 year-old African American student, by a Caucasian police officer in the Ferguson/Florissant community. The general consensus of parents who called was that if the administration did not get a handle on this situation, there might be violence among students occurring at EHS.

As Superintendent, I will take full responsibility for not preparing administrators and staff members how to deal with this volatile situation. As a result, on Monday afternoon, the decision was made to cease discussion of the event because of the tension, emotion, and anger surrounding the Ferguson/Florissant events.

It was not our intent to ignore the educational relevance of these events. However, we felt it was important to take the time to calm a potential situation at the high school and to prepare administrators and teachers to approach this critical issue in an objective, fact-based manner. Everyone has an opinion – the sharing of which can be polarizing. Far too many facts remain unknown, and without these facts, none of us is in the best position to moderate between opposing views.

 


 

 

20 Powerful Protest Signs That Prove America Stands with Ferguson

Here are a few:

 

 

I’m not “there”, but I’d still be pissed off and blogging about it.

It’s nice when white people understand their privilege.  Now if only more of them did.

 


 

7 Things Worth More Than a Black Person’s Life in America

This will make you madder than you probably already are, because of how true it is.

 


 

 

6 reasons America must stop ignoring its black youth.

 


 

 

What We Mean When We Say ‘Race Is a Social Construct’

 

Our notion of what constitutes “white” and what constitutes “black” is a product of social context. It is utterly impossible to look at the delineation of a “Southern race” and not see the Civil War, the creation of an “Irish race” and not think of Cromwell’s ethnic cleansing, the creation of a “Jewish race” and not see anti-Semitism. There is no fixed sense of “whiteness” or “blackness,” not even today. It is quite common for whites to point out that Barack Obama isn’t really “black” but “half-white.” One wonders if they would say this if Barack Obama were a notorious drug-lord.

When the liberal says “race is a social construct,” he is not being a soft-headed dolt; he is speaking an historical truth. We do not go around testing the “Irish race” for intelligence or the “Southern race” for “hot-headedness.” These reasons are social. It is no more legitimate to ask “Is the black race dumber than then white race?” than it is to ask “Is the Jewish race thriftier than the Arab race?”

The strongest argument for “race” is that people who trace their ancestry back to Europe, and people who trace most of their ancestry back to sub-Saharan Africa, and people who trace most of their ancestry back to Asia, and people who trace their ancestry back to the early Americas, lived isolated from each other for long periods and have evolved different physical traits (curly hair, lighter skin, etc.)

But this theoretical definition (already fuzzy) wilts under human agency, in a real world where Kevin Garnett, Harold Ford, and Halle Berry all check “black” on the census. (Same deal for “Hispanic.”) The reasons for that take us right back to fact of race as a social construct. And an American-centered social construct. Are the Ainu of Japan a race? Should we delineate darker South Asians from lighter South Asians on the basis of race? Did the Japanese who invaded China consider the Chinese the same “race?”

Andrew writes that liberals should stop saying “truly stupid things like race has no biological element.” I agree. Race clearly has a biological element — because we have awarded it one. Race is no more dependent on skin color today than it was on “Frankishness” in Emerson’s day. Over history of race has taken geography, language, and vague impressions as its basis.

“Race,” writes the great historian Nell Irvin Painter, “is an idea, not a fact.” Indeed. Race does not need biology. Race only requires some good guys with big guns looking for a reason.

 


 

 

The complicity cost of racial inclusion

 


 

Ferguson fallout: Black Americans grapple with victim-blaming

 

When pol
ice in Ferguson, Missouri, released a video showing Michael Brown allegedly robbing a store and shoving around a clerk shortly before the unarmed teen was shot dead in a seemingly unrelated confrontation with an officer, many accused the department of engaging in deliberate character assassination — a tactic that some rights advocates say is commonly used against African-American victims of excessive force in an attempt to shift blame from perpetrators to victims.

Hassane A. Muhammad, chief operating officer for Black Lawyers for Justice, called the decision to go public with the footage an act of “visual provocation” that played into old stereotypes of black men as violent.

“It’s a common playbook used by police to criminalize black victims of excessive force,” said Muhammad, whose group has been active in the local protests that erupted — and at times turned violent — after the killing of 18-year-old Brown on Aug. 9 by police officer Darren Wilson. 

“Instead of giving us an ounce of justice, they would rather send in troops and spend taxpayer money to defend one white man,” Muhammad said. “It shows you how much value they place on his life versus Brown.”

Rights advocates say such character assassination operates on a broad level, through public discourse that lends credence to the victim-blaming theory of poverty or in the idea that lower-income communities are responsible for their conditions because of poor decision-making.

What connects the Brown shooting with cases such as that of Trayvon Martin — an unarmed black teen shot dead by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman in Florida in 2012 — is that both shooters perceived a risk, said Yohuru Williams, a professor of history at Fairfield University

 


 

 

Why the Feds are investigating Ferguson

 

This country needs to talk about Ferguson and more

More Ferguson Links

Ferguson’s black community must not be given the same ‘justice’ as Trayvon Martin


 

The real looting of Ferguson: its black citizens never had a chance to get by


 

‘We need to communicate. That’s key. But we need justice for Michael Brown’

Ardester Williams is writing to Barack Obama the old-fashioned way, with paper and a postage stamp, to tell the president about the day in June when he shot a man.

“He was swinging at me, and he was much bigger than I was,” said the 73-year-old security guard at a Ferguson clothing store. “I had to draw my gun and shoot him. But I shot him in the foot. I’m writing to the president to tell him that the whole concept of police training is backwards. They should train them to shoot people dead as a last resort, not the first.”

All law enforcement should be trained how to defuse a situation, and lethal force should be a last resort.  Also, if police aren’t skilled enough to shoot to injure, they ought to receive better training.

A little further down West Florissant Avenue, Shiron Hagens is staffing a tent on a part of the street that just a few nights ago was clouded by tear gas and smoke from a burning convenience store, as protesters and the police clashed over the killing of Michael Brown. She is registering local residents to vote, in part to raise support for a petition to recall Ferguson mayor James Knowles, a white Republican, after he said that the upheaval of the past two weeks was not about race.

“There’s a mistrust right now,” she said. “The way to overcome mistrust is to talk. But there’s no way to have a conversation when you have a mayor who says there’s no race issue here. Michael Brown died because he was black.”

This is why it is important for the citizens of Ferguson to exercise their constitutional right to vote.  They need a mayor who represents them, not one that dismisses their concerns.

(read the rest here)

 

‘Would Michael Brown still be here if we voted for the right people?’

The group of Ferguson residents clumped around the makeshift memorial at the spot where a police officer shot Michael Brown readily admitted that two weeks ago they had little idea who ran their city.

They paid no attention to the fact that, while two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are African American, all but one of the members of the city council is white. Or that the mayor is a Republican. Or who the police chief is.

Brown’s death has changed all that. People who are frequently alienated, largely devoid of leadership and have not bothered to vote, often because they did not believe elections would change anything, are suddenly paying attention to who controls the levers of power in Ferguson.

“I didn’t know the council was white until Mike happened,” said Major Terrell, 29. “There’s a lot of people talking about it now.”


Police Departments Shouldn’t Become Dumping Grounds for Weapons Makers

In a brilliant August 17 segment of Last Week Tonight, HBO host John Oliver ripped into small towns that have equipped their police with war-like military equipment. One town was Keene, New Hampshire, where their military-grade armored personnel truck was acquired to protect critical targets –– like the annual Pumpkin Festival. Another was Doraville, Georgia. Oliver showed a wild video clip from the Doraville Police Department’s website, with a Ninja-dressed SWAT team going for a joyride in a souped-up armored personnel carrier, all set to a heavy metal song called “Die MotherF***er Die.”

In a visit to Doraville last week, I asked Officer Gene Callaway why his sleepy town of 8,000, which hasn’t had a murder since 2009, needed an armored personnel carrier (APC). “The vehicle provides Doraville with a scalable response and ensures the safety of police officers,” he answered. Scalable response? Safety of police officers? Doraville has never been a crime-ridden town. “We at Doraville are proud to be ranked 39th in safest cities in Georgia,” Callaway himself bragged. It seems the most useful task the APC performed was pulling 18-wheelers back onto the salted lanes of Route 285 during snowstorms. Oh, and let’s not forget that “the kids love playing on it” when it rolls up to the county fair, Callaway told me.

Doraville’s armored vehicle is a gift from Uncle Sam, as part of the billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment now flowing from the federal government to state and local police departments. Not only is it an incredible waste of taxpayer money, but it gets people–including children–accustomed to seeing military vehicles on their streets. Worst of all, it is causing police to act like soldiers, especially since one of the stipulations of getting this equipment is that it must be used within one year of receipt.

The Doraville Police, embarrassed by the negative publicity from their video, took it down (they insist that the theme music was unauthorized). Now on their website you can see much more benevolent images, such as three smiling police officers, one dressed as Santa Claus, with two young girls who are the recipients of the “Santa Pop Program” that pairs police with “less-fortunate children.”

But let’s face it. Military toys, constantly dangled before the police at law enforcement exhibits and fairs, are hard to resist. And with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security giving out this stuff for free, why not get some hand-me-downs? Doraville and Keene are just two of thousands of cities and towns throughout the nation that have successfully applied for surplus equipment from a federal government agency.


What Military Gear Your Local Police Department Bought

Since President Obama took office, the Pentagon has transferred to police departments tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

In May, The New York Times requested and received from the Pentagon its database of transfers since 2006. The data underpinned anarticle in June and helped inform coverage of the police response this month in Ferguson, Mo., after an officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.

The Times is now posting the raw data to GitHub here. With this data, which is being posted as it was received, people can see what gear is being used in their communities. The equipment is as varied as guns, computers and socks.

The Pentagon-to-police transfer program is not new. Congress created it during the drug war, as a way to increase police firepower in the fight against drug gangs. But since 9/11, as the Pentagon geared up to fight two wars, then drew down as those wars ended, the amount of available military surplus has ballooned.

Now, after a week of confrontation between protesters in Ferguson and heavily armed police, members of Congress are criticizing the trickle down of military gear.


The New Authoritarianism in an Age of Manufactured Crises

What is missing in the recurring debates that dominate Washington politics is the recognition that the real issue at stake is neither the debt ceiling nor the state of the economy, but a powerful form of authoritarianism that poses a threat to the very idea of democracy and the institutions, public values, formative cultures, and public spheres that nourish it. The United States nears a critical juncture in its history, one in which the rising forces of market extremism – left unchecked – will recalibrate modes of governance, ideology, and policy to provide fantastic wealth and legal immunity to an untouchable elite. The politics of disconnection is just one of a series of strategies designed to conceal this deeper order of authoritarian politics. In a society that revels in bouts of historical and social amnesia, it has become much easier for the language of politics and community to be appropriated and distorted so as to deplete words such as “democracy,” “freedom,” “justice,” and the “social state” of any viable meaning.


What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

A few days ago, Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He’s not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he’s learned from his project.

It began simply enough. Commuting home from my work at Reno’s alt-weekly newspaper, theNews & Review, on May 18, 2012, I drove past the aftermath of a police shooting—in this case,that of a man named Jace Herndon. It was a chaotic scene, and I couldn’t help but wonder how often it happened.

I went home and grabbed my laptop and a glass of wine and tried to find out. I found nothing—a failure I simply chalked up to incompetent local media.

A few months later I read about the Dec. 6, 2012, killing of a naked and unarmed 18-year-old college student, Gil Collar, by University of South Alabama police. The killing had attracted national coverage—The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN—but there was still no context being provided—no figures examining how many people are killed by police.

I started to search in earnest. Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn’t being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn’t have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know “best practices” for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn’t.

The bottom line was that I found the absence of such a library of police killings offensive. And so I decided to build it. I’m still building it. But I could use some help. You can find my growing database of deadly police violence here, at Fatal Encounters, and I invite you to go here, research one of the listed shootings, fill out the row, and change its background color. It’ll take you about 25 minutes. There are thousands to choose from, and another 2,000 or so on my cloud drive that I haven’t even added yet. After I fact-check and fill in the cracks, your contribution will be added to largest database about police violence in the country. Feel free to check out what has been collected about your locale’s information here.


 

Why the People of Ferguson Can’t Trust the Cops

Several African-American men share with Truthout their stories of abuse at the hands of police, and after 12 days of continuous demonstrations against the shooting of an unarmed teen, Michael Brown, it appears that the community is in it for the long haul.


Four Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Ferguson Protests

 

 


WATCH: TX police draw guns on mother and young children they mistook for gun-waving males

Police were responding to a 911 call about a tan-colored Toyota carrying four black males, one of whom was waving a handgun out the window — which is why Kametra Barbour is confused as to why she and her four young children in a burgundy red Nissan Maxima were pulled over.


 Fox host kicks off two black lawyers after they accuse her of ‘distracting’ from Brown’s death

I’m surprised they were brought on in the first place.  This is FOX News we’re talking about.  They’re not exactly friendly to black people.


More Ferguson Links

Voting in Ferguson, a televangelist lies, and more

GOP Calls Ferguson Voter Registration Drive ‘Disgusting’; Terrified Community Will Start Voting

The executive director of Missouri’s Republican party could barely contain his rage when he learned that one of the facets of recent protests in Ferguson has been a voter registration drive. His reaction betrays a sense of entitlement that comes from living in an age of political apathy: citizens shouldn’t be allowed to vote for change when they see injustice in the world, that isn’t “fair.” Have we gone mad? That’s exactly what voters are supposed to do.
Like many economically distressed communities around the country, Ferguson’s voter turnout for the last few elections has been dismal. Just 12% of residents bothered to vote one way or the other in the last election. It may explain why Ferguson’s politicians are mostly white and mostly out-of-touch with the residents.


 

Right-Wing Media Continue To Decry Ferguson Residents Registering To Vote

Breitbart: “Liberal Activists” Are Promoting Voter Registration Drives That Local GOP Calls “Disgusting.” On August 18, Breitbart quoted the Missouri Republican National Committee executive director who attacked the registration effort as “completely inappropriate” and characterized voting rights advocates’ calls for Ferguson residents to “get on the juries, choose your leaders” as “liberal activism”

[…]

Fox News: Voter Registration Booths In Ferguson Show That “Protestors Aren’t Out There For Free Speech.” On the August 21 edition of Fox & Friends, host Anna Kooiman complained that Ferguson residents protesting the fatal shooting “aren’t out there for freedom of speech. They’re out there to push their side.” Co-host Clayton Morris responded, “Setting up a voter registration booth? Yeah, you think?”

[…]

Rush Limbaugh: Registering Voters In The Wake Of Michael Brown’s Death “Encompasses Everything That The Democratic Party Is.” On his August 19 radio show, Limbaugh also criticized the Ferguson voter registration drive, and condemned Democrats for “try[ing] to ramp up black turnout” by exploiting Brown’s death


Hey Look! Pat Robertson told a lie!

Televangelist Pat Robertson on his “700 Club” show today decided that repeating many right-wing lies about what happened in Ferguson during the shooting death of 18-year old Michael Brown would be a good idea.

Robertson called the unarmed college-bound teen a “giant” and surmised that he must have been on a “hallucegenic” [sic] or “PCP” because he “acted like someone who was crazy” who “beats the daylights out of” officer Darren Wilson. The octogenarian also wondered aloud why the police didn’t “do a blood test on that guy, on the dead man,” whom Robertson couldn’t bother to mention by name.

Robertson also repeated the lie that officer Darren Wilson’s “occipital bone was crushed.”

And he chastised Attorney General Eric Holder for standing up for the oppressed — which is in part his job.

“It just looks bad,” Robertson lamented — not once ever offering one word of sympathy for the death of Michael Brown.

I’m shocked, I tell you! SHOCKED that Pat Robertson displays not compassion for the death of a young unarmed black man.


 

Missouri Councilman Excuses His Racism As Being ‘A Very Active Republican’

 

Says it’s a feature not a bug.




 

okay but when you have holocaust survivors and people who were activists during the civil rights movement supporting mike brown and then KKK members and neo nazis supporting the officer you should be able to figure out which side is the right one.

(via blastortortoise)

 

 

(source: sand&glass, via angrynativefeminists)

 


Houston Gay, a 103 year old who marched with MLK 50 years ago, at a peaceful demonstration in Ferguson.

(source: zubat; via angrynativefeminists)


 

Voting in Ferguson, a televangelist lies, and more

Talking about Ferguson & Race

Ferguson: Why atheists should care — and what they can do 

This guest column is written by Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University and a leading scholar of black nontheism.

I’m troubled by the taking of yet another black life, but I’m also baffled: Why are some people, including many atheists, so surprised by the tragedies of racial violence—as if the United States hasn’t had a steady diet of discrimination? And why aren’t more humanists and atheists speaking out?

As Cornel West and W. E. B. Du Bois before him noted, race matters. It is a matter of willful ignorance to think otherwise; to deny the continued existence of racial hostility is a marker that one is out of touch with life in the U.S.

Sure, there are ways in which theological arguments can distract people from the harsh realities of life and blind some to the dynamics of racial discrimination. But theists aren’t the only ones who sometimes fail to grapple seriously with the consequences of racial dynamics in the U.S. Too many atheists and humanists assume their appeals to reason and logic are a prophylactic against racism.

This is a mistake—a bad mistake. Behind the humanist hero Thomas Jefferson was a host of dehumanized, enslaved Africans.

Humanists often claim to be informed, frequent readers, and more intelligent than theists—so the common mantra of  “I just don’t know much about African Americans” doesn’t work. Those who make this claim in a society marked by easy access to information should be embarrassed by such intellectual laziness.

It’s just as easy to find a copy of Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk as it is to find a copy of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, okay?

I sympathize with Dr. Pinn. He thinks atheists should be more informed and better educated about the realities of racism in the United States.  I’m inclined to agree with him, but there is a slight problem. If you read the entire post, you’ll note that he uses ‘atheists’ and ‘humanists’ interchangeably. This is problematic.  Atheism is defined as ‘a lack of belief in a higher power or powers’.  It is not a set of beliefs. It is NOT believing. Humanism is a set of beliefs. Specifically,

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).

Atheists are often Humanists-I’m one for instance.  I do not believe in any higher power or powers, and I *do* believe in the value and agency of human beings, and I think that since there is no deity to assist humanity, it is our responsibility to use critical and rational thinking to solve the problems of humanity.  I think that since we share this planet, and we as a species are social creatures, that we ought to do our best to minimize harm and maximize happiness, not just for ourselves, but for other humans, and animals as well.  I’ve encountered and interacted with many wonderful atheists and humanists who feel the same way I do, and many of them are involved in the Atheist movement and seek to make it more inclusive for a broad range of people, especially those who belong to marginalized groups.

Not every atheist feels this way.  As I’ve seen in the last 4-5 years, there are atheists who are concerned with making the world better, only insofar as it relates to the existence of religion and religious beliefs. Among this group are atheists who are actively opposed to efforts at making the Atheist movement a safer space for those who belong to oppressed groups.  Some atheists dislike the idea of those in the movement advocating for social justice for women, LGBT individuals, People of Color, and other marginalized groups. In my experiences, these atheists are dictionary atheists who adhere to a limited definition of atheism-a dictionary definition. Their concerns are largely focused on eliminating the direct effects of religious belief in society, such as opposing creationism in the classroom or ensuring the continued separation of church and state (in democratic countries like-ostensibly-the US).  They don’t want to go any further though.  They think that atheism should end there.

As a result of this disagreement between dictionary atheists and social justice atheists, there have been a series of rifts in the Atheist community with Social Justice Atheists on one side of an ever growing chasm, and Dictionary Atheists on the other (my interactions with the DAs has made me despise a great many of them, and I’m more than happy for the chasm to grow wider).  The lack of concern on the part of many Dictionary Atheists for their fellow humans disgusts me.  I’ve seen them engage in sexism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and ableism.  I’ve seen them engage in an ongoing campaign of cyber harassment of female bloggers (to the point that some have withdrawn from online participation in the Atheist movement).  I’m aware of one group of them that has set up an entire website dedicated to haranguing and opposing those atheists who also are interested in advocating for social justice.    I am unsure if Dr. Pinn is aware of this group of atheists, but they definitely are not Humanists.  It may be that these are the types of atheists he is criticizing for not speaking up about racism in the US.

There are atheists, however,  that have spoken up.  I’ve interacted with these people, and they are passionate about improving the quality of life for all people, including-obviously-black people.  I’ve watched these dedicated individuals working to signal boost the events of Ferguson over the last few weeks. Many of these people have tirelessly dedicated their time to helping spread the word of the horrible actions of the Ferguson PD, the death of Michael Brown, the militarization of the police in the US, gun violence, racism in our culture and more. Most of the updates on Ferguson that I’ve blogged about are the direct result of efforts of many atheists to get this information out to people.  I’m very grateful to these people, and I’m proud to call many of them my friends.  These are the type of people embodying exactly what Dr. Pinn advocates.


DIFFERENT RULES APPLY

The boy asked his mother, “So I should just put my hands in the air?”

“Yes,” his mother said. “Just put your hands in the air.”

“If I put my hands in the air, will the police not shoot?” he asked.

“Probably not, but you can’t be sure. Some people say you should just kneel or lie down, don’t ask questions, just get down on the ground.”

“If I lie down on the ground, they won’t shoot?”

“Probably,” she said.

I recognized the exhaustion in that “probably”—a parent trying to explain a fundamentally unfair fact of life in the most neutral terms possible, so as not to make a child prematurely paranoid or cynical or bitter, and realizing that there are no words with which to do such a thing. After my son and I left the restaurant, though, I was disturbed by a mental image of this small boy dropping face-down on the ground at the sound of a cop’s voice—thinking just
maybe he wouldn’t get shot. I thought of Oscar Grant, who was detained by police on a BART platform on New Years Day, 2009, and got shot in the back anyway. To death.

“Is that what you’re supposed to do? Get down on the ground?” my son asked.

He’d heard about Ferguson. It was everywhere.

I said, “Not necessarily. Some police want you to put your hands up. Some don’t ask you to do that. It depends. I guess the main thing is to just do what the police officer tells you to do. Don’t make any sudden moves.”

“Can the police just shoot people?” he asked. He seemed genuinely worried.

“They’re not supposed to just shoot people,” I said. “There are supposed to be rules about when you can and can’t shoot a person. Sometimes mistakes happen and people who shouldn’t get shot do get shot. And there are other times when…”

And I trailed off because I realized I was evading the real issue.

“It happens, and it’s horrible,” I told my son,” and in a lot of cases the reasons why some people get shot and others don’t get shot are unfair, or they don’t make sense, but you….” I trailed off again.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“White people just aren’t as likely to get shot by police,” I told him.

“Why is that?”

“There are a lot of reasons why that’s true, and we’ll talk about them later, but that’s the bottom line,” I said. “It’s not right, but it’s the truth. That’s what that woman was telling her son about.”

My mind added: …in a conversation that most white dads would not be having with their white elementary school-age sons. 

Why didn’t I say this out loud to my son? I don’t know. Something was holding me back.

Maybe it was the fact that my son has friends of different races and ethnicities, and I didn’t want to burst what I thought was an idyllic bubble, if indeed he lived in one, which he probably doesn’t.

No, that wasn’t it.

I wasn’t protecting my son from anything. I was protecting my son’s image of his father, or what I imagined that image to be.

And I was protecting myself from myself. I was lying to myself about myself.

I was reminded of something my best friend, a skinny Irish guy from Bay Ridge, told me. He was hanging out with his dad one afternoon. Out of the blue his dad told he should always be grateful for the greatest gift his dad and mom ever gave him.

“What gift is that?” my friend asked.

“Your white skin,” he said. “If you’re white in this country, you’re ahead of the game. You get more chances. You get more second chances. That’s the gift your mother and I gave you—and we didn’t have a damn thing to do with it!”

My friend’s dad was being bitterly sarcastic. But he was also being honest about white privilege.

I believe that there’s a difference between knowing something and understanding it. You know how you’ll try to communicate something very important to you to another person and sometimes they’ll wave you off with an impatient, “I know, I know”? That’s knowing: I got the gist, filed it away, I don’t need to think about it again. Knowing is comprehension; understanding is deeper because it comes from empathy or identification.

All of which is a wind-up to say: having grown up in a mostly black neighborhood near Love Field airport in Dallas, and having been a diligent liberal for most of my adult life, I already knew there was such a thing as white privilege, and was properly horrified by it, but I didn’t truly understand what it meant, on a deep level, until one summer night in 2006, when I was spared arrest or worse thanks to the color of my skin.

(read the rest here)

 

BEYOND FERGUSON: POP CULTURE THROUGH THE LENS OF RACE


HANDS UP: LOS ANGELES PROTEST AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE


 Their buddy, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, and somehow *they’re* the victims?!


 

Blame poverty, not race, say Ferguson’s white minority

For the love of all the nonexistent gods in the heavens, white people saying this, please shut up and listen.

<

p style=”text-align:center;”> 

Talking about Ferguson & Race