This is a personal blog. I talk sense and nonsense.
Install Theme

California Takes a Stand Against Gay and Trans Panic Defenses in Criminal Cases →

mickyalexander:

Yay :)

(Source: projectqueer)

One Alarming Statistic Exposes a Serious Problem Between Police and Ferguson Residents →

thepoliticalfreakshow:

If you thought the protests in Ferguson were only a response to the shooting and death of Michael Brown, these numbers might change your mind.

According to NPR, Ferguson’s municipal court issued 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses in 2013. 

That’s for a city of 21,135 people.

All those fines and fees were a big boost to the city’s finances. Of Ferguson’s $20 million in revenue in 2013, $2.6 million of that was a result of these arrests. That’s good for the city’s second-highest income stream, NPR notes.

A racial disparity makes this much worse: Of course, those arrest warrants aren’t handed out equally for everyone in the city. Many are issued for traffic violations, for which black residents are disproportionately stopped. Eighty-six percent of those stopped by police are black, even though they only make up two-thirds of Ferguson’s population. Compare that to whites, who are stopped less than 13% of the time, despite making up 29% of the population.

Another infuriating thing to consider: While blacks in Ferguson were twice as likely to be searched after being stopped — and twice as likely to be arrested — searching whites was actually more likely to produce contraband, according to a report from ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-based public defender group.

"Folks have the impression that this is a form of low-level harassment that isn’t about public safety," the group’s founder, Thomas Harvey, told NPR. “It’s about money.”

image

Source: AP

Major impact: It’s not just police procedures that take their toll. The ArchCity Defenders report notes that the municipal court in Ferguson will start hearings early, then lock the doors five minutes after the scheduled start time, meaning someone showing up just a little bit late for a hearing can receive an additional “failure to appear” fine.

The impact these procedures have on public opinion is clear. “They’re searching to find something wrong,” one defendant said in the report. “If you dig deep enough, you’ll always find dirt.”

Brown’s death was a tragedy well beyond the scale of a car search or court fine. But statistics like these give insight into the anger of many protesters.

h/t NPR

Source: Matt Connolly for Mic

This is happening in many municipalities due to shrinking revenue from the recession and tax cuts. Poor people are being squeezed to make up the difference in budgets.

So local governments are not only profiling, harassing, and in some cases, assaulting and murdering the poor and POC, but extracting their operating costs from them too.

(via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)

…[T]he police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests, and they have no other function. They are, moreover…quite stunningly ignorant; and, since they know that they are hated, they are always afraid. One cannot possibly arrive at a more surefire formula for cruelty.

This is why those pious calls to “respect the law,” always to be heard from prominent citizens each time the ghetto explodes, are so obscene. The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer. To respect the law, in the context in which the American Negro finds himself, is simply to surrender his self-respect.

— James Baldwin, “A Report from Occupied Territory” The Nation, July 11, 1966

We can genuflect and comply. We can raise our arms in the air and scream that we are unarmed. We can look up at the police with our hands behind our heads and our knees on the ground. We can wait in line through checkpoints to get water and work. We can crawl through the desert in the night with our babies on our back. We will still be counted as collateral damage. That’s if we are counted at all.

We can fire a warning shot into the air to protect our children. We can follow all the rules and get all the papers. We can work 20-hour days in the field. Our compliance will not protect us. Our papers will not save us. The police are not here to protect us. In their eyes, which we see from behind riot gear, we are not human. We are not their charge.

Eesha Pandit, “If You Are Black or Brown in America, Your Parents’ Warnings Can’t Keep You Safe”

6 Good Reasons a Black Person Might Resist Arrest →

  1. The idea that “if you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to fear” does not hold true for black people. Most people who end up being exonerated for crimes they served time for, but didn’t commit, are people of color.
  2. Blacks routinely serve higher sentences than whites—for the same crimes.
  3. Once in custody, black men are rough-handled by police more often than whites.
  4. Racial profiling and bias in police departments across the country is well-documented.
  5. There are many well-known cases of police torture directed at blacks in prison, such as the dozens of black Chicago inmates who were systematically tortured over a span of 20 years.
    Scientific studies shed light on how racial bias can influence witness testimony, like this finding that race can make people “see” guns, or a reach for a gun, where no weapon was present.

Asking why a black man with even the slightest bit of awareness of these facts wouldn’t fully cooperate with the cops is a bit like asking why William Wallace didn’t simply extend a warm welcome to the invading English forces. Here’s a better question: What are law enforcement agencies doing to heal their relationships with the black communities they’re supposed to protect and serve?

Let’s not forget that the charge of “resisting arrest” is oftentimes bullshit, something cops will either lie about or instigate by violently confronting people over very minor charges in order to give them a stronger case for arresting (or brutalizing) someone.

In Florida, in 2011, a law was signed that made it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they owned a gun. If doctors violate this law, they can be disciplined, leading to fines, citations and even a loss of their license.

Do You Own a Gun? In Florida, Doctors Can’t Ask You That. (via azspot)

The 2nd Amendment trumps the 1st Amendment because in Republicanworld, you list the most important things second.

(via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)

cognitivedissonance:

PREACH

Respectfully, I have to disagree. I am pretty sure they did know the ramifications of their decision and that’s why they made it. It’s not a coincidence that they are all male Catholics.

cognitivedissonance:

PREACH

Respectfully, I have to disagree. I am pretty sure they did know the ramifications of their decision and that’s why they made it. It’s not a coincidence that they are all male Catholics.

(via thepeoplesrecord)

If you google ‘Eric Garner’ I guarantee you that almost every article by major media outlets will list some or all of the following: Garner’s height, weight, his (alleged) past criminal history, and that the police supposedly thought he was “illegally” selling cigarettes. And all this information will be in the first few paragraphs.

Here’s what most corporate news outlets won’t make so readily available (you may have to dig for it): precisely how many officers ganged up on Garner, their complete police histories, any crimes they may have committed in their personal lives, and not even the names of all the involved officers are listed. And you may or may not have read that Garner clearly said he couldn’t breathe at least six times, and that multiple witnesses said Garner had just arrived on scene and broken up an altercation.

The media is hardly objective and they begin covering for the police and victimizing the victim very early on. These lopsided “facts” and seemingly minor omissions is only the beginning. Wait until it goes to court. Then you won’t believe how much news outlets, the police and defense attorneys will demonize Mr. Garner.

Unless you’re Black. Then this is an all too familiar pattern.

From Emmett Till to Rodney King to The Central Park Five to Oscar Grant to Amadou Diallo to Sean Bell to Trayvon Martin to Renisha McBride to Jonathan Ferrell to Jordan Davis to Eric Garner and so very many others…even though we’re always unarmed, there is never a shortage of disproportionately White juries eager to conclude that the act of merely existing while Black is always sufficient justification for inflicting brutality, imprisonment or murder onto any unfamiliar Black bodies

Seems like it’s always the same old song and dance whenever Black people seek justice from the system made to imprison us: Criminalizing BlacknessWhite people may commit crimes, but Black people are always viewed as criminals.

(via odinsblog)

(via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)

america-wakiewakie:

"How large is America’s prison problem? More than 2.4 million people are behind bars in the United States today, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence. That’s more than the combined population of 15 states, all but three U.S. cities, and the U.S. armed forces. They’re scattered throughout a constellation of 102 federal prisons, 1,719 state prisons, 2,259 juvenile facilities, 3,283 local jails, and many more military, immigration, territorial, and Indian Countryfacilities.”
— The Leader of the Unfree World | The Atlantic 

Land of the Free, ya’ll

america-wakiewakie:

"How large is America’s prison problem? More than 2.4 million people are behind bars in the United States today, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence. That’s more than the combined population of 15 states, all but three U.S. cities, and the U.S. armed forces. They’re scattered throughout a constellation of 102 federal prisons, 1,719 state prisons, 2,259 juvenile facilities, 3,283 local jails, and many more military, immigration, territorial, and Indian Countryfacilities.”

— The Leader of the Unfree World | The Atlantic 

Land of the Free, ya’ll

(via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)

smdxn:

Largest US sentence reduction in history approved for drug offenders

The federal agency that sets criminal sentencing policies for judges voted on Friday to allow tens of thousands of inmates serving time for drug crimes to apply for reduced sentences, the largest such sentencing reduction in modern U.S. history.
The unanimous vote by the seven members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission will apply to most drug offenders in federal prisons, according to the commission.
Their decision came after the commission studied the results of a similar 2007 vote that affected only those serving time for crack cocaine offenses and found that inmates released early posed no greater risk of committing another crime than those who served their full terms…
Congress has until November 1 to disapprove of the commission’s decision. If lawmakers let the new rules stand, judges across the country can begin considering individual petitions from inmates for sentence reductions, but no prisoners can be released until Nov. 1, 2015, according to a special rule added by the commissioners.

smdxn:

Largest US sentence reduction in history approved for drug offenders

The federal agency that sets criminal sentencing policies for judges voted on Friday to allow tens of thousands of inmates serving time for drug crimes to apply for reduced sentences, the largest such sentencing reduction in modern U.S. history.

The unanimous vote by the seven members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission will apply to most drug offenders in federal prisons, according to the commission.

Their decision came after the commission studied the results of a similar 2007 vote that affected only those serving time for crack cocaine offenses and found that inmates released early posed no greater risk of committing another crime than those who served their full terms…

Congress has until November 1 to disapprove of the commission’s decision. If lawmakers let the new rules stand, judges across the country can begin considering individual petitions from inmates for sentence reductions, but no prisoners can be released until Nov. 1, 2015, according to a special rule added by the commissioners.

(via cognitivedissonance)

Akre and Wilson sued the Fox station and on August 18, 2000, a Florida jury unanimously decided that Akre was wrongfully fired by Fox Television when she refused to broadcast (in the jury’s words) “a false, distorted or slanted story” about the widespread use of BGH in dairy cows. They further maintained that she deserved protection under Florida’s whistle blower law. Akre was awarded a $425,000 settlement. Inexplicably, however, the court decided that Steve Wilson, her partner in the case, was ruled not wronged by the same actions taken by FOX. FOX appealed the case, and on February 14, 2003 the Florida Second District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the settlement awarded to Akre. The Court held that Akre’s threat to report the station’s actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida’s whistle blower statute, because Florida’s whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted “law, rule, or regulation.” In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a “law, rule, or regulation,” it was simply a “policy.” Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly. During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so. After the appeal verdict WTVT general manager Bob Linger commented, “It’s vindication for WTVT, and we’re very pleased… It’s the case we’ve been making for two years. She never had a legal claim.”
To permit [the use of peyote], would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind, ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.

Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Employment Division v. Smith (1990). The Court ruled that the state could deny unemployment benefits to Smith, who had been fired for using peyote as part of his religion.

The ruling led to the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibited laws that posed a “substantial” burden to one’s free exercise of religion.

Burdens

Let me get this straight.

Upholding restrictions that leaves Texas with only 6 abortion clinics does not constitute an “undue burden” on women’s reproductive rights:

The closures are not an undue burden, write the judges because “it takes less than three hours on Texas highways” to get to Corpus Christi. (The Corpus Christi clinic is expected to close in September.) “Although some clinics may be required to shut their doors, there is no showing whatsoever that any woman will lack reasonable access to a clinic within Texas,” they add, but only heed evidence from the trial in October, when the law had barely taken effect.

But requiring religious organizations to sign a paper saying they won’t provide insurance that covers contraception constitutes a “substantial burden” to the religious liberty of those organizations?

Taking several days off from work and driving 560 miles to the nearest abortion clinic (pdf) is not an undue burden. Filling out paperwork is.

Gotcha.

See you godfuckers in November.

Conservatives are working hard to console themselves for recent cultural and legislative losses by building a relatively small, largely symbolic patriarchal dominance display out of ‘religious liberty’…A lot of conservatives are taking a ‘what’s the big deal!’ line, while at the same time making it clear that, to them, this is a big deal. It’s really not realistic to suppose women will be more immune to the symbolism of the drama than conservatives themselves, however it plays out in terms of provision of birth control to women who need it.

John Holbo, “Let Freedom Ring!

Conservatives honestly seem to think the rest of us are idiots who can’t keep up with their ‘clever’ political and legal maneuvering and dog whistles.

Keep it up, assholes, and you’ll not only kiss the White House goodbye for another eight years, but you may end up losing seats in what should be an easy mid-term election for you this fall.