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 Blackness — White people may commit crimes, but Black people are always viewed as criminals.
I once attended a symposium on journalistic ethics where the keynote speaker, a well-known journalist, talked about journalists’ special role in society as guardians of democracy. Because of this, he said, journalists are sometimes allowed to do certain things that other citizens are not, such as intrude into people’s private lives. This is much like doctors who are allowed to cut into people or soldiers who are allowed to kill, he explained.
Then he offered another analogy: it’s like police who “have the right to beat people.” I sat in the audience, momentarily stunned. I nudged a friend next to me. Had he actually said that police have a right to beat people? Yes, she said, I had heard it right.
I looked around at an almost completely white and generally middle-class audience in the auditorium of the private college where the symposium was being held. No one seemed too upset by what he had said.
The speaker went on to say a lot of other reactionary things. Later, during the question period, I went to the microphone, intending to focus on another stupid point he had made.
"But before I get to my question," I said, "I want to say that it seems to me that anyone who can say that police have a right to beat people is presumptively excluded from discussion about ethics of any kind."
The audience squirmed, unsure of how to react. The speaker winced but never responded to my challenge.
Later, during the reception, I talked to a colleague who was unclear what point I was trying to make. Surely, the speaker just misspoke, he said; what the speaker meant to say was that in certain situations, police have a legal right to use force, sometimes even deadly force.
Yes, I understood that, I replied. But my point was that he used the phrase, "the right to beat people.” The language reflects his relationship to power. No one who comes from a class of people subject to being beaten by police would ever think of using such a phrase. Only people who don’t have to worry about being beaten would make the “mistake.” Beyond that, I argued, it’s not implausible that the speaker and lots of other folks like him are glad they live in a world in which police sometimes beat people; it keeps the “dangerous classes” in line.
"Try to imagine if he were black, even a black person with a professional career and a middle-class life," I said. "Think of how different interactions with police are for black people. Do you think he would have said that?"
My colleague shrugged and said I was overreacting to an admittedly careless, but harmless, choice of words on the speaker’s part. The colleague turned, never really understanding what I thought was a simple point, and headed off to talk to someone less contentious.
I was left standing there, full of anger, wanting to scream, and feeling incredibly alone.
I looked around and realized that all around me were people just like me - white, middle-class, educated academics or professional journalists. And I hated them. I don’t just mean that I was frustrated with them. At that moment, I hated them. Not just the speaker, but all of the nice middle-class white folks in the room who were too polite to say anything, to hold the speaker accountable. I even hated the three or four white people who had come up to me after the talk and thanked me for speaking up. I bit my tongue and didn’t ask them the obvious question: Why didn’t you speak up too, instead of leaving my comments to hang in the air, to wither and die without support?
I agree with him, but there’s a good reason why police departments in the U.S. are becoming increasingly militarized. And no, it’s not to stop “the terrorists”, not really.
The U.S. government is quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to listen to conversations of passengers, Michael Brick of The Daily reports.
“With the new systems, experts say, transit officials can effectively send an invisible police officer to transcribe the individual conversations of every passenger riding on a public bus,” Brick writes.
The initiative raises questions about privacy in public as it opens the door for transit officials and law enforcement agencies to listen to conversations without search warrants or court supervision.
“This is very shocking,” privacy law expert Anita Allen told The Daily. “It’s a little beyond what we’re accustomed to. The adding of the audio seems more sensitive.”
Even in light of emerging surveillance technologies such as speech and facial recognition being installed by the FBI, the biometrics analysis of TrapWire, the electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and GPS location data that the government considers fair game, this certainly seems to raise the bar.
Documents obtained by The Daily reveal that the technology is in the process of being implemented in Eugene, Ore.; San Francisco; Athens, Ga.; Baltimore; Traverse City, Mich.; Hartford, Conn.; and Columbus, Ohio .
In San Francisco the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided a grant that covers a $5.9 million contract to install the surveillance system on 357 buses and trolley cars over four years, with an option for 613 more vehicles.
“This technology is sadly indicative of a trend in increased surveillance by commercial and law enforcement entities, under the guise of improved safety,” an independent security consultant who reviewed the specs of the audio surveillance system told The Daily.
what!!!!! WHY???????????? poor people under control eh?
Disturbing as hell.
This pie chart from the article, holy shit:
Phoenix Police Officer Richard Chrisman is caught on video planting drugs (@ 3:10) on a mentally ill homeless woman. Even after the video surfaced online, Richard kept his job.
A few years later, on October 5, 2010, Richard Chrisman killed 29 year old Daniel Rodriguez after responding to an argument with the victims mother. Court documents show that the officer held a pistol to the unarmed suspects head and said ‘I don’t need no warrant’ followed by a string of profanities.
Then after tasing the suspect, pepper spraying him and shooting his dog to death, Richard killed the man despite the fact that he was unarmed and his partner did not believe there to be a threat to himself.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association defended Richard’s actions and paid his bond, releasing him to the public.
Two years after the murder, a judge dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit against filed by Elvira Fernandez, the mother of Daniel Rodriguez.
Last month Richard’s murder trail was postponed for the sixth time. 18 months after Daniel’s murder, Chrisman remains a free man and has not been held accountable for his crimes.
Phantom Negro Weapons are those weapons which White Americans report black people having but which are never found for some strange reason. They are known for cloaking, shapeshifting and causing death to those who possess them:
- 1999: Amadou Diallo - shot 41 times, hit 19 times, died. His gun shapeshifted into a wallet.
- 2006: Sean Bell - shot 51 times by police and died after one of his friends reached for his gun. The gun cloaked itself and was never found.
- 2009: Oscar Grant - shot dead when he reached for his gun. Since it was a Phantom Negro Weapon, police failed to find it when they searched him before putting him face down on the ground.
- 2011: Kenneth Chamberlain - shot dead when he threatened armed policemen with a butcher’s knife. The knife, of course, being a Phantom Negro Weapon, did not appear on the video recording.
- 2012: Ramarley Graham - the gun in his waistband cloaked itself after police shot him dead in front of his grandmother.
- 2012: Trayvon Martin – no weapon was reported, but the way his killer acted you would think his Arizona iced tea and bag of Skittles had shapeshifted from something far more deadly.
- 2012: Rekia Boyd - was killed when police shot at Antonio Cross, whose gun shapeshifted into a mobile phone.
- 2012: Jordan Davis - killed after threatening Michael Dunn with a shotgun rather than turning down his music. The police were unable to find the shotgun. Maybe it will still turn up, but more likely it was Phantom Negro Weapon which has cloaked itself.
Since 2008, the Denver Police Department has received more than 1,000 rape kits, but 44 percent of those kits have never been tested.
Since 2007, Fort Collin authorities have collected more than 240 rape kits, but 72 percent of those rape kits were not tested.
Some police departments say they don’t want to overwhelm police laboratories with evidence that may not result in an arrest.
How thoughtful of them.
Judge rules that millions can sue NYPD over stop-and-frisk
October 23, 2012
A federal judge in New York has given the go ahead for a class action lawsuit to move forward against the city’s police department over allegations that its stop-and-frisk program has continuously allowed officers to discriminate against minorities.
In a ruling made Wednesday by US District Judge Shira Scheindlin, the pending suit against the NYPD, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others was granted class action status.
Authorities seem nonplussed.
When asked for his take on Judge Scheindlin’s decision, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told the New York Times that he had no comment because the litigation was continuing, but offered one quip: “It is what it is.”
Mayor Bloomberg also said he couldn’t comment specifically on the ruling, but, according to the Associated Press, had some words nonetheless.
“Nobody should ask Ray Kelly to apologize – he’s not going to and neither am I – for saving 5,600 lives. And I think it’s fair to say that stop, question and frisk has been an essential part of the NYPD’s work; it’s taken more than 6,000 guns off the streets in the last eight years, and this year we are on pace to have the lowest number of murders in recorded history. … We’re not going to do anything that undermines that trend and threatens public safety,” said the mayor.
For others, however, it doesn’t seem as clear cut; in her ruling, Judge Scheindlin decries, “First, suspicionless stops should never occur.”
The current case began to take hold all the way back in 2008 when attorneys representing four plaintiffs first began seeking class action status. The four original named plaintiffs say that they were wrongfully stopped and frisked based on their race. In only 2011, the NYPD stopped 685,724 New Yorkers, reports the American Civil Liberties Union. In all, 89 percent of those stopped were either black or Latino. Of the nearly 700,000 cases in that year alone, 88 percent of the people stopped were found innocent. Such statistics are largely typical for previous years, although one thing that has changed as time has gone on is the number of pedestrians stopped by law enforcement.
“[T]he policing policies that the city has implemented over the past decade and half have led to a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrian stops, to the point of now reaching almost 600,000 a year,” Judge Scheindlin wrote of the case earlier this year.
Now anyone that feels they have been victimized similarly by the New York Police Department by means of an invasive and unwarranted search since 2005 can add their name to the case.
By way of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policies, police officers in the Big Apple are allowed to conduct searches of suspicious persons if they have reason to believe that they are committing a crime. Statistics documenting the history of the program reveal, however, that skin color seems to play a pivotal role when the police are left to decide who is frisked and who isn’t.
Judge Scheindlin says it is unlikely that many people will sign on to the case, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many who would be excluded from doing so. The NYPD has already stopped and frisked more than 200,000 people on the streets of New York in the first three months of 2012 alone; between 2004 and 2009, around 2.8 million similar stops were carried out.
“This case presents an issue of great public concern: the disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos, as compared to Whites, who become entangled in the criminal justice system,” the judge writes in her ruling. “The specific claims raised in this case are narrower but they are raised in the context of the extensively documented racial disparities in the rates of stops, arrests, convictions, and sentences that continue through the present day.”
Elsewhere in her ruling, Judge Scheindlin says that the NYPD’s arguments in favor of the program appear “cavalier”and display “a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.”
In a statement offered to the AP, the law office for the city of New York says, “We respectfully disagree with the decision and are reviewing our legal options.”
In the words of NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, “It is what it is” - Legalized racial profiling.
A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.
Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bengali descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.
Informants like Rahman are a central component of the NYPD’s wide-ranging programs to monitor life in Muslim neighborhoods since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Police officers have eavesdropped inside Muslim businesses, trained video cameras on mosques and collected license plates of worshippers. Informants who trawl the mosques - known informally as “mosque crawlers” - tell police what the imam says at sermons and provide police lists of attendees, even when there’s no evidence they committed a crime.
This American Life had a very good piece about another informant who worked for this program. It is basically a fishing expedition, with informants spying on innocent people and trying their best to get them to incriminate themselves. This isn’t the first time the U.S. government has used informants to spy on communities of color for the sake of ‘national security’.