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The Troubling Treatment of Journalists During Ferguson Coverage

Law enforcement seems to be going out of its way to harass, detain, and arrest journalists covering events in Ferguson
Crime • Views: 17,317

The law enforcement response to the shooting death of Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson has been troubling in all aspects, but the local police (including Ferguson PD, St. Louis County Police, and other agencies) treatment of journalists is especially so.

Journalists are being harassed at every opportunity. They’ve been harassed while in private stores. They’ve been gassed/smoked out of their location shots by trigger-happy county police. They’ve been detained and arrested - all because they’re covering the events as they’re unfolding.

But remember, it’s the community that is engaging in violence. Right.

We cannot and should not ignore law enforcement’s excessive use of force, and singling out journalists for harassment and arrest.

This is hardly an isolated case in Ferguson.

Continue reading…

Ferguson: Down the Rabbit Hole

How lies, obfuscation, and misleading information are making a bad situation in Ferguson worse
Crime • Views: 21,416

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson can’t get out of his own way. In his rush to paint Mike Brown as a strong arm robber, he’s released video that the Department of Justice considered incendiary and unrelated to the FOIA requests made by the press and other interested parties. In fact, the video appears to be only a portion of the overall incident in Ferguson Market and Liquor.

There is a significantly longer video that shows that there was much more involved here. And none of it rises to the level of a strong arm robbery. Rather, this is at worst shoplifting or petit larceny given that the amount that was allegedly taken was less than $50.

The tweet shows a longer video, but the store representatives confirmed that although a theft occurred, they chose not to pursue a criminal report (it was a customer in the store who called police - not the store employee).

The store owner wasn’t going ahead with charges, but that’s not dispositive. He might fear repercussions against him and his business (which has already been targeted by looters) and instead was likely to treat it as a shrinkage loss, rather than pursue a police investigation.

It’s much more dispositive that the Ferguson Police aren’t charging Dorian Johnson with any crimes, even though he was with Brown and appears to have taken some of the tobacco products (cigarellos) given to him by Brown on their way out of the store.

Yet, all of the video does nothing to shed light on why Mike Brown was approached by Officer Darren Wilson. That’s according to Chief Jackson himself. Chief Jackson has repeatedly stated that the only reason that Wilson approached Brown and Johnson was because they were walking in the street. It had nothing to do with the incident in the store.

Chief Jackson allowed his Department to issue a video that had only a tenuous relationship to the incident leading to Brown’s death, all while claiming that is was not related. Highway Patrol Chief Ron Johnson and the Department of Justice both thought as much - that this was unrelated to the events (and Chief Johnson was blind-sided by the release, learning of it only after the media did). Both knew and understood that the release of the video would only cause even more tensions and fingers pointed at a Department intent to cast aspersions on the man whom Officer Wilson killed.

It’s enough to make your head spin.

And yet, this is just the beginning.

This is a Department that is more interested in protecting itself than protecting the public or cleaning up its act. This is a Department that has no problem allowing the officer who shot and killed Brown to leave town. Far from attempting to gather all the pertinent information and interview all the relevant witnesses, the county prosecutors and the Ferguson PD and county police have appeared to engage in a haphazard approach to gathering the critical information. That’s even though criminal justice experts would caution law enforcement agencies to interview witnesses as quickly as possible so as to get the accounts down in writing. It’s as though the agencies involved at the local level are trying to put barriers up to a proper investigation.

This is a Department that had no problem in increasing tensions by withholding key information and details relating to the Brown investigation. Some of the information is justifiably withheld under Missouri Rev. Stat. 610.100. However, they’re using the shield as a club to thwart any look at the actions by the Department.

It’s no wonder that so many people are petitioning for a special prosecutor to handle the case instead of the county prosecutor, who has already indicated how he didn’t like how Gov. Jay Nixon put the highway patrol in charge of the security situation because the county police were using such heavy handed techniques. The prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, has long and deep ties with the police departments, and appears to put those ties ahead of seeing justice done. For instance:

In 2001, two undercover drug officers from Dellwood shot and killed two men on the parking lot of a Jack in the Box in north St. Louis County. The officers said the suspects, who had prior felony convictions for drug and assault offenses, tried to escape arrest and then drove toward the officers.

A subsequent federal investigation showed that the men were unarmed and that their car had not moved forward when the officers fired 21 shots and killed the suspects, Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley. The probe, however, also concluded that because the officers feared for their safety, the shootings were justified.

McCulloch didn’t prosecute the officers. He specifically drew the ire of defense lawyers and protesters, who had been holding demonstrations and threatened to block Highway 40,when he said of Murray and Beasley, “These guys were bums.”

This is just part of the reason why the Department of Justice is carrying out its own investigations. It’s why they’re going ahead with their own autopsy (and that appears to be in addition to the family calling in noted pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to carry out one as well).

No one who is an impartial third party is willing to trust anything coming out of the Ferguson PD and St. Louis County police, let alone the county prosecutor. That’s quite telling.

Here’s the thing though. There are multiple events from Mike Brown being shot through today that indicate that the local police forces operating in Ferguson have engaged in excessive force. There’s a way to reduce the incidence, and in the process save taxpayers and the community billions of dollars a year in costs. It involves requiring all officers on patrol to wear cameras. This not only protects the public, but the officers from baseless claims.

Over the last decade, claims against cities and counties across the country stemming from police incidents amounted to $22 billion. The special counsel to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recently reported that between January 2013 and April 2014, 132 cases of excessive force against the department were closed by settlements or court verdicts, totaling $12,175,000. The largest payout in fiscal 2012-2013 was a jury award of $6 million, settled by the County for $3.9 million. The plaintiff in that case claimed that two deputies escalated a traffic stop into violence, pepper-spraying him, punching him in the head, kneeing him in the face, and slamming his head into the pavement. And don’t forget the attorneys’ fees that are often a key driver in the decision of whether or not to settle or proceed to litigation. In Los Angeles County, for every dollar spent on a payout in fiscal 2012, another dollar was spent on the lawyers, amounting to $43 million. Communities policed by officers wearing BWCs will see a dramatic decrease in litigation and the costs associated with it.

I’ve noted this before - it gives law enforcement the ability to learn from events on the ground - what to do and what not to do. And the costs are minimal compared to the gear that law enforcement agencies get handed down to them from the federal government (all the armored vehicles, helicopters, sniper gear, body armor, etc., which is ostensibly for protecting communities from a terrorism threat or mass casualty event and could potentially serve a legitimate purpose has instead been used to bloat budgets and prop up department requests for even more funds).

English Professor Thrown to the Ground and Arrested for Jaywalking

It happened on May 20th. Remember? Something recently reminded me of this incident.
Crime • Views: 16,721
Ersula Ore. Photo from Phoenix New Times.

A jaywalking rarely makes national news, but the arrest of Arizona professor Ersula Ore has done just that.

What began as a walk home from classes at Arizona State University ended with police charging the professor with assault.

The English professor was walking in the middle of a Tempe, Arizona, street one evening last month when a campus police officer stopped her. The incident escalated, and she was handcuffed and landed on the pavement.

Appearing Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” Ore was asked about her own words and actions in the incident and replied, “I think I did what I was supposed to do. I was respectful. I asked for clarification. I asked to be treated with respect, and that was it.”

[…]

Read the whole CNN story here: Arizona Professor’s Jaywalking Arrest Gets Out of Hand

The police officer in the case was put on paid administrative leave.

An Arizona State University police officer whose arrest of an ASU professor in May has drawn national attention is now on leave, and the university has asked the FBI to review whether any civil-rights violations occurred during the arrest, according to an ASU statement.

The statement issued Wednesday said that Officer Stewart Ferrin has been placed on paid administrative leave. It went on to say that it asked the FBI for its assistance although a preliminary investigation by the police department determined Ferrin “did not engage in racial profiling or use excessive force.”

[…]

The rest of that article is here, and there is video of Professor Ore relating part of what happened.

Professor Ore pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was sentenced to probation.

[…]

“Personally I’m wondering what about me seemed to be a threat, so much so that it warranted an officer touching me and violating me,” Ore said before Superior Court Commissioner Julie Mata. “I am hurt, upset, angry and humiliated. I deal with fears on a regularly hourly basis -they wake me up at night.”

Ore said she had a moment of weakness questioning the arrest, but felt that she could no longer trust whether those in uniform were there to help or hurt her.

[…]

Ore was visibly upset following the sentencing, with Roby thanking supporters outside the courtroom on her behalf. She said she was disappointed the proposed one day of supervised probation was not granted.

“I would have liked to see that but the reality is nine months of probation—as long as someone is successful—can very easily turn into four,” Roby said. “We do believe that her constitutional civil rights were violated and we’re not going to let that go.”

Further coverage in the Phoenix New Times revealed possible consequences to the campus police department, but the department denied the personnel changes were related to this case.

Two weeks of bad publicity received by ASU was followed by the unexpected departures of ASU Police Chief John Pickens and Assistant Chief James Hardina. ASU claimed, unbelievably, that the departures had nothing to do with Ore.

[…]

With Ferrin on leave, the departures of ASU’s top brass unexplained, and the FBI investigation unfinished, you can expect to hear some more in the near future on this widely publicized case.

I have not found any more recent information.

I am posting this now because of the parallels to the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO. Thankfully, Professor Ore received only minor injuries. Someone posting on a police officers’ forum said of the officer involved: ‘I’m surprised he didn’t shoot her. He probably would have somehow been within his rights.’ That post is dated July 7, 2014. I wonder whether there is any change in that perspective now. I doubt it.

I jaywalk all the time, but I’m white. If I were black, my life would be totally different. Even if I were better educated (Ersula Ore has a PhD) and better employed (I’m a bike mechanic), as a black person, I would not have the privilege of jaywalking all over the place. And that’s just a minor part of how my life would be different.

I almost posted this under ‘Culture’ instead of ‘Crime’, because it’s the culture that needs to be fixed. Police culture most urgently, but the whole culture needs to learn respect for all parts of itself. So many people claim to love America, while they hate their fellow Americans. We need to love people, not a mythological construct of a nation.

Acts, Omissions, and What We Actually Know About the Ferguson PD and Mike Brown Case

There’s a whole lot to sort through, and much of it isn’t good
Crime • Views: 20,713

Michael Brown is dead. This much we know. How and why he died at the hands of a Ferguson police officer, now identified as 6 year veteran of the force Darren Wilson, is still unclear.

The Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released some records “relating” to the case, but they primarily relate to an incident earlier in the day. The incident occurred at Ferguson Market and Liquor on West Florissant Avenue where they allege Brown and another man, Dorian Johnson, appeared to have stolen Swishers (packages of tobacco products). The location is some distance from where the fatal encounter occurred.

There are lots of discrepancies in the time line and facts proffered by the Ferguson PD. Where are the packages of Swishers that were allegedly stolen? If they weren’t on Brown, were they in Johnson’s possession (the friend who witnessed events)? The Department’s own statements say that Johnson isn’t a suspect and wont be charged, so that undermines the perception that Johnson was an accomplice of some kind of criminal act at the store.

As the STL Post Dispatch reports, the Ferguson Police Department isn’t charging Johnson:

In an interview with MSNBC shortly after the report was released, Johnson’s lawyer also said that Brown had taken cigars from the store.

“We see that there’s tape, that they claim they got a tape that shows there was some sort of strong-armed robbery,” the attorney, Freeman Bosley, told MSNBC. “We need to see that tape. My client did tell us and told the FBI that they went into the store. He told FBI that he did take cigarillos, he told that to the DOJ and the St. Louis County Police.”

Asked whether Dorian Johnson will be charged, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said today, “No. We determined he didn’t steal anything or use force.”

So, if the report claims that Brown handed something to Johnson, and Brown didn’t pay for it, then that would be a larceny, with Johnson the accomplice for receiving the property that didn’t belong to him. But they’re not charging him? In other words, the police report contains sufficient discrepancies that would undermine even the robbery claims against Brown.

Continue reading…

Five Children and One Adult Dead in Yet Another Mass Shooting in Texas, Mainstream Media Ignore It

Horrific
Crime • Views: 29,275

If you’re watching one of the mainstream cable channels, you probably haven’t heard about this horrific mass shooting in Spring, Texas; the mass media seem completely uninterested: 5 Children, 1 Adult Shot Dead in Spring Subdivision; SWAT Standoff Underway With Shooter.

SPRING, Texas - Six people were shot dead, including five children, Wednesday afternoon in north Harris County, according to Harris County Pct. 4 deputies.

The incident happened at a home in the 700 block of Leaflet in the Enchanted Oaks subdivision.

Deputies responded to a shooting and found the victims. Life Flight was called to the scene.

The victims were ages five to 40. Five children and one adult died.

Another Mass Shooting in Las Vegas: “Tell the Police the Revolution Has Begun”

Local news reports suspect was middle-aged white man
Crime • Views: 28,927

Meanwhile in Las Vegas, we have another mass shooting by apparent anti-government lunatics; a report at KTNV: Two Suspects Dead After Police Shooting at Walmart Near Nellis and Stewart - www.ktnv.com.

Two police officers were said to have been shot after two suspects took their guns and ammunition a local Cici’s Pizza near Nellis and Stewart. They were taken to University Medical Center. Their condition is currently unknown.

The two suspects allegedly yelled ‘This is a revolution’ as they left the restaurant and headed to Walmart.

When the suspects entered Walmart, they shot and killed one citizen before going to the back of the store and engaging what officers called a suicide pact.

More details from KLAS-TV: UPDATE: Police Source: 1 Officer Dead, Following Shooting Near N - 8 News NOW.

Police say witnesses told them the suspects took the police officers’ gear and, as they were walking out of the restaurant after the shooting, they said, “tell the police the revolution has begun.”

Anti-Government “Sovereign Citizen” Attacks Georgia Courthouse With Assault Rifle and Explosives

Right wing terrorism
Crime • Views: 24,429

Today in Georgia’s Forsyth County, yet another far right “sovereign citizen” attempted to take over a courthouse with multiple explosive devices, weapons and a large amount of ammunition, wounding a deputy before he was killed in a shoot-out. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported minute by minute: Report: Forsyth Deputy Shot, Suspect Dead, Courthouse Evacuated.

A Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy has been shot in the leg at the courthouse in Cumming, and a suspect is reported dead. Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters and photographers are on the way to the scene. Return to ajc.com for minute-by-minute updates on the situation.

12:46 p.m. - Forsyth Sheriff Duane Piper said the actions of the wounded deputy, who was working the doorway of the courthouse when he saw Dennis Marx drive up, likely saved many lives. “It would be a guess to think how many lives he saved had he not engaged him right there,” Piper said. “Mr. Marx’s intention was to get inside that front door and to take hostages.”

12:39 p.m. - Suspect Dennis Marx had not been living in his house for 10 days. Deputies are searching that house now for explosives and booby traps. Sheriff Duane Piper said Marx “was known to us before. Quite a few things are under investigation right now.” He said many of the explosives that Marx was carrying were homemade. “He had been planning it for a while,” Piper said.

12:36 p.m. - Piper said suspect Marx was armed with multiple explosives and lots of ammunition on himself and inside the car. He also had water, supplies and “zip-tie” restraining devices. “He came for the purpose of occupying the courthouse,” the sheriff said.

12:21 p.m. - A law enforcement official familiar with the situation said explosives are suspected because Marx is a “sovereign citizen” well-known to local authorities. They are concerned about explosives because sovereign citizens are known to be involved with explosives.

12:15 p.m. - The sheriff has confirmed to Channel 2 that the suspect is Dennis Marx. The station reports that Marx has identified himself as a sovereign citizen, part of an anti-govenment group that has been tied to violent attacks on law enforcement around the country. He was due in court today to plead out on drug and weapons charges.

(h/t: Schmendrick.)

Horrifying Mass Murder in Santa Barbara

Monsters with guns
Crime • Views: 24,122

Yet another horrifying mass murder, this time by a highly privileged young man who hated women.

Police said they were examining a video posted on YouTube in which a man, sitting in a car, said he had planned an attack in Isla Vista because he was sexually frustrated and had been snubbed by women. The young man, who said he was 22, described himself as a virgin and said he planned an act of retribution because women had not found him attractive.

“We’re investigating that as evidence we believe is connected to the crime,” Brown said.

In the video, which the man said he was making on the eve of the attack, he said he planned to shoot students at a sorority near UC Santa Barbara.

“For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I have been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me,” he said, looking into a camera on the dashboard of his vehicle with palm trees in the background.

“I will punish all of you for it,” he said with a sinister laugh, saying he would enter a sorority. “I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blond slut I see inside there.”

Kansas Community Center Killer Frazier Glenn Miller Is a Longtime Neo-Nazi

Home-grown far right terrorist
Crime • Views: 18,854

The SPLC’s HateWatch blog connects the dots: Frazier Glenn Miller, Longtime Anti-Semite, Arrested in Kansas Jewish Community Center Murders.

Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, of Aurora, Mo., was arrested today for the murder of three people at two separate Jewish Community Centers in Overland Park, Kan. Miller, who was arrested using the alias Frazier Glenn Cross, has been in the movement nearly his entire life. Miller is the former “grand dragon” of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which he founded and ran in the 1980s before being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and using intimidation tactics against African Americans.

After subsequently forming another Klan group, the White Patriot Party, he was found in criminal contempt and sentenced to six months in prison for violating the court settlement. He went underground while his conviction was under appeal but was caught by the FBI with a weapons cache in Missouri. He served three years in federal prison after being indicted on weapons charges and for plotting robberies and the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees. As part of a plea bargain, Miller testified against other Klan leaders in a 1988 sedition trial.

Miller is a raging anti-Semite who has posted more than 12,000 times on Vanguard News Network (VNN), whose slogan is “No Jews, Just Right.” VNN founder Alex Linder has openly advocated “exterminating” Jews since December 2009. Miller, a close partner to Linder, has called Jews “swarthy, hairy, bow-legged, beady-eyed, parasitic midgets.” Miller is also one of VNN’s largest donors and he printed and distributed thousands of copies of VNN’s newsletter, The Aryan Alternative.

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 Frank says:

It's all one big note.