Another great article on Salon, by Glenn Greenwald (select quotes, full article here):
A siginificant aspect of this progressive disdain is grounded in the belief that the only valid form of political activism is support for Democratic Party candidates, and a corresponding desire to undermine anything that distracts from that goal. Indeed, the loyalists of both parties have an interest in marginalizing anything that might serve as a vehicle for activism outside of fealty to one of the two parties…
The very idea that one can effectively battle Wall Street’s corruption and control by working for the Democratic Party is absurd on its face: Wall Street’s favorite candidate in 2008 was Barack Obama, whose administration — led by a Wall Street White House Chief of Staff and Wall-Street-subservient Treasury Secretary and filled to the brim with Goldman Sachs officials — is now working hard to protect bankers from meaningful accountability (and though he’s behind Wall Street’s own Mitt Romney in the Wall Street cash sweepstakes this year, Obama is still doing well); one of Wall Street’s most faithful servants is Chuck Schumer, the money man of the Democratic Party; and the second-ranking Senate Democrat acknowledged — when Democrats controlled the Congress — that the owners of Congress are bankers. There are individuals who impressively rail against the crony capitalism and corporatism that sustains Wall Street’s power, but they’re no match for the party apparatus that remains fully owned and controlled by it.
But much of this progressive criticism consists of relatively (ostensibly) well-intentioned tactical and organizational critiques of the protests: there wasn’t a clear unified message; it lacked a coherent media strategy; the neo-hippie participants were too off-putting to Middle America; the resulting police brutality overwhelmed the message, etc. etc. That’s the high-minded form which most progressive scorn for the protests took: it’s just not professionally organized or effective.
Some of these critiques are ludicrous. Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power — in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions — is destroying financial security for everyone else?
…Most importantly, very few protest movements enjoy perfect clarity about tactics or command widespread support when they begin; they’re designed to spark conversation, raise awareness, attract others to the cause, and build those structural planks as they grow and develop… those who are actually interested in helping it develop will work toward improving those deficiencies, not harp on them in order to belittle its worth…
There’s a vast and growing apparatus of intimidation designed to deter and control citizen protests. The most that’s allowed is to assemble with the permission of state authorities and remain roped off in sequestered, out-of-the-way areas: the Orwellian-named free speech zones. Anything that is even remotely disruptive or threatening is going to be met with aggressive force: pepper spray, mass arrests by highly militarized urban police forces, and aggressive prosecutions…
In sum, there is a sprawling apparatus of federal and local militarized police forces and private corporate security designed to send this message: if you participate in protests or other forms of dissent outside of harmless approved channels, you’re going to be harmed in numerous ways. As Yves Smith put it this week:This is all designed to deter any meaningful challenges to the government and corporate institutions which are suffocating them, to bully those who consider such challenges into accepting its futility. And it works. In an excellent essay on the Wall Street protests, Dennis Perrin writes:
I’m beginning to wonder whether the right to assemble is effectively dead in the US. No one who is a wage slave (which is the overwhelming majority of the population) can afford to have an arrest record, even a misdemeanor, in this age of short job tenures and rising use of background checks.
The dissident children were easily, roughly swept aside. Their hearts are in a good place. Their bodies a minor nuisance. They’ll stream back to prove their resolve. And they’ll get pepper sprayed and beaten down again. And again.
I admire these kids. They’re off their asses. Agitating. Arguing. Providing a living example. There’s passion and feeling in their dissent. They’re willing to be punished. It’s easy to mock them, but how many of you would take their place? … .
So, yes, the people willing to engage in protests like these at the start may lack (or reject the need for) media strategies, organizational hierarchies, and messaging theories. But they’re among the very few people trying to channel widespread anger into activism rather than resignation, and thus deserve support and encouragement — and help — from anyone claiming to be sympathetic to their underlying message…
But for those who believe that protests are only worthwhile if they translate into quantifiable impact: the lack of organizational sophistication or messaging efficacy on the part of the Wall Street protest is a reason to support it and get involved in it, not turn one’s nose up at it and join in the media demonization. That’s what one actually sympathetic to its messaging (rather than pretending to be in order more effectively to discredit it) would do. Anyone who looks at mostly young citizens marching in the street protesting the corruption of Wall Street and the harm it spawns, and decides that what is warranted is mockery and scorn rather than support, is either not seeing things clearly or is motivated by objectives other than the ones being presented.
(Sorry for the long read, and that wasn’t even the whole article, but I think a lot of great points were made!)
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Wednesday that the Internal Affairs Bureau will look into the decision of a high-ranking officer to use pepper spray on a number of female protesters at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration on Saturday.
The pepper spray episode occurred on East 12th Street, where police officers arrested some protesters and corralled others behind orange mesh netting. It was captured on video recordings made by several protesters from different vantage points.
The video, which has been posted on YouTube and the Web sites of numerous news organizations, shows a deputy inspector walking up to a group of women standing on the sidewalk behind the orange netting and shooting pepper spray at them. Then footage then shows the deputy inspector, who has been identified as Anthony Bologna, walking away.
Commissioner Kelly said he had seen video of the pepper spraying only on a television newscast, and questioned whether the snippet he saw offered enough context to evaluate what occurred.
Asked about the episode at a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Kelly did not offer an explanation for why Inspector Bologna selected the four women out of the larger crowd as a target.
Why did it take until Wednesday for 1) the media to get Police Commissioner Kelly to comment on this episode, and 2) for Police Commissioner Kelly to comment on this episode, period?
For fuck’s sake.
They waited till wednesday because they were hoping this would all blow over and people wouldn’t care that “some hippies got maced.”
#OccupyWallStreet #OurWallStreet #TakeWallStreet #GlobalRevolution -> OCCUPY THE PLANET!
My brothers and sisters! If there is any part of you that feels corruption and suffering is what runs the world then please watch this video and reblog! Then unite with us who seek freedom! Even if you can’t participate in the fight yet, at least let the people know what’s going on since the mainstream media and associated press will not. Look at the links below and join your city’s occupation movement and take back your freedom! And remember to keep it peaceful. Viva la rEVOLution!
PEACEFUL FEMALE PROTESTORS PENNED IN THE STREET AND MACED!- #OccupyWallStreet
DHS “Cyber Security” Propaganda for College Students
Now the DHS wants to hands-on train our children about cyber security. From Metropolitan State University press release posted today: Read More Here
(LATimes) – Artist Labelled Terrorist For Painting of Bank On Fire
Schaefer had barely added the orange-and-yellow depiction of fire shooting from the roof of a Chase Bank branch when police rolled up to the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Sylvan Street on July 30. Read More Here
(Telegraph) – Council binmen given iPads to keep track of non-recyclers
The devices will also be used to compile a list of which residents don’t recycle and who needs assistance in putting bins out. Read More Here
(KurtNimmo) – Pentagon Beta Tests Tighter Military Control of Disaster Response
The Pentagon is exploiting Hurricane Irene in an effort further militarize disaster response. Fox News reported today that the Pentagon is using the overstated hurricane to minimize civilian participation in emergency situations.
Troops on the streets: Military convoy in New York in the aftermath of Irene.
Over the weekend, the Pentagon appointed “dual-status commanders” to direct both active-duty troops and guardsmen assisting civilian officials in New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island. In the past, the chain of command was split between federal and state authorities.
Under the cover of fixing supposed delays, duplications and gaps after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, the Pentagon has further crippled Posse Comitatus – restricting military involvement in domestic law enforcement – and limited the participation of the state in disaster and emergency response.
This is the first time so-called dual-status commanders have been used for a natural disaster. In the past, they were used at international summits, but not for domestic response to a hurricane.
The AP basically reports that the Pentagon used the storm as a beta test for the roll-out of the next phase of the police state – tight integration of emergency response and law enforcement on the state and local level under the military command and control of the Pentagon and the federal government.
Dual-status commanders were established by the Northern Command following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Northcom was specifically created by the Pentagon to “defend the U.S. homeland and help civilian authorities handle domestic crises like Irene,” according to the Associated Press.
The appointment of the dual-status commanders for Irene was announced by the Defense Department. Military officials said four governors and the Defense Department made the selections together.
Obama’s fancy command center is part of the effort to sell further militarization of law enforcement. The National Response Coordination Center set up at FEMA headquarters in Washington and worked with the Pentagon and other agencies during the much hyped storm.
Obama used the center to stay in touch with Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, among other bureaucrats, and provide valuable propaganda footage for the corporate media.
(Telegraph) – Second man dies after being Tasered by police – Read More Here
(Arstechnica) – Judge says warrant required for cell phone location data – Read More Here
(KurtNimmo) – Cops Confiscate Cameras at Ohio Congressman’s Town Hall – Read More Here
(PaulWatson) – Video: Big Sis Gives Green Light For Drone That Tazes Suspects From Above
Mini chopper can also carry shotguns and grenade launchers View More Here
(Guardian) – Facebook and Twitter to oppose calls for social media blocks during riots
Facebook and Twitter are preparing to face down government ministers over calls to ban people from social networks or shut their websites down in times of civil unrest. Read More Here
(Cryptogon) – New UAV for Police Can Taze People from Above – Read More Here
(RawStory) – FOIA shows Bush admin. spied on Antiwar.com
During the Bush-era, a great many Americans were swept up in the spying dragnet laid after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 by federal officials hoping to prevent another major terrorist attack — people like pacifist Christians, liberal activists, families with members overseas and even street-level falafel sellers.
Now Americans can add another group to the list of those who were viewed as a potential threat: the staff of Antiwar.com.
Documents produced by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by an obscure conspiracy blogger show that in 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assigned an analyst to dig into the website’s staff and financial contributors to determine whether they were “engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to National Security on behalf of a foreign power.” Full article here
(ActivistPost) – 10 Things Citizen Spies Should Report to DHS
The Department of Homeland Security wants the public to be on the prowl for suspicious and criminal behavior. They’ve gone to great lengths to recruit business owners in this effort to report unusual activity. They’ve struck deals with Google, Facebook, and Twitter to monitor Internet activities. DHS has also set up fusion centers nationwide to coordinate with local authorities and private sector partners to hunt down potential threats.
Lately, they’ve cranked up their effort to recruit citizen spiesthrough the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign; supported by taxpayer-funded Hollywood-produced commercials encouraging citizens to be vigilant and report their suspicions to authorities. Given their Rated “G” audience, they display almost comical scenarios of being politically correct while spying over someone’s shoulder to read their text messages. Is texting suspicious behavior?
n the recent past, DHS has instructed local authorities to be suspicious of those with Ron Paul bumper stickers, homeschoolers, breastfeeders, and returning veterans. They have instructed business owners, like hotels, to report people who pay in cash, as well as extremist “preppers.” Is paying in cash now suspicious act?
Well, certainly most Americans are capable of catching bigger fish than those pesky nonconformists. Why sell our citizens short? As activists, let’s report the hardcore criminals to DHS when we see something suspicious. Below is a damning list of some of the criminal behavior to report to our protectors. Be warned, from this point forward this article becomes Rated “R” and very politically incorrect by naming high-powered enemy combatants. Someone’s gotta do the DHS’s dirty work.
1. Suspicious activity about 9-11: Something is very suspicious about the official version of the attacks of September 11th, 2001. First, corporate media restricts discussion of the events of 9-11, especially technical aspects like how a 47-story steel skyscraper (WTC Building 7) collapsed into its own footprint without being hit by a plane, steel turning to powder or molten liquid, or destroyed insider trading records of airline put options, among many other anomalies. The idea that investigating these mysteries is in any way harming the 9-11 family members is nonsense. Report the WTC lease holder, Larry Silverstein, to the DHS for pre-wiring WTC 7 for demolition. Report “Tricky” Dick Cheney for standing down when being told a plane was approaching the Pentagon.WTC steel beams suspiciously turning to dust – Dr. Judy Wood
2. Bank looting: Somehow, the original bank bailout — TARP in 2008 — of $700 billion (which a large majority of the public opposed) turned into a mass looting of $16 trillion to prop-up failed banking institutions around the world. Somewhere in between was a massive stimulus, QE1, and QE2 that by all indicators only benefited the banksters as well. There has been no official authority given by the people’s representatives for these transactions, yet the bank bailouts were clearly a jailhouse-raping of the American public. The people will suffer higher inflation, higher taxes, lost jobs, and less public benefits as a result. The ring-leading rapists are Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner,Hank Paulson, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein and others, presidents from both sides of the isle and nearly all of Congress. If you feel financially raped by the direct actions of these powerful banksters or their minions, immediately report these crimes to anyone who will listen.3. Fraudulent foreclosures: The mortgage fraud scandal is indeed the biggest in human history. The involvement of mortgage brokers, ratings agencies, appraisers, robo signers, and every other type of criminality went right up the ladder to banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Bank of America. Some even employed real mafia tactics bybreaking into people’s homes. Now banks are scrambling to provide documentation, as it appears that people have been thrown onto the street without proof. 92% of NY foreclosures lacked proper documents, and that is just the tip of the iceberg for the rest of the nation. There should be a real full-scale investigation of the criminals running this operation at the highest levels. Instead, we see a few courageous people taking matters into their own hands, like the Florida couple who foreclosed on Bank of America.
4. Radiation cover-up: Ever since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown occurred, there seems to have been a concerted effort to minimize the severity of this ongoing catastrophe. While radiation levels are getting dangerously high, there are accusations of criminal negligence on the part of the EPA: “The EPA re-calibrated (rigged) Japan nuclear radiation monitoring equipment causing them to report lower levels of radioactive fallout after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown than what was detected before the disaster.” Instead of acting as the public’s watchdog on environmental health, the EPA increased the level of acceptable radiation despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. No level of additional background radiation is safe for human health. Those responsible for covering up what will become known as the most devastating holocaust of the Northern Hemisphere are complicit in crimes against humanity and must be reported.
5. Environmental devastation: The environment is being exposed to a full frontal assault by the corporate government. In addition to the exorbitant radiation already touched upon, everything from industrial to genetic pollution, water contamination, DNA alteration and human-animal hybrids, oil spills, atmospheric chemical spraying, pesticides, and much more are devastating our human habitat. No one in power is called to account for these outrages. Just the opposite: in all of these environmental crimes we’ll find the government’s seal of approval as they cover-up for their corporate friends. Which agency do we report this to, since the feds are the perpetrators?
6. Illegal wars: Report Barack Obama for war crimes. Normally war crimes involve more than a single individual. However, in the case of Libya, Obama acted alone without even consulting the people’s representatives. Therefore, he and only he is responsible for war crimes against the innocent Libyan people. Obama is guilty of mass murder of innocent civilians and using taxpayer money without the consent of Congress. Additionally, Obama is wagingexpensive drone wars in other sovereign nations without Congressional approval. Report Obama to all agencies that swear an oath to the Constitution for directing illegal wars that have resulted in mass death.
7. War on children: There are many proven government agency culprits here that can be reported, rather than sending anonymous tips to snitch on your neighbor. CPS stands out as an especially diseased agency that has been documented abusing, raping, drugging and selling children. Vaccines have resulted in the injury and death of children, and those like Rick Perry who haveauthorized it knowingly should be held accountable. Instead, government seems intent on spending taxpayer money to criminalize homeschooling, sending kids to prison for pranks, cracking down onlemonade stands, and arresting mothers for not drugging their children with mind-altering chemicals. This has to stop; the real criminals should be reported immediately.
8. Complicity in The War on Drugs: The war on drugs has effectively turned the CIA, DEA and ATF into the meanest gang of armed drug dealers in the world. Report to the DHS that the CIA was caught trafficking cocaine into America in the ’90s; that the CIA cultivates, protects and transports the opium in Afghanistan, that the ATF was complicit, if not active, in the “Fast and Furious” false flag of gun smuggling to Mexican drug gangs; that the large banks have been openly laundering ALL the drug money. All this while federal DEA thugs raid lawful medical marijuana dispensaries for cancer patients. It’s all very suspicious and it’s time to report it as loudly as we can.
9. Abuse of power: When a president says to torture detainees who haven’t been charged with anything or had any presentation of evidence or a trial, you’d think we would be talking about some ghastly country like Iran. Oh wait, they actually have trials over there. The American president has also declared it okay to assassinate American citizens without due process if they are labeled an “enemy combatant.” It seems suspicious that this would be a lawful act in America. Anywhere in the world and in anytime in history these are the most horrific characteristics of a tyrannical regime and we should continue to report these crimes. These have ramifications that trickle down to a consolidated “Super Congress,” the destruction of free speech with Internet controls and shutting down cell phone service to stop protests, unwarranted domestic surveillance, literal molestation by the TSA, and over-zealous local police — all of whom seemed to have forgotten their oath to the Constitution. Call the “If You See Something, Say Something” hotline to report the oath-breakers.
10. Food, water, air, and land theft: The very essence of life and freedom is being corrupted. While the DHS wants a snitch culture to report the subtle cues of al Qaeda-linked terrorism; real terrorism is already being carried out through the poisons in our food, water, and air by corporations who have received their stamp of approval from regulatory agencies. These are the criminals who should be brought to justice; not the Amish, food clubs, raw milk producers, organic farmers, and people growing tomatoes in home gardens. Public water is still being fluoridated after thescience has proved its harmful effects. Meanwhile, criminals are openly stealing private property in the U.S. with the help of globalist re-zoning environmental initiatives like the Wildlands Project and Smart Growth under the umbrella of Agenda 21.
It’s high time that we stop taking orders to report on each other from the very criminals whom we should be reporting. Stay vigilant and place your calls today!
Source: Activist Post
(Amnesty) – Detained Chinese activist Wang Lihong goes on trial
A Chinese activist detained for organizing a demonstration in support of bloggers must be released, Amnesty International said as her trial took place today in Beijing. Read More Here
(Guardian) – Video shows surveillance protesters bundled to ground by police
-Women arrested for challenging officer with no badge number
-Footage shows arresting officers binding Fit Watch pair’s feet
-IPCC to receive video as concerns grow over police tactics Read More Here
(DTOM) – 5 Reasons Why American Riots Will Be The Worst In The World – Read More Here
(HollywoodToday) – Hackers Build Cheap Spy Drone that Rivals CIA Predator – Read More Here
(AmericanFreePress) – Real Domestic Terror
There is an array of high-tech populace control weapon devices that are being used on the American people, and it’s time someone stepped up and admitted their existence. Who do you think these weapons are being used on? Victim testimony at the recent Bioethics Commission helps answer the question. Read More Here
(DailyTech) – DHS Proposes Secret Watchlist Database, Privacy Groups Protest
The Department of Homeland Security is planning to duplicate the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database to expand an extensive database called Watchlist Service — and no one can know if they’re on the list Read More Here
(GazetteVirginian) – Proposed rule on farms called ‘absurd’
A new rule being proposed by the federal Department of Transportation would require farmers to get commercial drivers licenses. Read More Here
REPOST – (Excavator) – Martial Law in America Will Peel Away The Veil of Freedom, Democracy And Civility – Read More Here
(IntelHubFederalJack) – Martial Law: Corporate Media Hints At Military Plans To Take On The American People During Domestic Civil Unrest – Read More Here
(HigginBlog) – FBI Asks Stores To Spy On Survival Gear Customers And Report Them As Potential Terrorists
The FBI is asking surplus stores to spy on identities of customers purchasing survival gear and report them as potential terrorists while the CDC scares the public into purchasing survival gear with ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ psy-op.
The CDC recently scared the hell out of the public to make them prepare for a disaster by running a headlines to prepare for a ‘Zombie Apocalypse’
CDC Warns Public to Prepare for ‘Zombie Apocalypse’
Are you prepared for the impending zombie invasion?
That’s the question posed by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention in a Monday blog posting gruesomely titled, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” And while it’s no joke, CDC officials say it’s all about emergency preparation.
“There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for,” the posting reads. “Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”
Source: FOX News
While feds are scaring the hell out of the public to make disaster preparedness purchases to survive a catastrophic emergency the FBI is going around the country and instructing surplus stores to spy on the identities of customers purchasing such survival gear and report the purchases as potential terrorist activity.
FBI Handout Lists Purchase of Preparedness Items as “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities”FBI_Terrorist_Indicators-386×500
Oath Keepers Exclusive: An FBI Denver Joint Terrorism Task Force handoutbeing distributed to Colorado military surplus store owners lists the purchase of popular preparedness items and firearms accessories as “suspicious” and “potential indicators of terrorist activities,” instructing store owners to keep records on and report people who purchase:
- Weatherproofed ammunition or match containers
- Meals Ready to Eat
- Night Vision Devices; night flashlights; gas masks
- High capacity magazines
- Bi-pods or tri-pods for rifles”
The FBI handout, entitled “Communities Against Terrorism: Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Military Surplus Stores” also instructs surplus store owners to:
- “Require valid ID from all new customers.
- Keep records of purchases.
- Talk to customers, ask questions, and
- listen to and observe their responses.
- Watch for people and actions that are out of place.
- Make note of suspicious statements, people, and /or vehicles.
- If something seems wrong, notify law enforcement authorities.”
The handout also instructs surplus store owners to consider as “suspicious” anyone who “demands identity ‘privacy’” or anyone who expresses “extreme religious statements” and those who “make suspicious comments regarding anti-US, [or] radical theology.”
The “Communities Against Terrorism” flyer closes by stating:
Preventing terrorism is a community effort. By learning what to look for, you can make a positive contribution in the fight against terrorism. The partnership between the community and law enforcement is essential to the success of anti -terrorism efforts.
Some of the activities, taken individually, could be innocent and must be examined by law enforcement professionals in a larger context to determine whether there is a basis to investigate. The activities outlined on this handout are by no means all-inclusive but have been compiled from a review of terrorist events over several years.
The handout encourages surplus store owners and employees to provide information on “suspicious” customers by calling the Denver Joint Terrorism Task Force or the Colorado Information Analysis Center. This handout is very nearly identical to one issued by the FBI to gun stores from Connecticut to Utah: PDF
This new handout expands the absurdity by now also targeting customers of military surplus stores, and by specifically targeting the purchasing of very common, and very popular, preparedness items such as Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) as “potential indicators of terrorist activities.”
While this particular handout is being given to military surplus store owners in Colorado, it is nearly certain that similar versions are being handed out by Joint Terrorism Task Forces in other states. Anyone who has seen such a handout, or who has a copy of one, please contact us at email@example.com. You know, “if you see something, say something!” It may be a potential indicator of government terrorist (tyranny and chilling of speech) activities. Remember, combating tyranny is a community effort and you can make a difference! – Oath Keepers
So we have the government using a psychological propaganda operation to make the public perform one action while making it official policy to spy on citizens who perform that action, treating them as potential terrorists or enemy combatants.
Source: Alexander Higgins Blog
Outrage Over Cops Who Murdered Homeless Man (by TruthTube1111)
People in Fullerton, California are outraged following the the death of a homeless man at the hands of local police officers. Many are calling for the cops to be tried for murder.
Out of control police have to be stopped and have to be made an example of. Their role is to protect and serve, end of, and anyone officer that acts like an animal must face the consequencies of their actions. The police are paid for by the people, and are put there by the people to keep us from harm…They are not paid to murder.
[EDIT: FULL STORY]
The death of a Bronx man who suffered a fatal asthma attack after cops pepper-sprayed him has been ruled a homicide by the city medical examiner.
An autopsy found that Kemp Yarborough cause of death was by“acute bronchial asthma attack during a physical altercation including pepper spray,” the city medical examiner told the New York Daily News.
Prosecutors are now thinking about filing charges against the NYPD officers who sprayed Yarborough on March 8 of this year.
The incident happened when police officers responded to reports of a street fight. Yarborough, 36 at the time, was questioned by the officers for his involvement in the fight.
Yarborough, who had done eight years in jail for a 1990 murder conviction, denied any involvement with the fight and soon began having trouble breathing.According to witness, Yarborough reached for his inhaler while being questioned by the officers. Yarborough’s action caused the police to tackle him to the ground and pepper spray him.
"He went down like timber," William Martin told the New York Daily News. Martin, Yarborough’s attorney and an eye-witness to the incident, says the police ignored his client’s wishes as he begged for his inhaler."He told them he couldn’t breathe. After five to 10 minutes, he started foaming at the mouth and eventually died," Martin explained. The officers performed CPR but could not revive him.
Police claim Yarborough was in possession of illegal substances when he died, but the NYPD hasn’t provided a full report of the incident. The NYPD has yet to respond on the matter.
In 2005, records show Yarborough was arrested for being in possession of a weapon and a controlled substance. His wife said he had changed his ways since then and has been working as a security guard.
"I want justice for my husband," his widow, Erica Coleman-Yarborough, told the media. "He was having an asthma attack, but instead of helping him, these officers pepper sprayed him."
Thirty years ago the US Senate called Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) enforcement tactics “constitutionally, legally and practically reprehensible.” (US Senate, 1982)
And, for nearly forty years, ATF has been harrassing and killing non-criminal Americans.
In 1982 the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution “received correspondence from two members of the Illinois Judiciary, dated in 1980, indicating that they had been totally unable to persuade BATF (ATF) to accept cases against felons who were in possession of firearms including sawed-off shotguns.” (US Senate, 1982)
The 1982 Subcommittee also reported, “The Bureau’s own figures demonstrate that in recent years the percentage of its arrests devoted to felons in possession, and persons knowingly selling to them, have dropped from 14 percent down to 10 percent of their firearms cases.” (US Senate, 1982)
“The Subcommittee received evidence that BATF has primarily devoted its firearms enforcement efforts to the apprehension, upon technical malum prohibitum charges, of individuals who lack all criminal intent and knowledge. Agents anxious to generate an impressive arrest and gun confiscation quota have repeatedly enticed gun collectors into making a small number of sales—often as few asfour—from their personal collections. Although each of the sales was completely legal under state and federal law, the agents then charged the collector with having “engaged in the business” of dealing in guns without the required license.” (US Senate, 1982) Sound familiar?
At Ruby Ridge in 1992 ATF killed a 13 year old boy and a woman with a baby.
At Waco in 1993 ATF triggered an unnecessary siege that killed 82 Americans.
Now we have Operation Gunrunner (Fast and Furious) killing Federal Agents.
Leaders of ATF have admitted allowing nearly 2000 combat weapons to be smuggled to Mexican criminals. Those criminals used some of those smuggled weapons to murder ICE Agent, Jaime Zapata and Tucson District Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry - not to mention hundreds of Mexican law enforcement and military…
Carlos Canino, ATF Attaché to Mexico, testified before the House Oversight Committee last month,“It infuriates me, that people – including my law enforcement, diplomatic and military colleagues – may be killed or injured with these weapons.” He added, “Sinaloa cartel may have received as many guns as needed to arm the (US Army’s 75thRanger) regiment. Out of these 2,000 weapons, 34 were .50 caliber sniper rifles…approximately the number of sniper rifles a Marine infantry regiment takes into battle.” (Klein 2011)
What has ATF really accomplished since it separated from the IRS in 1972? Do we need a $1.12 billion Federal Agency to regulate our smoking, drinking and guns?
Congress should defund - and shut down - ATF before more guiltless Americans die.
Klein, P. (2011). The Examiner. Beltway Confidential. ATF Official in Mexico “infuriated” by Operation Fast and Furious. http://www.sfexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/07/atf-official-mexico-infuriated-operation-fast-and-furious
US Senate (1982). US Government Printing Office. Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee of the Judiciary. 97thCongress. http://www.atfabuse.com/senate1982.html
Almost all the known Republican candidates for the presidency have signed a pledge to assure their voter bases they share common principles (“Signing Away the Right to Govern,” The New York Times, July 19). Among the pledges:
"Cut off federal financing to Planned Parenthood … and enacting a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution." But omitted from any of these texts is a pledge to restore the Constitution’s fundamental separation of powers that has imperiously been ignored by the Bush-Cheney and Obama administrations, thereby resulting in a shroud of secrecy (the "state secrets" closing of court cases vital to our rule of law) and so much increased surveillance by the state that it makes us a nation of suspects.
Predictably, the Democratic base for our sovereign incumbent’s re-election has shown no concern for reviving our individual liberties under the Constitution.
Accordingly, there is a festering Obama war crime very unlikely to be mentioned during next year’s skewering debates and character assassinations. On July 16, 2009 (“Mr. President: We Are Still Torturing?” cato.org), I reported:
"In a continuation of the Bush-Cheney practice of deliberately keeping certain groups of suspects far away from our courts and our laws, as well as hidden from monitoring by international human rights groups, the Obama administration has told a federal court our prisoners at Bagram (Air Field in Afghanistan), many held for more than six years without charges, have no rights under our laws."
No wonder Obama, the self-ordained champion of transparency, continues to oppose charges by civil-rights and human-rights organizations that some Bagram “detainees” have been killed during “coercive interrogations” at a principal U.S. prison there inmates call “the black hole” (“Afghans ‘abused at secret prison at Bagram airbase”’ BBC News, April 15, 2010).
For more documentation of what was and is being done in our name at Bagram, there is the fourth article in “Bagram Week” by Andy Worthington, a truly reliable investigative reporter (“The ‘Dark Side’ of Bagram: An Ex-Prisoner’s Account of Two Years of Abuse,” www.andyworthington.co.uk, April 17). He quotes a former prisoner in the main Tor Jail (“the Black Jail”):
"There were also no facilities for handicapped or wounded people. Many prisoners had no legs or had other handicaps. It was difficult for them to go to the bathroom. There was one person in my cell who had fallen off the roof when he was arrested. His 10-year-old son was shot during the raid. He arrived in prison with two broken legs. For two months we carried him to the bathroom."
A website I visit every day is JURIST — Legal News and Research, maintained by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law (jurist.org). In “Bagram detainees allege torture at a secret U.S. Prison in Afghanistan: BBC” (jurist.org, April 15, 2010), I find: “U.S. President Barack Obama made a surprise visit … to the base at Afghan-istan (and its prison).”
What did he see? What were his reactions? That is classified. You want to know why? From the same “Jurist” story: “Despite the alleged witness accounts of torture … the U.S. government continues to deny the existence of secret prisons in Afghanistan.”
For four years, the ACLU, logically dismissing this denial by the Obama administration — including its curiously named Justice Department — has been trying hard to discover for itself what’s actually happening at Bagram. In April 2009, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the actual records of the detention and treatment of Bagram prisoners and how they can “challenge their detention.”
As of now, the reality is these prisoners still have no real-time, real-life way of challenging their imprisonment — let alone the conditions of their confinement — under what used to be our laws.
Currently before the courts, there is a rather special and spirited dispute between the ACLU and the Department of Defense. In response to the ACLU FOIA request, the DOD sent to the ACLU, by mistake, a document about the criteria by which prisoners are held at the Bagram detention center. The Obama administration, insisting the document was properly classified, demands it be returned to the DOD.
Until this is resolved, the ACLU can’t tell me what’s in that especially secret document. But it does say, “It contains the criteria for labeling ‘detainees’ an ‘enduring security threat.”’ I know this means “prolonged and possibly indefinite detention.” For some, a death sentence.
I’ve reported that President Obama is a big fan of preventative permanent detention, finding its legality somewhere in his personal constitution. However, Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, teaches Obama our rule of law:
"The U.S. military should not be detaining people indefinitely, based on secret criteria, in a war with no foreseeable end," Shamsi said. "Having seen the enduring security threat criteria, we can say without a doubt that nothing about them is properly classifiable or could pose any threat to national security if disclosed.
"The government should never have classified this document in the first place, and it is simply indefensible that it continues to seek suppression of the document now." When the FOIA request was made in 2009, she adds, there were about 600 held at Bagram. "That number has now nearly tripled, and Bagram detainees still do not have access to a court or independent and impartial tribunal to determine the legality of their detention."
I’ll keep you informed on how this battle turns out. Does any presidential aspirant of either party have anything to say?
Oh, and let’s not forget: Despite Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo Bay, it’s still open. Now he has two Guantanamos.
Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow.
Police beat and taser 'gentle' mentally-ill homeless man Kelly Thomas, 37 to death - #WTF #PoliceState
[WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT]
A shocking video has been released allegedly showing police officers tasering and beating a homeless man to death who they claim was resisting arrest.
Though the video is not clear, eye witnesses say the homeless man - Kelly Thomas, 37 - was unable to put up any resistance and was lying on the ground on his front when the attack took place on July 5.
His screams and cries for his father can be heard amid the tasering noises.
Scroll down for video
Dead: Mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas, 37, was beaten and tasered to death by police for allegedly ‘resisting arrest’
Shocking: This picture shows the extent of the injuries Thomas received after being beaten up by six police officers
The video was shot by a student in Fullerton, California. Kelly Thomas was beaten so badly he died in hospital several days later.
According to Gawker, Thomas - who suffered from schizophrenia - caught the attention of the police after someone reported that a burglar was breaking into cars parked near a Fullerton bus station.
When officers approached Thomas in the depot parking lot and tried to arrest him, he resisted.
- Caught on tape: Police ‘stripped unarmed man naked, kicked, beat and tasered him as he lay screaming in snow’
After that reports diverge.
Police will not issue a statement saying the issue is under investigation but they did say that six officers were involved and two ‘suffered broken bones in the fight’.
However, they recently retracted that statement saying that it was only ‘soft tissue damage’.
Video: Thomas’ body can be made out surrounded by officers on the ground as a woman screams at them to stop as they taser him for the fifth time
Father: Ron Thomas has been passing out flyers seeking answers near the scene where the run-in with police left his son brain-damaged
Eye witnesses at the scene claim the six officers tasered him five times and beat him beyond recognition, which the disturbing photo of him in hospital shows.
Mark Turgeon, who was there, said: ‘They kept beating him and tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn’t even moving.
'He had one arm in front of him like this, he wasn't resisting. And they kept telling him, “He's resisting, quit resisting”, and he wasn't resisting.'
Many members of the Fullerton community described Thomas as a passive, peaceful person.
'The only thing we have left of our son is the blood in the gutter, that's all we have left'
On the website Fullerton Stories, several people have shared their experiences interacting with Thomas, describing him as ‘very quiet and polite’, ‘gentle and childlike’, ‘sweet’, and ‘never a threat’.
Thomas has a previous conviction for assault with a deadly weapon 16 years ago, according to Gawker, which has been attributed to the onset of his illness.
Since his death, his family and members of the community have held protests outside the police department headquarters, looking for answers.
Two officers were suspended shortly after the attack but police will not confirm if it was related to the 37-year-old’s death.
Speaking about his son’s death, Thomas’s dad, Ron Thomas, a former sheriff’s deputy, said: ‘His death was gang-involved, the way I see it. A gang of rogue officers who brutally beat my son to death.’
He said he now feels ashamed for having ever been a law enforcement officer.
He has been in the area his son was attacked handing out flyers and asking people for help.
He said: ‘The only thing we have left of our son is the blood in the gutter, that’s all we have left.’
Local city council member Bruce Whitaker has called for a ‘clear, factual and complete explanation of events which led to the death of Kelly J. Thomas.’
He also wants the D.A. to release a police video that apparently shows the actual beating taking place.
Fullerton police Sgt Andrew Goodrich said that Thomas began to fight officers as they tried to search him.
He said: ‘We don’t know why he was so combative and resistant to the officers, but it took upwards of five to six officers to subdue him.
'Sometimes when we take people into custody who don't want to go into custody, we have to use force. It is never the preferred way of doing things.'
He said police are conducting an internal investigation into the officers’ actions and the District Attorney’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation.
The DA’s office said they cannot comment on details of cases until they are completed.
(12160) – Woman with concealed pistol prevents robbery, sexual assault, maybe more. Criminal shot dead – Read More Here
(IntelHub) – 9 Of Quartzsite’s 14 Cops Suspended After Blowing Whistle On Chief; Governor Ignores – Rady Ananda – Read More Here
(PajamasMedia) – Worse Than Gunwalker? State Dept. Allegedly Sold Guns to Zetas
It’s a stunning allegation that makes the other gunrunning scandals look like child’s play. Read More Here
(AFP) – Finland to boost web surveillance after Norway attacks – Read More Here
(SteveWatson) – TSA Reminds Us All Who The Real Terrorists Are
Distressed woman filmed receiving full body grope down, cameraman told “do not talk to her” Read More Here
(UPI) – EBay auction leads to TSA theft charges
An eBay auction led to a Los Angeles airport security worker being charged with stealing expensive watches from travelers’ luggage, federal officials say. Read More Here
(Telegraph) – Innocent people’s DNA profiles won’t be deleted after all, minister admits
The DNA of more than one million innocent people will not be wiped from police records, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
Instead the police will retain DNA profiles in anonymised form, leaving open the possibility of connecting them up with people’s names, ministers have admitted. Read More Here
(GlobalResearch) – As the American Empire Spreads Abroad, it Becomes a Police State at Home
The methods used for the suppression of foreigners by military force and violence are eventually mirrored in the “homeland.” Read More Here
(NaturalNews) – Internet takeover: New legislation would allow state to arbitrarily shut down, seize websites
Freedom of speech is under attack once again as the bloated US federal government continues its quest to destroy the last bastion of free and open communication — the internet.
Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property” bill, also known as the Protect IP Act, is more oppressive and restrictive to free speech than even communist China’s internet censorship protocols, and a group of law professors recently wrote an open letter warning that the bill would allow the government to freely pull websites without any proper legal restrictions.
Last November, NaturalNews reported that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had already begun seizing website domains and ordering that they be shut down permanently for supposed copyright infringement — and the agency did this apart from due process or a proper trial (http://www.naturalnews.com/030542_c…).
No law or legal precedent permitted this rogue agency — which is a tyrannical spawn of post-9/11 hysteria that is not even constitutionally legitimate to begin with, by the way — to undergo its website seizing operation. The agency simply decided to break the law and do as it pleased.
Now, certain members of Congress are pushing to turn this oppressive, illegal tyranny into law through the Protect IP Act, which by all appearances is even more severe than Senate Bill (SB) 3804, the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act,” or COICA (http://www.usa-anti-communist.com/w…). Though it is currently stalled in the Senate, according to a recent report from PrisonPlanet.com (http://www.prisonplanet.com/protect…), the Protect IP Act may eventually get passed under the radar, and eventually turn the internet into a government-run propaganda tool similar to network and cable news.
“At a time when many foreign governments have dramatically stepped up their efforts to censor Internet communications, the [Protect IP Act] would incorporate into US law — for the first time — a principle more closely associated with those repressive regimes: a right to insist on the removal of content from the global Internet, regardless of where it may have originated or be located, in service of the exigencies of domestic law,” says a portion of the open letter.
You can view a leaked draft of the Protect IP Act here: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20…
Protect IP Act a Trojan Horse bill to hijack control over the internet
Like most other pieces of legislation that infringe upon freedom, liberty, and the US Constitution, the Protect IP Act is dressed in language that may initially appear to benefit society.
After all, protecting intellectual property from theft will help ensure that private enterprise flourishes, right? Indeed it will, but the provisions of the Protect IP Act completely bypass due process, and do not even allow website owners a fair trial — the bill basically gives the federal government arbitrary power to shut down websites that it feels are an “infringement.”
In much the same way, the “Patriot Act,” which is dressed in nice-sounding language about protecting Americans from terrorism, is another Trojan Horse bill that was designed to completely thwart the rule of law.
Ironically, its provisions desecrate the very constitutional protections that were put in place to protect Americans from things like the Patriot Act.
A cursory glance at the language in the Protect IP Act reveals that “Internet site[s] dedicated to infringing activities,” which are the subjects of government targeting, is very broadly defined. And because of this broad language, third-parties like ad networks, payment processors, search engines, and even internet service providers (ISPs) are pulled into the crosshairs of government censorship as well.
And since the bill would require no independent investigation or proper trial prior to enforcement to verify that any laws had actually been broken, the US government would thus have the perceived authority to target practically any website, or party connected to that website, that it chooses to, without any checks and balances or restraint.
When taken to its logical end, DHS would have the power to censor search engine results, for instance, on the basis that sites with “infringing activities” may show up in the query results.
Worse, the bill contains language that gives private copyright holders “additional, extraordinary and unnecessary powers to stifle new technologies and innovation,” according to techdirt.com (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20…).
This means that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for instance, the music recording industry group that targeted and essentially destroyed the infamous Napster music service years ago, could take advantage of the bills provisions and use the government as its personal enforcement agency to restrict whatever websites it deems a threat to its interests.
Do not be fooled by misguided rhetoric or even the bill’s creative title. The Protect IP Act is ultimately not about protecting intellectual property, but is instead about legitimizing control and censorship of the internet by an overbearing central government.
You can contact your representatives and urge them to oppose the Protect IP Act by visiting: http://www.congress.org/
Sources for this story include:
Source: Natural News
Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force - #NWOThe federal government has supplied local police departments with military uniforms, weaponry, vehicles, and training. Just after midnight on May 16, 2010, a SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of a 25-year-old man while his 7-year-old daughter slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. The grenade landed so close to the child that it burned her blanket. The SWAT team leader then burst into the house and fired a single shot which struck the child in the throat, killing her. The police were there to apprehend a man suspected of murdering a teenage boy days earlier. The man they were after lived in the unit above the girl’s family.
The shooting death of Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones sounds like it happened in a war zone. But the tragic SWAT team raid took place in Detroit.
Shockingly, paramilitary raids that mirror the tactics of US soldiers in combat are not uncommon in America. According to an investigation carried out by the Huffington Post’s Radley Balko, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement over the last 30 years, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units for routine police work. In fact, the most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.
Some 40,000 of these raids take place every year, and are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. And as demonstrated by the case of Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones, these raids have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries.
How did we allow our law enforcement apparatus to descend into militaristic chaos? Traditionally, the role of civilian police has been to maintain the peace and safety of the community while upholding the civil liberties of residents in their respective jurisdiction. In stark contrast, the military soldier is an agent of war, trained to kill the enemy.
Clearly, the mission of the police officer is incompatible with that of a soldier, so why is it that local police departments are looking more and more like paramilitary units in a combat zone? The line between military and civilian law enforcement has been drawn for good reason, but following the drug war and more recently, the war on terror, that line is inconspicuously eroding, a trend that appears to be worsening by the decade.
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 is a civil war-era law that prohibits the use of the military for civilian policing. For a long time, Posse Comitatus was considered the law of the land, forcing militarization advocates to come up with creative ways to get around it. In addition to assigning various law enforcement duties to the military, such as immigration control, over the years Congress has instituted policies that encourage law enforcement to emulate combat soldiers. Hence, the establishment of the SWAT team in the 1960s.
Originally called the Special Weapons Attack Team, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units were inspired by an incident in 1966, when an armed man climbed to the top of the 32-story clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin and fired randomly for 90 minutes, shooting 46 people and killing 15, until two police officers got to the top of the tower and killed him. This episode is said to have “shattered the last myth of safety Americans enjoyed [and] was the final impetus the chiefs of police needed” to form their own SWAT teams. Soon after, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) formed the country’s first SWAT team, which acquired national prestige when used against the Black Panthers in 1969.
Use of these paramilitary units gradually increased throughout the 1970s, mostly in urban settings. The introduction of paramilitary units in America laid the foundation for the erosion of the barrier between police and military, a trend which accelerated in the 1980s under President Reagan, when the drug war was used as a pretext to make exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act.
In 1981, Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which amended Posse Comitatus by directing the military to give local, state and federal law enforcement access to military equipment, research and training for use in the drug war. Following the authorization of domestic police and military cooperation, the 1980s saw a series of additional congressional and presidential maneuvers that blurred the line between soldier and police officer, ultimately culminating in a memorandum of understanding in 1994 between the US Department of Justice and Department of Defense. The agreement authorized the transfer of federal military technology to local police forces, essentially flooding civilian law enforcement with surplus military gear previously reserved for use during wartime.
Between 1995 and 1997 the Department of Defense gave 1.2 million pieces of military hardware, including 3,800 M-16s, 2,185 M-14s, 73 grenade launchers and 112 armored personnel carriers to civilian police agencies across the country. But this was only the beginning.
In 1997, Congress, not yet satisfied with the flow of military hardware to local police, passed the National Defense Authorization Security Act which created the Law Enforcement Support Program, an agency tasked with accelerating the transfer of military equipment to civilian police departments. Between January 1997 and October 1999, the new agency facilitated the distribution of 3.4 million orders of Pentagon equipment to over 11,000 domestic police agencies in all 50 states.
By December 2005, that number increased to 17,000, with a purchase value of more than $727 million of equipment. Among the hand-me-downs were 253 aircraft (including six- and seven-passenger airplanes, and UH-60 Blackhawk and UH-1 Huey helicopters), 7,856 M-16 rifles, 181 grenade launchers, 8,131 bulletproof helmets, and 1,161 pairs of night-vision goggles.
The military surplus program and paramilitary units feed off one another in a cyclical loop that has caused an explosive growth in militarized crime control techniques. With all the new high-tech military toys the federal government has been funneling into local police departments, SWAT teams have inevitably multiplied and spread across American cities and towns in both volume and deployment frequency. Criminologist Peter Kraska found that the frequency of SWAT operations soared from just 3,000 annual deployments in the early 1980s to an astonishing 40,000 raids per year by 2001, 75-80 percent of which were used to deliver search warrants.
In 1997, Kraska observed that close to 90 percent of cities with populations exceeding 50,000 and at least 100 sworn officers had at least one paramilitary unit, twice as many as in the mid 1980s. Radley Basko correctly points out that the trends giving rise to SWAT proliferation in the 1990s have not disappeared, so it’s safe to assume these numbers have continued to rise and are significantly higher today.
Then there are the effects of the war on terror, which sparked the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the introduction of DHS grants to local police departments. These grants are used to purchase policing equipment, although law enforcement is investing in more than just bullet-proof vests and walkie talkies. DHS grants have led to a booming law enforcement industry that specifically markets military-style weaponry to local police departments. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is law enforcement’s version of the military-industrial-complex.
By instituting public policies that encouraged the collaboration of military and domestic policing, the US government handed a massive and highly profitable clientele to private suppliers of paramilitary gear. Following the breakdown of Posse Comitatus in the 1980s and ’90s, Peter Cassidy writes in Covert Action Quarterly that ”gun companies, perceiving a profitable trend, began aggressively marketing automatic weapons to local police departments, holding seminars, and sending out color brochures redolent with ninja-style imagery.”
Private suppliers of military equipment advertise a glorified version of military-style policing attire to local police departments and SWAT teams. One such defense manufacturing company, Heckler and Koch, epitomized this aggressive marketing tactic with its slogan for the MP5 submachine gun, “From the Gulf War to the Drug War—Battle Proven.”
Today’s latest in paramilitary fashion sweeping through local police departments is the armored tank, which is making appearances all over the country at an increasingly alarming rate. The police department in Roanoke, Virginia paid Armet Armored Vehicles, a private company that specializes in military vehicles, $218,000 to assemble a 20,000-pound bulletproof tank with a $245,000 federal grant.
Not to feel left out, the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) in Lancaster, Penn., was recently seen sporting the Lenco BearCat, a camouflage colored Humvee-styled tank that can knock down a wall, pull down a fence, withstand small-arms fire and deliver a dozen heavily armed police officers to a tense emergency scene. The BearCat was purchased a year and a half ago with a $226,224 grant from DHS, yet it has spent nearly two years sitting in a garage at the county’s Public Safety Training Center.
The most widely used justification for the purchase of heavily armored war machines is that violence against police officers has increased exponentially, necessitating the tank for protection of the men and women who serve our communities. But examination of the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, a database that tracks the number of law enforcement officers killed and assaulted each year, reveals that this is simply not true. According to the UCR, since 2000 an average yearly toll of about 50 police officers have been feloniously killed, the highest reaching 70 in 2001. So the notion that militarization is a necessary reaction to a growth in violence against police officers is absurd, considering that violent crime is trending downward.
Others argue these tanks are needed in case of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. But on September 11, 2001, I do not recall the NYPD complaining that a lack of armored tanks was impeding its policing efforts. And during the catastrophic tornado that tore through Joplin, Missouri earlier this year, heavily armored vehicles weren’t present nor were they needed to assist in the aftermath.
The majority of paramilitary drug raid proponents maintain that military-style law enforcement is required to reduce the risk of potential violence, injury and death to both police officers and innocents. The reality is that SWAT team raids actually escalate provocation, usually resulting in senseless violence in what would otherwise be a routine, nonviolent police procedure.
Just consider your reaction in the event of a SWAT team breaking down your door in the middle of night, possibly even blowing off the hinges with explosives, while you and your family are asleep. Imagine the terror of waking up to find complete strangers forcing their way into your home and detonating a flash-bang grenade, meant to disorient you. Assuming nobody is hurt, what thoughts might be raging in your mind while the police forcefully incapacitate you and your loved ones, most likely at gunpoint, while carrying out a search warrant of your home. Assuming you were able to contain the mix of fear and rage going through your body, consider how helpless you would feel to know that any perceived noncompliance would most certainly be met with lethal force.
Training and technology-sharing between the defense and civilian law enforcement seems responsible for the pervasive culture of militarism plaguing domestic law enforcement. In fact, an estimated 46 percent of paramilitary units were trained by “active-duty military experts in special operations.” Lawrence Korb, a former official in the Reagan administration, famously said that soldiers are “trained to vaporize, not Mirandize.” As police officers continue to emulate soldiers in their weaponry, language, tactics, uniform, and mindset, it won’t be long before they vaporize instead of Mirandize as well.
We have created circumstances under which the American people are no longer individuals protected by the Bill of Rights, but rather “enemy combatants.” The consequences of such a mindset have proven time and again to be lethal, as we now rely on military ideology and practice to respond to crime and justice. For some insight into the implications, one needn’t look any further than minority communities, which have long been the victims of paramilitary forces posing as police officers. Black and Latino communities in the inner-cities of Washington DC, Detroit and Chicago have witnessed first-hand the deadly consequences of militarization on American soil. Military culture now permeates all aspects of our society. Does anyone really believe that heavily armed soldiers trained to kill are capable of maintaining an atmosphere of nonviolence?
It’s important to remember that police officers are not responsible for instituting these policies. Over the last three decades local police departments supplied with military uniforms, weaponry, vehicles, and training, were told they were fighting a war on drugs, crime and terror. The politicians who instituted these policies are responsible for the militarization creeping into civilian law enforcement. What might the end result be if the distinction between police and military ceases to exist? The answer is a police state — and certain segments of our society are already living in one.