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Member since: Sat Jun 23, 2012, 06:03 PM
Number of posts: 3,183

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Freddie Gray: Don't let the 1% determine police reform for the 99%

The history of policing in the US has been one of protecting private property, money and lives of the affluent and politically powerful, at least since the NYPD’s founding in 1845. Any new efforts at police reform – calls for which are growing stronger with each new death of an unarmed person of color at the hands of the police – will be unsuccessful if they exclude revisions to this most basic of reasons for the existence of modern law enforcement."

*We should never expect expert panels led by technocrats who are far removed from the poor and communities of color to address deep flaws in the police system. For one, their socioeconomic and racial distance would make it next to impossible for them to develop evaluations and other reforms responsive to the needs of such communities. The heavy influence from America’s rich and powerful on law enforcement means that any reform efforts at making police less militarized will conflict with the charge to protect private property – especially businesses – and those who wield the most money and political influence.

To even begin to make inroads on police reform, we need trusted representatives of the interest of the poor and communities of color to be involved. Organizations like the ACLU, the Center for Social Inclusion, The Sentencing Project and Dream Defenders – along with individuals like Maya Wiley, Deeray McKesson and Michelle Alexander – would be a place to start."

*It has often taken a series of major riots for law enforcement and affluent whites to get the message that police are not only there to serve them and their interests. Everyone deserves fair protection. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take more bloodshed for all of us to realize that."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri May 1, 2015, 01:47 PM (1 replies)

How a then-24-year-old filmmaker exposed the Taser industry in a bombshell new documentary

Nick Berardini was in his senior year at the University of Missouri in 2008 and working the late shift at the local TV station when a call on the police scanner changed his life.

Berardini got word of an in-custody death by the Moberly Police Department and was one of the first reporters on the scene.

Witnesses told him 23-year-old Stanley Harlan had been pulled over by the Moberly police in front of his house. Harlan got out of his car, had a conversation with the officer who pulled him over for speeding or drunken driving (it's still not clear why he was pulled over), and was allowed to call his mother. But when other officers arrived all hell broke loose.

"The second officer on the scene didn't understand [Harlan] was allowed to use his phone," Berardini told Business Insider of what witnesses told him that night. "He tried to take it from [Harlan], and Harlan backed up with his hands in the air and said something like, 'Why are you going to tase me?'"

The officer used a Taser stun gun on Harlan's chest three times for a total of 31 seconds, according to Berardini's reporting. Harlan went into cardiac arrest and died on the scene in front of his mother and stepfather."

"That seemed so aggressive to me and such an obvious misuse of force that I became really sympathetic towards the family," said Berardini, who at the time of Harlan's death was 24 years old and aspiring to be a filmmaker.

Six months after Harlan's death, Berardini got the dash-cam video of the incident and saw the entire altercation. It not only verified what the witnesses told him that evening, but it also motivated him to make a film that would show how an event like this could fracture a small community."

"Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle"

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu Apr 30, 2015, 11:22 PM (1 replies)

Baltimore Police Won't Make Report on Freddie Gray's Death Public

Baltimore police said Wednesday that their internal report into the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died in police custody this month, wouldn't be made public.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts had set a deadline of Friday to file the report with state investigators, leading to hopes among activists and Gray's family that more details of his death from a spinal injury would emerge. Investigators haven't said how Gray was injured.

Baltimore police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said Wednesday night that the report would remain sealed to protect the integrity of the inquiry. "

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Apr 29, 2015, 11:40 PM (12 replies)


Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Apr 29, 2015, 10:53 PM (3 replies)

Baltimore imposes bail bonds of half a million dollars in legal crackdown

Republican governor extends 24-hour detention-without-charge limit ‘to protect public safety’ while courts impose sky-high bail bonds for minor offences"

Baltimore’s under-fire criminal justice system risked antagonising its already seething local community on Wednesday by suspending legal procedures and imposing bail bonds of up to half a million dollars on the city’s most impoverished residents.

In one especially stark case, a 19-year-old charged with eight offences allegedly committed on Saturday, including riot, theft and disorderly conduct, was set a bail of $500,000. Court records show the defendant, a black man, was sent to jail after failing to produce the funds."

Meanwhile, most of the 235 people arrested during riots and protests in the past week still have not been charged, after Maryland’s new Republican governor, Larry Hogan, effectively suspended the state’s habeas corpus law – which limits detention without charge to 24 hours – in a move he said was “necessary to protect the public safety”.

*The attorney said three of Baltimore city’s district courts – which would ordinarily have shared the load of cases – were closed for no apparent reason. She reacted angrily to Hogan’s unilateral interference in detention-without-charge rules.

“The fact they have rescinded this rule, which was introduced specifically to protect citizens from being screwed over, is insane,” she said. “But it’s business as usual for Baltimore. The justice system in this city is broken. This situation to me is the story of how Baltimore works.”

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Apr 29, 2015, 09:46 PM (13 replies)

TrialFunder.com Launches Online Marketplace For Civil Litigation With Police Brutality Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, April 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- TrialFunder.com, a new accredited crowdfunding online national platform for investment in plaintiff litigation, launches this week, assisting plaintiffs in their civil lawsuits dealing with police brutality, sexual harassment, wrongful death, personal injury and other cases.

The site's first lawsuit, "Rosales v. City of Chico," involves alleged police brutality against an elderly man caught on multiple eyewitness videos.

The Trial Funder platform was created with social justice in mind, says Los Angeles-based Trial Funder CEO Anoush Hakimi, Esq., "Trial Funder promises to democratize the legal system, while bringing a new level of transparency to the entire process."

Unlike other alternative litigation finance companies, Trial Funder puts an entire case on its home page – demonstrating with video and court files the exact nature of each case. Once a case is financed through the Trial Funder platform, the associated attorney's law firm, picture and practice information are prominently displayed. The platform is fully integrated with social media platforms driving traffic to the web portal. "

*Today's contingency fee structure results in plaintiff attorneys being reluctant to take matters to trial because of the high financial risks of a defense judgment. Our web portal promises to change the calculus of the entire civil litigation system," said Hakimi.

Trial Funder allows plaintiffs to apply directly to the site, granting access to non-recourse capital to fund litigation. "

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Apr 29, 2015, 01:49 PM (0 replies)

Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn't Start the Way You Think

Baltimore teachers and parents tell a different story from the one you've been reading in the media."

After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon, news reports described the violence as a riot triggered by kids who had been itching for a fight all day. But in interviews with Mother Jones and other media outlets, teachers and parents maintain that police actions inflamed a tense-but-stable situation."

Meghann Harris, a teacher at a nearby school, described on Facebook what happened:

Police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, [Frederick Douglass High School] students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn't catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students…It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.

The kids were "standing around in groups of 3-4," Harris said in a Facebook message to Mother Jones. "They weren't doing anything. No rock throwing, nothing…The cops started marching toward groups of kids who were just milling about."

*Meg Gibson, another Baltimore teacher, described a similar scene to Gawker: "The riot police were already at the bus stop on the other side of the mall, turning buses that transport the students away, not allowing students to board. They were waiting for the kids.…Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown." With police unloading busses, and with the nearby metro station shut down, there were few ways for students to clear out."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Tue Apr 28, 2015, 09:39 PM (45 replies)

FBI: Two Former Marion Police Officers Sentenced for Using Excessive Force While Tasing a Woman

WASHINGTON—Franklin Brown, 35, and Eric Walters, 39, both former police officers with the city of Marion Police Department in Marion County, South Carolina, were sentenced to serve 18 months and one year and one day in prison, respectively, today in federal court in Florence, South Carolina, by United States District Court Judge R Bryan Harwell for repeatedly tasing a former local female resident during the course of her detainment. For both defendants, three years of supervised release will follow the prison sentences and they each face a $100 special assessment. Brown and Walters previously pleaded guilty to violating the victim’s civil rights during this incident. According to court documents, on April 2, 2013, in the course of detaining the victim, Walters tased the victim causing her to fall to the ground and injure her head.

Once she was on the ground, Walters continued to tase the victim multiple times. Brown subsequently arrived on scene and proceeded to tase the victim as she was seated on the curb, restrained in handcuffs and surrounded by law enforcement. Walters and Brown admitted there was no legitimate law enforcement purpose for repeatedly tasing the victim as she did not pose a threat to the officers. “The defendants abused their authority as law enforcement officers by repeatedly tasing a defenseless, compliant victim,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.

“Today’s sentence is a reminder that this type of abusive and dishonorable behavior will not go unpunished.”


Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Apr 27, 2015, 09:20 PM (3 replies)

Police brutality: Officers not excused from acting inhumanely

Police brutality stories in American society are no longer a rare occurrence; many have become so desensitized to these reports that it barely stirs a reaction out of them any longer. And if these stories still do get a reaction, it is usually distrust and outrage for the people who serve and protect.

This is the problem then: some police are abusing the power that was given to them in confidence of our protection, and more people are beginning to distrust police indiscriminately because of these unjust actions.

This past Sunday, a 25-year-old Baltimore citizen named Freddie Gray died in a hospital after suffering extreme injuries during an arrest. According to USA Today, “his spine was 80 percent severed at his neck.”

Injuries like these don’t just happen in a car ride."

*Police aren’t properly punished for acts of violence against those their badge claims they should protect and serve, and courts of law let them get away with their actions by giving them excuses like “it was not an officer’s job to protect the public but only to enforce the law.”

Among UH students, there is distrust when it comes to the police and their power.

“I definitely think they are (abusing their power), at least the ones that appear on TV,” said Edward Ansong, a computer science sophomore. “Not all cops are the same, of course, but there needs to be structure of laws and what they can do, because they’re doing just about anything they can get away with and not really being punished for it.”

“Being put on a desk job or having unpaid vacation isn’t really punishment.”

*When there are incidents popping up every day where police kill and injure people for no legal reason, gaining celebrity status in the process and not receiving proper punishment, it has even the most law-abiding citizens wondering if they’ll be next just for looking at cops the wrong way."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Apr 27, 2015, 08:47 PM (0 replies)

Ladies, you might want to swap the bourbon for a bong

It felt serendipitous that I was in Denver when I read that there’s been a steep rise in women’s binge drinking across the United States. Because it struck me that if women smoked pot – now legal in Colorado – with the same gusto with which they seem to imbibe alcohol, perhaps we’d be in better shape.

A new study, published in the American Journal of Public Health this month, shows that while men’s binge drinking increased just 4.9% between 2005 and 2012, women’s rates rose by a whopping 17.5%. That’s a lot of bourbon."

But unlike marijuana use - which outside of memory impairment shows very little in terms of severe physical damages – long-term use of alcohol has extremely serious consequences. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 5.8m American women have some sort of alcohol disorder and 26,000 women die from alcohol related causes annually. Deaths related to cannabis are so rare that German researchers claimed to find the first two cases just last year.

There’s a societal benefit to using weed instead of alcohol as well. Drunk driving kills 30 people every day in the US, but since Colorado has legalized marijuana, car crash fatalities have been on the decline. And let’s be honest – I’ve bet you’ve seen plenty of drunken fights and violence in your lifetime, but the only thing a high person is likely to get worked up about is the number of cheetos left."

I’m not advocating that women break out the bong and start a daily weed habit, but if you’re going to use a substance on a regular basis, it seems clear that marijuana use does significantly less damage than drinking. Especially if you’re using it to help quell anxiety issues. "

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Apr 27, 2015, 01:00 PM (9 replies)
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