Our Ever-Deadlier Police State

Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States—which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year—are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities. By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016. Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons. Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder.

US Government Declares 'Black Identity Extremists' A Threat

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By Sam Levin for The Guardian – The US government has declared “black identity extremists” a violent threat, according to a leaked report from the FBI’s counter-terrorism division. The assessment, obtained by Foreign Policy, has raised fears about federal authorities racially profiling activists and aggressively prosecuting civil rights protesters. The report, dated August 2017 and compiled by the Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, said: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Incidents of “alleged police abuse” have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement”. The FBI’s dedicated surveillance of black activists follows a long history of the US government aggressively monitoring protest movements and working to disrupt civil rights groups, but the scrutiny of African Americans by a domestic terrorism unit was particularly alarming to some free speech campaigners. “When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” said Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Federal Employees Ordered To Attend Anti-Leaking Classes

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By Michael Biesecker for Mint Press News – WASHINGTON (AP) — Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information. It is part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies. The Associated Press obtained training materials from the hourlong class. Government employees who hold security clearances undergo background checks and extensive training in safeguarding classified information. Relatively few EPA employees deal with classified files, but the new training also reinforces requirements to keep “Controlled Unclassified Information” from unauthorized disclosure. The EPA occasionally creates, receives, handles and stores classified material because of its homeland security, emergency response and continuity missions. EPA employees also work closely with contractors and other federal agencies that more regularly handle classified information. President Donald Trump has expressed anger repeated leaks of potentially embarrassing information to media organizations in recent months. In a speech last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said those responsible for the “staggering number of leaks” coming out of the administration would be investigated and potentially prosecuted.

Chicago’s ‘Green Zone’: Plans For Massive Police Compound Worries Community

An artist’s rendering of the city of Chicago’s planned $95 million public safety training campus in West Garfield Park, to replace the city’s police and fire training academies. (Photo: Chicago City Hall)

By Kevin Gosztola for Mint Press News – The city of Chicago plans to build a massive multi-million dollar training center for police and firefighters in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. But a coalition of community organizations contend the center will compound President Donald Trump’s “multi-pronged attack” on communities of color and expand the Chicago Police Department’s “capacity for violence.” Last week, the city’s Community Development Commission approved a 30.4-acre land acquisition in a northwest industrial corridor tax-increment-financing (TIF) district in Chicago. A $95 million “state-of-the-art” compound will be built by 2020 for police, firefighters, and emergency medical services teams to train together. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed the facility as a destination, where out-of-state police agencies can send officers for training. It will spur “real economic development” with people from the suburbs and downstate traveling to the center. Similarly, Alderman Emma Mitts, whose ward includes West Garfield Park, asserted the community is “excited” about having “a lot more police” in the area. She also claimed there will be new economic opportunities.

Police Chant: ‘Whose Streets Our Streets’ After Mass Arrests In St Louis

Police officers watch demonstrators on Sunday night after Jason Stockley, a former St Louis police officer, was found not guilty of the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Photograph: Joshua Lott/Reuters

Police officers watch demonstrators as they continue to protest in St Louis Police officers watch demonstrators on Sunday night after Jason Stockley, a former St Louis police officer, was found not guilty of the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Photograph: Joshua Lott/Reuters View more sharing options Shares By Jamiles Lartey for The Guardian – Police officers in riot gear gathered alongside a St Louis boulevard late on Sunday night, chanting “whose street, our street”, a common refrain used by those protesting against the acquittal of a white former officer over the death of a black man, after successfully clearing the street of demonstrators and onlookers. At a news conference early on Monday, interim police chief Lawrence O’Toole said police had seized at least five weapons and said he was “proud to tell you the city of St Louis is safe and the police owned tonight”. “We’re in control,” he said. “This is our city and we’re going to protect it.” The chant drew criticism, however, from protesters, activists and some police officers. In a statement, Sgt Heather King, president of the Ethical Order of Police, a group founded by African American officers, said: “That chant goes against the very code of ethics we swore to abide by. “Whether we agree with demonstrations, protests or acts of violence, it is our job to do our job free of personal bias.” On Twitter on Monday, the group said: “We are human and we will make mistakes. We are also people who have the last word, which can be – arrest, freedom, or death. No need 2 chant.” Hundreds of officers had mobilized after another day of peaceful protests over the acquittal of Jason Stockley in connection with the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. The protest began at the police headquarters downtown. Hundreds of people marched through downtown streets, the posh Central West End and the trendy Delmar Loop area of nearby University City.

Alternatives To Dialing 9-1-1

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By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy – Calling the cops is an almost knee-jerk reaction. We’re programmed from childhood to call the cops whenever something goes “wrong” in our homes or neighborhoods. But what constitutes something really being wrong and even when bad situations arise, should we immediately reach for the phone to dial 911? What’s at stake for us? For the other person/people involved? How do things like lock-up agreements between states and private prison corporations affect how police react to situations? How does the treatment of police brutality by the justice system affect how cops act when they show up at your front door? These questions and others are at the core of this segment of Act Out! dealing with ways in which we can make ourselves and each other safer without involving the cops.

Comply Or Die: The Police State’s Answer To Free Speech Is Brute Force

Photo by Tony Webster | CC BY 2.0

By John W. Whitehead for Counter Punch – Unfortunately, this is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble in public and challenge the status quo. This police overkill isn’t just happening in troubled hot spots such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md., where police brutality gave rise to civil unrest, which was met with a militarized show of force that caused the whole stew of discontent to bubble over into violence. A decade earlier, the NYPD engaged in mass arrests of peaceful protesters, bystanders, legal observers and journalists who had gathered for the 2004 Republican National Convention. The protesters were subjected to blanket fingerprinting and detained for more than 24 hours at a “filthy, toxic pier that had been a bus depot.” That particular exercise in police intimidation tactics cost New York City taxpayers nearly $18 million for what would become the largest protest settlement in history. Demonstrators, journalists and legal observers who had gathered in North Dakota to peacefully protest the Dakota Access Pipeline reported being pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, and strip searched by police.

What Would An American Police State Look Like? Are Your Eyes Closed?

ICE. (photo: ACLU/Wikimedia Commons)

By William Boardman for Reader Supported News – country doesn’t need a monolithic totalitarian government to have an effectively working police state. The United States has had a partial police state in place since before it existed as a “free country.” Slavery required a police state structure to maintain “order.” Segregation required a police state structure. Ethnic cleansing of native peoples required police state management that still exists, most obviously in North Dakota, but also across the country. Fear of immigrants has fostered police state responses, especially under the Trump administration. Fear of Communists has produced police state responses since 1917, most notoriously during the 1950s McCarthy era. Fear of nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and their very real dangers, has produced a permanent police state security network. Fear of terrorism, spiked by 9/11, has produced a host of police state responses such as the 2001 Patriot Act (ready and waiting before the attack); such as expanded citizen surveillance by the NSA and some 16 other, more secret agencies; such as unprecedented punishment of whistleblowers for their truth-telling; and such as a unified police state structure euphemistically called Homeland Security, that encourages citizens to spy on each other…

“Know Where You Stand, And Stand There”

(from left) Bernie Meyer, Larry Kerschner, Gilberto Perez

By Leonard Eiger for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolence – The Trident Three were found guilty in Federal Court on charges of “trespassing” on a U.S. nuclear submarine/weapons base last May. Larry Kerschner, Gilberto Perez and Bernie Meyer, aka: the Trident Three, appeared in United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma on Wednesday, April 12th. Magistrate Judge David C. Christel presided over the proceedings. A large number of supporters were in the courtroom to witness the trial. The defendants had their cases consolidated, meaning that their cases could all be tried at the same time. Attorney Blake Kremer, who has supported and represented many nuclear resisters, represented Larry Kerschner, and acted as standby counsel for Meyer and Perez. All parties had already agreed to and signed the “statement of facts” that defined the events that occurred on May 7, 2016 when, during a vigil held by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the three demonstrators engaged in a peaceful protest, entering the main highway and briefly blocking traffic on the federal side of the Main gate at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington.

With Nighttime Raids, Police Wage War On Black And Brown Families In New York

From the Bronx to Harlem to Brooklyn, hundreds of people -- mostly young, poor men of color -- have been rounded up by heavily armed cops and thrown into jails and prisons, leaving their families and communities damaged, divided and even more impoverished. (Photo: Vhmh)

By Ashoka Jegroo for Truthout – This story is the fourth in a new Truthout series, Severed Ties: The Human Toll of Prisons. This series will dive deeply into the impact of incarceration on families, loved ones and communities, demonstrating how the United States’ incarceration of more than 2 million people also harms many millions more — including 2.7 million children. Paula Clarke and her family found themselves crawling half-naked on the floor of her Bronx home at 4:51 am on April 27, 2016, after multiple heavily armed men broke through her front door and demanded that she tell them where her son was. Helicopters could be heard hovering right about her home.

Seeking ‘To Create A Police State,’ AG Sessions Threatens Sanctuary Cities

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By Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday took aim at sanctuary cities, saying such communities must end and that his Department of Justice would deprive them of federal grants—a move that prompted the New York attorney general to vow his continued resolution in resisting the Trump administration’s “draconian policies.” “Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets,” he said during a White House press briefing. “We intend to use all the lawful authorities we have to make sure our state and local officials … are in sync with the federal government,” Sessions said.

Revolution Beyond Blue Bubbles

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By Paul Street for Counter Punch – “We are witnessing,” the engaging Black Lives Matter founder/hash-tagger Patrisse Cullors told a full theater audience of predominantly white University of Iowa students in downtown Iowa City last Monday night, “the erosion of U.S. democracy.” President Trump, Cullors said, “is building a police state.” “We must hold our elected officials accountable,” Ms. Cullors added, after giving an address in which she related having gone into a two-week depression after Hillary Clinton was defeated by Donald Trump. She had not expected Trump to win. Ms. Cullors told the audience that she knew how to fight Hillary Clinton but “not how to fight fascism.”

The UK’s ‘National Security’ Plan? It’s A Blueprint For A Police State

Campaigners from Amnesty International carry model missiles in a protest against the export of UK arms to Saudi Arabia (AFP)

By Nafeez Ahmed for MEE – The report offers no insight on how Britain has destroyed the national security of other countries – and thereby threatened its own. In early December, the British government released its first annual report on the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review. Despite the total media blackout, the document reveals in stark detail the Conservative government’s plans to expand Britain’s military activities around the world. In the name of defending “national security”, Britain is building a “permanent” military presence in the Gulf to defend Britain’s access to regional energy resources

In Police State USA Kids Go To Summer Camp, In Prison

A boy looks on from his one-man cell at a juvenile prison. (AP/Muhammed Muheisen)

By William N. Grigg for Mint Press News – Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a relentless self-promoter who christened himself “The World’s Toughest Sheriff,” has invited Phoenix-area parents to send their grade school and teenage kids to jail for the summer. “Summer Stars” is a two-day program supposedly intended to teach impressionable youngsters about the rigors of life behind bars, thereby deterring them from bad behavior. The program will be held in two sessions – June 23-24, and July 21-22 – and will be open for students from ages 8 to 18.

How To Erase Border, Moms 4 Peace & Miami Model’s Police State

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By Eleanor Goldfield of Occupy – This week, a wall is a wall until it’s – the sky? Ana Teresa Fernandez shows us how we might view things differently, simply through the application of color. Next up, I’m not one to celebrate a corporatized holiday but this mother’s day, leave the chocolates behind and stand up for peace. And finally, ever wonder where the idea for our militarized police came from? Trial, error and a determined piece of low life scum. But first, poetry Can.