By Melissa Hellmann for Yes! Magazine – Seattle City Council members took their seats on Sept. 19 with the unhurried pace of business as usual. One of them called for public comments, but after a few people spoke, a commotion erupted in the back of the chambers. Six black and brown people shuffled down the central aisle, bounded by chains on their wrists, ankles, and stomachs. Some were clad in orange jumpsuits, while others wore black shirts bearing the phrase “Block the Bunker” in white letters. White activists donning police hats and pig noses trailed behind, nudging them forward with toy batons. “I’ll throw you around if I want to throw you around!” one of them screamed.
By Justin Bachman for Bloomberg – The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has declined to say exactly where—and how—employees will be touching air travelers as part of the more invasive physical pat-down procedure it recently ordered. But the agency does expect some passengers to consider the examination unusual. In fact, the TSA decided to inform local police in case anyone calls to report an “abnormal” federal frisking, according to a memo from an airport trade association obtained by Bloomberg News. The physical search, for those selected to have one, is what the agency described as a more “comprehensive” screening, replacing five separate kinds of pat-downs it previously used.
By Sabal Trail Resistance for It’s Going Down. The story is still unfolding about a man, 66 year old James Leroy Marker, who lost his life to police bullets after an act of sabotage that disabled a section of Sabal Trail pipeline construction in Marion County last week, on February 26, 2017. We know that there will be more to say in the coming days or weeks, as family and friends come forward with stories of James’ life. But we felt a need to acknowledge what has happened while the incident is fresh on peoples’ minds and questions are surfacing around his motivations, the value of the actions he took and the response of law enforcement. First off, it must be noted that his action effectively disabled recent construction activity in a highly controversial area, mere miles from the crossing of preserves including Pruitt, Halpata Tastanaki and the Marjorie Carr Greenway, with sensitive wetlands and endangered species being impacted.
By Staff of Crystal Resistance – Yesterday, on the heels of swearing in Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Trump signed three executive orders that bolster, back, and expand the authority of law enforcement and policing in the U.S. Trump’s three executive orders are “fully and totally” supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the country with more that 330,000 cops in its membership, clearly demonstrating whose interests are being served. Trump and Sessions chose to use lies about the “threats of rising crime,” in order to claim that these latest executive orders are about protecting the “health and safety of America.” However, in September 2016, the FBI showed in its latest Crime in the United States report that crime rates overall remain at historic lows and that violent crime in particular is 16.5% lower than a decade ago. And, even then, we know policing is not a solution to what they call crime, nor does it ever increase healthy and safety. Despite the lies of Trump, Sessions, and the Fraternal Order of Police, we know policing itself is a health hazard and an inspiring, broad movement has been mounting to fight it.
By Staff of ACLU – LOS ANGELES – The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and a coalition of advocacy groups today sent a letter to Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and city council members, demanding that they take steps to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from impersonating police officers to gain access to homes and businesses in Los Angeles. The deception critically endangers LAPD policies that seek to assure immigrant community members they can report crimes and assist police investigations without fear of deportation. These policies have been vital in furthering public safety. ICE permits its agents to misrepresent themselves as police officers, probation officers, religious workers and other officials to gain community members’ permission to enter homes without warrants. The ruse has also been used to get individuals to volunteer information they might not otherwise divulge.
By Katie Martin for The Atlantic – A week later, audio of a police radio dispatch from the protest was released online. In the recording, an officer alerts a department intelligence analyst about of one of the protest organizers. “One of the girls here… she’s been on her phone a lot,” the officer says. “You guys picking up any information? Where they’re going, possibly?”The analyst responds, “Yeah, we’re keeping an eye on it. We’ll let you know if we hear anything.”The leaked conversation and the cellphone disruptions led many activists to conclude that the police were eavesdropping on them. This story circulated widely in protest circles, but the Chicago Police Department never confirmed any such surveillance operations that night. Legally, listening in on private communications between citizens talking over mobile phones would require a Title III search warrant. But one thing is indisputable: The technology to snoop on nearby phones exists—and the Chicago Police Department has had it for over ten years.
By Flint Taylor for Truthout – On the heels of the much ballyhooed meeting that an obsequious Donald Trump conducted this week with local law enforcement officials from across the country, the president titillated the gendarmes with a threat to destroy — COINTELPRO style — an unnamed Texas state senator rumored to be introducing legislation to prevent law enforcement from financing police operations by seizing arrestees’ property before they have been found guilty in a court of law. On Thursday, Trump followed up with an executive order that gave the recently confirmed Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions a carte blanche to bring down the wrath of the federal government on anyone who is unfortunate enough to have a confrontation with a cop…
By Dara Lind for Vox – They’re symbolic, but that doesn’t make them pointless. Trump is picking a side in a culture war that’s arisen in the past few years, with advocates for racial justice and improvements in police-community relations on one side, and law enforcement officers (and their supporters) who fear “anti-police” reforms on the other. There’s no reason that “Black Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” should necessarily be in conflict, because there’s no necessary trade-off between improved police-community relations and officer safety. It’s the Blue Lives Matter side that’s decided the two are zero-sum — and that any implication that police could do more to help communities of color puts officers in danger.
By Mark Hand for DC Media Group – The Washington, DC, police assault on protesters on Donald Trump’s inauguration day was reminiscent of how police forces handle dissidents under dictatorships and tyrannical regimes around the world. For several hours, the police used pepper spray, tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets on people gathered in the streets of the capital city. The police also rounded up people indiscriminately, including more than a handful of journalists, and arrested them. The people spent the night in jail, with the bulk of them facing felony rioting charges that carry a possible penalty of 10 years in prison.
By George Joseph for City Lab – A lawyer for several protesters arrested in inauguration protests on Friday claims that police appear to be mining information from mobile phones taken after they were detained. On Friday, January 20, thousands of protesters took to the streets of D.C. to disrupt Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities. A small fraction of them damaged property and threw projectiles at police in riot gear, who deployed flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and pepper spray on large crowds throughout the day. But according to CityLab’s observations of the demonstrations that morning, most of the roughly 230 people arrested—who included a number of legal observers, journalists, and medics
By Leon Neyfakh for Slate – The new White House website went live following Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, and it contained a bracing message implicitly directed to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement: Your kind is not welcome in Trump’s America. “The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration,” reads a page on the website titled “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community.” It continues: “President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”
By Alexandra Jacobo for Nation of Change – The National Guard and Morton County Sheriff’s Department violently clashed with protesters on a day we are supposed to remember a man who dedicated his life to non-violence. On Martin Luther King day this past Monday, officials fired less-than-lethal projectiles and pepper spray at water protectors and arrested three for trespassing. 200 people marched on the Dakota Access Pipeline horizontal drill pad. According to the Morton County Sheriff Department, the three individuals (who have not yet been named) that were arrested are charged with criminal trespassing onto private property, inciting a riot and resisting arrest.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Chicago police systematically violated people’s civil rights by routinely using excessive force, particularly against African-Americans and Latinos, according to a bombshell report (pdf) from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released Friday. The report is the conclusion of a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), launched after the October 2014 police killing of 17-year-old black Chicago resident Laquan McDonald, whose fatal shooting was captured by the patrol car’s dashboard camera. According to the inquiry, police routinely violated the Fourth Amendment by using “unnecessary and avoidable” force, including deadly force, which investigators attributed to poor training and accountability systems.
By Tim Johnson for McClatchy DC – It’s no secret that state and local law enforcement agencies have grown more militarized in the past decade, with armored personnel carriers, drones and robots. But one item in their arsenal has been kept largely out of public view, to the dismay of civil liberties advocates who say its use is virtually unregulated – and largely untracked. The device is a suitcase-size surveillance tool commonly called a StingRay that mimics a cellphone tower, allowing authorities to track individual cellphones in real time.
By Josh Begley for The Intercept – POLICE OFFICERS IN the United States have killed more than 1,000 people so far this year. The number is staggering. Who were these people? What were their lives like? How did the future look through their eyes? Some of the names are familiar: Korryn Gaines. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Others perhaps less so: Jessica Williams, Tyre King, Deborah Danner. The list goes on. Last year, when the Guardian and the Washington Post published their databases on police killings, I made a simple project cataloging the locations of all these sites of violence. Teju Cole called it “Officer Involved” and wrote a short introduction for the piece.