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.
By Phil Mckenna for Inside Climate News -The American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International are stepping up calls for the Department of Justice to investigate what they feel is excessive use of force by law enforcement in North Dakota in response to protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. The renewed calls for action come after police used tactics Sunday night that included the use of rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tear gas and water cannons sprayed on hundreds of protesters for hours in freezing temperatures, according to live streamed video and protesters’ accounts.
By Isiah Holmes for TFC – Standing Rock, North Dakota (TFC) — Widespread outrage over both the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and violent police crackdowns rages on. That outrage is spreading even to police agencies now returning from deployment to the reservation. Two departments have already refused to return, citing personal and public objections. As if that wasn’t enough, an army of sympathizers is re-purposing social media to combat police efforts in Standing Rock.
By Staff of The Mind Unleashed – With actions from militarized police continuing to be seen as extremely violent and dangerous, this news is a big win for the water protectors and for humanity as a whole. While the actions of some police officers are not appropriate, we all must continue to visualize and intend/pray that the hearts of all involved in this situation continue to open. Police must be held accountable for their actions, though we must continue to welcome them over to the side of the water protectors.
By Albert Bender for People’s World – War crimes are being committed against Native Americans by the Morton County Sheriff’s department in North Dakota. President Obama must take action. I am receiving word that demonstrators are being hooded; there are reports of waterboarding; there are reports of young Native females arrested without cause and strip searched. These are human rights violations that are reminiscent of the atrocities committed by U.S. military forces in Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Police descended on water protectors in North Dakota on Wednesday, as images on social media showed a dramatic standoff along a creek that borders a construction site for the long-opposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Jordan Chariton, a political reporter with The Young Turks network, posted this video dispatch after covering events just east of the main camp, where Standing Rock Sioux tribal members and their allies were set upon by law enforcement officers in full military gear