Beyond Prisons: Crisis At McCormick Correctional Institution

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By Brian Sonenstein for Shadow Proof – Journalist Jared Ware interviewed people incarcerated at McCormick Correctional Institution in South Carolina regarding the ongoing crisis there for a special edition of Beyond Prisons. McCormick has been on lockdown for weeks. At the end of September, incarcerated people reported officials were withholding drinking water and engaging in excessive force after a water main broke outside the facility. For three days, people on the inside reported they did not have drinkable water. This caused tensions in the facility to boil over into multiple incidents, which were met with more repression by prison staff. Incarcerated people feel staff are intentionally trying to provoke them to justify worsening brutality and repressive conditions. One man was reportedly shot with rubber bullets multiple times after leaving the shower. He has been transferred to another facility after he was taken the prison’s medical center. On Monday, October 30, advocates reported people had briefly taken over the restrictive housing unit and set fires before returning to their cells. Few news outlets have covered the crisis from the perspective of people on the inside, instead relying exclusively on reports from corrections officials, who claim the violence was a product of unruly prisoners and staff shortages. This claim has been used to justify the lockdown as well as the presence of riot squads and officers from nearby prisons.

Our Ever-Deadlier Police State

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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.

The Empire Comes Home

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By Danny Sjursen for The Huffington Post – It was 11 years ago next month: my first patrol of the war and we were still learning the ropes from the army unit we were replacing. Unit swaps are tricky, dangerous times. In Army lexicon, they’re known as “right-seat-left-seat rides.” Picture a car. When you’re learning to drive, you first sit in the passenger seat and observe. Only then do you occupy the driver’s seat. That was Iraq, as units like ours rotated in and out via an annual revolving door of sorts. Officers from incoming units like mine were forced to learn the terrain, identify the key powerbrokers in our assigned area, and sort out the most effective tactics in the two weeks before the experienced officers departed. It was a stressful time. Those transition weeks consisted of daily patrols led by the officers of the departing unit. My first foray off the FOB (forward operating base) was a night patrol. The platoon I’d tagged along with was going to the house of a suspected Shiite militia leader. (Back then, we were fighting both Shiite rebels of the Mahdi Army and Sunni insurgents.) We drove to the outskirts of Baghdad, surrounded a farmhouse, and knocked on the door. An old woman let us in and a few soldiers quickly fanned out to search every room. Only women ― presumably the suspect’s mother and sisters ― were home.

Repression Of Mutual Aid In Puerto Rico

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By Staff of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief – Several police vehicles, an armored tactical vehicle, and law enforcement personnel including swat team pointed their guns at relief workers while surrounding and then entering our base of operations in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico in the early hours before dawn of October 16th, 2017. Law enforcement communicated that they were acting from a call that Mutual Aid Disaster Relief volunteers were engaged in “kidnapping”. After checking everybody’s belongings without consent, they forced volunteers out of what was the Mutual Aid Disaster Relief Puerto Rico hub at gunpoint and the threat of arrest. Law enforcement intimidation also included aggressive questioning of our purpose there and whether or not we were protestors or Antifa, had we ever used the raised fist, if we were distributing propaganda, and if we were planning to overthrow the government.

Catalans Strike Over Violent Crackdown On Independence Referendum

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By Staff of News 24 – Schools and some businesses also shut in a dramatic protest bound to further ratchet up fever-pitch tensions with Spain’s central government, as Madrid comes under growing international pressure to resolve its worst political crisis in decades. The Port of Barcelona reduced services to a minimum, and protesters stood on roads and highways across Catalonia, blocking traffic. On the AP7 highway linking Barcelona to France two youths set up a folding table and played chess. Catalan pro-separatist trade unions, schools and cultural institutions called for the stoppage to “vigorously condemn” the police response to the Sunday poll, in which regional authorities confirmed over 90 people were injured. Catalonia’s leader said 90 percent of voters backed independence from Spain, but the central government has vowed to stop the wealthy northeastern region — which accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy — from breaking away, dismissing the poll as a “farce”. In Barcelona the Metro provided only minimum service and passengers travelled for free, while major tourist sites like the city’s emblematic Sagrada Familia Church were closed.

Fate Of Seized Activist May Point To New Era Of State Violence In Argentina

Top photo | Demonstrators hold photos of missing activist Santiago Maldonado, during a protest at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Human rights groups say Maldonado went missing a month ago, after Argentine border police captured him during an operation against Mapuche Indians who were blocking a highway in Argentina’s Patagonia. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

By Roqayah Chamseddine for MInt Press News – The streets of Argentina are boiling over with demonstrations, as thousands of locals demand that the government produce an indigenous activist last seen one month ago when border police forced a group of the indigenous Mapuche off of indigenous land in Patagonia — land unjustly owned by the Italian clothing company Benetton. According to witnesses, 28-year-old Santiago Maldonado was forced into a van by government officials and disappeared, but so far the Argentinian government has denied any involvement. Argentinian demonstrators, including groups like Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo, are increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of Maldonado in light of the nation’s troubled history of state violence. The US-backed military dictatorship of General Jorge Rafael Videla, which plagued Argentina from 1976 until 1983, killed, kidnapped, and disappeared at least 30,000. Backed by Ronald Reagan, Videla and his security apparatus went on to torture and murder thousands more in a right-wing military hellscape. The case of Santiago Maldonado has revived memories of the Argentinian military junta, and suspicion among activists is growing that he has become President Mauricio Macri’s first disappeared victim—nearly 40 years after the end of General Videla’s rule.

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.

Getting Julian Assange

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By John Pilger for Dissident Voices – Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”. Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure. This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden. “It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”. It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose. In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally. The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks‘ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.

Mississippi County Cops Engage In ‘Systematic Targeting Of Black Residents’

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By Nick Wing for The Huffington Post – The sheriff’s department of Madison County, Mississippi, methodically and often brutally targets black residents with a coordinated system of checkpoints and unconstitutional searches, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a federal lawsuit filed Monday. These alleged tactics have left the black community of Madison “under a permanent state of siege,” the suit says. In an 86-page complaint, the ACLU of Mississippi and the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP accuse the Madison County Sheriff’s Department of abusing its power to uphold racial segregation and oppression in Mississippi’s wealthiest county. “For Black residents, Madison County is a Constitution-free zone where their right to equal protection under the law and against unreasonable searches and seizures is nonexistent,” Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement. Madison County is approximately 57 percent white and 38 percent black, according to the 2010 Census. The population remains starkly divided along both racial and economic lines, however, with “predominantly Black towns, neighborhoods, and business districts and predominantly white towns, neighborhoods, and business districts,” according to the suit.

The USFK Take Control Of THAAD Site through Brute Force

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By Staff of Zoom In Korea – And please help us in calling the Defense Ministry to complain and tell them to stop the forced deployment of the THAAD system! During the protest on Saturday April 22, the Seongju Struggle Committee condemned the United States Forces Korea (USFK) and the South Korean government for rushing to begin construction of the THAAD base even before completing the necessary prerequisite steps — “It is illegal to bring in construction-related material when the results of the environmental impact assessment have yet to come out.” On April 20, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the South Korean government had handed over the former Lotte Skyhill Golf Course to the United States Forces Korea. The USFK is proceeding with preparations for the THAAD deployment. On the same day, U.S. military personnel were seen driving construction vehicles through Soseong-ri Village into the deployment site. Thirty residents and Won Buddhists attempted to block two vehicles from entering but were unsuccessful. The South Korean police disrupted the peaceful protest of the residents and created a path for the vehicles to enter the deployment site.

Resisting Donald Trump’s Violence Strategically

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By Robert J. Burrowes for Information Clearing House – February 28, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – It is already clearly apparent, as many predicted, that Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States would signal the start of what might be the final monumental assault on much of what is good in our world. Whatever our collective gains to date to create a world in which peace, social justice and environmental sustainability ultimately prevail for all of Earth’s inhabitants, we stand to lose it all in the catastrophic sequence of events that Trump is now initiating with those who share his delusional worldview. Starting with the appointment to his administration of individuals, such as Steve Bannon, Rex Tillerson and Scott Pruitt, who share his warped view of the world, and continuing with the policy decisions he is now implementing via executive orders, Trump threatens our biosphere with ecological catastrophe

North Dakota Dismantles #NoDAPL Oceti Camp

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By Staff of Unicorn Riot – The eviction force was comprised of a variety of agencies including the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, North Dakota Highway Patrol, Bismarck Police Department, the North Dakota National Guard, and federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Out-of-state law enforcement from the Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP) was also deployed under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). [See our Nov. 26th report with WSP EMAC deployment and budget documents.] Just after 11 am, the combined eviction forces began their approach into the camp. Between a few dozen to a hundred water protectors were estimated remaining in camp at that time, with most having left the previous day but some having returned that morning by walking across the frozen Cannonball River. Bypassing the main entrance, two Bobcat-type skid steer loaders were used to clear a path down the snowy hill into the north end of Oceti Oyate. Bearcat and MRAP armored vehicles, accompanied by a large number of Humvees and sheriff’s deputies…

Protesters Vs. State Repression: Challenging Ruling Class Nationalism

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By Pierre Tristam for Flagler Live. for We surround ourselves with like-minded media, like-minded friends, like-minded believers and scream heresy at anything that transgresses our little world. We’re a nation of intellectual cowards, uncurious but for the reaffirming dogmas we know best. There’s so much of what we’re comfortable with anyway (every pretend marketplace of our own making is intellectual sugar), it’s easier to skip doubt. Making the effort to transgress is itself heresy. It’s what makes it so easy to live in alternate realities, and so dangerous: we’ve cozied up to extremes in our own way of looking at the world, and are now surprised that extremists are in charge. No wonder we look at protesters as the worst of heretics. But they may well be the last patriots. Freedom for the thought we agree with is as cheap as a Facebook click on the “like” button. “Freedom for the thought that we hate,” to quote Justice Holmes’s phrase—now that’s what separates Americans from thuggery.

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.”

Beyond Dallas And Orlando, A Global Arc Of Violence

By William C. Anderson, Truthout

By William C. Anderson for Truthout – The United States will never be at peace with itself until it resolves the fact that it was birthed through injustice, exploitation and genocide. America, as many call it, was never great for everyone. Now, as problems that have existed since the earliest days of the US project boil over yet again, we should be prepared for what is to come. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine what we can expect next from a reactionary state apparatus, when we know what’s happened before. Activists and those who resist oppression and the state’s attempts at social control should be prepared for the coming repression.