Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression sends its condolences and sympathy for the tragic loss of 19 year old Ariston Waiters and stands in Solidarity with the Ariston Waiters family and the community's quest for justice.  We are outraged that a black teenager was shot in the back by a Union City police officer while it appears Ariston Waiters was unarmed.  Ariston Waiters, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, in addition to the many victims of police brutality throughout the United States, have become ingrained in our collective memory. Their lives are the unspeakable price we pay to live in a society based on racial injustice.  A major political movement was launched on January 1st 2009 with the police killing of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old, unarmed Black father executed by a white BART (transit) police officer.  Occupy Oakland renamed the City Hall plaza "Oscar Grant Plaza" because so many people were touched by the resistance and the power of the people that led to Johanes Mehserle being arrested, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced for killing Oscar Grant.  We made history: that was the first time a white police officer has gone to jail for killing an unarmed black man in the State of California.
We stand in Solidarity with any and every effort to stop police violence and murder. We demand Justice for Ariston Waiters and all victims of police terror everywhere.
Towards Justice,
Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression
The Oscar Grant Committee meets the 1st Tuesday of every month at the Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph (near Alcatraz) in Oakland at 7:00 p.m.  Call us at 510-239-3570.

Excerpts from Occupy Atlanta email: "Tomorrow, there is an action in Union City, [GA], also organized by Occupy Atlanta for Ariston Waiters. [!/events/137695716344291]
An extremely similar murder here to Ariston Waiters' and Oscar Grant's would be Joetavius Stafford- shot in the back by a MARTA police officer. []
On Wednesday, tomorrow there is an action in Union City to demand justice for Ariston Waiters. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011-12-20 "Ex-cop allegedly took coke, gun for 'dirty DUIs'" by Justin Berton from "San Francisco Chronicle"
 A former Danville patrol officer accepted cocaine and a gun from a private investigator as payment to ensure three men were pulled over for "dirty DUI" arrests, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Monday.
Stephen Tanabe, 48, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Oakland to four felony charges of extortion under color of official right. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was freed on bail after his father, Richard Tanabe of Hawaii, agreed to secure a $400,000 bond against a home he owns in Alamo.
The indictment said Stephen Tanabe, a former Contra Costa County deputy sheriff who was assigned to patrol Danville, had been compensated by private eye Christopher Butler, 50, who in turn was hired by women involved in divorce, child custody or family disputes.
On two occasions in January, Tanabe waited outside a Danville bar in his patrol car and pulled over men after decoys employed by Butler had "enticed the target to drink until he was intoxicated," the indictment said.
Tanabe falsely stated in his incident reports that he had been on "routine patrol" when he crossed paths with the inebriated drivers, the indictment said.
In a third incident in November 2010, prosecutors say, an off-duty Tanabe sat with Butler in a bar and watched across the room as the private detective's employees conducted a sting on a targeted man.
Tanabe then called a nearby on-duty deputy sheriff assigned to Danville and had the man arrested on drunken-driving charges, the indictment said.
In exchange for the arrests, Butler gave Tanabe cocaine and a firearm, according to the indictment.
Butler's attorney, William Gagen, said his client gave Tanabe $200 worth of cocaine for the 2010 arrest and a Glock handgun after the Jan. 14 DUI arrest of a Livermore winemaker.
Gagen said Butler had been given 10 handguns by Glock, which was sponsoring the detective's attempt to land a reality TV show tentatively called "P.I. Moms of San Francisco."
"There is plenty of evidence to corroborate what Mr. Butler has said," Gagen said.
Tim Pori, Tanabe's attorney, said his client had simply been doing his duty to investigate leads that Butler provided when he had the men arrested.
"Every police officer has to follow up on reports that drunk drivers are taking to the road," Pori said, "no matter where that report comes from or who it comes from."
The defense attorney said Tanabe hadn't known that Butler was hiring decoys to get the men drunk. He also denied that Tanabe had accepted cocaine or a gun from Butler.
Butler was indicted in August on felony drug and corruption charges with Norman Wielsch, 50, a former state Department of Justice agent who once commanded an antidrug task force in Contra Costa County. Both men pleaded not guilty and are free on bail.
In a written confession to prosecutors in March, Butler also said he and Wielsch had operated a brothel in Pleasant Hill that fronted as a massage parlor. Wielsch has denied any involvement in the alleged brothel.
In addition to the federal charges, Tanabe pleaded not guilty earlier this year in state court to bribery and conspiracy charges connected to the two drunken-driving arrests he made in Danville in January.
Pori said the grand jury's indictment was based on Butler's confession, and that the former private investigator was motivated to lie about Tanabe to lessen any prison sentence he might receive.
 "If all the government has is Butler's word, then it's the word of a liar, a thief, a drug dealer and a pimp," Pori said. "Butler is singing for his supper."

Former Danville patrol Officer Stephen Tanabe is accused of arranging DUI arrests.
Lacy Atkins / The Chronicle

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011-12-08 "Local Cops Continue Killing and Corruption Spree"
Mar. 30, 2011- MPD arrests one of their own officers, Anthony Trock, for seizing illegal drugs (including cocaine, meth, and marijuana) and failing to submit the narcotics into evidence. Trock has been with the department for four years, working as a patrol officer. Although the officer Trock has been stripped of his law enforcement powers, he is still on PAID administrative leave. The Stanislaus County district attorney’s office will conduct the criminal prosecution.
Anthony Trock:

April 26, 2011 – Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden announces that the process for police accreditation cost the tax-payers of Modesto $94,000 including $5,000 to enroll in CALEA (Commission for Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which is nothing more than an organization of police and former police) and a full time employee at an approximate cost of $89,000. At a time when budget cuts threaten to shut down everything from hospitals to day care centers – do we really think this is the best use of our money?
Mike Harden:

May 3, 2011 – Stanislaus County Sheriff Kari Abbey was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Abbey is charged with the murder of Rita Elias, a mother and resident of West-Side Modesto. Elias was murdered by Abbey in September of 2010 during an argument in which Abbey attempted to evict Elias from her property. Abbey’s parents are landlords and according to documents released from the investigation, Kari along with other law enforcement officers have helped illegally evict people. Abbey is also charged with conducting this “family business” all while on the clock as a Sheriff.  In court documents, the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office said Abbey abused tenants at her rental properties, used fellow deputies to serve eviction papers while they were on duty and conducted her business on county time. In addition, a March 30 search of the home and outbuildings she shared with her husband and father yielded a sophisticated marijuana growing system, several weapons, counterfeit bills, steroids and items from the Hayward Police Department. Abbey’s husband, Bennie Taylor, worked for the Hayward police until last year. Investigators said Abbey and Taylor trespassed on properties they owned and managed, harassing and intimidating tenants, assaulting at least one of them. One tenant called police after Taylor hit him, the affidavit said. Witnesses said the Modesto police officer who responded to the call seemed familiar with Abbey, hugging her and shaking Taylor’s hand.
Kari Abbey

May 24, 2011 – Modesto Police shoot and kill Jeremy Atkinson after responding to an armed robbery at a store on Coffee Rd. During a chase of Atkinson, police claimed that he reached into his waistband and they fired in self-defense, as it turned out he was unarmed. Again, like a mantra, we hear the police repeating the same line over and over again. A suspect “reaches for their waist-band” and the officers “fearing for their lives” shoot them in self-defense. Only later it turns out that the suspect is armed with only a spatula – or no weapon at all.

June 1, 2011 – About 15 people demonstrated inside and outside of the Stanislaus County court-house while Kari Abbey faced a judge, charged with the murder of Rita Elias as well as numerous other charges.

June 3, 2011 – The 5-month long “independent investigation” of the Modesto Police Department ended with a $75,000 bill while completely exonerating the cops. The investigation was launched to look into charges of police brutality that steamed from a series of leaked emails by both former and anonymous police officers claiming that the beating of suspects was common and that higher-up police, including Chief Harden, knew about the violations. The investigative report, issued by a Palo Alto based lawyer, which cost tax-payers $75,000 (on top of the nearly $100,000 for police accreditation), concludes that there is not a problem with rampant police brutality or corruption. The report issued by Robert Aaronson (who gets paid by the cops to do these investigations and as long as the results are good the cops, he’ll keep getting paid) claims that the series of emails issues about ongoing brutality are unfounded, based largely on interviews with police officers. He also cites the shooting death of Francisco Moran, claiming that officers shot Moran in order to protect “his family members and themselves,” only later discovering that the weapon he had was in fact a spatula.

June 8, 2011- Ernest Duenez Jr. was unarmed and fatally shot multiple times in the body and face by a Manteca Police Officer. According to several witnesses, Ernest posed no threat to the officer as he exited the back of the truck with his hands up. His leg became entangled in the seatbelt and as he fell to the ground he was shot by the officer without hesitation. Manteca PD has released different accounts of the incident, including that Ernest had a gun, then a knife, then an unidentified weapon) all which have proven to be untrue. The officer was allowed to return to work 2 weeks after the shooting even though the investigation is still ongoing. They have also refused to release the video recorded on the police car dash-camera.
Ernest Duenez Jr.

June 12, 2001 – Hundreds marched through the streets of Oakland to protest the release of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle from jail after only serving 72 days behind bars for the murder of unarmed Oscar Grant as he lay face down on a BART platform in Oakland in January of 2009. Michael Vick spent more time in a cell for killing a dog.

June 21, 2011 – Stanislaus County CHP officers gunned down and killed another unarmed mentally disturbed man, Eric Vigen, with semiautomatic rifles, shooting him 55 times (that’s right, 55), several miles south of Modesto on Crows Landing and West Main. The officers involved were Sgt. Ian Troxell, a 12-year CHP veteran, Jonathan Box, and Adam Percey. The shooting happened within minutes of officers arriving. According to Vigen’s family, Eric had bipolar disorder and was in a manic state before the shooting. Thinking that law enforcement could help her son as they had done in the past, Eric’s mother called police and told them that he needed help. Eric’s family was given the murderous details of his untimely death when Sheriffs gave the family their report. A CHP officer also killed 19 year old Ricky Miranda in January.
Eric Vigen

Get involved in the fight for Justice for the victims of police abuse and murder.  Contact Modesto Copwatch at (209) 730-6744 or

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011-12-06 "The First Amendment right to record the police" by Fly Benzo (DeBray Carpenter) from "San Francisco Bay View" newspaper
Fly Benzo, aka DeBray Carpenter, has become the Bay Area’s best known copwatcher for his monitoring of San Francisco police, especially since they murdered Kenneth Harding on July 16, 2011, and for his targeting by police for a series of retaliatory beatings and jailings. He is a student at City College and an accomplished videographer and journalist as well as a popular rapper. Bay Area residents are urged to pack the courtroom for his next court appearance – he faces four years in state prison for copwatching – on Monday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m., at 850 Bryant St., San Francisco, in Department 23. On Wednesday, Dec. 21, 8 p.m., a fundraiser party for Block Report Radio will feature performances by Fly Benzo and other rappers, including Ms. B, 5 Star Generalz and S. Venom at Twinspace, 2111 Mission St., San Francisco. Fly can be reached on Facebook or at To hear more from Fly and learn about his case, see “Police critic Fly Benzo keeps catching hell since police murder of Kenneth Harding,” an interview with Fly by Minister of Information JR [].
Support Fly Benzo twice on Friday, Jan. 6:
1) Pack the courtroom for the first day of his trial on Friday, Jan. 6, 9 a.m., at 850 Bryant in Department 22
2) Party with Fly at his ‘Conscious Minds at Work Reggae, Arts and Hip-Hop Mixer & Fundraiser’ on Friday, Jan. 6, 7 p.m., at Twin Space Continuum, 2111 Mission St., Third Floor #300, San Francisco
According to the United States Constitution, the First Amendment is written as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
There have been many instances when video evidence has contradicted an officer’s testimony and either an officer was convicted of wrongdoing or a suspect’s charges have been overturned or dismissed. In the interest of justice and the protection of United States citizens from abuse of authoritative power, there is no logical reason why there should be a law prohibiting the filming of police officers other than blatant governmental repression.
Gayle Falkenthal, in her Washington Times article, “All Journalism Is Citizen Journalism,” clarified that in the case Glik v. Cunniffe, the court ruled that a citizen’s right to film government officials is protected by the First Amendment. Simon Glik, a client of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was arrested for “illegal wiretapping” after he recorded officers using force to arrest a young man on the Boston Common. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, on Aug. 26, 2011, “ruled that a private citizen’s right to videotape police officers performing their duties in a public space is ‘unambiguously’ protected by the First Amendment.”
Richard Winton, in his article, “Sheriff’s Department sued over detention of photographers,” expressed the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on behalf of the National Press Photographers Association and three photographers who were harassed, detained and illegally searched while legally taking pictures in public places. The senior staff attorney for the ACLU declared that “photography is not a crime” and that for the police “to single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong.”
Thomas Clouse and Meghann M. Cuniff, in their Spokesman newspaper article, report on one case in which an officer was convicted of wrongdoing after a store’s surveillance tapes told a different story than the officer in question. Spokane Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. claimed that Otto Zehm assaulted him in his 2006 encounter in which Zehm was beaten and tased into a coma from which he never recovered. Three years later the FBI launched a federal investigation. The jury, after review of the video evidence in contrast with Thompson’s statement, convicted him of excessive force as well as lying to investigators. This is one case in which video footage has served to ensure that justice was served and that an officer did not completely get away with murder.
Another case in which video evidence has been used to convict an officer was the 2009 shooting of BART (San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit) rider Oscar Grant by former BART PD Officer Johannes Mehserle. Although many people were outraged with the verdict and the short amount of time Mehserle served in custody, it was video evidence from several onlookers’ cell phones that aided the prosecution in the historic involuntary manslaughter conviction. Johannes Mehserle was another case of a cop who almost got away with murder, as well as an officer whose testimony contradicted the videos of the respective incidents and, therefore, yet another reason filming government officials is rightfully protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
According to the May 27, 2011, press release of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Officer Peter Richardson arrested Jesus Inastrilla and claimed that three undercover officers arrested Inastrilla after witnessing him spit a crack rock in his hand and sell it to Officer Guerrero, one of the undercover officers. However, video footage shows that no exchange was made. The charges were dropped after Guerrero claimed that he could not locate the alleged seized drugs in evidence.
The same day in San Francisco, 25 other cases were dropped due to lack of evidence, police credibility issues and a string of tapes with contradictory evidence to that of the statements of officers. With this lack of accountability and integrity of sworn SFPD officers, without cameras, there is no way of knowing whether or not an innocent person will be wrongfully convicted. Therefore, the protection of citizens with cameras is absolutely necessary in the best interest of justice.
San Francisco Examiner Staff Writer Brent Begin, in his article “San Francisco police to carry video cameras during arrests,” asserts that the misconduct of officers had become so prevalent and the controversy so widespread that SF Police Chief Greg Suhr proposed the idea of equipping SFPD officers with cameras to record their arrests, especially in drug cases and cases that require consent or a search warrant. These ideas come in the wake of the aforementioned string of videos. The officers involved in the arrests in question were all removed from plainclothes duty pending further investigation; however, Chief Suhr insists that the officers are innocent until proven guilty. Being an officer of the law requires a person hold himself to a higher standard and, with their superior officers brushing such violations off in such a way, justice cannot possibly be served.
By exerting such abuses of authority, officers of the law make justice unattainable without the interference of good Samaritans and “copwatchers” who record the cops’ often reckless and over the top behavior. Also, as in the cases of Mehserle and Inastrilla, the American people cannot trust officers of the law to police themselves and their fellow officers, because time and time again they have lied under oath and violated the rights of, and even killed citizens unlawfully and conspired amongst themselves to continue to sweep things under the rug.
The right to film officers while performing their duties in a public space is rightfully protected by the First Amendment and it is evident that political prisoners as well as the family members of those wrongfully killed by police officers are thankful for the court ruling that helps make justice possible for them and their respective families.

Fly Benzo lets the community know that police are retaliating against him. This is Mendell Plaza, the central gathering place in Bayview Hunters Point.

 Fly Benzo rides the T-Train, the light rail line that connects downtown San Francisco to Bayview Hunters Point, Fly’s lifelong home. The T-Train has been central to controversies over the community’s exclusion from construction jobs when it was built and, since then, over police abuse of passengers who cannot show them a transfer as proof they’ve paid their fare. Police murdered Kenneth Harding, 19, on July 16, 2011, for lack of a $2 transfer.

This is how copwatcher Fly Benzo is treated by SFPD – in full daylight in Mendell Plaza in full view of a crowd of community residents. – Video frame: TryntaGetIt

This is the incident that led to Fly Benzo currently facing four years in prison. Readers are urged to pack the courtroom for his trial, beginning on Friday, Jan. 6, 9 a.m., at 850 Bryant St., San Francisco, in Department 22.

Note by mezkillercop -
The day after this event (to announce the annual October 22nd Protest Against Police Brutality), Fly Benzo was beaten and arrested by the police. … After most of the speakers spoke, the police came and told us to shut off the sound system because we did not have a permit. One of the more vocal people who spoke up was Fly, who pointed out the pettiness of the police action when there were unsolved murders in the neighborhood. Note the passive aggression being displayed when the officer’s hand is playing around with his gun when Fly was speaking out. Fly’s arrest is police retaliation plain and simple. It’s unjust and corrupt.
Just like the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur, whose mother was a Black Panther, the “powers that be” like to shut up popular music artists who people can rally around. This is the same thing. Fly Benzo is a talented hip hop artist who has a future. He also speaks out about the police repression in his community, San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point. The “powers that be” who tell the police what to do want to silence him.

This serene scene is Mendell Plaza as it should be used. Fly Benzo (DeBray Carpenter) is at far right; his father, contractor and community leader Claude Carpenter, teaches drumming to a youngster in the foreground. Too often, however, SFPD destroys the peace by barging in and harassing, beating and arresting people without provocation.

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011-12-02 "Johannes Mehserle, 4 other BART officers cleared; Case alleging excessive force by 5 officers was unrelated to Grant killing" by Bob Egelko from "San Francisco Chronicle"
(12-02) 10:55 PST SAN FRANCISCO — (12-02) 10:55 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal court jury on Thursday cleared five BART police officers, including Johannes Mehserle, of using excessive force against a passenger who was thrown to the ground and injured after an angry confrontation at an Oakland transit station in November 2008.
Kenneth Carrethers, 43, of Oakland accused the officers of beating him, then hog-tying him and taking him to jail on bogus charges in retaliation for his profanity-laced tirade against the police for failing to prevent burglaries of his car in the Coliseum Station parking lot.
The officers said they held and subdued Carrethers after he approached one of them from behind with his fists clenched and raised.
After about five hours of deliberations, the seven-member jury found unanimously that Carrethers had failed to prove the officers used excessive force or punished him for exercising his right of free speech.
The incident occurred less than seven weeks before Mehserle fatally shot Oscar Grant of Hayward, who was lying facedown on the platform at BART's Fruitvale Station in Oakland after a disturbance on a train.
Mehserle, who said he thought he was firing his Taser stun gun instead of his pistol, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served about half of a two-year prison sentence. He quit the BART force six days after the shooting.
Lawyers were not allowed to mention Grant's case in the trial of Carrethers' civil suit.

No video presented -
Carrethers' attorney, Christopher Dolan, said Thursday that a crucial difference between the two cases was video evidence - jurors in the Grant case saw other passengers' cell-phone videos of the shooting, but neither side in Carrethers' case offered any evidence from bystanders, and BART did not preserve videos from a camera at the station.
"Had a video been there (for Carrethers), justice would have been served," Dolan told reporters.
Mehserle testified that he saw no need to obtain videos or contact passers-by because the officers and two station agents all agreed on what had happened. BART now requires its officers to get videos from station cameras after such incidents, said Dale Allen, the lawyer for BART and the five officers.
"This case emphasized the need to change procedures in the department," Allen said.
Carrethers was returning from his job at a San Francisco hotel on the night of Nov. 15, 2008, when he saw a group of officers in the Coliseum Station and started telling another passenger how lazy and worthless they were.
Mehserle spoke up - telling him to mind his own business, according to Carrethers, or trying to calm him down, according to Mehserle. Carrethers then cursed at the officers and said he would fight them if they were civilians.

2 versions of incident -
After a confrontation with another officer, Frederick Guanzon, outside the fare gates, Carrethers said he was walking away when Mehserle grabbed him from behind and swept his legs from under him.
The other officers then piled on and beat and kicked him, he said.
But Mehserle, the other officers and a station agent said Carrethers was following Guanzon from behind and about to hit him when Mehserle intervened. They denied punching or kicking Carrethers and said he was kicking and flailing, which he denied.
The officers also disputed Carrethers' allegation that they hog-tied Carrethers, linking his cuffed wrists and ankles behind him, and carried him to the police car by the fastening strap.
Allen, their lawyer, noted that Carrethers had no injuries or marks on his wrists, evidence supporting the officers' testimony that they lifted him from below.
Carrethers was treated for facial bruises and jailed for two days on suspicion of assault and resisting arrest, but the charges were dismissed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Justice for Tommy Carpenter!

Justice campaigns against Police Murder and Systematic Cover-Up [link]

2011-10-21 "Justice for Tommy Carpenter!"
Friday, 9:00am until 12:00pm
In the wake of the police assassination of Kenneth Wade Harding on July 16th there has been a largely unreported continuous program of intimidation and repression directed towards Bayview residents who have had the courage to speak out. Certain people in particular have borne the brunt of this more than others. Debray Carpenter aka Fly Benzo has emerged as a prime target due to his very public and courageous presence in the fight against State abuses in the Bayview. As a result multiple members of his family have been targeted. Currently his brother Tommy is being railroaded on a bogus marijuana related charge that is obviously politically motivated. Please turn out on Friday morning in support of Tommy Clayton and send the broad and clear message to San Francisco that we support our own and will not be intimidated into silence but will continue to fight tirelessly against police terror in our communities. Do not let another one of our brothers get unjustly criminalized. Tommy needs our support now!
Update: Fly Benzo and Pladee Clayton arrested this afternoon. Charges not being released. Please call 415-553-0123 and demand that the police declare the charges and of course demand they be dropped and Fly and Pladee be released. We need to end the police occupation of the hood!Like ·  · October 18, 2011 at 11:16pm

Friday, October 7, 2011

2011-09-07 "Black and Blue Chicago: A recent spate of police shootings of African Americans underscores longstanding mutual distrust" by Salim Muwakkil
Salim Muwakkil is a senior editor of In These Times, where he has worked since 1983. He is the host of "The Salim Muwakkil" show on WVON, Chicago's historic black radio station, and he wrote the text for the book HAROLD: Photographs from the Harold Washington Years.
This story continues "The Other Chicago," an In These Times series investigating the lives of African-American youth who have borne the brunt of the Great Recession. The five-part series documents the struggles of young African-American men, whose rate of unemployment dwarfs that of their white counterparts, in de-industrializing Chicago, a highly segregated city that is one-third black. The first story in the series is here [].
“The Other Chicago” is supported by the Local Reporting Initiative of Community News Matters, underwritten by The Chicago Community Trust with help from the McCormick, MacArthur, Knight and Driehaus Foundations, and administered by The Community Media Workshop and The Chicago Reporter.
Just a few hours apart on July 25, Chicago police officers shot and critically wounded 21-year-old Joe Banks Jr. and 13-year-old Jimmell Cannon. Witnesses at the scenes say the victims were unarmed, while police claim they both wielded guns. (Cannon, who was shot six times, is said to have had a BB gun.) This blanket justification is often absurd on its face: How many fleeing suspects are likely to stop, turn around and point a gun at well-armed cops?
Despite the implausibility of this story, the Chicago Police Department has invoked it repeatedly this year. As of August 30, Chicago police have shot 45 people, killing 16 — 3 more than the total number shot to death in all of 2010. Eighty-seven percent of those shot by police (as of June 30) were black, according to the Independent Police Review Authority, in a city that is 36 percent African-American. No police officer has been charged with criminal wrongdoing in any of these cases, and many in the black community are furious.
“If I have my hands in my pockets when police stop me — and they stop me all the time — I freeze until they take my hands out of my pockets,” says Jermaine Pearson, a 26-year-old resident of Chicago’s Grand Boulevard neighborhood. “I don’t move ‘cause I knew a dude who took his hands out of his pocket when he got stopped and police shot him.”
Pearson was one of five young African-American men I talked to about their relationship to the CPD. All five had contempt for the police, even though two had relatives in the department. “I see the police as a bunch of folks who are trained to abuse us,” said Anthony White, 24. “All they do is harass you.”
Black youth continue to be arrested at astronomical rates. In 2010, Chicago police arrested 20,930 black youth 17 or younger, while arresting 936 Caucasian youth. The ratio of black to white arrests for marijuana possession was 15 to 1, The Chicago Reader reports. And, a study by the Disproportionate Justice Impact Study Commission found that an African American convicted of a low-level drug crime in Cook County is eight times more likely than his white counterpart to go to prison.
The CPD frequently cites gangs as a core factor driving street violence, but the men I spoke to challenge that theory. “Gangbanging in Chicago is dead and it’s bogus for the police to keep pushing that issue,” said Derrick Wheatley, 25. All five men agreed that the customary notion of a gang as a hierarchical group is anachronistic.
“Gang chiefs have no power whatsoever to stop anything on today’s streets,” said Lance Williams, associate director of Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University. “Most of this violence is interpersonal and fueled by distressed economic conditions—the same effects of poverty you’d find all over the world.”
Tales of brutal police officers have been common in Chicago’s black neighborhoods for more than a century. From July 1919’s “Red Summer” riot, when black Chicagoans met with the police chief over racist patterns of police misconduct, to Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge’s reign of terror from 1972 to 1991, when he and his torture corps victimized more than 100 black men, relations between black citizens and the CPD have never been cordial.
Now, as the Great Recession wreaks disproportionate damage on African Americans, further curtailing their options for economic success, relations between the two are facing new pressures. Labor department statistics show that Chicago has the highest black unemployment rate (21.4 percent) of large U.S. cities. In the city’s most distressed African-American communities, the rate is considerably higher.

Community policing -
Although violent crime rates have decreased in Chicago during the last decade, relations between police and the black community show little change.
Patricia Hill is acutely aware of the problem. A 21-year-veteran of the CPD who is now retired, she’s the executive director of the African-American Police League (AAPL). One major purpose of her group, founded in 1968, is for the city to recruit black cops who have a close relationship to the black community.
Hill is troubled that the black cops being hired seem to lack a sense of connection to the black community. But she is also concerned that the department has been lax in its commitment to hire black cops. “We are about 24 percent of the police department now, but our numbers are going down. And I see no effort to stop the decline.”
Harold Saffold, 70, a sage observer of the relationship between the black community and the CPD, spent 26 years on the force during two of its most tumultuous periods: the turmoil of the Black Panther era, when two of its members were gunned down by police, and again during the contentious days of Harold Washington, who was elected the city’s first black mayor in 1983. As the appointed head of Mayor Washington’s security detail, he witnessed firsthand the police department’s animosity. “I saw just how deeply racism was embedded in the CPD. I see little evidence that much has changed since then.”
He is now president and CEO of The Positive Anti-Crime Thrust, an organization designed to promote police and community cooperation. Convinced that the paradigm of paramilitary policing long favored by the CPD (and responsible for the slayings of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark) is counterproductive, Saffold has no doubt that more community focus is the key to more effective policing. But he is “ambivalent” about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed community-oriented strategy.
Emanuel, intent on salvaging the spirit of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) program — a police/community cooperation that started in 1993 but has been waning in recent years — is trying to shift away from the paramilitary-styled strategy with new initiatives: redeploying 750 cops onto the streets (and promising 250 additional new hires), creating a novel community-based program called “A Force For Good” and revitalizing the position of Ronald Holt, the popular CAPS director whose son was a fatal victim of street violence in 2007.
“Reassigning officers to beats where they get to know the communities is a good thing, if they come in with the right attitude,” Saffold says. “But if they come in indignant because they were reassigned from more favorable posts, then it will just compound the problem.”
The real challenge, he thinks, is officers who are much more comfortable with a hard-line, gun-focused approach — an attitude, he says, that was forged during a period of overt racial antagonism. “Many police officers feel they are making some kind of weak concession if they show too much respect to the black community.”
Young people in Bronzeville, a neighborhood on the city’s South Side, concur. “The police are like the monsters I used to dream about,” Pearson said. “They can do whatever they want to you, but you can’t do anything to them.”
“I know that sometimes the police try to do the best they can,” says Courtney Scott, a teenage volunteer for Chicago Defender Charities, the group that puts on the Bud Billiken Parade, the nation’s oldest and largest African-American parade. “But that’s usually not good enough. They seldom come fast enough when you call, but then when they do come, they tend to aggravate the problem rather than solve it.”

Real change from new top cop?
A 2007 University of Chicago study, titled “The Chicago Police Department’s Broken System,” makes clear the reason for the enduring divide between the CPD and Black Chicago. The report revealed evidence of systemic abuse, which included brutality, illegal searches, false arrests and what the report’s authors termed “apartheid justice.”
Craig Futterman, the lead author of the report, says, “We found that the odds were about two in a thousand that a Chicago cop would receive any meaningful discipline for abusing a civilian. And that lack of accountability tainted the entire CPD.”
Some believe that CPD’s new police superintendent Garry McCarthy — the former police director of Newark, N.J. and a veteran of the NYPD — will be a force for reform. In the months following his appointment by Emanuel in May, he spoke about decriminalizing marijuana arrests and focusing on improving relations with the black community. In a recent interview on WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR affiliate, McCarthy acknowledged the history of police promoting racist policies, saying, “[R]ecognition is the first step toward finding a cure towards what is ailing us.”
Those are powerful words. But the AAPL’s Hill cautions that McCarthy’s critics in Newark said he knew all the right words but did very little to actually change police culture. Futterman also predicts little change. “The primary problem is that being young and black in a low-income community is still considered probable cause to most white police officers.” Until that changes, he says, little else will.

Monday, September 26, 2011

2011-09-26 "Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million By Jury in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Eureka Police; Eureka Officers Viciously Beat Martin and Left Him to Die in Jail Cell"
Contact: Verbena Lea, Redwood Curtain CopWatch (707) 633-4493,
Vicki Sarmiento, Esq. (626) 308-1171,
Eureka, CA: A jury delivered a resounding victory for plaintiffs in a police misconduct civil rights case by awarding the total sum of $4,575,000 against the City of Eureka and Eureka police officers Adam Laird, Justin Winkle, and Gary Whitmer for the death of Martin Cotton II. Punitive damages were assessed against the three officers. Mr. Cotton, a 26 year-old man living on the streets died of blunt force head trauma. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Vicki I. Sarmiento of Los Angeles County, were Mr. Cotton's 5 year-old daughter and his father. The jury found that Officers Laird and Winkle used excessive force, and that all three officers failed to provide medical care.
On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Winkle, Laird, Whitmer, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. In broad daylight, officers pummeled Mr. Cotton's head and body then brought Mr. Cotton to jail, failing to seek medical assistance for him. Expert testimony presented by the plaintiffs established that timely medical care would have saved Mr. Cotton's life. Mr. Cotton died in the jail cell within two hours. Painful video of Mr. Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial.
The fatal beating of Mr. Cotton occurred outside the Eureka Rescue Mission. Police were dispatched to the Mission for a disturbance involving Mr. Cotton. When they arrived, Mr. Cotton was no longer in the Mission and was alone and defenseless. Laird and Winkle claim they ordered him to put his hands behind his back and he did not move. Both officers pepper sprayed him, Officer Winkle kneed him in the ribs and forced him to the ground where the officers beat him. Mr. Cotton made no moves against the police and remained prone on the concrete. Officer Whitmer (the third officer on the scene) gave a running kick to Mr. Cotton, battered him with a baton, and pepper-sprayed him. More officers arrived and joined in the beating. The trial of Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka included police readily admitting they they sat on Mr. Cotton, forced his head onto the concrete throughout the beating, kicked him, hit him with a metal baton, kneed at his vulnerable organs, deployed pepper spray three times, and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The officers, however, denied hitting Mr. Cotton in the head, most likely because blunt force head trauma was determined as the cause of death. Crucial testimony came from two civilian witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least Officer Winkle pounding on Mr. Cotton's skull multiple times on the concrete. One witness said he heard “fist-to-skull”, “bone-on-bone” from those head strikes.
The verdict was announced September 23, 2011 after a two week trial and 7 hours of jury deliberation in Federal Court in Oakland. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain her father suffered and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to show that the officers' actions "shocked the conscience." The jury also found that the officers acted with "malice, oppression, or reckless disregard" to the decedent's or plaintiffs' rights, and assessed punitive damages, $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer.
Mr. Cotton was one of many people killed by police in the Humboldt region from fall 2005 to fall 2007. Attorney Vicki Sarmiento hopes the verdict sends shockwaves to other officers who may consider committing such atrocities in the future. “We don't want this to happen to anyone else. We as a community, we as a society, cannot tolerate it.” Ms. Sarmiento speaks of the victory, “The jury's decision showed respect for Martin Cotton's life. They acknowledge the wrong that occurred and acknowledge that Martin's life had value. The issue of human dignity and humanity is what this is about, and that everyone has a right to have that.” ###

2011-09-23 "Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police, Interview: Video" by dave id
On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, Adam Laird, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. Eureka police pummeled Martin Cotton's body and head in broad daylight, using pepper spray repeatedly. Martin Cotton was then sent to jail without being offered medical treatment. He died in jail within about an hour. A federal civil rights trial in Oakland was filed to seek justice for Martin on behalf of his young daughter. The case, Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka, included the testimony of police readily admitting they beat Martin Cotton all over his body and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The police however denied that they hit Martin Cotton in the head, most likely because blows to the head were determined to be the cause of death. At about 1pm on September 23rd, the verdict was announced for the two-week trial. A seven-person jury found unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs, big time. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain Martin Cotton suffered at the hands of Eureka police and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Additionally, Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to meet the highest burden of proof in a civil trial, that is that the murder of Martin Cotton "shocked the conscience." A rare award of punitive damages against the three officers required a finding of "malice, oppression, or reckless disregard" to the decedent's or plaintiffs' rights, for which the jury assessed $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer, who arrived at the scene late but joined in on the beating. Crucial to the verdict was the testimony of two witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least officer Winkle striking Martin Cotton's skull. Painful video of Martin Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial which obviously effected jurors, four of whom wore black in solidarity with the family today as the verdict was read. In the video below, Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento and Vebena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch speak about the verdict re-establishing Martin Cotton's humanity and the shockwaves they hope the decision will send through the ranks of police who may consider committing such atrocities in the future.

Vebena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch and Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento

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Friday, September 23, 2011

2011-09-23 "More Than Half of ‘Armed’ Suspects Shot by LA Sheriff Were Not Armed" by Jorge Rivas
A new study has found that in most shootings in which Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies fired at suspects who appeared to be reaching for a weapon, the suspect turned out to be unarmed. And in the last six years, all but two of those people shot were black and Latino, according to the study by the Police Assessment Resource Center for LA County Supervisors [].
Over the past six years, approximately 61 percent of all suspects shot because an officer believed they were armed were confirmed to be unarmed at the time of the shooting. A little more than half of those suspects were holding an object such as a cell phone or sunglasses that was believed by deputies to be a possible firearm.
The analysis also found that 61 percent of those shot at by deputies were Latino, 29 percent black and 10 percent white. The LA Times provides some more context []:
[begin extract]
“Waistband shootings” are particularly controversial because the justification for the shootings can conceivably be fabricated after the fact, according to the county monitor’s report. The monitor was careful to point out that the report wasn’t making the case deputies were being dishonest, simply that the spike in those shootings left the department vulnerable to criticism.
Merrick Bobb, special counsel to the county Board of Supervisors, also found a rise in shootings in which deputies didn’t see an actual gun before firing. In those cases, the person may have had a weapon on them, but never brandished it.
Those shootings spiked by 50% last year, according to the report. Last year also had the highest proportion of people shot by deputies who turned out to be unarmed altogether.
[end extract]
The sheriff’s department says these figures are not surprising because deputies patrol areas in south and east Los Angeles County that are home to “a plethora of black and Latino gangs,” the San Jose Mercury News reported [].
But Bobb, the special council to county supervisors and the author of the report says training and time on the job has a lot to do with how officers react when suspects hands move. “Knowing that black and Latino men are more likely to be shot or shot at … the sheriff’s department should be doing a better job to reduce as far as possible mistaken shootings,” Bobb wrote.
His report found that in almost a third of shootings deputies had received no relevant training in the past two years.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Justice for Martin Cotton!

Martin Cotton

2011-09-22 "Martin Cotton Civil Trial Press Conference with Verbana Lea & Marty Cotton, 9/21/11: video" by dave id
On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, Adam Laird, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton to death. Eureka police pummeled Martin Cotton's body and head in broad daylight, using pepper spray repeatedly. Martin Cotton was then sent to jail without being offered medical treatment. He died in jail within about an hour. A federal civil rights trial in Oakland is attempting to seek justice for Martin on behalf of his young daughter. The case, Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka, has included the testimony of police readily admitting they beat Martin Cotton all over his body and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The police however deny that they hit Martin Cotton in the head, most likely because blows to the head were determined to be the cause of death. On September 21st, Marty Cotton Sr., Verbena Lea, and supporters held a press conference in front of the Federal Building in Oakland. [Full video below.] The trial is set to conclude on September 22nd with closing arguments being made by both sides. The civil rights case will then be in the hands of seven jurors who will decide if the city of Eureka and its police department are to be held accountable for the killing of Martin Cotton.
The press conference concluded with chants of "Justice for Martin Cotton! Free Troy Davis!" as Troy Davis was scheduled to be executed by the state of Georgia an hour later the same afternoon. After the press conference, several supporters traveled to attend the vigil for Troy Davis in Justin Herman plaza to San Francisco. (Just as the execution was about to commence at 4pm EST, Troy Davis' execution was delayed three hours by the U.S. Supreme Court, but then proceeded when the court refused to issue a Stay of Execution.)
If you would like to attend the final day of the Martin Cotton civil trial, court starts at 8:30am in Courtroom #1 on the 4th floor of the 1301 Clay Street, Oakland Federal Building. Bring an ID to come in and be present at the trial. Supporters have been wearing blue shirts and sitting together throughout the trial.

Justice for Martin Cotton

Verbena Lea and Marty Cotton Sr.
Full video of press conference by dave id

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For Immediate Release Sept. 20, 2011
***PRESS CONFERENCE ON WEDNESDAY, SEPT 21 2:30PM** Federal Bldg. 1301Clay St.
CONTACT: Verbena Lea, Redwood Curtain CopWatch (707) 633.4493,
PDF of this release HERE: []
Oakland, CA: The current civil rights trial in Oakland about the Eureka police murder of Martin Frederick Cotton II resumes Wednesday, 9/21. Four years ago, Martin was 26 years old, unarmed and living on the streets when he was killed by the Eureka Police when they pummeled his body in broad daylight, in front of a homeless shelter (Eureka Rescue Mission), then brought him to the jail to die. Cotton family supporters who are deeply opposed to police violence, rallied in front of the Oakland courthouse on the first day of trial (Sept 12) and have been present in the courtroom while attorneys Vicki Sarmiento and Dale Galipo represent Martin's six year old daughter, Siehna, and her grandfather, Martin Cotton Sr. The case, Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka is being heard before U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong and a seven person jury. Martin's story has spread beyond the “Redwood Curtain”.
The fatal police beating occurred in front of many witnesses, mostly homeless people already in vulnerable situations. On August 9, 2007, two Eureka Police Department (EPD) officers responded to a call about a disturbance involving Martin at the Mission. When they arrived, Martin was no longer inside and was alone and defenseless when both officers immediately pepper-sprayed him, kneed him to the ground and brutally beat him. Martin was passive, made no moves against the police and remained prone on the concrete. More officers arrived and joined the beating. Officers admitted at trial that they sat on Martin and forced his head onto the concrete throughout the beating, hit him with a metal baton and with their knees at vulnerable organs, kicked him, and deployed pepper spray three times.. The officers deny that any of them hammerfisted Martin in the head against the cement many times. Two unrelated civilian witnesses testified that they clearly saw head blows coming from the officers. One witness said he heard “fist-to-skull”, “bone-on-bone” from very hard blows to Martin's head.
Marty Cotton, Sr. says, “We want to expose the truth, ideally, so those cops can never wear a badge and weaponry and never do this to anyone else again.”
The names of the eight EPD officers involved in the deadly torture of Martin Cotton were never revealed by the mainstream media or local government, and only made public by Redwood Curtain CopWatch. The lawsuit is now only focused on three of the officers: EPD's Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, and Adam Laird (who has since been promoted to Sergeant).
The officers have testified and contradicted their attorney's arguments that Martin appeared to be a drugged up 'superman' requiring extreme force to be detained and questioned. The officers testified that they did not believe Martin was on drugs, that Martin reacted normally to the pepper spray, and that it was clear he had no weapons and was not trying to get away. One consistent observer of the trial said “The cops are claiming that they pepper-sprayed Martin, got on top of him and beat him repeatedly, even with a metal baton, just to get Martin's hands out from under him. It is absurd, or more accurately, obscene...and it killed him.” Also, the officers testified that they did not think Martin was hurt and did nothing to get him checked out or treated -after “exhausting” themselves beating and spraying him. A video of Martin dying in the jail cell was shown at trial.
Support for the Cottons has been consistent at trial from the Oscar Grant Committee, Redwood Curtain CopWatch, and the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee.
Humboldt County officials and media fabricated facts and actively covered up the police murder of Martin Cotton for four years. There was no coroner's inquest or criminal prosecution for Martin's murder. The coroner and police fed the public outrageous theories, that Martin died of an LSD overdose, banged his own head to death in the jail, or died from 'excited delirium,' while witnesses spoke of a horrendous police beating. Martin's brutal murder was part of a killing spree by police in the Humboldt region from fall 2005 to fall 2007. Verbena of CopWatch says “There can never be 'justice' for Martin Cotton, but we hope this trial brings some peace to the Cotton family and has a deterrent effect on the cops, who regularly and viciously attack homeless people, and are increasingly more blatant and brutal with all of their targets- the people.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011-09-08 "BART cops arrest dozens at protest in free-speech area" by Andrea Koskey
Protesters attempting to demonstrate in BART’s free-speech areas Thursday evening were quickly thwarted as transit agency police officers surrounded and detained about 30 people within the Powell Street station.
BART officials have previously said they would allow protests and freedom of speech demonstrations as long as they remained outside fare gates in the free speech area.
The arrests were made on grounds of interfering with BART’s ability to “provide safe operation of a railroad,” according to agency Deputy Police Chief Daniel Hartwig.
“We’re doing what BART police told us to do,” one protester said as he was taken away by police. “We’re outside the fare gates; we’re doing nothing illegal.”
The station was closed for about two hours following a 20-minute protest where dozens of community organizers wanted to test the free speech limitations of BART, according to Krystof Cantor of No Justice, No BART, which called for the demonstration.
“We don’t trust BART to protect us,” he said. “We’re here to see how warmly we are received.”
Cantor and many others slowly walked the perimeter of the nonpaid areas of the station’s main lobby, chanting, “Whose BART? Our BART!” and “How can BART protect and serve us? BART police just make me nervous!” BART police then moved in and created a perimeter surrounding the group. Cantor was the first person detained.
As protesters walked, though, commuters hurried to catch trains before the station closed.
Protesters had hoped the number of people gathered outside the gates would force BART to open the station and allow commuters to ride for free. Instead, the Powell Street station was closed by 5:30 p.m. All other stations remained open.
Hartwig said BART police and officials make the decision about when to arrest protesters. Though he would not respond to questions about the violation each person was arrested on, Hartwig said the crowd prevented passengers from getting through and police had to act.
“We are obliged to protect the system and protect our passengers,” he said.
Many of those detained were members of the media and student journalists from San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco.
This is the sixth protest since July 11. Four have been organized by online hacker group Anonymous in response to BART shutting down cellphone service during a previous demonstration. Groups involved in Thursday’s protest have said they are responding to police brutality, specifically the fatal shootings of Oscar Grant III on New Year’s Day 2009 and Charles Hill on July 3.

2011-09-09 "BART protesters arrested - Powell Station closed" by Justin Berton and Vivian Ho from "San Francisco Chronicle"

A crowd of chanting protesters converged on the Powell Street BART Station Thursday night and confronted police in riot gear, who formed a wall to block them from approaching the pay gates and then closed the station for two hours.
At least 50 protesters chanted "No justice, no peace" as they confronted officers. Several screamed and tussled with police as they were arrested in yet another episode of commuting delays and havoc on the besieged system.
The demonstrators, who dubbed themselves No Justice No BART, had promised to lie down in front of the turnstiles at the downtown San Francisco station, but they didn't get that far.
Police surrounded a group of protesters, including reporters, and then began making arrests. The protesters yelled at police, and some apparently struggled a bit as they were detained, but there was no violence.
Christopher Cantor, a 35-year-old protest leader from Oakland who goes by the name Krystof Lopaur; Christian Ream, 27, of San Francisco; and Mario Fernandez, 27, of Oakland, were among the protesters cuffed and led away by police during the confrontation, which began about 5:30 p.m. BART officials said 20 to 30 people were arrested on charges of disturbing the safe operation of a railroad.

Free rides -
"We weren't violating any laws, weren't causing an obstruction," complained Rick Altieri, 23, who was among the detainees. "There was no communication between police and protesters, no warning at all."
One Chronicle reporter and several student journalists were detained briefly. Meanwhile, the rest of the protesters fled up the escalators and stairs, and outside, where they chanted "Let them go, let them go."
Service at the station was stopped during the protest. Nobody was allowed to enter. Passengers exiting trains were allowed to exit. The Powell Station was reopened to passengers at 7:25 p.m.
The idea of the demonstration was to force BART to open the emergency exits and let passengers walk out for free. The protest group had intended to inconvenience the agency without inconveniencing passengers, but it didn't work out that way.
Agency officials had announced earlier in the day that they would not bow to the demands of the protesters.
"If they block the fare gates and do so in violation of the law, they are subject to arrest," said BART spokesman Jim Allison.
It was the latest in a series of actions by a large group of protesters who hope to force the transit agency to disband its police force. The group is upset about a BART police officer's fatal shooting of a transient on July 3 at Civic Center Station, allegedly as the man wound up to throw a knife. They are also angry about the agency's decision Aug. 11 to shut down underground wireless service to thwart a planned protest.
A hack attack was among the various disruptive tactics. Hackers infiltrated the and BART police union sites last month and leaked private information, including the addresses of officers, in response to the agency's shutdown of wireless service Aug. 11.

Little sympathy -
The cause has not generated a lot of sympathy from passengers.
Several angry pedestrians and commuters confronted the demonstrators Thursday as they chanted and loitered outside the closed station, accusing them of selfishly disrupting train service and inconveniencing commuters.
"I think they are really being inconsiderate," said Bruce Halperin, 24, of San Francisco, who argued with several of the demonstrators. "They have the right to protest but they are abridging other people's rights by crowding the fare gates and not letting other people move about."

Commuters angered -
Past demonstrations against BART over the past several weeks have infuriated commuters, who have been delayed when the agency closed stations in response to the protesters' actions. Some angry commuters have shouted at protesters, and one attacked them.
Allison said BART's response to the demonstration adds to an estimated $300,000 price tag for dealing with the protests in downtown San Francisco.
"In the past, there have been spontaneous events, including antiwar and immigration rallies and the Giants (World Series) parade, where it was safer to open the swing gates and let everyone through," Allison said. "But I'm not aware of any case where someone has announced in advance, 'We're going to do this and you must open the swing gates' " he said, referring to the emergency exits that the protesters sought to have opened Thursday.

Beck Diefenbach / Special to The Chronicle
Protesters carry a banner depicting "Disarm Cops, Arm Feminists" during a protest in the Powell Street BART and MUNI station on Thursday, September 8, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif.

2011-09-06 "Statement Read At Press Conference Today Regarding Upcoming Sept 8th BART Protest" by "Feminists against Cops"
As Feminists against Cops, we want everyone across the bay area to know that women are not safer because of police presence, in BART or elsewhere. Quite the opposite. Many women are in danger because of the police. Every police institution is sexist and violent. The police are more of a threat to women than a protection, and we do not want our public transport system militarized.
Let’s be clear: the police are here to protect the capitalists and the state institutions, not us. The police have been given the authority to determine our freedom of movement, to harass us and enter our homes. The police even have the authority to determine if we live or die.
There are many accounts of police murdering youth of color in the bay area, or of police murdering homeless people, or whomever they see fit. There are as many accounts of police using their power as police and as men to dominate, harass, intimidate, imprison, and rape women. Many police feel that they have a right to women’s bodies, and when they abuse our bodies it is considered “normal” police procedure.
We are not asking for a less brutal police force because we know that brutality is an inevitable product of this policing system. Police only exist in order to brutally repress us. We must free ourselves. We are asking you to join us as we continue to struggle against the police. The quick and inhumane murder of Charles Hill is a warning: if you call the police you are putting people in danger of their lives.
To the media and to the police we say: do not use women’s bodies and the claim that you are protecting our bodies as an excuse for murder. You called Kenneth Harding a pimp to excuse shooting him in the back. But Kenneth Harding was not harming any women when he was murdered-he was evading paying his fare as many of us do. The ridiculous BART fares are a burden for people who struggle for survival. We evade fares because we claim the right to be able to move freely even if we don’t have the money to pay the fares. Since evading fare is part of how we survive and move freely, then this also means that in order to survive and move freely, we must resist police.
Our message to the police is this: we are under no illusion that you make us safer, or that you protect us. We women join these anti-police movements, including the Oscar grant riots and the response to the murders of Charles Hill and Kenneth Harding, because safety to us as women means resisting the police.

2011-09-09 "Glen Park BART attacked: We didn't do it for the lulz" by "Some Bay Area Anarchists"
On the evening of September 8th, 2011 we sabotaged the fare machines, turnstyles and facade of the Glen Park BART station in South San Francisco. Just as we have been inspired by comparable actions of anarchists world wide, we hope to act as a catalyst to incite similar actions against the state and it's apparatuses of control.
On the evening of September 8th, 2011 we sabotaged the fare machines, turnstyles and facade of the Glen Park BART station in South San Francisco. Just as we have been inspired by comparable actions of anarchists world wide, we hope to act as a catalyst to incite similar actions against the state and it's apparatuses of control.
Our spray cans dispensed slogans and our hammers shattered screens and ticket readers. We look to each other to find meaning and reject the limiting discourse of rights and free speech as a vehicle for our rage. We communicate this now to denounce the authority of a society that violently represses us every time we step out of line.
All police are the enemy. We articulate this when we choose to honor the lives of Oscar Grant, Charles Hill and Kenneth Harding by fighting for our own lives. This same passion for freedom can be observed from Seattle to Greece to Chile. As anarchists we understand that the social control of transit fares exists in harmony with the deadly enforcement of the physical, emotional, and social desolation of our everyday lives. We aim to interrupt this concert at every feasible opportunity.
The police and the media will spin this event as petty vandalism. Some will condemn us and suggest that violence against property promotes state repression, but we have lost our fear. We do not seek approval from any authority and for this reason we abandon the tired structure of demand.We look to explore our capacity to exemplify our collective abilities and to encourage others to resist in ever more autonomous and uncontrollabe ways. Freedom to those arrested at today's Powell Street action. See you at the barricades.
PS: mad props to the wildcat longshoremen of washington. keep it wild

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2011-09-09 "Vandals attack BART's Glen Park station"
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- BART police are investigating an attack by vandals at the Glen Park station in San Francisco.
A group of about 10 to 20 vandals damaged turnstiles and spray-painted graffiti at the Glen Park station Thursday night. They swung hammers and destroyed the Clipper Card readers at the station's entrance. Some of the devices are still not working Friday morning. Someone scrawled the name of Charles Hill on the ground. He's the man who was shot to death by BART police in July.
BART's Powell Street station is open Friday morning following Thursday evening's protest that shut it down at the height of the commute. Police arrested more than two dozen protestors on the platform. The group called 'No Justice, No BART' was trying to force BART into allowing passengers to ride the trains for free. They wanted to make the station so congested, that officials would have no choice but to open the emergency gates.
2011-09-08 "Justice for Nate (Dwayne Nathan Hendricks II)" by Pat Hendricks Munson ( photopatt [at] )
Asking for help in bringing to justice the person/persons responsible for murdering my son, Dwayne Nathan Hendricks II, May 1, 2010 in East Oakland, California.
My son was shot and killed in East Oakland, California May 1, 2010. It has been over one year and still there are no arrests, no charges, no justice. I need some answers, I need justice to prevail and some semblance of closure (as there can never be any real closure to the loss and grief we all experience on a daily basis). I'm getting angry now at the realization that some coward or cowards have taken away a beautiful life, my son's life: My daughter's only sibling, my daughter-in-law's husband, my two grandchildren's father, my other two grandchildren's uncle, a nephew to so many by blood and common bond; his life simply taken away without any consequences or repercusions to those responsible. That's hard to live with.
Someone knows who committed this crime. People were out there and saw what happened. I'm asking and pleading with you to come forward and tell us what you saw and heard. There remains in place a Crimstoppers reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of this murderer.
I ask all of my Bay Area, especially Oakland, family and friends to share my page, Keep it going for me please. I know the truth will be told sooner or later but of course I want it much sooner than later.
"Truth crushed to earth will rise again" Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nate, a drummer from birth.
2011-09-08 "Civil Rights Trial About Fatal Police Beating of Martin Cotton Begins Monday, September 12th" by Verbena Lea from "Redwood Curtain CopWatch"
[707.633.4493] []
On August 9, 2007, Martin Frederick Cotton II, unarmed and defenseless, was beaten brutally on the street by Eureka Police officers and further abused by Humboldt Co. Sheriff “correctional officers” - who left Martin to die in a jail cell.
In September of 2008, Martin's baby daughter and his father, Marty Cotton, brought a federal civil rights lawsuit, which begins jury selection in Oakland, California on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 8:30am.
The U.S. District Court (Northern District) in Oakland, is at 1301 Clay Street. The trial will be in Courtroom #1 on the 4th Floor, Saundra Brown Armstrong presiding. The case is Siehna M. Cotton et al v. City of Eureka California et al (4:08-cv-04386-SBA).
The trial is scheduled from 8:30am to 2:00pm on Monday Sept 12, Wednesday Sept 14, Thursday Sept 15, and Friday Sept 16. (No trial on Tuesdays) The trial is expected to last about 7 days. On Monday Sept 19, trial will run from 1:00pm to 5:00 pm, and on Wednesday and Thursday (September 21 and 22) trial will run from 8:00am to 12:00pm.
Redwood Curtain CopWatch, based out of Humboldt County- where Martin Cotton II was beaten to death- and the Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality, based out of Oakland, will be rallying in opposition to police violence Monday morning before court proceedings.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Other Side of the COIN: Counterinsurgency and Community Policing

posted 2011-09-02 from a study by Kristian Williams:
The following discussion of U.S. domestic counterinsurgency is adapted and condensed with permission from “The Other Side of the COIN: Counterinsurgency and Community Policing” by Kristian Williams. Williams is a member of Rose City Copwatch in Portland, Oregon, and the author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America (Soft Skull, 2004; South End Press, 2007). The full paper appeared in the May 2011 issue of Interface, and a full list of bibliographic sources can be found there.
The unrest of the 1960s left the police in a difficult position. The cops’ response to the social movements of the day — the civil rights and anti-war movements especially — had cost them dearly in terms of public credibility, elite support, and officer morale. Frequent and overt recourse to violence, combined with covert surveillance, infiltration, and disruption (typified by the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations), had not only failed to squelch the popular movements, it had also diminished trust in law enforcement.
The police needed to re-invent themselves, and the first place they looked for models was the military. Military training, tactics, equipment, and weaponry, made their way into domestic police departments — as did veterans returning from Vietnam, and, more subtly, military approaches to organization, deployment, and command and control. Police strategists specifically began studying counterinsurgency warfare.
“Counterinsurgency” (or “COIN” is military jargon) refers to a kind of military operation outside of conventional army-vs.-army war-fighting, and is sometimes called “low-intensity” or “asymmetrical” combat. But counterinsurgency also describes a particular perspective on how such operations ought to be managed. This style of warfare is characterized by an emphasis on intelligence, security and peace-keeping operations, population control, propaganda, and efforts to gain the trust of the people.
This last point is the crucial one. As U.S. Army Field Manual, FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, declares: “Legitimacy is the main objective.”
So during the period of police militarization, the cops also began experimenting with a “softer,” more friendly type of law enforcement — foot patrols, neighborhood meetings, police-sponsored youth activities, and attention to quality-of-life issues quite apart from crime. These techniques eventually coalesced into an approach called “community policing.”
Both militarization and community policing arose at the same time, and in response to the same social pressures. The advantages the state receives from each aspect are fairly clear: Militarization increases available force, but as important, it also provides improved discipline and command and control. It re-orders the police agency to allow for better coordination and teamwork, while also opening space for local initiative and officer discretion.
Community policing, meanwhile, helps to legitimize police efforts by presenting cops as problem-solvers. It forms police-driven partnerships that put additional resources at their disposal and win the cooperation of community leaders. And, by increasing daily, friendly contacts with people in the neighborhood, community policing provides a direct supply of low-level information.
Such information is vital, because COIN theorists advocate preemptive action against budding rebellions. The problem is that, at the early stages, subversion is not obvious and the state may not know that a threat exists. In order to anticipate conflict and prevent an insurgency, as FM 3-24 explains, COIN strategists “require insight into cultures, perceptions, values, beliefs, interests and decision-making processes of individuals and groups.” The resulting intelligence work is concerned with questions that are primarily sociological.
The U.S. government’s mapping of the American Muslim population should be viewed in this light. In 2002 and 2003, the Department of Homeland Security requested — and received — statistical data, sorted by zip code and nationality, on people who identified themselves as “Arab” in the 2000 census. And in February 2003, FBI director Robert Mueller ordered all 56 Bureau field offices to create demographic profiles of their areas of operation, specifically including the number of mosques. One Justice Department official explained that the demographics would be used “to set performance goals and objectives” for anti-terror efforts and electronic surveillance. Similarly, in 2007, the LAPD began planning its own mapping program, dressed in the rhetoric of community policing. As the L.A. Times reported, the “Los Angeles Police Department’s counter-terrorism bureau proposed using U.S. census data and other demographic information to pinpoint various Muslim communities and then reach out to them through social service agencies.”
By working with welfare services, churches, non-profits, and similar organizations, police can insinuate themselves into the fabric of neighborhood life, gain access to new sources of information, and influence community leaders. Sometimes the police can used these relationships to channel and control political opposition, moving it in safe, institutional, and reformist directions, rather than toward more radical or militant action.
We saw this dynamic at work in Oakland after transit police shot and killed an unarmed black man in 2009. In practice, preventing riots became the primary focus of the institutionalized left, as local nonprofits and churches collaborated with police to contain community anger and channel it into ritualized protest. There is no guarantee that resistance would have gone further had the nonprofits not intervened, or that greater conflict would have won greater gains. But their intervention certainly helped to contain the rebellion, and closed off untold possibilities for further action. That is, quite clearly, what it was intended to do.
We also see the logic of counterinsurgency at work in police anti-gang campaigns: The creation of databases listing suspected gang members; the mapping of the social environment, illustrating connections between gang members, associates, families, etc.; the development of community contacts, especially with local leaders — all these police practices mirror the techniques of military occupation. Police intelligence efforts are then paired with a campaign of persistent low-level harassment — stops, searches, petty citations, and the like. Each instance of harassment offers the cops the opportunity to collect additional information on the gang network while at the same time creating an inhospitable environment for those associated with gang activity.
For example, in Salinas, California, the Monterey County Gang Task Force conducts mass-arrest “round-ups,” makes random traffic stops, and regularly searches the homes of gang members on parole or probation. The sheer volume of such activity is astonishing: Since it was formed in 2005, the Task Force has been responsible for 21,000 vehicle or pedestrian stops, 5,000 parole and probation “compliance” searches, and 2,800 arrests.
Furthermore, since February 2009, combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been serving as advisors to Salinas police, with the stated aim of applying counterinsurgency tools to local anti-gang efforts. Along with their expertise, the military advisors also arrive with software, including a computer program that maps the connections between gang activity, individual suspects, and their social circles, family ties, and neighborhood connections.
This police-military partnership is occurring alongside a renewal and expansion of the SPD’s community policing philosophy. The new community focus (encouraged by the military advisors) includes Spanish language training, “Gifts for Guns” trade-in events, an anonymous tip hotline, senior-citizen volunteer programs, a larger role for the Police Community Advisory Council, and police-sponsored after-school activities.
Salinas police have also initiated partnerships with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Marshals, the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), the FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The most spectacular product of these partnerships, so far, was a set of coordinated raids on April 22, 2010, codenamed “Operation Knockout.”
The raids — coming after months of investigation — mobilized more than 200 law enforcement agents and resulted in 100 arrests, as well as the confiscation of forty pounds of cocaine, fourteen pounds of marijuana, and a dozen guns. Operation Knockout was intended, not only to disrupt the targeted gangs, but to serve as a warning to others. Deputy Police Chief Kelly McMillin said: “We’re going to follow quickly with call-ins of specific groups that we know are very active. . . . We are going to tell them that what happened on the 22nd could very well happen to them.”
Such anti-gang efforts are always implicitly political, especially as they become permanent features of life in poor Black and Latino communities. Though ostensibly aimed at preventing gang violence, counter-gang campaigns inevitably lead police to monitor the entire community. One Fresno cop explains the intended scope of his department’s gang files: “If you’re twenty-one, male, living in one of these neighborhoods, been in Fresno for ten years and you’re not in our computer­then there’s definitely a problem.”
With the emergence of the counterinsurgency model, the state has ceased to view subversives in isolation from the society surrounding them. Increasingly, it has directed its attention — its intelligence gathering, its coercive force, and its alliance building — toward the population as a whole. Repression, in other words, is not something that happens solely, or even mainly, to activists; and it not just the province of red squads, but of gang enforcement teams, neighborhood liaison officers, and even police advisory boards. It comprises all those methods — routine and extraordinary, coercive and collaborative — used to regulate the conflict inherent in a stratified society. Our task is to decipher the politics implicit in these efforts, to discern the ways that they preserve state power, neutralize resistance, and maintain social inequality.
Our further task is to respond. An effective response to repression must include an offensive component — an attack against the apparatus of repression, which (if successful) will leave the state weaker and the social movement stronger. This outcome, of course, should be the aim from the start.
But it is, in a sense, misleading to speak solely in terms of responding to repression. Repression exists already. It intervenes preemptively. It forms part of the context in which we act. Oppositional movements cannot avoid repression; the challenge, instead, must be to overcome it