Friday, July 29, 2011

"US House Committee Approves Internet Snooping Bill"

2011-07-29 from "NowPublic" []
US House of Representatives Wants to Track All of Your Web Usage -
Of course, author Lamar Smith (R-TX) didn't call it the "Internet Snooping Bill". He called it the "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011", because the rallying cry of "think of the children!" is a proven way to drown out dissent against a pointless and intrusive law. The House Judiciary Committee approved the Internet Snooping Bill 19-10.
In a nutshell, the law would force internet service providers (ISPs) such as Verizon and Comcast to store one year's worth of each and every customer's web-usage data. A last-minute rewrite made the bill even more intrusive than it was when first introduced. This means ISPs will be forced to store:
* Pageload history
* Login credentials
* Buying patterns
* Credit card info
Basically, everything you do online. If we were data thieves, we'd be licking our chops right now.

How Does This Protect Children? It Doesn't -
The problem with the bill is that collecting a year's worth of data from every American internet user would do nothing to stop child porn. There have been 10,000 arrests (not necessarily indictments) for child porn since 1996 in the US. That's roughly. 0.00003675 of the US population, not nearly compelling enough a number to warrant treating all Americans like criminals.
Now, the US government would have to sift through the records of all of the US internet users to (theoretically) string together a case against a potential child-porn viewer. Leaving aside for the moment the lack of law enforcement resources necessary to spy on the entire country at once, note that child-porn creators are not targeted here.
What are the chances, do you think, of the FBI being able to do this effectively? What happens when a criminal uses a web cafe or public library? As even a moment's thought will reveal, the only result of the Internet Snooping Bill is the government breathing down your neck.
As with the Patriot Act, this bill's effect belies its name.
Not only must we question Lamar Smith's logic, we must also question his understanding of what the internet actually is. This bill is broken by design. If emotional triggering is the strategy du jour, then fine: this bill is un-American. The EFF thinks so, too, and urges you to tell your Representative not to be an idiot.
One thing's for certain: Neither Smith nor the bill's supporters know what a VPN is... but now you do.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011-07-27 "15 Years in Prison For Taping the Cops? How Eavesdropping Laws Are Taking Away Our Best Defense Against Police Brutality; More and more people use their smartphones to record police misconduct. But laws against wiretapping are being used to intimidate and stop them" by Rania Khalek
Over Memorial Day weekend this past May, residents of Miami Beach witnessed a horrific display of police brutality as 12 cops sprayed Raymond Herisse's car with 100 bullets, killing him []. The shooting provoked outrage in the surrounding community, not only because of the murder, but because of what the police did afterward.
Officers on the scene confiscated and smashed witnesses' cell phones; later, when they were confronted by the media, the police denied trying to destroy videos of the incident.
But 35-year-old Narces Benoit removed his HTC EVO’s SIM card and hid it in his mouth []. He later sold the video to CNN, placing the police in the awkward position of explaining why they lied about allegations of cell phone destruction. More importantly, the video showed at least two officers pointing guns at Benoit, demanding that he stop filming.
Police brutality takes many forms around the country on a regular basis, particularly in poor and minority neighborhoods. Sometimes, the only method of accountability is a victim’s word (if they are still alive) against that of an officer. Unsurprisingly, the police officer’s version of the story is often adequate for a judge to dismiss allegations of wrongdoing, unless there is hard evidence of misconduct, such as a video or audio recording, which can be useful to unravel conflicting versions of police-citizen encounters.
Due to advancements in technology, the average citizen carries a digital camera in his or her pocket or purse, creating a potential army of amateur videographers on every street corner. A quick YouTube search of "police brutality" lists endless videos, often cell phone footage, of what appear to be police acting with unnecessary and violent force. Some of those videos have served a crucial role in bringing charges against brutality that may have gone unaddressed had it not been for bystanders recording.
One would think the fear of videographers on every block would be a powerful deterrent to police misconduct. However, legislatures are not taking this newfound power against police abuse lightly. In at least three states, it is illegal to record any on-duty police officer, even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists []. The legal justification is usually based on the warped interpretation of existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited.
Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland are among the 12 states [] where all parties must consent for a recording to be legal. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested and charged with a felony. Most all-party consent states (except Illinois and Massachusetts) include a "privacy provision" that says a violation occurs only when the offended party has a reasonable expectation that the conversation is private. This is meant to protect TV news crews and people who record public meetings — where it is obvious to all that recording is underway — from accidentally committing a felony.
Massachusetts [] and Illinois [] are the only states that do not recognize an expectation-to-privacy provision to their all-party consent laws. While courts in Massachusetts have generally held that secretly recording police is illegal, recording them openly is not. Illinois, on the other hand, is the only state where the legislature specifically amended the state's wiretapping law to make it illegal to record on-duty police officers without their consent, even in public.

Cases Keep Piling Up -
Recording on-duty police officers has gained momentum in states around the country for some time now. But it's only in the last few years, after several high-profile incidents, that the topic has begun to generate nationwide headlines and debate.
Two of these incidents occurred in Maryland last year, just weeks apart.
One involved Jack McKenna [], who was arrested by Prince George's county police last March and charged with assault and resisting arrest when he was out celebrating the University of Maryland basketball victory over Duke. Fortunately for him, his fellow Terps fans happened to record the encounter on their cell phones, showing riot police throwing McKenna against a wall and beating him with batons. Once the videos appeared on the Internet, Prince George's County suspended the officers and dropped the charges against McKenna.
The second incident took place last April, when Maryland State Trooper David Uhler pulled over Anthony Graber for speeding and reckless driving. Graber had swerved across several lanes and did at least one wheelie on his motorcycle while driving 80mph. Graber had a video camera mounted to his motorcycle helmet that was recording at the time of the stop, and captured footage of Uhler, dressed in plainclothes while yelling with his gun in hand.
Although Graber was only given a traffic ticket, he posted the video on YouTube to publicize Uhler's threatening behavior []. Maryland State police responded by raiding Graber's home, confiscating his computer and charging him with two felonies. One was for violating Maryland's wiretapping law by recording a trooper without his consent, and the other was for "possession of an intercept device," a provision intended for bugs and wiretaps but in this case referred to Graber's video camera. As a result, Graber faced up to 16 years in prison for recording a police officer during a public traffic stop.
Graber's case was ultimately dismissed [], as are almost all of these cases, on the grounds that on-duty cops have no such expectation of privacy, which is in accordance with every court in the country that has considered the issue. Because there is no legal justification, the charges are usually dropped or never filed at all. But that doesn't stop the arrests. Radley Balko points out that, more often than not, police arrest photographers for obstructing law enforcement even in states that have no wiretapping law []:
“In addition to arresting citizens with cameras for wiretapping, police can use vaguer catch-all charges, such as interfering with a police officer, refusing to obey a lawful order, or obstructing an arrest or police action. Such arrests are far more common. Even more frequent are incidents where police don’t make arrests but illegally confiscate cameras, delete photos and videos, or incorrectly warn camera-wielding citizens that they aren’t allowed to film.”
One such encounter took place earlier this year, when a California man, who recorded a police officer arresting someone at gunpoint down the street, found himself handcuffed as well. Lonell Duchine was videotaping the arrest on his cell phone from inside his garage, when an officer pulled up to his home and demanded the phone for evidence []. Duchine refused, so the police officer arrested him, citing “police interference” for withholding evidence.
While illegal confiscation happens in a range of scenarios, from traffic stops to people's homes, the most famous example was on New Year’s day 2009, when Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Officer Johannes Mehserle shot 21-year-old Oscar Grant at point-blank range, as he lay face down in an Oakland subway station, allegedly resisting arrest []. The incident captured the nation's attention not simply because an unarmed black man was publicly killed by a white police officer, but also because dozens of onlookers captured it on their cell phones for the world to see.
In California, police are not permitted to confiscate a phone unless the phone was used in a crime []. Nonetheless, after the incident BART police attempted to confiscate the phones of subway riders, and even chased one camera-wielder onto a subway car []. Had a bystander not been equipped with his cell phone, charges may not have been brought against Mehserle, demonstrating the crucial role video recording can play in accountability. Since then there have been multiple incidents of police brutality recorded by cell phones, which may have otherwise gone unaddressed.
The most pernicious prosecutions to date have taken place in Illinois, where the sentence for recording a police officer is considered a class 1 felony — on par with a rape charge — and can land a person behind bars for more than a decade [].
Tiawonda Moore from Chicago, Illinois, faces up to 15 years in prison for using her Blackberry to record two Internal Affairs investigators who spoke to her inside police headquarters []. She was there last August to file a sexual harassment complaint against another officer, who she alleges had fondled her and left his personal telephone number when he was at her home investigating a domestic dispute. She says the police department actively discouraged her from filing a report, so out of frustration, she began to record the conversations on her phone. Although the case initially received national media coverage, attention has since died down as 21-year-old Moore awaits a trial date that continues to be pushed back.
Michael Allison is another Illinois resident facing the wrath of the eavesdropping law []. The 41-year-old mechanic from Bridgeport faces four counts of violating the eavesdropping law, which adds up to a possible 75-year sentence. Allison believed the local police were harassing him in retaliation for a lawsuit he'd filed against the city over a local zoning ordinance, so he began to record his conversations with them.
Allison was eventually charged with violating the zoning ordinance. When he was told there would be no record of his trial, he informed court officials that he would record his trial with a digital recorder. This prompted the judge to have him arrested on the day of his trial, for violating her right to privacy. After confiscating Allison's digital recorder, the police found the recordings between Allison and the cops.
Christopher Drew, a 60-year-old artist and teacher, is also being prosecuted for violating the eavesdropping law []. Drew was arrested in December 2009 for selling art without a permit on the streets of Chicago. He recorded his arrest, and now faces four to 15 years for documenting the incident.
These are just a handful of cases that illustrate the danger that comes with recording police in public. Carlos Miller, a journalist who has been arrested twice for photographing the police, has documented hundreds of similar cases on his blog, Photography is Not a Crime [].

What Do the Police Think?
In the most comprehensive article to date about recording the police —" The War on Cameras []" — Radley Balko interviewed James Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) [], which describes itself as "the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers." Pasco argues that videotaping police officers in public should be illegal because it can intimidate officers from doing their jobs. Mark Donahue, president of FOP, concurs, telling the New York Times [] that his organization “absolutely supports” the eavesdropping act and was relieved that the ACLU's challenge filed last year failed, adding that allowing the audio recording of police officers while performing their duty “can affect how an officer does his job on the street.”
Police officers are not a monolith [], so while there are many, like Pasco and Donahue, who support these laws, there are also many who doubtless oppose them. At the same time, police apprehension about being videotaped on the job is understandable, especially with the advancement in cell-phone technology increasing at record speed. Some also worry that their actions will be preserved and used against them in ways that weren't possible just a few years ago, while others are simply uncomfortable being videotaped.
However, when considering recent developments in police surveillance, Pasco's argument is rather baffling. In stark contrast to the laws banning citizens from monitoring police misconduct with recording devices, police officers are equipped with top-of-line surveillance cameras in their cars and on their uniforms. According to a recent AP report [], hundreds of police departments across the country are equipping officers with tiny body cameras to record anything from a traffic stop to a hot vehicle pursuit to an unfolding violent crime. The mini cameras have even spawned a new cable reality TV series, "Police POV," which uses police video from Cincinnati, Chattanooga and Fort Smith, Ark.
The cameras are intended to provide more transparency and security to officers on the street and to reduce the number of misconduct complaints and potential lawsuits. Which begs the question: what is the difference between these cameras and the footage captured by citizens in public? Why is it acceptable for police officers to record, but not citizens? Aren't the uniform and dashboard cameras, which unlike citizen recordings document police actions all through the day, intimidating police from doing their jobs, just as Pasco suggested?

Unconstitutional -
Pasco goes on to suggest that we have to "put faith and trust in our authority figures," which is the absolute antithesis of a functioning democracy and the US constitution, which rests on transparency and accountability.
As usual, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken the lead in challenging these laws. In August of last year, the ACLU of Illinois filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago challenging the Illinois Eavesdropping Act (ACLU v. Anita Alvarez []), arguing that the act violates the First Amendment and has been used to thwart people who simply want to monitor police activity, including the ACLU itself []. The Illinois law is unique in that it makes it a crime to record not only private but also public conversations made without consent of all parties. In the lawsuit, the ACLU pointed to six Illinois residents who have faced felony charges after being accused of violating the state’s eavesdropping law for recording police making arrests in public venues.
Although the lawsuit was dismissed in January, the ACLU has appealed the suit and expects to begin making oral arguments sometime in the fall. Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney with the Illinois Chapter of the ACLU, explained why the eavesdropping law is unconstitutional:
"The First Amendment protects the right to gather information for the purpose of sharing it with other people and for the purpose of using it to petition government for redress of grievances. And so for a long time courts have protected the right to record by various means what government officials are doing in public, so the press can publish that and so that citizens can use it to petition government.
"When we talk about police officers doing their jobs in public, we’re talking about very important government activity which is often used properly but sometimes is abused, and it’s very important that citizens have the ability to document what police are doing so they can seek improvement in police policy and the like… therefore, the first amendment protects the right to make audio-recordings of on duty police officers who are doing their jobs in public places."
Schwartz went on to compare audio-recording to other forms of documentation that, although less efficient, are not illegal:
"We believe that a police officer who is doing their job in a public place does not have an expectation of privacy. Even the police can see that if they’re arresting somebody on a corner, other people can watch….they don’t dispute that someone can stand a small distance away and watch, or that the person who’s watching can take out a pen and take notes or on what they’re seeing, or that they can take photographs of what they’re seeing or that they can make a silent video recording of what they’re seeing. The addition of the audio is a very powerful way for citizens to ensure that police officers are turning square corners."
Schwartz also emphasized that resolving disputing testimonies with citizen recording, while important, is not the only benefit to overturning the eavesdropping law:
"If police officers are doing their jobs in public places, for example policing a demonstration and something goes awry, it is very valuable for there to be a strong record, including audio of what happened, so that if there is a need to change the rules, the public can go to the government and say "look what happened, change the rules about how police officers are enforcing the peace at a political demonstration."
The court's decision in this case is said to be critically important in setting a precedent that will either protect or endanger newsgatherers‘ constitutional rights to monitor and record police misconduct. Schwartz said the ACLU is "cautiously optimistic" about the eventual ruling, which is expected to be handed down sometime in 2012.
2011-07-27 "A City Full of Charming Cops, Police Chief Promises" by Octavio Lopez Raygoza from "San Francisco Mission Local" newspaper
At a neighborhood meeting in the Bayview last weekend, Police Chief Greg Suhr and his PowerPoint presentation were shouted off the stage.
Last night’s community meeting in the Mission was a dramatic contrast. Nearly a hundred residents sat politely in the auditorium of Cesar Chavez Elementary, waiting for their chance to comment on the SFPD’s plan to develop citywide community policing standards.
“It’s been long overdue,” said the chief of his proposal to include a community policing policy in the SFPD’s general orders. The general orders are the “rule books” that all officers are bound to follow.
To illustrate his point, Suhr had brought, as he so often does, a PowerPoint presentation.
Community policing, Suhr explained as bullet-point descriptions flashed on the screen, is an organizational strategy in which the police work collaboratively with the community to address violent crime, create safer communities, and preserve healthy and vibrant neighborhoods
Community policing has been practiced in San Francisco since the 1980s, but until now it has never been part of official SFPD policy. Every district has taken a different approach.
The Mission is, in many ways, an excellent example of community policing in action, said Suhr — largely due to the efforts of the neighborhood’s police captain, Greg Corrales.
“Captain Corrales is a softie,” Suhr said. He paused. “That was a joke.”
The citywide standards would codify practices already carried out in the Mission, such as assigning beat cops to a consistent geographic area for a long period of time so that they have time to get to know the people on those beats.
When the time for community input rolled around, it became clear that a few attendees felt that the Mission’s police officers still have a way to go in the likeablity department.
“Police need to be more approachable by the community,” complained one audience member. How would the new changes fix that?
“We will have charming, gregarious, engaged, chatty captains,” said Suhr.
But not everyone was satisfied. “What if they are not?” asked an audience member.
“Will they be held accountable?” asked another.
“Hey,” said Suhr, gesturing toward the PowerPoint. “It says right here that you can’t be a jerk officer.”
Once community policing standards are included in the general orders, Suhr said, officers will be held accountable for not following the best practices.
Suhr said the goal was to encourage officers to go the extra mile to make connections with the community. He gave an example: Years ago, he and some other officers were challenged to a game of basketball by a group of teens in a public park in the Western Addition.
“We took our bars and stars and put them in the trunk of our car,” Suhr said. “We won. We cheated and fouled, but they still remember it today.”
The meeting was over. “Thanks, this is awesome,” said one audience member.
“You just being available today makes a great difference. Thank you,” said another.
“This is definitely going better than last week,” said Suhr.

Police Chief, Greg Suhr, speaks at Cesar Chavez Elementary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011-07-26 "Stand up, Hunters Point! What the Kenneth Harding Movement can learn from the Oscar Grant Movement" by Minister of Information JR
Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at and visit

The police in our community occupy our area, our community, as a foreign troop occupies territory. And the police are in our community not to promote our welfare or our security or our safety, but they are there to contain us, to brutalize us and murder us.” – Huey P. Newton, co-founder and minister of defense of the Black Panther Party

The Oscar Grant Movement was a great moment in the history of Bay Area politics, where the people stood up consistently for two years against police terrorism. The problem is that over that time the state figured out ways to water down the strong message of “Stop killing our people,” “Stop state-sponsored terrorism,” “BART should be free to the low income.” Some people became friends with individual police officers, some were paid off with contracts and grants, others were just happy to emotionally yell “fuck the police” in the mic and look important and get their photo taken.
To put it bluntly, the movement that tore up downtown Oakland on numerous occasions and forced the city to bring in the National Guard and indict one of the officers involved was not an activist movement. It was the Black and the Brown youngstas from the ghetto and the white anarchists who put the flames to the jewel of Oakland and secured this miniscule victory of killer cop Johannes Mehserle serving 11 months.
A little more than a week ago, Kenneth Harding was murdered on Third Street, the heart of Bayview Hunters Point, the last Black community in San Francisco. It is essential that the hood remain a part of the organizing, no matter the cost, because these are the lives who are most at risk of being extinguished by the gangster force of the San Francisco Police Department, as well as these are the people with the least vested interest in the status quo.
We must establish points of unity as soon as possible. One of the points should be that San Francisco residents need a police citizen review board with the teeth to fire and indict officers in the same way that a grand jury can indict. Two, since Kenneth Harding was murdered by the police behind evading a $2 Muni fare, Muni and BART should be free to low income residents and students struggling through the depression in the Black community – especially since hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade have been invested into Hunters Point, starting with the construction of the Muni light rail track and stations up and down Third Street and the rebuilding of the Bayview Library.
Ultimately we need a revolutionary solution to these problems that have been plaguing our communities since the end of chattel slavery. This particular struggle is one more step to bringing our community into that type of consciousness where we demand – not beg, ask, protest or petition. We have to get to a point where we refuse to be pushed anymore and where we will sacrifice our lives to beat these dogs off of us.
The city has refused to give Black contractors that live in Hunters Point the contracts and has allowed for the non-Black construction companies to discriminate against hiring people from the community for the higher paying construction jobs like working the big machinery. We should have shut down their construction sites until they contracted and hired us, but we didn’t for whatever reason.
If you throw the problems of constant police terrorism and killings, gang injunctions, a poisonous environment that the city and military refuses to clean up, foreclosures, red-lining banks, the refusal of the city to contract residents to build up our own communities, the refusal of the city to offer any meaningful employment, high dropout rates, underfunded colonial schools that don’t teach a knowledge of self, constant access to low grade food, guns, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, then you can see the City’s plan for the last Black community in Frisco, which can be summed up in one word: GENOCIDE.
Hunters Point has stood up to the Lennar Corp. and the City about the shipyard. It is time to expand that movement to include police terrorism, put new energy into it, and claim our right to live and not be wantonly killed.
All Power to the Oppressed People! Hunters Point, Stand Up!

At the press conference held on the spot where, two days earlier, Kenneth Harding lay bleeding to death as police trained their guns on him and kept the crowd at bay, Minister of Information JR watches as Fly Benzo, aka Debray Carpenter, is interviewed. Three days later, after Fly Benzo was pictured in the Chronicle and Examiner pitching tough questions to Police Chief Greg Suhr, Benzo was arrested and jailed. The DA's Office says the charges have now been dropped and he is expected to be released today. A "surge" of police since the shooting is arresting and harassing Bayview Hunters Point residents at an accelerated rate. - Photo: Malaika Kambon

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011-07-25 "Four arrested after car pursuit ends near a party with combative crowd in Vallejo" from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
Vallejo police arrested four people early Saturday after a pursuit ended near a party with a combative crowd.
At about 2 a.m., officers saw six vehicles leaving a bar on Broadway and Oregon Street. The cars were moving recklessly, with some occupants hanging out the windows and some car swerving, police said.
Officers tried to stop one car, but the vehicle failed to yield and led officers on a short pursuit to Marin and El Dorado streets, where the driver pulled over, police said.
The stopped car was associated with a nearby house on El Dorado Street, which was hosting a party, police said.
As officers were dealing with the occupants of the stopped car, people from the party began coming out of the house toward the officers, police said.
Police described the crowd as "hostile" and summoned help from the Solano County Sheriff's Office and the American Canyon Police Department.
One person in a car that had followed the pursuit became combative and challenged an officer, police said. He was subsequently shot with a non-lethal bullet and subdued.
The suspect, Eric Nichols, 33, of Vallejo was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and public intoxication. He did not sustain injuries, police said.
A female resident of the home, Monique Henderson, 34, who was found to be intoxicated, was inciting a riot, police said. Henderson was subsequently arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and provoking violence, police added.
From the car, officers arrested Joseph Connors, 25, and Mark Connors, 21, of Berkeley. The elder Connors was booked on suspicion of felony evading, driving on a suspended license and violating a probation for driving under the influence.
The younger Connors was arrested on suspicion of providing a false name to police officers and for also violating his probation.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Justice for James Rivera Jr.

2011-07-23 "Protest marks year since teen's death" by Christian Burkin from "Stockton Record"
STOCKTON - One year after 15-year-old James Rivera Jr. was killed by police after a chase through a north Stockton neighborhood, dozens of people demonstrated across the street from the Police Department on Friday morning, calling for greater transparency and an end to what they called police brutality.
The demonstrators included Rivera's relatives and friends, as well as Bay Area activists. Some carried a mock coffin from a truck to the corner of El Dorado and Washington streets. Others held signs calling for justice and invoking other officer-involved killings, including that of Oscar Grant III, shot in the back by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle on New Year's Day 2009.
An uncle of Grant's, Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, drove from Oakland to Stockton to join the demonstration Friday morning. Johnson said he had been following officer-involved killings closely since his nephew's, for which Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
"They have a tendency to tell you one thing and then change the story," Johnson said.
Rivera was shot and killed by Stockton police and a Sheriff's deputy after a chase that ended when the vehicle he was driving, a minivan taken in an armed carjacking, was rammed by police, causing it to crash into a house. Police have said Rivera was attempting to reverse rapidly when officers opened fire on the minivan. The carjacker had reportedly been armed with a shotgun, but no weapon was recovered from the minivan.
Some of Rivera's family members have said he told them he had bought the van. His mother, Dionne Smith-Downs, said Friday that if she had heard that from him, she would have demanded proof. She also said she believed other people, not her son, had committed the carjacking.
Smith-Downs said she is frustrated that her son's property has not yet been returned to her, and that the investigation has not been completed.
"It's been a year now. I should have some kind of answer," she said.
The investigation of the shooting includes the District Attorney's Office, the Sheriff's Office and the Police Department. It is not unusual for officer-involved shooting investigations to take up to a year in San Joaquin County.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau said the investigation has been slowed by budget cuts at the District Attorney's Office, particularly the loss of about 30 percent of its staff. Prosecutors are also dealing with a sharp increase in homicides.
"We don't have the attorneys. We have a higher case load, and we're in trial nonstop," he said.
Smith-Downs has sued Stockton and its Police Department over the killing of her son, but that lawsuit has twice been returned by the court for revisions to the paperwork. She is represented by John Burriss, the Oakland attorney who represented the family of Oscar Grant and who is representing the family of 34-year-old Ernest Duenez Jr., shot and killed by Manteca police on June 8.
Smith-Downs said she has been involved with activism targeting perceived police brutality since her son's killing.
"I want to get the word out: Stand up! Speak up!" she said.
Dionne Smith-Downs, mother of James Rivera, was one of the dozens of demonstrators who gathered across from the Stockton Police Department on Friday, the anniversary of the shooting of 15-year-old Rivera.

2011-07-23 "Free Debray Carpenter AKA Fly Benzo, arrested by SFPD" by Idriss Stelley Foundation
Free Debray Carpenter Aka Fly Benzo arrested 2 days ago, after the Bayview Opera House forum about the SFPD Killing of Kenneth Harding. 9 police officers came to arrest him.
They charged him with threatening a Police office but really he is being targeted by the authorities for standing up for his community, as he has been a constant voice for the younger generation who no one speaks for.
Comrade Fly has been very vocal about the multiple lies and deception spun by SFPD top brass since the killing of Kenneth Wade Harding Jr. last Saturday on rd & Oakdale in SF Bayview.
A demonstration is planned tomorrow Saturday to Free him, we will post time and location below this post in comments when we find out more

"update" by nojusticenobart Sunday Jul 24th, 2011 2:25 PM
Just to be clear, Debray was arrested YESTERDAY and needs our support TOMORROW (Monday!) morning at his arraignment at 850 Bryant.
Here's a link to the facebook event: []

"Arraignment won't likely be Monday" by Kim Rohrbach Monday Jul 25th, 2011 12:31 AM
I understand from folks, including an attorney who has offered to represent Fly should charges be prosecuted, that the arraignment won't likely be Monday.
Tuesday is a likely date, but stay tuned.
Also, I am told by the aforementioned attorney that SF has changed the way it handles in-custody arraignments, and that misdemeanor and felony arraignments now generally occur in the afternoon—although things don't always go according to schedule.

"Tentatively Scheduled for Thursday Now..." by FREE FLY! Monday Jul 25th, 2011 8:23 AM
Just got off the phone with the superior court at 850 Bryant. They are now saying that Debray's hearing has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday. They also confirmed the charges: two obstruction charges, one misdemeanor and one felony. See you Thursday... Fuck the SFPD

"Fly Benzo arraignment could be Tuesday, July 26th - stay tuned!" by Free Debray Carpenter! Tuesday Jul 26th, 2011 12:48 AM
John Hamasaki believes there is a "decent chance" that Debray will be arraigned tomorrow (Tues.). Could be morning or afternoon. If I get any definitive word, I will pass on last-minute to the extent that circumstances allow.
As many of you are aware, activist Debray Carpenter, aka Fly Benzo, is currently in jail at 850 Bryant and is awaiting arraignment following his arrest (at his house) on Saturday. His father has asked community members to come out to show their support, whenever the arraignment takes place.
According to John Hamasaki, who has offered to represent Debray should his case be prosecuted, there is a "decent chance" that the arraignment will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, July 26, either in the morning or afternoon. Debray has been booked on Penal Code § 69* (as a felony) and Penal Code §148** (a) (1) (as a misdemeanor).
A few days prior to his arrest, Debray and many Bayview-Hunters Point residents attended a meeting at the Bayview Opera House, concerning the brutal death of Kenneth Harding at the hands of the SFPD, at which SFPD Chief Greg Suhr was shouted down.
In addition to attending last Wednesday's meeting at the Bayview Opera House, and last Monday's press conference at 3rd & Oakdale, called by the Idriss Stelley Foundation, Debray also participated in the BART action a couple of weeks ago (in response to the execution of Charles Hill by the BART police) and the march from Dolores Park last Tuesday, which culminated in some plus or minus forty arrests. Some media links are included below.
The SFPD clearly want somebody to pay for the response they received at the Bayview Opera House, and for the vehement outrage recently expressed by community members in response to police executions and brutality.
That the SFPD has chosen Debray—a young Black man not afraid of speaking his mind or crossing the social barriers that the cops reinforce with arms—should be understood as a serious attack.
The charges:
*69. Every person who attempts, by means of any threat or violence, to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing any duty imposed upon such officer by law, or who knowingly resists, by the use of force or violence, such officer, in the performance of his duty, is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
**148. (a) (1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

"Fly Benzo released!" by bout time Tuesday Jul 26th, 2011 10:45 PM
He was released today, no charges filed.
Bullshit that the cops can throw anyone they want in jail for days on false charges.
This has to stop!!

"fly benzo HAS NOT been released yet" by reclaim UC ( reclaimuc [at] ) Wednesday Jul 27th, 2011 12:30 AM
was with a number of folks hanging out at the jail this evening waiting for fly benzo to be released. the cops said over and over that he would get out at a given time, and that time would come and nothing. then they would do it all over again. AS OF MIDNIGHT FLY IS STILL IN JAIL. the pigs are now saying that he might not be released until noon tomorrow.

"finally! he's out" by stolen from fb Wednesday Jul 27th, 2011 10:03 AM
fly is out. They waited til everyone left. The spiteful pieces of shit they are.

Fly Benzo
Hero of the People
Photograph showing Fly Benzo taking center stage, at the mic

Friday, July 22, 2011

Justice for Kenneth Harding

2011-07-22 "BOMBSHELL: SFPD Now Says Kenneth Harding Shot Himself to Death; Gun Retrieved Not Harding’s Gun"
I’ve got to go to work soon, and I won’t be back until late afternoon, but I had to report this one.
The temperatures are really going up in San Francisco with this news []. And it’s not about the mercury, but blood pressures.
[begin extract]
After five days of heat over the fatal shooting of a fleeing suspect in the Bayview, San Francisco police on Thursday let loose a bombshell – the young man not only had a gun, officials said, but appears to have killed himself with it.
The bullet that killed 19-year-old Kenneth Wade Harding on Saturday came from a .380-caliber firearm, authorities announced, and a round of the same caliber was recovered from Harding’s jacket pocket.
San Francisco police officers, by contrast, are armed with .40-caliber ammunition and guns that can’t fire a .380-caliber shot, said John Sanchez, a firearm supervisor with the Police Department crime lab.
Cmdr. Mike Biel, who heads investigations, said detectives now believe Harding fatally wounded himself as he fled from two police officers who were attempting to check whether he had a Muni ticket.
Police are still trying to find that weapon, which they believe was stolen from the crime scene.
“Based on the findings of the medical examiner, at this time we believe he was fatally wounded by a .380-caliber bullet,” Biel said Thursday afternoon at the medical examiner’s office, which is rarely the site of news conferences.
[end extract]

I am shaking my head at this. No one is going to believe this latest news, especially when the small-caliber gun remains missing. Nobody believes that Harding even fired at the cops. It looks to the black residents of Bayview-Hunters’ Point that the SFPD are trying to exonerate the cops. A $1,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the recovery of the weapon as well as Harding’s cell phone. They are also searching for a young guy in a hoodie who was recorded picking up Harding’s gun. But right now, the emperor has no clothes and may well lose his skin. Chief of Police Greg Suhr, who used to run the SFPD Bayview Station was run off the stage at the Hunters’ Point Opera House Wednesday night [].
[begin extract]
A community meeting July 20 at the Bayview Opera House dissolved into chaotic shouting when Police Chief Greg Suhr attempted to present the San Francisco Police Department‘s version of what transpired July 16 when a 19-year-old African American man was shot nine times by police and killed just blocks from where the meeting was held.
“On Saturday afternoon, two officers at the Bayview station … contacted a fare evader whose name ended up being Kenneth Wade Harding, Jr. of Seattle, Washington,” Suhr began. “After asking him for his identification, he became a little bit anxious, and at one point in time he jumped off the platform and ran across the street, and ran through crowded Mendell Plaza. I cannot tell you how badly that I feel … as captain of this station for two years. I love the Bayview community.”
At that point, angry shouts rose up and Suhr started getting booed, but he continued. “During this foot pursuit, at some point in time, the suspect … fired at the officers, and the officers returned fire. This is the account that we have so far.”
Kilo Perry began shouting back at the chief, saying, “You are not a friend of ours. You are the enemy,” before bystanders tried to calm him down. The SFPD had planned on showing a power point presentation about the incident, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Suhr was drowned out, and the microphone was passed to various community representatives and members of the clergy, who’d helped organize the meeting, as they tried to regain control. Lifelong Bayview resident Charlie Walker asked people to sit down and relax.
[end extract]

That ain’t gonna happen for a while.
Gotta go.

2011-07-22 "Latest Updates on the Bizarre Murder of 19 Year old Kenneth Harding"
Kenneth Harding
Here’s an intense breakdown of the murder of Kenneth Harding, put together by Jazmayne.. It’s composed of witness accounts of the aftermath to the daytime shooting. Featuring the poetry of the late, great Gil Scott Heron.


The Murder of Kenneth Harding Jr. from J. Young on Vimeo.

Mysterious hooded man picking up gun
Thus far we have few bewildering things going on.. Follow this if you can..We initially heard that SFPD shot an unarmed man when he ran for not having a $2 bus transfer..
Later that night we heard from Police Chief Suhr that the man (Kenneth Harding) had shot at the police but no gun was found..No cops were injured.. By the time 10 o’clock news came on..There were reports that someone had posted a video showing a gun..The police looked at this video and said they would be tracking down a man with a hoodie shown in the video picking up the gun.. Here’s the video…You tell us if this hooded gentleman picked up a gun. You see that about 1;20 minutes into the video.. Also explain to us how police shot a man shooting at them did not secure a weapon that was less than 10ft away from them when they are facing the crowd..

"San Francisco Police (SFPD) shoot and kill a man in the Bayviews Hunters Point Oakdale & 3rd"

The police later tracked down the gun, but did not catch the man who supposedly took the gun. They said they know who he is.. and they will catch him later.. It was interesting that his name was not released so concerned citizens could help bring him to the police.. Up til a couple of days ago this video containing the gun was the main proof the police were offering-showing that Kenneth Harding was armed.
SF police Chief Suhr the day after the shooting announced they had recovered the gun and thanked witnesses for coming forth to letting them know that the man they shot was armed. The next day the police posted signs around the Bayview asking for additional witnesses.
SFPD also announced that the man that they shot was a person of interest in a murder case in Seattle.. This story was put out there as if the SFPD was on the hunt for Harding in conjunction w/ Seattle PD.That was not the case.. All SFPD knew was Harding was a guy who didnt have a $2 bus transfer…By floating this story out, many would be left feeling the police were justified in shooting Harding.. To this day he is still considred a person of interest.. not a person wanted for murder..
Also on Monday July 18th a rally was held where at least half a dozen eye witnesses came forth and talked to various reporters saying they did not see Kenneth Harding shoot at police. This included parents who had kids in the park just 4-5 ft away from where Harding was gunned down. This includes a number of people who were in the plaza which is always packed..We spoke with other reporters, none of them had tracked down witnesses supporting the police version of events.. Here’s a link to our HKR radio coverage [!/song/hard-knock-radio-protest-at-hunters-point-over-police-ki/101118/]
Below is OLM video of some of this coverage…

After the Monday press conference.. SFPD claimed they did tests and that gun residue was found on the hands of the Kenneth Harding.. To my knowledge this was not independently verified. Considering that as 3 months ago SFPD had to jettison 57 felony cases for falsifying evidence [], one wonders why they wouldn’t be more transparent? Why not go above board to ensure public confidence in the process? We do know on Tuesday there was private closed door meeting with Mayor Ed Lee, the police and a handful of community leaders.. At that meeting there was no independent verification. SF Commissioner La Mesha Irizarry [] has written about what went down at this meeting.
The most recent updates have SFPD saying that according the SF medical examiner Harding shot himself and thus killed himself.. Many find that outrageous. Harding was running from police and was shot in the back..The police are saying they found gun residue on his hand, but they had to backtrack on the gun story.. The gun they found does not match the residue.. and so now police are still looking for the gun..
We’ll keep you posted as this bizarre tale continues to unfold..

Incoming search terms:
Kenneth Harding hoody
19-year-old Kenneth Harding
kenneth harding seattle homicide
Kenneth Wade Harding video showing gun
kennith Harding
sfpd murders unarmed man

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011-07-21 "Protesters accuse W. Sac police of excessive force" by Matt Kawaharafrom "Sacramento Bee" newspaper
Members of the Latino community in West Sacramento gathered Wednesday outside the city hall to protest what they called a pattern of discrimination and violence against their constituents by law enforcement officers.
The protest, which drew about 50 people, stemmed from an incident last Sunday in which West Sacramento Police Department officers used a baton during the arrest of a 30-year-old man on Simon Terrace.
Protesters and an attorney representing Aristeo Vasquez-Munoz alleged Wednesday that officers used unnecessary force in arresting Vasquez-Munoz, striking him while he was lying on his stomach and providing no resistance, and also arrested another man because he had filmed the incident on his cell phone.
Police issued an account of the incident saying that the use of force was necessary to gain compliance from Vasquez-Munoz, who resisted and struggled with officers.
Officers responded around 9 p.m. Sunday to a report of a fight between two large groups, West Sacramento Police Department Lt. Tod Sockman said. After they arrived and conducted a preliminary investigation, they arrested Vasquez-Munoz on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and battery and child endangerment, Sockman said.
During the arrest, police reported, Vasquez-Munoz resisted and was struck with a baton three times on the back of his left leg, police reported. The incident occurred outside the field of view of the patrol car's in-car camera, but audio was recorded, police reported.
"(The officer) said it multiple times – 'You're under arrest, put your hands in the air' – and the guy didn't comply," said Sockman, who said the officer also gave the commands in Spanish. "Then finally you can hear, 'OK, OK,' and according to the police report he was only saying that after the baton strikes."
Vasquez-Munoz, who was present at the protest Wednesday on crutches, gave a different account of the incident. He said through a translator that officers ordered him to lie down, which he did after twice asking, "Why?"
He said that after he lied down on his stomach with his hands behind his head, he was struck multiple times by an officer with a baton. He was then put into a patrol car and taken to jail, he said.
His attorney, Anthony Palik, disputed that Vasquez was involved in a fight and said the use of the baton against him was "obviously excessive force."
Palik said he is also representing Jesus Castro-Haro, 33, who police reported was one of three other people at the scene arrested on suspicion of public intoxication.
Protesters alleged Wednesday that Castro-Haro was arrested after officers saw him film Vasquez's arrest on his cell phone.
However, Sockman said that a patrol car camera captured Castro-Haro's arrest, and that Castro-Haro did not appear to be holding anything in his hands when contacted by officers.
Palik said he was in possession of Castro-Haro's phone Wednesday night and was attempting to unlock it and look for the video. Palik said no charges were filed against Castro-Haro when he appeared in court Wednesday, but that he faces deportation.
Protesters were planning to attend Wednesday's city council meeting and bring their concerns before elected officials. They said Sunday's incident continued a pattern of discrimination and violence against their community, pointing to the case of the Galvan brothers – who were beaten by West Sacramento police in June 2005 – and a gang injunction in the city that they said leads to "mistreatment."
"People from Sacramento are afraid to come to West Sacramento because they are afraid of the police department," said Frank Gonzalez of the West Sacramento chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "People don't want to come and visit us here because they are afraid of the police mistreating them."
Sockman said a formal administrative review into the use of force against Vasquez-Munoz is being conducted per department policy.

Ramon Ledesma, and daughter Janice, 2, attend Wednesday's protest.
2011-07-20 "SF police arrest 35 in protest of fatal shooting" by Marisa Lagos from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
SAN FRANCISCO -- Gunshot residue was found on the hand of a man fatally shot by San Francisco police, officials said Tuesday, a finding that could bolster officers' assertion that the man opened fire on them before he was killed. Also Tuesday, more than 35 people protesting the shooting were arrested in downtown San Francisco.
Kenneth Wade Harding, 19, was shot and killed in the Bayview neighborhood Saturday after he allegedly fired at two officers who had asked him if he had a Muni ticket.
Harding was a Washington state parolee who was being sought for questioning in connection with a Seattle killing last week. He ran from the San Francisco officers and fired a gun from under his arm before the officers shot back and struck him, police said.
About 150 people gathered in Dolores Park at 5 p.m. to protest Harding's shooting and Bay Area police conduct in general.
Dozens of protesters marched from the park through the Mission and Castro districts during the evening, shutting down streets and at one point storming the Castro Muni station. Inside, some protesters threw smoke bombs and used sticks and hammers to smash signs and vandalized a Bank of America branch, according to police.
They also stopped in front of the Mission Police Station, where they threw a hammer at officers, who were not hit. One protester attempted to take a camera away from a member of a local TV news crew - police made an arrest in that incident, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said.
The protesters moved toward downtown and the Powell Street cable car turnaround, disrupting Muni service and traffic. When they ignored orders to clear the street, police surrounded the group and made arrests. Several others were arrested nearby after scuffling with police.
The discovery of gunshot residue on Harding's right hand "supports statements from witnesses that Harding held the gun in his right hand as he fired at the police officers," Esparza said.
The residue could indicate either that Harding fired a gun, was in close proximity to a gun as it was fired, or touched a gun or other object with gunshot residue, Esparza said.
In addition to Saturday's shooting, there has been outrage over a July 3 shooting in which BART police killed Charles Blair Hill, a 45-year-old transient. Police said Hill threw a bottle at two officers and pulled a knife before one of the officers shot him to death on the BART Civic Center Station platform in San Francisco.
But it was the Saturday shooting that most outraged protesters. Police did not find a gun at the scene, near Third Street and Oakdale Avenue, but an online video taken just after Harding was shot showed what appeared to be a gun on the ground. Police later found what they believe was the gun, a .45-caliber pistol, at the home of a parolee in the Bayview.
Police Chief Greg Suhr is scheduled to attend a community meeting about the shooting at 6 p.m. today at the Bayview Opera House, 4705 Third St.

Noah Berger / Special to The Chronicle
Police surround several dozen protesters, upset about the recent police shooting of Kenneth Wade Harding, before arresting them near Union Square on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, in San Francisco. Harding, a 19-year-old Washington state parolee, opened fire on officers before he was killed.

2011-07-21 "Police detail 43 arrests in S.F. protest of cops" by Marisa Lagos from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
(07-20) 16:11 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A total of 43 people were arrested Tuesday night during a raucous protest against police conduct in San Francisco, two of them for assault, authorities said today.
The protest was a response to Saturday's fatal shooting of a Washington state parolee by officers who chased him in the Bayview neighborhood after stopping him to see if he was riding Muni without a ticket.
Police officials said the man, 19-year-old Kenneth Wade Harding, had first fired at the two officers. On Tuesday, one hour before the protest, police announced they had found gunshot residue on Harding's right hand.
Tuesday's demonstration turned violent at several points, including when a protester attacked a CBS news cameraman and attempted to steal his camera in the Mission District.
Police said one person was arrested for assault in that attack, while another person was arrested for an assault in the Castro District. No further details were provided.
The march ended at Powell and Ellis streets, where protesters refused police commands to disperse. Those demonstrators were loaded into vans and cited for failing to obey a lawful order and for being in a roadway, said Officer Albie Esparza.
He said 17 of the arrestees were San Francisco residents, 25 were from other California counties, and one was from out of state.
The protesters also vandalized a Bank of America ATM in the Castro and equipment in the Castro Muni station, Esparza said.
Someone threw a hammer at officers lined up in front of the Mission police station, he said, though no officers were struck or injured and no one was arrested.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011-07-20 "Citizens: Release shooting video; 70 march on Civic Center" by Glenn Kahl from "Manteca Bulletin"
A march Tuesday on the Manteca City Council chambers by family members and friends of the late Ernesto Duenez Jr. was an attempt to get answers.
The group chanted “Justice for Ernesto” during their three-block walk along Union Road and Center Street.
A few cars honked their support during their trek down the roadway.
Duenez was fatally shot by a Manteca Police officer in what has been described as a traffic stop in the 200 block of Flores Street at about 6:45 on the evening of June 8. A patrol officer claimed that the man was getting out of his pickup truck with a weapon in hand and beginning to rush at him.
There were some 70 marchers who first gathered and organized in the Rite Aid parking lot beginning an hour before the 7 p.m. council meeting. They handed out placards at the Union Road and Yosemite Avenue center and unfolded a large banner they would display for the march to city hall on Center Street.
As they marched on the side of Center Street and up to the city offices they chanted in unison: “No justice, no peace!” over and over again.
The placards they carried displayed photographs of Ernesto with his family members that read, “Justice for Our Cousin – Justice for Our Brother – Justice for Our Friend.” The 12-foot-wide banner read simply, “For Truth and Justice” in both English and Spanish. Others carried smaller sheets of paper with one word, “Why.”
The Duenez family said they had yet to receive answers to important questions they had on the shooting and were being joined in the city council chambers by additional members of the community as well as organizations from the Bay Area, Sacramento and elsewhere in the Central Valley.
Their main plea to the council:
“We are requesting that the Manteca City Council and the Manteca Police Department turn over the case to the federal authorities as we want a completely independent review of the incident which we believe unlawfully, unjustly and illegally took the life of Ernest Duenez Jr.”
When the marchers walked up to the council chambers doorway, they were greeted by members of the Manteca Fire Department on hand for crowd control. The seating limit in the chambers was posted at 83. With other citizens on hand for additional agenda items, the capacity set by the fire department was at its limit which was allowed to be exceeded.
The crowd kept their composure and acted courteously with city staff members.
The police department contends officers were on the lookout for Duenez who they said was listed as a parolee-at-large when he was stopped and considered armed and dangerous.

Placard carrying marchers move up the Civic Center driveway Tuesday night on their way to the council chambers to ask for answers in the shooting death of Ernesto Duenez Jr. on June 8.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011-07-19 "Story changing rapidly about South Seattle shooting, ‘person of interest’" by Dave Workman, Seattle Gun Rights Examiner
Faster than one can crank out a newspaper, the details surrounding the fatal shooting of a so-called “person of interest” in a South Seattle homicide by San Francisco police over the weekend are changing, leaving one to ponder whether the dead man, Kenneth Wade Harding, had any connection to the slaying of Tanaya Gilbert last week.
The Seattle Times [], on-line Seattle Post-Intelligencer [] (picking up a story from the San Francisco Chronicle), KIRO 7 Eyewitness News and a news blog on the KQED website reveal some startling new details about the Gilbert slaying and the subsequent killing of Harding hundreds of miles away in a different state.
Among the more significant was this:
"Gilbert was a former Renton High School student who turned 19 a week ago, family members said. Relatives believed that Gilbert was seven weeks pregnant. But the King County Medical Examiner's office told Gilbert's mother her daughter wasn't..."—Seattle Times
Another twist in the case appears in the Chronicle story picked up this morning by the Post-Intelligencer:
"A pistol that San Francisco police believe Kenneth Wade Harding may have used before being shot to death here Saturday was found at another location. But police in San Francisco says it is a different caliber from the one used to kill 19-year-old Tanaya Gilbert a week ago in Seattle."—San Francisco Chronicle
When this column spoke yesterday with Seattle police, they made no official connection between the two incidents, and would not even confirm whether San Francisco investigators were talking to police detectives here. That has changed, with this morning’s Seattle Times report that detectives here are “working on the investigation with San Francisco police…”
Every published report has Harding running from a pair of police officers who were checking for fare violations on a rapid transit platform. Law enforcement sources not involved in either investigation immediately raised some questions: Why would Harding, who reportedly was in violation of his parole here earlier this year by being in California, suddenly run from the police over an apparent transit fare evasion? Why would he open fire on the police, as alleged?
Was he fearful of being arrested for being a felon in possession of a gun?
Or was there another reason?
Why was he in California at all? Had he fled there for some reason?
For the record, as the Seattle Times is reporting this morning:
"No evidence has been disclosed by law-enforcement officials that directly links Harding to the Seattle shootings."
This all must be sorted out, but what is known is that at age 19, Harding had already spent time in prison, serving a year at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center for “attempted promoting of commercial sexual abuse” of a young teenage girl. Clallam Bay is the same facility from which Tacoma Mall shooter Dominick Maldonado recently tried to escape, as this column reported [].
KIRO is reporting that:
"Harding met with his community corrections officer at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 hours before a gunman fired on a group of teenagers in South Seattle, killing 19-year-old Tanaya Gilbert and wounding three others."—KIRO 7 Eyewitness News
And as this column noted yesterday [], the gun allegedly carried by Harding during the shootout in San Francisco was grabbed by someone at the scene. Police later recovered it thanks to an informant. Now the San Francisco Chronicle and Post-Intelligencer report that somebody even grabbed all but one of the spent shell casings from the San Francisco shooting scene.
One can make a couple of presumptions about that. Either the crowd wanted keepsakes, or somebody was trying to make this look like the shooting of an unarmed man. That’s tampering with evidence, and it is a crime everywhere.
This story is far from an ending, and it already is assured the ending will not be happy.
2011-07-19 "West Sac Police takes camera and arrests eyewitness who now faces deportation"
West Sacramento police have arrested an eyewitness to police brutality and took his camera. The eyewitness, Jesus Castro, now faces deportation and is currently in jail. A protest is planned for July 20th.
On Sunday July 17th, West Sacramento resident Jesus Castro was arrested and had his camera confiscated by West Sacramento police while videotaping an incident of police brutality. Mr. Castro, who is undocumented, now faces deportation and is currently being held at Yolo County Jail. This follows a pattern of police brutality and discrimination in Yolo County, especially in West Sacramento, where the Latino community has been under siege for several years. This includes so-called gang injunction, which specifically targets Latino youth, forbidding them from dressing in certain colors that the short-sighted authorities believes identifies them as gang members, as well as depriving them of their freedom of association.
In response to this new attack, the community is not standing idle. Two local groups are organizing a peaceful protest on Wednesday, July 20th at 6pm outside West Sacramento City Hall (1110 West Capitol Avenue).

For more information on the protest and the incident, contact:
Frank Gonzalez (LULAC) at 916-821-6823
Paramo Hernandez (Primero de Mayo) at 916-825-0402

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011-07-17 "‘Why should you die for a transfer?’" by Willie Ratcliff from "San Francisco Bayview Newspaper"
Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff can be reached at or (415) 671-0789.
Sister Halimah Allah writes from Los Angeles on July 18: “As I watch another Black man – shot down in the street like a mad dog by occupation forces paid for by our tax dollars and 456 years of dehumanization – I read accounts of the incident and wonder: What is this young man’s name? Who are his people: family, friends etc.? Does he have a mother? Does she know her son is dead? (Peace be upon him.) I’m the mother of four Black men! I’m grandma to nine grandsons. I’m great-grandma to one. I’ve seen this scene too many times in my 70 years! I wonder: WHO WILL MOURN for this young Black Man? WHO WILL MOURN for all those yet to fall at the hands of our ever-open enemies? Who will mourn for us all?”

When police stopped a teenager stepping off the T-train yesterday to show his transfer as proof he’d paid his fare – $2 at most – he ran from them. They shot him as many as 10 times in the back and neck, according to witnesses. For many long minutes, as a crowd watched in horror, the boy, who had fallen to the sidewalk a block away, lay in a quickly growing pool of blood writhing in pain and trying to lift himself up as the cops trained their guns on him and threatened bystanders.

Having killed the boy at 4:44 p.m., according to the San Francisco Chronicle [], in broad daylight at the main intersection – Third Street between Palou and Oakdale – in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco’s last largely Black neighborhood, the police seemed eager to terrorize the community. They waited and waited and waited as the teenager stopped moving but continued breathing before eventually setting him on a gurney and taking him to the hospital, where the Chronicle reports he died at 7:01 p.m.
“Why should you die for a transfer?” asked a witness known as Tiptoe in the crowd of hundreds of residents that soon gathered in the plaza at the Oakdale/Palou light rail stop. “Justice will be brought!” hollered one man repeatedly in a booming voice as the crowd shouted at the long line of police in riot gear standing between them and the dying youngster. “I saw the riot squad fly by me on Palou yesterday – five trucks in all,” wrote Bayview resident Sherry Bryson on Facebook.
As usual following police murders, the San Francisco Police Department came up with an excuse. The Chronicle relayed it: “As the officers tried to detain the man, he took off running and drew a gun, police said,” according to staff writer Joe Garofoli. “When the suspect shot at the officers, they returned fire, fatally wounding him,” he continued, quoting SFPD Sgt. Michael Andraychak.
None of the many witnesses I spoke with yesterday saw the young victim either holding or shooting a gun and firmly believe he was unarmed. ABC7’s Carolyn Tyler balanced the police claim that they shot the youngster in self-defense by interviewing Trivon Dixon, who said: “He was running. How could he be a threat in retreat? And he wasn’t running backwards, turning around shooting. He was in full throttle, running away from the police. I don’t see in any way how he could be a threat to the police.”
On Sunday, reported an announcement by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr that a gun had been found which he said belonged to the victim []. That police have also kicked off the usual campaign to demonize the victim is evident in KTVU noting that “the suspect had an extensive criminal record out of state.” And in another standard response to a police murder, KTVU reported, “Police patrolled the Third Street corridor Sunday with an additional 10 officers due to an increase in gun violence in the past three weeks.”
“How come a Black man can get shot for not having a transfer? How come a Black man has to be so terrorized that he feels that he has to run for not having a transfer?” ponders activist and graduate student Malaika Kambon. “These kinds of killings have not, would not, do not ever happen in white communities anywhere in the world,” she notes in a Facebook discussion.
“This is insane! They are shooting people over transfers?” exclaimed Renaldo Ricketts on Facebook. “Over a transfer – a piece of paper? That is just so wrong!” wrote Sherry Bryson.
“Why did they have to chase him for a transfer?” wrote Latashia Burleson, who started the discussion. “There are many people on the bus who didn’t pay. What they gone do, chase everyone down? And they wonder why they don’t get no respect or cooperation in the community. This makes my blood boil. It has to stop!”
On June 29, Bayview- and Mission District-based POWER, heading a coalition of transit and civil right activist groups that recently helped secure 12,000 free passes for low-income youth passengers, staged a demonstration calling for free Muni – free transit passes for all passengers, the San Francisco Examiner reported []. The San Francisco Municipal Railway, known as Muni, has followed up major rate increases in recent years with greatly intensified police fare enforcement, imposing heavy fines and even jail time for riders who are unable to prove by showing a paper transfer that they paid their fare.
“Let’s all remember that we are second class citizens to the police. Period,” remarked Robert Pineda.
“We have a Mafioso-type situation in San Francisco,” wrote Alan Collins, “where the police make endorsements of so-called ‘moderate’ political candidates and those candidates very often win election and you almost never hear anything from them that amounts to criticism, let alone any type of serious investigation, of the police. This has made SF a city with police who are simply unaccountable, can be assured of getting away with virtually anything, and a collection of elected officials who know that if they do anything that counters what the police want, they will be treated the way Rupert Murdoch has operated with his media empire: reward and punishment.”
“As the state has removed any illusion that it exists to serve or protect people, we can see clearly that it exists only to push us into prisons and to shoot us in cold blood. Two single dollars are worth more to them than our lives. The very existence of the police clearly endangers all of us,” concluded an anonymous writer on Indybay.
A comment on YouTube under the video, “SFPD Ruthlessly Shoots and Kills Unarmed 19yr old Man over $2 Bus Fair,” posted above, reflects the common wisdom in the community that this was a public execution with a purpose: “The white man did the same thing during slavery. They would take a Black man and whip him or kill him in front of all the slaves, to make sure the slaves got the picture of who’s in control.”
A press conference and speakout has been called for Monday noon at Third and Oakdale by the Idriss Stelley Foundation, Education Not Incarceration, the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and Poor Magazine. According to Indymedia, a protest will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Dolores Park.

This frame from a video shot by a bystander shows the teenager struggling to lift himself out of a pool of his own blood as a San Francisco police officer – one of several – aims his gun at the boy rather than trying to save his life. – Video frame: TheOneNonly457
As night fell, firefighters washed the teenager's blood off the sidewalk and police and reporters talked. Rick Hauptman, who posted this photo on Facebook, noted: "The police seemed almost jolly. I saw many handshakes among them; I couldn't figure that out. Were they solely being respectful to their colleagues and to senior officers, or was it something else?”

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2011-07-16 "Oscar Grant's best friend is shot, killed" by Henry K. Lee from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
The best friend of Oscar Grant who was there the night a BART police officer fatally shot the unarmed man was shot and killed at a Hayward gas station, authorities and friends said Saturday.
Johntue Caldwell, 25, of Fremont was found behind the wheel of a Cadillac parked at the Union 76 gas station at West Tennyson Road and Calaroga Avenue about 5:35 p.m. Friday, according to police and friends.
The victim had been sitting in the Cadillac when someone walked up to the vehicle and fired several rounds, said Hayward police Lt. Roger Keener. The assailant fled and was not located after a search of the area.
The motive for the slaying was not known, but police do not believe this was a random act, Keener said.
"Investigators will be focusing on learning anything they can about this incident from people who may have been in the area at the time," Keener said. "Through their investigation, they also expect to determine if the victim was the intended target of this attack."
In 2010, Caldwell filed a $5 million federal civil rights lawsuit, saying he was mistreated by a second BART police officer, Marysol Domenici, before Officer Johannes Mehserle shot Grant in the back on the platform of Oakland's Fruitvale Station early Jan. 1, 2009. Mehserle was recently released from custody after serving half of a two-year prison term for involuntary manslaughter.
Caldwell, the father of two young sons, was the godfather of Grant's daughter, Tatiana, now 7, who received a $1.5 million settlement from BART in connection with Grant's death.
Caldwell's suit, which is still pending, said Domenici ordered him to the ground, threatened him with a Taser, touched the stun gun to his face and cursed him using a racial slur. Caldwell was "mentally and emotionally injured," his attorneys wrote.
Dale Allen, an attorney for BART, said after the suit was filed that Caldwell had a "significant criminal history" and was one of three men who cursed at and physically challenged officers as they detained Grant and three others after a fight on a train.
But John Burris, an attorney for Grant's family whose civil suit against BART officers is pending, said Saturday, "Nothing I know about Johntue says that he was involved in any illegal activity."
Burris said, "Johntue was a wonderful young man. He had career objectives. He and his mother were very, very close. He and Oscar had been friends since early childhood. They were as close as brothers could be, and this is a tragedy of the highest order. It's hard to imagine that another young man of that relatively small group of people is dead."

Johntue Caldwell

"Uhuru Solidarity of Oakland" wrote:
No matter how you look at it, this is a terroristic system we live in.
Johntue Caldwell was on the platform with Oscar Grant.
He had a lawsuit pending.
They try to say he had a criminal record but it is this system that has a criminal record for killing African people.
Vigil for Jontue Caldwell, tonight, 6pm, July 16, 2011
West Tennyson Road & Calaroga Ave., Hayward, CA
2011-07-16 "A New Era in Policing?"
News of "Predictive Policing" first surfaced around the new year. Hailed as the next generation of policing, it seeks to direct police resources to "times and places" where there is a greater likelihood of crime being committed. Sometime in January, the Santa Cruz Police Department finished submitting crime reports from the last eight years to George Mohler [], a mathematics professor at Santa Clara University. Santa Cruz is the first city in the nation to embrace this model. In Mohler's own words: "The more you put police in areas where there is more crime, the more efficiently you're policing the city." The Sentinel article about SCPD's adoption of the program can be found here []. In this article, rather than rehashing what has already been said, we will emphasize the unstated significance of predictive policing and point towards ways to frustrate, antagonize, or just operate within a town that will try to predict your crime before you commit it.

New Smell, Same Shit -
Since at least some future police reports will be a product of predictive policing, while the analytics that power predictive policing are fed by prior police reports, it is likely that the predictive policing will create reinforcing feedback loops []. As predictive policing recognizes a concentration of criminal activity, it will direct police resources towards that concentration. The concentration can be geographical, like the Bonesio's Parking Lot, and also have a temporal dimension, like closing time. By directing police patrols towards these locations, the police can harass, detain, or arrest people more efficiently. Their actions result in police reports that get funneled back into the predictive policing analytics, further concentrating crime in these already targeted areas.
By targeting places where crime is already reported, predictive policing increases social division: bad neighborhoods are further ghettoized, while pressure it taken off good neighborhoods. Kids in the upper westside take "d-methamphetamine" (marketed as Deoxsyn for ADHD) to get high and feel good, while those trapped in desperate circumstances smoke dirty crystal for the same reasons. One group is mostly ignored by police, while the other is criminalized. Predictive policing further concentrates police pressure on the more targeted group. This is not to say that the ideal solution is some equitable form of policing, only that existing social divisions are further sharpened by this program.
At least some of the inspiration for predictive policing comes from the success of computer analytics in determining the actions of consumers. As Police Chief Magazine reports []:
[begin excerpt]
Advanced analytics are used in almost every segment of society to improve service and optimize resources. Some examples include customer loyalty programs that track purchases and provide specifically targeted coupons that are based on recent or related purchases and algorithms that create models of customer preferences and recommend products to similar customer groups.
[end excerpt]
In every corner of our lives, data is being collected about us and our actions. These data storehouses have been utilized to sell us consumer goods tailored to our specific tastes. Now, these databases are becoming fodder for the predictive policing analytics. In a Department of Justice bulletin on Community-Oriented Policing [], the first "tool" listed in a "predictive policing toolbox" was to: "Identify data from other agencies (e.g., schools and hospitals) that may be useful for predictive policing analyses". Predictive Policing might be the bridge between the warehousing of personal and relational data and the always-tightening clampdown of social control. Advanced analytics, of course, have always been part of the police toolkit, but until now they have been reserved for large operations, usually run by federal agencies. Now, the same techniques are becoming available at local levels.
As these techniques trickle down to local agencies, coupled with Jerry Brown's restructuring towards local government, police are realizing that "community" initiatives are of increasing importance. If the police are going to be on your block constantly, they want to do it with a smiling face. Put differently, they want to avoid being a target for the antagonism they deserve.
Defenders of predictive policing say that it doesn't target individuals, only locations. But you'd be blind if you couldn't see that different areas are defined by the presence of different social groups. For instance, one distinct group of people hangs out on the Pasatiempo Golf Course while another hangs out outside the laundromat on Barson St. This new advance in policing is only a new excuse to do what police have always done: reinforce class divisions and quarantine "undesirable" social groups.

Responding to Predictive Policing -
One clear way to avoid or frustrate the mechanisms of predictive policing is to follow the good ol' criminal adage--Don't shit where you eat. By taking crime out of the neighborhoods where we live, perhaps we can lessen the pressure on those places. One study of predictive policing found a correlation with the number of housing code violations in a neighborhood and the amount of burglary. Basically, people were burglarizing poor neighborhoods, which rationalized a police presence in those places. By decreasing "broke-on-broke crime" [], we are also fighting an increase of police patrols. For an interesting primer on how rich people defend against burglary, we here at SCR would recommend Jack MacLean's Secrets of a Superthief []. He robbed exclusively from rich neighborhoods and did it with mad style.
Beyond doing crime intelligently, we also have the capacity to disrupt the community aspects of policing. While there are infinite possibilities for this, here are three interesting departure points for you and your crew. The friendly face of community policing is sugary icing on a cake of shit. It's important to show the entire idea of "policing" as rotten at its core and to fight police attempts to insert themselves into neighborhood dialogue.
First, the local example. On March 13th, about 60 folks got together at Grant St. Park to barbecue "for a world without police." There was a free wall for graffiti, dank grub, and an awesome Know Your Rights workshop []. By initiating conversations in the places we live, we can clarify our own position and make friends with our neighbors who feel similarly.
Secondly, we can disrupt the police department's attempts to legitimize itself. In Modesto, comrades staged a disruption [] of a police accreditation meeting. At a time when the MPD was attempting to pat itself on the back, people made sure everyone remembered that the MPD were murderers.
Lastly, comrades in Vancouver, BC, took space back from Community Policing efforts with a concerted vandalism campaign []. Eventually, the community policing center was forced to relocate. Community police forces can often act as the vanguard of gentrification, making a place more digestible to yuppies. Here is one of many ways that activity directed against the police intersects with other struggles.
Obviously, different forms of resistance are applicable to different contexts. Santa Cruz is the pilot city for a program that has the potential to change the shape of modern policing. With our shoulder to the wheel, let's make it a failure.