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

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Modesto CopWatch Update: July & August 2011

Modesto CopWatch …Google us!

July 1 –The Modesto Bee reports that Stanislaus County sheriffs met with the family of Eric Vigen and gave them details of how he was unarmed when he was shot 55 times with semiautomatic rifles by Sgt. Ian Troxell, and officers Jonathan Box and Adam Percey, all of the California Highway Patrol. Vigen, 37, died June 18th when CHP responded to a report of a suicidal man at the Valero gas station at Crows Landing Road and West Main Street, west of Turlock. “An apology from the CHP would be really nice,” Clint Vigen, Eric’s brother said, “the CHP has had no contact with us to say, ‘We are sorry we killed your son … your brother,’ this is not about money; this is about an apology, some recognition of our loss.”

July 5–Kelly Thomas, a 37 year old homeless man with schizophrenia, was severely beaten by Fullerton police Jay Cicinelli and Manny Ramos after refusing to let them search his backpack. He died a few days later from his injuries. Kelly’s own father, a former cop, expressed that he was ashamed to be a law enforcement officer after what happened to his son.
Kelly Thomas before & after beating

July 16 –San Francisco police officers shoot and kill 19 year old Kenneth Harding after he ran from a $2 MUNI bus fare ticket check. Later police claim Harding shot himself when he tried pull a gun on police, but many witnesses maintain that he was shot down by SFPD.
SFPD stands over Kenneth Hading

July 19 –Nearly 100 community members, friends, and relatives of Ernest Duenez Jr. packed the Manteca City Council meeting and express concerns about the investigation into the shooting of Ernest by MPD officer John Moody on June 8th.

July 22 –Over 100 people marched through the streets of Stockton from the police station to the DA’s office exactly one year after Stockton cops shot and killed 16 year old James Rivera Jr.

July 27 –Almost 100 Stanislaus County Sheriffs and agents from the FBI and Immigration (ICE) raided the 7th Street Flea Market in Modesto as well as a few homes in Mo-town and Stockton, arresting 39 people for selling or possessing counterfeit CDs and DVDs, probation violations, and for being undocumented.

August 11 –Kari Abbey, the Stanislaus County sheriff who shot and killed Rita Elias in September of 2010, has her unusually low bail (for charges of 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, child endangerment, embezzlement, and conspiracy) raised from $300,000 to $1 million. With the money made by the Abbeys and Benny Taylor from being slumlords to stealing from work, from illegal marijuana growing operations to counterfeit money and steroids, Abbey was able to make the new bail and remain free.

August 14 –Almost 200 people gathered at the Lathrop Community Center to celebrate the life of Ernest Duenez Jr. The day included guest speakers, music, BBQ, and discussion on ways to fight police brutality in the central valley.