Thursday, August 28, 2014

Justice for Andy Lopez! Action called for Sept. 9th in Santa Rosa

Justice for Andy Lopez Cruz! (Santa Rosa, d. 2013-10-22) [link]

"Public Outrage to Greet Board of Supervisors over Gelhaus Return to Duty; Demand Grows to Remove Erick Gelhaus from the Streets"
Where:  Bd. of Supervisors Meeting 575 Administration Dr, Santa Rosa, CA
When: 2pm, 9/9/14
Contact the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez Media Committee [justice3@) sonic.net] [jonathan4536@) sbcglobal.net]

Since District Attorney Jill Ravitch’s full exoneration of Deputy Erick Gelhaus (post election), clearing the Deputy of any and all criminal liability for the death of 13-year old Andy Lopez, a groundswell of outrage has been growing over the return of Erick Gelhaus to the streets of Sonoma County.
Most enraged have been members of the Spanish speaking Latino community of Santa Rosa, many of whom fear for the lives of their children. Nicole Guerra, mother of Andy’s closest childhood friend, spoke recently at the Sonoma County Task Force on Healing to express her anger and fear for her three children who live and play in the Moorland neighborhood where Andy was shot. “I fear for my children everyday they go out to play or go to school. I work with Andy’s Youth, the kids who’ve remained active demanding Justice since Andy’s death. They all feel unsafe whenever a police car drives near them. Since Andy’s death, teenagers will duck and hide to avoid a marked police car for fear of being stopped and harassed. The other day, my two-year old asked me if the police might shoot him! We will remain afraid and angry as long as Gelhaus patrols our streets!”
A press statement by Sonoma County Board member Shirlee Zane lambasted Sheriff Freitas’ handling of the return of Deputy Gelhaus, calling it a “slap in the face” to the community still grieving over the teen’s death. Anti- Gelhaus posters are appearing all over the County – in stores, windows of homes and on telephone poles.
A Facebook Page entitled, “Where has the Sheriff put Erick today?” is spreading virally on Social Media encouraging County residents to report on sightings of Deputy Gelhaus [https://www.facebook.com/WhereisErick].
According to Justice Coalition media committee member Mary Moore, “I have been involved in the justice struggle against police-related fatalities in Sonoma County since the mid-90’s. Since the US Civil Rights Commission issued their report in 2000 (from the ’98 hearings in Sonoma County), we have experienced an epidemic of police-related deaths – 64 in total! Now the community is not going back to sleep and we plan to be at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on September 9th to make our voices heard loud and clear about Gelhaus returning to duty!.”

Poster being hung around town:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Davis City Council votes 3 to 1 to return military vehicle"

2014-08-26 from the "Student Unity Movement":
The City Council of the City of Davis tonight voted to return a "MRAP" military vehicle within a 60-day deadline, while leaving open the exact way that the vehicle would be disposed of, pending staff analysis.  The vote was 3 to 1 in favor of returning the vehicle: Dan Wolk, Robb Davis, Lucas Frerichs in favor -- Brett Lee, opposed -- Rochelle Swanson, abstains.
The attainment of the "mine-resistant, ambush-protected" (MRAP) vehicle by the police department, without clearing the specific purchase through the City Council, was heavily criticized by many citizens president. Approximately 38 people make comments about the vehicle, with only 2 of those 38 in favor of retaining the vehicle.

VIDEO LINK:
[http://davis.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&event_id=143]
AGENDA:
[http://davis.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=davis_450dcf10ab650231d778eba4cbe48b22.pdf]

Monday, August 25, 2014

Victor White III, lynched by Louisiana State Police dept., successful cover-up



"Handcuffed Black Youth Shot Himself to Death, Says Coroner"
2014-08-25 by Hannah Rappleye [http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/handcuffed-black-youth-shot-himself-death-says-coroner-n185016]:
Victor White's Parents

A recent photograph of Victor White III. White died in March at age 22 after suffering a gunshot wound while handcuffed in a police cruiser. The coroner of Iberia Parish has ruled his death a suicide.

In Alexandria, Louisiana, Vanessa White (left), mother of Victor White III, eats dinner with her daughters Precious (13, left) and Victoria White (20, right), and her husband, Rev. Victor White II.

A coroner’s report obtained exclusively by NBC News directly contradicts the police version of how a 22-year-old black man died in the back seat of a Louisiana police cruiser earlier this year -- but still says the man, whose hands were cuffed behind his back, shot himself.
In a press release issued March 3, the day he died, the Louisiana State Police said Victor White III apparently shot himself in an Iberia Parish police car. According to the police statement, White had his hands cuffed behind his back when he shot himself in the back.
But according to the full final report of the Iberia Parish coroner, which was released nearly six months later and obtained exclusively by NBC News, White was shot in the front, not the back. The bullet entered his right chest and exited under his left armpit. White was left-handed, according to family members. According to the report, the forensic pathologist found gunshot residue in the wound, but not the sort of stippling that a close-range shot can sometimes produce. He also found abrasions on White’s face.
And yet, despite the contradictions – and even though White’s hands were never tested for gunpowder residue – the Iberia Parish coroner still supported the central contention of the initial police statement issued back in March. Dr. Carl Ditch ruled that White shot himself, and declared his death a suicide.
In a press release issued Monday, Dr. Ditch said that based on the findings of the pathologist and investigators, it was possible for White “due to his body habitus” to manipulate the gun to shoot himself in the chest.
White’s father doesn’t believe it. He doesn’t believe that a man with a new baby, a girlfriend and a job had the motive for suicide, and he doesn’t think any version of events in which White shot himself, whether in the front or back, is physically possible.
“You can’t make me understand,” said Rev. Victor White II, 53, a Baptist minister and former substance abuse counselor. “You can’t make me understand how my son took his left hand, when he was handcuffed behind the back, and shot himself. I don’t believe a thing they’re saying at this point.”
In Alexandria, Louisiana, Vanessa White (left), mother of Victor White III, eats dinner with her daughters Precious (13, left) and Victoria White (20, right), and her husband, Rev. Victor White II.
Facebook posts reveal two different sides of Victor White III; some photos show a young man acting tough, and another catches him reading the Bible with his brother.

Those who knew him describe him as a goofball, eager to make friends and family laugh. For a time he had struggled to get himself on track, they say, and there were arrests for property damage and marijuana possession, but six months before he died he seemed to be accepting adult responsibility.

After months without work, he got a job at a Waffle House in New Iberia, a sugar cane town of 30,000 more than two hours west of New Orleans. He had begun saving for an apartment with his long-time girlfriend and their infant daughter. Family members say he was trying to decide whether to go to community college or apply for a more lucrative job working on one of the oil rigs that dot the Gulf of Mexico. He’d even started commuting to Alexandria, Louisiana now and then to attend Sunday services at Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, where his father is the preacher.
"He was ready to start,” said his father, Rev. White. “He’d call and text the family every night. ‘I love you, y’all would have been proud of me, I’m working another double [shift].’ ”
On March 2, the younger White was blowing off steam on the one night a week he had off from Waffle House.
Ashley Boutte, 24, said she picked White and his brother Leonard up around 6 p.m. outside a convenience store. They went back to Boutte’s father’s house to hang out.
“[Victor White] was very social,” Boutte said. “Very happy. He didn't seem like he was mad or sad or anything. He was in a real good mood.”
While at Boutte’s father’s house, they ran into Isaiah Lewis, 24, who was visiting his own father next door. Lewis and White, who had never met before, hit it off. They talked for a few hours, about problems Whitewas having with his girlfriend, about work and life. "We just clicked,” Lewis said.
Boutte and Lewis both say they don’t know whether Victor White had a gun.
Boutte said that when White and his brother were rough-housing in the kitchen, she overheard White say, “Oh yeah, I got mine on me,” in reference to a handgun.
Said Boutte, “Leonard was like, ‘Pull it out,” and it was like, ‘No.’ They were playfighting. I know a lot of guys joke around about having [a gun], so I don’t know, as far as if it was true or not.”
Lewis also said he never saw a gun. Leonard White did not agree to be interviewed for this article.
Lewis and Victor White talked and drank for a while, and White asked Lewis if he would help him buy a small amount of marijuana. After they purchased $10 worth at around 11 p.m., Lewis said, the pair walked to the Hop-In, a gas station a few blocks away, to buy cigars.
According to Lewis and the manager of the Hop-In, while Lewis and White were inside the store, a fight started outside.
Two men in front of the store began shouting. One told the other he was going to get a gun. White told Lewis they should stay inside. A woman called 911. After the men ran down the street, Lewis and White left.
Around 11:30 p.m. White and Lewis were walking a few blocks down the road when a police cruiser slowed, Lewis said. According to a service report provided to NBC News by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Corp. Justin Ortis asked the men to stop.
Ortis performed a “consented pat-down” of White, according to the report, and “located suspected marijuana in front pants pocket.”
They told the officer, Lewis said, that they could identify the men who were fighting. He said they offered to go to the convenience store with them, to talk to the clerk. “I said, ‘You can still probably catch them,” Lewis said. “You’re just burning time here. Victor said, ‘Why can’t you go back to the store and look at the camera?’ They said they didn’t have time for that.”
According to a public information officer for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, no one was ever apprehended for that alleged offense.
Lewis said that after finding the marijuana, the officer told them, “I’m going to let y’all go, that’s nothing.”
But after the officer ran the men’s names through a police database, he called for backup. As they waited, White and Lewis sat on the ground in front of the police cruiser, headlights cutting into the dark.
By the time a second officer in a separate cruiser arrived, Lewis said, White had been handcuffed behind his back, and placed in the back of the first car. The police report says White was detained and read his rights.
According to the report, a second search of White produced the cigars and a small amount of cocaine, and White said both the cocaine and marijuana were his. “White was then transported to the patrol center to be questioned by narcotics detectives,” the report concludes.
The officers dismissed Lewis, and he walked back to his father’s house.
But by 5 a.m., Lewis said, detectives were knocking on his door, asking that he come to the station to answer questions about his friend. At no point throughout the course of the subsequent interview, Lewis said, did they tell him that White had died while in the custody of police officers.
"I try playing it out in my head,” Lewis said. "If we had different timing … I don’t know what went wrong exactly that night.”
Early on the morning of March 3, Rev. White and his wife Vanessa, 44, raced down Interstate 49 in their powder blue van, toward Iberia Parish, two hours south of their home in Alexandria. They’d received two disturbing and cryptic phone calls – one from their son, Leonard, and another from the Louisiana State Police. Both said they needed to get to New Iberia because “something had happened” to their son Victor.

"I tried not to think the worst of it,” Vanessa said. “I was never imagining that he had gotten shot.”

When they arrived in New Iberia, Rev. White said, a state investigator told him over the phone that his son was dead and that she was investigating the circumstances. Officials said the family would not be allowed to see the body. Rev. White rushed to the parish jail on Broken Arrow Road to find someone who could tell him what happened. After panicked phone calls to the local coroner and the doctor who pronounced his son dead, Rev. White was finally led into the parish morgue, where thebody lay waiting on the coroner's slab.
Rev. White said that his son’s face seemed swollen, but he could not tell if it was the swell of death, or if his son had been hit. He noted a laceration on the left side of his face. He was not allowed to view the body below the chin.
“I saw distress in his face,” he said. “I saw death.”
As police investigators stood on either side of him, Rev. White performed the last rites over his son’s body, then left the room to tell his wife what he saw.
The Whites did not know anything about the circumstances of their son’s death until after their visit to the morgue, when a family friend in New Iberia called to tell them the State Police had issued a press release on Facebook.
The press release stated that, “[Victor White III] was taken into custody, handcuffed behind his back, and transported to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office for processing. Once at the Sheriff’s Office, White became uncooperative and refused to exit the deputy’s patrol vehicle. As the deputy requested assistance from other deputies, White produced a handgun and fired one round striking himself in the back.”
Within hours of White’s death, the Louisiana State Police had assigned investigators to the case.
Due to the pending investigation, records normally considered public are not available. The State Police will not yet release dash cam footage, or the number of or names of any officers present during White’s death. They will not give any timeframe as to when they expect the investigation to conclude.
“You always want to make sure in the end you did whatever you could do possible, that in whatever case you put forward, is the right case, and the outcome is the right outcome,” said Trooper Brooks David, public information officer for the Louisiana State Police. “So if it takes us eight months, or two months, you always want to make sure that you do the right thing.”
The State Police did issue a cursory preliminary incident report stating that White had been shot with a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun, but that no weapon had been found when White was searched prior to the shooting. According to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, parish police are issued .45 caliber handguns.
The Sheriff’s Office also said via email that White had not been involved in a physical altercation with officers.
The coroner’s report notes that White had two lacerations on the left side of his face – one above his left eyebrow, and one on his left cheek. Lewis said that the last time he saw White – meaning after the police stop, when he was about to walk home and White was in custody – White’s face was unmarked. The original police statement in March said White had been “uncooperative” before the incident, but the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office told NBC News that White had not been involved in any physical altercation with police.
According to the coroner's report, White had a blood alcohol content of .132 percent, which would have made him legally drunk if he were driving, and he also tested positive for marijuana. He tested negative for cocaine and any other narcotics.
The coroner’s report states that according to police, White had intimated he was going to commit suicide before he shot himself.
“The decedent was a 22-year-old black man who was reportedly in a locked patrol car with his hands handcuffed behind him when officers heard a shot and found the decedent slumped over,” the coroner’s report reads. “A small caliber pistol was found and a projectile was found within the shirt. Allegedly he had made a statement that ‘he was gone’ or some similar phrasing before being placed in the patrol car.” The coroner’s report does not say whether White’s wound is consistent with that caliber.
The report does not explain why the initial police statement said White shot himself in the back. Officials declined to comment on why no weapon was discovered during the two recorded searches of White.
The Sheriff’s Office and the State Police both declined requests from NBC News to discuss the forensics of the case. The Sheriff’s Office did say that no civilian complaints have ever been filed against Corp. Ortis, the officer who first stopped White and Lewis. Ortis did not respond to requests for comment, and a second Iberia Parish officer who was on duty that night declined to speak to NBC News.
In the press release issued this morning, Iberia Parish Coroner Dr. Carl M. Ditch, said that he ruled on the White case "without bias."
"Although the decedent was handcuffed at the time with his hands to his back, due to his body habitus, the pathologist and investigators agree that he would have been able to manipulate the weapon to the point where the contact entrance wound was found," Ditch wrote.
The White family says that although they are anxiously awaiting the final results of the Louisiana State Police’s investigation, they have little faith investigators will contradict the coroner’s ruling. “I don’t’ think anything is going to be different from what they already said,” said Rev. White, who has retained a lawyer but hasn’t yet decided whether to file a lawsuit. “It’s difficult to see that anything else would bring us back what we need. The only thing we want back is our son.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Bee wins legal battle for names of UC Davis officers in pepper spray incident"

2014-08-21 by Sam Stanton from "Sacramento Bee" [http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/21/6645851/bee-wins-legal-battle-for-names.html]:
After more than two years of legal battles, The Sacramento Bee has prevailed in a court fight to force the release of the names of police officers involved in the November 2011 pepper spray incident on the University of California, Davis, campus.
The Bee and the Los Angeles Times sued in May 2012 to have the names released, and the case came to a close late Wednesday, when the California Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the police officers’ union seeking to stop release of the names.
UC officials released the officers’ names late Thursday after giving the Federated University Police Officers Association time to notify the officers.
The issue stems from the fallout of the pepper-spraying of students during a peaceful protest on campus that raised international outrage. To deal with the outcry, UC officials asked for a full, independent report on the incident to be compiled by a task force headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso.
The 190-page Reynoso report was released in April 2012, but with the names of most officers redacted after the union went to court arguing that their identities should remain shielded from public view.
“We attempted to publish the full, unredacted report in March 2012, and the campus police officers’ union brought a lawsuit to keep us from doing so,” UC spokesman Steve Montiel said in a statement. “We have complied with the courts’ judgments and orders.
“Now that the state Supreme Court has dismissed the union’s final appeal, we are prepared to release the unredacted report. The union asked for the opportunity to make a good-faith effort to notify the affected officers today before doing so, and we have complied with that request.”
The release of the unredacted report, available at www.sacbee.com, names at least 17 officers who were involved in the incident along with then-Lt. John Pike, whose image went viral when he was videotaped pepper-spraying students seated on the ground. Some of the other officer names have been revealed in the past, but Thursday’s release marks the first time that many of the names have been made public.
Officer Alex Lee is named in the report as the second officer who deployed pepper spray at Pike’s direction. Pike was subsequently fired, despite a recommendation that he face discipline but be kept on the job. Lee is no longer listed in a state salary database as working at UC Davis.
Other officers are named in passages simply describing their duties or actions that day, or in some cases describing the challenges they felt.
“What we were going to do was to remove the tents from the Quad,” Sgt. Paul Henoch is quoted as saying in an interview.
But the Reynoso report does not include the names of all the officers who were present Nov. 18, 2011, according to separate, confidential documents obtained by The Bee.
Those documents, part of the internal affairs investigation that led to Pike’s firing, indicate 28 officers were interviewed about events that day and include dramatic interviews with 21 of them as they describe the fear they felt at times from the crowd.
“I was thinking, ‘Man, we don’t have enough officers for this,’ ” Officer Kevin Skaife says in the confidential documents. “At the point when we’re encircled, I’m thinking, ‘This is horrible, this is really bad …’ ”
“I was actually frightened,” Officer Ruben Arias told investigators, according to the 76-page confidential report. “I was actually frightened in the sense of I didn’t know what the crowd was doing, what they’re capable of, and it wasn’t the peaceful crowd that everyone thought it was. They were really agitated.”
Many of the officer comments reflect a feeling that they believed the protesters posed a threat to them. The officers had gone to the university quad that afternoon after Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi ordered police to remove tents that had been set up as part of a protest against tuition hikes and by supporters of the Occupy movement that was then sweeping the nation.
Katehi has said she wanted the police to remove the tents peacefully and was shocked at the use of pepper spray, but came in for fierce criticism in the wake of the incident, which led to the resignation of Police Chief Annette Spicuzza.
The incident cost the university millions of dollars in investigative and legal fees, including $1 million paid out as part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought by 21 students hit with pepper spray.
Although the student names have been public since shortly after the incident, Thursday marked the first official release of officers’ names in Reynoso’s investigation.
Other officers named in both the Reynoso report and the confidential documents obtained by The Bee are: Lt. Barry Swartwood, Officers Jason Barrera, Bill Beermann, Justin Brewer, Raymond Sutera, Danny Sheffield, Joanne Zekany, Moaz Ahmad, Brian Halley, Vincent Kwong, Mikkio McCullough and Robert Sotelo. Another officer is named in the Reynoso report only by last name and is listed as having “no comments” for investigators; an officer with that same surname is listed in the confidential documents.
UC spokesmen could not explain why all of the officers named in the confidential documents were not included in the Reynoso report. However, that report was designed to provide a narrative of the events of the incident and may not have named everyone interviewed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

LA County Sheriff's Deputy implicated in Child porn trafficking

An example of when an officer realizes the power of being above the law.

"Former L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Arrested in Child Porn Bust"
2014-08-20 by Gina Silva for "FOX-LA"
[http://www.myfoxla.com/story/26331820/former-la-county-sheriffs-deputy-arrested-in-child-porn-bust]:
At six in the morning they knocked on the door and loudly announced, "We have a search warrant! LAPD, come on out!" There was no response. Again, officers from LAPD's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force announced loud enough for everyone in the Whittier neighborhood to hear, "Apt. 105, come on out!" Still nothing. One last time, an officer yelled, "Lorne Reed, come on outside!" When there was no movement, officers busted the door open. A shocked Lorne Anthony Reed was taken outside in his underwear.
Officers say he's been under investigation for child pornography. Officer Carlos Monterroso said of the investigation, "We have tools as law enforcement to identify targets or persons who are downloading or trading child pornography on the internet and we've identified this particular location as a place where child porn was being downloaded. What exactly does that consist of? Investigator Shanon Gaeney explained, "It's very disturbing. People often think of child pornography as pictures of young girls on beaches in bikinis. This is not it. It is the photographic and video evidence of child rape." Detectives interviewed Reed, who is a former L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy. They went through the entire apartment and they say they found what they were looking for. "We found numerous images of child sexual exploitation," said officer Maurice Kwon. The images were heartbreaking. Men sexually abusing girls as young as five. Reed was taken into custody, his two young children placed with the Department of Children and Family Services. He's facing charges of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.

Sonoma Co. Sheriff's Deputy caught publicly torturing an alleged drunk near Guerneville

Sonoma County Sheriff's Department [link]

"Video of arrest near Guerneville spreads through social media"
2014-08-20 by Julie Johnson for the "Press-Democrat" daily newspaper [http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/2557372-181/video-of-arrest-near-guerneville]:
(An image still from the video.)

A video clip of a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy punching and trying to restrain a Cotati man who was on the ground near Guerneville has spread through social media at a time when high-profile shootings have launched a national conversation about law enforcement use-of-force.
The 21-second clip, which was taken Saturday and posted on the Santa Rosa Copwatch Facebook page, depicts a moment when two deputies are on the ground trying to restrain Jonathan Carrozzo, 31, who eventually was booked into the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of public drunkenness and resisting arrest.
The video was taken by a passing motorist who said he was disturbed by what he saw during the encounter.
The Sheriff’s Office released its account of the incident on Wednesday in response to media requests. Sgt. Cecile Focha, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the two punches shown on the video were “distraction jabs” used to get people to “stop what they’re doing.”
Several attempts to reach Carrozzo by phone and email were unsuccessful.
Focha said the deputies had been trying to help the intoxicated man get a ride home when Carrozzo became agitated and “squared off” at them, leading them to restrain him. Carrozzo later spoke to three Sheriff’s Office sergeants and each time apologized for his conduct and declined to file a complaint against the deputies, according to Focha.
The man who took the video said he was driving home on eastbound River Road when he saw “someone swinging, arm up and down, punching somebody.”
The man, a local business owner, said he didn’t want to be identified publicly because he didn’t want his involvement in the matter to affect his business. He pulled over and started taking video on his phone when he realized two deputies were striking a man on the ground.
“It was pretty brutal if you ask me,” the man said. “He was crying and saying ‘I’m sorry.’”
After posting the video to his private Facebook page, he gave it to local attorney Dave Jake Schwartz, who posted the video to the Santa Rosa Copwatch page on Facebook on Sunday afternoon. The Copwatch page, which has been a hub of communication by people concerned about the shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy, is a forum about police accountability.
The video went viral.
The businessman said the Sheriff’s Office reached out to him and that he gave a copy of the video to a detective and was told he would be interviewed by someone with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
Focha said the video did not depict the entirety of the encounter, which began at 6:13 p.m. Saturday when a 911 caller reported that a man was lying in the roadway. The caller said the man appeared to be “out cold” and could get run over, said Focha.
The man was lying down on the side of the road behind a parked car when the Russian River Fire Department and deputies arrived. Paramedics examined the man and determined that he did not require medical attention, Focha said.
Focha said the encounter was initially amicable. Carrozzo loaned the deputies his phone to ask a friend staying at a nearby campsite to come get Carrozzo, who had been at a beer festival at Stumptown Brewery, she said.
While they waited, Focha said, Carrozzo became agitated and began making statements about police actions in Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot an unarmed black teenager.
“He asked if they drove tanks. He said, ‘Let’s go.’ He had plenty to drink,” Focha said.
On the video, the deputies shout “Stop resisting,” “Give me your hands” and “Show me your hands.” One deputy is down a slope in a thicket and appears to be restraining the man’s head. A second deputy is astride Carrozzo’s lower legs and strikes the man’s upper thigh and his face. That deputy then kicks out a foot in what appears to be a strike to Carrozzo’s face.
The deputies didn’t plan to arrest Carrozzo until the man became agitated and stopped cooperating, according to Focha.
Focha said the Sheriff’s Office is reviewing the incident to determine if the deputies followed policy.
Sonoma County DUI lawyer Dave Jake Schwartz said he posted the video to the Copwatch page because he wanted “to show people what happens on the street and to contribute to the dialogue about police accountability, that’s all I’m trying to do.”
“I know people are going to draw their own conclusions,” Schwartz said. “To me, the video speaks for itself and it looks excessive.”

Vallejo PD acquires heavy assault vehicle from USA Dept. of Defense

Vallejo Police Department [link]

"Vallejo Police Department acquires armored military truck for search, rescue operations, Department hopes to use 14-ton Caiman sparingly" 
2014-08-20 by Tony Burchyns for "Vallejo Times-Herald" daily newspaper [http://www.time
sheraldonline.com/breaking_news/ci_26374265/vpd-acquires-armored-military-truck-search-rescue-operations]:
Lt. John Whitney talks about the Vallejo Police Department's new armored rescue vehicle, acquired through a Department of Defense program that supplies local law enforcement agencies with military gear. The vehicle will be on public display at the department's open house on Sept. 6. (Photo: CHRIS RILEY—VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD)

As the nation debates the phenomenon of increasingly militarized local police forces, the Vallejo Police Department has quietly acquired a menacing, mine-resistant armored vehicle from the Department of Defense.
Weighing a hefty 14 tons, the six-wheel-drive Caiman troop transport vehicle came to the city in May through a federal program that supplies local law enforcement agencies with surplus military gear. The department plans to unveil it to the public at its open house next month.
"This is one of those things where we hope we never have to use it," Lt. John Whitney said. "But it's good to have around. And if we need to use it once a year, then it's worth it just for that."
At a time when many are criticizing the use of military tactics by police in Ferguson, Mo., to control rioters after an officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager, Whitney stressed the new vehicle would be used appropriately, and sparingly. He added the department has no plans to use it for crowd control purposes.
"It's not an armored assault vehicle," said Whitney, adding that it won't be used to patrol the streets. "It's flat out for going into areas where we need to protect people and rescue people ... If the public sees this, more than likely they're going to know from somewhere in the news why it was out. We're just not going to go roll this thing around."
He added, "If you see a major SWAT incident, you may see it there. But more than likely you won't. This is for maybe a once or twice a year deployment, and we hope it doesn't even have to be that."
Depending on their configuration, the vehicles can cost the military between $416,000 and $775,000. But the cost to the city was just $14,000 for shipping, paint and details, according to the police department.
"We were offered it through the (Department of Defense) program," Whitney said. "It didn't cost the city a penny. The only thing we had to pay for was to get it painted."
It's not the first time the Vallejo has gotten extra military gear on the cheap. The city has previously received a Hummer, rifles and even refrigerators from the Department of Defense.
The vehicle will be used mainly for search and rescue operations, Whitney said. It will also provide an alternative to the department's aging Peacekeeper armored vehicle, which has regularly broken down after being deployed.
Due to its design, the rescue vehicle can be driven in flooded areas and over any terrain in Vallejo. It can also be used in tactical emergencies, such as a school shooting.
"If there's an active shooter, we can pull this right into a campus and load people in," Whitney said. "It can also go up steep hills and it's got a lot of power so it won't get bogged down."
"Like I said," he added, "It's better to have it ... just in case."
The rescue vehicle will be on display at the Vallejo Police Department Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 6, 111 Amador St.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Every 58 Hours... a civilian public-sector security agent is killed

The following is an example of a partisan argument whose purpose is to mirror what is selectively percieved as the oppositions rhetoric, and which uses a well-known figure as a "straw man" to direct hatred towards a symbolic leader of the author's ideological opposition.

"A Cop Is Killed Every 58 Hours: Law-enforcement officers across the country risk their lives every day"by Michelle Malkin from "National Review" [http://www.nationalreview.com/article/385458/cop-killed-every-58-hours-michelle-malkin]:
If you’ve been watching cable news, reading Hollywood celebrities’ tweets, and listening to race-hustling opportunists, you might think that every police officer in America has a finger on the trigger, hunting for any excuse to gun down defenseless youths.
This hysterical nonsense must be stopped.
The Cirque du Cop-Bashing, with Al Sharpton as ringmaster, is working overtime to exploit the deadly incident in Ferguson, Mo. That means stoking anti–law enforcement fires at all costs.
Are there bad cops? Yes. Does the police state go overboard sometimes? Yes. Do the demagogues decrying systemic racism and braying about “assassinations” know what happened when teenager Mike Brown was tragically shot and killed last week? No.
Here’s a reality check. While narcissistic liberal journalists and college kids are all posting “hands up” selfies in hipster solidarity with Ferguson protesters, it’s law-enforcement officers who risk their lives in “war zones” every day across the country.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) reports that a total of 1,501 law-enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past ten years, an average of one death every 58 hours, or 150 per year. These include local and state police officers, federal officers, correctional officers, and military law-enforcement officers.
Fact: Last year, 100 law-enforcement officers were killed. On average, over the past decade, there have been 58,261 assaults against law enforcement each year, resulting in 15,658 injuries.
Fact: New York City has lost more officers in the line of duty than any other department, with 697 deaths. Texas has lost 1,675 officers, more than any other state.
Just this week, NLEOMF released preliminary fatality statistics from August 2013 to August 2014. Total fatalities are up 14 percent, from 63 last year to 72 this year. “Five officers were killed in ambushes, which continue to be a major threat to law enforcement safety,” the group notes.
Among the men in uniform who gave their lives this summer:
* Police officer Scott Patrick of the Mendota Heights Police Department in Minnesota. He was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop on July 30. Patrick leaves behind a wife and two teenage daughters.
* Police officer Jeffrey Westerfield of the Gary Police Department in Indiana. Westerfield was shot in the head and killed in a July 6 ambush while sitting in his police vehicle after responding to a 911 call. The suspect had been previously arrested for domestic violence and for kicking another officer. Westerfield, a 19-year police-department veteran as well as an Army veteran, leaves behind a wife and four daughters.
* Officer Perry Renn of the Indianapolis Police Department. He was shot and killed while responding to reports of gunfire on July 5. After 20 years on the job, Renn chose to serve in one of the city’s most dangerous areas, even though his seniority would have allowed him to take a less dangerous role. “He chose to work in patrol to make a difference in the field,” police chief Rick Hite said at Renn’s funeral. “Every day, Perry got out of his police car.” Renn is survived by his wife.
* Deputy sheriff Allen Bares Jr. of the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana. The 15-year law-enforcement veteran was shot and killed on June 23 while investigating two suspicious suspects. Bares had been mowing his lawn while off-duty when he witnessed a suspicious car crash. When he went to investigate, he was gunned down. The assailants stole his truck as he lay dying. “He’s the type of person that would give his shirt off his back to anybody,” a cousin said in tribute. “Anyone that knows Allen will tell you that he was that kind of person.” Bares leaves behind a wife and two children.
* Police officer Melvin Santiago of the Jersey City Police Department in New Jersey. Santiago, a proud rookie cop who loved his job, was ambushed on July 13 by a homicidal armed robber. Santiago was 23 years old. After Santiago’s killer was shot dead by police, the violent Bloods street gang vowed to “kill a Jersey City cop and not stop until the National Guard is called out.”

Al Sharpton, concocter of hate-crime hoaxes and inciter of violent riots against police, had no comment.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Facebook selectively censors a Peace & Justice event in Oakland, CA, posted at a Facebook page, bans a human-rights organizer for a day

Transnational security agencies: Israel [link]
Also see: Disruption of human-rights gathering at Port of Oakland (2014-08-01) [link]

"Facebook: Protest For Gaza Censored and Steven Argue Blocked From Posting"
2014-08-18 by Anya McMullen [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/18/18760208.php]:
Despite the attempts by Facebook to censor the Oakland block the Boat protest, the protest successfully blocked a ship of the Israeli Zim shipping line from unloading on August 16th, 2014. Still, the arrogance of Facebook in censoring the protest, the Revolutionary Tendency, and Steven Argue for this peaceful and legal action should be exposed.

Photo from theboost showing Israeli Prime Minister meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg


Facebook: Protest For Gaza Censored and Steven Argue Blocked From Posting -
The Revolutionary Tendency facebook page contained a post for a protest to stop the mass murder that Israel is carrying out in Gaza. That post had over 150 shares (maybe far more) and was being shared by more and more people. Facebook then intervened and removed the post a day before the protest, doing its up most to sabotage the protest. Here are the notifications given by Facebook to Steven Argue when he logged in:
"We removed the post below because it doesn't follow the Facebook Community Standards".
I will repost the exact protest text of the flyer briefly to show it does not violate any of Facebook's so-called "Community Standards".
The exact photo of an Israeli boat that went with the post can also be seen at the following site
"Pro-Palestinian, Anti-Zionist, Not Anti-Jew" [http://www.facebook.com/groups/332681273558189/]:

The next notice Steven Argue received after clicking on "continue" was:
"You’re Temporarily Blocked From Posting
"This temporary block will last 24 hours, and you won’t be able to post on Facebook until it’s finished.
"Please keep in mind that people who repeatedly post things that aren’t allowed on Facebook may have their accounts permanently disabled."
Steven Argue was then directed to the Revolutionary Tendency page and instructed to remove anything else that may violate Facebook Community Standards under risk of being banned by Facebook. Obviously, anything criticizing Israel is in violation of “Facebook Community Standards”, but Steven Argue refuses to remove anything from the Revolutionary Tendency site [http://www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryTendency].
Far from Steven Argue being in the wrong here, it is Facebook that is violating the free speech rights of all of its users by censoring notification of an important protest and attempting to intimidate people against posting anything that criticizes Israel.
In addition, Steven Argue was prevented from circulating this important update to the thousands of people who had seen the first Revolutionary Tendency post.:
[begin update]
URGENT: Ship is delayed!! Our organizing is working!
Come out to West Oakland Bart Saturday at 3pm NOT 5am!
Bring more people! Come louder and stronger and let's stop Israel at the Port of Oakland! Zionism isn't welcome in our town!
Stop Israel at the Port!
Zionism isn't welcome on our Coast!
West Coast Blockade of the Israeli Zim Ship
Port of Oakland
Saturday, August 16th
3pm – meet at West Oakland Bart and march to Berth 57
[end update]

Here was the protest notification that they are directly censoring.
---
[begin protest notification]
Block the Boat! Stop Israel at the Port of Oakland!
Actions Also in New York, Long Beach, Tacoma, and Seattle!
Zionism isn’t welcome on our Coast!

West Coast Blockade of the Israeli Zim Ship
Port of Oakland
Saturday, August 16th
5am
Meet at West Oakland Bart and march to Berth 57

STOP THE SIEGE ON GAZA!
RIGHT OF RETURN FOR ALL PALESTINIAN REFUGEES!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

What’s happening?
The world has watched in horror as Israel has continued to bombard and devastate Gaza. Millions around the globe have come out in support of the Palestinian people and against the Zionist regime, holding massive marches, demonstrations, and actions. Here in the Bay, San Francisco witnessed some of the biggest mobilizations in recent years, with a series of marches, each bringing out thousands of people. It’s time to step it up.

Call to Action -
Palestine is calling us to action! Palestinians laborers, Palestinian General Federation Trade Union (PGFTU), have called on workers around the world to refuse to handle Israel goods. Palestinians throughout Gaza, the West Bank and 1948 Palestine have demonstrated their unity in the struggle against Apartheid Israel and have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands, bravely facing Israeli military armed with US made weapons to call on the international community to stand with them as they resist Zionism throughout all of historic Palestine. We will be answering this call by organizing community pickets at the Port of Oakland, asking the longshoreman to honor this request and to stand with the people of Palestine as they have done in the past.

Historical Background -
During apartheid in South Africa, ILWU workers made history when they refused to unload South African cargo in San Francisco in 1984. This action was a major catalyst for international anti-apartheid solidarity and struggle worldwide. In 2010, after a Turkish flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, was attacked by Israel for attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, we built on ILWU’s history and successfully blocked the Israeli Zim ship from being unloaded at the Port of Oakland – the first time in US history an Israeli ship was blocked. We will be continuing this legacy by organizing to block the Israeli ship once again. And just as apartheid fell in South Africa, so too it will fall in Israel!

Sustained BDS in the Bay -
If there is one thing that the latest Israeli attacks show, it’s the power of Palestinian resilience. The resistance in Gaza is still alive and thriving, despite Israel’s ongoing attempts to destroy it. But we should always remember that the Palestinian resistance did not begin with Israel’s latest bombardment, nor did it begin during the last bombardment. It has been going on since 1948, since Israel came into existence. And it will not cease until Israeli apartheid falls.

We refuse to allow Israel to conduct its business as usual, here in the Bay and everywhere!
Every Saturday, the Israeli owned Zim shipping line docks and unloads its cargo at the Port of Oakland. Let this action be the beginning of a sustained campaign to stop the Israeli ship from ever unloading in our town.
From Seattle to Oakland to Los Angeles – turn the Israeli ship around!
We encourage all of our allies on the West Coast to join us in ensuring that Zim ships are not welcome anywhere.

Oakland: [http://www.facebook.com/events/1447374682195857/]
Long Beach: [http://www.facebook.com/events/435461866594072/]
Tacoma and Seattle: [http://www.facebook.com/events/678819478876975/]
New York: [http://www.facebook.com/events/429725363832321]
Not in Palestine
Not in the Bay
Not Anywhere
Stand Against Zionism Everywhere

Endorsed by:
* American Friends Service Committee
* American Muslims for Palestine
* ANSWER Coalition
* Arab Youth Organizing (AYO)
* AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center
* ASATA: Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
* BAYAN-USA
* Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition
* Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee
* Black Organizing Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)
* Catalyst Project
* CodePink Washington
* Communist Party of San Francisco
* Critical Resistance – LA
* Critical Resistance – Oakland
* Descoloniza a Oakland/Decolonize Oakland
* Free Palestine Movement
* Freedom Archives
* Friends of Deir Ibzi’a
* Fuerza Mundial/Pueblos en Movimiento
* General Union of Palestine Students – SFSU
* Global Women’s Strike
* Gray Panthers of San Francisco
* Haiti Action Committee
* International Action Center
* International Jewish Anti Zionist Network
* International Socialist Organization
* International Tribunal of Conscience for Camilo
* ISM-Nor Cal
* Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
* Justice for Palestinians
* Labor for Palestine
* Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace
* Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
* Marcha Patriotica (Colombia) – California chapter
* Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)
* National Lawyers Guild SFBA Chapter
* NorCal Friends of Sabeel
* OccupySF Action Council
* ONYX Organizing Committee
* Palestinian Youth Movement
* Revolutionary Tendency
* Queers Undermining Israeli Terror
* San Francisco Green Party
* Socialist Organizer
* SOUL: School of Unity and Liberation
* Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine
* Students for Justice in Palestine – Cal
* Totally Radical Muslims
* US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
* US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott
* US Palestinian Community Network
* World Can’t Wait Bay Area
* Workers World Party
* Xicana Moratorium

[end protest notification]


(2014-08-20) Update:  Block the Boat…..OUR RESISTANCE CONTINUES!
Wed. AM report back:  
Block the Boat  Blockade successful again this morning....
EVERY DAY OF BLOCKADE IS ANOTHER VICTORY FOR PALESTINE!
Next Shift:  Likely at the Oakland Port....(less likely S.F. Pier 96?) track the location of the ZIM ship here: [http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-122.3118/centery:37.7952/zoom:8/mmsi:477634800]
We need every body that we can muster. Please come if you can!
KEEP THE SHIP OUT TO SEA, UNTIL PALESTINE IS FREE
(Help us expand this into a west coast ongoing campaign!)

From Peter Turner:
The Zim Piraeus left the Port America terminal this morning, after a long night of lively protest outside. Reportedly only about 2% of the cargo was unloaded by longshore workers who slowed down the work after they had been pulled off other ships to work the Zim, bypassing the hiring hall........The ship is currently anchored near Hunters Point, claiming destination Oakland........If anyone has any insight into its (actual) destination, please share. I will send out an update as I learn more.
Please be ready to rush to whichever port and terminal it will eventually go to this afternoon, to continue to picket and keep it from being worked on the evening shift. To keep an eye on the ship's movements, this is the direct link to the live map of its location:
[http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-122.3118/centery:37.7952/zoom:8/mmsi:477634800]

Toby Blome's Morning Report Back:
At 5:00 am this morning there were initially only 4 of us for about 45+minutes. We proceeded to Berths 22/23/24......eventually there were about 12-15 of us, but the main gate (number?) where ILWU were beginning to filter in after 6pm had a very wide entrance. It was very challenging to try to picket/block it as a small group.  We had some difficult confrontations with some aggressive drivers, and a couple of angry white macho teamsters actually got very physical with us, but ultimately it quieted down as more activists arrived, and what  was initially very uncertain evolved into a beautiful and very strong and vibrant picket line. (About 25-30 people ?)
We had lots of group dialogue and consensus processing amidst a very diverse group, with varying opinions, but ultimately we decided to continue to picket, even though many of the ILWU who were trying to enter were there to unload a different ("Hawaii bound") ship.  We soon began to talk with the ILWU workers as they were attempting to enter.....
Many were very sympathetic and pledged not to work on the Israeli ship. After a brief "hold up" and conversation with the driver/worker.....we would  let them enter, after they reassured us that they weren't working on the Zim ship.
Very soon after that an ILWU member with orange vest on who seemed to  have a lot of influence actually walked up to each car trying to enter, and "ordered" them to honor our picket line, and they "obeyed"..... I heard him give the verbal explanation re:  "health and safety risks"...
A large group of law enforcement officers stood to the side as observers, and watched the entire evolution of our picket.....never interfering throughout the morning.
The most beautiful part of the morning for me, was looking on the other side of the entrance, as the ILWU workers who were asked by there leadership not to cross the line were getting out of their cars and accumulating as a group, in orange jumpsuits....ultimately about 25-30 of them. We eventually thanked them all and expressed much gratitude for their support... They had the most beautiful expressions on their faces, in response, and several of them clapped and smiled after we thanked them.
Later in the morning, I approached them and thanked them again while we were still picketing. I told them that if any of them are under any significant financial burden by not working today, that they should give me their contact info, and we would raise some funds to help reduce any financial stress.  None of them expressed any need for help, and several raised their hands up and shook them as an expression of "no need"... It was a really beautiful moment.
Later on, once we knew for sure that the ZIM ship had indeed left dock at that berth, we ceased our picketing.  As the ILWU workers got into the cars and started entering the gate to work on the (non-ZIM) ships, we thanked them and praised them for their support....many smiled and flashed peace signs to us as they entered. Another very beautiful moment!
In summary, I am extremely proud to be a part of this very important campaign. WE HAVE SUCCEEDED.....For 5 days we have prevented the Zim ship from unloading it's cargo. THIS IS HISTORIC! Apparently a few containers were unloaded last nite, but not many.
The especially beautiful thing about this BLOCK THE BOAT campaign, is that it is truly a broad collective of groups and people, with many varied life experiences and political perspective.
But we are there together for one reason:  JUSTICE AND PEACE IN PALESTINE!
WE WILL SUCCEED, BUT WE NEED MORE PEOPLE, EVERYONE TO TAKE SHIFTS WHENEVER THEY ARE ABLE.....until the Zim is out to sea for good!
Please be there today at 5pm, or as soon as you can get there. If you just go to the West Oakland BART....there should be someone who can guide you where to go and hopefully someone who can shuttle those who don't have cars...... stay posted for alerts....you can drive around the Port to assess the area.... bicycles are great too!

REMEMBER, track the location of the ZIM ship here: [http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-122.3118/centery:37.7952/zoom:8/mmsi:477634800]
IN SOLIDARITY FOR PALESTINE

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Videos of Officer Azua harassing four young African Americans with intent to falsely arrest

Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz: [link]

"Selective Enforcement of Smoking Ban, Obstruction of Video Reporting--Report to the Chief!"2014-08-02 Note from Norse [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/02/18759451.php]:
Yesterday I received a phone call from advocate John Colby reporting his account of an incident of harassment downtown at Laurel and Pacific in the early afternoon. Colby noted he'd videoed some of the incident. He forwarded me his complaint and demand for public records addressed to SCPD Police Chief Kevin Vogel. His account seems to be newsworthy and instructive though I cannot vouch for its veracity. It does seem specific and credible if backed up by video and witness accounts. It also involves Officer Azua, who has never been held to account for prior reported violence, against a woman traveler Synthia Kennedy. We'll see how Chief Vogel fields this one.
Officer Azua has been accused in the past of excessive force. Synthia Kennedy reported a frightening experience in 2010 on Free Radio Santa Cruz. Go to [http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100429.mp3] [1 hour and 3 minutes into the audio file] as well as [http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb100415.mp3] [41 minutes into the audio file] to hear her account. When approached subsequently for his comments, Azua simply laughed.

Bill Azua of the Santa Cruz Police Department.



Videos of Officer Azua harassing four young African Americans with intent to falsely arrest
August 16, 2014
To whom it may concern:
This is video documentation of Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) Officer Bill Azua trying to intimidate, harass, discriminate, stalk and use excessive force against four young African American men to provoke them so he could falsely arrest them. Officer Azua falsely cited one young man because he "thought" he had been smoking on Pacific Avenue where smoking is banned. I was a witness...none of the young men were smoking. Officer Azua also illegally ran a check for priors for this false smoking citation, a mere municipal infraction. I have witnessed many different SCPD officers Downtown giving out smoking citations—NONE have ever ran the person for priors. I have since discovered that Officer Azua has numerous complaints for excessive force, false arrest and  false detention. Sythia Kennedy is an example of this from four years ago. Robert Norse, homeless activist and journalist, documented her case against Officer Azua from that time.
Sincerely,
[signed] Patricia Colby

** Part 1: Santa Cruz Police Racism by Officer Azua and Unidentified PO [www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYa65BTWrHU]
** Part 2: Santa Cruz Police Abuse by Officer Azua and Auders [www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vc9AwlE0kY]
** Part 3: Santa Cruz Police Racism Abuse by Officer Azua and Alders [www.youtube.com/watch?v=yryMADHx-NY]
** Part 4: Santa Cruz Police Abuse by Officer Azua [www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAdHawWKArM]
** Part 5: Santa Cruz Officer Azua Racial Based Harassment of Four Young Black Men [www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6lrML6712I]

2014-08-16 comment by Brent Adams:
I see no "abuse" in any of these videos.  It is not clear, besides the man's statement, that there was no cigarette. There is also nothing besides your comments that shows racial profiling.  SCPD is empowered to enforce the law and there is a no smoking law for that area.  If you want to use the word "abuse," then please be sure that the video meets the criteria.  This situation doesn't.  It seems to showcase activists trying to catch police in something even though they are just doing routine work.  To protect yourselves against being seen as crying "wolf", please reserve words such as "abuse" and "harassment" for videos that truly showcase this behavior. As one who has been vocal in such matters, I've come to realize the power of video.  To me, this video is more about suspicion of authoritarian abuse than actual abuse.  It does not show the activists in a good light.
[signed] brent

Reply by Pat Colby:
Reading Mr. Adams reply I can understand why civil rights issues have gotten to the state they are in Santa Cruz County, which is too bad because the cause is really about the abuses, harassment and discrimination against poor and homeless individuals—the  people that seem to fall through the safety net cracks. I would like to clear up some confusion I noticed in Mr. Adam's response.
First my brother and I are NOT "activists" we are "advocates". Advocates approach issues from a completely different angle. We protect and help people on the individual level. Some examples are going with people to doctor's appointments, interceding with social services, getting people into programs that will help them get housing and other needs. Most recently we have advocated with Santa Cruz Housing Authority to get homeless, disabled people with active vouchers extensions because it is nearly impossible to find rentals in Santa Cruz County that take Sec 8. Also I spent many hours sitting with "Scarf Lady," Kate Winzell to insure she was no longer harassed nor singled out nor cited by SC Community Service Officers and SC Police Officers for her legal vending activity on Pacific Ave.
Advocates like us work with people on a one on one basis. Activists fight for the rights of large groups of individuals and don't normally work or interact on the ground floor with single individuals; walking them through social and government agencies. Advocates like myself and my brother John, are only interested in the cause of helping—we do not seek any notoriety for ourselves. There are many issues we help on. We are happy for the people we have helped to get successes for themselves, but again it is about the advocatee not ourselves. The videos posted were done not to document abuse as much as they were taken to protect the four young mens' civil rights.
Activists like Mr. Adams has been noted for documenting abuse which is extremely different—from protecting and stopping abuse. For his hard work as an "activist" we applaud him! Mr. Adams is also not privy to all the facts before he jumped to a faulty conclusion. The individuals whom we documented with the police interaction had been harassed by this Police Officer numerous times in the past. Also resulting in complaints being put into PO Azua's file. It is obvious Mr. Adams hasn't heard the upsetting account of Synthia Kennedy's interaction, false arrest and injuries at the hands of PO Azua, other SC officers plus County Sheriffs about four years, merely for daring to buy a burrito at New Leaf Market and attempting to eat it on Pacific Ave. If an advocate had been there with a video camera I am sure things would have gone differently for this PO Azua victim!
Sincerely,
[signed] Patricia Colby, Civil Rights Advocate


"What is the SCPD's policy about 'cop-watching'?" 
2014-08-01 letter from Dr. John Colby to Kevin Vogel, Chief of Police of Santa Cruz:
Dear Chief Vogel:
I am writing to serve you notice that the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) harasses "cop-watchers" protecting the civil rights of people in protected classes like people of color which has been witnessed by my sister and I -- but today we were able to video record this harassment. To the point:
** This afternoon around 1:30 PM SCPD Officer Bill Azua illegally cited an African American man -- grouped with other African Americans -- in downtown Santa Cruz for smoking while my sister and I observed that this man had not been smoking.
** Officer Azua took this man aside and ran him for priors -- also illegally -- while he was citing him for smoking. I approached Officer Azua while he was detaining this African American man with my video camera. Officer Azua not only refused to identify himself, but also demanded that I move back. I asked Azua how far I needed to move back. Azua responded that I must move so that "I [he] couldn't see me." Clearly this would prevent me from video recording the incident. I moved back five feet then asked Azua is that was far enough. Azua replied, "No." I moved back five more feet. Again I asked Azua if I was far back enough. He refused to answer. Another officer came to Azua's side and also refused to identify himself. This incident lasted for several minutes as captured on digital video. As the officers left I video recorded them. The unidentified officer pointed a video camera at me.
** The African American men walked away. Azua followed them in his car to Laurel Street fronting the Taco Bell. He was then accompanied by SCPD Officer Ahlers from the Gang and Drug Task force. Azua and Ahlers took an imposing stance watching these men. I asked Officer Ahlers to identify himself. He ignored me. I asked Officer Azua to identify himself. He refused. Azua accused me of harassing them. I asked him if asking for identification constituted harassment. He replied that me talking to police officers when they didn't want to speak with me constituted harassment.
** A Pacific Ave, Taco Bell employee walked past Azua while smoking a cigarette. Azua did nothing. After I began video recording this employee, she became angry and began speaking with Azua while she had a burning cigarette in her hand. Azua did not cite her for smoking a cigarette -- she was Caucasian. The manager of the Taco Bell demanded that I stop video recording his employees from the public sidewalk. I informed him this was legal. He implied that he would have Officer Azua take action against me if I continued to video record.
** Minutes later my sister was on the telephone with SCPD Sergeant Jones. this sergeant defended Azua's demand that I move out of sight while video recording. In response to my question about how far "cop-watchers" should be from SCPD officers while video recording, Jones replied 40-50 feet. I responded that this was too far, that it would prevent any audio recording. I asked Jones what statute or policy supported this. He said it was his "opinion".
** Officer Azua and another Police Officer in another car continued to circle around the area, following these African American men, apparently to harass them

To clarify the demands and opinions of Azua and Jones, I am making a request under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). I ask for:
* the most current documents which describe the SCPD's policies about citizens (video) recording SCPD personnel.
* If these records are available electronically, then I ask that they be made available to me electronically. I am willing to pay a fee of up to $5 for this request.
Thank you for providing me records which will shed light on what happened today.
Sincerely yours,
[signed] John E. Colby, Ph.D.

SCPD PRA RESPONSE
From: Jacqueline Drechsler <jdrechsler@cityofsantacruz.com>
Date: Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 3:14 PM
Subject: SCPD PRA Response - Subject: What is the SCPD's policy about "cop-watching"?
To: "John Colby"
Mr. Colby,
The SCPD does not have any responsive records to your request.
Thank you, [signed] Jacqui Drechsler

Friday, August 8, 2014

Justice for Cristian Flores (of Davis). Drop all Charges!

"University continues to investigate alleged police brutality incident"
2014-08-08 by Adrian Glass-Moore from "Davis Enterprise" newspaper [http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/university-continues-to-investigate-alleged-police-brutality-incident/]:
University officials are continuing to investigate claims that campus police improperly handled the arrest of a Davis teen on March 3 that left him bloodied.
The investigation is being overseen by the Office of Compliance and Policy rather than internally by UC Davis police at the request of Police Chief Matthew Carmichael, university spokesman Andy Fell said.
The complaint was filed by a resident of the Domes housing community who witnessed the arrest of Cristian Flores, who turned 19 in June, and the incident has attracted the wider attention of students and the city of Davis Human Relations Commission.
Flores and a classmate were walking together on the overpass above Highway 113 from the Sacramento City College Davis Center toward the Domes when they decided to share a Swisher Sweet, a brand of tobacco cigar, Flores said in an interview.
“We were just walking and talking,” recalled Flores, a graduate of King High School in Davis.
A UCD police officer was talking to a bicyclist nearby when he told them smoking was prohibited on campus. He asked them to extinguish the cigar, which they did and apologized, Flores said. The two continued walking, until the officer caught up with them and asked them for personal information.
His classmate started cooperating but Flores said, “With all due respect, Officer, I don’t have to tell you anything,” he recalled. The officer said he smelled marijuana, so Flores showed him the Swisher Sweet pack. When the officer asked him to sit down and provide his personal information, Flores refused.
“I don’t have to tell you anything. What’s your probable cause?” Flores recalled asking.
The incident escalated once other officers, including Officer S.R. Terry, arrived on the scene and grabbed Flores’ hands, slammed him on the ground, and put a knee on his neck, he said. Flores’ head was bleeding, witness accounts and video from the incident show. He said he was given a neck brace and was taken to the hospital.
His classmate was detained but not arrested.
The incident on the doorstep of the Domes attracted the attention of residents and passers-by.
Jeffrey Mendelman, a second-year UC Davis law student and Domes resident, took video with his phone and filed the university complaint.
Mendelman was sitting down for dinner at the Domes around 7 p.m. when the arrest took place.
“I just heard some sort of abnormal sound,” he recalled in a phone interview. “I went over to see what was going on.”
At that point, Flores was already in a police car. His classmate was yelling in Arabic, which prompted Terry to say he was screaming “jihad,” said Mendelman, who also filed a hate crime complaint with Student Judicial Affairs.
Mendelman said police interrogated Flores without reading him his Miranda rights. He added that he believed there wasn’t enough “suspicion to lead to a detention and then an arrest.”
“You don’t want to be the next person walking down the street and detained for no reason and beaten down,” Mendelman said. “I think that’s where the righteous anger comes from.”
Another witness wrote a letter to the editor published in The California Aggie titled “An Incident of Hate,” which described “blood on the sidewalk from the police beating (Flores) to submission.”
After searching Flores, police found marijuana, Flores admitted. He was booked at Yolo County Jail and charged with possession of marijuana and resisting officers, both misdemeanors. But he maintained that he had been smoking a Swisher Sweet and not marijuana when police confronted him.
“I was smoking the Swisher, but then they found weed,” he said. “It’s a very suspicious scenario, and I know that. It was my bad, obviously, for having it on me.”
Mendelman said police had no right to detain Flores in the first place.
“It was still a violation of his rights in the first instance, regardless of what they turned up,” he said.
The university’s investigation does not have a timeline, Fell said. If the complaint is upheld, police will be notified and can decide whether to discipline officers. The disciplining of officers is not public record, he said.
The Human Relations Commission discussed the incident in April and May and called for a statement from Chancellor Linda Katehi, a full investigation and greater awareness.
Mendelman said it has been hard to raise awareness over summer, when most students are out of town.
“Things have sort of halted for the summer, like anything else,” he said.
Flores said he hopes his experience will prevent similar incidents in the future.
“What happened was super-unnecessary and got way out of hand,” he said.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Extrajudicial murder justified by Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of New York



Video: "PBA Blasts Anti-Police Rhetoric After Eric Garner Death", posted 2014-08-05 by NY1 News [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xylJOK3WCOc]: Leaders of two police unions had some strong words Tuesday over what they are calling anti-police rhetoric in the wake of the death of Eric Garner last month.


"Police Union Commissar: If You Resist, You Should Expect to Die"
2014-08-09 by William Grigg [http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-union-commissar-resist-expect-die]:
“There is an attitude on our streets today that it is acceptable to resist arrest. That attitude is a direct result of a lack of respect for law enforcement.”
“We’ve heard a lot in the last number of weeks about what police officers can’t do, and what police officers shouldn’t do,” groused Patrick Lynch, designated spokesliar for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, New York’s largest police union [http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pba-chief-slams-political-medical-examiner-al-sharpton-article-1.1892626]. “No one’s telling us what we are able to do, and what we should do, when we’re faced with a situation where the person being placed under arrest says, `I’m not going. I’m not being placed under arrest.’”
“What is it we should do?” continued Lynch, his voice colored by theatrical incredulity. “Walk away?”
If the would-be arrestee isn’t involved in an actual crime — that is, an act of aggression against another person — the only morally suitable answer is: Yes. The cop should shut up, go away, and refrain from molesting one of his betters. The experience might encourage him to find honest work.
“We don’t have that option,” Lynch insisted. “Nor would the public that called and complained about these crimes want us to. If they called, it’s important to them.”

In this fashion Lynch attempted to shift the blame for the killing of Eric Garner on merchants in the Staten Island neighborhood where the harmless man was killed through an act of criminal homicide by NYPD officers enforcing a demented “zero tolerance” policy regarding the sale of untaxed cigarettes. Lynch, who has spent his entire adult life as a member of the coercive caste, tried to depict Garner — a micro-entrepreneur — as a menace to the public, and a threat to commerce. Lynch appears to believe that the spectacle of police killing a harmless and unarmed man is less damaging to the local economy than allowing that man to sell loose cigarettes to willing customers.
Lynch resurrected the unproven claim that plainclothes officers had seen Garner commit an act of unsanctioned petty commerce, and that he resisted their efforts to abduct him on behalf of the state’s tax-consuming class. He carefully avoided mention of the fact that Garner, according to eyewitnesses, had broken up a fight while the officers, ever vigilant for economic “crimes,” refused to intervene.
“There is an attitude on our streets today that it is acceptable to resist arrest,” lamented Lynch. “That attitude is a direct result of a lack of respect for law enforcement.”
While it is the moral duty of every decent person to cultivate disrespect for law enforcement, that attitude is not to blame (if that’s the appropriate word) for the growing resistance to officially sanctioned abduction. That inclination is a direct reaction to the impudence, arrogance, and aggressiveness of police officers, their palpable contempt for the public they supposedly serve, their sense of tribal solidarity with officers who commit crimes against innocent people, and the institutional immunity they enjoy.
“The charge of resisting arrest is a very serious and dangerous one,” insisted Lynch. “The charge exists to encourage those being arrested to comply with the lawful orders of police officers so that those officers do not have to use necessary force to make that arrest.”
In other words: If you submit with proper docility to the commands issued by the slave patrol, they won’t have to beat or kill you.
Like most exponents of that view, Lynch assumes that any gust of verbal halitosis that escapes the wet hole at the bottom of a police officer’s face is a “lawful order.” For this reason he insists that resisting arrest “is a serious crime, and must be treated that way by all.”
In fact, resisting unlawful arrest — while considered an actual crime, and prosecuted as such — is an ancient, venerable, and indispensable right of free people. Under the still-valid Supreme Court precedent John Black Elk v. U.S. (1900), a citizen has a legally recognized right to use lethal force to prevent the consummation of an unlawful arrest.
Perhaps, somewhere in the reptilian recesses of what passes for Lynch’s mind, there is an awareness of that fact, and a rapidly coalescing fear of the prospect that the public will come to understand it, as well. This may be why he admonished PBA members to use “all the resources of the NYPD” when they are dealing with a member of the productive class who isn’t willing to endure the indignity and injury of a state-licensed abduction. In other words: Use any means necessary — including lethal force — to insure that resistance is futile.

Directorate of Terrorist Identities (DTI)


WATCH COMMANDER: BARACK OBAMA’S SECRET TERRORIST-TRACKING SYSTEM, BY THE NUMBERS (2014-08-05) [https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/08/05/watch-commander] (archive.org) (archive.today):
(Image is of document showing the progress of TIDE. Click on it or download for better view)

[begin extracts]
Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” That category—280,000 people—dwarfs the number of watchlisted people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined.
• The government adds names to its databases, or adds information on existing subjects, at a rate of 900 records each day.
• The CIA uses a previously unknown program, code-named Hydra, to secretly access databases maintained by foreign countries and extract  data to add to the watchlists.
When U.S. officials refer to “the watchlist,” they typically mean the TSDB, an unclassified pool of information shared across the intelligence community and the military, as well as local law enforcement, foreign governments, and private contractors.
Most people placed on the government’s watchlist begin in a larger, classified system known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE). The TIDE database actually allows for targeting people based on far less evidence than the already lax standards used for placing people on the watchlist. A more expansive—and invasive—database, TIDE’s information is shared across the U.S. intelligence community, as well as with commando units from the Special Operations Command and with domestic agencies such as the New York City Police Department.
In the summer of 2013, officials celebrated what one classified document prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center refers to as “a milestone”—boosting the number of people in the TIDE database to a total of one million, up from half a million four years earlier.
The document credits that historic achievement to the Directorate of Terrorist Identities (DTI), a secretive and virtually unknown U.S. counterterrorism unit responsible for maintaining TIDE. “This number is a testament to DTI’s hard work and dedication over the past 2.5 years,” the document declares.
DTI’s efforts in Boston and Chicago are part of a broader push to obtain biometric information on the more than one million people targeted in its secret database. This includes hundreds of thousands of people who are not watchlisted. In 2013, the directorate’s Biometric Analysis Branch (BAB) launched an initiative to obtain biometric data from driver’s license records across the country. At least 15 states and the District of Columbia are working with the directorate to facilitate access to facial images from driver’s licenses. In fiscal year 2013, 2,400 such images were provided for inclusion in the secret TIDE database.
According to the documents, BAB offers its “unique skill of facial identification support” to a “broad customer base.” Last year its analysts produced more than 290 reports for other government entities, including the CIA, the New York City Police Department, and the military’s elite Special Operations Command.
The DTI also goes far beyond accessing information from state driver’s licenses. In managing the main terrorism database, the directorate coordinates with the CIA and the National Media Exploitation Center, a Pentagon wing responsible for analyzing and disseminating “paper documents, electronic media, videotapes, audiotapes, and electronic equipment” seized abroad in military or intelligence operations.
By sharing information with the military, the National Counterterrorism Center asserts, the DTI is able to “obtain additional data fusion points by accessing and exploiting NMEC data holdings.” In return, the directorate “provides NMEC with a classified biometric search capability against TIDE through automated and manual facial identification support.”
The DTI also harvests information from CIA sources, including a secret database called CINEMA— short for CIA Information Needs Management—and a secret CIA program called “Hydra,” which utilizes “clandestinely acquired foreign government information” to enhance the quality of “select populations” in TIDE.
In 2013, DTI and the CIA ran a “proof of concept” for Hydra, using Pakistan as a guinea pig. The DTI provided the CIA with a list of 555 Pakistanis in the TIDE database. After inputting the names into Hydra, the CIA “vetted these names against Pakistani Passports” and provided biographic and biometric identifiers to the DTI.
[end extracts]


"Classified Documents Show US Government's Flawed "Secret Terrorist-Tracking System";
Documents obtained by The Intercept show nearly half of government's terrorist suspects have no terrorist affiliation"
2014-08-05 by Nadia Prupis for "CommonDreams.org" [http://commondreams.org/news/2014/08/05/classified-documents-show-us-governments-flawed-secret-terrorist-tracking-system]:
(Image: The Intercept)

Nearly half of the U.S. government's terrorist suspects have no connection to any known terrorist groups, The Intercept reported on Tuesday [https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/08/05/watch-commander/].
Publishing two classified, unredacted documents related to the White House's "secret terrorist-tracking system," The Intercept journalists, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, report that of the 680,000 people listed on the government's widely-shared watchlist, more than 40 percent are defined as having "no recognized terrorist group affiliation." The cumulative amount of people who are in the database for no reason adds up to 280,000 — more than the total number of al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah suspects combined.
The U.S. government adds new names or additional information on existing names to the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) at a rate of 900 records each day, using biometric data like fingerprints, iris scans, and facial recognition in addition to requests for data from various agencies, while the CIA uses its secretive Hydra program to collect additional information on foreign suspects living overseas.
The TSDB is shared among the intelligence community, governments, and law enforcement agencies at the local and international level, as well as with private contractors. The documents are released as the no-fly list hits an all-time high of 47,000, with President Barack Obama adding more names than George W. Bush, including Bolivian President Evo Morales and the head of Lebanon’s parliament.
In 2013, the Obama administration “quietly approved a substantial expansion” of the watchlist system, according to documents leaked to The Intercept earlier this year [https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/07/23/blacklisted/] by a "source within the intelligence community." The guideline for adding names to the list "requires neither ‘concrete facts’ nor ‘irrefutable evidence’ to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist,” the documents stated. It was developed in secret meetings by representatives of the U.S. intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI.
Many of the people on the list are individuals who live or have recently applied for citizenship in the U.S., while the baseless adding of names has been known by government watchdogs for years. On Monday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and other national offices for illegally denying citizenship to Muslim immigrants, using a secret "national security concern" classification to deny or delay their applications for lawful residency and adding them to the watchlist without their knowledge instead.
"In 2013 alone, the watchlisting community nominated 468,749 individuals to the TSDB," the ACLU complaint states. "In 2009, the Government Accountability Office found that 35 percent of the nominations to the TSDB were outdated, and that tens of thousands of names had been placed on the list without an adequate factual basis."
In a statement released by the National Counterrorism Center, which prepared the TSDB documents, the center called the watchlisting system a "critical layer in our counterrorism defenses" and claimed it was superior to the pre-9/11 tracking process, The Intercept reported.
Despite the troubling revelations of these methods, the TSDB is only one component of a larger database called the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), which targets even more people based on even less information than the TSDB, The Intercept said. TIDE shares information with the U.S. intelligence community, units from the Special Operations Command, and domestic law enforcement agencies such as the New York City Police Department and other local departments.
As of 2013, there are more than one million names in the TIDE database. More than 240 "nominations" are processed daily.
In the documents, the government justifies the TIDE and TSDB programs as "necessary for our nation’s counterterrorism mission."
Additional details revealed by The Intercept include:
* 16,000 people, including 1,200 Americans, have been classified as “selectees” who are targeted for enhanced screenings at airports and border crossings.
* There are 611,000 men on the main terrorist watchlist and 39,000 women.
* The top five U.S. cities represented on the main watchlist for “known or suspected terrorists” are New York; Dearborn, Mich.; Houston; San Diego; and Chicago. At 96,000 residents, Dearborn is much smaller than the other cities in the top five, suggesting that its significant Muslim population—40 percent of its population is of Arab descent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau—has been disproportionately targeted for watchlisting.
* The top “nominating agencies” responsible for placing people on the government’s watchlists are: the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, told The Intercept “[the] fact that this information can be shared with agencies from the CIA to the NYPD, which are not known for protecting civil liberties, brings us closer to an invasive and rights-violating government surveillance society at home and abroad.”
The CIA and the White House declined to comment on the article. However, Scahill noted this via Twitter just after The Intercept story went live:
jeremy scahill @jeremyscahill, 9:55 AM - 5 Aug 2014
US government, pissed we were publishing our story, tried to undermine us by leaking it to other news organization right before we published

Man tortured in public by Antioch Police Dept.

video posted 2014-08-05 by Amber R. to [https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyToday]:

J. Jones: I was there and witnessed the whole thing. This is police brutality at it's finest. Must I remind you when all this happened the guy was already handcuffed on the ground and even after being handcuffed they still beat him, tazed him and let the k9 bite him in the face twice. They literally beat the guy unconscious and then threatened my 7 month pregnant girlfriend. Now that you know what I know, go ahead and watch it again...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

California National Guard and suppression of dissent in eastern Europe


"California and Ukraine National Guard gear up for military collaboration in 2015"2014-08-02 from [rt.com/usa/177520-california-ukraine-obama-military/]:
In the latest step by Washington to increase the pressure on Russia’s border with Ukraine, the Obama administration has informed Congress that the US will train and arm the Ukrainian National Guard next year, the Pentagon said.
"The Defense Department and State Department have notified Congress of our intent to use $19 million in global security contingency fund authority to train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian National Guard as part of their efforts to build their capacity for internal defense," Reuters quoted Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby as saying Friday.
The joint military training would take place at a facility inside Ukraine that is capable of hosting multilateral exercises, Kirby said. The advisors would be provided by US Army Europe and by the California National Guard, he added.
Also Friday, the United States pledged about $8 million in new aid to bolster the Ukrainian Border Guard Service.
The plan requires Congressional approval, but judging by the level of anti-Russian rhetoric coming from US legislators, this is expected to be forthcoming.
The California National Guard’s military partnership with the Ukraine military has existed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
California partnered with Ukraine in 1993 to assist the country develop its military capacity, with the two sides participating in numerous military exercises over the years, including Operation Peace Shield and Operation Sea Breeze, which has particularly irked Moscow since the exercise is occasionally held in Crimea, the home of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
The California-Ukraine partnership is expected to transition to Operation Saber Guardian – a multinational exercise involving 12 nations, including Ukraine.
It may come as a surprise to many American taxpayers that the US National Guard has nearly two dozen state partnerships with foreign countries, most of which were once part of the Soviet Union.
According to the Embassy of the United States in Ukraine, “the California–Ukraine partnership directly supports both the goals of the US Ambassador to Ukraine and Commander, US European Command.” However, the embassy provides no further details as to exactly what those specific “goals” may be.
(Image from eucom.mil)


Bad timing for California National Guardsmen?
Although the Pentagon spokesperson failed to mention Washington’s worsening diplomatic relations with Russia over the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, the announcement comes on the heels of a string of anti-Russian actions, which include a series of sanctions that target Russian businesses and banks.
The marked deterioration in Russia-US relations began late last year after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich signaled his preference for forging economic ties with Russia - which was prepared to provide a loan bailout to Kiev, something the IMF had been hoping to do - as opposed to the so-called EU association agreement.
This decision, which proved to be politically fateful for Yanukovich, triggered a harsh response from Western governments and politicians, some of whom, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain, appeared in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to agitate Ukrainians against Russia.
The level of Western meddling in Ukrainian politics became startlingly clear in January when assistant US Secretary of State Viktoria Nuland was recorded in telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, where the two officials are heard discussing their preferences as to whom should take over power in the country.
The icing on the cake came when Nuland was heard to bluntly declare, “F**k the EU” with regards to the European bloc’s opinion in the matter.
The latest setback in Russia-US relations came with the July 17 downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine. Western countries, following in the footsteps of the United States, have been quick to cast blame on Russia for the incident, saying it has supplied the rebels with missiles.
Moscow has emphatically rejected the accusations, while at the same time presenting Kiev with a series of questions concerning the crash, including about why Ukrainian air traffic controllers allowed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 “to deviate from the regular route to the north, toward ‘the anti-terrorist operation zone.’”