POLICE VIOLENCE AND MILITARISM: STEPS TOWARD TOTALITARIANISM ARCHIVE
June 25, 2020
Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology
So many articles have been published on police oppression in popularresistance.org, mronline.org, and other magazines that my selective anthologizing has been overwhelmed. (I am working on #6.) You have here instead an archive in reverse chronological order from September 7, 2016, to June 25, 2020, from which all of us can draw for our own resistance.
NEXT 10 FROM Popular Resistance.org (6-25-20)
Mronline.org (6-25-20) (NEXT 3)
Why have the powers of the police expanded over decades, while funding for vital social services shrinks? Laissez-faire capitalism goes hand-in-hand with brutal coercion. | more…
Companies that say they stand with protesters have been funding police foundations for years. | more…
As politicians and activists across the country try to reenvision law enforcement, Black revolutionary Angela Davis says reform can only go so far in addressing the inherent racism in policing. | more…
By Shireen Adeimi and Sarah Lazare, In These Times. Nationwide uprisings over the police killing of George Floyd have forced a long overdue discussion about the injustices of U.S. policing—an institution that has consistently harassed and terrorized and, in the words of organizer, writer and educator Mariame Kaba, remains a consistent “force of violence against Black people.” As demands to abolish the police are thrust into mainstream discourse, promising—if uncertain and mixed—political changes are being debated and implemented every day. We are seeing a rigorous interrogation of the systems that uphold and compound... -more-
By Tayla Zax, Forward. In 1905, Pennsylvania did something unprecedented: It founded America’s first state police force. The new institution, which was more highly militarized than previous law enforcement systems, was created for one reason: The state government wanted a more organized and efficient way to break strikes. The new force approached that mission with zeal — and violence. In 1909, members of the Pennsylvania State Police killed several strikers during the Pressed Steel Car Strike, a strike by workers who built railroad cars; after a crowd broke one state trooper’s leg, police were given orders to shoot to kill. -more-
Thu, Jun 18, 9:37 AM (1 day ago)
Date: Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 7:12 AM
Subject: An alternative to calling police already exists
Subject: An alternative to calling police already exists
Popular Resistance.org (8-18-20).
Barack Obama has offered some advice to the protesters flooding streets across the United States. Not that anyone asked him, mind you. But he was the First Black President™, so people better shut up and listen. | more…
“And This Happened in Los Angeles:” Malcolm X describes police brutality against members of the Nation of Islam
There was police brutality and there was atrocity, and the press was just as atrocious as the police. Because they helped the police to cover it up by propagating a false image across the country, that there was a blazing gun battle which involved Muslims and police shooting at each other. | more…
ZIONIST TRAINING OF U.S. POLICE & SUPPRESSION OF CIVILIAN PROTESTS
Date: Mon, Jun 15, 2020 at 9:30 PM
Subject: Israelification of U.S policing
The Israelification of American domestic security
By Max Blumenthal
(Editor’s note: The eruption of national protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd have shed new light on Israel’s training of local police officers across the country.
100 members of the 800-strong Minneapolis police department were trained at a conference in Israel in 2012. That means at least one of every eight members the city’s force has been influenced by the methods of an occupying apartheid entity.)
June 15, 2020
In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.
At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”
Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.
The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.
Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics have been used to suppress the Occupy movement in general.
The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.
“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”
Changing the way we do business
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisers who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.
Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.
During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” the New York Times reported.
Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”
Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.
PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.
Lessons from Israel to Auschwitz
Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it has provoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”
Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.
The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”
Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.
Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”
A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Demographic Unit
For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officer to Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.
Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”
Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”
The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”
Shop ‘til you’re stopped
At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselves for five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.
Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.
Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.
One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.
“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.
“Occupy” meets the occupation
When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.
Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much they will inform police repression of future examples of street protest. What can be said for certain is that the Israelification of American law enforcement has intensified police fear and hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican Gomorrah, Goliath, The Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery.
Following 7 items from Popular resistance.org (6-13-20)
By Theresa Harrington and Ali Tadyon, EdSource. Amid calls to defund municipal police in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, two Oakland Unified school board members are pushing to eliminate the district’s police force. This is an acceleration of a demand that dates back nine years, when activists began calling on the district to dissolve its police department after a black student was shot and killed by a district police sergeant. The proposal by board members Roseann Torres and Shanthi Gonzales says the district would call on Oakland City Police in emergencies. It has the support of the teachers’ union. -more-
By War Resisters International. In response to the murder of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis police department on 25th May, thousands of people across the United States joined protests demanding justice for his killing, radical reform of police forces, and driving home the message that Black Lives Matter. Many of these protests face militarised police responses, including the use of rubber bullets, sting balls, stun grenades, battons, police charges, and chemical weapons like tear gas and pepper spray. Twitter users have photographed a large number of canisters that were fired during the protest. -more-
By Jon Stone, Independent. The Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the United States, in light of the police response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. A successful motion, which was backed by 52 votes to 0 with 11 abstentions, says the parliament "stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and considers that the UK government must immediately suspend all export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US". Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP who proposed the successful amendment, said the "weapons of oppression", which the... -more-
By Jeremy Varon, Witness Against Torture. Martin Gugino worked together in Witness Against Torture for years, a close-knit group dedicated to closing the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo and opposing torture. Our community is beside itself. None of us is surprised that it was Martin meeting the police line in a posture of non-violence. Martin is gentle, principled, and undaunted. Allied with the Catholic Worker tradition, he is also deeply committed to a tapestry of causes, from fair housing to immigrant rights. Guiding his activism is belief in the sacred power of non-violent resistance to injustice. If that makes him an “agitator,” as Buffalo’s... -more-
By Evan Bush, Seattle Times. Welcome to the CHAZ, the newly named Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, where most everything was free Tuesday. Free snacks at the No-Cop Co-op. Free gas masks from some guy’s sedan. Free speech at the speaker’s circle, where anyone could say their piece. A free documentary movie — Ava DuVernay’s “13th” — showing after dark. A Free Capitol Hill, according to no shortage of spray paint on building facades. And perhaps most important to demonstrators, the neighborhood core was free of uniformed police. A new protest society — centered on a handful of blocks in Seattle’s quirky, lefty... -more-
By It's Going Down. The other day, the police announced that they were gathering their things and leaving their precinct. What do you make of this? This, to be very honest, is anyone’s guess. There are many theories around why they abandoned the precinct. Some feel that they ran out of resources, some feel that it was a politically expedient move on the Mayor’s part. From my perspective-this was a “good” move on the city’s part. They were getting hammered in the press for the nightly tear gas barrages and street clashes, and the crowds never really got smaller. When an active shooter was on the scene, people rushed to the... -more-
By Max Blumenthal, The Grayzone. The Israelification of America’s security apparatus recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg. -more-
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America’s unfinished revolution: Where do the George Floyd protests go from here? Mronline.org (6-13-20)
It takes but a few minutes for the ruling elite to recast collective calls for an end to state violence against black people into images of the criminality of black protesters and to call for an end to looting. | more…
Media are slowly starting to be serious about police violence. Mronline.org (6-13-20)
As the George Floyd protests against police violence erupted around the nation, a massive amount of evidence of police brutality was widely captured through social media. Unfortunately, very little of it made it to mainstream outlets until much later. | more…
Top 16 euphemisms U.S. headline writers used for police beating the shit out of people. mronline.org (6-11-20)
“Mayor Downplays Rough Police Treatment of NYC Protesters” (AP, 6/5/20) | more…
Power over policing. Mronline.org (6-11-20)
Reform efforts will fail. Only a power shift to communities can improve public safety. | more…
“A Tank By Any Other Name.” By Seth Kershner,
In These Times, Oct. 2016.
The Pentagon is giving cops as much military gear as ever.
Israel and U.S. Police Training
11:04 AM (4 hours ago)
I thought you would be interested in this. It is amazing how many demonstrations there are around the world supporting U.S. protesters demanding police reforms after George Floyd's killing while no massive U.S. protests demand help for the Palestinians.
Be sure to note the Arkansas connection. While it may be small, it may be an indicator of one thing that needs to change.
"Law enforcement from other U.S. states have participated in the program, including those from Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Floria, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wahsington, D.C., and West Virginia.
Thank you for your concerns,
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, Clearing the FOG. Popular Resistance.org (6-9-20). The United States is in the midst of a mass uprising against police violence, but also a whole list of grievances such as the lack of jobs, health care, education and more. Sustained protests have been going on for two weeks defying curfews and severe repression by police. The national guard has been deployed to 23 states and President Trump threatened to deploy the military against people expressing their First Amendment rights. We speak with Danny Sjursen, a retired Major and spokesperson for About Face: Veterans Against the War, about how members of the military are... -more-
As protests rage across America against police brutality and systemic racism, Akunna Eneh, an activist from Boston, argues that the movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd has exposed the true face of American society. | more…
This weekend, hundreds of thousands of workers and youth will protest the police murder of George Floyd, not only in the United States, but in Australia, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, Brazil, South Korea and many other countries. | more…
U.S. counties where lynchings were more prevalent from 1877 to 1950 have more officer-involved killings | more…
“A riot is the language of the unheard.” Mronline.org (6-4-20)
More than 50 years ago (on 14 April 1967), Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of his famous speeches, on “The Other America,” at Stanford University.* King patiently explained to the audience of students and faculty members that, while in his view “riots are socially destructive and self-defeating,” they are “in the final analysis. . […] | more…
Posse Comitatus Act Google Search 6-4-20
The Posse Comitatus Act outlaws the willful use of any part of the Army or Air Force to execute the law unless expressly authorized by the Constitution or an act of Congress. ... Questions concerning the act's application arise most often in the context of assistance to civilian police.Nov 6, 2018
People also ask
Can the US military be used against citizens?
What law prevents the military from policing?
Can military help police?
Can military police become civilian police?
The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law signed on June 18, 1878, by President ... The act specifically applies only to the United States Army and, as amended in 1956, the United States Air Force. ... pursuant of any state's role of exercising police power and maintaining law and order, whether part of a wider ...
Military aid to the civil power (MACP) is the use of the armed forces in support of the civil ... State or territory civilian police have primary responsibility for law and order. ... The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878, generally prohibits Federal military personnel (except the United States Coast Guard) and units of the United ...
Dec 6, 2019 - No 'blue wall of silence:' A military lawyer explains why the US ... Yet both soldiers and police officers put their lives on the line for their team every day. ... order to do so was obviously illegal and should have been reported.
2 days ago - ... ready to deploy the military to enforce order inside the United States. ... allows a president to deploy the US military to suppress civil disorder.
Mar 17, 2020 - This analysis addresses the distinctive roles of U.S. federal military forces and ... passed in 1878 in response to reconstruction of the South, forbade ... the National Guard in this way because soldiers make bad police officers.
Oct 26, 2016 - The use of the active duty military in a law enforcement role is not unconstitutional but it is prohibited by the posse comitatus act. 18 U.S.C. ...
Dec 6, 2019 - No "blue wall of silence:" A military lawyer explains why the US armed ... order to do so was obviously illegal and should have been reported.
Sep 23, 2019 - Although the PCA prohibits only the Army and Air Force as from performing domestic law enforcement activities, another statute, 10 USC Section ...
Aug 16, 2012 - whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the ... by declaring martial law and forbidding any Armed Forces from entering the territory. It was not ... Eleven hundred troops (mostly military police) and 80 federal ...
FROM POPULAR RESISTANCE 6-4-20
By Colleen Grablick, Jason Fenston and Natalie Delgadillo, DCist. Nearly two hours after the 7 p.m. curfew went into effect on Sunday night, dozens of people were corralled by police in a one-way block — Swann Street NW, between 14th and 15th — as they made their way north from downtown. As officers closed in on the group, they began setting off what appeared to be pepper spray and flash bangs, sending the crowd running. “I heard ‘bang bang’ and a lot of thumping and pepper spray everywhere, my eyes started burning, people screaming, and a human tsunami coming down the street, of piles on top of people,” says... -more-
By Chris Walker, Truthout. As President
Donald Trump threatens to invoke the Insurrection Act to use aspects
of the U.S. military against Americans involved in the demonstrations in
response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week,
polling so far shows that most people are not happy with how he has handled the
situation. Indeed, the data demonstrates that a majority of Americans
appear to be in support of the protests in general. A Morning Consult poll
conducted on May 31 and June 1 — several days after demonstrations began in
protest over Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who
held a knee... -more-
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advertising, we rely on your support.
As Attacks On Protesters and Journalists Increase, Coverage Of Communities And
Police Need To Change
By Timothy Karr, Free Press. The weekend saw escalating police violence against protesters and reporters at nationwide demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd and systemic racial injustices. There has been an unprecedented number of attacks against journalists at many of these protests as law-enforcement officers have specifically targeted those engaged in First-Amendment protected newsgathering and reporting. This mirrors the ways police are targeting those engaged in First-Amendment protected protest. President Trump has egged on the police crackdown in a series of recent tweets, including one that labels news outlets... -more-
By The Collective, Anarchist News. We’ve reached a breaking point. The murders of George Floyd—and Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the other Black people whose lives were ended by police just this month—are only the latest in a centuries-long string of tragedies. But in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the state is openly treating Black communities as a surplus population to be culled by the virus, the arrogance and senselessness of the murder carried out by Officer Derek Chauvin crossed a line. Supported by hundreds of thousands across the US and beyond, the people of Minneapolis have made it clear that... -more-
By Phillip M. Bailey and Darcy Costello, Louisville Courier Journal. Louisville, KY - David McAtee, who turned his talent for food into a popular West End eatery, was shot and killed by law enforcement officers early Monday morning, an incident that's now under state, local and federal investigation. McAtee, the owner of YaYa's BBQ in western Louisville, was known as a "community pillar," said his mother, Odessa Riley. "He left a great legend behind. He was a good person. Everybody around him would say that," she said. "My son didn't hurt nobody. He didn't do nothing to nobody." . -more-
Mr. Fish's Catch of the Day: Law and Order
Mr. Fish's Catch of the Day: Law and Order
By Jon Queally, Commondreams. Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights Project, denounced both the nature and the timing of the assault on the unsuspecting demonstrators, given that it happened just as Trump delivered a speech from the Rose Garden in which he threatened tougher police tactics—including use of U.S. military forces—to quell protests in cities nationwide. "This appears to be grossly unjustified use of a dangerous chemical weapon on protesters and raises serious human rights concerns under international law," Dakwar said of what transpired in Lafayette Square. -more-
By Shannon Osaka, Grist. Already stressed by the threat of coronavirus and widespread unemployment, the United States has erupted into protests after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. Now, prominent groups in the environmental movement — which has long struggled with a dark, racist past — are speaking out against institutional prejudice and calling for the movement to better prioritize social justice. “For too long conservation and environmental movements have not spoken up to address the long-standing challenges that non-white communities face,” Fred Krupp, the president of... -more-
By Lee Camp, Consortium News. With all the protests and anger and violence across the country, a justified discussion about policing has begun on our corporate media airwaves. (I would say the discussion is overdue, but in fact we’ve had it roughly every three years for the past 40 years.) However, despite all the coverage, a deeper debate sits ignored – A debate about why our American police system exists at all, how it works (or doesn’t), and where it came from. The following 19 facts about American policing will change everything you think you know. First let’s start with the sheer amount of murder. -more-
By Zenobia Jeffries Warfield, Nation of Change. There’s no greater frustration than working every day to build and inspire others to build a more just, compassionate world, only to be so brutally reminded of how far away that world is, as we are bombarded by videos of an atrocity such as the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Witnessing someone being killed is terrorizing. I am experiencing episodes of terror after seeing the life leave Floyd’s handcuffed body under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, while two officers held down Floyd, and another stood idly by. That image will stay with me for a long time, just as... -more-
By James LaPorta and Robert Burns, Associated Press. The Pentagon said Saturday it was ready to provide military help to authorities scrambling to contain unrest in Minneapolis, where George Floyd’s death has sparked widespread protests, but Gov. Tim Walz has not requested federal troops. Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said several military units have been placed on higher alert “as a prudent planning measure” in case Walz asks for help. The Associated Press first reported on the potential deployments and, citing sources with direct knowledge of the orders, named four locations from which soldiers... -more-
By Joshua Frank, Counterpunch. The looting of stores is inherently a class issue, whether you look upon it favorably or not (there are always exceptions of course). The act of looting is a long-standing American tradition, dating back to the theft of Native lands and African enslavement. And today, while wealthy people don’t loot strip malls, they are adept at looting natural resources and labor, from the coalfields of West Virginia to Jeff Bezo’s Amazon warehouses. The poor, exerting their nominal power—even in a destructive and violent manner—display an entirely natural reaction to a continually powerless state of being. -more-
Bruce Western. Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison. Russell Sage, 2018. About the 600,000 released each year, what they face, what changes are needed.
David Correia and Tyler Wall. Police: A Field Guide. Verso, 2018. Radical glossary.
Do Not Resist, POV, PBS, AETN SUNDAY 10 PM, 2-18-18
A vital and influential exploration of the rapid militarization of the police in the United States. Do Not Resist puts viewers in the center of the action — from inside a police training seminar that teaches the importance of.
Film Description. The son of a SWAT team member in Detroit ...
A vital and influential exploration of the rapid militarization of the ...
Production credits for the POV documentary Do Not Resist.
Everything you need to host a screening of Do Not Resist.
Find out more about Craig Atkinson, the filmmaker of the ...
Classroom Clip. Ferguson. Clip shows police using military ...
Instead of disaster preparedness and storm relief, resources are being funneled into violent police trainings and arms exchanges.
BY TARA TABASSI
Deadly-force data lacking; shootings by Arkansas police deserve study, officials say
PHOTO BY STEPHEN B. THORNTON
Police in Arkansas shot at least 135 people in the past six years. Sixty-seven died.
During the same period, at least three Arkansas police officers were fatally shot by assailants, and 31 reported being shot at when they wounded or killed someone, according to research by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Those numbers come from the Democrat-Gazette's efforts to count all deadly-force encounters -- fatal or not -- between the public and law enforcement from 2011-16.
The newspaper built a database from public records and media reports because reliable, official statistics on police shootings are hard to come by.
The lack of official numbers makes it difficult for police to do their jobs, and breeds mistrust and suspicion among the public, say social scientists, political leaders and law enforcement officials.
And while few deadly police encounters in Arkansas resulted in the protests or public outrage seen elsewhere, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner said.
"Have you ever heard of Falcon Heights?" Buckner asked, referring to the Minnesota town where a police officer killed school lunchroom worker Philando Castile in July.
"You'd never heard of it, had you?" the chief said. "So, if it can happen in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, it can happen in Little Rock, Arkansas."
The Democrat-Gazette developed this series of articles by analyzing thousands of pages of documents obtained through dozens of public records requests. The newspaper also used media reports to fill in gaps in the official records.
Among the newspaper's findings:
• Black men make up 7.5 percent of the state's population. They accounted for more than 39 percent of people police killed or wounded from 2011 to 2016.
• A quarter of all victims of officer-involved shootings -- at least 35 cases -- struggled with mental disorders. Officers in those encounters often had failed to complete training that would help them interact with the mentally ill.
• Police investigations into deadly-force encounters often lacked impartial oversight and rarely resulted in actions against the officers who fired their weapons.
• The people killed by police included one woman. The rest were men -- black, white and Hispanic, armed and unarmed, ranging in age from 15 to 107.
• Last year, Arkansas police used deadly force 33 times -- a 68 percent increase from the six-year average.
• So far this year, five people have been shot by police, two fatally.
Incomplete or imprecise record-keeping by certain law enforcement agencies and prosecutors means some lethal-force incidents may have been overlooked.
Most prosecutors said they didn't have indexes on deadly-force investigative files and could furnish only the files that they remembered handling.
First Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Fletcher Long refused to dig up the files the newspaper requested under the state Freedom of Information Act. The 1st Judicial District covers Cross, Woodruff, St. Francis, Monroe, Lee and Phillips counties.
"I would have to go through each and every file maintained in my office to see if they had anything to do with the use of police force," Long emailed in response to the newspaper's request. "I decline to do this."
Andy Riner, 18th-West Judicial District prosecutor, didn't release deadly-force case files when the newspaper first requested them in July; he said he considered them homicide investigations with no statutes of limitation.
"If additional information were to be obtained in these matters, we may reopen the investigative process," Riner said in a letter.
The state public records law exempts details of active investigations from disclosure.
Months later, Riner released some of his files after the newspaper questioned his interpretation of the law. He said he was still searching for other records, which weren't provided before publication of this series. Riner's district covers Polk and Montgomery counties.
Eight of the state's remaining 26 elected prosecutors provided only one- or two-page cover letters rather than complete case files.
Like Arkansas, other states and the federal government fail to effectively track lethal-force cases, making any comparison difficult.
For now, the most complete public data on police shootings have been compiled by media outlets. The British newspaper The Guardian and The Washington Post began compiling comprehensive lists of people killed by police in 2015.
A 2015 investigation by the Post and Courier, a Charleston, S.C.-based newspaper, found that South Carolina police engaged in deadly force 235 times over a 77-month period -- roughly one occurrence every 10 days.
The Democrat-Gazette examined a 72-month period and found 135 cases, almost one every two weeks.
Adjusted for population, police in both states used lethal force at almost identical rates.
The FBI claims to track police-caused deaths and serves as a clearinghouse for crime statistics from all 50 states.
But at a crime summit in September, even FBI Director James Comey admitted the agency's collection methods are flawed and described the lack of data on police-involved shootings as "embarrassing" and "ridiculous."
The FBI's statistics, for example, showed that Arkansas law enforcement officers have killed two people since 2011. The Democrat-Gazette's data show that police in the state killed twice that many people in December alone.
Under former President Barack Obama's administration, the Department of Justice began to "re-design" how it tallies police-caused deaths by scouring media reports before inquiring with individual police departments and coroner's offices for verification and additional details.
In December, the Justice Department released a preliminary report of the redesign -- which counted shootings between 2015 and 2016 -- and estimated that FBI statistics covered only about half of the actual deaths.
That report matched the Democrat-Gazette's count of one officer-involved shooting death in the state from June 1 to Aug. 31, 2015, but it didn't include four other nonfatal shootings by Arkansas police.
Local police agencies often track use of force within their departments to steer training and policy, but some officials say the absence of large-scale data is problematic.
"I think every modern police agency recognizes the vital importance of transparency," said Hope Police Chief J.R. Wilson, immediate past president of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police.
"Scrutiny does make policing better. Scrutiny ensures that justice remains fair and equitable for all in a dynamic and imperfect environment.
"But, we must be careful," he said. "A vigilante or politically expedient approach to perceived injustice without reasonable understanding of the facts of an incident is unreasonable, unconscionable and not acceptable."
Many officers say that the heightened scrutiny they face has made their jobs harder.
In a nationwide survey released in January, police reported that the attention surrounding high-profile fatal shootings increased tensions between police and blacks, and made officers less willing to stop and question suspicious people.
The findings of the Pew Research Center survey included attitudes and experiences drawn from almost 8,000 police officers belonging to departments of 100 or more officers.
The report shows that police and the public disagree over the causes of police shootings and that police don't always agree with each other on that issue.
Sixty-seven percent of officers surveyed described the killing of black Americans in police encounters as "isolated incidents," while 60 percent of the public reported that these shootings were "signs of a broader problem."
The survey also noted differences in the views of black and white police: 92 percent of white officers said the country has already made the changes "needed to give blacks equal rights," while 69 percent of black officers said more needed to be done to ensure that blacks are afforded "equal rights with whites."
A large majority of officers surveyed also said they thought the public "doesn't understand the risks [police] face."
In many of the cases reviewed by the Democrat-Gazette, police had just seconds to weigh life-or-death decisions.
Since 2011, three officers in the state have been shot dead, two officers were killed in vehicular assaults, and two prison guards were killed by inmates.
"Officers are operating in an environment now that they didn't used to operate when I was just starting," said 23rd Judicial District prosecutor Chuck Graham.
"Officers have been shot for no other reason than they were a police officer. How do they operate in that? They're humans."
Graham was president of the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association last year and has decades of law enforcement experience with the U.S. Air Force.
"You're not the one that has a gun pointed at you," he said. "You're not the one that's having to make a decision like that."
Arkansas prosecutors charged police with crimes in only two of the 135 cases the newspaper reviewed, but neither officer was convicted at trial.
Prosecutors across the United States have struggled to successfully try cases against police officers -- a trend law experts attribute to juries' predisposed leniency toward police.
Overall, 2016 was different for prosecutors than previous years.
Nationally, at least four officers were convicted by state-court juries for on-duty shootings as compared with 2014 and 2015, when no officers in the United States were found guilty on murder charges, according to Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Stinson worked for police departments in Virginia and New Hampshire before earning advanced degrees in law and criminology. In 2005, he started collecting data on police shootings -- which are frequently cited by researchers and media outlets -- by sifting through media reports, court records and videos.
Thirteen officers were convicted of murder or manslaughter for deadly on-duty shootings between 2005 and 2015, Stinson's research shows.
This does not include cases in which officers faced lesser charges.
In cases reviewed by the Democrat-Gazette, local police officers involved in shootings generally were granted special concessions, such as extra time to prepare their statements to investigators.
Often, the officers who fired their weapons were questioned by their colleagues -- a potential conflict of interest, say survivors and legal experts.
These practices have created a feeling of helplessness in victims' families -- families like the Finleys.
'The last thing'
As he stands in a cold October drizzle, Chris Finley recounts the worst night of his life -- the night his son Grant died at the hands of a Jonesboro cop.
Finley slowly turns a brass shell casing between thumb and forefinger, and points to the spot where his 31-year-old son took his final breath.
The night Grant Finley died, his father cleaned up the pool of his son's blood left behind by crime scene investigators -- and found the .40-caliber shell casing now wheeling in his hand.
"This didn't have to happen," Chris Finley says.
Grant Finley was typical of mentally ill individuals whose interactions with police led to injury or death from officers who had little or no training in calming agitated, confused people.
His family knows he wasn't perfect. His schizophrenia, and use of legal and illegal drugs to deal with his troubles led to several run-ins with police.
And while his father and sister acknowledge that he shouldn't have brandished a machete the night he was killed, they also say the officer shouldn't have shot him. The officer was not charged.
The Finleys and other victims' families feel the system intended to protect them has done the opposite.
"I feel like the last thing you want to do is call the police for help," said Caitlyn Finley, Grant's sister.
"I don't want to deal with them unless I have to, and that's sad. They should be the first person you want to call if you're in trouble."
Some families seek justice through the federal courts.
Thirteen separate federal lawsuits have been filed so far involving the cases reviewed by the Democrat-Gazette. More than a million dollars in settlements have gone to some families, court records show.
'A lot of anecdotes'
Some Arkansas lawmakers are pushing changes this year to alter the way police shootings are tracked.
Their intent is to give lawmakers and police the information needed to have an "educated discussion."
Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, filed a shell bill last week "to establish a uniform standard for data collection among law enforcement agencies." In a phone interview, she said that would encompass officer-involved shootings. She added that she is working with the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training to sort out how to effectively record the data.
Some lawmakers, though, worry that their colleagues will be hesitant to support a bill that receives push-back from the law enforcement community.
"When we talk about tracking this, we start moving into corners right away," said Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock.
"Officers feel accused, but it's not accusatory at all. We have a lot of anecdotes. But if we had data, that would tell us if those anecdotes are trends," she said.
Elliott filed a shell bill in the 2015 legislative session that called for creating a statewide "citizen's review board on policing practices" aimed at promoting "positive relationships" between law enforcement and communities, and providing for fair and transparent police practices. The bill did not contain any details and wasn't pushed further.
Legislatures in eight other states have passed laws requiring the collection of data on police use of deadly force. But most of those laws are new and haven't been as effective as intended, according to studies and news reports.
The central problem is that police agencies often fail to report use-of-force encounters and aren't penalized, according to officials in those states.
In Texas, for example, a public database debuted this year, but it was missing several notable instances of use of force. State officials have said it will take time for all agencies in the state to grow accustomed to reporting fatal force encounters.
In Maine, the state's attorney general reviews all deadly force investigations and posts the reviews online. But there is no collective data set that would identify trends, which could then be addressed through policy.
As for Arkansas, James Golden, a criminal justice professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, believes more data would be helpful, but he doubts steps will be taken to collect that information anytime soon.
"More data is always good," said Golden, a former Jonesboro police officer. "However, nobody is ever willing to pony up the money."
A final embrace
At 9 p.m., April 4, 2015, Jonesboro police confronted Grant Finley about an earlier altercation with a woman at his home, but he refused to answer the door.
Chris Finley persuaded officers to allow him to take his son to the police station early the next morning. The officers agreed and left 30 minutes later.
Or so the Finleys thought.
At 10:50 p.m. Chris Finley wrapped his son in a tight hug and whispered good night, unaware it would be their final embrace.
Meanwhile, officer Heath Loggains waited behind bushes across the street. Through the leaves, he saw Chris and Chris' daughter drive away in a white pickup.
Loggains later told investigators that he and several other officers took it upon themselves to stake out Grant Finley's home, believing he would hurt others or himself.
Loggains' statements to detectives tell what happened next:
About 11:40 p.m., Grant Finley stepped onto his front yard, in socks and camouflage pants. A machete sheath hung from his belt.
Loggains jumped from behind the bushes, barking commands.
Grant retreated into his tiny home and shut the metal door.
The officer kicked the door several times trying to get inside.
The door jamb abruptly gave way. The two men pushed against the door from opposing sides.
Losing ground to Loggains, Grant swung the blunt end of the machete through the space between the jamb and the door.
Loggains stepped back and unholstered his gun.
Fourteen bullets punched through the thin metal door.
For two hours, police reports show, a tactical team waited outside, unsure of whether it was safe to enter. Finally, they pushed a pole camera through the front window of the small home.
The camera screen showed Grant, with streaks of blood staining his chest, slumped against the door, dead.
SundayMonday on 03/12/2017
Print Headline: Deadly-force data lacking; Shootings by police deserve study, officials say
DEADLY FORCE: In 6 years, 53 blacks shot by police in Arkansas
Is it racial bias or part of a broader issue?
PHOTO BY STEPHEN B. THORNTON
JONESBORO — Roseetta Robinson wept alone on Halloween 2011 after a policeman killed her father.
There were no protests, no riots, no public calls for accountability. No activists or TV cameras showed up in Jonesboro.
Her father, Cletis Williams, was black. Former Jonesboro patrolman Nick Holley is white.
Williams, 57, didn’t have a gun, and he was inside his home.
“If it were to happen now, it probably would have gotten more attention,” Robinson said, noting the added media coverage of police shootings in recent years.
Williams was one of 53 Arkansas black men killed or wounded by police in the past six years, an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette investigation found.
Seventeen of them, like Williams, were unarmed.
Black men accounted for 73.9 percent of the unarmed suspects shot by police in the years studied by the newspaper. They make up 7.5 percent of the state’s population.
By comparison, police shot five unarmed white men and one Hispanic man from 2011 through last year. White men make up about 37.9 percent of Arkansas’ population; they accounted for 21.7 percent of all unarmed victims shot by police.
Not every police-shooting case reviewed by the Democrat-Gazette involved a white officer shooting an unarmed black man. In a handful of cases, the officers were black.
And in most cases, regardless of the participants’ race, the person shot by police was armed.
Arkansas has not seen the level of outrage and protest that police killings of unarmed black men sparked elsewhere in recent years, but the tension between police and people of color exists here, the Democrat-Gazette’s research shows.
It’s nothing new, said state Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock.
“Everyone is seeing it now because there are cameras everywhere,” she said.
“Black people aren’t surprised because they’ve experienced it for years. It’s taken cameras to validate what we’ve been saying” about police treatment of blacks.
Criminal justice experts caution against drawing sweeping conclusions about race and police shootings from raw statistics.
The outsize share of black men who have been shot by police is disturbing, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s entirely police officers’ fault, those researchers say.
Joseph Rukus, a criminology professor at Arkansas State University, said there’s a disproportionate number of blacks caught up in the criminal justice system.
“What this highlights is it’s an overall problem,” Rukus said. “It doesn’t show racial bias on police per se, but racial bias in the criminal justice system as a whole.”
Civil rights leaders agree with Rukus that blacks are systemically overrepresented, but they aren’t as quick to shift blame away from law enforcement, pointing out that police in Arkansas are far more likely to shoot an unarmed black man than an unarmed white man.
Does that mean police perceive a greater threat when dealing with black suspects?
“That’s a good ground of inquiry,” said Rukus, who conducted research in Ferguson, Mo., last summer. “We have to take it in the context of the neighborhood where it occurred. Is it cause for concern? Yes.”
BEHAVIOR IS TARGET
Law enforcement officials largely dismiss the idea that implicit bias is widespread within their ranks. Instead, they cite high crime rates in areas with predominantly black populations.
Some officers are “bad apples,” or as Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner put it, there are “some that I wouldn’t want making a run to my mother’s house.”
But most cops are fundamentally good guys who want to do the right thing, he said.
Shuffling through a stack of spreadsheets scattered on his desk, Buckner, who is black, recites his department’s arrest statistics — about 70 percent of arrestees are black.
Therefore, he reasons, the majority of suspects shot by Little Rock officers would be black.
The newspaper’s findings bear that out: 78.6 percent of those killed or wounded by Little Rock officers since 2011 were black — the highest rate of any department in Arkansas when adjusted for population.
Buckner said the “socioeconomic cocktail” of single-parent homes, substance abuse, mental illness and lack of education plagues the city’s black youths.
“That’s uncomfortable for people to hear, but it’s a fact,” he said. “The truth is the truth. And in no way, shape or form would anyone be able to say to you that we are targeting African-Americans because of their race or skin color.
“We target people because of their behavior.”
Buckner may be right, said Cody T. Ross, a University of California-Davis researcher who has studied police shootings across the nation.
His research has flagged Pulaski County and seven other U.S. counties where “racial bias in shooting rates is strongest.”
The other counties were Miami-Dade County, Florida; Cook County, Illinois; Los Angeles County, California; Orleans Parish, Louisiana; Harris County, Texas; Baltimore County, Maryland; and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Police departments in those counties, including Pulaski, “may benefit from [a] review” to determine whether arrest and shooting numbers are a result of racial bias or higher criminal activity among black residents, Ross said.
Matthew DeGarmo, a criminal justice professor at ASU, said crime rates may be higher in Arkansas’ black communities because of a history of systemic racism in the state.
Black families, he said, were isolated into segregated neighborhoods. Those communities became impoverished after jobs moved away, which sowed seeds for increased criminal activity.
“In many places, officers know that African-Americans commit more crime, so when an officer sees a black suspect, that can affect their actions,” he added.
Such a notion frustrates Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who instead sees a police culture that allows “incompetent” officers on the streets.
“Why would people who profess to be trained in subduing unarmed people using less than lethal force be killing so many unarmed people and disproportionately doing so when that person is black and male?” he asked.
For example, Carleton Wallace, who was black, was killed by a barely trained officer on Sept. 8, 2012, in Alexander, records show.
Officer Nancy Cummings told detectives she accidentally shot the unarmed 30-year-old in the back while arresting him.
Cummings had worked for the Alexander Police Department for seven months, but had not attended the police academy. Her only firearms training had been target practice, according to trial testimony.
Cummings was charged with manslaughter. A jury acquitted her.
Wallace’s family has a civil suit pending against Cummings and the city of Alexander in federal court.
Allowing untrained cops to patrol the streets leads to preventable police shootings, said Griffen, who is often outspoken on civil rights issues.
“That’s a charitable conclusion,” Griffen said. “The damning conclusion is there is a culture in policing that intends to kill people — two out of three of which are black males — who aren’t a lethal threat.”
‘YOU SHOT ME’
In retrospect, the paths that led officer Nick Holley and Cletis Williams to a confrontation on Oct. 31, 2011, seem clear.
From 2010-12, Holley used excessive force 14 times when arresting suspects, four times more than the average Jonesboro cop, according to federal court records. Of all of the Jonesboro officers, Holley was the only one to resort to force more than 10 times, court records show.
Jonesboro’s population is 18 percent black. Holley patrolled in a predominantly black neighborhood of the city, and 10 of the 14 suspects he used force to arrest were black.
Williams, an Army veteran, started having problems with the law in Jonesboro in 2009 after he was ticketed for excessive noise.
On Oct. 10, 2009, an officer stopped him while he walked along the street and arrested him on a warrant for failing to appear in court on the noise citation.
After that, the warrants began to snowball, Craighead County District Court Clerk Joe Monroe said.
Police stopped Williams every few months for the next two years for infractions like riding his bicycle without a light or driving with a broken tail light.
His daughter believes those minor violations were simply excuses to stop a black man.
When Holley saw Williams riding his bike home that Halloween day in 2011, Williams was named in 16 bench warrants for failure to pay fines and seven for failure to complete public service — all misdemeanors.
He was also due in federal court the next day for a hearing in a pending lawsuit that he had filed against guards at the Craighead County jail for excessive use of force.
So when Holley knocked on Williams’ front door, Williams asked the officer to issue him a citation commanding him to appear in court, instead of arresting him.
When Williams reached out the door to show Holley some papers indicating that he had a federal court hearing in the next few days, the officer grabbed his arm.
A struggle ensued, Holley said. Williams dragged him into the mobile home, he said.
Holley said he tried to subdue Williams with a Taser. It didn’t work, and Williams ripped the device away, the officer told investigators.
Williams then jammed the Taser into Holley’s shoulder, he told detectives. They never found any burn marks from the Taser on Holley’s uniform or his skin, investigative reports say.
Holley said he fell on his back with Williams on top of him.
“That’s when he said, ‘You shot me,’” Holley said in his police interview.
The struggle continued, Holley said, and he fired several more times, striking Williams in both arms and five times in the chest.
“I was scared,” said Holley, whose actions were ruled as justified.
Roseetta Robinson, 34, moved to Memphis after her father’s death.
Jonesboro didn’t feel like a place to raise black children anymore, and those drives past the empty lot where her father’s mobile home once stood never got easier, she said.
In October, four of her six children, sat across from her in a dimly lit living room in Memphis as she told the story of what happened to their grandfather five years earlier.
Hearing police sirens on Jonesboro’s Warren Street, Robinson had stepped out her front door and peered through binoculars several blocks to south.
Through the fading sunshine, she could see Jonesboro police cars lined up along the road near her father’s house.
But she didn’t think much of it and returned inside.
That’s when she noticed a TV breaking news alert that someone had been shot.
She grabbed her keys and drove down the street, more curious than concerned.
Her dad’s mobile home was surrounded by crimescene tape.
“They killed your dad,” a neighbor said.
Robinson had planned to take her kids trick-or-treating that night.
Instead, she sat sobbing on the pavement surrounded by police.
Her children learned to hate Halloween that day, she said.
‘NOT THE FIX-ALL’
After a series of high-profile shootings across the country since 2015, police departments everywhere have put more emphasis on socalled community policing.
In the past month, for example, Fayetteville police donated coats to needy children.
In Little Rock, officers talked with residents over coffee.
In Jonesboro, cops threw a block party in one of the city’s high-crime neighborhoods.
Photos from those events are scattered among the mugshots of wanted suspects on the departments’ social media pages.
Those may be great events, but they don’t fix the problem that exists between police and communities of color, said Griffen, the circuit judge.
“You don’t fix the situation by a community night out,” he said. “You don’t fix that situation with a ride-along. You don’t fix that situation by playing basketball with kids at night. You don’t fix that situation with a police chief talking about black-on-black crime.
“It’s an attempt to direct attention away from police who kill unarmed people and are treated like God, like they’re infallible.”
Some civil rights leaders have called for cities to require police to live within the city limits, or even in the neighborhoods they patrol. Little Rock and Pine Bluff rejected such measures in recent years.
Buckner and others have suggested a compromise. Instead of a residency requirement, cities could offer incentives for officers to live in the city.
“It’s not the fix-all, but it’s a start,” said Dale Charles, president of the Little Rock branch of the NAACP.
“If they were in the community, they’d see us for more than eight hours a day on patrol. We still see everything too much on the basis of race. We’ve got to interact, or that’s not going to change.”
‘HE’D BE PROUD’
After Cletis Williams’ death, his daughter says she changed as a parent, becoming more cautious.
Her boys, 14 and 13, will start driving in a few years. They’ll be on their own even more.
She worries that like many other black men, police will pull them over whether they’ve done something wrong or not.
She’s had that talk with them and what they should do if it happens.
“I just tell them to ‘Watch what you say, do what you’re supposed to and make no sudden movements,’” she said.
Elliott, the state senator, gave her son the same talk “over and over again.”
Sylvia Perkins did too. After a Little Rock officer killed her 15-year-old son in 2012, she told her other son and her grandsons to drive to her house if a cop tries to pull them over.
“That way I can watch,” she said.
Robinson still has questions about the death of her father.
Why didn’t Holley call for backup? Why did he shoot so many times? Why did her father have to die?
They’re all in her pleadings in U.S. District Court where she sued Holley and the city of Jonesboro.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker denied Holley qualified immunity, writing in an order that “a reasonable juror could find it unreasonable that Officer Holley pulled his gun and shot Mr. Williams.”
The lawsuit was settled shortly after for $22,155.
“Money doesn’t repay someone’s life,” Robinson said.
The settlement helped put Robinson through school. She graduated from Remington College in Memphis in September as a certified medical assistant.
As she told what happened the day her father died, Robinson calmly described how her father was shot seven times, and the sadness, panic and anger that surged through her that day.
But, as she described her father’s personality, her lip quivered and she buried her face in her arms: Strongwilled. Tough. Strict. Happy.
Across the room, her 16-year-old daughter’s cheeks shone with tears.
Robinson looked sideways at her family then raised her head.
“He’d be really proud,” she said.
Some officers are “bad apples,” or as Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner put it, there are “some that I wouldn’t want making a run to my mother’s house.” But most cops are fundamentally good guys who want to do the right thing, he said.
Print Headline: In 6 years, 53 blacks shot
Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter. Edited by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton. 2016.
A New York Public Library pick for "A Reading List of America"
Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.
With contributions from #BlackLivesMatter cofounder Patrisse Cullors, Ferguson activist and Law Professor Justin Hansford, Director of New York–based Communities United for Police Reform Joo-Hyun Kang, poet Martín Espada, and journalist Anjali Kamat, as well as articles from leading scholars Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D. G. Kelley, Naomi Murakawa, Vijay Prashad, and more, Policing the Planet describes ongoing struggles from New York to Baltimore to Los Angeles, London, San Juan, San Salvador, and beyond.
Paperback, 320 pages
“A major work…As someone who certainly admires the work of these scholars, I couldn’t think of a more compelling and timely work such as this. I am pleased to not only be in community with these amazing people but to listen and learn from them…Policing the Planet comes at an incredibly important time.”
– Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
“This book is the best analytical and political response we have to the historic rebellions in Ferguson! Don’t miss it.”
– Cornel West, author of Black Prophetic Fire
“We owe Jordan Camp and Christina Heatherton a great expression of gratitude for this brilliant and provocative collection of voices that compels us to see the Black Lives Matter Movement in the larger context of twenty-first-century racial capitalism and the growing carceral state.”
– Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement
“When this series of essays addressing contemporary activism's biggest movement hits stands in May, we'll be ready. A variety of contributors, including anti-police brutality and militarization activists from around the country and world, promise to make Policing the Planet a definitive work for anybody confused about exactly what structural law enforcement powers lead to our current racial justice climate.”
“Through compiling so many critical voices in one place, Camp and Heatherton have created a much-needed guidebook of resistance to our planet’s police state and the structures of urban governance that feed it.”
– Aaron Cantú, Washington Spectator
“This broad collection of sharp commentar
10 Urban Shields Too Many: Act Now!
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END ARCHIVE OF ARTICLES ON US POLICE OPPRESSION September 7, 2016-June 25, 2020