Archive for February, 2009


Saturday, February 28th, 2009

This one’s all over the web right now:

Here’s the story.

Mike Brennan, Black Expat in Vienna, Brutalized by the Police

Friday, February 27th, 2009
Here is a disturbing message I received from Angela Shaw in Toulouse:

I just got off the phone with a friend in Vienna about our meeting in April in Utrecht and she tells me about this. What is not mentioned in the news coverage is that almost exactly 10 years ago the Austrian police brutalized and "killed" another black man, again on some "mistaken" identity excuse like they used for the Brazilian guy in London. It is high time that we get ECIS and NAIS to address the issue of "visible difference" and the peculiar implications of the spread of "white supremacy" especially in the aftermath of the election of Obama.

This story made the US news:

An American teacher who was attacked by Austrian police who mistook him for a drug dealer said Monday he believes he was singled out because he was black and that he is taking legal action against the police for assault.

Read the full story.

It appears that not only was he brutalized by the police, but also treated poorly in the hospital.

Read the details for yourself.

Lunch Links

Thursday, February 26th, 2009
  • Obama to reinstitute “assault weapons” ban. Attorney General Eric Holder cites the violence in Mexico as part of the reason. Of course, ending the drug war would do a lot more to end the violence in Mexico. But we can’t have that. The only acceptable actions in a crisis are those that strengthen government and inhibit freedom, not the other way around.
  • Canadian mounties say they tased a man five times–killing him–because the man intended to harm them with . . . a stapler. Does that make these guys the new “gun nuts?”
  • Really bizarre story: Chicago man keeps getting tickets in the mail for parking infractions he couldn’t have possibly committed.
  • (Very gradual) change we can believe in.
  • Mermaids!
  • Healthy eating hysteria has kids afraid of food.

  • Got That, Punks?

    Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

    A police officer in the Chesapeake area addresses the Ryan Frederick case on his blog:

    Ryan Frederick will forever be known as a cop killer. He shot and killed Detective Jerrod Shivers in January 2008 while the Chesapeake Police Department was serving a search warrant at his house. He is a cold blooded killer…

    Ladies and gentlemen of the jury? You have FAILED MISERABLY. You have failed the family of Detective Shivers, police officers, the City of Chesapeake, Commonwealth of Virginia and this nation. Failed. Failures each and every one of you.

    The next time you need police, please be sure to tell them you were on the Frederick jury. While that is an emotional statement, I do know that no matter what, the officers will still be professional. But I bet it made you stop and think didn’t it?

    Just like all the people who have voted in the polls on PilotOnline. Voting for acquittal. The next time YOU need police, be sure to tell them you think that Frederick should have been let off for killing a cop.


    Morning Links

    Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
  • British authorities remove kids from parents because of one boy’s leg fractures that “could only have been caused by physical abuse.” Child later determined to have rare form of scurvy; no abuse. Court says, “Oops. Sorry. But it’s too late. We already gave your kids to someone else.”
  • Jackson, Mississippi’s Frank “Worst Mayor in America” Melton gets a hung jury in his federal civil rights case. To refresh your memory, the idiot sent a bunch of young boys armed with sledgehammers to tear down a house Melton says was the site of drug dealing. No warrant. He had no authority to do so. Oh, and it wasn’t actually the site of any drug dealing. But nothing sticks to the guy, despite the fact that he’s a raving lunatic. He has already been acquitted on state charges related to the raid.
  • Dear Redditors: Stop plagiarizing my damned headlines!
  • California state assemblyman introduces bill to legalize, tax marijuana.
  • How prosecutor elections fail us. Thing is, I’m not sure appointing them would work either. The problem is that not only is there no real punishment for misconduct, but that because prosecutors are generally measured on winning convictions, misconduct is often actually rewarded.
  • This local news article isn’t particularly well-written, and I have no idea who’s actually at fault. But it seems to me that the last paragraph ought to be moved up in the story quite a bit.
  • I feel like I should give this story more play than a “morning links” bullet, but there’s so much to it, I’d just end up excerpting the whole thing. Just read, especially if you live in the Philadelphia area. It’s infuriating. All the usual themes: militaristic drug raids, allegations of planted evidence, abuse of the informant system, asset forfeiture—it goes on like that.

  • Tearful Atlanta Cops Express Remorse for Shooting 92-Year-Old Kathryn Johnston, Leaving Her To Bleed to Death in Her Own Home While They Planted Drugs in Her Basement, Then Threatening an Informant So He Would Lie To Cover It All Up

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

    Sorry, but I’m having a hard time conjuring up any sympathy for these guys. They’re due to be sentenced this week. To put it into perspective, all three are expected to receive about the same sentence as Ryan Frederick. That ain’t justice.

    I will say, however, that evil and inexcusable as these bastards are, there’s some truth in this excerpt:

    Tesler said when he joined the narcotics unit, he was told to “sit, watch and learn” from superiors who cut corners to meet performance quotas for arrests and warrants. “I was a new part and plugged into a broken system,” Tesler said.

    Tesler said when he saw Smith about to plant baggies of marijuana inside Johnston’s home to make it look like a drug house, he shook his head in disapproval. Tesler said he falsified the police report and later lied about the raid because Smith told him to follow the cover-up script. Tesler said he wasn’t about to “rat” on a senior officer.

    His father, Jack Tesler, said his son was “being vilified and over-prosecuted.”

    Smith said his moral compass failed when he began to think “drug dealers were no longer human.”

    “I saw myself above them,” he said.

    This is what happens when you declare “war” on American citizens. You dehumanize them. And you instill an ends-justifies-the-means, win at all costs mindset in your “warriors.” This mindset infected the entire narcotics unit at Atlanta PD. You’d have to be awfully naive to believe the problem is limited to Atlanta.

    Officers Junnier, Smith, and Tesler are going to prison. But you could make a good case that they were only responding to incentives. A lot of other people have Kathryn Johnston’s blood on their hands too, people with names like Bennett, Gates, Walters, Souder, Tandy, and Meese. They’ve been ratcheting up the war rhetoric of drug prohibition for 30 years. It boggles my mind that I’m “known” for this issue. For this to even be an issue, we had to have reached the point where most of America is now accustomed to the notion that state agents dressed in battle garb can and will tear down the doors of private homes in the middle of the night for nothing more than mere possession of psychoactive substances. And most of the time, they do it under the full color of law.

    It shouldn’t be at all surprising that this particular war’s boots on the ground might start to take all of that war imagery to heart, and take shortcuts around whatever largely ritualistic Fourth Amendment procedures we have left to “protect” against whatever it is we still might call “unreasonable” searches (if a violent, terrifying, paramilitary-style raid in the middle of the night on someone suspected of a nonviolent, consensual crime isn’t “unreasonable,” I don’t know what would be).

    Kathryn Johnston’s death is tragic. But the real tragedy here is that had the cops found a stash of marijuana in her basement that actually did belong to her–say for pain treatment or nausea–her death would have faded quickly from the national news, these tactics would have been deemed by most to be wholly legitimate, and we probably wouldn’t still be talking about her today.

    These cops were evil. But they worked within an evil system that’s not only immoral on its face, but is rife with bad incentives and plays to the worst instincts in human nature.

    UPDATE: Via the AJC:

    U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes sentenced former officer Gregg Junnier to six years in prison, Jason Smith to 10 years in prison and Arthur Tesler to 5 years in prison.

    Joke of the Day

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

    Q: What police department, under federal oversight for most of the last decade due to excessive force and civil rights violations, was recently deemed to have “improved” to the point where said oversight is no longer necessary?

    A: Here’s the punchline.

    The Metro Police Beat

    Monday, February 23rd, 2009
    • A couple of months ago, just before New Years’, [a Las Vegas Metro SWAT team rolled out to Emmanuel Dozier and Belinda Saavedra’s house in Seven Hills, at 9:30 at night (about four or fve hours after dark, around here, during the winter) in order to serve a search warrant. The cops blasted open the gate with a shotgun. They claim they announced themselves but nobody other than the police says that they heard anything other than a lot of noise. Saavedra has a three month old baby and a 13 year old daughter who were in the front of the house when this hard-to-see gang of armed strangers opened fire late at night and started forcing their way in. Saavedra called 911 as soon as she heard the gunfire; the recording of the call is now available online. Dozier got a handgun that he keeps for self-defense and fired back at the gang of strangers, apparently wounding three cops. After a stand-off, once the 911 dispatcher convinced Dozier that the men outside were in fact cops, he dropped the phone, went outside, and surrendered himself with his hands up. Here’s how he looked when he got to the police station:

      This is his mug shot from the police; he has a huge bruise and a lot of swelling around his right eye.

      Then they searched the house. They found no cocaine anywhere. Dozier is being charged with attempted murder and possession of marijuana — even though an inventory of items seized doesn’t include the marijuana or paraphenalia the police claimed to have found with their search warrant. Apparently the search warrant was to gather evidence to bust Dozier on charges of being a low-level cocaine dealer. The cops claim an undercover had already made a few purchases from Dozier; allegedly they had a business relationship with him, but they couldn’t be bothered to meet up with him one more time in order to be able to make an arrest that didn’t involve storming his house late at night while children were present. They told the media that Dozier had no above-the-table job; actually, he had a regular job at the time as a sheet-metal worker. They have not made any claims that Belinda Saavedra committed any crimes whatsoever at any point, either related to the drugs or related to the shooting; but the did make sure to force her down and rough her up after she had surrendered (since she wouldn’t calm down or shut her mouth while they shot at her house, hollered at her, took away her baby and called her a dumbass for her trouble).

      Meanwhile, the D.A. has taken steps to take away her children and charged her with abuse and neglect — even though, remember, she is not accused of any independent crimes whatsoever. The explanation is that she is being charged with abuse and neglect because she doesn’t have a job outside the house. There’s no sign that being a stay-at-home mother (while her boyfriend holds down a job as a sheet metal worker and her mother works two jobs in order to help support her grandchildren) has caused either kid any hurt or want. But the prosecutor does inform us, in the complaint, that the 13 year old was traumatized when cops started a gunfight at her house. I wouldn’t be surprised, but whose fault is that?

      The cops refuse to answer any questions about the reasons for staging a late-night SWAT raid in this case or about the discrepancies between their public statements about the suspects and the documented facts that emerged later. Dana Gentry reports that Police refuse to answer but a Metro spokesman did tell me extreme measures are necessary to guard against some liberal judge throwing out the case. Metro are liars and child abusers who routinely use maximal force in situations where they could easily have gotten anything they needed to get by other means. They also spend tremendous amounts of time, and tremendous amounts of money that taxpayers are forced to turn over to them against our will, prosecuting people who — even if everything alleged against them is true — are doing nothing more than selling a valued product to a willing customer, and who never should have been threatened or hassled by the police in the first place.

    • Las Vegas Metro made a road stop at about 4 in the morning on February 6. They suspected that the driver was drunk. He got out of the car and ran away on foot. Cops sent a helicopter to look for him and concluded (based on heat in the yard) that he was hiding out in a backyard in a nearby neighborhood. He wasn’t — turns out he was hiding in a different part of the neighborhood — but the family’s dog, a pit-bull named Coco, was. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that the cops decided that catching a DUI suspect was so incredibly urgent, and respecting other people’s private property being, after all, no concern at all to Las Vegas Metro’s important work, they would send a gang of seven cops, first to barge into the next-door neighbor’s yard without asking, and then, again without asking anyone’s permission, to jump the wall into the backyard where they thought the suspect would be. The family dog came out and confronted this gang of strangers barging into her territory; she didn’t actually attack anybody, but, after all, she was only surrounded by seven fully-grown, professionally-trained, and heavily-armed police officers; her continued existence clearly posed a threat, so they shot the dog dead. The cops took responsibility by issuing an Oops, our bad to the bereaved family — along with a self-serving claim that the cops just had to shoot the dog in self-defense. (No, they didn’t. Self-defense is no longer an excuse when you put yourself in danger by invading somebody else’s private property.) Then, public servants that they are, they left Jose Fernandez and Yurisel de la Torre by themselves to cover the $200+ bill for cremating their dead dog.

      Metro are home invaders and dog killers who routinely exercise contempt for private property, instigate violent confrontations in order to deal with trivial crimes, shoot first and ask questions later, and then excuse their use of maximal force as the necessary means to completely unnecessary ends.

    • While we’re here, I should also mention that the Nevada Crime Technology Advisory Board, representing Las Vegas Metro, the FBI, and several other law enforcement outfits from around Nevada, wants a new law passed that will allow police in Nevada to unilaterally seize the balances on prepaid debit cards without any kind of warrant — because, while they don’t have any evidence to present in any particular case, they reckon that somebody, somewhere using one of these things might turn out to be a bad guy selling drugs to willing customers — which is apparently enough of a reason to give these lying, child-abusing, dog-killing, home-invading, itchy-trigger-fingered irresponsible thugs a unilateral right to seize private citizens’ money, by arbitrary fiat, with no need for any kind of prior judicial review.

    There’s a cliché around here, about how longtime locals compare the way things are now — for better or worse — with the way things used to be, back when the mob ran Vegas. The problem with this is that the mob never stopped running Vegas. The only thing that’s changed is the name of the families, and the color of the tailored suits. Live Chat with Mayor Cheye Calvo Next Week

    Friday, February 20th, 2009

    Berwyn Heights, Marlyand Mayor Cheye Calvo has kindly agreed to do a life chat with you, Agitator readers, next week.

    Calvo of course was the victim of a particularly violent no-knock raid on his home by a SWAT team from Prince George’s County, Maryland. He’s now pushing for legislation in Maryland that would require police departments across the state to submit reports detailing how often they use their SWAT teams, for what purpose, and what happened before, during, and after the raid.

    Log on this Thursday at 8pm to ask him your questions.

    Public schooling #2: Criminal texting

    Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

    (Story thanks to a private correspondent.)

    In Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee), a 14 year old girl was detained by the police at her high school, interrogated, searched by a male police officer, arrested for disorderly conduct, then body-searched by a female police officer, in order to find a cell phone that it turns out she was hiding in her pants. The charge is that she was sending text messages in class after the teacher told her to stop, and then hid her phone from the teacher when the teacher tried to confiscate it.

    Oh my God! Quick, call the cops, before somebody gets hurt!

    As far as I know, there has not yet been any public mention of why the Dean Of Students And Head Football Coach thought it was appropriate to escalate the situation into a police interrogation or to launch this ridiculous investigation of a student’s inattentiveness in class. Here’s how Jeff Griffin, the school’s pig-in-residence, justified browbeating, busting and humiliating a 14 year old girl over a minor classroom management issue:

    Back in Mr. Swittel’s office [REDACTED] was confronted with the fact that her teacher and two friends said she had a phone out in class. [REDACTED] continued to deny having a phone. She stated she does not own a phone and her dad’s phone is at home.

    [REDACTED] was advised she was under arrest for disorderly conduct. She was told her disruption in class with the phone out, the refusal to obey the teacher, and her not telling us the truth is what got her arrested. [REDACTED] was asked again about the phone and she was also told she would be searched incident to the arrest.

    Jeffrey S. Griffin, Wauwatosa Police Department Incident Report Number 09-003386 (2009-02-11), courtesy of The Smoking Gun

    Please note that in the view of School Resource Officer Jeffrey S. Griffin, disrupting class by silently sending text messages, or disobeying a teacher’s requests in the classroom and then lying about it to try and cover it up, is not a pedagogical matter; it’s a police matter, and in fact a criminal offense for which you can be forcibly detained, hauled off, arrested, and fined up to $5,000.

    See also: