Police in London, England, cut the lock of a neighbor's gate to get to Pamela Hardcastle's garage, then used a battering ram to knock down the door. They were looking for marijuana because an infra-red imaging device on a police helicopter picked up a "hot spot" in the garage. They thought it was lighting used in an indoor growing operation. But when they got into they garage they found only the family's pet hamsters and the heater they use to keep them warm.
Archive for April, 2011
- Thoughtful piece from Abigail Thernsstrom on racial politics and gerrymandering. Wish there was more of this kind of dialogue from both right and left instead of the usual racial bomb-throwing.
- Pretty cool idea: the Genetic Music Project.
- Looks to be another incident of Las Vegas cops intimidating a citizen for recording them.
- They pretty much nailed me here. Interesting to see a couple open-minded liberals use the word queen as an insult.
- Cops taswer a kid, break his arm in saggy pants altercation.
- Jury rebels against NYPD in case of woman who confronted cops over her son’s arrest in a stop-and-frisk case. Maybe I’m just noticing it more, but it seems like we’re seeing more and more of these juries who are willing to question law enforcement. That’s a good thing.
Below are links to the stories in episode 27 of the Police Accountability Report:
- Barking at police dog sends man to jail, but its ok for a cop to kill his canine partner?
- The Pants Police
- Botched drug raid
If you would like to submit a story or record a segment for the Police Accountability Report (on lack of accountability for police in your area) please email podcast[at]copblock[dot]org. We also welcome feedback.
You can also hear the podcast and other great liberty minded programs on LRN.FM.
Ben and Russ Bartholomew are activists and like any good activist they carry cameras. Just the other day the duo hung a sign above a local overpass – while wearing V masks – as a form of activist outreach. What did the sign say? Taxation = Theft. The brothers, taking a page from the Ron Paul 2008 campaign movement, choose “highway blogging” as a their form of activism to reach motorist passing by. It didn’t take long for the police to show up and spoil the fun.
The first officer on scene didn’t seem to have a problem with the sign stating, “As long as you aren’t hurting anything, I don’t care.” Shortly after that remark the officer then asks the brothers for ID and they decline to provide it. The officer then seems unclear about how to handle the ‘situation’ and calls for backup. At the peak of the incident their are atleast 5 police officers and a flurry of ‘public’ resources being used over a sign on a highway. Like a sign on or off of a highway is an unusual thing?
Ben and Russ did an amazing job of CopBlocking in this video. Though never talking to the police is your best option, the brothers are seasoned activists, they articulated their position in a calm, cool and collected manner (All while live streaming the encounter via Qik.com). They repeatedly stumped the officers when answering questions with questions of their own, another great tactic, and it’s clear by the video that the officers were clearing looking for something to arrest them for. Though several times the police state that they’re unsure of what laws the brothers were actually breaking. Go figure, the cops don’t know the law.
Read what the local paper had to say about the encounter here.
The action picks up at around 1:25.
Reginald “Neli” Latson, a 19 year-old, sat in the grass outside the library and waited for it to open. Police allege that shortly after, some children purportedly were frightened and claimed there was a suspicious black male who had had a gun. A nearby school was put on lockdown, and a search ensued. Deputy Calverley then approached Latson, squeezed the front pocket of his sweatshirt and checked for a gun. No gun was found. The children questioned later also confirmed they never saw a gun. Calverly asked Latson for his name, and Latson refused. Calverly then grabbed Latson and attempted to arrest him. Latson struggled with Calverly, managed to flip him over, and caused Calverly’s head to hit the pavement. Latson hit Calverly several times and took his pepper spray.
After a 3-day trial, Latson was found guilty of assaulting a law enforcement officer, among other charges and 10 1/2 years in prison was recommended (read the full story here). Latson’s defense centered around the fact that he has Asperger’s syndrome, a condition caused by an abnormality of the brain. People with Asperger’s syndrome often have difficulty interacting socially, and may be unable to respond emotionally in normal social interactions.
Latson’s case has drawn sympathy from autism and Asperger’s syndrome advocates, and raised concerns about how law enforcement deals with the developmentally or mentally disabled. Surely, this case is a sad one. It appears to be another classic case of a young, innocent black man getting screwed because he wore a hoodie and was in the wrong place at the wrong time – and on top of that, he had a condition that may have contributed to these circumstances.
However, what is ultimately most disturbing is the fact that this has become an issue of autism/Asperger’s syndrome. Instead of defending Latson’s justifiable reactions to an unjustified detention and attack, his supporters seek to excuse it by characterizing it as the product of a mental disability. Latson had done nothing wrong and was completely within his rights to sit on the grass until the library opened, but was accosted by an officer who then proceeded to question, detain and arrest him, even after confirming he did not have a gun (and even if he did have a gun – so what? It’s called the Second Amendment).
Latson was under no moral duty to be groped by this officer. He was under no moral duty to provide his name. He certainly should not have been arrested, either from a legal or moral standpoint. This was a young man who simply wanted to be left alone, and the officer would not yield to this simple desire of a denizen of the alleged land of the free. Police apologists like to say, “if only he had complied, he wouldn’t have been (insert torture, beating or murder of choice here)!” But the most appropriate way to view these interactions (if in fact we are free people) is the other way around – if the police had just minded their own damn business no one would have been hurt. Yet in this case, Latson’s supporters do not decry his treatment on the basis of police abuse and the fundamental right to simply be left alone, they decry it on the grounds that police need to better learn how to deal with people who may suffer from certain conditions and/or disabilities.
This is what it has come to in this country. If you defend yourself against abusive authority, it must be because you are mentally disabled.
Significantly, people with Asperger’s syndrome sometimes are unable to pick up on social cues, and are unable to understand more abstract expressions such as sarcasm or humor. As a result, they may tend to take words more literally than most people. Thus, it isn’t a stretch to surmise that some people with autism or Asperger’s would not understand that even in the absence of provocation, a police officer has the legal authority to violate their privacy and freedom with detention and arrest. People with autism or Asperger’s syndrome see it for what it truly is – an aggressive stranger with a gun, coming out of nowhere to interrogate, demand, and kidnap. Perhaps people with autism and Asperger’s are the only people left in this country who rightly fail to see how a uniform and a title justifies initiation of aggression and kidnapping.
Yet general consensus among those sympathetic to Latson is not that police aggression has long exceeded acceptable bounds, but that Officer Calverly was also a victim in this, and that police need to be better trained for such situations in the future. Perhaps Latson did injure Officer Calverly more than he deserved. However, if one is going to arbitrarily initiate violence on innocent people, he should be prepared to suffer the reasonable consequences that may follow when the target of his violence tries to defend himself.
Calverly had no business disturbing a peaceful boy waiting outside a library. He negligently acted on reports of a man with a gun which were never substantiated. Even after he confirmed Latson did not have a gun, Calverly escalated the situation by demanding Latson identify himself. When Latson refused to do so, Calverly again escalated the situation by initiating violence and attempting to arrest him. If Calverly were any other ordinary person, Latson would be legally justified in attempting to walk away from a nosy busybody. If Calverly were any other ordinary person, Latson would be justified in fighting against Calverly’s attempt to physically restrain him and jail him for doing nothing wrong.
Latson’s only “mistake” was that he failed to understand the abstract idea that a fancy government title and a uniform legally creates a different standard for police. Police often do what Calverly did, on a regular basis, but most people are cognitive of social norms and perceive that a gun and a badge grant legal rights which demand submission, and do not defend themselves against unwarranted police violence either out of misguided deference, or justifiable fear.
Even in the face of this event, people continue to argue police merely need to be better trained. This perspective, while not limited to such supporters, is delusional. Police love violence. They use it daily in the course of their employment. If they didn’t love violence, they wouldn’t have signed up for the job. To think some training would make them more sympathetic or sensitive to their victim’s particular conditions is just stupid.
*After corresponding with Neli’s mother, Lisa Alexander, we have learned that Neli was in solitary confinement for 8 months for no apparent reason. They finally moved him to the general population in January after many requests by his mother.
- Alternet publishes more conspiracy-mongering TSA nonsense from Mark Ames and Yahsa Levine. Remember folks, it’s not what you actually believe that’s important, it’s that you’re always on the opposite side of the bad guys.
- Cops raid wrong house on a prostitution warrant.
- Police union files grievance because police chief made a drug arrest. Apparently, the chief wasn’t allowed to make arrests under the collective bargaining agreement.
- Great moments in intellectual property numbskullery: here and here. (Links via Scott Greenfield.)
- The ACLU and free speech.
- “Lie back and think of England.”
- Dumb proposed law of the week.
- Here’s a bit more on the Florida judge who was confronted by cops who had gone to the wrong house.
Julian and Thai Wendrow were arrested and jailed for allegedly sexually abusing their mute, autistic daughter. Their children were taken from them and placed in foster homes for several months before prosecutors dropped the charges. The case had been built on typed statements the girl made with the "help" of a school aide using facilitated communication. Authorities later admitted the girl could not communicate.
The Wendrows sued the West Bloomfield, Michigan, police department and got a $1.8 million settlement. They have also sued former Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcya and two assistants. A federal judge ruled the prosecutors had immunity from malicious prosecution but allowed claims that Gorcya defamed the Wendrows to go forward.
Craig, a regular reader here at CopBlock.org, and his son left their home this past Easter Sunday and headed toward the park for a stroll. All was good until they were approached by an officer who stated they weren’t permitted to be by the river without fishing poles (no joke). Craig, like so many others, didn’t want to argue with the armed man, who was clearly on a power trip, and decided to comply with the thugs demands.
While heading back home Craig started to think about the impression the encounter would leave on his son? Would he too grow up to allow those with a self perceived sense of authority over others to order him around? Especially over something as ridiculous as not having a fishing pole while walking by the river?
Craig decided that he was going to go to the police station and confront the officer for his actions. Thankfully he recorded the encounter, providing yet another great example of a police officer’s misconception of his duties. Craig credited CopBlock.org for inspiring him to take such action, – via YouTube “I have much respect for what you do. In fact, your videos are what inspired me to do what I did that day and i have never felt better in my life.”
Thanks for holding this officer accountable and for the kind words Craig. If you have a story or police related issue that you’d like to publish here at CopBlock.org, please contact us.
Old White Men Still Want to Execute Troy Davis (Apologies to Clarence Thomas)
When I was on the court, I saw a lot of faulty trials from overzealous prosecutors and police officers." Now calls are going out for citizens to call for a halt to the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia. Twenty years ago, Troy Davis was convicted of ...
Prison Reformers Push to Stop Troy Davis's ExecutionAlterNet
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