Archive for June, 2011

Hunger Strike in the Supermax: Pelican Bay Prisoners Protest Conditions in Solitary Confinement

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Check out a new article from Solitary Watch by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella on the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike


Los Angeles: Press Conference for Pelican Bay Hunger Strike

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Tomorrow, July 1, 2011, prisoners in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) at Pelican Bay
State Prison begin an indefinite hunger strike.  There will be a press conference on Friday, July 1, at 12 noon to show support for the basic demands from the SHU prisoners, and to
expose and condemn indefinite and long term solitary confinement as torture, as
cruel and unusual punishment.

    KRST Unity Center of Afrakan Spiritual Science
7825. S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90047-2728
             Friday, July 1, 2011 @ 12 noon
            Contact Keith James @ 213-840-5348 (cell)

To add Speakers and/or for information;

KRSTUnity Center@ 323-759-7567 for location information


Hunger Strike Begins TOMORROW! Press Conference in Oakland, CA

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Lawyers and advocates who have been in contact with the prisoners will hold a press conference TODAY June 30th at the Oakland State Building, 1515 Clay St, at 11am to rally support for the strike (beginning tomorrow, July 1st) and put pressure on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to respond to the prisoners’ demands.

Prisoners have delivered their demands to Pelican Bay warden Greg Lewis, the CDCR, and to Governor Jerry Brown. Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition has delivered 2,800 signatures in support from the petition to the warden. The prisoners’ demands include an end to long-term solitary confinement, collective punishment, and forced interrogation on gang affiliation.  The prisoners have also stated that they are willing to give up their lives unless their demands are met.


Hunger Strike Begins TOMORROW! Press Conference in Oakland, CA

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Lawyers and advocates who have been in contact with the prisoners will hold a press conference TODAY June 30th at the Oakland State Building, 1515 Clay St, at 11am to rally support for the strike (beginning tomorrow, July 1st) and put pressure on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to respond to the prisoners’ demands.

Prisoners have delivered their demands to Pelican Bay warden Greg Lewis, the CDCR, and to Governor Jerry Brown. Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition has delivered 2,800 signatures in support from the petition to the warden. The prisoners’ demands include an end to long-term solitary confinement, collective punishment, and forced interrogation on gang affiliation.  The prisoners have also stated that they are willing to give up their lives unless their demands are met.


Why the Exclusionary Rule Matters

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

In Tennessee, a big drug bust is in jeopardy after a federal judge found that police had no reason for the traffic stop that led to the subsequent search and arrest:

It should have been a victory for Tennessee narcotics policing. Drug task force agents see a car zoom past on Interstate 65 South in Robertson County — prime conditions for the kind of pretextual traffic stop that could lead to a drug search. Indeed, a search of the late-model Ford sedan reveals that the two Hispanic men from Dayton, Ohio, are drug mules who’ve been paid a pittance to risk transporting a half-kilo of heroin down a known drug corridor . . .

Instead, Lt. Shane Daugherty, a team supervisor with the 17th Judicial Drug Task Force and perhaps one of the most high-profile narcos in the state, now finds his own credibility in question. Meanwhile, the Ruizes are all but ready to walk out of jail as free men. With one ruling, federal district Judge Aleta Trauger rendered the evidence Daugherty discovered off limits and the prosecution’s case against the cousins virtually unwinnable.

The message Trauger’s memo sends to the agent and the Tennessee law enforcement community in general is clear: Have probable cause nailed down — or suffer the consequences in court. At issue is not whether one or both of the Ruizes were knowingly transporting heroin, but whether they were ever speeding in the first place.

The article goes on to detail how the dash cam and other evidence strongly suggests the Ruizes were not speeding, and that Daugherty pulled them over on little more than a hunch. He has also since changed his story, a couple times.

Critics of the Exclusionary Rule argue that it only protects the guilty. And sure enough, here you have the likely outcome that a couple drug runners—and the drug distributor they gave up—will go free.

But what about all the innocent, likely brown or black people Daugherty also pulled over on a hunch? I suppose it’s possible that every illegal stop Daugherty made solely on instinct turned up drug runners, but that seems unlikely. The fact that his dash cam was set to begin recording only after he turned on his lights—conveniently leaving out whatever traffic violation led to his decision to pull the motorist over in the first place—suggests that this wasn’t his first illegal stop. Most of the innocent people harassed by such stops aren’t likely to file a complaint, much less a lawsuit. Even if they have the inclination to sue, thanks to qualified immunity they aren’t likely to find an attorney to take their case. That’s because even in the unlikely event they can get past qualified immunity, it’s unlikely that a judgment for an illegal roadside search would win enough in damages to make a lawsuit worthwhile. It would take a group like the ACLU, amassing dozens of plaintiffs, to have any real effect. (The ACLU has filed and won such suits. But they certainly don’t have the resources to address this stuff everywhere it happens.)

So without the Exclusionary Rule (and frankly, even with it), there’s little to keep Tennessee cops from illegally pulling over and harassing innocent motorists. In fact, if you’ll remember back to that Nashville TV news investigation on asset forfeiture last month, there’s a strong financial incentive in favor of profiling motorists. I suppose we could fall back on internal discipline—that new police professionalism Justice Scalia is fond of bringing up. But how many police agencies are going to seriously discipline a cop for making pretext stops if every 10th or 20th such stop results in tens of thousands of dollars for his department?

The Exclusionary Rule certainly isn’t ideal. But it does at least serve as some check on Fourth Amendment violations. It’s really the only check. Daugherty’s career-making bust may now be a career-ending one, especially if he’s designated a “Brady cop.”

Yes, an unsavory character may duck charges in the process, but that’s what gets the public’s attention, which is what forces change. The bigger the fish that gets away, the more attention the Fourth Amendment violation that led to the arrest gets in the press, the more embarrassment subsequently cast on the law enforcement agency in question, the greater the likelihood that said agency will better train its cops in the future (or, if you’re cynical, change its unofficial policy). A cop the Nashville Scene says is one of the most high-profile narcos in the state is now fighting for his career. You can bet that the state’s drug cops now know that there’s a federal district court judge who’s growing suspicious of the way they operate. That means less harassment of innocent motorists.

(In less encouraging news, the Louisiana Supreme Court just went the other way, refusing to throw out evidence gathered after a search based on an police officer’s hunch and the old “furtive gesture” routine.)

Free Hugs guy gets arrested in Time Square!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

According to the YouTube Desription

For the past year the NYPD has been harassing people doing Free Hugs in Time Square. On Friday, June 10, 2011 at about 11:00 Solomon Seagal was arrested when a couple tourists asked to buy a Free Hugs button. He was held for over 36 hours without seeing a lawyer and accused of vending without a license. THIS WILL NOT STAND!

The NYPD has been harassing people doing Free Hugs. They tell us to leave, not to hold signs up. Several people have been arrested and charged with blocking traffic and disorderly conduct. THE NYPD IS TRYING TO SCARE US OUT OF TIME SQUARE!

If this bothers you at all you will spread this video so more people can see it and see the injustice that is happening here every day! If you can also write to the NYPD and tell them you do not accept their behavior and will not tolerate it!

Free Hugs guy gets arrested in Time Square! is a post from Cop Block - "Something must be done about vengeance, a badge, and a gun"

and more on women in solitary confinement (this time in a PA state prison)

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
from Human Rights Coalition's PA Prison Report, April 18, 2011

A woman housed in solitary confinement at the maximum security prison for women in Muncy, PA, reports repeated instances of medical deprivation by prison authorities that have led to health complications and suffering.

Cheryl Baskerville reports from the Restricted Housing Unit at SCI Muncy that she has been needing a knee replacement since entering the prison over 5 years ago, but that this has been repeatedly postponed due to skipped appointments with outside p

read more

petition to parole Tammy Sue Walters

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Note: The governor has the ability to uphold or deny the parole board's decision.

read more

On Solitary Confinement & Finding Humanity: Susan Crane’s Prison Letters, May 10 & 12, 2011

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
While at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) SeaTac, Sr. Anne and I were in cell 11 in one of the women’s units. Cells 2 – 10 are filled with women wearing orange, held in solitary (Special Handling Unit as it is officially named). These sisters eat all their meals alone in their cells. They get out of their cell for a 15-minute shower three times a week (M, W & F). They are offered no exercise or outside time. They not allowed to communicate with other prisoners, and we were not allowed to motion or talk to them. There is no yelling between cells.

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Helena officer shoots fleeing man in the chest

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

On May 4 of this year, Brian Temple attended a scheduled meeting with his probation officer for prior convictions. After the routine meeting, Mr. Temple’s probation officer told him someone wanted to ask him some questions. She left the room and returned shortly thereafter with officer Peter Callahan of the Helena Police Department. Upon seeing Officer Callahan, Mr. Temple turned and ran to his car. He jumped in his car to leave, and began backing out of the parking space. Callahan chased him out to his car, drew his gun and positioned himself in front of Mr. Temple’s vehicle.

As they were in the middle of the street, and there was plenty of ample space, Mr. Temple turned left to avoid the officer and in order to go around him. Callahan, escalating a simple situation into deadly violence, fired his gun. The bullet went through the passenger side of the windshield and hit Mr. Temple in the chest, collapsing his lung and barely missing his heart. Mr. Temple miraculously managed to drive himself to the hospital, where doctors said he missed death by a narrow margin.

To justify this attempted execution, Callahan (as per usual police practice) claimed he feared for his life because Mr. Temple was driving at him. However, perhaps Callahan wouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with if he hadn’t chased, and pulled a gun on someone who simply didn’t feel like talking to him. In addition, the trajectory of the bullet as demonstrated by the hole in the windshield supports BrianTemple’s account – that he turned left to go around the officer.

The news was quick to paint Brian Temple as a less than sympathetic victim of police brutality. News sources pointed out his past record, reporting he had a past conviction of assault on an officer as well as theft, and noting in this instance that he had “fled the scene.” However, it is important to understand that during this particular instance,the only thing Mr. Temple was actually fleeing, was from a conversation. He was at a routine probation meeting. He was not under arrest. He was not committing a crime.

Even under the most bastardized interpretations of the Constitution, people have a right to refuse police questioning when they are suspects in a criminal matter, in the absence of an attorney. Callahan should not even have chased Brian, much less shot him in the chest. The penalty for fleeing a conversation with a police officer is not and should not be death.

Further, a quick investigation into Mr. Temple’s past conviction about 6 years ago reveals the previous “assault” on an officer was actually a situation in which Mr. Temple was confronted in a store by police for a theft matter. He turned to run. John Temple, Brian Temple’s father, says in that incident, the officer tackled his son to the ground when his son attempted to flee. As they both went down, the officer scratched his arm on a shelf. Under Montana law, this can result in an “assault on an officer” conviction.

The very next day after the earlier incident of alleged assault, John Temple coincidentally ran into the officer at the gym where they both work out. He asked the officer, Nick Painter, whether Brian had actually attacked or assaulted him in any manner. Officer Painter explained Brian had not kicked, punched, shoved, or otherwise retaliated in any manner that constituted assault, but the scratch on his arm from the shelf was enough for an officer assault conviction under Montana law.

John has mostly avoided reading news stories about the matter because he is aware of their bias. “I know my son has a lot of issues, and I know it looks bad,” said John Temple. “But most of it was for stupid stuff. He has some mental and emotional issues.” Indeed, Brian Temple has a history of bipolar disorder, diagnosed at a young age, as well as panic and anxiety disorders. John Temple stated these conditions would never excuse his son’s behavior, and certainly his son had to take responsibility for his own actions – but his son’s transgressions did not warrant an attempted execution in the street.

“He tried to kill my son in the middle of the street,” said John. “I want people to see this event from beginning to end. That day, and under those circumstances, and in that moment, it should not have happened that way. [The officer] only did it because he was angry. He was angry that Brian did not stop.”

John rightly makes the point that essentially, his son was shot because he disrespected authority. When he turned and ran from Callahan, he was not dangerous and was not evading arrest. As he was on probation, the police had his personal information and address. They clearly knew who his probation officer was. There were a multitude of ways in which they could have contacted Brian later. Officer Callahan had a variety of options to go about resolving the matter, but chose the most deadly and unnecessary one conceivable.

The bullet trajectory supports Brian’s account that he swerved left to avoid the officer, rather than the other way around. Ultimately, Brian was shot solely because he refused to engage in conversation with a hallowed man of the law, and because he refused to bow to authority.

John further noted that perhaps it would have been easier for Callahan had Brian died – since he could then tell all the lies he wanted to cover up the attempted execution. Not that Brian being alive to tell the tale has stopped corruption, by any means. Police know the public will side with them any day, over the word of an alleged criminal, and they take full advantage of their perceived holiness. John was recently informed that the Helena Police Department removed the windshield of Brian’s truck, which had previously been impounded as evidence. The police further refused his son’s attorney’s request to examine the windshield.

Helena officer shoots fleeing man in the chest is a post from Cop Block - "Something must be done about vengeance, a badge, and a gun"