Archive for June, 2012

Alex White, Professional Snitch

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

At the New York Times, Ted Conover has written an amazing profile of Alex White, the longtime Atlanta drug informant who refused to help the cops cover up the murder of Kathryn Johnston. Add it to your long reads folder. It’s well worth your time.

I followed that case closely, so if you were reading this blog back in 2006, you’re probably familiar with the general course of events. But several things about the article struck me. First, for all the danger informants face from the people they give away, White was most afraid of the police officers he dealt with day to day, even before he turned on them after the Johnston raid.

The leader of the team of officers that he worked with most often, Gregg Junnier (pronounced “junior”), apparently set the tone. White said suspects would sometimes make the mistake of talking trash once handcuffed. Junnier would then slam them against a car or grab them on both sides of the mouth, supposedly to keep them from swallowing drugs. White remembers the time another officer he worked with had a suspect handcuffed and on his stomach; when the suspect began insulting him, White said, the policeman “kicked him in the mouth,” which made even his fellow officers flinch.

“One day Junnier come into my apartment,” White told me, “started throwing stuff around. He say, ‘Where’s the money?’ He knew I’d made some that week. He going through my dresser. He took $4,000. Junnier rough. He very, very rough.” White just accepted the situation. He was not a partner but merely a sub rosa subcontractor, a fact Junnier frequently reminded him of.

Junnier’s team drove around in a black Ford van with darkened windows that became notorious — Darth Vader’s own ride. “Everybody know that van,” White told me. Junnier also drove his own S.U.V., and one day he handed White, in the passenger seat, an envelope full of pictures.

“He show me this Jamaican guy,” White said. “Except only his head, on a fence. It had dreadlocks on top and veins below where it got ripped off. Junnier say he fell between buildings during a chase.” White said he felt he was shown the photo as a kind of warning.

Second, we learned from the FBI investigation that the sort of police thuggery apparent in the Johnston case was common and longstanding in Atlanta, which White confirms in describing his own interactions with the city’s narcotics cops. The lying, brutality, and corruption had been going on for years. Yet a local civil rights leader told Conover, and a local police official seemed to confirm, that the Johnston case was the first time a white police officer in Atlanta had ever been charged with violating the rights of a black person.

And there’s a good chance even those officers would never have been charged if not for Alex White. This wasn’t a few rogue cops. This was systemic.

Third, after all this died down, White was convicted of selling “a couple ounces” of marijuana to an undercover police officer in an Atlanta suburb. His sentence? Up to eight years in prison. The police officers who pressured an informant for a tip with threats of false drug charges, lied on a search warrant, gunned down a 93-year-old woman, left her to bleed on her own living room floor while planting drugs in her basement to cover up their mistake, then conspired to cover it all up by pressuring and threatening another informant to lie for them? They were sentenced to 5, 6, and 10 years, respectively.

Finally, Conover points out that one of the reforms the city put in place after the Johnston raid was a civilian review board to provide some police oversight. As of November of last year, less than five years after the raid, here’s how that was working out:

Cris Beamud came from Eugene, Oregon to Atlanta to found and run the Citizen Review Board after city ordnance established the police oversight panel in 2007.

The CRB came into being as a response to a botched drug raid that ended with the police killing of 92-year old Kathryn Johnston.

Beamud tells WABE she’s resigning out of frustration with city and police leaders who often ignore the board’s findings and recommendations.

“We’re constantly being faced with dismissals and rejections of recommendations that we believe, and I believe personally, would improve the quality of public safety services in the City of Atlanta,” she says.

Beamud points to the recent police fondling case, and the ongoing Atlanta Eagle raid. Before an outside investigation found police misconduct during the 2009 raid on the Midtown gay bar, the CRB had issued a report saying the same thing.

“You continue to beat your head against the wall, and then you decide that you’ve had enough,” she says.

Joy Morrissey, who chairs the CRB, says Atlantans are losing a valuable ally.

“Cris has been a police officer, a prosecutor, a police legal adviser, an assistant D.A., and yet [the mayor and police chief] don’t listen to her,” Morrissey says, adding that Beamud has established civilian oversight before coming to Atlanta.

“She produces very good reports – well reasoned reports – and the results have been maligned, ignored, criticized,” Morrissey says.

In fact, almost as soon as the board started work, the police department, with the city’s help, was already trying to neuter it.

The board was able to force the firing of the officers involved in the Atlanta Eagle raid. They were promptly hired by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department.

 

“Everything changed forever, and everything stayed the same, on the night Miss Johnston died.”

 

Virginia Cop Block to launch Liberty Empowerment Project

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Visit Virginia Cop Block to learn more about the Liberty Empowerment Project and to donate or advertise to help make it a reality!

Virginia Cop Block to launch Liberty Empowerment Project is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Saturday Links

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

NYPD employee Richard Haste Indicted for manslaughter

Friday, June 29th, 2012
richard haste nyc copblock 300x209 NYPD employee Richard Haste Indicted for manslaughter

Richard Haste is in the middle with crutches from an unrelated motorcycle accident

Last month we posted about NYC resident Ramarley Graham who was shot in his bathroom by New York City police employee Richard Haste. More-recently a Bronx grand jury indicted Haste on 1st and 2nd degree counts of manslaughter.

Haste pled not-guilty to the charges, claiming that he “had no choice” but tho shoot Graham as he was in fear for his life. He posted a $50,000 bail. As he exited the courthouse supporters of Graham chanted “N.Y.P.D., K.K.K., how many kids did you kill today?”

Here’s a video from YouTube channel nycresistance about this latest update:

NYPD employee Richard Haste Indicted for manslaughter is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Family Members Commemorate the Hunger Strike

Friday, June 29th, 2012
California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement CFASC will be commemorating the historic hunger strike of  July 1st 2011  that spread from Pelican Bay State Prison to 13 other CA prisons and other facilities nationwide.
This hunger strike was initiated by Solitary Confinement prisoners in pursuit of their basic human rights.
 On July 1st 2012 at sunrise (approximately 5: a.m.) we will be meeting in Huntington Beach on the
corner of Beach Blvd. and Goldenwest (near the pier)  to remember those individuals in solitary
confinement who have not experienced this scene in decades.
In addition, we will use this forum to update everyone on the progress that has been made over the past year
regarding CDCR meeting the 5 core demands of these prisoners.
Despite being hit with wave after wave we are still standing united  and as strong as ever in our
quest to represent the voices of those behind bars that cannot be heard.
Last week, Senator Durbin made history by holding a hearing in Washington DC on the issues of solitary confinement.  We believe we are on the cutting edge of history and we welcome all of you to be a part of this celebration.

Come out and hear first hand from family members and loved ones how our taxes are supporting torture. You will not regret being a part of this event. Knowledge is power!!!

Should you require any further information please feel free to contact: CFASC President Dolores Canales at 714-290-9077  or Patricia at 562-639-8586.


Pelican Bay Prison: One Year Later, Policy Remains “Debrief or Die”

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Read this article by Victoria Law on the struggle against the SHU one year after the CA hunger strike was launched.


Evansville Police Not All That Concerned About Raiding the Wrong House

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Ars has an update to the Evansville SWAT raid I posted about earlier this week. To recap, the police brought a SWAT team—and a TV crew—after someone posted a series of threats against cops on a Internet discussion board. They had the wrong house, apparently due to an unsecured wireless connection. Here’s what happened next:

 . . . the cops did some more investigation and decided that the threats had come from a house on the same street. This time, apparently recognizing they had gone a little nuts on the first raid, the police department didn’t send a SWAT team at all. Despite believing that they now had the right location and that a threat-making bomber lurked within, they just sent officers up to the door.

“We did surveillance on the house, we knew that there were little kids there, so we decided we weren’t going to use the SWAT team,” the police chief told the paper after the second raid. “We did have one officer with a ram to hit the door in case they refused to open the door. That didn’t happen, so we didn’t need to use it.”

Their target appears to be a teenager who admits to the paper that he has a “smart mouth,” dislikes the cops, and owns a smartphone—but who denies using it to make the threats.

You’d think the fact that for the second house they decided not to send the SWAT team, and that the result wasn’t a massacre of police officers, well, you’d think that maybe they have learned something from all of this.

And you’d be wrong. Here’s the police chief’s justification for the flashbangs and full-on battle garb in the first raid:

The police chief said officers went to 616 East Powell because they had traced the violent threats against them to an IP address they linked to that street address. They “looked at the names associated with that (street) address,” Bolin said, and came up with a 21-year-old relative of the residents — a man of whom they later turned up troubling photographs.

“He was posing with a gun hanging out of his waistband and there’s another where he’s pointing the gun at the camera in gangster-type poses,” Bolin said.

The police chief acknowledged that the man, whom he declined to name, has only “some minor things in his past with the criminal system.”

Police surveilled the house at 616 East Powell and saw an 18-year-old girl — but not her grandmother — coming and going.

“But seeing her come and go could very well fit with, she may be the girlfriend of this guy or she may live there but that doesn’t mean he’s not up there,” Bolin said.

Bolin said the girl and her grandmother convinced police the man does not live with them and had nothing to do with making threats against officers.

Why did police toss flashbang stun grenades and break the storm door?

Bolin said police wanted the element of surprise against a man they thought could have been armed and dangerous.

“They were very serious threats, and then coupled with the picture of the guy that listed that as his address, we’re thinking you know, obviously the poster of those comments hates the police,” he said.

“We train with a SWAT team for a reason. This isn’t like a street fight where two guys bloody their lips. Our officers have families, and they want to go home at the end of the night. I mean, we don’t sign up for this to take a chance to get killed.”

Well, actually you do. That’s kind of the point of the SWAT team. Note too the “element of surprise” justification. When the suspect is a legitimate threat, that might make some sense. But when someone inside mistake the cops for criminal intruders and attempts to defend himself, “we need the element of surprise” changes to “he should have known we were cops.”

It’s one or the other. You can’t make both arguments.

Morning Links

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Milwaukee Cop Asserting His Aggression

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

This is a video I located on youtube.  When MPD isn’t tatting themselves with their gang emblems, arresting people for filming them, shoving pens into helpless citizens’ ears, or shoving fingers into the anus of folks on the street, they seem to simply settle on pure intimidation of college kids.  All in a days work for MPD.

Here’s how the videographer explains it:

Its events like this that cause MPD to have a bad reputation.

We got home from the bar and the police were finishing up at our neighbor’s because their party must have been too loud. A couple of us were standing on our porch having an afterbar drink and talking quietly when around 6 officers came over and started giving us a hard time. They then wanted the girl who lives at the house to come outside in her pajamas to question her. They took and sat her in the police van down the road and questioned and warned her about a bunch of nonsense. Remember we just got home from being gone all night and were on our front lawn/porch. Also up to the point of this video starting, the office that is heard was standing there doing nothing for awhile except smoking a fat cigar until I interrupted his cigar break with a simple question. And when he started yelling, I did not say 1 more word but he kept going and getting worse.

Milwaukee Cop Asserting His Aggression is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

The War on the Public…

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

This solid write-up comes to us from When Tennessee Pigs Fly (you may recall a previous post they made to Cop Block)

Last year the police across this country tried to snow us over once again, lying and twisting the facts to convince us there was a “War on Cops”… that was quickly and thoroughly debunked by Radley Balko of Reason Magazine, in his article “The War on Cops That Isn’t…”

In this article he points out that its safer to be a police officer today than it has been in the last 35 years… he goes on to point out that police advocates drew unsupported conclusions from a rash of attacks, claiming they were tied to rising anti-police sentiment, anti-government protest, or a lack of adequate gun control laws.

He listed several articles written by NPR, MSNBC and such which interviewed various cops who touted such unsubstantiated claims, but as Radley writes… “Digging into these articles, and you’ll find no real evidence of an increase in anti-police violence, let alone one that can be traced to anti-police rhetoric, gun sales, disrespect for authority, or “don’t tread on me” sentiment. Amid all the quotes from concerned law enforcement officials in MSNBC’s “War on Cops” article, for example, was a casual mention that police fatality statistics for January 2011 were about the same as they were in January 2010. Right after suggesting to NPR that the recent attacks were related to anti-government rhetoric, Shane acknowledged there has been little research into the underlying causes of police shootings.”

Now this brings us to a point we raised a few months back in a post we titled Overkill… where we pointed out something we see as a troubling trend among our nations cops and their unbridled use of deadly force, and the speed at which they will move to kill people.

Recently, several more articles have come out raising the same questions and concerns that we have.

Reason Magazine today writes that, Police officers in Los Angeles County shot and killed 54 people in 2011, an increase of 70 percent over 2010. The article also points out that nationwide only 72 police officers were shot and killed in that same year. While in one city alone that police force accounted for 1 out of every 10 people shot and killed… now think about that for a second… ”With 612 people killed in that county last year,” reports the LAT*, “nearly 1 in every 10 such deaths occurred at the hands of law enforcement officers.”

1 out of every 10 people who were shot and killed in LA County in 2011 were killed by the cops…

For contrast all the cops in the entire country of Germany fired all of 85 rounds in 2011… QUOTE: “According to the German Police University police officers used exactly 85 bullets in 2011 – 49 warning shots, 36 shots on suspects. 15 persons were injured, 6 were killed. Germany has a population of about 80 million.”

At the LA County Sheriffs Dept, the LA Times discovered a document suggesting the LA County SD Gang Unit known as the “Jump Out Boys”, embraces shootings as a badge of honor. This is truly horrifying when you consider that half the people shot at by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies after reaching toward their waistbands turned out to be unarmed….

And in Las Vegas, the LV Review Journal found that LV Metro area police have been involved in 378 shootings since 1990, 142 of them fatal. One agency alone, the Metropolitan Police Department, was responsible for 310 shootings and 115 deaths. And all of them were ruled justified

In Houston TX, an investigation found that 1 out of every 3 people shot by HPD are unarmed

In Albuquerque NM, the DA has suspended the practice of presenting police shooting cases to the Grand Jury after it was discovered that no case has ever been ruled unjustified…

The US Department of Justice after conducting a wide reaching investigation of the Seattle Police Dept found that, 1 out of every 5 use of force incidents by the SPD are unconstitutional…

And in Illinois a commission investigating police torture found that the Chicago Police Department physically tortured so many people dating to the 1970s, the state actually defunded and shut the commission down. We can only assume they did so, because no one wanted to know the full scale of this domestic war crime.

Nationwide police brutality cases are on the rise…

We could go on and on and on and list hundreds of more news articles detailing more events such as the ones presented here.

What this all boils down to is the police want us to believe there is a nationwide war on cops, but the truth is actually much worse. The truth is the cops have declared war on the citizenry…

The War on the Public… is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights