Archive for the 'SWAT' Category

Sovereign Citizens are the new Communisits

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Sovereign citizens are the new communists. Not in ideology or stated end-goals, but as the centerpiece of a marketing campaign selling fear.

Not too long ago, “communists” were the scarecrow pointed-to by the marketers (which, the same marketers claimed, only they could protect you from). The manufactured fear was inculcated into the minds of millions in indoctrination centers and was parroted by the lamestream media. Many unthinkingly accepted the insidious growth of the marketers’ criminal enterprises. A few benefited from the labor and lives of many.

Decades later, economics having taken its course, another enemy had to be concocted.

After injecting “illicit” substances into communities (from which the “war on drugs” was spawned, and the commercialized warehousing of people was said to be necessary), the new threat was said to be an amorphous enemy: “terrorism”. The “us verses them” paradigm, the marketers found, could be leveraged, to the detriment of peaceful strangers thousands of miles away as well as many living in the turf they claimed, for their own gain.

Reminiscent of the red scare of yesteryear, the “militia movement” and others labeled “anti-government” were around every tree, and they were to be feared.

Despite (or in actuality due to) the criminal actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco and other places, the initiators of violence dictated to those they perceive as human cattle (aka “citizens”) that further victim disarmament (aka “gun control”) was necessary. As was the usurpation of liberty.  Or so it was claimed.

A tremendous allocation of resources has been devoted to furthering this misinformation campaign – from the indoctrination of tens of thousands of “law enforcement” personnel to the funding college majors on ‘homeland security’ (a misnomer if there ever were one).

If you search “sovereign citizens” online you’ll see content with such accompanying text such as, “Extremism in America” (from the ADL) and “A Growing Domestic Threat to Law Enforcement” (from the FBI).  Both of those outfits gain as each person adopts the fear they’re spreading. And the lamestream media is goosestepping along.

police-state-stirner-copblockThe article below, Sovereign citizens’ assault Port Everglades by Robert Nolin – who acknowledges on his bio that he’s worked with the gang called “government” – is ultimately couched on fear and faith in the almighty ability of the marketers to provide protection. Read the article. Replace the word “sovereigns” with “females” or “Native Americans” or any other perceived category. Does it strike you differently?

As Dave Hodges noted in over at ActivistPost.com:

if one criticizes the government in any form they can be labeled a sovereign citizen. And if the government can label one a sovereign citizen, then that citizen has no rights and ostensibly, the government can do what they will with that citizen.

This anti-dissident strategy takes America one step away from full implementation of disappearing American protesters under the NDAA for sovereign citizens. This is a very slippery slope and the government and its police agencies are fully committed to this strategy.

“Sovereign citizens” is the latest in fear-marketing – are you buying?

_______________

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‘Sovereign citizens’ assault Port Everglades

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-port-everglades-sovereign-citizens-20130905,0,7970718.story

By Robert Nolin, Sun Sentinel

Robert Nolin 954-356-4525 rnolin@sun-sentinel.com

Robert Nolin
954-356-4525
rnolin@sun-sentinel.com

Amid the explosions, smoke, roaring vehicles and chattering gunfire of a terrorist attack Thursday afternoon at Port Everglades, one fact became chillingly clear:

These weren’t foreign-born America-hating terrorists. These were native-born America-hating terrorists. And they were making things difficult for the good guys.

“They’re moving, they’re taking positions, they have superior firepower,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Saito. “They’re clearly very well-trained, very well-motivated.”

Of course it wasn’t a real terrorist attack, but rather a large-scale SWAT training exercise mounted by the Broward Sheriff’s Office involving boats, bus, bombs and booby-trapped hostages.

“This is really a worst case scenario,” said Saito, the SWAT team member who concocted the training storyline.

In Saito’s plot, seven “sovereign citizens,” or militia-styled revolutionaries who advocate the government’s overthrow, assault the port by boat. Their goal: steal a shipment of arms and ammunition transiting through the facility.

Initially thwarted by deputies, the terrorists seize hostages, wound a deputy, and leave a backpack full of explosives by Terminal 22. Then things get serious.

The terrorists strap bombs to the hostages, take over a bus, and engage in a full-blown gunfight with SWAT team members. The bad guys use paintball guns. The helmeted, body-armor-clad SWAT team responds with simulated ammo.

“It’s all about being prepared,” said SWAT chief Capt. Eddie Grant. “South Florida is a hot area, we have a stadium, two major ports. We have a lot of high-profile targets.”

Among agencies participating were the Fort Lauderdale Police SWAT team and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Coast Guard patrolled the waterway and FBI agents portrayed the terrorists.

The SWAT teams unleashed a full panoply of military-style armament. There were two Bears — massive armored vehicles with turrets for automatic weapons fire — a beefed up front-end loader that lifted an overturned car like a toy and Hummers packed with serious firepower. Machine guns stuttered, and paintball rounds spattered the armored cars.

“It gets your blood going,” Grant said.

“They enjoy being out here,” Saito said. “They look forward to the challenge.”

robert-nolin-sunsentinal-porteverglades-sovereigncitizens-copblock-whoistheterrorist-1 robert-nolin-sunsentinal-porteverglades-sovereigncitizens-copblock-whoistheterrorist-2 robert-nolin-sunsentinal-porteverglades-sovereigncitizens-copblock-whoistheterrorist-3 robert-nolin-sunsentinal-porteverglades-sovereigncitizens-copblock-whoistheterrorist-4 robert-nolin-sunsentinal-porteverglades-sovereigncitizens-copblock-whoistheterrorist-6 robert-nolin-sunsentinal-porteverglades-sovereigncitizens-copblock-whoistheterrorist-5

Team members navigated hallways and rooftops and charged a bus to free hostages. Red-shirted trainers rated their responses and briefed the troops afterward on what was done right and done wrong.

At the end, 12 hostages were rescued unharmed. “The hostages in this situation are most important,” Grant said. “We’ve got to be bullet magnets, that’s your job. Better you than the hostages.”

And the seven terrorists? They were, as Grant put it, “neutralized.”

rnolin@tribune.com or 954-356-4525

Sovereign Citizens are the new Communisits is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Humble Cop Not So Humble in Denying Police Militarization

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Humble Cop Not So Humble in Denying Police Militarization
by Justin 165

About a week ago, PoliceOne.com, which touts itself as “revolutionizing the way the law enforcement community finds relevant news,” published an article titled, “Police militarization and one cop’s humble opinion” (1). I read this article with a mix of assumption and curiosity. I falsely assumed the article would be an exercise in apologetics; it is more denial than justification. On the other hand, I was curious about what I might learn from the justifications. Again, there were virtually no justifications, only denials and attacks on writers who warn Americans of the growing militarization of police forces and tactics.

I am not here to debate whether or not American police forces are increasingly militarized. You can read about it everyday, SWAT teams being sent out to handle code violations (2), to raid (3), and to arrest other non-violent suspects. A recent article (4) in The New Yorker details a SWAT raid to confiscate cars through civil asset forfeiture due a lack of permits for a party hosted by the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. No, I am not here to convince you. If you follow Oregon Cop Block (5) or any other police accountability groups then you need no convincing. I am here to explain why Officer Doug Deaton’s article is such a pathetic attempt at denial by the very police state whose existence he would deny.

The problems with this article begin with the title and Deaton’s claim to be just a “humble cop,” perhaps of the Andy Griffith variety. He makes this claim to humility then takes a thickly pseudo-academic tone throughout the article. Presumably writing from his most humble ivory tower, Deaton accuses Balko and Kraska of logical fallacies, for example, throwing around terms like post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning and confirmation bias while making vague references to “the available literature.” Meanwhile, he never cites any of that literature to back up his many accusations and claims.

That is, of course, the real problem here. Aside from his hypocritical lack of humility, Deaton accuses of cherry picking facts those who are writing about the militarization of police, yet Deaton himself makes spurious claims without offering any supporting evidence from “the available literature.” The fact that he says things like, “Police in the 1950s could — and did — use serious force much more often than modern officers,” without offering any supporting evidence for that claim shows Deaton betrays Deaton’s pseudo-academic tone. It is as if he expects us to just believe him on his own authority because he is a cop, and we all know anything a cop says must be true and trustworthy. Nice try… you almost slipped that argument ad verecundium (6) by us unawares. Very sly Officer Deaton, very sly indeed. You are a cop, not historian or a philosopher.

Further evidence of Deaton’s humility is the condescending tone he takes throughout his article. You can detect the stench as early as the first sentence with his cute use of literary finger quotes, which I have tried to reproduce in plenty throughout this response. The smell gets stronger in the second sentence where Deaton refers to “anger-filled” bloggers in some innocently modest attempt to paint his opposition as whiney armchair activist kids living in their parents’ basements and eating too much pizza. Surely this is the literary style of one with but a humble opinion to offer. Not to mention that the tactic of attacking a person rather than their argument is a logical fallacy called an argument ad hominem (7).I thought you would find that interesting Officer Deaton, since you are clearly fond of throwing around logical fallacies to show what a humble cop you are.

There are more concerning issues with Deaton’s denial of the growing militarization of American police forces, issues that are more serious than his hypocritical lack of humility. One of these issues is Deaton’s accusation that writers like Balko and Kraska ignore final court rulings regarding police abuse and misconduct in favor of “preliminary and anecdotal reports,” and that they therefore rely on “incomplete source material” when claiming that police forces are becoming increasingly militarized. Deaton is operating under the assumption that our system of “justice” is completely flawless and never makes mistakes in its omniscient judgement. He assumes, or hopes we assume, that from incident to courtroom police officers are always honest and never lie in the interest of preserving their paycheck. This is a dangerous assumption. It is precisely this widespread belief that cops are necessarily upright and honest that allows them so frequently to get away with breaking laws, abusing people, and lying about it under oath (If you have any doubt as to whether or not cops lie on a regular basis, Former San Francisco Police Commissioner Peter Keane wrote this article (8)for the San Francisco Chronicle, giving us important insight into the police culture of lying).

Officer Deaton continues with this line of disconcerting false assumption when he claims that court rulings about the right to have guns, and limiting search and seizure mean that police could not possibly be militarized. Again, he offers no evidence that this is the case, citing none of these court cases or the research that proves these cases have had the effect of preventing the militarization of police forces. But that is not the point. The point is again trust and honesty, that argument from authority of which we should always be wary. Are we really supposed to take Officer Deaton at his word that because court cases exist limiting search and seizure and affirming the right to gun ownership, that this means police are not finding loop holes to exploit, that cops do not ever break the law and then lie about it, that there is no massive increase in the use of SWAT teams and tactical force to serve warrants for non-violent offenses and code violations, that there is no increase in the stockpile and use of militarized weapons (9) and vehicles (10) among American police forces? I personally have witnessed cops lie under oath frequently enough to know better than to have such blind faith in the trustworthiness of tools for an institution who’s primary objective is not to serve the public, but rather is social control and the maintenance and preservation of a systemic status quo that inequitably distributes wealth and power to a small few(11).
Mention of the increase in militarized weapons among police departments brings us to one last claim made by Deaton that needs to be addressed. It is a strange turn of the screw, but after spending an entire article trying to deny the militarization of police forces, he then claims that all the militarized, or rather “specialized equipment” police are buying up is just protective, and actually isn’t really a big deal anyway because many industries use “military-inspired technology.” Deaton does give us some examples of such industries including trauma medicine, aviation, video games, GPS navigation, and SUVs but again, given his humbly drab academic tone I’m surprised he doesn’t cite any academic sources that show in exactly what manner these technologies are actually military-inspired.

The claim is flawed regardless of the tone. For one, most of these are products not industries, and police departments are not, nor should they be, industries. Therefore the analogy is flawed (since Officer Deaton likes to play school…). But the analogy falls apart for other reasons as well. People may drive SUVs and use GPS to find a route from home to the grocery store. People may play video games with war-inspired narratives or Air Force flight simulator-inspired graphics. However, the difference between these examples and the militarization of police is one of power and force. On the one hand we have games and cars. On the other hand we have tear gas, pepper spray, and mini-tanks. A family is not driving an SUV, a child is not playing video games, and a doctor is not performing surgery with the purpose of controlling and subduing people through force.

The only reason for police to use military-inspired technology is to increase their weapons capability and their ability to exert force on the communities they are tasked with patrolling and controlling. The whole purpose of a police department’s equipment is to impose violence, whether that violence is in the name of “justice” or not, and to protect themselves if and when people actually get fed up enough to fight back against state oppression. Domestic warfare is the purpose this technology serves, and that is the difference. It better equips police to surveil, track, engage, and exert power and force over undesirable communities because they, law enforcement agencies in general and not doctors or SUV driving parents, are granted a monopoly on the state-sanctioned use of force and violence.

Footnotes: Http://Facebook.com/oregoncopblockers

Http://www.youtube.com/oregoncoplock

(1) http://www.policeone.com/Officer-Safety/articles/6390637-Police-militarization-and-one-cops-humble-opinion/
(2) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/texas-swat-team-conducts-_n_3764951.html
(3) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/obama-marijuana-raids-rolling-stone_n_1451744.html
(4) http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/08/swat-team-nation.html
(5) http://www.copblock.org/tag/oregon/
(6) http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/authority.html
(7) http://www.drury.edu/ess/Logic/Informal/Overview.html
(8) http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Why-cops-lie-2388737.php
(9) http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/20/local-cops-ready-for-war-with-homeland-security-funded-military-weapons.html
(10) http://www.policeone.com/police-products/vehicles/articles/5547356-Texas-police-to-get-armored-vehicle/
(11) http://www.southendpress.org/2007/items/87712

Humble Cop Not So Humble in Denying Police Militarization is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

State of Siege

Monday, August 19th, 2013

This is from the preface to an excellent [Salon interview with Radley Balko][1] on police militarization and his new book, [Rise of the Warrior Cop][2].[ref]I owe the link to [Lisa Simeone (August 16, 2013)](http://abombazine.blogspot.com/2013/08/wtf-is-wrong-with-you-people.html).[/ref]

[1]: http://www.salon.com/2013/07/13/radley_balko_once_a_town_gets_a_swat_team_you_want_to_use_it/
[2]: http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Warrior-Cop-Militarization-Americas/dp/1610392116?tag=radgeek-20

> There are more than 100 SWAT team raids every day in this country. . . .
>
> For the most part they go after nonviolent offenders like drug dealers and even small time gamblers.
>
> —Alex Halperin, interviewing Radley Balko.
[Once a town gets a SWAT team you want to use it,][1] Salon (July 13, 2013)

[Read the whole thing.][1]

Here's a photo of a heavily armored soldier bursting through the door and pointing a shotgun at the camera. On his arm there's a band reading POLICE.

### Also. ###
* [GT 2013-04-03: Yes, please.](http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/04/03/yes-please/)
* [GT 2013-03-26: Occupied Territory](http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/03/26/occupied-territory/)
* [GT 2013-02-10: Public Safety (Cont’d)](http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/02/10/public-safety-contd/)
* [GT 2012-08-28: Show me what a police state looks like (2012 edition)](http://radgeek.com/gt/2012/08/28/show-me-elected-government/)
* [GT 2011-02-01: Siege Mentality (Cont’d)](http://radgeek.com/gt/2011/02/01/siege-mentality-contd/)
* [GT 2010-01-23: Siege Mentality](http://radgeek.com/gt/2010/01/23/siege-mentality/)
* [GT 2009-05-07: Occupying Forces](http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/05/07/occupying_forces/)
* [GT 2009-03-28: It doesn’t take much imagination](http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/03/28/it_doesnt/)
* [GT 2008-09-25: How cops see themselves](http://radgeek.com/gt/2008/09/25/how_cops/)
* [GT 2008-05-06: No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter](http://radgeek.com/gt/2008/05/06/no_seriously/)

Why Have Police In America Turned Into Such Ruthless Thugs?

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Michael Snyder published this article at EndOfTheAmericanDream.com on August 8, 2013.

Once upon a time, the police were one of the most respected institutions in America, but now most Americans fear them. Almost every single day there are multiple stories of police brutality or misconduct that make the national news. Just this week, there have been stories about police killing a baby deer at an animal shelter, about police killing a 95-year-old World War II veteran in a retirement home, and about police using legal technicalities to “legally” steal massive amounts of money from innocent citizens.

Why are police acting like this? Why have police in America turned into such ruthless thugs? In the case of the baby deer that was killed, 13 armed agents stormed the animal shelter up in Wisconsin where it was being cared for. Is this really the kind of country that we want our children to grow up in?

A country where Bambi is hunted down by armed thugs working for the government? Sadly, the story about that deer is not an isolated incident. The truth is that police all over the country kill animals every single day. In fact, police in Chicago have shot 488 animalssince 2008. No wonder people are so afraid to have the police come to their homes.

Increasingly, police departments all over the United States are being transformed into military-style units. These days, even very minor violations of the law can result in a SWAT team raid. The following is from a recent article by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute…

Consider that in 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US. By 2001, that number had grown to 45,000 and has since swelled to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year. On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams. In fact, there are few communities without a SWAT team on their police force today. In 1984, 25.6 percent of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team. That number rose to 80 percent by 2005.

But it is not just local police departments that are being militarized. This is happening on the federal level as well. In fact, according to Whitehead even the Department of Education and NASA now have their own SWAT teams…

When it comes to SWAT-style tactics being used in routine policing, the federal government is one of the largest offenders, with multiple agencies touting their own SWAT teams, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Consumer Product Safety Commission, NASA, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the US National Park Service, and the FDA.

What in the world does NASA need a SWAT team for?

The police culture in America has fundamentally changed. In the old days, most police officers were extremely helpful and would give you directions or help you get your cat out of a tree.

But if you stop and ask a police officer for help today, you will be lucky if all you get is some dirty language. These days, police all over the nation are actually being trained to bark orders at you and to respond to the least bit of resistance with overwhelming force.

The results of this kind of training can often be extremely tragic. Just the other day, a 95-year-old World War II veteran living in a retirement home near Chicago was murdered by police just because he did not want to undergo high-risk surgery…

A 95-year-old man who served his country during World War II is now dead after police stormed his retirement home with riot shields, Tasered him and shot him with bean bag rounds – all because he adamantly refused to undergo high-risk surgery.

U.S. Army Air Corps veteran John Wrana, who was honorably discharged as a sergeant after he served in the India-Burma campaign, used a walker because family members said he was “wobbly” on his feet, according to the Chicago Tribune. The elderly veteran was shot down by enemy fire during the war.

On July 26, a doctor reportedly told Wrana if he survived surgery, he would likely be put on life support. The elderly man refused the operation, and paramedics attempted to involuntarily transport him for medical treatment. He was sitting in a chair, holding a cane and a shoe horn when police arrived at the Victory Centre senior living facility located just south of Chicago.

Why did the police have to act like that?

Is there any police officer out there that cannot physically handle a 95-year-old man?

That 95-year-old veteran survived fighting the Japanese, but he was not able to survive the thuggish behavior of our own police.

And most Americans don’t realize this, but when police pull you over they can take cash and property from you even if you have not done anything wrong. It is called “civil forfeiture” and it is one of the worst things about U.S. law. Civil forfeiture was described in a recent article by Becket Adams…

Did you know that the police can confiscate items such as cash and property from people who have never been convicted of a crime?

It’s true, and it’s all because of a little-known police tactic called civil forfeiture.

A product of the so-called “war on drugs,” civil forfeiture was part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 passed by Congress 29 years ago. The bill gives law enforcement officials a portion of the assets seized during drug raids and similar investigations.

The following are some examples of the abuse of civil forfeiture that were detailed in a recent article in the New Yorker…

-Police took the home of an elderly couple in Philadelphia because their son allegedly sold $20 worth of marijuana on their front porch.

-Police in Virginia pulled over a speeder and took $28,500 that was intended to be used to purchase a new parcel of land for a Pentecostal church.

-One town in Texas has actually been caught threatening to take children away from innocent couples if they don’t sign over the cash that they are carrying to the police…

The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services.

“Where are we?” Boatright remembers thinking. “Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?” Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears.

If you have not read the new article in the New Yorker that goes into great detail about all of this, you can find it right here.

So why are police all over America acting like this?

Well, one of the primary factors is that they are just following the example that is being set on the federal level.

The entire country is rapidly being transformed into a “Big Brother” police state, and most Americans seem to like it that way.

And with each passing year, it just gets even worse. For example, we were originally told that the TSA would only be hassling us at our airports, but now they are everywhere. As the New York Times recently reported, TSA “VIPR teams” are now being deployed almost everywhere there are large gatherings of people…

With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals.

This “VIPR team” program is “growing rapidly”, and apparently these “VIPR teams” conducted 8,800 “unannounced checkpoints” last year…

The program now has a $100 million annual budget and is growing rapidly, increasing to several hundred people and 37 teams last year, up from 10 teams in 2008. T.S.A. records show that the teams ran more than 8,800 unannounced checkpoints and search operations with local law enforcement outside of airports last year, including those at the Indianapolis 500 and the Democratic and Republican national political conventions.

So where is the outrage?

A small minority of the American people have been sounding the alarmabout NSA snooping and other abuses, but most Americans don’t really seem to care about these things very much.

In fact, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center,47 percent of all Americans don’t even want the media to report on secret government surveillance programs.

So not only do they not want the surveillance to stop, 47 percent of all Americans do not even want to hear anything about it on the news.

How sickening is that?

Sadly, this is not the first survey that has produced this kind of a result. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “19 Surveys Which Prove That A Large Chunk Of The Population Is Made Up Of Totally Clueless Sheeple“.

In the end, we will get the government that we deserve. And according to the New York Times, at this point our government is even willing to manufacture fake terror threats in order to distract us from their surveillance activities…

Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the N.S.A.’s data-collection programs, and that if it showed the intercepts had uncovered a possible plot, even better.

What in the world is happening to America?

Is there any hope for us?

 

Why Have Police In America Turned Into Such Ruthless Thugs? is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

NC Medical Cannabis Grower Raided

Monday, July 15th, 2013

[Note: This originally appeared at IndieRegister.com and Carolinas Cop Block.  The contact info for the involved agencies has been added below.]

Last Thursday, men with guns broke into Todd Stimson’s home to steal plants.

toddstimson-marijuana-theft-carolinas-copblock-williamtolerStimson says he was brushing his teeth when he noticed police cars from the bathroom window. As he was going out to meet them, they busted in with assault weapons drawn on his kids.

“The treatment they give you…is in comparison to a terrorist,” Stimson said in an interview with Chase Rachels from the Blue Ridge Liberty Project. “Everybody was in army fatigues, army outfits…everything. And what they told the kids is it was SWAT training.”

[See video at bottom of post.]

According to local news station WLOS, the men with guns confiscated 75 plants, manufactured marijuana and paraphernalia.

The men with guns were from the Fletcher and Hendersonville Police Departments, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation.

However, Stimson says the men with guns only took certain items, leaving behind his state and national certificates and other paperwork and copies of Treating Yourself magazine.

Stimson was kidnapped and placed in a cage, but bonded out the next day. He is charged with:

  • [Felony] Manufacturing schedule 6 control substance (marijuana)
  • Felony possession of marijuana
  • [Felony] Possession with intent to sell and distribute marijuana
  • [Felony] Maintain a vehicle/dwelling place for controlled substance
  • [Misdemeanor] Possession of drug paraphernalia

Stimson was previously arrested and charged with a felony for having “too much” marijuana.

What the station didn’t report is that Stimson runs Blue Ridge Medical Cannabis Research Corporation, a company that provides cannabis to individuals for treatment of various medical conditions.

The station also failed to report that Stimson has paperwork filed with the office of the Secretary of State and has thrice-obtained a privilege license for “Art of Healing.”

In addition, the station failed to report that Stimson has been paying taxes on his plants and obtained marijuana tax stamps from the government.

Prior to the raid, Stimson posted:

Again I am proud to say that the sales are increasing to help us proceed forward with everything we do in educating the public. Our 18th sales tax payment with E-500 form is $760.05 to be sent in. $534.85 going to General State Fund and $225.20 going to Henderson County.

So essentially, the government took money from him to pay for the raid that was conducted on him.

“If any man’s money can be taken by a so-called government, without his own personal consent, all his other rights are taken with it; for with his money the government can, and will, hire soldiers to stand over him, compel him to submit to its arbitrary will, and kill him if he resists.” ~Lysander Spooner

If Stimson’s peaceful activity of helping others is deemed “illegal” and he is found to be a criminal for his victimless crimes, then charges should be brought against Elaine Marshall, Secretary of State for the entity known as the State of North Carolina, and all other government agents who have assisted in helping him with his “illegal” business.

In 2011, Stimson was one of several people, including a doctor, who presented a resolution to support medical cannabis in the town of Fletcher, before it was unanimously shot down by the board.

Stimson’s interview with Chase Rachels of the Blue Ridge Liberty Project

Chief Erik Sumney
Fletcher Police Department
110 Parrish Municipal Drive
Fletcher, NC 28732
(828) 687-7922

Hendersonville Police Department
145 Fifth Avenue East
Hendersonville, NC 28792-4394
( 828) 697-3025

Henderson County Sheriff’s Office
100 North Grove Street
Hendersonville, NC 28792
(828) 697-4596

 

NC Medical Cannabis Grower Raided is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Radley Balko: “Once a Town Gets a SWAT Team, You Want to Use it.”

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

This article was originally published at Salon.com by Alex Halperin.

Radley Balko’s new book, “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” details how America’s police forces have grown to look and behave more like soldiers than neighborly Officer Krupkes walking the beat. This new breed of police, frequently equipped with military weapons and decked out in enough armor to satisfy a storm trooper, are redefining law enforcement.

How did this happen? For decades, the war on drugs has empowered police to act aggressively. More recently, 9/11 and school shootings enforced the notion that there’s no such thing as too much security. Since 9/11, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security has distributed billions in grants, enabling even some small town police departments to buy armored personnel carriers and field their own SWAT teams.

Once you have a SWAT team the only thing to do is kick some ass. There are more than 100 SWAT team raids every day in this country. They’re not chasing murderers or terrorists. For the most part they go after nonviolent offenders like drug dealers and even small time gamblers. As you’d expect when there is too much adrenaline and too much weaponry, there have been some tragedies. Suddenly goofball comedies where an elite squad invades a house to find a pot-smoking kid don’t seem so funny. (Balko’s book describes such incidents at length in excerpts Salon published here and here.)

This problem defies the usual conservative vs. liberal calculus. As Balko sees it, Democrats love spending money on cops and Republicans want to seem tough on crime. In this fertile ground, the police-industrial complex has grown. Many of its excesses are almost impossible to defend, but it’s not going anywhere. Balko talked to Salon about the decline of community policing, the warrior cop mentality, why so many dogs get killed by police. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Few of us encounter the warrior cop phenomenon. How pervasive is it?



 There are several levels of militarization. The rise of SWAT teams nationwide, the number of annual SWAT deployments in the U.S., has gone from a few hundred in the ’70s, to 30,000 per year in the early ’80s, to 50,000 in 2005. That’s 100, 150 times a day in this country you have these heavily armed police teams breaking into homes, and the vast majority of times it’s to enforce laws against consensual crimes.

Beyond that, you have a military or soldier mind-set, and that, I think, goes beyond the SWAT team. They’ve been telling police officers for a generation now that they’re fighting various wars, but it’s also because the patrol car has isolated police officers from the communities that they serve. Police officers who live in the communities they serve is also less and less common.

So when you arm a cop like a soldier, when you dress ‘em like a soldier, when you tell ‘em to fight in a war and then send ‘em out into a neighborhood that he has no stake in and doesn’t consider himself a part of, you get a very antagonistic, us-versus-them relationship between the officer and that community. I think that is really pervasive, and the rise of the stop-snitchin’ movement, whatever you think of it, shows there are entire communities in this country that are more afraid of police than they are of the people that the police are supposed to be protecting them from. That is a pretty terrible development.

Before 9/11, what do you see as the main drivers of the equipment aspect of this phenomenon?

 The drug war, unquestionably. The drug war is what got us to a crisis point and Sept. 11 just kind of blew it out of the water. A Pentagon program hit its record in 2011 by giving away about $500 million of equipment. [Department of Homeland Security] grants in the last 10 years have given away $35 billion. DHS has accelerated the trend.

Politically, this is a fascinating issue because police seem to be totally untouchable. Everybody loves cops, even if cops are unrecognizable. Are there any reasonable political approaches to this issue?

 It’s tough. The interesting thing is in writing about this issue – and I’ve been writing about this for six, eight years now – is there’s almost no opposition when I write about this. Every so often, a prosecutor who has a blog or something will respond, but in terms of left, right, libertarian, everyone seems to agree that there’s a problem, but then you go to politicians and nobody cares. Nobody is interested. The Republicans want to be tough on crime, and Democrats, police unions are very influential with them. Also I think, on a bipartisan level, every congressman likes to put out that press release, announcing he’s just procured $500,000 for our local heroes in blue. The local newspapers write it up, and it looks good for the community. That’s a difficult thing to wean them off of.

Can you describe how this plays out at the local level? How do any number of small towns now have SWAT teams even as small towns are suffering? How does that training happen? And how does it get used?

 I think part of it is the Pentagon giveaway, the DHS grant; that gets them some of the hardware they need. And then they make the case for starting a SWAT team, and inevitably – I’ve watched this happen in towns – they’ll get the equipment and they’ll get the SWAT team. They’ll invoke Columbine or Virginia Tech or Newtown, now, and they’ll say, “This could happen here. This is why we need to be prepared.” And of course, as high-profile as those things are, they’re vanishingly rare.

Once a small town gets a SWAT team and starts one, it’s expensive to maintain and you want to use it, and the easiest way to use it is to send them out on drug raids. It’s not just that it’s easy – there are incentives. There are federal grants that are tied to drug policing. If you wait until you’re about to arrest a suspected murderer or rapist – which, in small towns, doesn’t happen that often – a SWAT team’s going to be a negative when it comes to revenue. Send them out on a bunch of drug raids, you get all this federal money; there’s also access forfeiture that is usually tied to drug crimes, and the SWAT team can actually generate money for the department.

So, it starts with the equipment. You just need unsupported justifications for why it’s necessary, and then there are all these incentives for police departments who are using it for pretty low-level crimes.

Training is another problem. At least in the big cities, when they have these SWAT teams, they’re usually well-trained. It’s usually a full-time position. In some of these small towns and little counties, there are cases where there’s a 15-man police department and they also have an eight-member SWAT team. These guys are part-time, and they’re not getting the training that they need to do this. I think even the well-trained SWAT teams are used too frequently, but it’s better to have a well-trained SWAT team than a bunch of guys who are kind of in it for the thrill.

Do you see this bad-ass thing they’re doing as a recruitment tool?

I don’t know how you would define using it as a recruitment tool.  I can say that the tanks and the armed personnel carriers – they roll them out at parades. You see them at various festivals and so forth.  The other thing that I find particularly disturbing is if you Google “police recruitment video,” you’ll get a lot of videos that these police staff send out to high schools and colleges to recruit police officers.

A disturbingly high percentage of them are [police] kicking down doors and siccing dogs on people and coming out of helicopters to heavy metal music or some kind of high-intensity music and that’s the very first step in the process in staffing a police department. You’re appealing to young people who are attracted to jobs that allow them to basically kick ass and take names and there’s no appeal to the [other] aspects of policing. If that’s your recruitment message, you’re sending a pretty strong message from the very start about what you think the proper relationship between police and the community ought to be.

Quite a few times, you mention incidents of cops killing dogs. Aside from the poignant aspect of it, what do those incidents demonstrate to you about police training or mentality?

It is another indicator of this battlefield approach that so many police officers have. If you think it’s appropriate to discharge your weapon in a public place –  like what we saw in this more recent viral video in a residential area –  if you think it’s appropriate to do this to prevent a dog from breaking your skin, that’s a mentality that says “police officers’ safety is to be preserved at all costs.”

I can name cases where police officers have shot dogs and missed and shot one another, shot bystanders. Even if you don’t particularly care about the dogs, it is dangerous. I’ve interviewed national spokesmen for the Humane Society who says they offer this kind of training to any department that wants it — it’s training that every U.S. postal worker gets and, you know, it’s training on how to read a dog’s body language, how to recognize a defensive dog from a vicious one and how to deal with these dogs in ways other than dealing with culpable force, and hardly any police agencies do this.

You talked just then and in the book about a lack of accountability being ingrained in police culture. Do you see any signs of any programs trying a different approach?

Yes and no. The fact that everybody’s armed with a camera in their pocket now is forcing a lot of police departments to become more accountable and to hold officers more accountable. Certainly more cops are going to be more aware of this and aware of the fact that they could be recorded at any time. That’s going to be an incentive to act better.

At the same time, though, police unions are some of the few unions in this country that are still powerful. That in part goes back to the fact that no politician really wants to look anti-police officer, and so the unions have negotiated in a lot of states the Police Officer Bill of Rights, which give rights to cops above and beyond what regular citizens get when they’re accused of a crime.

In theory, the Police Officer Bill of Rights only applies to internal investigations; it doesn’t affect criminal investigations. Problem is, criminal investigations usually don’t start until after the internal investigation is over and at that point the police officers have been given time to put a story together. A lot of times they’re allowed to collaborate with other police officers who are involved and the other thing it does is it gives cops within the department a handy way to get the charges against other cops dismissed.

The Houston Chronicle just launched a new series this week about how difficult it is [to fire a cop]. Cops who are accused of assault and sexual assault and domestic abuse just think they can get their jobs back. Even when they do get fired, another police department ends up hiring them because part of the contract that they negotiated may bar the police department from giving them a bad reference for future law enforcement jobs.

You say in the book that it’s not an anti-cop book. Is there a way for good cops to fight this culture in an effective way?

It’s difficult. I tell a couple stories in the book of cops who try to turn in other cops for this conduct, and usually they end up being the ones disciplined. So, yeah, it’s tough. And there’s a reason why groups like LEAP [Law Enforcement Against Prohibition] is almost exclusively retired cops, because you just can’t make these kinds of points while you’re on the job. There have been a few police chiefs who I mention in the book who have successfully reformed individual police performance.

I guess my point in saying that it isn’t an anti-cop book is that you can rail against cops and call them names, and attack the police culture all you want, but that’s not going to change anything, and as long as you have these bad policies you’re going to attract the wrong personalities because cops are either going to quit in frustration, turn bad or just, you know, hate their jobs. So, until we can get politicians and public officials to start making actual policy changes and insist on holding police accountable, I just don’t think it does any good to rail against police officers.

However, many of the trends you’re describing seem to be accelerating. You say that Obama has stepped up raids, for example, on medical marijuana dispensaries. What sort of indications, if any, do you see of the federal government reining in the incentives for police militarization?

I don’t think so. I look at police militarization under Obama, and surprisingly, the Bush administration was phasing out two of the programs that were really driving a lot of this. The Byrne Grant program, and the COPS program. These are both federal spending programs, so it’s easy to understand why the Bush administration would put it in the back, and then why Obama would then re-fund them. But, you’ve got to look at the consequences.

Just saying we need to spend more money on police officers and then throwing money at them, and then not really caring or following up or having any concern about how that money is being spent, is a problem. Obama restored the Byrne Grant program at record funding shortly after taking office. I think there’s just this notion on the left that, with leftist politicians all federal spending is good, and so you see this re-funding of this program.

I’d like to see these programs phased out entirely, but again, you get the same problem where the right wants to look tough on crime. The left, sort of defensively also, wants to look tough on crime.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised from the reaction to the book among people who aren’t politicians. Across left, right, libertarian, I think most people who are familiar with the issue recognize that it’s a problem and something needs to be done about it. But you know Congress always lags behind public opinion. And on this issue, it’s just difficult to get them to care. I’m optimistic about how the public is coming around on this issue, but I’m skeptical that we’ll ever get any reaction from politicians.

What sort of solutions do you see? What can be done?

At the local level, I think people could pressure local officials to rein in SWAT teams, and have them only used in the emergency situations and stop sending them on drug raids.

You can do an open record collection of the police department to find out how many times the SWAT teams had been out, for what reasons, and what the result was. Most times you’re going to find it was sent out, let’s say 200 times in the last year, and you’re going to find that maybe 40 of those cases are over criminal charges. Those are good numbers to put out, and just to spark a debate on whether this is an appropriate use of this sort of force.

I think all these raids should be videotaped and should all be subject to open record requests. When an officer makes a negligent error that results in a SWAT team terrorizing an innocent family, you know there should be consequences, and a family should have recourse in court, to collect damages, and right now it’s very, very difficult to sue a police officer in court.

A lot of other recommendations in the book, like ending the drug war, aren’t going to happen any time soon, but there are incremental reforms that can be made to at least kind of get a handle on the problem even if you can’t rein it in completely.

Radley Balko: “Once a Town Gets a SWAT Team, You Want to Use it.” is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

“Rise of the Warrior Cop” by Radley Balko – exceprt

Friday, July 12th, 2013

The following is an excerpt from Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko, senior writer and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post. It was posted to AlterNet.org on July 10, 2013.

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Betty Taylor still remembers the night it all hit her.

As a child, Taylor had always been taught that police officers were the good guys. She learned to respect law enforcement, as she puts it, “all the time, all the way.” She went on to become a cop because she wanted to help people, and that’s what cops did. She wanted to fight sexual assault, particularly predators who take advantage of children. To go into law enforcement—to become one of the good guys—seemed like the best way to accomplish that. By the late 1990s, she’d risen to the rank of detective in the sheriff’s department of Lincoln County, Missouri—a sparsely populated farming community about an hour northwest of St. Louis. She eventually started a sex crimes unit within the department. But it was a small department with a tight budget. When she couldn’t get the money she needed, Taylor was forced to give speeches and write her own proposals to keep her program operating.

What troubled her was that while the sex crimes unit had to find funding on its own, the SWAT team was always flush with cash. “The SWAT team, the drug guys, they always had money,” Taylor says. “There were always state and federal grants for drug raids. There was always funding through asset forfeiture.” Taylor never quite understood that disparity. “When you think about the collateral effects of a sex crime, of how it can affect an entire family, an entire community, it just didn’t make sense. The drug users weren’t really harming anyone but themselves. Even the dealers, I found much of the time they were just people with little money, just trying to get by.”

The SWAT team eventually co-opted her as a member. As the only woman in the department, she was asked to go along on drug raids in the event there were any children inside. “The perimeter team would go in first. They’d throw all of the adults on the floor until they had secured the building. Sometimes the kids too. Then they’d put the kids in a room by themselves, and the search team would go in. They’d come to me, point to where the kids were, and say, ‘You deal with them.’” Taylor would then stay with the children until family services arrived, at which point they’d be placed with a relative.

Taylor’s moment of clarity came during a raid on an autumn evening in November 2000. Narcotics investigators had made a controlled drug buy a few hours earlier and were laying plans to raid the suspect’s home. “The drug buy was in town, not at the home,” Taylor says. “But they’d always raid the house anyway. They could never just arrest the guy on the street. They always had to kick down doors.” With just three hours between the drug buy and the raid, the police hadn’t done much surveillance at all. The SWAT team would often avoid raiding a house if they knew there were children inside, but Taylor was troubled by how little effort they put into seeking out that sort of information. “Three hours is nowhere near enough time to investigate your suspect, to find out who might be inside the house. It just isn’t enough time for you to know the range of things that could happen.”

That afternoon the police had bought drugs from the stepfather of two children, ages eight and six. Both were in the house at the time of the raid. The stepfather wasn’t.

“They did their thing,” Taylor says. “Everybody on the floor, guns and yelling. Then they put the two kids in the bedroom, did their search, then sent me in to take care of the kids.”

Taylor made her way inside to see them. When she opened the door, the eight-year-old girl assumed a defense posture, putting her- self between Taylor and her little brother. She looked at Taylor and said, half fearful, half angry, “What are you going to do to us?”

Taylor was shattered. “Here I come in with all my SWAT gear on, dressed in armor from head to toe, and this little girl looks up at me, and her only thought is to defend her little brother. I thought, How can we be the good guys when we come into the house looking like this, screaming and pointing guns at the people they love? How can we be the good guys when a little girl looks up at me and wants to fight me?And for what? What were we accomplishing with all of this? Absolutely nothing.”

Taylor was later appointed police chief of the small town of Winfield, Missouri. Winfield was too small for its own SWAT team, even in the 2000s, but Taylor says she’d have quit before she ever created one. “Good police work has nothing to do with dressing up in black and breaking into houses in the middle of the night. And the mentality changes when they get put on the SWAT team. I remember a guy I was good friends with, it just completely changed him. The us-versus-them mentality takes over. You see that mentality in regular patrol officers too. But it’s much, much worse on the SWAT team. They’re more concerned with the drugs than they are with innocent bystanders. Because when you get into that mentality, there are no innocent people. There’s us and there’s the enemy. Children and dogs are always the easiest casualties.”

Taylor recently ran into the little girl who changed the way she thought about policing. Now in her twenties, the girl told Taylor that she and her brother had nightmares for years after the raid. They slept in the same bed until the boy was eleven. “That was a difficult day at work for me,” she says. “But for her, this was the most traumatic, defining moment of this girl’s life. Do you know what we found? We didn’t find any weapons. No big drug operation. We found three joints and a pipe.”1

***

POLICE MILITARIZATION WOULD ACCELERATE IN THE 2000S. The first half of the decade brought a new and lucrative source of funding and equipment: homeland security. In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, the federal government opened a new spigot of funding in the name of fighting terror. Terrorism would also provide new excuses for police agencies across the country to build up their arsenals and for yet smaller towns to start up yet more SWAT teams. The second half of the decade also saw more mission creep for SWAT teams and more pronounced militarization even outside of drug policing. The 1990s trend of government officials using paramilitary tactics and heavy- handed force to make political statements or to make an example of certain classes of nonviolent offenders would continue, especially in response to political protests. The battle gear and aggressive policing would also start to move into more mundane crimes—SWAT teams have recently been used even for regulatory inspections.

But the last few years have also seen some trends that could spur some movement toward reform. Technological advances in personal electronic devices have armed a large percentage of the public with the power to hold police more accountable with video and audio recordings. The rise of social media has enabled citizens to get accounts of police abuses out and quickly disseminated. This has led to more widespread coverage of botched raids and spread awareness of how, how often, and for what purpose this sort of force is being used. Over just the six years I’ve been covering this issue, I’ve noticed that media accounts of drug raids have become less deferential to police. Reporters have become more willing to ask questions about the appropriateness of police tactics and more likely to look at how a given raid fits into broader policing trends, both locally and nationally. Internet commenters on articles about incidents in which police may have used excessive force also seem to have grown more skeptical about police actions, particularly in botched drug raids.

It’s taken nearly a half-century to get from those Supreme Court decisions in the mid-1960s to where we are today—police militarization has happened gradually, over decades. We tend not to take notice of such long-developing trends, even when they directly affect us. The first and perhaps largest barrier to halting police militarization has probably been awareness. And that at least seems to be changing. Whether it leads to any substantive change may be the theme of the current decade.

***

BY THE MID-1990S, THE BYRNE GRANT PROGRAM CONGRESS had started in 1988 had pushed police departments across the country to prioritize drug crimes over other investigations. When applying for grants, departments are rewarded with funding for statistics such as the number of overall arrests, the number of warrants served, or the number of drug seizures. Those priorities, then, are passed down to police officers themselves and are reflected in how they’re evaluated, reviewed, and promoted. Perversely, actual success in reducing crime is generally not rewarded with federal money, on the presumption that the money ought to go where it’s most needed—high-crime areas. So the grants reward police departments for making lots of easy arrests (i.e., low-level drug offenders) and lots of seizures (regardless of size), and for serving lots of warrants. When it comes to tapping into federal funds, whether any of that actually reduces crime or makes the community safer is irrelevant—and in fact, successfully fighting crime could hurt a department’s ability to rake in federal money.

But the most harmful product of the Byrne grant program may be its creation of hundreds of regional and multijurisdictional narcotics task forces. That term—“narcotics task force”—pops up frequently in the case studies and horror stories throughout this book. There’s a reason for that. While the Reagan and Bush administrations had set up a number of drug task forces in border zones, the Byrne grant program established similar task forces all across the country. They seemed particularly likely to pop up in rural areas that didn’t yet have a paramilitary police team (what few were left).

The task forces are staffed with local cops drawn from the police agencies in the jurisdictions where the task force operates. Some squads loosely report to a state law enforcement agency, but oversight tends to be minimal to nonexistent. Because their funding comes from the federal government—and whatever asset forfeiture proceeds they reap from their investigations—local officials can’t even control them by cutting their budget. This organizational structure makes some task forces virtually unaccountable, and certainly not accountable to any public official in the region they cover.

As a result, we have roving squads of drug cops, loaded with SWAT gear, who get more money if they conduct more raids, make more arrests, and seize more property, and they are virtually immune to accountability if they get out of line. In 2009 the Justice Department attempted a cost-benefit analysis of these task forces but couldn’t even get to the point of crunching the numbers. The task forces weren’t producing any numbers to crunch. “Not only were data insufficient to estimate what task forces accomplished,” the report read, “data were inadequate to even tell what the task forces did for routine work.”

Not surprisingly, the proliferation of heavily armed task forces that have little accountability and are rewarded for making lots of busts has resulted in some abuse.

The most notorious scandal involving these task forces came in the form of a massive drug sting in the town of Tulia, Texas. On July 23, 1999, the task force donned black ski-mask caps and full SWAT gear to conduct a series of coordinated predawn raids across

Tulia. By 4:00 AM, forty black people—10 percent of Tulia’s black population—and six whites were in handcuffs. The Tulia Sentinel declared, “We do not like these scumbags doing business in our town. [They are] a cancer in our community, it’s time to give them a major dose of chemotherapy behind bars.” The paper followed up with the headline “Tulia’s Streets Cleared of Garbage.”

The raids were based on the investigative work of Tom Coleman, a sort of freelance cop who, it would later be revealed, had simply invented drug transactions that had never occurred.

The first trials resulted in convictions—based entirely on the credibility of Tom Coleman. The defendants received long sentences. For those who were arrested but still awaiting trial, plea bargains that let them avoid prison time began to look attractive, even if they were innocent. Coleman was even named Texas lawman or the year.

But there were some curious details about the raids. For such a large drug bust, the task force hadn’t recovered any actual drugs. Or any weapons, for that matter. And it wasn’t for a lack of looking. The task force cops had all but destroyed the interiors of the homes they raided. Then some cases started falling apart. One woman Coleman claimed sold him drugs could prove she was in Oklahoma City at the time. Coleman had described another woman as six months pregnant—she wasn’t. Another suspect could prove he was at work during the alleged drug sale. By 2004, nearly all of the forty-six suspects were either cleared or pardoned by Texas governor Rick Perry. The jurisdictions the task force served eventually settled a lawsuit with the defendants for $6 million. In 2005, Coleman was convicted of perjury. He received ten years’ probation and was fined $7,500.3

The following year, it all happened again. In November 2000, SWAT teams from the Byrne-funded South Central Texas Narcotics Task Force rolled into Hearne, a town of about five thousand people in Robertson County, to wage another series of coordinated raids. The raids netted twenty-eight arrests—twenty-seven of the suspects were black. One of them was Regina Kelly, a single mother. Kelly wasn’t home when her house was raided, she was waiting tables at a local diner.

The police marched her off the job in handcuffs and tossed her in a jail cell. She first thought she had been arrested for unpaid parking tickets. Kelly’s court-appointed attorney encouraged her to take a plea bargain. Plead guilty, and she’d get eighteen years’ probation. She’d get no prison time and wouldn’t lose her kids. She refused. “I wasn’t going to plead guilty to something I didn’t do,” she told me in a 2007 interview. The attorney went back to DA John Paschall, who then offered five years’ probation. Kelly again refused, and told her attorney to ask for the evidence they had used to indict her. Her attorney brought back a tape recording the DA’s office claimed was evidence of her drug sales. The tape recording was a conversation between two men. There were no female voices, and Kelly’s name was never mentioned. Kelly’s bail was then reduced from $70,000 to $10,000. Her parents were able to post bond, and she never had to go to court again. She was eventually cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

In part because of Kelly’s courageous refusal to accept a plea bargain for a crime she didn’t commit, we now know that all twenty- eight indictments were based on the word of a single confidential informant. Paschall’s office was forced to admit that the informant had both tampered with evidence and failed a polygraph test. At the civil trial for the lawsuit brought by Kelly and other defendants, the informant testified that Paschall had given him a list of twenty black men. He promised leniency for the informant’s own burglary charge if he helped Paschall convict the men on the list. The informant also testified he was promised $100 for every suspect he helped convict beyond that list of twenty. The lawsuit was settled in 2005. Of the twenty-eight people charged, seventeen were later exonerated. The 2008 movie American Violet was based on Kelly’s experience after she was arrested.

But similar mass round-up raids had been going on in Hearne for fifteen years. “They come on helicopters, military-style, SWAT style,” Kelly told me. “In the apartments I was living in, in the projects, there were a lot of children outside playing. They don’t care. They throw kids on the ground, put guns to their heads. They’re kicking in doors. They just don’t care.”

In the following years, there were numerous other corruption scandals, botched raids, sloppy police work, and other allegations of misconduct against the federally funded task forces in Texas. Things got so that by the middle of the 2000s Gov. Rick Perry began diverting state matching funds away from the task forces to other programs. The cut in funding forced many task forces to shut down. The stream of lawsuits shut down or limited the operations of others. In 2001 the state had fifty-one federally funded task forces. By the spring of 2006, it was down to twenty-two.

Funding for the Byrne grant program had held steady at about $500 million through most of the Clinton administration. Just as it had done with the cops program, the Bush administration began to pare the program down—to about $170 million by 2008. This was more out of an interest in limiting federal influence on law enforcement than concern for police abuse or drug war excesses.

But the reaction from law enforcement was interesting. In March 2008, Byrne-funded task forces across the country staged a series of coordinated drug raids dubbed Operation Byrne Blitz. The intent was to make a series of large drug seizures to demonstrate how important the Byrne grants were to fighting the drug war. In Kentucky alone, for example, task forces uncovered 23 methamphetamine labs, seized more than 2,400 pounds of marijuana, and arrested 565 people for illegal drug use. Of course, if police in a single state could simply go out and find 23 meth labs and 2,400 pounds of marijuana in twenty-four hours just to make a political point about drug war funding, that was probably a good indication that twenty years of Byrne grants and four decades of drug warring hadn’t really accomplished much.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized Bush and the Republicans for cutting Byrne, a federal police program beloved by his running mate Joe Biden. Despite Tulia, Hearne, a growing pile of bodies from botched drug raids, and the objections of groups as diverse as the ACLU, the Heritage Foundation, La Raza, and the Cato Institute, Obama promised to restore full funding to the program, which, he said, “has been critical to creating the anti-gang and anti-drug task forces our communities need.” He kept his promise. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resuscitated the Byrne grants with a whopping $2 billion infusion, by far the largest budget in the program’s twenty-year history.

***

EARLY IN THE MORNING OF SEPTEMBER 13, 2000, AGENTS from the DEA, the FBI, and a Stanislaus County, California, narcotics task force conducted raids on fourteen homes in and around Modesto—the culmination of a nineteen-month investigation. One of the homes was that of Moises Sepulveda and his family. According to the Los Angeles Times, the DEA and FBI asked that the local SWAT teams enter each home unannounced in order to secure the area ahead of the federal agents, who would then come to serve the warrants and search for evidence. Federal agents warned the SWAT teams that the targets of the warrants should be considered armed and dangerous. When local police asked if there were any children in the Sepulveda home, the feds answered, “Not aware of any.”

There were. Moises Sepulveda had three children—a daughter and two sons. After the police forcibly entered the Sepulveda home, Moises, his wife, and his children were ordered to lie face-down on the floor with their arms outstretched. They were then told to remain still as officers pointed guns at their heads. Eleven-year-old Alberto was doing just that—lying still under the gun of Officer David Hawn. But shortly after the raid began, Hawn’s gun went off. The boy died instantly.

There were no drugs or guns in the Sepulveda home. A subsequent internal investigation by the Modesto Police Department found that the DEA’s evidence against Moises Sepulveda—who had no previous criminal record—was “minimal.” The city of Modesto and the federal government settled a lawsuit brought by the Sepulvedas for the death of their son for $3 million.

In response to the incident, California attorney general Bill Lockyer assembled a blue ribbon commission to review the procedures, guidelines, and performance of the state’s hundreds of SWAT teams.

The Modesto Bee reported in 2001 that the commission would look at the way SWAT teams were deployed, the use of intimidating clothing and equipment, and, in the words of one commissioner, the “overbearing-type attitudes” of SWAT teams.

Unsurprisingly, the commission found that while SWAT teams were generally justified, defended, and regarded as responders to emergency situations like hostage crises and terror attacks, they were most commonly being used to serve drug warrants. Nevertheless, the panel’s final recommendations did little to address the number of SWAT teams, how they were being used, or police militarism in general. The panel’s chief complaint was that SWAT teams were undertrained and underfunded, suggesting that local, state, and federal government should be throwing more funding and resources at SWAT teams, not less. The other recommendations consisted largely of standardizing procedures, definitions, and guidelines and communicating better with the public. The commission didn’t address any of the more urgent problems that had plagued the state’s SWAT teams over the previous twenty years, such as SWAT teams launching raids based on uncorroborated tips from informants, asset forfeiture incentivizing the use of aggressive policing, or prosecutors and judges neglecting their duty to scrutinize the warrants authorizing these violent raids.

In the end, even if every SWAT team in the state had implemented the panel’s recommendations (and they were by no means obligated to), it’s unlikely that much would have changed. In fact, if the suggestions had been implemented in the 1990s, it seems unlikely that they would have prevented the death of Alberto Sepulveda, the reason for Lockyer’s panel in the first place.

Back in the early 1970s, nationwide outrage over a series of wrong-door drug raids had inspired furious politicians to hastily call congressional hearings; as a consequence, the law that had authorized those raids was repealed. Now, in 2000, an eleven-year-old boy had just been obliterated at close range with a shotgun as his parents and siblings lay on the ground beside him. And even that wasn’t enough to stop his own town from discontinuing the aggressive tactics that caused his death. The mistakes, the terrorizing of innocents, and the unnecessary fatalities would continue.

_____________________________

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko is one of the many solid pieces of content included at CopBlock.org.Library

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Manchester SWAT gives Union Leader a peak behind the Iron Shield

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

copblock-manchester-bearcat-ashleyThis post comes to us from SpiritofArcadia.org:

 

Manchester SWAT gives Union Leader a peak behind the Iron Shield is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Families Ripped From Homes By Police In Watertown

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

An anonymous submitter shared the following via CopBlock.org’s ‘submit‘ tab, attributes to November Yankee.

This is an absolutely sickening display of police force, violation of the Constitution, and clearly shows that America is now dead. Welcome to the Fourth Reich.

Notice how the homeowner is pulled from the house and does not give permission for the police to enter. Notice too how the militant SWAT officer screams at the boy “hands up!” as if he is about to shoot the resident.

 

WATERTOWN, MA — On Friday, April 19, 2013, during a manhunt for a bombing suspect, police and federal agents spent the day storming people’s homes and performing illegal searches. While it was unclear initially if the home searches were voluntary, it is now crystal clear that they were absolutely NOT voluntary. Police were filmed ripping people from their homes at gunpoint, marching the residents out with their hands raised in submission, and then storming the homes to perform their illegal searches.

https://www.facebook.com/PoliceStateUSA

This was part of a larger operation that involved total lockdown of the suburban neighbor to Boston. Roads were barricaded and vehicle traffic was prohibited. A No-Fly Zone was declared over the town. People were “ordered” to stay indoors. Businesses were told not to open. National Guard soldiers helped with the lockdown, and were photographed checking IDs of pedestrians on the streets. All the while, police were performing these disgusting house-to-house searches.

It was just a few years ago when I presented the following video on another website. People rolled their eyes and the majority of the comments were along the lines of “that will never happen here.” The frog is boiled now my friends.

 

Source

 

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SWAT Cops to Ask for IDs From Everyone in Arkansas Town

Monday, December 17th, 2012

The following article, submitted by Matthew Dolloff, was originally posted at RT.com.

Would police officers in your area having the “guilty until proved innocent” mindset make you feel safer? Is a militarized police force in a small town of 25,000 really the most effective way to prevent real crimes – ie, ones with victims? -Kate

There isn’t a lot to do in Paragould, Arkansas, but residents of the town of barely 25,000 seem to have no problem finding trouble. Now in order to curb the rising crime rate, the city is proposing heavily armed police patrol the streets on foot.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013.

The militarized police force will be tasked with trying to control a crime rate that has made Paragould an increasingly dangerous place to live in recent years. According to statistics collected by city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are also well above the mean there, statistically suggesting Paragould is perhaps the least-safe among area cities.

“This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this,” Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. “It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.”

In order to bring crime down, residents of Paragould may soon have to endure police officers brandishing semi-automatic assault riddles on the regular. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone in an attempt to discourage criminal activity.

“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting.

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” added Mayor Gaskill, “but they’re going to have to prove it.”

Soon after the Paragould Daily Press picked up the story, news of the small town’s efforts to enforce martial law began making headlines outside of Arkansas. On Sunday, Stovall authored an explanation on the Paragould Police Department website to clarify how exactly the proposed Street Crimes Unit will interact with citizens.

“Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there’s anything we can do for them,” he says. During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent, however, Chief Stovall says their process “will become more stringent.”

“We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

Stovall adds that the program would not violate the constitutional rights of Paragould citizens, claiming, “Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing. Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.”

Paragould has scheduled two more town hall meetings to discuss the Street Crimes Unit.

Update: The town hall meetings were cancelled, “in the interest of public safety.” The claim is that with people who feel strongly on either side of the issue, a safe and productive meeting would not be the probable outcome.

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