Police arrest man for making barking sounds at “drug-sniffing” dog

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Officer LaLonde with Zeus

On St. Patrick’s Day, Officer Jeff LaLonde of Buena Vista arrested an 18-year-old man for the heinous crime of making barking sounds at his worthless “drug-sniffing” dog Zeus.

LaLonde had stopped a vehicle and was sitting in his police cruiser filling out paperwork when the 18-year-old walked by and, according to the police report, “decided to start barking at the dog” which was sitting in the back seat. LaLonde arrested the man and threw him in jail without even charging him with a crime. Police indicated that he would be charged with “harassment” meaning that he faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Sgt. Sean Waterman justified the arrest noting that “It’s against the law for someone to do anything, when the dog in service, that harasses the dog and takes the dog off its task.” Since Zeus was sitting in the back of a police cruiser when the man allegedly made the barking sounds, it’s not entirely clear what the dog’s “task” was.

Here’s a question for the readers: If a Buena Vista police officer shot and killed Joe Citizen’s dog, would the the department take it even half as seriously as this alleged act of harassment?

The Anti Rave Act of 2011

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Making it illegal to have a party on your property with pre-recorded music

Edited by Dylboz and Jenn

Why would someone want to make it illegal to hold a private party that features pre-recorded music and lasts over 3.5 hours? I can’t think of any other reason than the desire to give police even more laws they can arrest non-violent people for, and to exert total control over what people can do with their free time. This is a story that has died down a little over the past month or so but it still demands concern, at least in my opinion.

If you were to have one of these dangerous unauthorized gatherings under Fiona Ma’s proposed bill AB-74, you would be subject to arrest and a $10,000 fine, or twice the amount of total money generated by the party. Her justification for this is that 2 people died from using “drugs” while at a similar event To punish everyone because of two people who made a terrible mistake seems irresponsible, irrational and unjust. Such an approach is not only unreasonable, but thoroughly immoral. It is simply not possible to legislate away all the dangers in society. Making something illegal does not make it disappear either; it only drives it underground (thus causing even more danger and increasing the likelihood of illegal drug trafficking). Furthermore, extending her logic to the rest of human activity, Ms. Ma should also rigorously pursue legislation banning driving, skydiving, swimming and other leisure activities that could potentially result in death.

There may or may not be private individuals willingly putting a substances into their bodies to enhance the night’s experience and let loose a little bit at these “horror drug fueled events,” but it is ethically no different than people drinking alcohol, which is completely legal.

However, her law is so broad that any person throwing a party on their own private property (keep in mind this is property they allegedly own) that plays an iPod with 3.5 hours of music stored on it, held at night, would also be subject to arrest and/or fine. Of course, she did make it clear that her own New Year’s Eve party would not be subject to these laws, even though people were paying up to $500 to attend and playing pre-recorded music, because as long as there is “a business license to operate a bar, club, theater, entertainment venue, or other similar business, or to conduct sporting events…” it is not subject to the legislation. Essentially, the rich and the well-connected can have whatever parties they can pay for, while everyone else is subject to disproportionately harsh fines for their gatherings and parties because of the stupidity of 2 people.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, let me just say this, please stop telling people what they can and cannot do. With real crimes with victims like murder, rape, robbery still quite common, surely there are better things for an assemblywoman to address besides loud parties. Trying to ban “raves” as a political move, under the guise of saving lives, is just pathetic and disingenuous. You’re actually destroying lives by encouraging cops to arrest more people to be imprisoned and fined. Is that your goal on a subject that you actually know little about? Shame on you!

Since Fiona Ma’s bill talks big about saving lives from drugs commonly taken in clubs, let’s look a little more closely at her issue. While I thought raves pretty much went extinct in the 90′s, I guess it’s still going pretty strong, usually under different names like “music conferences” and so forth. These club drugs she talks about can be broken down to the 4 most popular: Weed, Cocaine, Ecstasy and Ketamine. Cocaine probably is not best characterized as a drug closely associated with raves, since it is a drug that is used frequently in recreational contexts other than dance parties. I have to also exclude weed as being particularly associated with raves, as it is used medically and more often than any other illegal intoxicant, in a variety of settings unrelated to raves.

That leaves the 2 drugs most commonly associated with raves. There may be more, but for now I want to focus on these two. Ecstasy is the name most commonly used by the media. According to the media, Ecstasy is a little pill that you swallow. So with their wide definition, I can walk downstairs grab some sand, dog poop, concrete, and mix it with some super-glue and caffeine, green food coloring and I’d have what they call a roll. Would that be dangerous? Absolutely, but you really don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see what people put in these pills, because a lab analyzes them and publishes the results for everyone to see. The real danger with Ecstasy lies in the fact that it is illegal, and is produced, sold and distributed underground. Because it is illegal, there is no transparency, and there is no control over what is in it. What they should focus on is MDMA. I know there are other forms or variants like MDA and MDEA but we will stick to MDMA or “3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine”.

Now MDMA is a DEA Schedule I, which includes drugs deemed to have no medical uses. In fact, MDMA actually seems to have some great medical uses.

“MDMA had a beneficial therapeutic use prior to scheduling. Hundreds of therapists and psychiatrists used MDM Assisted psychotherapy with thousands of patients suffering from terminal illness, trauma, marital difficulties, drug addiction, phobias, and other disorders. MDMA was also used outside of therapeutic circles. With many anecdotal claims of benefits, users showed little evidence of problematic physiological or psychological reactions or addiction.(1)”

If you you’re close to my age you might remember those old commercials saying “this is your brain … and this is your brain on drugs,” followed by an egg being cracked into a sizzling frying pan, implying that all drugs, including Ecstasy, will fry your brain. Well according to the latest study (4), MDMA does not cause any type of brain damage. Thus, it appears more lies are being told to us by our government, although it’s not too surprising. If this drug does not cause brain damage, and its only negative side-effect if taken in the right dosage is dehydration and an increase in body temperature(3), it is unclear why it is illegal. True, those two side effects sound pretty dangerous, just like if I laid out in the sun on a Florida beach during the summer, I would probably become dehydrated and suffer heat exhaustion. But no one would think it reasonable to ban the sun, or ban sunbathing.

While I am in no way trying to promote the use of any drug here in the U.S. or overseas, I am looking for an explanation as to why people are being thrown in cages for many years, despite to the complete and utter failure of the war on drugs. Neither of these substances carry any type of risk for physical addiction like alcohol, tobacco or caffeine (caffeine being the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world). These three legal drugs all have seriously averse side-effects as you may know if you ever tried to stop smoking, quit drinking or try and get through you day without having your moning cup of coffee.

Additionally, the chemical known as Ketamine, Ketaset, Anesket, or Ketalar is another drug associated with such clubs/parties, and goes by many different names but is most widely referred to as “special K”. It is used as an anesthetic, particularly as a general anesthetic for children or persons of poor health, and also in veterinary medicine. So why is this a Schedule III narcotic? Studies show that it has major medical benefits in curing depression.

“It’s like a magic drug,” said the lead researcher of a team from Yale University in the US whose latest study suggests that ketamine, a drug normally used as an anasthetic, could be reformulated as an anti-depressant that takes effect in hours rather than the usual weeks and months of most available medications.(2)”

Unlike Ecstasy, you can easily find Ketamine (RS)-2-(2-Chlorophenyl)-2- (methylamino)-cyclohexan- 1-one) in its purest form, packaged in an FDA-approved bottle with a tamper proof cap that shows it came straight from a legitimate and regulated company, with “lot” numbers, and an expiration date. This is obviously much safer than buying drugs like unpackaged pills or powder.

These club drugs in their purest form have relatively minor negative side-effects on one’s body. Furthermore, people seeking to use them at parties are mostly occasional users. As such, it seems unreasonable to make them completely illegal. Criminalization necessarily drives the market for these substances underground, and means any of them can be cut, mixed, or otherwise tampered with without any legal recourse available to the buyer, which makes using the drug far more dangerous.

Why do we continue to lock people in jail for the sake of feel-good laws? And that really is all they are. Banning things and making various substances illegal never eradicates them. It only drives them underground, makes them more dangerous, and removes transparency and accountability, while encouraging fraud and violence. Effectively, any ban is really only a moral decree that protects no one and helps nothing. It is an expensive moral decree at that – it costs people’s lives.If you look at the number of persons incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses this year alone (and its only March), it is already at around 326,000. In 2009 there were 1,663,582 such arrests. One of those arrested was actually a real criminal, a Federal police officer smuggling 700,000 ecstasy pills, making it the largest ecstasy bust in 2010.

You also have a lot of people that complain their taxes are too high. Consider a recent comment from none other than Fiona Ma “Right now, people are attending events on state-owned property and are dying and overdosing. It’s also costing taxpayers from all the public resources that go into deaths and drug overdoses on state property.” Well 15 billion dollars went to fighting the war on drugs last year, again costing taxpayers more money and making those drugs and the business of buying, selling and using them far more dangerous. Personally, I think that money can be better spent on preventative education and treatment for people with addictions who need help.

But should all drugs be legal and sold over the counter without a prescription? You have a lot of parents saying, “well if drugs are legal, my kids will do them.” This may seem like a good argument, but last time I checked, alcohol and cigarettes were legal, but there are still various barriers preventing minors from acquiring alcohol and cigarettes. Yet, they are both legal drugs that can be bought by adults at almost every corner gas station. Further, kids who are dying to do drugs will do so, but instead of turning to legal, safer drugs, they will turn to things like sniffing paint or other far more deadly means of getting high. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the legalization of such substances, combined with proper education would likely do far more good than the harmful, “zero tolerance, all drugs are evil and deadly and addictive, all the time” approach currently being pursued in schools and homes across the country. If you tell a kid that something is bad or dangerous, and they find out that it is not, that makes you a liar. Education and truth are the best policies in this regard.

It’s true that there are already a lot of medical drugs freely available for purchase at the drug store, no prescription required. They’re called “over the counter, ” or OTC medicines, but despite the damage drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can do to your liver or kidneys, they’re still nowhere near as effective at treating pain as the Schedule II and III drugs that are illegal to possess without a prescription. Now, if someone hurts themselves, lets say they cracked or bruised a rib, and there is nothing that can be done to fix it other than rest and taking it easy, under current laws, they need to have medical insurance or a lot of money to visit a doctor to examine them, just to tell them what they likely already know, and possibly write them a prescription for an effective treatment, like Vicodin or Percocet. While in the absence of these needless regulations, they could just drive to the pharmacy, pick up some pain medicine and be on their way.

People genuinely wonder why medical care is so expensive in the United States. In some other countries (god forbid!) they trust their citizens to go to a pharmacy, describe their symptoms to a pharmacist, and get basic medications relatively quickly and cheaply, without having to pay for a doctor’s visit, obtain a prescription, possibly undergo x-rays, and other bureaucratic nonsense before getting such simple things such as pain medications or antibiotics. So yes, there are addicts and abusers out there, and our government has used them to justify passing laws to make acquiring the proper medication on demand illegal.

Unfortunately, because of these silly laws, a friend I know had to go meet SWIM (Someone who isn’t me) to obtain what he considered would be the right dose to manage his pain for a couple days. Sounds insane doesn’t it, that he had to buy pain medicine on the street to heal his pain, because the system works against him. Again, driving prescription drugs underground to a black market only encourages criminals and feeds criminal activities, which perpetuate violence against the rest of us, and expose everyone to needless risk and expense.

Another popular argument (usually offered by police officers), is that drug users have victims. When I ask them to explain, I usually get the same responses that they go out and steal, rob and burglarize. Well that’s generally correct – those three crimes have victims. However, the act of placing something into your body does not. This would be analogous to banning driving because while driving, someone could hurt, kill or destroy the property of another. Ultimately, people can only rightly be held accountable for what they actually do, the harm they cause others, the property they damage, not their state of mind, their body chemistry, or the potential for harming others the police imagine comes from taking a drug. So please try and explain again on how the act of taking something in the privacy of your own home when done responsibly, and not being in the presence of a child, has a victim. “Well … you’re right.”

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma did end up pulling her bill after much criticism. If you do decide to go out and party make sure you do your research first on the true dangers of what you may be placing into your body.

Bloggers File Motion To Dismiss Felony Wiretapping Charges

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

For those unfamiliar with our story, CopBlock.org contributors Pete Eyre and myself stand accused of resisting arrest, trespassing, and felony wiretapping for an incident that occurred this past July. (Pete has also been charged with VIN manipulation and unlawful possession of ammunition.) These lame, trumped-up charges are not only a burden on our lives, they’re a complete and utter joke, and if you live in (or near) Greenfield, MA then you’re among those footing the bill for all of this nonsense.

Courts across the country have ruled that wiretapping laws do not apply to public servants in the same way they do private citizens. The Supreme Court ruled in United States v. U.S. Dist. Court for E. Dist. of Mich.Courts that, “incidents relating to public employment are frequently found not to be private. Additionally, public employees do not enjoy First Amendment protection in words spoken as part of public employment.” Meaning that regardless of the language of wiretapping laws, it still doesn’t apply to public officials who are conducting their duties in public, while being paid with public (i.e. tax) money.

As if the national precedent weren’t enough, time and again, judges presiding over courts within the so-called ‘Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ have dismissed these kinds of bogus charges, brought by police and district attorneys who’d rather not have their activities recorded and consequently subject to public scrutiny. Emily Peyton (while in Greenfiled, MA), Simon Glik, Jon Surmacz and Michael Hyde have all been charged with felony wiretapping, yet everyone but Hyde had their charges dropped. The ostensible reason for Hyde’s disparate treatment is the fact that all of the others were recording “in plain sight” – Hyde had his recorder inside his jacket. With the exception of Commonwealth v. Hyde (who should have gotten off as well, IMO), all of these MA courts have ruled that “knowledge of police officers through ‘plain view’ recording is enough to satisfy all-party consent requirements” in wiretapping cases. Meaning that if the police can clearly see your recording device, it doesn’t matter if they explicitly consent or not, they can’t infringe on your right to gather information on public officials.

As if you need yet another reason to see how silly it is to charge people with violating this ridiculous law, I have one more. It’s called the “expectation of privacy,” and it doesn’t matter if you’re a cop, the mayor, or just a regular Joe. Expectation of privacy covers public spaces and the amount of privacy you can expect in these areas. Most would agree that the gas station doesn’t need your permission to film you getting their gas. Why is that? Because you don’t have any reason to believe your actions are private in such space. The same goes for when you visit the bank. You don’t need to be told you’re on video, you should assume it, whether or not you see cameras or signs informing you of their presence. Indeed, the same principle should, and legally does, apply to the police. If you decide to film them, or say, a stalker, parked outside your house, neither party can have you charged with wiretapping, because they’re both in public and therefore have no expectation of privacy, regardless of their reason for being there.

So, taking these three points into consideration, I drafted a motion (below), hoping the court would apply basic logic and dismiss all the charges. If you’d like to express your thoughts to Greenfield’s judiciary, feel free to write the district attorney or clerk of courts.

Clerk of Courts – Magistrates Office 425 Main St Greenfield, MA 01301

OR

DA’s Office: Jeffery Bengtson 13 Conway St. Greenfield, MA 01301

Motion To Dismiss Case Numbers: 104BR1141 – 104BR1142

Copies of this motion have been sent, via certified US mail, to the Greenfield (MA) district attorneys office and Greenfield (MA) clerk of courts.

Adam M. Mueller and Pete Eyre (referred to as ‘the victims’) are requesting a motion to dismiss the charge – felony Unlawful wiretap – 272.99-F-O – due to facts listed below.  “The victims” will be in court on March 14th, 2011 to present this motion to the district court judge.The presentation of this motion starts with defining felony Wiretapping.

  • Wiretapping is defined as:  willfully commits an interception, attempts to commit an interception, or procures any other person to commit an interception or to attempt to commit an interception of any wire or oral communication shall be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the state prison for not more than five years, or imprisoned in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one half years, or both so fined and given one such imprisonment.
  • *Note* The term interception” means to secretly hear, secretly record, or aid another to secretly hear or secretly record the contents of any wire or oral communication through the use of any intercepting device by any person other than a person given prior authority by all parties to such communication; provided that it shall not constitute an interception for an investigative or law enforcement officer, as defined in this section, to record or transmit a wire or oral communication if the officer is a party to such communication or has been given prior authorization to record or transmit the communication by such a party and if recorded or transmitted in the course of an investigation of a designated offense as defined herein.

It’s “the victims” understanding, backed by statements given in discovery and previous rulings/cases throughout Massachusetts, that the wiretapping law of Massachusetts is intended to prevent, or deter, individuals from recording one another in secret, without the consent of all parties involved. Further more, the wiretapping law is not relevant to public officials who are conducting their ‘public’ duties (see attached documents). The Constitution of the United States clarifies this with the first amendment, asserting one’s right to freedom of the press, but one could also argue that individuals have no expectation of privacy while in public space/buildings, especially public employees.

Therefore, since there is no law against “openly recording” anybody in public spaces (including jail lobbies) or recordings where all parties present are aware (see officer reports) of such recording the charges should be dismissed (see attachments).

Not only were “the victims” openly recording the events but they had lengthy discussions with several Franklin Co Sheriffs and Todd M. Dodge of the Greenfield Police Department about the recording. Which means all parties involved knew they were being recorded and voluntarily remained within the radius of “the victims” recording equipment (cameras).

“The victims” are asking the court to view the security footage, provided by the District Attorney’s Office, from the jail on July 1st, 2010. The recording doesn’t show the whole incident but it does prove that “the victims” we’re NOT SECRETLY recording on July 1st, 2010 at the Franklin Co Jail. Due to such clear and undeniable evidence “the victims” ask that the felony wiretapping charges (MA statute 272.99-F-O) be dismissed and a letter of apology be issued to “the victims.”

Attachments:

Tagged Statements within Glik Motion: (*NOTE – 1.1 is a reference to our notes and won’t be seen on the link above*)

  • 1.1 – Argued successfully, via Commonwealth v. Hyde, that the wiretapping law of Massachusetts’s is intended for ‘secretive and intentional’ recordings.’
  • 1.2 – States that “there is no indication that the defendant’s actions and words were ‘secret’ or otherwise known as defining Plain Sight. This also applies to “the victims” case today.
  • 1.3 – Further rulings and case law about plain view and interception, as defined by MA law.
  • 1.4 – Argues police discomfort, which is all that took place on July 1st, 2010, does not make a lawful exercise of a First Amendment right a crime.

Cloaking Police Misconduct in Privacy: Why the Massachusetts Anti-Wiretapping Statute Should Allow for the Surreptitious Recording of Police Officers

by Lisa A. Skehill (Attachment B)

Tagged Statements: (*NOTE* – I’ve changed the points to reflect the footnotes to the above link. Example 22 & 23 are footnotes to the above link)

  • 22 & 23 – Preventing Oversight for Police Misconduct and Plain Sight
  • 26 – MA v. Wright, stating most cameras are equipped with both video and audio.
  • 28 – Glik Dismissal – openly recording
  • 31 – Hyde Ruling – no violation of wiretapping can exist if device is held in ‘plain view’
  • 34 – Police Incentive – police will claim they don’t know about recording opposed to disciplinary actions
  • 48 – Glik and First Amendment – Discomfort vs First Amendment right
  • 83 & 84 – Do officers have equal privacy rights?
  • 88, 89 & 90 – Two Prong Approach – Katz v. United States ,objective and subjective reasonableness
  • 91 & 92 – Privacy of Public officials – public officials have a lower standard of privacy
  • 126 & 128 – Benefits to Recording Police – invaluable to both citizens and officer, also provides clarity
  • 152 – Smith v. City of Cummings – recognizes the right of private citizens to record public officials on public property, like jails.
  • 153 – Filming maters of public interest – wiretapping does not apply to matters of public officials
  • 160 – Jean v. MA State Police – right to publish matters of public concern, such as police misconduct, outweighs any privacy rights of police officers
  • 172 – More Government Privacy – touches again on expectation of privacy of public officials
  • 183 – Hyde v. MA – Public Right to Record and Gather information
  • 196 – Right to Record – being of great importance to society as a means of accountability
  • 203 – True Purpose of Wiretapping – cites facts about true intention of law, as well as highlighting its reverse nature today. Wiretapping is becoming the shield and the sword today
  • 228 – Hidden Gem – Hyde decision states, “if Hyde had held his tape recorder in plain view, he would have been free from prosecution”
  • 230 – MA v. Glik – clarifies once an “officer realizes they’re being recorded, it appears consent is no longer required”
  • 237 – Nullify Wiretapping – Plain sight ultimately nullifies the anti-wiretapping
Officer Reports

Reports were provided by the state and are within the case file

Statements from law enforcement reports proving all parties had knowledge of recording:

  • Franklin Co Sheriff (FCS) Christopher Newbrough states, “The two makes were holding what appeared to be hand held camcorders and they appeared to be filming our conversation.”
  • FCS Brian Schindler stated, “Both individuals were holding camcorders with the viewers open as if they were recording.”
  • FCS Jordan Lehtomaki stated, “On 7-01-10 at 1800 hrs Officer Newbrough informed me that there were two male subjects with video cameras in the lobby reception here to bail Paul, Richard.”
  • FCS Leslie Troczynski said, “I noticed that both men were holding video cameras in their hands.”

All quotes and statements below are from Todd M Dodge’s report (ref 10-693-AR)

Dodge Reports found here – scroll down to Reports -Dodge 1, 2, 3 & 4

  • “Dispatcher Sinclair indicated that two males are reportedly wearing ‘Cop Block’ T-shits and are audio and video recording the events inside the lobby of the Sheriff’s Dept.”
  • “Capt. Schindler stated that his staff observed that they both were carrying audio/video recorders..”
  • “I observed that they (‘the victims’) were both carrying audio/video cameras..”
  • “Both stated backing away from me while still recording our interaction.”
  • “I observed that one of the males was also wearing a small recording device around his neck attached to a metal type necklace.”
  • “I explained to them that if they continued to refuse the Capt.’s requests that they would be placed under arrest for trespassing.”

*Note: In order to view the security video a DVD player and TV will need to be in court.*

(Authors Note: After completing this post I was notified that our motion will be heard on Tue, March 17th, 2010 at 9:00 am)

A CopBlock.org Breakdown

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

When I first started blogging at CopBlock.org, I would breakdown news articles about the police, asking the questions the newspapers always seem to miss, and pointing out the red flags and obvious lies within the reportage about the incident. Now that I’m no longer on the road doing Liberty On Tour (though the LoT Hitchhiker is currently active out there), I’m going to start doing so again.

This week’s CB.org Breakdown comes from the Concord Monitor, a daily newspaper based in the capitol of New Hampshire, and the way they covered the police shooting of a mentally ill man that occurred on March 2, 2011.

By Maddie HannaMonitor staff
March 3, 2011

Neighbors of the man killed in an officer-involved shooting last night in a Concord apartment building say he was mentally ill and became upset when the police served him paperwork yesterday afternoon.

The man, who neighbors identified as Wayne Martin, got upset at about 2:30 p.m. yesterday and started banging on doors in the 30-unit apartment building at 4 Garvins Falls Road, said residents Mark Small.

“It didn’t seem like he was in the right state of mind,” Small said.

So far, we know that everything was fine until the police served Martin with unknown paperwork. Why didn’t the reporter ask what the paperwork was for? If it was a summons or other court document, it most likely would be a matter of public record. Knowing what paperwork was served is a huge, but missing, piece of the puzzle. It could go a long way towards clarifying the reason for Mr. Martin’s behavior.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has not released the name of the victim or of the officers involved in the shooting, which investigators say happened around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Small said he then heard Martin get on the phone in his apartment, “talking to the disability office, the Social Security office, talking about blowing them up.”

This is typical police procedure, refusing to release the names of public servants who shoot and kill people. Whether it’s justified or not shouldn’t matter. The public has the immediate right to know who, what, when and where when it comes to the actions of all public servants — especially the police. If anyone else shot and killed someone, the suspect’s name, address and photo would be plastered everywhere, and heavily publicized until he or she was caught. Yet, when it comes to police, they are given a paid vacation, aka “administrative leave,” and told to lay low while they are investigated behind the blue wall of silence.

And please don’t jump to conclusions on the basis of the quote from Small here. For all we know, Martin was talking about “blowing up” the Social Security office’s phones, a slang term meaning “to call repeatedly,” and nothing violent at all. Or, it might be possible that Martin’s anger is being misunderstood.

Small said the police told residents they had to leave the building at 5:30 p.m. yesterday. Small said he came back at about 7 p.m. and saw officers outside Martin’s door. There was “a lot of shouting and yelling,” Small said, and Martin was “talking about how he’s not coming out.”

Another neighbor, John McNair, said he opened his door between 7 and 7:30 p.m. but police officers told him to stay in his apartment. Sometime later, McNair said he heard gunshots.

“To tell you the truth, it sounded like it was hitting my door,” he said.

When it grew quiet, McNair said he opened his door and saw a body on the ground. He said officers told him it was a crime scene and he needed to stay in his apartment. McNair said Martin was mentally ill and McNair believed he had not taken his medication this week.

Another neighbor, Paul Randall, said Martin, who lived alone, hadn’t been able to get his medication recently.

As of late this morning, residents are being allowed to come and go from the building and the State Police are still on the scene.

If Martin was off of his medication, then his actions, including shouting threats and pounding on doors, are at least explainable in that context. His anger could also be due to the government frequently changing his disability and social security plans. People who expected to live a higher quality of life after paying into these programs are starting to realize they aren’t getting what they paid for. This certainly doesn’t justify threatening to blow up buildings full of innocent people, but it is understandable that someone’s initial reaction to such constant frustration would be so overblown. We will never know whether the statement, “blowing them up” held any water, but even if it did, I doubt Mr. Martin was one of the few people who knew how to make a bomb, and could or would actually go through with building one and using it (to be fair, I did not actually know him). The truth is, we’ve all threatened to do something terrible we never had any intention of carrying out. Those kinds of flippant expressions of anger are a lot more common than those few people with the wherewithal to carry them out, despite what they tell you on TV.

Either way, five hours after the phone calls, police shot and killed Martin, presumably, in his doorway.

The police were at Martin’s apartment at 2:30 pm to serve him with unknown documents. Since they left, it’s safe to assume Martin required no futher police attention at that time. Yet, the police did return around 5:30 pm and told residents of the complex to leave, but no one knows why. Had there been a complaint? How many officers were on scene? What was the reason for asking residents to leave? What were the police there to do? Then from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm (approximately) an unknown number of police are on scene and Martin is inside his apartment. Were the police talking with Martin? What did they find out? Then sometime between 7pm and 7:30pm McNair, another resident of the complex states he opened his apartment door and saw a body on the floor — Martin’s. Why did Martin come to the door? Why weren’t less lethal weapons used? What threat did Martin pose to anyone? Unfortunately, we have no answers to these seemingly obvious questions.

My opinion here is that Mr. Martin was a victim of the system. The government had probably reduced his benefits, perhaps causing him to fall behind on his rent, which lead to an eviction notice, which the police served him with that afternoon. This understandably upset Mr. Martin, who had just had his state medical insurance reduced so much that he couldn’t get the medication he needed. When he called the “public servants” responsible, he was very angry and said some outlandish things — and likely as a matter of policy, the cops were called back out. At that point, Martin felt desperate and freaked out. He locked himself in his apartment, then at some point he decides to, or is talked into, going to the front door, where he’s even more freaked out by all the men pointing guns at him, and as a result, makes a “bad move” (which will most likely be the official justification for the shooting), and is fatally shot by the trigger happy cops.

While no one knows exactly what happened besides those who were present, even if the system didn’t set into motion a chain of events that ultimately lead to Martin’s death, there are still a whole lot of questions left to be answered. Police are supposed to “serve and protect” we, the people. Having a bad day, being mentally ill, or falling on hard times — even all three at the same time — most certainly does not warrant a summary execution at the hands of the very government officials supposedly tasked with protecting our safety. Does it?

Resisting arrest: guilty until proven innocent

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Cop Block has touched upon the fundamental unfairness of “Resisting Arrest” charges in the past, but it is a problem that warrants continued vigilance.

There will always be goons who justify all kinds of abuse and violence by police under the mantra of “the law is the law!” but most reasonable people (those who aren’t fascists, communists or police-state lovers) are at least somewhat disturbed that an individual can be arrested and jailed for committing no crime, except that of refusing to submit to illegitimate arrest.

While people erroneously believe that “Resisting Arrest” applies only when an officer is apprehending a criminal, this simply is not the case. Resisting arrest charges essentially are a blank check to police to arrest anyone they please; a crime need not have been committed in order for police to undertake arrest. For example, New Jersey’s statute provides as follows:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (3), a  person is guilty of a disorderly persons offense if he purposely prevents or attempts to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (3), a person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if he, by flight, purposely prevents or attempts to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest.

(3) An offense under paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection a. is a crime of the third degree if the person:

(a)Uses or threatens to use physical force or violence against the law enforcement officer or another; or
(b)Uses any other means to create a substantial risk of causing physical injury to the public servant or another.

It is not a defense to a prosecution under this subsection that the law enforcement officer was acting unlawfully in making the arrest, provided he was acting under color of his official authority and provided the law enforcement officer announces his intention to arrest prior to the resistance.

New Jersey’s law is not out of the ordinary for such laws. It grants police officers broad authority to arrest whomever they want, whenever they want, as long as they “announce[d]…intention to arrest prior to the resistance.” So whatever they say, goes. Even if you are a completely innocent person, if you attempt to challenge your arrest, you will be guilty of resisting arrest. If you run, you will be guilty of resisting arrest. And, if god forbid you use violence to fend off a violent officer acting unlawfully, you will most certainly be guilty of resisting arrest in the third degree.

Innocent until proven guilty has not existed in this country in a long, long time. Almost all the states have such laws, with the exception of a handful – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Even these states are slowly whittling away at the liberties that remain. The police can arrest an individual for any reason, or no reason at all, and it is up to the individual to resolve the charges against them. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a shameless sham perpetuated by law enforcement, believed only by the blind and the foolish.

The reason such laws have repeatedly been upheld by courts is because people in government (judges) believe the police are of a higher order of human beings than everyone else, or because judges are stupid. The explanation is probably the former, as people in the American government frequently and undeniably behave like cronies, aristocrats, and other other members of higher eschelons in a caste system. Judges decided to give themselves absolute civil immunity from damages regardless of what kind of terrible behavior they engage in. Their prosecutor friends also have absolute immunity for a wide variety of abuses they may commit. So while the rest of the peons in America are held accountable or punished for their negligent, reckless or malicious actions, this simply is not the case if you are a privileged member of the elite class of government cronies. They are exempt from morality.

I do not call them cronies or idiots out of mere malice or vitriol. I say this because after examining the case law, the judges would truly have to be dim-witted to actually believe what they say. The only plausible explanation is they granted such broad powers to police simply because they wanted to – and their reasons are just empty drivel they (offensively) hoped the public would be docile enough to accept.

In one case establishing the Resisting Arrest charge, State of New Jersey v. Koonce, the New Jersey Court cited to the esteemed American Law Institute in justifying such a charge, “[T]here ought not be a privilege to employ force against a public officer… It should be possible to provide adequate remedies against illegal arrest, without permitting the arrested person to resort to force — a course of action highly likely to result in greater injury to himself than the detention” [State of New Jersey v. Koonce (1965) 214 A. 2d 428]. The reasoning here is that if an innocent person resists a wrongful police officer, the police officer will likely injure him in a manner much more severe than detention. As such, the innocent person should simply be forced to submit to incarceration for his own safety. The lack of logic, and implied support for a police state is truly baffling. Why is it that the court’s solution is not to punish the officer who acts illegally, but to incarcerate the innocent person, allegedly for his own protection? Are we really expected to believe this nonsense?

The scenario of wrongful arrest is simple – there is an innocent victim, and a law-breaking police officer. To say the innocent individual must endure incarceration because the morally and legally unjustified officer might injure him is both irrational and offensive to any idea of human dignity. This would be much like saying that since women who are being raped may be killed if they resist, that the law should forbid them from resisting for their own “protection,” while the rapists should be free to do as they please. The answer is not to forbid women from resisting rape; the answer is to punish the rapists. Similarly with wrongful arrest, the answer is not to force the innocent people to submit to incarceration, the answer is to punish the criminal police officer who acted beyond the scope of the law.

The court also cited to the Uniform Arrest Act’s justifications for Resisting Arrest charges, one of which was as follows – “the fate of today’s arrestee is usually a few hours in a reasonably clean place of detention rather than the probable consequences awaiting the arrestee of yore.” This kind of reasoning would be very similar, and indeed logically identical, to saying that minorities should not be allowed to retaliate against Ku Klux Klan mob beatings, because beatings are not nearly as bad as the killing or lynching the Ku Klux Klan used to do.

Once again, in case these judges had forgotten (or more likely purposely avoided), the issue at hand is that of unlawful arrest. Even if one subscribes to the idea that police are superior human beings, bestowed with perfect judgment and deserving of special rules, the circumstance of unlawful arrest is necessarily one involving a law-breaking police officer initiating aggression upon an innocent person. Only the most authoritarian and absurd people should contend the rights and safety of law-breaking officers should prevail over that of non-police innocent people. In the situation where a law-breaking police officer arrests an innocent individual who resists, and the officer furthers his already atrocious behavior by drawing a gun, the innocent person absolutely should have the right to draw a gun in retaliation. In this type of scenario, it is the officer’s fault at every juncture of the interaction – initiation of wrongful contact, attempting unlawful arrest, and then employing deadly force to coerce wrongful arrest. The court absurdly expects us to believe that police should have the right to proceed in this manner without facing physical retaliation – and that this is for our protection.

The court continues its opinion with some more drivel about how putting innocent people in jail would prevent police officers from shooting them, and such measures would surely further personal liberties (do you think I’m kidding? Go read the decision for yourself).

If you think these laws are merely a harmless loophole that results in relatively minor civil liberties incursions, you are wrong. A few cases documented by William Grigg on Pro Libertate describe horrendous uses of this New Jersey statute by police. Ronnie Holloway was standing on a street corner near a restaurant when a patrol vehicle approached. The video from the restaurant’s cameras shows Mr. Holloway doing nothing more than standing on a street corner. Within seconds of the patrol car’s approach, Officer Joseph Rios sprints from the driver’s seat, and viciously beats Mr. Holloway for no apparent reason. Mr. Holloway did not appear to fight back or resist in any manner to Rios’s violent attack. Rios claimed he took action because Mr. Holloway had “verbally challenged” him, and the victim was subsequently charged with Resisting Arrest, among other bogus charges.

Rios lamely, and disingenuously defended his own actions with the usual “the law is the law!” garbage, stating “I did what I was trained to do under circumstances that existed at that time. I stand by my actions.” (Read – if he was trained to eat fetuses, murder children or boil kittens alive, he would do that too, “under the circumstances”).

Another horrifying incident involved Keith Briscoe, a man suffering from Schizophrenia, who ended up dead because of this law. According to Pro Libertate, Officer Sean Richards admitted after the incident that Briscoe had not done anything warranting arrest. Richards approached Mr. Briscoe and demanded to know who he was and what he was doing. According to another article, Richards attempted to arrest Briscoe after he refused to leave. Mr. Briscoe was maced several times, and beaten. On top of that, bystanders who weren’t entirely sure of what was going on decided to take the side of police and joined in on the beating. Mr. Briscoe ended up dead because he refused to leave the sidewalk.

It’s possible I gave the New Jersey judges too little credit. If these violent bystanders who joined in beating a man to death simply because the police were doing it are representative of people in New Jersey, I suppose they’d be the same type to buy the court’s poor justifications for granting police broad arrest powers, hook, line and sinker.

It seems New Jersey has had more than its fair share of police corruption lately. For another story on corruption involving a wife-beating NJ cop, read here.

Resisting arrest: guilty until proven innocent

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Cop Block has touched upon the fundamental unfairness of “Resisting Arrest” charges in the past, but it is a problem that warrants continued vigilance.

There will always be goons who justify all kinds of abuse and violence by police under the mantra of “the law is the law!” but most reasonable people (those who aren’t fascists, communists or police-state lovers) are at least somewhat disturbed that an individual can be arrested and jailed for committing no crime, except that of refusing to submit to illegitimate arrest.

While people erroneously believe that “Resisting Arrest” applies only when an officer is apprehending a criminal, this simply is not the case. Resisting arrest charges essentially are a blank check to police to arrest anyone they please; a crime need not have been committed in order for police to undertake arrest. For example, New Jersey’s statute provides as follows:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (3), a  person is guilty of a disorderly persons offense if he purposely prevents or attempts to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (3), a person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if he, by flight, purposely prevents or attempts to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest.

(3) An offense under paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection a. is a crime of the third degree if the person:

(a)Uses or threatens to use physical force or violence against the law enforcement officer or another; or
(b)Uses any other means to create a substantial risk of causing physical injury to the public servant or another.

It is not a defense to a prosecution under this subsection that the law enforcement officer was acting unlawfully in making the arrest, provided he was acting under color of his official authority and provided the law enforcement officer announces his intention to arrest prior to the resistance.

New Jersey’s law is not out of the ordinary for such laws. It grants police officers broad authority to arrest whomever they want, whenever they want, as long as they “announce[d]…intention to arrest prior to the resistance.” So whatever they say, goes. Even if you are a completely innocent person, if you attempt to challenge your arrest, you will be guilty of resisting arrest. If you run, you will be guilty of resisting arrest. And, if god forbid you use violence to fend off a violent officer acting unlawfully, you will most certainly be guilty of resisting arrest in the third degree.

Innocent until proven guilty has not existed in this country in a long, long time. Almost all the states have such laws, with the exception of a handful – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Even these states are slowly whittling away at the liberties that remain. The police can arrest an individual for any reason, or no reason at all, and it is up to the individual to resolve the charges against them. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a shameless sham perpetuated by law enforcement, believed only by the blind and the foolish.

The reason such laws have repeatedly been upheld by courts is because people in government (judges) believe the police are of a higher order of human beings than everyone else, or because judges are stupid. The explanation is probably the former, as people in the American government frequently and undeniably behave like cronies, aristocrats, and other other members of higher eschelons in a caste system. Judges decided to give themselves absolute civil immunity from damages regardless of what kind of terrible behavior they engage in. Their prosecutor friends also have absolute immunity for a wide variety of abuses they may commit. So while the rest of the peons in America are held accountable or punished for their negligent, reckless or malicious actions, this simply is not the case if you are a privileged member of the elite class of government cronies. They are exempt from morality.

I do not call them cronies or idiots out of mere malice or vitriol. I say this because after examining the case law, the judges would truly have to be dim-witted to actually believe what they say. The only plausible explanation is they granted such broad powers to police simply because they wanted to – and their reasons are just empty drivel they (offensively) hoped the public would be docile enough to accept.

In one case establishing the Resisting Arrest charge, State of New Jersey v. Koonce, the New Jersey Court cited to the esteemed American Law Institute in justifying such a charge, “[T]here ought not be a privilege to employ force against a public officer… It should be possible to provide adequate remedies against illegal arrest, without permitting the arrested person to resort to force — a course of action highly likely to result in greater injury to himself than the detention” [State of New Jersey v. Koonce (1965) 214 A. 2d 428]. The reasoning here is that if an innocent person resists a wrongful police officer, the police officer will likely injure him in a manner much more severe than detention. As such, the innocent person should simply be forced to submit to incarceration for his own safety. The lack of logic, and implied support for a police state is truly baffling. Why is it that the court’s solution is not to punish the officer who acts illegally, but to incarcerate the innocent person, allegedly for his own protection? Are we really expected to believe this nonsense?

The scenario of wrongful arrest is simple – there is an innocent victim, and a law-breaking police officer. To say the innocent individual must endure incarceration because the morally and legally unjustified officer might injure him is both irrational and offensive to any idea of human dignity. This would be much like saying that since women who are being raped may be killed if they resist, that the law should forbid them from resisting for their own “protection,” while the rapists should be free to do as they please. The answer is not to forbid women from resisting rape; the answer is to punish the rapists. Similarly with wrongful arrest, the answer is not to force the innocent people to submit to incarceration, the answer is to punish the criminal police officer who acted beyond the scope of the law.

The court also cited to the Uniform Arrest Act’s justifications for Resisting Arrest charges, one of which was as follows – “the fate of today’s arrestee is usually a few hours in a reasonably clean place of detention rather than the probable consequences awaiting the arrestee of yore.” This kind of reasoning would be very similar, and indeed logically identical, to saying that minorities should not be allowed to retaliate against Ku Klux Klan mob beatings, because beatings are not nearly as bad as the killing or lynching the Ku Klux Klan used to do.

Once again, in case these judges had forgotten (or more likely purposely avoided), the issue at hand is that of unlawful arrest. Even if one subscribes to the idea that police are superior human beings, bestowed with perfect judgment and deserving of special rules, the circumstance of unlawful arrest is necessarily one involving a law-breaking police officer initiating aggression upon an innocent person. Only the most authoritarian and absurd people should contend the rights and safety of law-breaking officers should prevail over that of non-police innocent people. In the situation where a law-breaking police officer arrests an innocent individual who resists, and the officer furthers his already atrocious behavior by drawing a gun, the innocent person absolutely should have the right to draw a gun in retaliation. In this type of scenario, it is the officer’s fault at every juncture of the interaction – initiation of wrongful contact, attempting unlawful arrest, and then employing deadly force to coerce wrongful arrest. The court absurdly expects us to believe that police should have the right to proceed in this manner without facing physical retaliation – and that this is for our protection.

The court continues its opinion with some more drivel about how putting innocent people in jail would prevent police officers from shooting them, and such measures would surely further personal liberties (do you think I’m kidding? Go read the decision for yourself).

If you think these laws are merely a harmless loophole that results in relatively minor civil liberties incursions, you are wrong. A few cases documented by William Grigg on Pro Libertate describe horrendous uses of this New Jersey statute by police. Ronnie Holloway was standing on a street corner near a restaurant when a patrol vehicle approached. The video from the restaurant’s cameras shows Mr. Holloway doing nothing more than standing on a street corner. Within seconds of the patrol car’s approach, Officer Joseph Rios sprints from the driver’s seat, and viciously beats Mr. Holloway for no apparent reason. Mr. Holloway did not appear to fight back or resist in any manner to Rios’s violent attack. Rios claimed he took action because Mr. Holloway had “verbally challenged” him, and the victim was subsequently charged with Resisting Arrest, among other bogus charges.

Rios lamely, and disingenuously defended his own actions with the usual “the law is the law!” garbage, stating “I did what I was trained to do under circumstances that existed at that time. I stand by my actions.” (Read: if he was trained to eat fetuses, murder children or boil kittens alive, he would do that too, “under the circumstances.”)

Another horrifying incident involved Keith Briscoe, a man suffering from Schizophrenia, who ended up dead because of this law. According to Pro Libertate, Officer Sean Richards admitted after the incident that Briscoe had not done anything warranting arrest. Richards approached Mr. Briscoe and demanded to know who he was and what he was doing. According to another article, Richards attempted to arrest Briscoe after he refused to leave. Mr. Briscoe was maced several times, and beaten. On top of that, bystanders who weren’t entirely sure of what was going on decided to take the side of police and joined in on the beating. Mr. Briscoe ended up dead because he refused to leave the sidewalk.

It’s possible I gave the New Jersey judges too little credit. If these violent bystanders who joined in beating a man to death simply because the police were doing it are representative of people in New Jersey, I suppose they’d be the same type to buy the court’s poor justifications for granting police broad arrest powers, hook, line and sinker.

It seems New Jersey has had more than its fair share of police corruption lately. For another story on corruption involving a wife-beating NJ cop, read here.

Police wrongly visit house 80 times

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

When police raid innocent homeowners, the police often claim that such raids are “isolated incidents.” Sure, it’s horrible when men-in-black kick down an innocent person’s door in the middle of the night, toss deadly flashbang grenades inside, scream at the occupants, throw them to the ground at gunpoint, and ransack their home, but we shouldn’t get to worked up about this sort of thing because it’s just so damn rare, right?

Reading the story of Walter and Rose Martin should give you doubts. The Martins, an elderly, law-abiding couple living in Brooklyn, were visited by the New York City Police Department at least 50 times over the course of 8 years. The Martins were never the victims of a full-blown no-knock raid, but their story shows how much effort police put into ensuring the integrity of their search warrants.

Apparently, the address of Walter and Rose Martin’s Brooklyn home was used to test a department-wide computer system in 2002.

What followed was years of cops appearing at the Martins’ door looking for murderers, robbers and rapists – as often as three times a week.

After the Daily News exclusively reported on the couple’s plague of police raids [on March 18th, 2010], apologetic detectives from the NYPD’s Identity Theft Squad showed up at their home.

Rose Martin, 82, said they told her Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered them to solve the puzzle – stat.

By the end of the day, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the snafu was traced to a 2002 computer test, though he couldn’t explain why the couple’s address was used as a test case in the first place.

He said that when the Martins complained to cops in 2007 about their scary series of official doorknocks, police tried to wipe their address from the system.

But the raids continued. The most recent, on Tuesday, left 83-year-old World War II vet Walter Martin woozy from soaring blood pressure.

Investigators found [on March 18th, 2010] that not every computer file bearing the Martin’s address was deleted.

“It wasn’t supposed to stay in [the system],” Browne said. “It’s been removed.”

In order to be “doubly cautious” in the future, Browne said cops have flagged the Martin’s address so no officer will be dispatched to the home without double-checking the address.

A skeptical Rose Martin asked the department to write her an official letter, dubious that such a long-standing problem could be fixed in a day.

“It seems like too simple a correction for something that has been going on for eight years,” she said.

– Kate Nocera and John Lauinger, “Computer snafu is behind at least 50 ‘raids’ on Brooklyn couple’s home” (March 19th, 2010), Daily News

The story gets weirder. Apparently the police visits to the Martins’ residence started before the Martins even moved into the house. In fact, the reason the previous owner sold the house to the Martins in 1997 is that he was wrongly visited about 30 times between 1994 and 1997 despite filing numerous complaints and was so freaked out that he decided to leave town.

Of course, none of the police who participated in this lengthy campaign of harassment will ever spend a second behind bars or have to pay even a cent of damages to the people they terrorized. Perhaps that’s why they felt comfortable ignoring all the complaints filed against them and using their lame “computer glitch” excuse — which doesn’t even begin to make sense — to explain away their own thuggishness and incompetence.

Police Stories Are Welcome at CopBlock.org

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Recently, we’ve had several readers post their own thoughts and videos of police encounters here at CopBlock.org, a click on the Submitted Writings categories will take you to them. Check out this video by Nick, who just had his story published at CopBlock.org last week.

While the main focus of our site is to bring awareness to the many difficult law enforcement issues facing us today, CopBlock.org can go a step further and highlight how the policing problem is a product of the government’s monopoly on force. For those who are aware of the police state we’re up against, this would be a monstrous task for even a large group of dedicated activists. And, while we are dedicated, we are not large.

So how do we become that large group, with eyes and ears all over the world? With your help, of course.

As I mentioned above, people often send us stories, mostly links about misconduct or abuse in their local police departments. I used to use this as a way to find content to blog about, but these days there are so many emails, it’s to the point where I can barely keep up. That’s why I started asking people who send in stories to write the blog posts themselves. I’m asking the authors of these submissions to share their thoughts about the article or video, and then send them (along with relevant links or images) to us via this form, which can also be found on the “Join Us” page, linked in the navigation bar at the top of our page, or contact us at the email address below. We’re interested in hearing from you, especially if you’d like to speak out about your own personal encounters with the police, sheriff’s deputies, TSA agents or any other law enforcement officer (LEO), at any level of government.

If we use Cop Block as a tool to share our personal experiences and perspectives on news stories about the police and other LEO’s, then with nothing more than our computers and, at times, a camera, we can start to generate some awareness. That awareness is the first step toward separating the state from the provision of security services, ending their coercive monopoly, and restoring our freedom to choose our own means of protection, rather than being forced to take the government “option.”

So, if you have been a victim of police abuse yourself, please consider sharing that experience here. If you see a story online or in your local newspaper about law enforcement corruption or misconduct that bothers you, send us a few paragraphs telling us why their actions are upsetting for you. Or if you really want to get some accountability, consider filming the police. Video cameras are the best tool we now have to ensure that abusive LEO’s are held responsible for their actions – let’s make good use of them.

With the already awesome CopBlock team and your submitted writings, CopBlock.org could become the most diverse and comprehensive police blog on the planet!

And, you just might save a life in the process.

Send story submissions to copblock[at]gmail[dot]com

The Blue Wall of Silence

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Dallas Police Officer, Quaitemes Williams, has been fired and charged with misdemeanor official oppression for kicking and macing a handcuffed suspect. Williams and another officer, Edward Cruz-Done struggled to take Rodarick Dasean Lyles into custody for the “crime” of having a suspended license. During that struggle Lyles fell onto Williams’ arm, causing Williams to become angry. As a result of his anger Williams maced and then kicked Lyles in the head. Officer Ricky Upshaw witnessed Williams’ attack on Lyles as he drove up on the scene. It was Upshaw who reported Williams to supervisors.

Speaking of Upshaw’s whistle-blowing, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said “One of the things that I really want to express about Officer Upshaw’s action is that we should not as a department ostracize him in any way. We should applaud him for coming forward, him intervening.” While I am thrilled that Chief Brown is speaking out in support of Upshaw (publicly at least), I find it very telling that there is even a need for him to do so. The “Blue Wall of Silence” is so ingrained into the institution of policing that the chief of a police department has to make a point to remind officers not to ostracize another officer for reporting the crime of another officer.

The support Upshaw received from his chief is a far cry from the experience of Ellaville Georgia Police Officer, Joseph Sosnovik. He found out the hard way what can happen to police “snitches” when he was fired for reporting a fellow officer that inappropriately touched a woman that was riding in his police cruiser. The acting police chief, Charles Pine, tried to get Sosnovik to keep quiet, telling him that “this stuff need to be over with.” Pines warned Sosnovik that he would be fired in he continued to pursue the matter. “He told me, that if I pursued questions or pursued anything or any other type of incident on this or documentation, that I’d lose my job. He continued to say that I would lose my job if I continued to ask questions.”

Radley Balko’s column “Why Cops Aren’t Whistleblower’s” from the February issue of Reason tells of other stories of police officers enduring the wrath of other officers when they come forward to report misconduct. Kansas City Police Officer, Max Seifert, was forced into early retirement, losing part of his pension and health benefits, when he refused to participate and even fought against the attempted cover-up of the beating of Barron Bowling by DEA agent Timothy McCue. Bowling was awarding $830,000 for the beating he endured. The judge in Bowling’s lawsuit acknowledged the mistreatment that Seifert endured to bring Bowling’s beating to light saying that Seifert was “shunned, subjected to gossip and defamation by his police colleagues, and treated as a pariah. The way Seifert was treated was shameful.”

Balko also tells the story of New York City police whistle-blower Adrian Schoolcraft. It was Schoolcraft who brought attention to the quota and crime statistics data manipulation going on in the NYC Police Department. For his trouble he was raided by a SWAT team and taken to a psychiatric hospital for six days against his will.

As long as the Blue Wall of Silence stands, the “few bad apples” argument is irrelevant. It does not matter how many “bad cops” there are if “good cops” refuse to come forward and report misconduct. If accountability for police officers is to be achieved we will need more officers like Upshaw, Sosenik, Seifert, and Schoolcraft.

Greenfield Chief Responds to My Fax — Ten Weeks Later

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

On December 7th I sent a fax to five offices in Greenfield, MA demanding the return of my and Ademo’s property that was stolen from us by Todd M. Dodge and his colleagues at the Greenfield Police Department on July 1st, 2010. [For more on this incident please see this link.]

I heard nothing from these “public servants.”

Two days ago I saw “chief” David F. Guilbault at a Greenfield Public Safety Meeting (more on that soon from Ademo). I asked Guilbault why he never responded to my fax. He claimed he had. I said that I was sorry if I was mistaken, but to the best of my knowledge that wasn’t the case. Yesterday he sent me the following:

It’s classic bureaucracy – no one is responsible. Everyone is just “doing their job.”

Further, to address Guilbault’s second point the “counsel” (“standby counsel”) was assigned by the judge. Admeo and I both strongly objected. I even noted that “it makes me feel like a ward of the State” (start video at 6:00).

I thought we were innocent until proven guilty? Hopefully some of those in Greenfield who live off the productive work of area residents do what’s right and make their victims whole.