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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Police Misconduct and Brutality…Again

Why is it the police in Florida can arrest a black man at his job 258 times for being at work…

And can’t get a murderer like George Zimmerman off the street and not pulling guns on women?

In the second incident this week to make the news concerning racial profiling, police abuse, and brutality – “Get Tough on Crime” laws have turned into a mechanism of racial harassment and brutality. The first incident (or more properly series of incidents) were in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where officers harassed, beat, and videotaped black men they accosted on the street, threatening them with arrest if they didn’t sing or dance on video for the officers amusement. A series of videos uncovered by local paper posted at a local Police internal message board, by the Motor City Muckraker, show black men in the town being stopped and harassed by police, and forced under threat of beating or arrest to sing or make animal sounds.

 

 

The case in Miami Gardens, Florida is even more vicious.  A local store owner, tired of having his employees and customers summarily harassed and arrested by Miami Gardens Police, while doing nothing more nefarious than taking the trash out, minding the store, or purchasing a Lottery Ticket,  installed a video surveillance system. What the videos show is Miami Gardens Police harassing, arresting, and using force to arrest people on manufactured grounds over a year.

Here, a store employee (Earl Sampson) taking out the trash is arrested for “trespassing”…

Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years.

He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times.

Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana.

Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.

Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens.

But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.

So how can he be trespassing when he works there?

Earl stocking the shelves…And arrested for trespassing…

Now admittedly Miami Gardens has a crime problem. It is a poor area, and robberies and shootings are not uncommon. However, it is hard to see how arresting law abiding citizens on trumped up charges, while they are at work – is doing anything to stop the serious crime problems.

How “Zero Tolerance” Policing Helped Bad Cops in Florida Create a Civil Rights Nightmare

The Miami Herald has published a stunning, maddening story about alleged persistent police harassment of blacks in the city of Miami Gardens, Fla. (You should read the entire Heraldstory; it will raise your blood pressure and ruin your weekend, but you should still read it.) For years, police would come to a convenience store in a transitional neighborhood and hassle black customers and employees in the name of proactive crime prevention—regularly citing and arresting men for loitering or trespassing, even when they weren’t.

One man, an employee of the store, was “stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years,” with almost all of these incidents happening on store premises. He was arrested 62 times for trespassing, and, again, these were arrests for being on the grounds of the store where he was employed. These incidents and others were recorded by video cameras installed by the store’s owner for the express purpose of documenting police misconduct:

The videos show, among other things, cops stopping citizens, questioning them, aggressively searching them and arresting them for trespassing when they have permission to be on the premises; officers conducting searches of Saleh’s business without search warrants or permission; using what appears to be excessive force on subjects who are clearly not resisting arrest and filing inaccurate police reports in connection with the arrests.

The harassment continued even after the store’s owner asked the cops to leave him and his employees alone. Since then, the store’s owner has reported police harassment of his own. “I ’m going to get you mother-f—–,” he says one cop told him during an allegedly gratuitous traffic stop.

How does something like this happen? Blame it on endemic racism, yes, and on bad apples in the police department—but also blame it on a short-sighted local crime-reduction policy that, in retrospect, was always, always ripe for abuse. The convenience store incidents began when police convinced the store’s owner to enroll in the department’s “Zero Tolerance Zone” program. In Miami Gardens, when a shop becomes a Zero Tolerance Zone, the owner signs an affidavit authorizing the police to enter the premises when the owner is absent and question, eject, and/or arrest all those whom they suspect of being up to no good. The website of the Miami Gardens Police Department notes that the program is “designed to reduce the number of individuals who are sometimes seen trespassing and loitering on private property without legitimate business.”

Miami Gardens does have a serious crime problem—murders there have “more than doubled” in recent years, says the Herald—and, in theory, this program is meant to address that problem by keeping potential malefactors on their toes and off the streets. In practice—at this one convenience store, at least—by authorizing police to act in the owner’s stead, the “Zero Tolerance Zone” just made it easier for bad cops to abuse power.

The fact that Miami Gardens police kept arresting that one particular employee even after it was very clear that he worked at the store is baffling, and obviously indicates that more was going on here than simple overzealousness. But the alleged police misbehavior is rooted in the idea that cities can keep their streets safer by keeping poor black men off of them, and that it’s up to an individual cop’s discretion to determine what sort of behavior is and is not appropriate.

The “Zero Tolerance Zone” initiative sounds similar to the controversial stop-and-frisk programs that have been deployed in New York and other cities, where police officers are encouraged to routinely stop and question people on slim grounds—“suspicious behavior” is a favorite excuse—in hopes of seizing guns and drugs and stopping crime before it starts. In both programs, cops have been accused of routinely exceeding their authority against people who have no real means of stopping them from doing so. Inevitably, the people being stopped and questioned are minority residents of crime-ridden areas—police have no incentive to deploy these tactics in rich white neighborhoods with minimal street crime. Inevitably, when cops are authorized to engage in this sort of proactive policing, some cops will overdo it, and trample citizens’ civil rights in the process.

This all comes down to the goddamn stupid, silly, racist “broken windows” theory of crime prevention that encourages police to treat the symptoms in hopes of curing the disease. This doesn’t work in medicine or crime prevention. “Broken windows” theorizes that disorderly neighborhoods invite criminal behavior, and that cracking down on quality-of-life violations can make neighborhoods safer. But while taking a hard line on public disorder might make the streets cleaner, there is little evidencethat the strategy is an effective way to reduce crime. (Broken-windows policing was most famously applied in New York during the Giuliani administration, but the decline in the city’s crime rate during that timespan probably had more to do with the end of the crack epidemic than with the NYPD taking a hard line on jaywalking.)

More broadly, there will always be crime in poor neighborhoods as long as these neighborhoods lack good jobs, good schools, good mental health resources, and other things that truly help make neighborhoods stable. Thinking you can stop crime by ticketing loiterers (or manufacturing bogus charges against people who look like loiterers) is the sort of willfully obtuse policymaking favored by shortsighted, indifferent leaders who value appearances over results. As a long-term crime-prevention strategy, broken windows is intellectually bankrupt; as a short-term strategy, it is a recipe for civil rights abuses. If the allegations are true, the Miami Gardens story makes this all painfully clear.

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Duke Rape Accuser – Crystal Magnum Convicted of Murder

The woman who was at the center of the firestorm caused by her false accusation of 3 Duke University Lacrosse players having raped her, has been convicted of murder in the stabbing death of her boyfriend…

 

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Domestic terrorism

 

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Civil Rights Leaders Remember JFK

The Belafonte TV Ad

Andrew Young Remembers JFK and MLK’s sorrow at hearing Kennedy had been assasinated –

John Lewis’ remembrance –

 

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Black History, Domestic terrorism

 

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More Baltimore Jail Indictments

This one is going to be a movie. What has been going on in the Baltimore Detention Center – and perhaps other Jails in the State of Maryland is unbelievable. The inmates truly were running the prison…

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in American Greed, Domestic terrorism

 

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SJSU – Hate Crime on Campus As Student Abused

Read this one with a bit of disbelief at first.  Then, I thought about it. This is the logical outgrowth of the racist policies promoted by Ward Connerly, and the Prop 209 he promoted.

Although highly criticized by conservative whites, one of the functions of the Black Student Union back in the 60’s and 70’s was self protection. White conservatives didn’t like the idea that they couldn’t just round up a few of their neo-confederate buddies and beat the hell out of some black kid, without winding up in a donnybrook. The segregated California University system has apparently put that type of behavior back in play.

San Jose State students accused of tormenting black roommate are charged with hate crimes

First, his white roommates nicknamed him “Three-fifths,” referring to the way the government once counted blacks as just a fraction of a person. When he protested, they dubbed him “Fraction.”

Then they outfitted the four-bedroom dormitory suite they shared with a Confederate flag. They locked him in his room. They wrote the “N-word” on a dry-erase board in the living room. They fastened a bicycle lock around his neck and told him they lost the keys, then tried it again a few weeks later.

It may sound like something out of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. But police reports indicate it happened last month in the Obama era to a black student at San Jose State University, a liberal campus boasting statues of Olympic athletes making a black power salute.

Late Wednesday, prosecutors filed misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges against three of the student’s roommates over the alleged hazing, which has sparked anger in the community and on the diverse campus. The men are Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield; Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis; and Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre (Marin County).

“This is outrageous,” said the Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP. “This form of bullying cannot be tolerated.”

The students were not available for comment and it was unclear late Wednesday whether they had legal representation. They could face penalties ranging from probation to a year in jail if convicted, as well as university discipline.

University spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris said the incident is still under investigation, and no decision has been made yet on whether the students will be sanctioned.

The alleged harassment began in late August when the freshman and seven other young white men — all assigned to live together — moved into the four-bedroom, on-campus suite. Eight weeks later, in mid-October, the freshman’s parents noticed a Confederate flag draped over a cardboard cutout of Elvis in the living room of the suite and a dry-erase board with the “N-word” scrawled on it, and reported it via housing officials to campus police. Two of the young men were immediately transferred to a different dorm.

But at least two residential assistants were aware before then that one of the roommates had tacked a Confederate flag to a bedroom window. They asked the young men to take it down “so it could not be seen by the general public,” but did not investigate any further, according to university police reports and campus-housing department memos.

The freshman, now 18, said in a brief telephone interview that he’s never experienced this kind of mistreatment, even though he was one of only a few black students at his high school in Santa Cruz. This newspaper is not naming him at his parents’ request because of the ongoing campus investigation.

“I’m still in shock,” he said, noting he tried not to spend much time in the suite and didn’t report the situation to campus police in hopes the conduct would stop. “I tried not to dwell on this. But my family is upset and I’m upset.”

He told university police he always locked his door at night because he was scared of most of the other students living in the four-bedroom suite. He also didn’t feel safe studying in his own room and believes his grades weren’t as good as they could be as a result.

The young men acknowledged during police interviews that they incessantly harassed the then-17-year-old, according to the reports. But they downplayed the incidents as mere “pranks” and “jokes,” denying their actions were racist.

University police, however, recommended that District Attorney Jeff Rosen file the case as a hate crime.

Prosecutor Erin West emphatically agreed, saying, “The District Attorney’s Office has no tolerance for those who criminally prey on others because they are different.”

Police reports, separate documents prepared by housing officials and photographs document the freshman’s ordeal. The events allegedly occurred after everyone in the suite attended a two-day orientation session this past summer that included sensitivity training.

After the nicknames, there followed a series of coercive incidents, including barring the freshman’s bedroom door with furniture several times to prevent him from coming out.

The first time they wrestled him to the ground, they succeeded in getting the metal bike lock around his neck, the suspects themselves told police. The second time, he managed to evade them, but he told police he got slightly banged up in the process.

One time, they removed the doorknob from inside a closet, and knowing that the freshman was claustrophobic, tried to induce him via a series of post-it messages around the suite to step inside it. One note referred to the closet as “the enrichment center,” and included a homophobic slur and the insult, “Eat —- and die.”

Investigators also found Nazi symbols in the apartment, including a picture of Adolf Hitler, the “SS” lightning bolt symbol and a swastika. They also discovered pictures of pentagrams, apparently intended to alarm the freshman, who is Christian.

After the freshman’s father talked to the roommates and reported the matter, the freshman received what police characterized as a “sarcastic apology note,” signed only “The Residents.” The note mentions “the Beloved Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.” and urges the freshman to let bygones be bygones. It also contains a warning of sorts in the postscript: “The Residents have welcomed you, it is not advised to ignore the call of The Residents.”

Remember…”There is no racism in America!”

One can only wonder when Hannity will have the 4 boys on his show as the right’s new “victimized heroes”, and the local Tea Party will put out a national call for donations to the boy’s defense fund..

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Domestic terrorism, The New Jim Crow

 

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Matt Lewis and Michael Eric Dyson Battle It Out

Foo Fight!

Dyson may be right – But it was the wrong time and place to make the argument.

And Matt isn’t going to convince Dyson he is wrong, simply because a large portion of Dyson’s black audience of professionals and the highly educated have experienced exactly what he is talking about in their professional lives at some point. Way too much of what goes on in conservativeland mirrors that.

Dyson did get a bit carried away and rambled on. Obviously he wanted to get that issue off his chest. Perhaps both he, and Matt Lewis were the wrong people to have that “discussion on race”.

In any event, the decision today by Senate Leader Harry Reid to use the Nuclear Option in severely trimming back Republican efforts to stymie President Obam’s appointments is at least, in part a concession to to Dyson’s point. Now that that emotional dam is broken, I have a feeling Senate Democrats at least, are going to be handling the opposition quite differently. Whether this presages a new Democratic Leadership with backbone, I don’t know.

I do know that Democrats have realized that the compromises they made with Republicans in passing the Obamacare law were Trojan Horses, designed to make the law ineffective and fail. So there is more than a little anger over getting snookered again trying to be real legislators.

Been saying for a long time that it has been time for the Progressives to lead, and cut this compromise shit with the Rethuglys.  You can only compromise with someone who is honest, and has an honest goal. That is not what the country is dealing with on the Tea Shagged side of the aisle right now. Their goal is no less than the destruction of this Presidency, even if they have to destroy the country in the process.

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in The New Jim Crow

 

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75 Years Late…Scottsboro Boys Pardoned

This was one of the major (Mis)Trials of the last century. 9 black Boys accused of raping two white women in the segregated, Jim Crow, Alabama of 1931.Amazingly enough, despite high tensions – they didn’t get lynched. All but one of the boys was convicted and given the death penalty. None of the Boys was executed, but spent long terms in jail.

The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932

   Alabama grants posthumous pardons to Scottsboro Boys

Alabama’s parole board voted Thursday to grant posthumous pardons to men known as the Scottsboro Boys from a 1931 rape case.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted full and unconditional pardons to three of the nine black boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931.

The board unanimously approved the pardons for Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright after a short hearing in Montgomery. The three men were the last of the accused to have convictions from the case on their records.

“This decision will give them a final peace in their graves, wherever they are,” said Sheila Washington, director of the Scottsboro Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro, who helped initiate the petition.

Patterson, Weems and Wright, along with defendant Clarence Norris, were convicted on rape charges in 1937, after a six-year ordeal that included three trials, the recantation of one of the accusers and two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on legal representation and the racial make-up of jury pools.

The men were all convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant was sentenced to death.

Alabama ultimately dropped rape charges against five of the accused. Norris received a pardon before his death from Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1976.

Last spring, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed a law to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for convictions at least 75 years old. The law was specifically designed to allow the pardon of the Scottsboro Boys to go forward.

In October, a group of scholars petitioned the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant pardons to the men. The petition was endorsed by the judges and district attorneys of the counties where the initial trials took place.

“This is a different state than it was 80 years ago, and thank God for that,” said state Sen. Arthur Orr, a Republican from Decatur where the second and third round of trials took place. “It’s an important step for our state to take.”

Under Alabama law, pardons can only be granted to those who have felony convictions on their record. The petitioners had initially hoped the board would review the status of each of the defendants.

The Board’s decision led to a round of applause Thursday morning, but many of those who worked on the pardon called the news bittersweet. Patterson died of cancer in 1952, and many of the other defendants, including Weems and Wright, felt compelled to move out of Alabama and keep a low profile after their release from prison.

University of Alabama professor John Miller, who helped prepare the petition, said at the time of his pardon, Norris was living in New York under his brother’s name.

“With some of them, we really don’t know if they died with their right name, or a different name,” Washington said. “They no longer wanted to be known.”

Weems is known to have moved to the Atlanta area after his release, but his date of death is unknown. Washington said Wright, along with his brother Roy, another one of the Scottsboro Boys, is buried in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“It’s tragic in that those young men’s live were destroyed, all by a very biased and unfair judicial process,” Orr said. “The place where you seek justice did not dispense justice for these young men. It ruined their lives, some more than others, and it affected them to their graves.”

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in Black History

 

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