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Stop and Frisk Scam on Amtrak

One of the things which I believe should be on everyone’s “Bucket List”, if you can beg, borrow, or steal a way to pay for it is to take one of the few remaining Great Train trips in the US. If you are willing to go to Canada, there are still a number of unbelievable Trans-Canada, Rockies, and Northern excursions.

The last of the great trains in the US is the California Zephyr linking the Windy City and the west coast, the daily two-night California Zephyr is Amtrak’s longest route at 2,438 miles. It cuts right across the center of the US, traversing cornfields, cattle country and the Great Plains before climbing great S- and U-shaped curves to reach the Continental Divide inside the six-mile-long Moffat Tunnel at 9,239 feet above sea level and the highest point reached by an Amtrak train.

You cross the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, follow the Colorado River for more than 200 miles, cross the Oregon Trail, touch the old Rock Island Line immortalized by Lead Belly and Johnny Cash and pass the wooden covered bridges featured in the film The Bridges of Madison County.

As a train buff, I have done the Zephyr , the Sky Chief (LA to Chicago), The Crescent (NYC to New Orleans), The Great Northern, and the Empire Builder (Chicago to Seattle). Fun…fun…fun!

Apparently the local Police (at least on the Zephyr) have taken to harassing the passengers and absconding with their money.

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The Dangers of Going West on Amtrak

Another traveler reports being harassed by police officers on the California Zephyr.

Due to high costs and low ridership, Amtrak loses money on the California Zephyr, the passenger train that traverses a picturesque route from Chicago to the Bay Area. Its balance sheet would improve if more people could be persuaded to buy tickets for a “Superliner Roomette,” where there’s a picture window to watch passing scenery, two fold-down beds, and private space to get a good night’s sleep.

But the few passengers who forgo a faster, cheaper flight, shelling out upwards of $800 in hopes of an unusually pleasant journey, are setting themselves up for unpleasantness: On the route, law-enforcement officers are prone to treating passengers who’ve done nothing wrong as suspects in the drug-trafficking business.

This harassment has been going on for years.

In previous articles, I’ve written about Joseph Rivers, a 22-year-old who boarded an Amtrak train with his life savings, only to have it seized by DEA agents with no evidence of any lawbreaking, forcing him to hire a lawyer to get back what was rightfully his. I’ve written about mathematician Aaron Heuser, who traveled aboard Amtrak around the time he left his job at the National Institutes of Health—near Reno, law-enforcement officers violated his rights and took money from his wallet. I’ve noted the ACLU’s work to document behaviors deemed “suspicious” on Amtrak trains:

Among them:

Unusual nervousness of traveler
Unusual calmness or straight ahead stare
Looking around while making telephone call(s)
Position among passengers disembarking (ahead of, or lagging behind passengers)
Carrying little or no luggage
Purchase of tickets in cash

Purchase tickets immediately prior to boarding
After publishing those stories, I received correspondence from other innocent people allegedly harassed by law enforcement on Amtrak trains, many on travel to California. And I’m sorry to report that despite my efforts to shed light on these abuses, and similar articles in other publications, I still receive new emails with the same old story.

The latest comes from Evan Rinehart, an engineer who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. He recently took an Amtrak to Chicago without incident, save for chilly temperatures and a passenger seated beside him in coach whom he found unpleasant.

He decided to buy a private compartment for the rest of his journey west.

On the last morning of his trip, he wrote, he was prematurely awoken from the good night’s sleep he purchased at a premium. A plain-clothes police officer was knocking at his door.

“He asked if I was transporting large amounts of drugs, large quantities of currency, or illegal weapons. Obviously I said no, which was true,” he wrote. “Then he asked me about the purpose of my trip and how long I would be in San Francisco. I didn’t have much of a plan, but I told him I was visiting friends there, which was true. Then he wanted to search my luggage, all two small bags in the roomette, ‘with your permission of course, with you present.’ I knew that there needed to be a warrant to justify such an unreasonable search, but being intimidated as all hell I let him. When I backed into the hallway he introduced me to his partner who was standing some distance away who just stared at me the whole time.”
All this when at most the search would uncover an amount of drugs so tiny it could fit in two small travel bags. How would that change the drug scene in the Bay Area?

Most law-enforcement officials would consider this a non-incident: cops got consent for a search and found nothing at no cost beyond their time. In reality, these sorts of “nothing to see here” interactions unnerve people, spoil their journeys, and cause them to feel that they’ve been mistreated by their own government. The experience is only more galling when the public employees conducting the search adopt a hostile attitude, treating innocents like they are lying criminals.

The person who searched Rinehart’s bag started to engage him about what he had packed. “At one point he remarked that I didn’t have enough clothes with me for the length of my vacation, however long he thought that was,” the passenger recalled. “This remark pissed me off, but at the time I continued treating these guys like normal people hoping they would leave. As the train was getting ready to leave he abruptly ended the conversation, thanked me for being patient and they left.” Rinehart has been seeking a refund from Amtrak without success, complaining that his treatment aboard the train was “less than first class,” though he paid $917.

More troubling was what happened when he tried to file a complaint about the interaction with law enforcement. “Thinking these police may not have been real, I called Amtrak police to report suspicious circumstances,” he wrote. “Without confirmation that this was standard procedure, the operator suggested that I definitely should call Reno police to get the specific unit and reasons for being selected. So I called Reno police and the woman I talked to was quite unprofessional, also didn’t confirm that it was standard procedure, or seem to be concerned that I thought it might be fake police. Then she suggested I call internal affairs.”…More Here

 

 

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Report Details Neo-Confederate Alabama Police Planting Evidence on Blacks

Yet another smoking gun on the prevalence of Police misconduct and racism. In this case we have not only the County Police Force, but the DIstrict Attorney in on planting evidence,and drugs on black people. Some of the officers involved have been rewarded with senior Police positions in the State of Alabama.

PICTURED IN THE IMAGE ABOVE, CARLTON OTT, CLARK RICE, STEVE HAMM, STEVE PARRISH, DAVID JAY, MICHAEL MAGRINO, DEWAYNE HERRING, ANDY HUGHES, GARY COLEMAN, AND SCOTT SMITH of the Dothan, AL Police Department.

 

Leaked Documents Reveal Dothan Police Department Planted Drugs on Young Black Men For Years, District Attorney Doug Valeska Complicit

HUNDREDS OF CASES PROSECUTED WITH PLANTED EVIDENCE, MANY WRONGLY CONVICTED STILL IN PRISON

The Alabama Justice Project has obtained documents that reveal a Dothan Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation was covered up by the district attorney. A group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team were found to have planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years. They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current Asst. Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alabama. All of the officers reportedly were members of a Neoconfederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels “racial extremists.”The group has advocated for blacks to return to Africa, published that the civil rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQ’s . Both Parrish and Hughes held leadership positions in the group and are pictured above holding a confederate battle flag at one of the club’s secret meetings.

The documents shared reveal that the internal affairs investigation was covered up to protect the aforementioned officers’ law enforcement careers and keep them from being criminally prosecuted.

Several long term Dothan law enforcement officers, all part of an original group that initiated the investigation, believe the public has a right to know that the Dothan Police Department, and District Attorney Doug Valeska, targeted young black men by planting drugs and weapons on them over a decade. Most of the young men were prosecuted, many sentenced to prison, and some are still in prison.  Many of the officers involved were subsequently promoted and are in leadership positions in law enforcement. They hope the mood of the country is one that demands action and that the US Department of Justice will intervene.

The group of officers requested they be granted anonymity, and shared hundreds of files from the Internal Affairs Division. They reveal a pattern of criminal behavior from within the highest levels of the Dothan Police Department and the district attorney’s office in the 20th Judicial District of Alabama. Multiple current and former officers have agreed to testify if United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch appoints a special prosecutor from outside the state of Alabama, or before a Congressional hearing. The officers believe that there are currently nearly a thousand wrongful convictions resulting in felonies from the 20th Judicial District that are tied to planted drugs and weapons and question whether a system that allows this can be allowed to continue to operate.

Members of the Henry County Report have spent weeks analyzing the documents. The originals, secured at an N.G.O. in Canada, are being shared directly with attorneys in the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division, and are being made available to the lawyers of those falsely convicted that seek to clear their names.

There are two federal lawsuits currently pending by former police officers Keith Gray and Raemonica Carney against the Dothan Police Department. They will be given access as well as they substantiate their claims of racial discrimination and city’s violation of a federal court decree.

The documents serve as irrefutable evidence of criminal activity at the highest levels of the Dothan Police Department.

Beginning in early 1996, the Dothan Police Department received complaints from black victims that drugs and weapons were being planted. Specifically young black men who had clean records were targeted. Police Chief, John White, allegedly instructed senior officers to ignore the complaints and they willingly complied.

In early 1998, a group of concerned white officers from within the Police Department complained in writing about what they witnessed. This is reflected in the document below where it refers to a series of allegations that took place over 11 months before the department acted. The initial written complaint from the department’s own officers is dated June, 1998. The internal memo documents the last allegation as occurring in April of 1999. Almost a year of internal complaints by the department’s own police officers passed before Chief White turned it over to the Internal Affairs Division.

On August 27, 1999 more than a dozen officers had allegations against them for planting drugs and weapons on black men they had falsely arrested. They were each notified of a formal investigation and required to prepare statements in writing to the Internal Affairs Division. They were then tested by polygraph examination, most reportedly failed. The notification of charges reference a combination of marijuana, cocaine, and guns being planted on citizens during arrests that were witnessed by multiple fellow police officers.

All of these cases involving planted drugs and weapons were subsequently prosecuted by District Attorney, Doug Valeska, despite the written allegations by police officers that the evidence was planted. Never was any such information shared in the discovery process with the defendant’s attorneys.  We have been advised that each of these are considered felonies committed by the district attorney.

District Attorney, Doug Valeska

One of the officers alleged to have planted drugs and guns, Michael Magrino, now an investigator working for the state’s Indigent Defense Fund and Dothan attorney Derek Yarborough, was alleged to have stolen weapons and drugs in his car. A Dothan police officer familiar with the case told us that “Under no circumstances was this legal, he (Magrino) should have been immediately taken into custody prosecuted but he was not because Lt. Parrish defended him and blocked it.

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Former Dothan police officer Michael Magrino

The documents reveal that Magrino contacted District Attorney Doug Valeska and Andy Hughes to intervene into the Internal Affairs investigation.

The head of the Internal Affairs investigation, Sgt. Keith Gray, repeatedly warned Magrino this was a violation of the departmental procedures. Magrino then threatened to go to the press if he was fired, according to a taped interview with Andy Hughes.

He basically would have done anything to save his skin,” one of the officers told us and referred to him as the “character from the movie “Deliverance” he squealed like a pig, eventually Hughes managed to shut him up and force him to resign to save the others.”

In the internal affairs documents, three names worth noting appear repeatedly.
Capt. Carlton “Bubba” Ott, now commander of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, Steve Parrish, current Chief, and Andy Hughes, former Sheriff and current Director of Homeland Security for the state.

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Carleton “Bubba” Ott, Steve Parrish, and Andy Hughes

All were aware of the investigation and its outcome. All have been rewarded with careers in law enforcement by those for whom they covered, while those who spoke out were forced out of the department. Disturbingly, Ott and Parrish have both attended the FBI academy. Both were highly recommended by the district attorney and former Police Chief, John White….Read the Rest Here

 

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More Dirt in Ferguson

If you peruse some of the boards and blogs on the Internet, the conservascum racists are out in full glory about Michael Brown’s murder. One of the issues is why exactly did the town blow up over the shooting?

My theory has been there have been a lot of incidents which have led up to the rioting – and more than just the scam the police and judges were running to skim money from the residents.

What sort of person is Officer Wilson?

Well, you might get an idea from this video released by the Guardian…

Officer who shot and killed Michael Brown is seen telling Mike Arman ‘I’m gonna lock your ass up’ if he does not stop

Video footage has emerged showing Darren Wilson – the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri – threatening and arresting a resident who refused to stop filming him with a cellphone.

Wilson is seen standing near his Ferguson police SUV and warning Mike Arman: “If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I’m gonna lock your ass up.” Arman, who had requested Wilson’s name, replies: “Sir, I’m not taking a picture, I’m recording this incident sir.”

The officer then walks to the porch of Arman’s home and apprehends him, after telling him that he does not have the right to film. The 15-second clip was uploaded to YouTube on Friday but recorded in 2013, according to police documents.

Arman, 30, was charged with failing to comply with Wilson’s orders. He claimed in an interview on Saturday that the charge was dropped after he told his lawyer he had video footage of the incident. Arman, who runs a small housing non-profit, has a criminal record and has previously been charged with resisting arrest.

“I was working on my porch with my toolbelt on and was being cordial,” Arman said of the incident. “But I wanted to safeguard myself by recording what happened.” Filming police officers carrying out their duties is widely considered to be legal and protected by the first amendment of the US constitution.

Court and police officials in Ferguson could not be reached for comment. When asked on Friday whether the officer in the video clip was Wilson, a spokesman for the Ferguson police department told the Guardian in an email: “I don’t think that is him.” The spokesman did not respond to further questions.

But a police incident report confirms that Wilson arrested Arman at his home on Redmond Avenue on 28 October 2013. The report states Wilson had arrived to issue a court summons regarding derelict vehicles that were being left on the property in violation of city rules. Redacted images of the report were first published by the Free Thought Project….more…

And that is by no means the worst of the police criminal behavior that has been going on in Ferguson…

 

From the Daily Beast

Rape, Lies & Videotape in Ferguson

A pregnant woman’s account of being assaulted by a city police officer and a video of an aggressive Darren Wilson are only heightening the foreboding over the Michael Brown grand jury.

…And a video was posted on YouTube of a citizen’s October 2013 encounter with a uniformed cop who a police department spokesman suggests was not Wilson but almost certainly was.

The department spokesman’s doubts notwithstanding, the ensuing arrest report was fielded by none other than Wilson, badge 609. The report states that Wilson had been preparing to issue 30-year-old Mike Arman a summons for having broken-down cars in his yard, in violation of one of the ordinances that allow the city to raise millions of dollars from poor and working people and issue an annual average of three warrants per household. Wilson attests that he arrested Arman for “failure to comply” after he supposedly ignored instructions to “remove the camera from my face in order for us to complete the process of the derelict vehicles.”

Never mind that Arman’s camera was those eight strides from being in Wilson’s face. Wilson also cited Arman for “violation of pit bull regulations,” saying there were three in the yard. Arman would insist that he has only a bulldog.

Wilson’s narrative is enough at odds with the videotape that the possibility arises that his written account is in possible violation of state law 575.080 against making false reports to a law-enforcement officer. That would seem to apply even if you are one yourself.

The report ends with Wilson transporting Arman to the Ferguson jail….

In any event, Arman seems to have fared much better than a woman who was consigned to the correctional staff at the Ferguson jail after being pulled over for an expired license plate and giving a false name on Oct. 9, 2013.

The woman is identified only by the initials J.W. in court papers from a subsequent federal civil-rights lawsuit. She is described as having been “in her work clothes, that is, nursing scrubs,” as Hayden commenced to fingerprint her and take her mug shot.

“J.W. heard Hayden say softly, ‘You smell good,’” the papers report. “Hayden softly said words to the effect, ‘This will teach you a lesson.’”

The papers note that J.W. had never met Hayden before. She was placed in a cell and Hayden told her that she also had outstanding traffic warrants in other jurisdictions. He repeatedly walked past her cell.

“J.W. was distraught and said words to the effort of, ‘Let me go… I haven’t done anything wrong… I just don’t have money to get my plates,’” the papers report. “Hayden said words to the effect of, ‘Be quiet… Others will hear.’”

The report goes on, “J.W. sensed that Hayden was acting in a sexually provocative manner toward her. J.W. did not respond… J.W. told Hayden that she was several months pregnant. J.W.’s pregnancy was showing.”

J.W. then informed Hayden that she was suffering “pain and discharges.” Hayden checked with a superior and summoned an ambulance. The EMTs checked J.W. and said it was up to Hayden whether she was released into their custody.

“Hayden did not indicate a decision in J.W.’s presence,” the papers say. “Hayden and the EMTs left the room. J.W. never saw the EMTs again.”

Salvation must have seemed at hand when J.W.’s boyfriend arrived and posted the necessary bond to free her on the new Ferguson charges. Hayden removed J.W. from her cell and had her sign some official forms.

“Hayden began to make remarks with words to the effect of, ‘You’re the type of girl that can get me in trouble,’” the papers report.

The papers go on to note: “J.W. was crying. J.W. kept asking to go home. J.W. said, ‘I will do anything to go home.’”

The papers emphasize, “By that remark J.W. did not intend to deliver the message that she would have sex with Hayden in exchange for release. The remark was in the nature of a rhetorical statement while in an emotional state of extreme distress.”

Hayden continued to say that J.W. had outstanding warrants. J.W. had no way of knowing that he had not notified any of those other jurisdictions that she was in custody.

“J.W. was in great fear,” the papers report. “Hayden said, ‘Follow me.’”

The papers allege that Hayden escorted J.W. down a number of hallways.

“Hayden took J.W. into a boiler room in the City of Ferguson jail,” the papers charge. “Hayden then unbuttoned his pants, removed his penis.”

The papers report that J.W. was too afraid to resist his command for her to perform oral sex on him. She nonetheless seems to have proved herself the wrong woman to assault.

“J.W. captured some of Hayden’s pubic hairs in her hand,” the papers report.

She held on to the hair as Hayden led her further back into the boiler room.

“Hayden then had J.W. bend over and he indicated that he was going to have intercourse with her,” the papers say. “Because she was afraid, J.W. did not resist.”

The papers suggest that Hayden was careful not to leave any DNA-laden material.

“Hayden ejaculated in his hand,” the papers allege. “Hayden then released J.W. from jail custody via a side door to the building… Hayden told J.W. words to the effect of, ‘Run and stay close to the building.’”

The papers suggest that this was to avoid security cameras. Hayden might well have imagined he had no further worries, that he was at the very worst in the realm of “he said, she said.” He does not seem to have anticipated that she could have maintained such remarkable presence of mind.

“Immediately after the rape, J.W. went to a Subway restaurant across the street and retained a bag to hold the captured pubic hair,” the papers go on to recount.

J.W’s sister came and took her to a hospital emergency room. Investigators from the St. Louis County Police responded. J.W. presented them with her evidence.

“DNA analysis has confirmed that the public hair is from Hayden,” the papers say.

One remaining question, a question the authorities have not yet answered, is why they took more than a year to arrest Hayden when such seemingly damning evidence was available almost immediately. And then he was charged not with forcible rape, but with having sex with a prisoner and then aiding her escape. His attorney says he will be pleading not guilty at his arraignment in December.

Another lawyer closely associated with the case has indicated that the FBI had become involved in the investigation. That suggests the feds may have come across the stalled case after the shooting of Michael Brown, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a larger investigation into the way law enforcement is conducted in Ferguson.

Even though J.W. and Hayden are both black, she felt only right in filing a federal civil-rights suit on Friday against him and the City of Ferguson. The suit charges that she was denied due process by being raped by a correction officer while in custody.

“The conduct of City of Ferguson law enforcement in engaging in repeated acts of violence and constitutional violations against the citizenry constitutes a pattern,” the suit charges. “The city has taken inadequate steps or no steps at all to control the violent acts of its law-enforcement personnel.”

Another federal lawsuit, one in which a man was arrested in a case of mistaken identity and then charged with destroying property by bleeding on the uniforms of the Ferguson cops who allegedly beat him, was tossed out by a lower court judge who ruled the complainant’s injuries were not sufficiently serious. That case is due to be heard by an appeals court next month.

 

 

 

 

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