Israeli officials and advocates often ask critics of their foreign policy “what would you do if you had rockets raining down on you?” This question has a tendency to stump people who aren’t prepared for it. John Jackson at +972, however, has provided an excellent response by drawing a parallel to the conduct of the British Government during the worst years of IRA violence:
During the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, civilian deaths were caused by the British Army, the Loyalists and Republican paramilitaries. But for the purpose of answering the Israeli question it is useful to look at the major bombing campaigns by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that took place across England. These campaigns were far more destructive than anything coming out of Gaza. There were approximately 10,000 bomb attacks during the conflict – about 16,000 if you include failed attempts. A significant proportion of them were on English soil.
A time bomb was detonated at Brighton’s Grand Hotel, where Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were staying for the Conservative Party conference. Thatcher narrowly escaped death, five people were killed (including an MP) and 31 injured. The Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and three others were blown up while fishing off the coast of Ireland. In Manchester city center a 3,300-pound bomb caused £1.1 billion (today’s value) in damage and injured 212 people. The Bishopsgate bombing in the city of London cost £350 million to repair and injured 44 people. And, as those of us who lived through those times will remember, there were numerous bombs in pubs and shops, on high streets and shopping centers, in train stations and on the London underground. The thousands of rockets fired by Hamas over the last month have killed six civilians in Israel, along with 64 soldiers, while the IDF has killed 2,104 Palestinians, including at least 500 children.
Despite the effectiveness of the IRA campaign, it would have been politically inconceivable and morally unjustifiable for the Royal Air Force to bomb the streets and homes of the republican communities in North or West Belfast – the communities from which the IRA came and amongst which it lived. It would have been unacceptable in Britain and, indeed, to the U.S. government at the time. The British army and intelligence services did terrible things in Northern Ireland, but such a wholesale massacre of civilians would have been unconscionable. The answer to the question of what would you do? In Britain’s case at least, faced with a destructive bombing campaign, it did not respond by sending in warplanes to bomb schools, hospitals or terraced houses.
Scores of brutality lawsuits are filed against the Philadelphia Police Department every year. But it’s unusual for an officer, a sergeant no less, to make those charges.
In a suit filed Monday, Sgt. Brandon Ruff did just that.
Ruff claims he was roughed up by seven officers from the 35th District when he attempted to anonymously turn in three handguns at the precinct. Ruff, who says he suffered two sprained wrists and two sprained shoulders in the fracas, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Ruff, an eight-year veteran assigned to the 16th precinct, said the acts of the 35th District officers “were committed willfully, wantonly, maliciously, intentionally, outrageously, deliberately and/or by conduct so egregious as to shock the conscience.”
The City of Philadelphia, he said in his civil suit, encourages and is deliberately indifferent to the abuse of police powers. Among other accusations, Ruff claims the city tolerates officers who misrepresent facts in order to establish probable cause, and allows officers to have persons falsely arrested or maliciously prosecuted. He also asserts the city permits the continued employment of officers who are psychologically or emotionally unfit to serve.
“An incredible paper came out this year [which was] the largest empirical study of policy decisions made by our government in the history of political science. What they found was when the preferences of economic elites, and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact on public policy…Madison in Federalist 52 said we would be given a government that would be “dependent on the people alone,” which he explained in Federalist 57 would be “not the rich more than the poor.” That promise has been broken in our tradition.”—Lawrence Lessig
With regard to the one state solution post, do you think the areas under Palestinian control would be economically viable as part of a two state solution?
The primary factor for economic viability in a two-state solution involves Israeli control over airspace, water, and land borders of the Palestinian state. If Palestinians were allowed to (1) trade freelyamongst themselves and their neighbors, and (2) develop their land without it repeatedlybeingdestroyed by the Israeli government, then Palestinian territories would be very economically viable. But so long as we have a situation where the Israeli government gets to decide who or what is allowed into the Palestinian territories, and is also allowed virtually unrestricted authority to destroy Palestinian infrastructure in the name of national security, then a Palestinian state will never be independently economically viable.
I’m not trying to suggest that Israel doesn’t have valid security concerns about what crosses the border with Palestinian territories, or militant operations within them. However, restricting access to consumer goods and repeatedly destroying Palestinian infrastructure is counterproductive from a security standpoint for Israel: people living in the Palestinian territories feel oppressed because Israel is denying them access to the consumer goods necessary for them to thrive, and also destroying their livelihood. This creates political resentment towards Israel, which breeds support for militancy and extremism. So in order for any long-term peace to ever be established, Israel has to be willing to lift trade restrictions, stop blowing up Palestinian infrastructure in a counterproductive effort to fight militants, and give Palestinians complete andunexceptional sovereignty over their putative state. Anything less will simply be the same emperor in new clothes.
The State of Israel should annex Judea and Samaria and grant full citizenship to all Palestinians. Demography is not a numerical predestination, it is an expression of the joie de vivre of the nation. When a nation is happy, its number of children grows, that’s why I’m not scared of demography. Whoever can’t live with Arabs is not a partner of mine.
I trust the Arab public in Israel, it has proved itself. I have no fear of a bi-national state, the solution is not B-class citizens nor high fences. It is a simple and humane solution, Palestinians must be granted full rights and should vote for the Knesset. Whoever truly wants peace, should agree to accept more Arab citizens to his state, and whoever is part of the State of Israel whose borders need to be between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea for many reasons, needs to be a citizen with full rights and obligations.
There is no question that this solution would be a more peaceful resolution if the majority of Palestinians were willing to go along with it. This is also refreshing to hear from an Israeli nationalist who no doubt wants Israel to maintain its character as a Jewish nation. In the past, this has meant nothing less than discrimination against Arabs and outright refusal of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Annexing both the West Bank and Gaza would create a sort of de facto Right of Return, and quite possibly create the dreaded demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish majority, which many feel is necessary to maintaining Israel’s character as a Jewish state.
The problem with this particular one-state solution, however, is that it forces millions of people to accept the sovereignty of a nation that has been oppressing them for decades. Politically speaking, it’s not very feasible. In order for a one-state solution to have any chance of working, in my opinion, the new bi-national state would have to be a new state built from the ground up with a bi-national identity. Everybody will have to feel like they are on equal footing. It can’t merely be a state for Jews that tolerates non-Jews, but a state built for everyone that lives there. Simply annexing the West Bank and Gaza, and granting Palestinians full citizenship (whether they want it or not) would probably lead to an open revolt. Palestinians have to feel that they are not being ruled or conquered, but being given a genuine right to self-determination in the new state. Without accounting for this reality, a one-state solution will never work.
Another example of how the failure to hold police accountable for misconduct robs taxpayers of millions of dollars:
Seven Philadelphia police narcotics officers at the center of a federal corruption probe are also named in scores of civil lawsuits that add more claims of thievery, intimidation and brutality to those described in their criminal indictments, according to court records.
The potential financial impact of these suits, along with any others that may be filed, could expose the City of Philadelphia to millions of dollars in damages or settlements.
Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, John Speiser, Michael Spicer, Linwood Norman and Perry Betts allegedly formed an out-of-control band of rogue officers who conducted illegal stops and searches as pretext to rob people, particularly those they believed to be drug dealers, according to the indictment filed last month. Jeffrey Walker, who is named in the indictment but charged separately, has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his role.
Those same officers are the subjects of at least 81 pending federal lawsuits filed between November 2011 and this month, according to a search of court records. At least 78 of the suits also name the City of Philadelphia as a defendant, claiming the police department’s alleged failure to properly train, supervise or discipline officers fostered a culture of indifference to constitutional rights.
78 different federal lawsuits naming the city. The taxpayers of the city stand to lose millions as a result of police misconduct.
I know so many people who think they’re taxes are too high, but always seem to give police the benefit of the doubt when they come under scrutiny in the media. What they don’t realize is that the cost of bad policing comes directly out of their pocket. If they really care about their tax burden, they should also care about holding police accountable when they screw up. Bad policing is costing them money.
A Georgia man died after police shocked him with a Taser as many as 13 times because he said he was too tired to walk due to a foot chase, his attorney said this week.
At a press conference on Tuesday, attorney Chris Stewart said that police records showed that East Point officers had discharged their Tasers 13 times to make Gregory Towns, who was handcuffed, get up and walk.
“This is a direct violation of their own rules,” Stewart explained, according to WSB-TV. “You cannot use a Taser to escort or prod a subject.”
“They used their Tasers as a cattle prod on Mr. Towns.”
Stewart said that he pieced together what led up to Towns’ April 11 death using official city records and eyewitness accounts.
“He wasn’t cursing. He wasn’t being abusive. He was saying, ‘I’m tired,’” the attorney pointed out.
Taser logs showed that Sgt. Marcus Eberhart fired his Taser 10 times, and officer Howard Weems pulled the trigger three times. However, the logs did not indicate how many times the Taser made contact with Towns.
In all, records indicated a total shock time of 47 seconds. Stewart called the situation “indefensible.”
Autopsy results obtained by WSB-TV showed that Towns’ death was ruled a homicide because the Taser shocks — combined with physical activity and heart disease — contributed to his death.
But Police Benevolent Association lawyers representing Weems continued to insist that the officer’s actions did not cause Towns to die.
Attorney Dale Preiser issued a statement saying that the “use of drive stun to gain compliance is permitted under federal and Georgia law.”
Stewart said that he would file a lawsuit against the city this week.
“Every person of color in this country has faced an indignity, from the ridiculous, to the grotesque, to the sometimes fatal, at some point in—I’m gonna say the last couple of hours—because of their skin color. We live in New York City, a “liberal bastion.” Recently we sent a producer and a correspondent to a building in this liberal bastion. The producer—White—dressed in what can only be described as homeless elf attire, and a pretty strong 5 o’clock-from-the-previous-week shadow, strode confidently into the building, preceding our humble correspondent—a gentleman of color—dressed resplendently in a tailored suit. Who do you think was stopped? Let me give you a hint: the Black guy. And that shit happens all the time. All of it. Race is there, and it is constant. And you’re tired of hearing about it? Imagine how exhausting it must be living it.”—John Stewart
I hate headlines like this. The kid pled guilty to misdemeanor trespass and criminal mischief, and did his time. He hasn’t done anything since except miss a meeting with his probation officer. There’s plenty of people with unpaid parking tickets who are also “wanted” by the state, but we’re not assassinating their character on national news websites.
A few days ago some 300 Holocaust survivors placedan ad in the New York Timescondemning the massacre in Gaza. My colleague from Local Call, John Brown, has selected a few of the responseson Facebookthat Israelis posted in response to the ad.
I’ve translated a few from John’s selection:
David Cohen: Those aren’t Holocaust survivors those are probably collaborators with the Nazis.
Shmulik Halphon: He’s invited to go back to Auschwitz.
Itzik Levy: These are survivors who were Kapos. Leftist traitors. That’s why they live abroad and not in the Jewish State.
Vitali Guttman: Enough, they should die already. They survived the Holocaust only to do another Holocaust to Israel in global public opinion?
Meir Dahan: Now wonder that Hitler murdered 6 million Jews because of people like you you’re not even Jews you’re disgusting people a disgrace to humanity and so are your offspring you are trash.
Asher Solomon: It’s a shame Hitler didn’t finish the job.
Katy Morali: Holocaust survivors who think like this are invited to go die in the gas chambers.
Yafa Ashraf: Shitty Ashkenazis you are the Nazis.
The fact that there are Jews who can say this about other Jews—particularly Jews who actually endured what is generally regarded as the most catastrophic event in Jewish history—will never cease to cause me to shake my head.
Victor White was patted down twice, hands cuffed behind his back, yet somehow, he still managed to produce a gun in the back of a police cruiser and shoot himself in the back, according to the police report. The coroner’s report contradicts the police report, and says he shot himself in the chest. Nonetheless, the coroner still ruled it a suicide, because it was possible that due to his “body habitus,” Victor White could have theoretically manipulated a gun and shot himself from the front. White’s hands were never tested for gunpowder residue. What a surprise.
This may actually be the most facially suspect police report and autopsy I’ve ever seen. The parents should bring a § 1983 claim. There’s more than enough evidence here for a jury to award damages. There’s a clear 4th amendment excessive force claim to be made here, a 14th amendment Due Process claim, and also potentially an 8th amendment “cruel & unusual” claim as well. So qualified immunity won’t prevent the suit from going forward.
Via Melissa on Twitter, here is a report written by the Arch City Defenders, a public defender office in the St. Louis area. It states that the population of Ferguson is 21,203 residents, and in 2013, the “Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.” Here is a screen grab of the relevant page of the report:
Ferguson is 67% Black, but most of its police force is mostly White. I can’t imagine how this might cause a problematic racial dynamic to emerge in such a heavily policed community.
According to CNN, Officer Wilson did not fracture his eye socket, as Fox News and others have reported:
Two days ago, Fox News ran an anonymously sourced story claiming that Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri police officer identified as the shooter of Michael Brown, suffered “severe facial injuries” including a broken eye socket during the altercations.
Now, CNN is saying that story is false. Here are tweets by producer Julian Cummings:
This is especially relevant to my recent discussion of The Gateway Pundit’s irresponsible reporting about Officer Wilson’s alleged injury, who continues to claim that Wilson did suffer a fractured eye socket, citing to a Washington Post article which mentions a “family friend” of Officer Wilson as the source. And since the WaPo article confirms what The Gateway Pundit believes to be true, WaPo is obviously the more credible source, right?
The fair and balanced thing to do in a situation like this is to simply point out that there are conflicting reports from different sources, which there clearly are. And if it turns out that the CNN source is right, I’m sure The Gateway Pundit will do a follow-up post retracting his original statement. I’m sure he’ll get right on that.
The Gateway Pundit (hereafter TGP) has published a post discussing the orbital bone fracture that Darren Wilson allegedly suffered in his altercation with Michael Brown. In that post, TGP includes an image of a CT-Scan showing an orbital bone fracture, which is displayed in a manner that makes it easy to assume that it’s a picture of Officer Darren Wilson’s head. House-of-gnar explains:
I saw [the image] and couldn’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen it before but then I remembered, I saw it in a slideshow in an Anatomy and Physiology lab last spring, we were talking about how the body registers pain on a cellular level. These blogs most likely got the image from the reputable Jim Hoft.
Here’s the alleged CT scan of officer Darren Wilson:
Look at the bottom right corner, what could that be that’s blurred out ?
Noooooo. Supposedly these pics have been in circulation on the web since around 2007. That means either :
a) Darren Wilson is a time traveler
b) Darren Wilson went to the University of Iowa for a CT scan.
c) My professor was a time traveler
d) Jim Hoft and the Ferguson PD are being *gasps* deceptive and dishonest.
If you look at TGP’s blog post, it doesn’t ever actually say that this is Darren Wilson’s CT-Scan. But it’s placed in a way that could easily make a reasonable person assume that it was. TGP should have made it clear that this was an example of an orbital fracture, and not a CT-Scan of Darren Wilson’s head. TGP’s failure to do so is either a negligent oversight, or simply bad faith attempt to manipulate the reader. Evidence of the latter is shown in the fact that TGP appears to have purposefully scribbled out the date stamp in the lower right corner showing that this photo is from the Univ. of Iowa. And given that basically all of TGP’s coverage of this issue to date has involved disclosing only information which is favorable to the Ferguson PD and Officer Wilson, it’s hard not to assume that TGP was being intentionally dishonest here. Which, you know, is something you probably shouldn’t do if you actually care about reporting the truth.
Monica Singh rejected several marriage proposals from her “friend,” so he retaliated by throwing acid at her, melting away features of her face and causing permanent damage. Monica’s story is not unique. Despite new, stronger legislation in India and Pakistan to protect women from this crime, very few cases actually come to prosecution. Some NGOs even say acid attacks are on the rise. So how should these laws be enforced, and will they actually deter acid violence from happening?
At the link, the following infographic is shown:
As you can see, many countries have past very strong laws against acid attacks. But enforcement of these laws is inconsistent, according to activists in the affected countries. At the link, some suggest efforts to root out public corruption. Others say that the culture must change to reflect the value of women’s lives. A change in culture would motivate police officers (who are themselves members of the society they police) to take these attacks more seriously when they do occur.
I have always felt that acid attacks on women in certain South Asian and Middle Eastern countries are one of the most horrific crimes against the person one can conceive of. The pain, the scarring, the life-long disfigurement, the amount of physical and psychological suffering these women endure is unimaginable. And in many cases, it seems to happen for no other reason than the hurt feelings of a man. I hope to live long enough to see this terrible phenomenon become a rarity, or preferably, an artifact of the past.
Holder recounted to the group of 50 how he was stopped in New Jersey twice, accused of speeding as officers searched his car.
“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me,” he said.
Holder also recalled how he and his cousin were stopped in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., while heading to a movie, and his cousin started “mouthing off.”
“I’m like, ‘This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.’ I’m angry and upset. We negotiate the whole thing and we walk to our movie,” the attorney general said. “At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice. So I’ve confronted this myself.”
Fans of the "Culture of Poverty" thesis like to say that Black people wouldn’t be harassed by police so often if they didn’t “sag their jeans” or “dress like thugs.” But the fact is that you can be a high-ranking, suit-wearing, law-degree-having professional, and cops will still target you. It may be the case that Holder was actually speeding when he was pulled over. But consider this: I am a White male and I’ve been pulled over by police numerous times in my life for traffic violations, including speeding. I’ve been pulled over by city cops, county cops, and state cops. On most of these occasions, I was dressed casually, and my car was a mess. Do you want to know how many times my car has been searched by police?
There are a lot of strange responses pouring out of the tubes of the internet regarding Michael Brown’s shooting and the protests in Ferguson (e.g. “Police have difficult jobs!; “Black-on-Black Crime!”; “What about White victims!?”; “But he might have robbed a convenience store!”; etc.). Tensions have begun to ease, but this story will no doubt continue to be a visible as the investigation into Michael Brown’s death continues. So I have decided to put together a list of talking points to address some of the stranger criticisms I’ve seen. Please feel free to use this post as a resource to talk to people who don’t seem to understand why people got upset about Michael Brown’s Death, or about the official response to the Ferguson protests.
"It’s About Race"
People are upset about Michael Brown’s death because there is a well-studied, documented tendency for police to resort to lethal force more quickly and more frequently against Black suspects than they do against similarly situated White suspects. At the previous link, Law Professor Cynthia Lee states that “[a]lthough Blacks represent approximately 13 percent of the population in the United States, in [some] parts of the country they constitute 60 to 85 percent of the victims of police shootings.” In practice, this means that White kids who do something stupid in America are more likely to be given an opportunity to go through the system, learn from their mistakes, and move on with their life. Black kids who do something stupid, on the other hand, are more likely to be seriously injured or killed by police. That’s why people are upset. So even if it’s true that Michael Brown stole cigars from a convenience store, people still have a right to be angry.
"It’s About Double Standards"
Some have deemed it appropriate to bring up “Black-on-Black” crime when discussing Michael Brown. ”Black-on-Black” crime has nothing to do with Michael Brown’s shooting. He was shot by a police officer, not a private citizen. This is relevant because, as indicated above, there ample evidence that police officers are more likely to use lethal force against Black suspects than White suspects. Furthermore, to the extent that it couldbe relevant, there is no unique “Black-on-Black” crime epidemic. 86% of homicides against White victims involved White perpetrators, while 94% of Black homicides involve Black perpetrators. In other words, the vast majority of violent crime is intra-racial. There is nothing uniquely remarkable about “Black-on-Black” crime. This is a double standard that people apply to Black communities because the media chooses to portray Black-on-Black violence as a unique problem, despite the fact that White homicide victims are also likely to be killed by a White perpetrator.
At this point some may deem it relevant to bring up the fact that Black intra-racial homicides occur at a greater per capita rate than White intra-racial homicides. While this is true, it’s still not relevant to Michael Brown’s shooting. Again, we’re talking about a police shooting, where there are different variables at play. The circumstances under which police initiate violence against a private citizen are often different than the circumstances under which private citizens initiate violence against each other.
But to the extent that it could be relevant, the higher rate of violence in Black communities is largely a function of structural poverty, which is often caused by aggressive law enforcement of fine-bearing violations in poor communities, and also by the economic incentives created by the Drug War. Aggressive enforcement of fine-bearing violations drains drains economic capital from poor communities, while aggressive enforcement and punishment of non-violent drug offenses destroys economic opportunity. This creates a vicious cycle in poor communities, where the stigma of a criminal conviction can make it difficult to find adequate employment. This in turn creates a situation where criminal activity is often the only way out of poverty for many residents of poor communities, or to make ends meet on a short-term basis during periods of extended unemployment. One former drug dealer put it this way:
Well.. I’m 24, i sell drugs (prescriptions are my specialty) and its because I lost a good job, i have a 3 week old daughter, a wife (who doesn’t make shit) and a house- if I don’t sell, i loose it all. its not about an ‘ipod or sneakers’ its about paying bills, and buying formula…
Since participants in the drug market obviously cannot rely on the police or the courts to enforce their commercial exchanges, they must resort to violence. As a practical matter, this means a lot of people wind up getting shot, since there is no system for determining civil liability, or legal tools to enforce economic obligations. In civil society, violence is diffused by a civil court system that offers dispute resolution by allowing uninterested third parties to determine questions of fact, and provide common standards by which to resolve disputes. In the underground drug market, this system of dispute resolution is off-limits. So every dispute must instead be solved with the threat of violence, which has predictable consequences.
This type of aggressive policing, which creates this underground economy is not practiced in most majority-White communities. Drug enforcement in particular tends to be focused in poor Black communities, despite the fact that surveys show that Whites and Blacks use illicit drugs at similar rates. If suburban White communities were having economic capital drained by aggressive enforcement of fine-bearing violations, and economic opportunities denied by the criminal records which accompany aggressive law enforcement, you would probably see a similar increase in the per capita rate of violent crime in many White communities as well. But typically, this only happens in poor Black communities, so its poor Black communities where these dynamics play out. In other words, the higher rate of per capita violent crime in poor Black communities is a result of external forces being exerted on them by aggressive law enforcementpractices in their communities. It has much less to do with “Black culture” and much more to do with the economic incentives which aggressive law enforcement in Black communities has created.
But again, this really isn’t relevant to Michael Brown’s shooting. So let’s move on.
"It’s About The Lack Of Consequences"
While police may have a rough job, they are also rarely held accountable when they break the law or violate peoples’ rights. One person who studied officer-involved shootings in the State of Wisconsin found that “In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified.” In New Jersey, Internal Affairs Divisions were recently found to dismiss 99% of all complaints against police officers. A study of the Chicago police department published in 2008 found that “the odds are two in 1000 that a Chicago police officer will receive any meaningful discipline as a result of being charged with abusing a civilian,” or 0.2%.
Police are often protected from criminal liability because prosecutors are afraid to alienate themselves from the police force. Police can also escape civil liability for their actions through something called Qualified Immunity. This is a legal doctrine created by the U.S. Supreme Court which allows a judge to provide public officials with immunity from lawsuits in situations where a Constitutional right is not “clearly established,” and a “reasonably prudent official” wouldn’t have known they were violating the Constitution.
Many former police officers have written about how common it is for police to look the other way when other officers break the law or violate someone’s rights. Here is Mike Quinn, a retired Minneapolis police officer with 23 years of experience in law enforcement:
"In a nationally representative telephone survey of 925 randomly selected American police officers from 121 departments, 52.4 percent of the officers agreed, ‘it is not unusual for a police officer to turn a blind eye to improper conduct by other officers.” In that same study, 61 percent disagreed with the statement “Police officers always report serious criminal violations invoving abuse of authority by fellow officers.” A surprising 6 in 10 (60 percent) indicated that police officers do not always report even serious criminal violations that involve the abuse of authority by fellow officers. (Walking With the Devil, p. 4).”
"Cops lie…as any defense attorney (or candid supervisor or chief) will attest, a good deal of "bad lying" goes on in police work, by cops who don’t seem to know the meaning of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…Senior officers and peers were always making sure we “got our stories straight.”…I don’t remember actually lying on the stand. ButI do remember composing some “creative” arrest reports.” (Breaking Rank, p. 129, 133).
"The Office of Professional Standards (OPS) documented a trend when dealing with complaints of official misconduct and excessive-force beefs lodged by the general public that increased over the years. This trend favors cops…David Fogel, the chief administrator of OPS, said in a 1987 memo: "The troops love OPS. It actually operates to immunize police from internal discipline, increases their overtime, leads to an enormous ‘paper storm,’ and has institutionalized lying. I have come ot the conclusion that OPS gives the appearance of formal justice but actually helps to institutionalize subterfuge and injustice.” (Brotherhood of Corruption, p. 286–87).
So while police may have a tough job, there is plenty of evidence that police have relative impunity for their mistakes and bad acts. Most police can expect to be held accountable for precisely none of their bad decisions. This lack of accountability upsets a lot of people, and is compounding the anger that many residents feel over what happened in Ferguson.
"It’s About The Media"
The national media have created a very inaccurate picture of what’s actually happening in Ferguson. If you only follow national media outlets, you’d probably think that Ferguson is a “war zone” rife with violence and looting. Nothing could be further from the truth. A private security contractor named Asymmetrical Solutions was recently hired by a professional journalist to escort the latter into Ferguson. At the request of the journalist, Asymmetrical Solutions recorded their observations of the situation in Ferguson on its website:
In our time inside the Ferguson area, we came into ancillary contact with numerous demonstrators and protestors who did not seem to have any commitment to violence or chaos, but only wanted to peacefully have their opinion heard or report on the matters at hand. It seems a few bad actors are being treated as the whole.
The overwhelming majority of the protests have been peaceful. Furthermore, many of the more gruesome injuries police have inflicted on protesters have not been covered by national news outlets. Which brings me to my next point.
"It’s About The Disproportionate Response"
The reaction to protests has demonstrated the problem with a militarized police force: violence often begets more violence. When Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson came to Ferguson, he did not have an APC, or tear gas, or an assault rifle. He came in his regular uniform, and said that he would walk with the protesters to ensure both their safety and the safety of those around him. Overnight, tensions eased. But local police could not resist breaking out the tear gas and the armored vehicles once more, which unsurprisingly, led to more clashes with protesters, and more violence clashes with protesters.
At this point, some may point out the fact that the protesters are breaking a recently-imposed curfew, and the police are required to enforce the curfew by getting the protesters to disperse. This brings me to my next point.
"It’s About Undermining The Foundation Of Democracy"
All of this is offensive to Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech. Journalists should never be afraid to cover a news story because they are afraid of being arrested, injured, or killed by law enforcement. Businesses should never be forced to close by police officers on the whims of law enforcement. And law-abiding citizens should be able to come and go as they please, regardless of what time it is. I should not be penalized from enjoying my liberty so that the job of police can be made a little easier. The entire point of having police in the first place is to preserve the social benefits of civil society by enforcing the laws which have been put in place to preserve those benefits. When the authorities begin using police power to deny those benefits to law-abiding citizens, they are undermining the Social Contract in a very fundamental way.
People are upset about Michael Brown’s death because it fits into a pattern of cases where police resort to lethal force more quickly against Black citizens than they do against White citizens. They are upset because the media has selectively leaked portions of a surveillance tape that purports to show Michael brown robbing a convenience store, yet nobody has positively identified the person in the video as Michael Brown. People are upset because this shooting takes place against the backdrop of a culture of impunity within law enforcement institutions across America, where even obvious, admitted misconduct is often met with a brief suspension at most. People are upset because the police response to the protests has been overwhelming and excessive, and has actually encouraged more violence by making some of the protesters feel like they’re being oppressed and prevented from exercising their rights. People are upset because the national media outlets are painting an inaccurate picture of the situation in Ferguson, which has led many people to assume that most of the protesters are violent criminals, which is not the case. People are also upset because journalists are being arrested, tear-gassed, and various undemocratic strategies have been used to try to quell the protests, including a unilaterally imposed curfew and a no-fly zone.
So there are a lot of good reasons why people are upset. When all the pieces fall into place, we may come to learn that Michael Brown did attack Officer Wilson, and that he used lethal force against Brown because Officer Wilson feared for his life. But that hasn’t stopped numerous people from making unfounded assumptions about who Michael Brown is, what he has done, or what the motivations of the Officer who shot him were. State prosecutors are getting ready to present evidence to a Grand Jury. The fact that they even agreed to seek an indictment is enough to suggest that there’s probable cause to proceed against Officer Wilson for at least a negligent homicide. But it is extremely important to remember that prosecutors may not have bothered to do this if it wasn’t for the public reaction to Michael Brown’s shooting. More often than not, widespread protests are what it takes for victims of police shootings—especially Black victims—to even get their foot in the door of the justice system, much less a conviction. If the protests have served no other purpose, they have motivated the authorities to take a serious look at whether Officer Wilson actually did anything wrong, which may not have happened in the absence of these protests.
“No one in Israel really talks about the killing of innocent Palestinians anymore. There was a time when we murdered people and it actually bothered us. …I’ve been writing for years about what this country is turning into before my eyes. The total lack of empathy for suffering on the other side is a result of deeply ingrained racism. In my eyes the Israeli response, or shall I say the lack of it, to the recent massacres in Gaza is the epitome of the unraveling of Israeli society over the past decade.”—Ami Kaufman
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried last week to hide from cabinet ministers the draft of a cease-fire agreement drawn up by Egypt. A senior Israeli official said that during last Thursday evening’s cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman confronted Netanyahu, showing him the copy of the Egyptian proposal that he, Lieberman, had received, and demanded an explanation.
The Israeli official said Lieberman surprised Netanyahu with this revelation. This was the first that the other cabinet ministers had heard that Israel had received a draft cease-fire agreement from the Egyptians, and they demanded copies of their own so they could review it.
A stormy atmosphere ensued and Netanyahu found himself on the defensive. The official said Netanyahu told the cabinet members that it was only a proposal, one of many that had been updated again and again in previous days.
"I didn’t say ‘yes’ to this draft and for now we do not accept it," he told the ministers. At one point Netanyahu exited the cabinet meeting to speak with some visiting mayors from the south. That get-together was to last only a few minutes, yet Netanyahu stretched it out to more than an hour. Eventually Lieberman and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon lost their patience and left the cabinet meeting. It was decided to adjourn and continue the following morning.
When the ministers entered the cabinet room Friday morning, Netanyahu had no choice but to present the Egyptian proposal to them. He told the cabinet members that he was rejecting it because it did not answer Israel’s security demands.
And of course by security demands, Netanyahu means permanent military control and jurisdiction over Palestinian territory, which he wants even under a 2-state solution. So now, he hides ceasefire proposals from his cabinet, and has a negotiating position which is acceptable to precisely no one on the Palestinian side. It’s hard to see how anyone could seriously suggest this man is devoted to peace.
Why Darren Wilson Likely Won't Be Prosecuted For Shooting Michael Brown
The investigation of Michael Brown’s shooting is still ongoing. But there are a couple recent developments which suggest that Darren Wilson will probably not be prosecuted, or if he is, he will very likely be acquitted.
The Blaze is reporting that, according to a local St. Louis reporter, there are more than a dozen witnesses who are corroborating Darren Wilson’s version of events. The Gateway Pundit is also now claiming that, according to two local St. Louis sources, Darren Wilson suffered a fractured orbital bone during his confrontation with Michael Brown.
I don’t know if either of these things are true. The Ferguson police department has been discredited more than once recently, and there’s no way to verify The Gateway Pundit’s sources. It also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that they wouldn’t have disclosed Wilson’s injuries at the press conference where they identified Darren Wilson as the shooter. So both of these reports seem a little suspect.
But if it turns out that both of these things are true, then in my opinion, the prospects of prosecuting Darren Wilson are very slim.
The question here, for legal purposes, is not whether Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown and killed him. There is no dispute that this occurred. The question is whether Officer Darren Wilson found himself in circumstances which provided a legal privilege to use lethal force on Michael Brown. For police officers, this generally extends to any situation in which they reasonably believe that a suspect is creating an imminent threat of serious injury or death to themselves or a third party. Such a privilege would be an affirmative defense to any criminal homicide charge.
Even if the case went to court, a dozen corroborating witnesses and a fractured orbital bone is reasonable doubt in a case like this. Even if we could magically remove the institutional racism of the criminal justice system, and the tendency for juries to forgive even blatant police misconduct, no fair-minded jury would convict someone of criminal homicide in a case where justification of lethal force is an issue, and they have documented injuries showing signs of struggle along with a dozen eyewitnesses confirming the defendant’s version of the story. Pile the institutional racism and jury-based police sympathy back on, and you have a fairly effective cocktail for inoculating Darren Wilson against prosecution.
Again, the investigation is still ongoing, and we may discover that the Ferguson police department is (once again) not being completely honest. We may also discover that Darren Wilson does not actually have a fractured orbital bone (again, why wouldn’t the Ferguson PD have released this information sooner if that’s true?). But if both of these things turn out to be true, it is highly unlikely that Darren Wilson will be prosecuted for shooting Michael Brown, absent a figurative smoking gun that hasn’t been released yet.
Not too long ago, I suggested that Israel may have triggered the Third Intifada with Operation Protective Edge. Here is more evidence of that being the case:
I have just returned from a work visit to Ramallah. I am very concerned and disturbed by what I heard from friends and colleagues there. The calm appearance of the city hides the sizzling bubbling under the surface. The West Bankis on the verge of explosion.
As an illustration of what I’ve heard from people I spoke with, on the way home I listened to some Palestinian popular radio stations. All of the songs were full of praise for Hamas and al-Qassam Brigades – “let’s hit Tel Aviv with our rockets” and much worse . It was horrible to hear the drums of war and battle calls on the radio.
I was told that scenes that haven’t appeared for years since the intifada are now all over Ramallah, Bethlehem and throughout the West Bank – street gangs of masked men with weapons calling for young people to join the Al Aqsa Brigades and other battalions – “revenge for the death of our brothers and sisters in Gaza, we are all Gaza, we are all-Qassam Brigades.”
There is no more talk of peace and two states. The discussions on the street and in the cafes are all about the end of the ceasefire and the renewal of war in Gaza. They say the Jews’ war is not against Hamas, it is against all Palestinians, and the Qassam Brigades are the only ones fighting the Zionists, who want to kill all the Palestinians.
Abbas is described almost as a public enemy. Every day, Mohammed Dahlan transmits calls against Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, from the Gulf. Dahlan and other important Fatah leaders in the West Bank are calling on Palestinian security forces to stop the security coordination with Israel and use their weapons against Israel instead. There are calls to attack settlements and to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Back in May, after another round of peace negotiations collapsed, a frustrated U.S. diplomat blamed Israeli officials for the impasse and told the Israeli press that “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.” It is a sad reflection of the current state of affairs that this observation appears primed to be an accurate prediction of the future, rather than just a frustrated peace negotiator venting his frustration.
“In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified…The problem over many decades, in other words, was a near-total lack of accountability for wrongdoing; and if police on duty believe they can get away with almost anything, they will act accordingly. As a military pilot, I knew that if law professionals investigated police-related deaths like, say, the way that the National Transportation Safety Board investigated aviation mishaps, police-related deaths would be at an all time low.”—Michael Bell
Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled.
After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.”
“[W]hen compared with other groups, African American protesters are more likely to draw police presence and that once police are present they are more likely to make arrests, use force and violence, and use force and violence in combination with arrests at African American protest events.”—
A 91-year-old Dutch man who was declared a Righteous Among the Nations for saving a Jew during the German occupation on Thursday returned his medal and certificate because six of his relatives were killed by an Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip last month.
In 2011, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum declared Henk Zanoli and his late mother, Johana Zanoli-Smit, Righteous Among the Nations for having saved a Jewish child, Elhanan Pinto, during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Pinto, born in 1932, was hidden by the Zanoli family from the spring of 1943 until the Allies liberated Holland in 1945. His parents perished in Nazi death camps.
“Against this background it is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza. Murder carried out by the State of Israel,” he wrote.
“The great- great grandchildren of my mother have lost their [Palestinian] grandmother, three uncles, an aunt and a cousin at the hands of the Israeli army … For me to hold on to the honour granted by the State of Israel, under these circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous mother who risked her life and that of her children fighting against suppression and for the preservation of human life as well as an insult to those in my family, four generations on, who lost no less than six of their relatives in Gaza at the hands of the State of Israel.”
I think one of the saddest things about Robin Williams dying is the fact that he was as likable off-screen as he was on the stage. Many celebrities cultivate a positive public image for the sake of appearances, but when the cameras are off, they turn into douchebags. You can’t find a single bad word about this guy anywhere. Everybody who knew him says that Robin Williams was a very kind-hearted, down-to-earth guy and extremely nice to everyone around him. We didn’t just lose a great talent, but a great human being.
Highway Patrol officers — wearing no SWAT gear — arrived in Ferguson late Thursday afternoon. Cheers greeted the announcement by the head of the patrol, Capt. Ron Johnson, over a megaphone that he and his officers were “going to march with you.”
Johnson told reporters: “I understand the anger and fear the residents of Ferguson are feeling, and our police officers will respect both of them.”
Missouri Governor puts highway patrol in charge of Ferguson (X)
It’s amazing how they were able to survive the “angry mob” and even walk among them without riot gear. Could it be possible that listening to and validating black people’s concerns over the anti-black police force could actually do some good? Could treating them like real live human beings instead of insulting, threatening, terrifying, and assaulting them can actually make a difference?
Robin Williams was sober but struggling with early stages of Parkinson’s Disease at the time of his death, his wife said Thursday.
“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid,” his wife Susan Schneider said in a statement.
“Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.
“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.
“It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”
A handful of people on Twitter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and one at The Washington Post were outraged last night that libertarians weren’t criticizing the militarized police forces in Ferguson. Paul Waldman at The Post wrote:
Senator Rand Paul, right now America’s most prominent libertarian (yes, I know, some don’t consider him a real libertarian), hasn’t said anything about the case — no public comments, no news releases, nothing on Twitter, nothing on Facebook. I contacted his office just to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything, and a press staffer told me they have no statement at this time. I also called the office of Rep. Justin Amash, known as the purest libertarian in the House, and got the same answer: he hasn’t said anything about it, and they have no statement to make. How about mustachioed libertarian TV personality John Stossel? Just a couple of weeks ago he was writing about the militarization of the police. He hasn’t said a peep about Ferguson.
Waldman’s argument, then, rests on the silence of Rand Paul and John Stossel. I agree that Paul should have issued a statement but considering he represents Kentucky and not Missouri, he’s not necessarily obligated to do so. [edit: Time published an editorial by Rand Paul on police militarization this afternoon] As for Stossel: give me a break, nobody cares what he thinks.
LTMC: It’s pretty silly to suggest that Libertarians aren’t upset about what’s happening in Ferguson. The police represent the very thing that Libertarians arguably complain about most: the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence in civil society. Abuse of that authority is public enemy #1 in the Libertarian worldview.
We call upon the citizens of the United States to rise up and stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson. They are currently fighting for their right to peacefully protest. The media will have you believe that these protesters are looters and criminals. This is certainly not the case. As we’ve seen tonight with our own eyes, the police began preemptively striking the protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bangs. We’ve seen journalists assaulted and arrested, targeted by tear gas and rubber bullets, and told to turn off their cameras and move away or be subject to arrest. We witnessed as police threatened demonstrators to DISPERSE AND RETURN TO THEIR HOMES, and then firing tear gas in people’s own yards.
We cannot sit still and watch this happen. It is our time to get off our chairs, turn off the TV, and make ourselves heard. Let us all stand in solidarity with Mike Brown, the people of Ferguson, and every single person that was brutality murdered by so-called authority.
Anonymous plans to assist with protests by leaving our keyboards and going on the ground with the people. Our collective will join those who demonstrate on the streets. ***DAY OF RAGE, AUGUST 14TH 2014*** ________________________________________________________________________________________________ CITIES (Hours correspond with local time for each city): ________________________________________ CHICAGO - 6:00PM (Richard J Daley Center, 50 W Washington St, Chicago, Illinois 60602) DETROIT - 7:00PM (Hart Plaza, One Hart Plaza, Detroit, Michigan 48226) NEW YORK - 7:00PM (Lower Manhattan: Union Square; Upper Manhattan: By Morningside Park entrance @ 123 Street and Morningside in Harlem; Brooklyn: Fulton Park in Bed-Stuy; Queens: Baisely Pond Park, Jamaica, New York 11436) WASHINGTON D.C. - 7:00PM (Malcolm X Park, Washington, District of Columbia 20009) BOSTON - 7:00PM (INSIDE BOSTON COMMON near the corner of Beacon St and Park St in front of the Massachusetts State House) LOS ANGELES - 4:00PM (LEIMERT PLAZA PARK 4395 Leimert Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008) NEW ORLEANS - 6:00PM (Lafayette Square, New Orleans, LA 70130) (If your city is not mentioned, now is the time to organize.) ________________________________________________________________________________________________ *=+*+=Wear red ribbons or arm bands to show your support.=+*=+* #StandWithFerguson #OpFerguson Expect Everyone.
Hacktivist group Anonymous is making strides in their stated mission to award justice to Michael Brown and victims of police brutality overall.
As part of “Operation Ferguson,” the cyber activist group has leaked the St. Louis County police dispatch audio recording from August 9, 2014, the day Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.
To this day the offending officer remains unnamed by Ferguson brass. However Anonymous has stated they are very close to confirming the officer’s identification and they have plans to tweet the information once it is obtained.
The recording was posted by @TheAnonMessage, a twitter account connected with Anonymous. The group promises an ongoing review of those recordings.
Discussion over the incident can be heard at about 10 minutes in. @TheAnonMessage has live tweeted their commentary as they review the tapes. They found the officer called for crowd control first, before any mention of a shooting was made. The police did not get word of the shooting until it was reported by the news.
I showed my husband (an MP in the military) the video. He says that it was wrong for the following (and not just obvious) reasons:
With that much distance between the police and the protesters (and it wasn’t a riot, mind you), an officer should have come and given a proclamation telling the crowd to disperse because without a permit, it was illegal to protest there. The police in Ferguson failed to do this.
If the crowd didn’t disperse, a shield formation should have gathered to begin to push back the crowd. No physical contact should be made. If someone becomes violent, a gap would open in the wall, the protester would be taken in, zip-tied and handed off. The police in Ferguson failed to do this.
If the protest became a riot, and a violent one, then a few canisters of tear gas are to be used. What was used in the video was beyond excessive. An area should never be saturated like that. The police in Ferguson failed to do this.
Rubber bullets are to be used in a violent riot. Not a peaceful protest. The police in Ferguson failed to do this.
He says that at this point, the National Guard should be brought in because the police are out of control and what happened in this video was totally unacceptable and wrong.
Fuck the police in Ferguson. This is barbaric.
LTMC: When even other law enforcement officials are saying the force used was excessive, I think it’s safe to say the force used was excessive.