April 16, 2014
portiaofourchambers:

via.
This is a pretty helpful infographic, but like most “know your rights” information out there, it raises more questions than it answers.  
Generally speaking, I tell clients, friends and family that in a police encounter the best thing to do is be respectful and truthful. If you don’t feel like you can tell the truth without getting into trouble or arousing further suspicion, ask if you are free to leave, and if you are told you are not free to leave, inform the officer that you will not be answering any more questions until you have spoken with an attorney.  Then just stand your ground, continue to be respectful and polite but don’t say anything more.
"I’m sorry, officer, I don’t consent to searches," is a great phrase to have in your back pocket.  And you guys — don’t consent to searches.  Even if you believe you have nothing to hide.

LTMC: I like to tell people that it’s not their job to help the Government prove them guilty of anything.  Never consent to searches.  Always say “no” when they ask you if you know why they pulled you over, even if you think you do (you’re not in the officer’s head, and they may have pulled you over for a different reason.  Don’t accidentally implicate yourself to another crime!).  
Never give them more information than they ask for.  Keep your answers as brief as possible.  Even if you think you have nothing to hide, you’d be surprised how often people are breaking the law without even realizing it.  Giving elaborate answers may inadvertently provide police probable cause to search you or your vehicle.
They can ask you for your driver’s license and registration, and in New York, they can ask you to take a breathalyzer (you technically can refuse, but if you do, it’s an automatic license revocation).  Police can also order you to step out of your vehicle.  Even if they start to search you or your car illegally, let them do it.  Don’t be a martyr.  You’ll just get yourself into more trouble.  It’s not fair, but it’s reality.  Remember, they have a gun.  And they’re far more concerned about their own safety than yours.  Challenge it in court, not on the sidewalk.
With that being said, I’m in the process of writing an article premised on the idea that no attorney should advise a client to voluntarily speak to the police under any circumstances—even if they witness or are a victim of criminal activity*—because anecdotal evidence suggests it will always be against their penal interest to do so, absent structural reforms in the law.
People do dumb and/or weird things when they’re in stressful situations.  They say things they don’t mean.  They utter sentences that come out wrong.  They misspeak.  They remember things wrong.  They give vague answers that can be interpreted in multiple ways.  This creates a high risk of accidentally implicating yourself in a crime.  It’s even higher when you’re being detained.  
Other times, people simply react as one would expect, and they end up paying for it. Like Kenny Dixon, who discovered his stepson’s dead body in his garage after the latter committed suicide.  A police officer at the scene grabbed Dixon’s arm and tried to push him away from his stepson’s body.  Dixon, who was understandably inconsolable, asked the officer not to touch him.  Dixon was tackled, punched, and beaten by several officers at the scene, then arrested and charged a felony.  Thank goodness the police were there to help the victim’s family cope with their grief!
So yes, don’t talk to the police unless you have to.  If you’re being detained, don’t consent to searches, always answer “no” when asked if you know why you’re being detained, and don’t give them more information than they ask for.  Even fi you think you’re helping your case, it’s far more likely that you aren’t.

*(excepting mandatory reporting laws, of course)

portiaofourchambers:

via.

This is a pretty helpful infographic, but like most “know your rights” information out there, it raises more questions than it answers.  

Generally speaking, I tell clients, friends and family that in a police encounter the best thing to do is be respectful and truthful. If you don’t feel like you can tell the truth without getting into trouble or arousing further suspicion, ask if you are free to leave, and if you are told you are not free to leave, inform the officer that you will not be answering any more questions until you have spoken with an attorney.  Then just stand your ground, continue to be respectful and polite but don’t say anything more.

"I’m sorry, officer, I don’t consent to searches," is a great phrase to have in your back pocket.  And you guys — don’t consent to searches.  Even if you believe you have nothing to hide.

LTMC: I like to tell people that it’s not their job to help the Government prove them guilty of anything.  Never consent to searches.  Always say “no” when they ask you if you know why they pulled you over, even if you think you do (you’re not in the officer’s head, and they may have pulled you over for a different reason.  Don’t accidentally implicate yourself to another crime!).  

Never give them more information than they ask for.  Keep your answers as brief as possible.  Even if you think you have nothing to hide, you’d be surprised how often people are breaking the law without even realizing it.  Giving elaborate answers may inadvertently provide police probable cause to search you or your vehicle.

They can ask you for your driver’s license and registration, and in New York, they can ask you to take a breathalyzer (you technically can refuse, but if you do, it’s an automatic license revocation).  Police can also order you to step out of your vehicle.  Even if they start to search you or your car illegally, let them do it.  Don’t be a martyr.  You’ll just get yourself into more trouble.  It’s not fair, but it’s reality.  Remember, they have a gun.  And they’re far more concerned about their own safety than yours.  Challenge it in court, not on the sidewalk.

With that being said, I’m in the process of writing an article premised on the idea that no attorney should advise a client to voluntarily speak to the police under any circumstances—even if they witness or are a victim of criminal activity*—because anecdotal evidence suggests it will always be against their penal interest to do so, absent structural reforms in the law.

People do dumb and/or weird things when they’re in stressful situations.  They say things they don’t mean.  They utter sentences that come out wrong.  They misspeak.  They remember things wrong.  They give vague answers that can be interpreted in multiple ways.  This creates a high risk of accidentally implicating yourself in a crime.  It’s even higher when you’re being detained.  

Other times, people simply react as one would expect, and they end up paying for it. Like Kenny Dixon, who discovered his stepson’s dead body in his garage after the latter committed suicide.  A police officer at the scene grabbed Dixon’s arm and tried to push him away from his stepson’s body.  Dixon, who was understandably inconsolable, asked the officer not to touch him.  Dixon was tackled, punched, and beaten by several officers at the scene, then arrested and charged a felony.  Thank goodness the police were there to help the victim’s family cope with their grief!

So yes, don’t talk to the police unless you have to.  If you’re being detained, don’t consent to searches, always answer “no” when asked if you know why you’re being detained, and don’t give them more information than they ask for.  Even fi you think you’re helping your case, it’s far more likely that you aren’t.

*(excepting mandatory reporting laws, of course)

April 16, 2014
US elections are rigged. But Canada knows how to fix them.

From the article:

So is it possible to end gerrymandering? Well, the country just north of us managed to pull it off. “Canadian reapportionment was highly partisan from the beginning until the 1960s,” writes Charles Paul Hoffman in the Manitoba Law Journal. This “led to frequent denunciations by the media and opposition parties. Every ten years, editorial writers would condemn the crass gerrymanders that had resulted.” Sound familiar?

Eventually, in 1955, one province — Manitoba — decided to experiment, and handed over the redistricting process to an independent commission. Its members were the province’s chief justice, its chief electoral officer, and the University of Manitoba president. The new policy became popular, and within a decade, it was backed by both major national parties, and signed into law.

Independent commissions now handle the redistricting in every province.  "Today, most Canadian ridings [districts] are simple and uncontroversial, chunky and geometric, and usually conform to the vague borders of some existing geographic / civic region knowable to the average citizen who lives there," writes JJ McCullough. “Of the many matters Canadians have cause to grieve their government for, corrupt redistricting is not one of them.” Hoffman concurs, writing, “The commissions have been largely successful since their implementation.”

April 15, 2014
Former police officer pleads guilty to faking DUI reports, collecting overtime

LTMC: emphasis mine.  This is what happens when you give financial incentives to police departments to “make” crime.  Corruption inevitably follows.

(Source: generalinjusticeblog)

7:39pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnx1D9XF5B
  
Filed under: politics police dui dwi 
April 12, 2014
How Lending A Friend Your Car, Then Going to Bed Can Land You a Life Prison Sentence

From the article:

Several years ago I read a piece in The New York Times by Adam Liptak about Ryan Holle. Ryan, who had no prior record, is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole in Florida. He was convicted of pre-meditated murder, even though no one, including the prosecutor, disputes that Ryan was asleep in his bed at home at the time of the crime. This could only happen in America, because we are the only country that retains the Felony Murder Rule. What the Felony Murder Rule essentially says is if anyone has anything to do with a felony in which a murder takes place, such as a robbery, that person is as guilty as the person who has committed the murder. Every other country including England, India and Canada has gotten rid of it because of its unintended consequences. In America, Michigan, Kentucky and Hawaii no longer have the law. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled, when they discarded the Felony Murder Rule, that a person should be held responsible for his own actions not the actions of others. 

Read more

April 11, 2014
When Judges Attack: Prosecutorial Smackdown Edition

An Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx was recently destroyed in open court by a Bronx Criminal Court Judge.  The judge was livid about the D.A.’s failure to turn over exculpatory evidence to the Defense during a rape trial.  The Defendant spent eight months in prison awaiting trial, and the evidence wasn’t disclosed until the end of the trial, after closing arguments.  The judge took the rare step of barring the prosecutor from ever appearing in his courtroom again.  The transcript of the hearing is epic, to say the least:

The Court: I think I’ve heard enough. You can stay standing. 

I was admitted to the bar in April of 1987, and I was, at the time, an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx DA’s Office.  I’ve always been very proud of that association, until today.  I also served as a defense lawyer and 18B counsel.  I’ve tried homicides; I have tried child molestation cases; and I have tried drug sale cases.

I have now been on this bench nine years and three months.  In all that time, as a prosecutor, as a defense lawyer, as judge, I have never once seen a Brady violation as egregious as this.

To my mind, this is an utter and complete disgrace, not just for you, but for your office in general.  Disgrace.

The excuse you offer, passing the file back and forth, no one looking and no one knowing what anything is, saddens me on one level and makes me sick on another.

For my own peace of mind, I absolutely refuse to believe that you did this on purpose.  However, it is gross negligence on your part to have not found this information, and turned it over to Defense, and for your supervisor to find it and turn it over right after Defense summations.  I emphasize those words: Gross negligence.

I recall the Defense asking before the trial started for any notes that the People had in their possession, and you blithely said, “No, we don’t have any notes.”  It turned out, unfortunately, to be a lie.  Your actions bring disgrace to both your office and to yourself.

But what really concerns me more than anything else is: Where is the justice for your complaining witness?  Where is her justice?  She had the right to have this case heard by a jury and have that jury decide whether or not they believed her allegations.  She’s lost her chance at that justice due to your conduct.

What about [the Defendant’s] justice?  The Defendant had a right to have a jury decide whether or not they believed those allegations.  Where is his justice waiting for his trial?  You have failed on so many levels, on so many levels.

Here are your sanctions:  You’re going to leave this room, and you’re never going to come back.  You can’t appear before me anymore.  I’ll tell you why, because I cannot trust anything you say or do.  I can’t believe you.  I can’t believe your credibility anymore.  The only thing a lawyer has has to offer is their integrity and their credibility, and when you’ve lost that, there is no purpose in your appearing before this Court.

Step out.

March 31, 2014
Judge said du Pont heir 'will not fare well' in prison

kohenari:

A Superior Court judge who sentenced a wealthy du Pont heir to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter noted in her order that he “will not fare well” in prison and needed treatment instead of time behind bars, court records show.

Judge Jan Jurden’s sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV suggested that she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards was a rare and puzzling rationale, several criminal justice authorities in Delaware said. Some also said her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is a justification typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.

A lot of people are furious about the sentence handed down in this case, not to mention the language used to justify it. And I understand their shock and their outrage. But I don’t share it.

As someone who advocates for a more restorative approach to justice, it seems to me that a prison sentence in this case isn’t accomplishing anything other than punishment. And, given the details of the offense, the judge is almost certainly right that the offender would not fare well in prison. He’d likely be savagely beaten, raped, murdered … or all of the above. He might be put in protective custody in prison, but that would mean solitary confinement all day every day for the duration of his sentence which is, I think, a form of torture.

Of course, this is precisely what some people want: Offenders ought to be made to suffer in prison. The virtue of that suffering is the suffering itself; we are outraged by the offense and we want to pay back the offender in kind. That, for a great many people, is the whole point of prison. It’s why people complain about anything from prisoners’ access to educational opportunities, to television privileges, and to three square meals a day. If you’re watching tv or taking a correspondence course, you’re obviously not suffering enough for the offense that landed you in prison.

For my part, I think we’d do better to think about steps we can take to right the wrong that occurred and to ensure that it isn’t repeated. Of course, it’s clear that society needs to be protected from dangerous offenders and so, in some cases, probation would be completely inappropriate; this doesn’t appear to be one of those cases. But in case my reading of the situation is incorrect and this offender presents a potentially ongoing danger, the judge has mandated treatment (both inpatient and then outpatient) and has ordered the offender to stay away from children. Failure to comply will surely result in a prison sentence.

What remains, then, is an attempt to right the wrong or respond to the harm that has been done. In cases where an offender is sentenced to prison, the public feels that justice has been done and we can all move forward. But there’s absolutely no line drawn for us between a prison sentence for the offender and righting the wrong experienced by the victim … because there really isn’t any immediate connection between those two things and because we don’t spend a whole lot of time considering the needs of victims.

Restorative justice isn’t about leniency for offenders; it’s about discovering and attempting to meet the needs of victims while encouraging offender accountability. It’s just not clear that lengthy prison sentences under the worst possible conditions accomplishes either of those things.

I completely understand the gut feeling that something terrible ought to happen to a person who harms a child; as a father myself, I’m disgusted and outraged by this man and what he did to his children. But that doesn’t mean we ought to turn that feeling into policy, especially if doing so accomplishes nothing more than making the public feel good about getting vengeance. Taking out our collective wrath on offenders doesn’t necessarily do anything to help their victims, nor does it automatically lead to offender accountability. Working to accomplish those things, rather than to sate our desire for vengeance, would likely result in a radical change in the way we think about justice and punishment, and the way we respond to crime.

LTMC: With stories like this, I find that people often have difficulty separating two issues: inequality of outcomes versus the qualitative justice of each outcome.  

It is unjust that poor sex offenders typically get thrown to the wolves in prison, while a rich sex offender is given treatment and probation because he “won’t fare well” in prison.  Wealth shouldn’t dictate the kind of justice a person receives.  That’s an inequality of outcomes that everyone can agree is unfair.

The question remains, however, of how outcomes should be equalized. The knee-jerk reaction to this situation is that this guy escaped a well-deserved stint in the punitive hellscapes America calls prisons.  But sentencing a person to eternity in a concrete hate factory is not necessarily the right result, for all the reasons Prof. Kohen stated above. 

There are ways that we can deal with serious sex offenders that don’t involve subjecting them to the absolute worst humanity has to offer—particularly since sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of all violent crimes.  Contrary to popular belief, many of these people are  redeemable.  

But what about the victims?  How will they get justice unless the offender suffers commensurate to their crime?  I’ll let the infamous bleeding heart hippie Winston Churchill plead my case:

The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country. A calm dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused, and even of the convicted criminal, against the State— a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment— a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry those who have paid their due in the hard coinage of punishment: tireless efforts towards discovery of curative and regenerative processes: unfailing faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man. These are the symbols, which in the treatment of crime and criminal, mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are sign and proof of the living virtue in it.

March 31, 2014

darthvadersmoms:

  • AKP (yellow): %45.5
  • CHP: (red): %28.1
  • MHP: (blue): %15.3
  • BDP/HDP: (green+purple) %6

Turkey, my country, is a lost cause. After all the things happening since June 2013 (killing of 9 peope, proven allegations of corruption, violation of human rights and freedoms,) AKP still gets 45% of the votes. 

However, a part of the votes are stolen or manipulated. AKP officials shut down the electricity for hours in nearly every town where CHP is leading the race. There are eyewitness reports from all over the country that voting attendants turned CHP votes into AKP votes/or didn’t count CHP votes properly/burned the vote papers, especially in Ankara and Istanbul. You can see how close the race was in Ankara, the capital of the country. 

Please reblog this or at least talk about this one of your friends or your family so people would know what we are dealing with. Firm believers in democracy slept on bags full of votes last night because they were afraid that some people would steal them before they are counted. I believe both Mustafa Sarıgül (CHP/Istanbul) & Mansur Yavaş (CHP/Ankara) won the elections by close votes, and it is killing me knowing that we actually won the elections first time in 13 years, and they didn’t count our votes. 

LTMC: With Ukraine stealing the international spotlight recently, best not to forget that things are happening in other parts of the world, too.

3:16pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnx1Bkan3v
  
Filed under: politics turkey 
March 29, 2014

pistoleighta:

navithefairy:

semi-okayish-vibes:

casualdorkpatrol:

florida-project:

Jazz for Cows

this is the best thing i have ever seen

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT

Jazz for your cow

this made me happy

the universal language 

LTMC: Cows love jazz.

(via progressivefriends)

9:15pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnx1BZqBi4
  
Filed under: politics 
March 29, 2014
Criminalizing Poverty

"The Law, in it’s majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread."  Anatole FranceLe Lys Rouge (The Red Lily), ch. 7

About a week ago, a homeless Arizona mother with 2 young children left her kids in the car while she attended a job interview.  GIven that she is homeless and looking for work, you can probably imagine that she couldn’t afford childcare.  The kids were obviously not happy to be left in a hot car with no air conditioning in the dry heat of Arizona.  But you’d think people would at least be applauding this woman for “pulling herself up by her own bootstraps.”  

Instead, she was arrested for child abuse.  Here is the headline from a local news station:

image

The average person who reads this headline will think this woman is a scumbag.  They won’t get the complete picture that is painted later in the article:

The mother, Shanesha Taylor, 35, returned to the vehicle about 45 minutes later and told the officer she had just finished a job interview and did not have anyone to watch her children.

"She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation,” said Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark. 

She was arrested and booked into jail for child abuse.

Her children are now in CPS custody.

Why did the local news station not put this in their headline?  Why not “Homeless Mother Who Couldn’t Afford Childcare Arrested For Leaving Kids In Car During Job Interview?”  That’s 15 words instead of 12.  Not exactly going to break the printing press.  Why make this woman look like a scumbag instead of a desperate, poor woman who has run out of options and is doing the best she can?

Sadly, the fact remains that Shanesha Taylor was technically in violation of the law when she left her kids in the car.  Taylor’s arrest is part of a long and proud tradition of criminalizing poverty in America.  It fits in well with Rudy Guliani’s infamous crusade against the homeless in New York City.  In San Francisco in the 1990’s, nuns were arrested for serving hot meals to the homeless.  In years past, vagrancy laws were used as a carte blanche for police to detain or arrest “idle” people without homes or jobs.  

Today, the poor are subject to more suspicion, surveillance, and scrutiny than any other section of the population.  This is exemplified by the police using legal buzz words like "high crime area" to carve away the Constitutional rights of people living in poor neighborhoods.  It is exemplified by the fact that law enforcement agents target residents of impoverished communities, where they coax financially desperate people into committing crimes by dangling the promise of wealth in front of their faces.  It is exemplified by the obsession of federal drug agents with "open air drug markets," despite the fact that police are just as likely (perhaps even more likely) to find evidence of drug crime behind closed doors in middle class and wealthy communities.

The media doesn’t help.  They use shocking headlines to paint the poor as criminals, and then bury the nuances at the end of the article, which many people won’t bother to read.  Many people who read the headline pictured above will walk away thinking Shanesha Taylor is a bad mother, rather than a mother who was simply doing the best she could with the cards she’d been dealt.  Did she break the law?  Yes.  But she didn’t really have any other options.  

This is an excellent example of a situation that the criminal justice system was not designed to solve.  It would be one thing if CPS was simply taking Taylor’s children until she can get back on her feet.  But that’s not what happened here.  Shanesha can’t look for a job while she’s in jail.  And the mere fact that she’s been arrested will make it harder to get back on her feet due to the stigma of her arrest.  The criminal justice system is not helping Shanesha Taylor or her children.  It is doing both of them active injury.  Criminalizing poverty doesn’t make it go away.  If anything, it just creates more.

March 29, 2014
You are being lied to about pirates

medievalpoc:

incisiveredneck:

Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the 18th century.”

They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

[snipped responses]

Actually, the most successful pirate in history was Ching Shih, a Chinese woman who commanded over 300 junks manned by 20,000 to 40,000 pirates.

image

It also looks like they’re going to make a TV Series based on her life Starring Maggie Q:

Deadline is reporting that one of our favorite historical ladies may be coming to a television screen near you: Ching Shih, a pirate’s widow who, at the dawn of the 1800′s, began a career that would make her one of the most notorious pirates in the world, the terror of the Chinese, British, and Portugese navies, so unstoppable that the only way to end her naval empire wound up being to offer her complete amnesty and a nice retirement.

image

Maggie Q, late of Nikita, Mission: Impossible III, and Young Justice, is”set to headline a limited series from Steven Jensen’s Independent Television Group, Mike Medavoy & Benjamin Anderson of Phoenix Pictures (Black Swan), and Fred Fuchs (Transporter). Titled Red Flag, the series is set in the early 1800s and centers on Ching Shih (Maggie Q), a beautiful young Chinese prostitute who goes on to become one of history’s most powerful pirates and head of the most successful crime syndicate in China.”

Little is known of Ching Shih’s early life, so our accounts of her usually begin with pirate leader Zheng Yi taking a cantonese prostitute for his wife. During their marriage, Ching Shih was fully a part of her husband’s profession. After his death, she maneuvered and politicked her way into the lead position of his fleet, taking as a lover and new husband a man she could trust to take care of (and I might be reading a little too far into Wikipedia here) all the boring administrative stuff. Under Ching Shih, her fleet adopted a strict code of conduct governing loyalty and the distribution of loot and stolen goods, as well as personal conduct.

Ching Shih was also remarkable for being one of the only famous pirates to retire and die of natural causes. Giving up on defeating her, the Chinese government offered complete amnesty to all pirates, and she accepted, taking her ill-gotten gains and opening a gambling house, eventually dying at the age of 69.

LTMC: amazing stuff.  The original article is from 2009.  It gives some insight into why the Somali pirate “problem” came to exist in recent years:

In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed. Its 9 million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the U.N. envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no cleanup, no compensation and no prevention.”

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by over-exploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300 million worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia’s unprotected seas.

The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”

This is the context in which the men we are calling “pirates” have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coast Guard of Somalia – and it’s not hard to see why.

In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters … We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas.” William Scott would understand those words.

No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Program supplies. But the “pirates” have the overwhelming support of the local population for a reason. The independent Somalian news site WardherNews conducted the best research we have into what ordinary Somalis are thinking – and it found 70 percent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defense of the country’s territorial waters.”

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »