"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Police Brutality’

Open Season On Young Black Men In America Continues: NYPD Cops Shot 16-Year-Old Kimani Gray While He Was On The Ground

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Carol Gray, mother of Kimani Gray, 16, killed by police after he allegedly pulled a gun Saturday night, talked about the lingering doubts about the police story at Councilman Charles Barron's office in East NY Brooklyn this afternoon. The shooting has led to several nights of rioting and arrests. HERE, picture of Kimani and mom two years prior. March 14, 2013 (Photo by Todd Maisel, New York Daily News)Oldspeak: “Details are still emerging in this latest police shooting of a young black man in a poor neighborhood. Troubling details like the 2 cops involved have a notable history of violent civil rights violations, fabricating and falsifying evidence, and unconstitutional and aggressive stop-and-frisk practices.  Now this latest witness revelation that these violent and aggressive “peace officers” stood over and continued to shoot this frail, 5’6″, 100 pound child to death.  Then threatening the lives of witnesses asking why the officers shot the child so many times. This boy was shot to death after he  “adjusted his waistband in a manner the officers deemed suspicious.” According to friends, cops have been harassing  Kimami for some time and “were out for him“, even making fun of his older brother’s death in a car accident 2 years ago. The cops say they shot him because he pointed a .38 revolver at them.  All the news stories make a point of this and that the revolver he pointed was recovered at the scene. Yet NYPD has not as yet clarified the source of this claim.  “The scene” is a decent sized space. Was the gun recovered near Kimani’s body? It wasn’t fired. Did it have Kimani’s fingerprints on it?  Is it police protocol to shoot people before identifying themselves as police officers? Why after the child fell did the cops continue shooting, getting close enough stand over him while doing so, instead of tackling and subduing him physically? When analyzing a case where the officers have a history of excessive force, false arrests, illegal stop and search, falsifying and fabricating evidence, these are crucial questions that are not being asked? Why? I’m thinkin these crucial details are being left out for a reason.  This is a crystal clear example the unconstitutional  and racist practice of stop and frisk gone deadly wrong. Hot headed violent officers seeing suspicion where there was none, unidentified & aggressively approached a youth, who had a gun that no other publicly identified witnesses saw and fired on him repeatedly, ultimately close enough to be right on top of him while he was on the ground, without attempting to first identify themselves and diffuse the situation. This is ginormous lawsuit waiting to happen, on account of officers who’ve already cost the city 215,000 dollars in lawsuits. I’ll be very curious to see what this  investigation finds.”

Related Stories:

Voices from Brooklyn: Racial Profiling’s Part of Everyday Life Here

Oscar Grant, A Victim Of American Fear: Decades After The Civil-Rights Era, Cops Shooting Unarmed Black Men Is Barely A Crime

By Ryan Devereaux @ The Village Voice:

The only publicly identified eyewitness in the killing of a Brooklyn teen by two New York City police officers is standing by her claim that the young man was empty-handed when he was gunned down, and now says one of the cops involved threatened her life.

In an extended interview with the Village Voice Saturday night–one week to the day after 16-year-old Kimani Gray was killed–Tishana King, 39, provided new, vivid details about the 10th-grader’s final moments.

King said one officer stood “right over” Gray, continuing to shoot him while he was on the ground, and that neither cop identified himself as law enforcement when the incident began.

Read More:
- Tensions Mount After Police Fatally Shoot Brooklyn Teenager Kimani Gray
- Eyewitness “Certain” Kimani Gray Was Unarmed When Police Shot Him
- Police and Protesters Clash at Kimani Gray Vigil in Brooklyn

Sgt. Mourad Mourad, 30, and Officer Jovaniel Cordova, 26, were identified as the officers involved in the shooting. Both are decorated members of the NYPD who have been involved in prior non-fatal shootings and received awards for their actions. They have also been targeted in five federal lawsuits stemming from allegations ranging from illegal stop-and-frisks to physical abuse, costing the city $215,000. Both have been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues.

The police department says the officers were patrolling in East Flatbush in an unmarked car around 11:30 p.m. last weekend when they spotted a group of young men, one of whom adjusted his waistband in a manner the officers deemed suspicious. According to the police, the individual broke away from the group as the officers approached.

In a statement last week, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, “After the anti-crime sergeant and police officer told the suspect to show his hands, which was heard by witnesses, Gray produced a revolver and pointed it at the officers, who fired a total of 11 rounds, striking Gray several times.” A loaded .38-caliber Rohm’s Industry revolver was recovered at the scene.

Whether or not Gray had a gun, King said she never saw one pointed at the police. “I can’t say if they had one on them or not, but no one had a gun pointing at the cops,” she told the Voice.

King’s account, which contradicts the NYPD’s version of the events on key points, builds on what she first said in a New York Daily News article published last Tuesday. King told the paper she was “certain [Gray] didn’t have anything in his hands.” The article described a tape-recorded interview she gave to police investigators hours after the shooting. A police spokesman told the paper that when investigators asked King what she saw, she told them “she couldn’t see what the boys were doing ‘from the angle I was at.’”

But King told the Voice that from her third-floor vantage point, “I can see everything.” A street light illuminates the area where the incident took place.

Speaking to the Voice on her stoop Saturday evening, King made her first comments on the case since NYPD responded to her claims. She confirmed that she was interviewed by police–”about two hours after” the shooting–and says she has not been interviewed by the department since.

When asked if she saw a gun at any point during the incident, King told the Voice, “No. Not from the kids.”

An internal NYPD report cited by the Daily News stated that the officers wore badges around their necks. King said she didn’t see any: “No. No badges.”

NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly has said the department has three “ear witnesses to the shooting,” two of who said they heard the officers say “Don’t move” and a third who claims to have heard an officer ask, “What do you have in your hands?”

King claims the officers said only one thing after stepping onto the sidewalk, “‘Don’t move.’ That’s it.”

Gray was shot “on the sidewalk” two driveways down from her building, King says, near the home of a pair of twins he often visited. The kids hadn’t been around much in recent months, she added. King said she was in bed when the sound of loud voices and laughter drew her to her window last Saturday night.

“That’s why I looked out,” she said. ” To just see, ‘Oh, hey, what’s going on?’ Then when I saw it was the kids visiting, I said ‘Oh, okay.’”

Peering out from the third-story of her brick building, King claims to have seen “about seven to eight” young people. She said they had only been gathered for “maybe a minute or two” before the police arrived. “There was no suspicious behavior. The worst they were doing, laughing out loud and, you know, talking loud. That’s about it,” King said.

When asked if she recognized any of the kids, Gray said, “Just a few. I know the twins because they’re my direct next-door neighbors.” In addition to the twins, King also claims to have been familiar with Gray, though prior to the shooting she says she knew him only by his nickname, “Kiki.”

“I know him from his friends and always being in the neighborhood and visiting the twins,” she said. “He’s always a frequent visitor.” King said she recognized Gray’s voice outside the night he was killed.

King could not confirm what direction Gray was facing at the time he was shot. “I’m not the shooter. I wouldn’t be able to tell you. If I had the gun and I was shooting at him I’d be able to answer that question,” she said. King said the officers “looked white, from what I was seeing.” News reports have indicated, however, that Sgt. Mourad is Egyptian.

After the gunfire subsided, King claims the officer who “did the most shooting” put his hands on his head “like, ‘Oh my God.’” She describes him as “the main shooter.”

“That’s the one I was focused on,” she explained. “He just kept shooting while [Gray] was on the ground.” When asked how close the officer was when he was shooting Gray, King said, “right over him.”

“I thought he was dead,” King said. That’s when Gray began to scream. “‘Help me. Help me. My stomach is burning. Help me. They shot me,’” she said the teen cried out. Friends have said Gray was approximately 5’6″ and weighed at most about 100 pounds. King described him as “frail” and said she was surprised he was not killed instantly. “I didn’t think anybody could take those amount of bullets,” she added.

“I just remember screaming out the window ‘Why?! Why so much?!” King recalled. She claims the “main shooter”‘s partner–”with the short haircut”–responded.

“He started waving his gun up at our windows, myself and my neighbor. ‘Get your F-ing head out the window before I shoot you.’” King said she and her neighbor “jumped back.”

“I told the authorities that,” she said. “You threatened our lives and we didn’t even do anything.”

King says a number of questions continue to bother her. “Why did they exit their vehicles? Why were they in our neighborhood? Why were they on our block? What was the reason? Why didn’t you follow protocol?”

“The scene just keeps replaying in my head,” she told the Voice, “over and over and over and over and over again.”

New NYPD Anti-Occupy Wall Street Tactics: Sexual Assaults Of Peaceful Female Protestors

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm


Oldspeak:
“US security apparatus has long “used sexual humiliation as a tool of control.” -Naomi Wolf  “Why target women in particular? No doubt it’s partly simply the logic of the bully, to brutalize those you think are weak, and more easily traumatized. But another reason is, almost certainly, the hope of provoking violent reactions on the part of male protestors… As Gandhi revealed, non-violent protest is effective above all because it reveals how power really operates: it lays bare the violence it is willing to unleash on even the most peaceful citizens when they dare to challenge its moral legitimacy. And by doing so, it reveals the true moral bankruptcy of those who claim authority to rule us. Occupy Wall Street has demonstrated this time and time again.” -David Graeber Behold! The horror of naked, unbridled, unaccountable state-sponsored terroristic violence. Security forces breaking bones, violating civil/human rights, terrorizing peaceably assembled women, elderly, and children. The pattern repeated the world over, where ever there is protest, there is vicious and brutal police/military violence in response. Whether you choose to see it or not, The Transnational Corporate Network’s security forces are active world wide, repressing dissent and consolidating control over conscientious  dissenters. As more of us refuse to assent to the “violence inherent in the system” it will become harder and harder to  ignore it because EVERYONE will be repressed by the corporatocracy in order to perpetuate this obviously broken and unsustainable system (As many of us already are, but don’t know). Even those who think these protests have nothing to do with them or their lives. “Stay Asleep” “Ignorance Is Strength”

Related Story:

The U.S. & The Five Stages Of Collapse

By David Graeber @ Naked Capitalism:

A few weeks ago I was with a few companions from Occupy Wall Street in Union Square when an old friend — I’ll call her Eileen — passed through, her hand in a cast.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Oh, this?” she held it up. “I was in Liberty Park on the 17th [the Six Month Anniversary of the Occupation]. When the cops were pushing us out the park, one of them yanked at my breast.”

“Again?” someone said.

We had all been hearing stories like this. In fact, there had been continual reports of police officers groping women during the nightly evictions from Union Square itself over the previous two weeks.

“Yeah so I screamed at the guy, I said, ‘you grabbed my boob! what are you, some kind of fucking pervert?’ So they took me behind the lines and broke my wrists.”

Actually, she quickly clarified, only one wrist was literally broken. She proceeded to launch into a careful, well-nigh clinical blow-by-blow description of what had happened. An experienced activist, she knew to go limp when police seized her, and how to do nothing that could possibly be described as resisting arrest. Police dragged her, partly by the hair, behind their lines and threw her to the ground, periodically shouting “stop resisting!” as she shouted back “I’m not resisting!” At one point though, she said, she did tell them her glasses had fallen to the sidewalk next to her, and announced she was going to reach over to retrieve them. That apparently gave them all the excuse they needed. One seized her right arm and bent her wrist backwards in what she said appeared to be some kind of marshal-arts move, leaving it not broken, but seriously damaged. “I don’t know exactly what they did to my left wrist—at that point I was too busy screaming at the top of my lungs in pain. But they broke it. After that they put me in plastic cuffs, as tightly as they possibly could, and wouldn’t loosen them for at least an hour no matter how loud I screamed or how much the other prisoners begged them to help me. For a while everyone in the arrest van was chanting ‘take them off, take them off’ but they just ignored them…”

On March 17, several hundred members of Occupy Wall Street celebrated the six month anniversary of their first camp at Zuccotti Park by a peaceful reoccupation of the park—a reoccupation broken up within hours by police with 32 arrests. Later that evening a break-away group moved north, finally establishing itself on the southern end of Union Square, two miles away, even sleeping in park—though the city government soon after decided to defy a century-old tradition and begin closing the park every night just so they would not be able to establish a camp there. Since then, occupiers have taken advantage of past judicial rulings to continue to sleep on sidewalks outside the park, and more recently, on Wall Street itself.

During this time, peaceful occupiers have been faced with continual harassment arrests, almost invariably on fabricated charges (“disorderly conduct,” “interfering with the conduct of a police officer”—the latter a charge that can be leveled, for instance, against those who try to twist out of the way when an officer is hitting them.) I have seen one protestor at Union Square arrested, by four officers using considerable force, for sitting on the ground to pet a dog; another, for wrapping a blanket around herself (neither were given warnings; but both behaviors were considered too close to “camping”); a third, an ex-Marine, for using obscene language on the Federal steps. Others were reportedly arrested on those same steps for singing a satirical version of the “Officer Krumpke” song from West Side Story. Almost no march goes by without one or two protestors, at least, being hurled against vehicles or have their heads bashed against the ground while being arrested for straying off the sidewalk. The message here is clear. Law has nothing to do with it. Anyone who engages in Occupy Wall Street-related activity should know they can be arrested, for virtually any reason, at any time.

Many of these arrests are carried out in such a way to guarantee physical injury. The tone was set on that first night of March 17, when my friend Eileen’s wrists were broken; others suffered broken fingers, concussions, and broken ribs. Again, this was on a night where OWS actions were confined to sitting in a park, playing music, raising one or two tents, and marching down the street. To give a sense of the level of violence protestors were subjected to, during the march north to Union Square, we saw the first major incident of window-breaking in New York. The window in question was broken not by protestors, but by police—using a protestor’s head. The victim in this case was a street medic named José (owing to the likelihood of physical assault and injuries from police, OWSers in New York as elsewhere have come to carry out even the most peaceful protests accompanied by medics trained in basic first aid.) He offered no resistance.

Here is a video of the incident. The window-breaking begins at 3:45.

Police spokesmen later claimed this incident was a response to a bottle that was hurled at a police vehicle used to transport arrestees. Such claims are made almost automatically when videos appear documenting police assaults on non-violent protestors, yet, despite the presence of cameras everywhere, including those wielded by the police themselves, no actual documentation of any such claims ever seems to appear. This is no exception. In fact numerous witnesses confirmed this simply isn’t true, and even if a bottle had been thrown at an armored vehicle, not even the police have suggested they had any reason to believe the medic whose head was smashed into the window was the one who threw it.

Arbitrary violence is nothing new. The apparently systematic use of sexual assault against women protestors is new. I’m not aware of any reports of police intentionally grabbing women’s breasts before March 17, but on March 17 there were numerous reported cases, and in later nightly evictions from Union Square, the practice became so systematic that at least one woman told me her breasts were grabbed by five different police officers on a single night (in one case, while another one was blowing kisses.) The tactic appeared so abruptly, is so obviously a violation of any sort of police protocol or standard of legality, that it is hard to imagine it is anything but an intentional policy.

For obvious reasons, most of the women who have been victims of such assaults have been hesitant to come forward. Suing the city is a miserable and time-consuming task and if a woman brings any charge involving sexual misconduct, they can expect to have their own history and reputations—no matter how obviously irrelevant—raked over the coals, usually causing immense damage to their personal and professional life. The threat of doing so operates as a very effective form of intimidation. One exception is Cecily McMillan, who was not only groped but suffered a broken rib and seizures during her arrest on March 17, and held incommunicado, denied constant requests to see her lawyer, for over 24 hours thereafter. Shortly after release from the hospital she appeared on Democracy Now! And showed part of a handprint, replete with scratch-marks, that police had left directly over her right breast. (She is currently pursuing civil charges against the police department):

I’d like to emphasize this because when I first mention this, the usual reaction, from reporters or even some ordinary citizens, is incredulity. ‘Surely this must be a matter of a few rogue officers!’ It is difficult to conceive of an American police commander directly telling officers to grope women’s breasts—even through indirect code words. But we know that in other countries, such things definitely happen. In Egypt, for example, there was a sudden spate of sexual assaults by security forces against protestors in November and December 2011, and followed a very similar pattern: while women activists affirmed there had been beatings, but relatively few specifically sexual assaults during the height of the protests, starting in November, there were dozens of reports of women being groped or stripped while they were being beaten. The level of the violence in Egypt may have been more extreme, but the circumstances were identical: an attempt to revive a protest movement through re-occupation is met by a sudden ratcheting up of tactics by the security forces, and in particular, the sudden dramatic appearance of a tactic of sexual attacks on women. It is hard to imagine in either case it was a coincidence. In Egypt, no serious observer is even suggesting that it was.

Of course we cannot how such decisions are made, or conveyed; in fact, most of us find it unpleasant even to contemplate the idea of police officials ordering or encouraging sexual assault against the very citizens they are sworn to protect. But this seems to be precisely what is happening here.
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For many, the thought of police officials ordering or condoning sexual assault—even if just through a nod or a wink—seems so shocking that absolute proof would be required. But is it really so out of character? As Naomi Wolf has recently reminded us, the US security apparatus has long “used sexual humiliation as a tool of control.” Any experienced activist is aware of the delight police officers so often take in explaining just how certainly they will be raped if placed in prison. Strip searches—which the Supreme Court has recently ruled can be deployed against any citizen held for so much as a traffic violation—are often deployed as a tool of humiliation and punishment. And one need hardly remark on well-documented practices at Guantanamo, Bagram, or Abu Ghraib. Why target women in particular? No doubt it’s partly simply the logic of the bully, to brutalize those you think are weak, and more easily traumatized. But another reason is, almost certainly, the hope of provoking violent reactions on the part of male protestors. I myself well remember a police tactic I observed more than once during the World Economic Forum demonstrations in New York in 2002: a plainclothes officer would tackle a young female marcher, without announcing of who they were, and when one or two men would gallantly try to come to her assistance, uniforms would rush in and arrest them for “assaulting an officer.” The logic makes perfect sense to someone with military background. Soldiers who oppose allowing a combat role for women almost invariably say they do so not because they are afraid women would not behave effectively in battle, but because they are afraid men would not behave effectively in battle if women were present—that is, that they would become so obsessed with the possibility of women in their unit being captured and sexually assaulted that they would behave irrationally. If the police were trying to provoke a violent reaction on the part of studiously non-violent protestors, as a way of justifying even greater brutality and felony charges, this would clearly be the most effective means of doing so.

There’s a good deal of anecdotal evidence that would tend to confirm that this is exactly what they are trying to do. One of the most peculiar incidents took place on a recent march in New York where police seem to have simulated such an assault, arresting a young women who most activists later concluded was probably an undercover officer (no one had seen her before or has seen her since), then ostentatiously groping her as she was handcuffed. Reportedly, several male protestors had to physically restrained (by other protestors) from charging in to help her.

Why is all this not a national story? Back in September, when the now famous Tony Bologna arbitrarily maced several young women engaged in peaceful protest, the event became a national news story. In March, even while we were still hearing heated debates over a single incident of window-breaking that may or may not have been by an OWS activist in Oakland four months earlier, no one seems to have paid any significant attention to the first major incident of window-breaking in New York—even though the window was broken, by police, apparently, using a non-violent protestors’ head!

I suspect one reason so many shy away from confronting the obvious is because it raises extremely troubling questions about the role of police in American society. Most middle class Americans see the primary role of police as maintaining public order and safety. Instances when police are clearly trying to foment violence and disorder for political purposes so fly in the face of everything we have been taught that our instinct is to tell ourselves it isn’t happening: there must have been some provocation, or else, it must have just been individual rogue cops. Certainly not something ordered by the highest echelons. But here we have to remember the police are an extremely top-down, centralized organization. Uniformed officers simply cannot behave in ways that flagrantly defy the law, in full public view, on an ongoing basis, without having at least tacit approval from those above.

In this case, we also know precisely who those superiors are. The commander of the First Precinct, successor to the disgraced Tony Bologna, is Captain Edward J. Winski, whose officers patrol the Financial District (that is, when those very same officers are not being paid directly by Wall Street firms to provide security, which they regularly do, replete with badges, uniforms, and weapons). Winski often personally directs groups of police attacking protestors:

Winsky’s superior is Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, former director of global security of the Wall Street firm Bear Stearns:

And Kelly’s superior, in turn, is Mayor Michael Bloomberg – the well-known former investment banker and Wall Street magnate. The 11th richest man in America, he has referred to the New York City Police Department as his own personal army:

One of the great themes of Occupy Wall Street, of course, is the death of US democracy—the near-total capture of our political system by Wall Street firms and the financial power of the 1%. In the beginning the emphasis was on political corruption, the fact that both parties so beholden to the demands of Wall Street and corporate lobbyists that working within the political system to change anything has become simply meaningless. Recent events have demonstrated just how much deeper the power of money really goes. It is not just the political class. It is the very structure of American government, starting with the law and those who are sworn to enforce it—police officers who, as even this brief illustration makes clear, are directly in the pay of and under the orders of Wall Street executives, and who, as a result, are willing to systematically violate their oaths to protect the public when members of that public have the temerity to make a public issue out of exactly these kind of arrangements.

As Gandhi revealed, non-violent protest is effective above all because it reveals how power really operates: it lays bare the violence it is willing to unleash on even the most peaceful citizens when they dare to challenge its moral legitimacy. And by doing so, it reveals the true moral bankruptcy of those who claim authority to rule us. Occupy Wall Street has demonstrated this time and time again. What the current spate of assaults shows is just how low, to what levels of utter moral degradation, such men are really willing to sink.

Update (3:40 PM): In comments, a reader asked why I did not go to the media. My response:

To be honest my first impulse was to call a sympathetic Times reporter. He said he was going to see if he could spin a story out of it. Apparently his editors told him it wasn’t news.

 

Arrested For Meditating? Why It’s Radical To Stay Nonviolent In The Face Of State-Sponsored Brutality

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Oldspeak:”Sometimes the most radical thing to do in a polluted violence-based system, is to be still. The mud settles to the bottom and we then have a clearer vision about our next steps. It is time for the spiritual people to get active and the activist people to get spiritual so that we can have total revolution of the human spirit.  We need to combine this inner revolution with the outer revolution to have the total revolution of the spirit. Then you can build the alternatives to a collapsing system built on structural violence -Pancho Ramos-Stierle

By Sarah van Gelder @ YES! Magazine:

Occupy Oakland has been at the forefront of some of Occupy’s most visible actions—a massive general strike on November 2, a shutdown of the Port of Oakland, and attempts to occupy vacant buildings. And it’s become known for the brutality of police actions, especially the case of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, who was hit by a tear-gas canister fired by police and suffered a severe head injury.

It has also been the center of much controversy over tactics—especially the tactics of the Black Bloc. These tactics are turning the San Francisco Bay area public against the Occupy movement, according to a report in the East Bay Express. Anonymous recently accused Black Bloc members of being misguided, harmful, and perhaps agent provocateurs, and threatened those involved in vandalism in a video posted on YouTube: “Consider this an act of diplomacy before we start doxing your asses all over the Internet and paying special attention to personally ruining your lives.”

We turned to Pancho Ramos Stierle for some insights into the question of Occupy tactics. Pancho was arrested Nov. 14 2011, during the police raid on Occupy Oakland, while meditating. Pancho came to the United States from Mexico to study astrophysics in the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley, but left the program out of opposition to the university’s research related to nuclear weapons development.

We talked to him about police violence in Oakland, his own arrest, deportations, and, especially, his insights into the controversies over tactics in the Occupy movement.

Sarah van Gelder: Could you tell the story of what happened the night that the Oakland site was raided by the police and you were arrested?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Since the Occupy movement started, we’ve been seeing the Oakland police escalating their violence.

The first raid happened early in the morning, and the city of Oakland spent $2 million on rubber bullets, tear gas, and helicopters to repress people who were peacefully gathering. In the same two days not one or two but five elementary schools were closed. Today, you can see an elementary school that has been converted into a police station here in Oakland.

I’m telling you this to set the tone for what happened the day we were arrested.

We knew the city of Oakland was bringing police from all around and they were staying in the Coliseum, which is one mile from here.

So we said, okay, if they want to escalate their violence, how do we escalate our nonviolence? On the night before the raid, we heard the helicopters and the hundreds of police that were descending on the Oakland downtown. So at 3:30 a.m., we bicycled to the Ogawa-Grant Plaza. We wanted to set a tone of positive energy and also to claim the space.

We’d been meditating and doing yoga in public parks for the last eight months because we want to let people know that these spaces are our spaces. We want to bring calmness and a different energy.

So if you have the riot police coming with tear gas and pepper spray and all their weapons, we have a more powerful weapon, courage and stillness—it’s kindness, it’s compassion, it’s generosity, it’s the small things, but when you add them up that makes a pretty strong army.

So we sat in receptive silence from 3:30 a.m. to the time when we were arrested around 6 a.m.

Sarah van Gelder: So what happened during the actual arrest?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: On Mondays we practice silence, and the police officer who arrested us thought that we were deaf because we were not speaking. So he got a notebook and a pen. It was very considerate of him, and I could feel his energy shift a little, and so when he gave me the notebook I wrote, “On Mondays, I practice silence, but I would like you to hear that I love you.”

When he read that, he had this big smile and looked me in the eye and he said, “Thank you. But, well, if you don’t move, you’re going to be arrested. Are you moving or not?”

So I wrote back, “I am meditating.” He said, “OK, arrest them one by one.”

That was one of my favorite moments from the whole ordeal.

Sarah van Gelder: Who else was sitting with you?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: My housemate Adelaja. We are also now on a mission to bring together people with different skin colors. He’s a six foot five beautiful brother with black skin, and I have brown skin, and we have another brother here with white skin, so we’re trying to be together.

Sarah van Gelder: Tell me about your experience in prison. Were you able to keep your nonviolent witness going while you were behind bars?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Before being in jail, it was hard for me to understand what Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi meant when they said that prisons are the temples of freedom. It’s clear that they can do many things to your body and try to oppress you and use psychological violence. But there’s something so strong inside each of us, the human spirit, that they can not reach. They can put you in shackles and cold cement cells, and feed you horrible food, and put you in solitary confinement, but there’s no way that they can reach the human spirit.

That was powerful—to find once again that that part is sacred. I think that was the only thing that kept me sane and healthy in that very dehumanizing environment.

That’s what I would like to share with people—that it is time for the spiritual people to get active and the activist people to get spiritual so that we can have total revolution of the human spirit. Because we have the idea that the self-indulgent people are just meditating—they are going to caves and meditation centers while all this madness is happening, or you have people at these meditation center that are asking how can you bring peace and calm and harmony to the world if you do not have that in your heart?

I think that we need both now, and that we need to combine this inner revolution with the outer revolution to have the total revolution of the spirit.

Then you can build the alternatives to a collapsing system built on structural violence.

I believe that nine out of ten actions must be creating the community that we want to live in—we’re talking about permaculture, independent media, restorative justice, gift economies, free currencies, and preventive medicine. By doing all that, we make ourselves stronger.

If you are creating true alternatives to the collapsing, rotten system then you will naturally come into conflict with the power structure. Then the political action becomes necessary. So I think one out of ten actions should be obstructive—that is boycotts and protests and marches and nonviolent civil disobedience.

But when we cultivate inner awareness, it’s easy to see that what we need to do is spend most of our time creating the communities that we want to live in.

Sarah van Gelder: Can you give me an example of how that plays out in movements for change?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Gandhi showed us that the spinning wheel—part of the constructive program—was the center of the movement for the independence of the part of the planet we call India.

At the time, the part of the planet we call India was selling cotton to the part of the planet we call England and buying back clothes. Gandhi figured out that if they started making their own clothes, then they could become self reliant, autonomous, and every single person could get plugged into this—women, men, elderly people, young people—social status really doesn’t matter. So that created the foundation of a national movement.

And once they had the alternative, they had bonfires with British clothing, and he said every person needs to spend at least one hour a day in the chain of creating your own clothing.

Well now, a hundred years later, many of us believe that Gandhi’s spinning wheel of the 21st century is healthy and local food. Many of us believe healthy and local food is the foundation of social justice, and anyone can get plugged in, from compost to planting, watering the crops to going to the farmers market to cooking healthy food or just eating it or washing dishes anyone can spend an hour a day— men, women, doesn’t matter social strata can get plugged into this chain.

Once we have that constructive program, when we’re solid in that, we can confront the pollution- and violence-based system more effectively. But we also need an inner “spinning wheel,” so we must spend a couple of hours each day in receptive silence—any silent spiritual practice that brings awareness and equanimity to our hearts and minds—and put the inner revolution and the outer revolution together. Then we will be more than ready to make a bonfire out of passports, visas, and the devastating genetically modified Monsanto seeds.

Sarah van Gelder: What do you say to Occupiers trying to negotiate differences in views about nonviolence?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Stop negotiating and start embodying the principles you believe in.

Sometimes the most radical thing to do in a polluted violence-based system, is to be still. The mud settles to the bottom and we then have a clearer vision about our next steps—for example, facilitating the growth of the communities we want to live in or realizing that the most efficient tools against a system based on greed, fear, hurry, and violence, are generosity, courage, slowing-down, and loving-kindness.

When the puzzle gets complicated, I always remember: our means are our ends in the making.

To all occupiers and fellow satyagrahis I say: Liberate ourselves from the shackles of wage slavery. Liberate our minds and hearts from the oppression of colonialism. Let’s occupy our beings with courage and loving-kindness.

Sarah van Gelder: What should people know about Occupy Oakland, which has been confronted with some of the most police violence in the U.S., but has also had groups engage in property damage?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: “Occupy Oakland” has been happening for many decades.

Most of the people with black and brown skin have been surviving the historical pain of racism and oppression for generations. When you have “food deserts”—perhaps a better description is “food apartheids”—and “liquor store forests” in Oakland, what can we expect? When police kill young fathers with impunity—like Oscar Grant—and harass hard-working, honest people—like migrants; when gangsters terrorize the community with shootings; when the corporate media broadcasts fear as much as they can; when the city of Oakland converts an elementary school into a police station, is there a clearer picture that this system is flawed?

Violence is only a manifestation of a deep conflict. Violence is an expression of pain. It is a monologue offered by gangs, including the police—the most organized gang defending the interests of a few.

The Native American peoples have been saying for centuries, “Beware what’s happening to us because it could happen to you.” Well, now people of black, brown, and white skin are experiencing it. It is the 99 percent.

The tear gas canister that fractured the skull of brother Scott Olsen—an Iraq veteran with white skin—wasn’t a random shot by a police officer targeting the body of the 24-year-old defiant veteran. It was a choice made by the state to impose, with violence, submission on movements that resist their decisions. A choice to threaten all of those who want to resist arrangements that suppress issues like meaningful livelihood, public health, security, housing, and public learning.

In these so called “democracies” of today, state sovereignty takes the police form. There are police operations against all kind of “enemies.” In these operations, not only the social movements are criminalized, but also whole categories of citizens, entire communities, and even ethnic groups.

The ultimate healing will come when we all stop cooperating with the rotten system and when we start understanding that we are the 99 percent facilitating the healing of the 100 percent, one heart at a time.

If we disobey with compassion and love in our hearts and minds, if we spend 90 percent of our energy creating the alternatives of a just, free, and liberated world, we will discover the joy to rebel against an imposed fear. We will be free from modern poverty and its two kinds of slaves: the intoxicated—the prisoners to the addiction of consumption, and those who aspire to get intoxicated—the prisoners of envy. It will be clear that our misery isn’t caused by the siblings in corporations or most of the police officers or the army, but by our obedience to a flawed rule.

We ourselves must be strengthened and changed, for we have to experience an inner independence even before the corporations, police states, and governments grant the outward one.

Sarah van Gelder: What comes next for you? You’ve been arrested and the fact that you are in the United States without documents has become very public. What will you do now?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. We as citizens of the world don’t need silly papers and visas and passports—these are things that are totally new in the human consciousness. We paint imaginary lines in the dirt, and we need to erase those soon. So it really doesn’t matter if I am here or if I am in the part of the planet we call Mexico. We really need to step up as citizens of the world.

For example, right here in California the University of California is still involved in the development of nuclear weapons. So as citizens of the world we need to do everything within our reach to stop that madness.

You can not deport the Milky Way from the sky; you cannot deport the Sun. If they send me to another part of this planet, great! I’ll keep working. What’s going to happen if I’m in Oaxaca or Chiapas or somewhere else in the part of the planet we call Mexico, I have no idea, sister, but I know that I’m going to keep trying to bring this message that the Earth is but one country and all living beings its citizens.

When I was in the detention center, there were 42 people in a very tiny space — like two people per square meter. And I met this man, this dad who has been working for 15 years in construction in Oakland, and he has a nine year-old and a five year-old, and he was going to be deported because he didn’t have documents. So when you look into the eyes of that brother or talk to his children, there’s no way that you cannot do something.

Sarah van Gelder: I was at your arraignment hearing in Oakland and I saw so many people there who loved you so much.

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: I’m happy you were able to witness—and you know what this is, sister Sarah? We are the early adopters of a revolution of values, and we are the evidence that the totalitarianism of corporate capitalism—the machine that has devastated the planet and human beings—we are the demonstration that system doesn’t work and that we need a new system.

Our movement is trying to give birth and move from scarcity to abundance, from transaction to trust, from consumption to contribution, from isolation to community, from perfection to wholeness, from terror to fearlessness, from violence to courage and respect and love, and this is the key.

The emergence of the new paradigm and our victory is not putting people in power but power in people.

Sarah van Gelder is Executive Editor of YES! Magazine where you can read her blog.

© 2012 YES! Magazine All rights reserved.

Egyptian Military Points To American Police Brutality Toward Occupy Wall Street To Justify Murder Of Tahrir Square Protestors

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2011 at 10:46 am

Oldspeak:”When a totalitarian military regime starts taking its cues from an ostensibly free & democratic regime, it’s not good. “We saw the firm stance the US took against OWS people & the German govt against green protesters to secure the state” Monkey see, monkey do. What’s beginning to become clear is globally, the police state response to resistance, protest and dissent are strikingly similar. Overreaching shows of militarized force. Chemical warfare. Wildly disproportionate use of violence against peaceful and unarmed protestors. What doesn’t seem to be understood by the 1% though is violent responses only engender larger and stronger resistance and protest. Sooner or later the people who are choosing to ignore will be drawn into the fray, and then things will get really interesting. Will the state sponsored terrorism and violence continue to increase, or slowly abate?

By Washington’s Blog:

Egyptian Military Points to American Police Brutality in Justifying Murder of Tahrir Square Protesters

And America’s response towards the peaceful Occupy protesters has been so brutal that now the Egyptian military is justifying its murder of protesters in Tahrir Square by saying they are just following the American example. As Gawker notes:

Two people were killed in Cairo and Alexandria this weekend as Egyptian activists took the streets to protest the military’s attempts to maintain its grip on power. And guess how the state is justifying its deadly crackdown. “We saw the firm stance the US took against OWS people & the German govt against green protesters to secure the state,” an Egyptian state television anchor said yesterday (as translated by the indispensable Sultan Sooud al Qassemi; bold ours).

Note: American protesters are protesting for the same reasons as the Egyptian protesters. Truly, it is the people of the entire world versus the oligarchs and their mercenaries.

200 Arrested @ NYPD Crackdown On Occupy Wall Street: Zuccotti Park Raided Under Media Blackout, Pepper Spray, Sound Cannons, Batons Used, Tents Cleared

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2011 at 10:30 am
Occupy Wall St activists clash with New York Police after being removed from Zuccotti Park Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Oldspeak: “Denial of freedom of the press. Nighttime raids. Police brutality. Beating peaceful protestors. Restriction of movement. Destruction and confiscation of personal property. Denial of freedom of assembly. Pepper spray. Sound Cannons. Mass arrests. This is what a police state looks like. Meanwhile corporate media is talking about Rex Ryan, Jay-Z, Herman Cain, Jerry Sandusky, and Brad Pitt’s early retirement. Freedom rises despite police and soldiers not because of them. And that is exactly why those who despise freedom propagate military hagiography and fetishize those wearing uniforms–so they can give the idea of liberty lip service as all the while they order it crushed.” -Philip Rockstroh “You can’t evict an idea whose time had come.” #OccupyWallStreet

Related Story:

Occupy Wall Street: police evict protesters – live updates

By Sarah Seltzer @ Alter Net:

“We’re being evicted!” the message went out around 1 am.

“The park has been cleared,” the text message read a few hours later, as bedragged, pepper-sprayed protesters, having lost their home in the park, reconvened for a GA in Foley Square and vowed to keep the occupation going. Over 200 had been arrested, including city council member Ydanis Rodriguez. Blocks away, Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a press conference at which he declared that police would be now able to search people entering the park.

There is a planned post-raid gathering at 9 am at Canal and 6th Street for supporters to regroup and rally. Meanwhile, the National Lawyer’s Guild has obtained a temporary restraining order “directing that occupiers be allowed back on the premises with their belongings.” Reportedly, this will hold for several hours until a new hearing. However, after some members of the public re-entered the park, they were asked to leave again.

 

Twitter pictures later in the morning showed Zuccotti Park was bare and stripped–ugly and undamaged, as it was before, after cleaning crews move through. Before that, however, police had heaped protesters’ belongings together.

According to Twitter and the Occupy movement’s texts as well as press releases from both the movement and the Mayor’s office, the early morning raid cleared the protests’ two-month-long “model society” of its infrastructure, including spaces and structures like the women’s safe space tent, the medical tent, and thousands of books from the “People’s Library” — which were seen in the back of a dumpster.

Cops reportedly told people these confiscated items would be available at the Department of Sanitation.

 

Almost all of downtown Manhattan was blocked off in various ways, and protesters were beaten for being both on the sidewalk and the street.

Watch this amateur video of the beatings:

 

According to reports on Twitter, an OWS press release, and emails over internal OWS listservs, downtown subways and the Brooklyn Bridge were shut down, airspace was blocked off, and a barricade was erected to prevent supporters who were alerted by text from entering.

Several bystanders who arrived to help were pepper-sprayed or beaten. Read this dispatch from Anna Lekas Miller for one such story. “The police came towards us. I was live tweeting when I realized there was a funny smell and something in my eyes that was making them burn… I was shoved against a wall by a cop with a riot shield telling me to, ‘Keep it moving.’ …Their batons were out. It was violence.”

Below are a series of tweets from AlterNet’s Kristen Gwynne, who arrived on the scene after 1 am:

 

  • Riot police won’t anybody in #ows. Looking for alternate route in..ahh hang in there guys
  • Cops everywhere. At least 1 pepper sprayed cops pushing us
  • Holy shit this us crazy pepper spray, pushing us, beating and arresting peaceful protestors#ows
  • They’re literally pushing us down cortlandt. Violent cops #ows

 

These brutal tactics were used on supporters who were in the park and others who were trying to get in to protect the space, as well as some members of the press. LRADs (sound cannons) were seen and some say used, but as of yet but there have been no confirmed reports of them being used.

Perhaps worst of all, there was a media blackout that specifically disallowed press from entering while the space was cleared. Many newspeople on Twitter have expressed anger and frustration about being prevented from reporting on the scene; some were apparently told by the NYPD, “You’re not press tonight.”

 

At In These Times, Alison Kilkenny had this report from Twitter: “Some protesters chained themselves to trees in Liberty, and some early reports indicate the NYPD cut down the trees in order to remove the demonstrators.”

Around 7 am, the following things were trending on Twitter in New York City:

 

 

Here is a timeline of the raid from OWS. Note that some reports in this timeline are unconfirmed:

 

Timeline of Violent NYPD Raid on Occupy Wall Street 

3:36 a.m. Kitchen tent reported teargassed. Police moving in with zip cuffs.

3:33 a.m. Bulldozers moving in

3:16 a.m. Occupiers linking arms around riot police

3:15 a.m. NYPD destroying personal items. Occupiers prevented from leaving with their possessions.

3:13 a.m. NYPD deploying sound cannon

3:08 a.m. heard on livestream: “they’re bringing in the hoses.”

3:05 a.m. NYPD cutting down trees in Liberty Square

2:55 a.m. NYC council-member Ydanis Rodríguez arrested and bleeding from head.

2:44 a.m. Defiant occupiers barricaded Liberty Square kitchen

2:44 a.m. NYPD destroys OWS Library. 5,000 donated books in dumpster.

2:42 a.m. Brooklyn Bridge confirmed closed

2:38 a.m. 400-500 marching north to Foley Square

2:32 a.m. All subways but R shut down

2:29 a.m. Press helicopters evicted from airspace. NYTimes reporter arrested.

2:22 a.m. Frontpage coverage from New York Times

2:15 a.m. Occupiers who have been dispersed are regrouping at Foley Square

2:10 a.m. Press barred from entering Liberty Square

2:07 a.m. Pepper spray deployed — reports of at least one reporter sprayed

2:03 a.m. Massive Police Presence at Canal and Broadway

1:43 a.m. Helicopters overhead.

1:38 a.m. Unconfirmed reports of snipers on rooftops.

1:34 a.m. CBS News Helicopter Livestream

1:27 a.m. Unconfirmed reports that police are planning to sweep everyone.

1:20 a.m. Subway stops are closed.

1:20 a.m. Brooklyn bridge is closed.

1:20 a.m. Occupiers chanting “This is what a police state looks like.”

1:20 a.m. Police are in riot gear.

1:20 a.m. Police are bringing in bulldozers.

 

At Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte had this to offer on the destruction of the library:

 

Media Bistro is reporting that the NYPD destroyed over 5,000 books that have been amassed in the OWS library over the past two months. The young protesters who were volunteering as librarians tweeted the ordeal of watching what has come to be, historically speaking, the symbol of authoritarian governments oppressing its citizens. 

 

OWSLibrary The People’s Library NYPD destroying american cultural history, they’re destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation’s history. 

 

Right now, the NYPD are throwing over 5,000 books from our library into a dumpster. Will they burn them?

Protesters locked arms and tried to keep the dumpsters full of books and tents from leaving, but obviously to no avail. Personally, I donated about a dozen books to OWS, mostly about feminism in response to requests for more feminist discourse and history. Some of them weren’t exactly books you can just saunter into a local library branch or Barnes & Noble to find, either, such as the radical feminism reader. So this image of the books being tossed into the trash is just adding to the emotional distress of this situation.

So don’t believe the lies. If this was just about a clean park, there would have been no need to go over the fucking top in the assaults on speech and press that included threatening journalists (and arresting one), squelching witnesses, and destroying over 5,000 books that were provided, free of charge, by supporters who want to assist protesters’ desire to educate themselves and, frankly, give them something to do during their downtime.

J.P. Morgan Chase Makes Largest Ever Donation Of $4.6 Million To NYPD Foundation

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm


Oldspeak
: How bout that. The money will go to more ‘security monitoring software”. The corporatocracy is funding the expansion and strengthening of the police state just in time to literally arrest dissenters protesting its practices; who demand real accountability for precipitating & contributing to the collapse of the global economy.  This coming on the heels J.P. Morgan Chase back in March purchasing a 4oo million dollar stake in Twitter Inc. Curiously, there have been reports of censorship of occupy wall street protests by Twitter since then. We are witnessing consolidation of control over security and communications apparatus in this rapidly expanding and insidiously stealthy totalitarian state. The avenues for dissent and resistance are being constricted and cut off ahead of the soon to come collapse. “The Way Forward” indeed.

By Eric Allen Bell @ EricAllenBell.org: 

JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation.
The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing “profound gratitude” for the company’s donation.
“These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Dimon said. “We’re incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work.”

U.S. Park Police Choke & Body Slam Dancers At Jefferson Memorial; Fine & Chase Musicians From Central Park

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Oldspeak:” On this Memorial Day, supposedly a day to remember those who have died in war for freedom and “The American Way”, understand that your rights to free speech and freedom of assembly are no longer valid in public spaces. The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, where musicians have shared their art free of charge for 100 years, is now designated as a “Quiet Zone”. If you decide you’d like to dance, picket, or make a speech at a national memorial, those actions are now “banned activities”, and will be met with a violent response from law enforcement. Think about that. Under these “laws” the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech would have been against the law. Public spaces, the commons are being more and more privatized and rigidly policed, you need permits to film/photograph at public national memorials. Your rights are being abridged every day in this burgeoning police state masquerading as a democracy. Civil Disobedience on a grand scale is what’s necessary to combat this absurd violation of our rights.”

Related Video: Adam Kokesh body slammed, choked, police brutality at Jefferson Memorial

By NBC Washington:

A handful of dancers got cuffed on Saturday for doing what they say the Founding Fathers would have wanted them to do – expressive dancing in National Parks.

A court recently ruled that expressive dancing was in a category with picketing, speechmaking, and marching – a banned activity at national memorials.

A small group came out on Saturday to protest the ruling, by dancing together inside the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial.

But after a few minutes, their moves got busted by Park Police.

Five were arrested, while listening to earphones and moving rythymically in the shadow of Thomas Jefferson.

“The founders understood that the only thing that was going to make the American experiment succeed was the people standing up for these rights,” Jared Denman, a demonstrator, told NBC Washington.

The memorial was shut down while demonstrators got arrested.

Some visiting from out of town were less than impressed with the protesters’ interprative moves.  “I think its ridiculous,” said Edward Kelly of Richmond.  “We just traveled up the steps and we’ve been waiting for 15 minutes.”

Musicians chased from Central Park

By Cynthia R. Fagan @ The New York Post:

City officials began blitzing street musicians with nuisance summonses and posted a “Quiet Zone” sign last week at the beloved Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, where virtuoso performers have been making beautiful music together for over a century.

On weekends, baritone John Boyd, 48, would belt out spirituals backed by a choir including six of his nine children and fellow classical buskers. But two months ago, Parks police descended on the Bethesda Terrace arcade with a message: Muzzle the music.

Last week, they posted a Quiet Zone sign banning Boyd and other serious musicians from playing in the arcade where world-class performers offer their talents for free to ordinary New Yorkers.

The silky baritone’s clash with officials started two months earlier.

“The Parks Department cops came and said the rules will be revamped,” Boyd told The Post. “A month ago they started issuing me summonses because I would not stop singing.”

After being hit with five summonses totaling $2,300, the former choir director from Detroit was arrested by Parks cops Wednesday and hauled in handcuffs to the Central Park police station.

“I have a right to free speech,” said Boyd. “When I sing, it is expressing what I believe in. I told them, ‘You are not chasing me away.’ “

Classical harpist Meta Epstein, 59, of Mill Basin, Brooklyn, won first prize at the Paris Conservatory of Music in the 1970s. But she’s afraid to play in the park.

“It was very intimidating. It was a patch of dirt. They told me I was destroying the ground, but there were picnickers right there. Now I’m afraid to play, especially in the fountain terrace,” she said.

Double-bass player Vasyl Fomytskyi, formerly of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, has been playing his beloved Bach near the fountain for two years.

“If I play softly by myself, [cops] still have threatened to arrest me and confiscate my instrument,” he said.

Newcomer Shigemasa Nakano, 31, a classical guitarist and opera singer, says he’s disappointed because acoustics in the arcade are superb.

“But . . . I don’t want to get a ticket,” he said.

On Friday, passer-by Rhonda Liss, 63, of Yonkers, asked Boyd if she could join him in an impromptu duet.

“You have such a beautiful voice,” said Liss, a onetime Met opera singer and “Phantom of the Opera” cast member in Toronto. The pair tossed off a jazzy rendition of “My Favorite Things.”

“Is this what they want to arrest people for — singing joy to the people?” she asked incredulously.

When asked about the music crackdown, a spokesman for the Central Park Conservancy, the cash-flush nonprofit that runs the park for the city, said: “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection.”

Read more:http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/please_clear_the_aria_5Ih5ZOpqdHAUPUKWmwK8xJ#ixzz1NrA1XtS7

6 New Orleans Police Officers Indicted; 4 Charged With Danziger Bridge Killings And Evidence Cover Up

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

Oldspeak:’5 years later, the Holder justice department, seeks justice for 2 more unarmed black men gunned down, then stomped and kicked as they died by overzealous “peace officers”.

From WDSU New Orleans:

Top row: Anthony Villavaso, Robert Gisevius. Bottom row: Robert Faulcon, Kenneth Bowen.

Six New Orleans police officers have been been indicted on federal charges in connection with the shootings on the Danziger Bridge in the days following Hurricane Katrina.

Four of them are accused of violating citizens’ civil rights in the shooting deaths of 17-year-old James Brisette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison.

The federal charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten on Tuesday, a day after indictments were handed down by a grand jury.

Robert Gisevius, Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso are accused of shooting two people and injuring four others. Two other officers, Arthur Kaufman and Gerard Dugue, face related charges of violation of citizens’ civil rights and obstruction of justice.

The indictment alleges Gisevius, Bowen and Villavaso shot and killed Brisette with assault rifles on the east ramp of the Danziger Bridge. It also alleges that Faulcon killed Madison, a man with mental disabilities, on the bridge.

Bowen is also accused in the indictment of using unreasonable force by stomping on and kicking Madison after he was shot but was still alive.

All six officers are also accused of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of other citizens on the bridge, as well as obstruction of justice for allegedly covering up the shooting, the indictment claims.

Letten said the officers “abused their power in committing violent crimes against those individuals they were sworn to protect.”

“Today’s indictment is compelling evidence of our absolute commitment to obtain true justice for the victims of this shooting,” Letten said.

All six officers surrendered to federal authorities Tuesday. Letten said his office considered the officers flight risks, and he was pushing to have them detained before trial.

Sources told WDSU I-Team reporter Travers Mackel earlier Tuesday that investigators have recently focused on the actions of NOPD officers who had direct involvement in the shootings. Previous charges have been filed primarily against those involved in falsifying reports or covering up alleged wrongdoing.

In 2008, state District Judge Raymond Bigelow quashed indictments against Bowen, Gisevius, Villavaso and Faulcon. At the time, they faced first-degree murder and attempted murder charges in connection with the shootings.

Oscar Grant, A Victim Of American Fear: Decades After The Civil-Rights Era, Cops Shooting Unarmed Black Men Is Barely A Crime.

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2010 at 11:17 am

Oldspeak:”Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and countless black men you never heard of…gone. “Times change, but the radioactive fear of black people, black men in particular, has proved to have a longer half-life than any science could have discerned. This is not a fear white people possess of black people — it is a fear all Americans possess. It makes white cops kill black cops, it makes black cops kill black men, and it whispers in the ears of white and nonwhite jurors alike that fear of an unarmed black man lying face down in the ground is not “unreasonable.” All of which is to say, while it infects all of us, a few of us bear the brunt of the suffering it causes.” -Adam Serwer

From Adam Serwer @ The American Prospect:

Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer who killed Oscar Grant while he was lying face down and handcuffed in an Oakland train station, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter — his crime, according to the jury, was negligence in not knowing the difference between his heavy black gun and his light yellow Taser. Of the possible outcomes Mehserle was facing, involuntary manslaughter was the best he could have hoped for short of acquittal. He faces a maximum sentence of four years for the original crime, possibly more for the use of a firearm.

I want to focus for a moment on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. To convict on the higher charge of voluntary manslaughter, the prosecution would have had to prove that Mehserle’s fear of Grant and his friends was “unreasonable.” It decided the crime was involuntary. In other words, Mehserle’s fear? That was reasonable.

Fear is at the core of questions of justice involving the deaths of black people at the hands of the authorities in the United States of America, dating back to when Toussaint L’Overture put the fear of G-d in slaveowners by revealing that their “property” might someday rise up against them. L’Overture still has that effect on some people. Following emancipation were the days when “justice” was meted out in the South by terrorists posing as vigilantes. Even then, when such atrocities were an accepted part of black life, people inside and outside the South found ways to sympathize with the anger and fear white Southerners felt toward their black neighbors – The New York Times editorialized in the 1890s that no “reputable or respectable negro” had ever been lynched.

Even decades after the civil-rights era, a cop shooting an unarmed black man is barely a crime — a 2007 ColorLines investigation of police shootings in New York City found that in 12 instances when the victim was unarmed, only one officer was found criminally liable. There hasn’t been a murder conviction on a police shooting in Oakland since 1983.  As Kai Wright wrote in the aftermath of the Sean Bell verdict, “American law has been sanctioning the killing of black people to mollify white fear for centuries. … We scare the shit out of America. And that fear excuses just about any reaction it spawns.” Mehserle is profoundly unlucky to be punished at all.

Times change, but the radioactive fear of black people, black men in particular, has proved to have a longer half-life than any science could have discerned. This is not a fear white people possess of black people — it is a fear all Americans possess. It makes white cops kill black cops, it makes black cops kill black men, and it whispers in the ears of white and nonwhite jurors alike that fear of an unarmed black man lying face down in the ground is not “unreasonable.” All of which is to say, while it infects all of us, a few of us bear the brunt of the suffering it causes.

This aged fear is not the only thing preventing justice for Oscar Grant. We live in a time when Americans are also possessed by a fear of terrorism. In the thrall of that fear we’ve done more than just cede civil liberties; we’ve come to accept extraordinary government power over life and death in the name of Keeping Us Safe. Instead of believing that people who hold the power of life and death in their hands should be held to the highest standards of conduct, we remember our fear and just feel thankful for their presence. Instead of believing that great power comes with responsibility, we shrug at the collateral damage, because at least it isn’t us.

But of course, unlike the distant deaths of Pakistanis on the front of a “secret” war, Oscar Grant is some of us, or at least he’s someone we know or care about, someone we’d go out in the street in the dead of night to look for if he wasn’t home on time. For others, he’s the embodiment of what makes us glance over our shoulder as we fish around in our pockets for the keys to our front door.

What’s worse is that we don’t just fear; we fear talking about it. Our president tried once. He mentioned the fear his own grandmother felt for men who looked like he does, and we responded with the level of maturity we’ve come to expect from our political discourse. If you’ve ever had a relative of another race confess to you that they’d find you frightening if they ran into you in a dark alley, you know what he meant. But we fear what this fear says about us more than we fear letting it go.

America remains in the thrall of this ever-present fear, even in the aftermath of the Mehserle trial, as the media concerns itself not with the verdict or with justice but with the potential for more violence from the black community in Oakland. Fear is always the enemy of justice. Today in America, the former threatens the latter like never before. Forget what you see on your TV screen — Oscar Grant isn’t the only victim, and the people who share Grant’s skin tone or hair texture aren’t the only ones who should care.

War on Drugs, War on Crime, War on Terrorism. There’s always another War. The question is, when will we stop being afraid?

Jury Convicts Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge of Lying About Torture

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Oldspeak: “America Does Torture: It’s own citizens. Nice. You can bet your sweet ass Chicago isn’t the only place this happens. “

From Amy Goodman @ Democracy Now:

Decades after torture allegations were first leveled against former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, a federal jury has found him guilty of lying about torturing prisoners into making confessions. Burge has long been accused of overseeing the systematic torture of more than 100 African American men. Two years ago federal prosecutors finally brought charges against Burge—not for torture, but for lying about it. On Monday afternoon, after a five-week trial, Jon Burge was found guilty on all counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about the abuse. He could face up to forty-five years in prison.

Guest:

Flint Taylor, attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago. He has represented many of the torture victims.

AMY GOODMAN: Decades after torture allegations were first leveled against the former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, a federal jury has found him guilty of lying about torturing prisoners into making confessions. Burge has long been accused of overseeing the systematic torture of more than a hundred African American men. The police department fired him in 1993 for mistreatment of a suspect, but did not press charges. More than a decade later, Cook County prosecutors looked into the torture allegations and found that although there was evidence to show torture had occurred, the statute of limitations had expired.

Two years ago, federal prosecutors finally brought charges against Burge—not for torture, but for lying about it. On Monday afternoon, after a five-week trial, Jon Burge was found guilty on all counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about the abuse. He could face up to forty-five years in prison.

Outside the courthouse, the verdict drew a visibly emotional response from one of the men who had been tortured under Burge, Mark Clements.

    MARK CLEMENTS: These people stole my [bleep] life! I hate to tell you the truth. I sat in a prison cell, and I prayed for this day! Today is a victory for every poor person. I was sixteen years old! This is America! Sixteen years old! What are we going to do about other people who are sitting in those prisons? And I’m sorry if I’m offending anyone, but it’s out!

AMY GOODMAN: This was Mark Clements’s response when reporters asked him how he felt.

    MARK CLEMENTS: Relieved that finally at least one of these people are now going to finally feel the pain. My daughter is twenty-nine years old. I missed all those years with my daughter, sitting in them prison cells for a crime I did not commit. I do not feel sorry for Jon Burge. That’s all I have to say.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Clements, one of the dozens of men who were tortured under former Chicago police commander Jon Burge.

I’m joined now from Chicago by Flint Taylor, an attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago. He’s represented many of the torture victims.

Welcome to Democracy Now! Your response to the guilty verdict, Flint Taylor?

FLINT TAYLOR: It was a wonderful victory for the African American community and all people here in Chicago who have fought so long and so hard for justice. This fight, as you’ve mentioned, has gone on for decades. It’s a human rights victory that should be understood across the entire country, because here in Chicago we’ve now done something, after thirty years of struggle, that has not happened anywhere else. And that is, we have a conviction of a torturer, a United States torturer. And that is what the lesson needs to be taken by the Obama administration, who seems so leery to prosecute people like Cheney and people under his command for torture abroad by the US. Now we have an example. And actually, it was a Republican prosecutor who did this. So I think that we all across this country should take a lesson from Chicago.

But we’re also saying this struggle has to continue, because there are many men under the command of Jon Burge who are being investigated, who need to be indicted. There are men behind prison bars still who are there because of the torture, by tortured confessions. We need to have a federal statute that says that torture is a crime akin to other human rights violations that has no statute of limitations, so future Burges cannot end up being prosecuted only for perjury and not for the torture that happened. And we need to have full compensation by the city for the men, many of whom have never had or cannot have lawsuits, men who came forward and are the true heroes of this piece and this prosecution, the men who testified against Burge and who were ripped from pillar to post by his lawyer in a very racist way and presented to this jury that it was OK to torture them, it’s OK to torture poor black men who are charged with crimes, who may have been in street gangs.

And this jury, which only had one African American on it, spoke loudly and said no, it’s not right to torture. Doesn’t matter if you’re poor and black and a criminal. And I think the message is, it doesn’t matter if you’re a terrorist either, or an alleged terrorist, that we cannot countenance torture in this country or by this country. And until all people who torture and all those people who are responsible for torturing are brought to justice, the conscience of Chicago and the conscience of this country cannot be cleansed.

AMY GOODMAN: Last month, just as the trial was beginning, I spoke to Darrell Cannon, one of the dozens of men to come forward with allegations of abuse at the hands of the Chicago police. He says police tortured him in 1983 and forced him to confess to a murder he didn’t commit. He spent more than twenty years in prison. But after a hearing on his tortured confession, prosecutors dismissed his case in 2004. Now he’s suing Chicago for wrongful conviction. In this clip, he’s describing the torture he was subjected to by the Chicago police under Jon Burge’s command.

    DARRELL CANNON: By them not being successful in getting what they wanted out of me, they then did a third treatment, which was they put me in the backseat of a detective car. They unhandcuffed my cuffs from behind, put them in front. John Byrne had a gun to my head and told me, “Don’t move,” when they redid the handcuffs. They put me sideways in the backseat of a detective car and made me lay down across the seat. They pulled my pants and my shorts down, and that’s when Byrne took an electric cattle prod, turned it on, and proceeded to shock me on my testicles. They did this what seems like forever with me, but it wasn’t that long. At one point, I was able to kick the cattle prod out of the detective’s hands, and that knocked the batteries out. He got the batteries, put them back in. One of them tried to take his feet and put it on top of one of my feet, the other one did the same thing, to stop me from kicking. Then this is when they started using the electric cattle prod on me again, while telling me that they knew that I wasn’t the one they wanted, but I had information that could lead them to the other person that they wanted. They continued to do this until finally I agreed to tell them anything they wanted to hear. Anything. It didn’t matter to me. You know, if they said, “Did your mother do it?” “Yes, yes, yes.” Because the diabolical treatment that I received was such that I had never in my life experienced anything like this. I didn’t even know anything like this here existed in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: I also want to turn to an interview I did in 2006 with David Bates, who says he was tortured by men under Burge’s command. This is how he described what happened to him.

    DAVID BATES: I believe it was October the 28th or 29th of 1983, when a few officers knocked on my mom’s door and announced that they were police officers and let my mom know that I’ll be taken away and that I’ll be coming home shortly. There were supposed to be some questions regarding a case. Of course, I got to the police station. I was questioned. I let the officers or detectives know that I had nothing to do with the case. I knew nothing. This went on for two days.

    At that time, it was five sessions of torture, starting with two with slaps and kicks and threats. It was two particular sessions of torture that was very devastating, in which a plastic bag was placed over my head. I was punched and kicked. And I’ll tell you, when you talk about torture, you’re talking about individuals who, most part, were young, had a few brushes with the law, but never in a million years thought that they would have a plastic bag placed over their head.

    More importantly, the torture has never been resolved. No one has ever owned up to the torture. So we have hundreds of individuals who have psychologically been warped, been destroyed. There’s never been any clinical resolution to the torture. No one has owned up to it.

AMY GOODMAN: That was [David Bates]. We talked to him in 2006. Flint Taylor, how is it possible that we’re talking perjury here and not actual torture?

FLINT TAYLOR: Well, it goes right back to the mayor of the city of Chicago, Richard Daley. Back in the early ’80s, when this torture first came to light and the doctor from the jail brought definitive evidence to the chief of police, who then brought it to Daley, who was the chief prosecutor at that time, Daley chose not to prosecute Burge, but rather continued to use Burge as a key witness in the prosecution of the person who was tortured. That went on for six or eight years after that, while Daley was the prosecutor. And Darrell Cannon’s case arose during that time. David Bates’s case arose during that time. And scores of others were tortured. If those men—those men never would have been tortured if Daley had acted back in 1982 and prosecuted Burge for torture, rather than for obstruction of justice. Since he did not do that, and since the Justice Department, under Reagan, first Reagan, later Bush I, then Clinton, and then Bush II, none of those Justice Departments listened to the movement’s pleas to prosecute Burge for torture when the statute had not run. So the statute was gone by the time that Fitzgerald, the prosecutor who did indict him, after decades of struggle and decades of fighting by the people that were fighting for justice, did indict him. All that was left was his lying in lawsuits that we had brought, that he had lied about torturing people, that he obstructed justice by lying about torturing people. That’s all he could be charged with now.

That’s why we need a federal stature that not only makes police torture a federal crime, but says no statute of limitations. If you cover it up, you can be prosecuted ten, twenty, thirty years later, because these crimes against humanity, this is like the prosecutions in the South of the Klansmen who blew up the church and killed the little children. No matter how long it takes, how many decades, you have to prosecute these people for what they did. In David Bates and Darrell Cannon’s case, they were both prosecuted by John Byrne and Peter Dignan, the two right-hand men of Burge. They have to be prosecuted, as well. There’s an open investigation, and we’re now calling for them to be indicted and to be prosecuted. And the entire political structure here is in question. And the mayor has still been—is silent at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Daley.

FLINT TAYLOR: But the money that the city of Chicago has paid has to be stopped, for defending Burge and his men.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking Mayor Daley.

FLINT TAYLOR: Yeah, of course. The city has paid, and still pays, tens of millions of dollars for pensions for these men. They’ve paid over $10 million to defend the cases in civil courts. They’re still paying for defense of Burge in the civil courts. The Fraternal Order of Police has paid millions of dollars to defend Burge in the criminal cases. So the city is still on the wrong side of this issue after all these years. And one man who testified, Melvin Jones, is homeless. He never has gotten a nickel over all these years, yet he’s come forward and testified. The city has to make these people whole. Just because they don’t have a lawsuit that they can bring, there has to be compensation. There has to be treatment offered to these men. There are over 110 men who have been tortured. That’s been documented. So this jury only heard it from a few of them. There are many others that are still behind bars. All of these issues remain unresolved in the city. And so, the conscience of the city and justice in the city cannot be obtained until all of these issues are dealt with. And that’s why people rejoice in this verdict, but that we know that how many more years, or decades, hopefully not, however much longer it takes, we have to get full justice in these cases and make sure that this kind of thing cannot and does not happen again.

AMY GOODMAN: Flint Taylor, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Flint Taylor, the attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago. By the way, that last clip was David Bates, who I interviewed in 2006.

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