Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Shocking Ferguson Justice Report

Most Shocking Parts of the Ferguson Report

{50 years ago today in Selma,  Alabama hundreds marched for equality. Now in Ferguson, Missouri & in many cities like Ferguson the endeavor continues. Though we've made progress we still strive to realize the dream that five decades ago so many marching in Selma fought, bled & gave their lives for! #AllourLivesMatter}

Most shocking parts -

(CNN)Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said the city "must do better" to address racism after a stunning Department of Justice report revealed a range of abuses committed against African American residents by the city's police force.

"We must do better not only as a city but as a state and a country. We must all work to address issues of racial disparity in all aspects of our society," he said at a press conference Wednesday night.

Knowles outlined a number of steps the city is taking to comply with DOJ recommendations and reform its force, which was found in the DOJ report to have engaged in systemic racism against the city's African American residents.

He also said one of the three city workers who the DOJ report identified as having sent racist emails had been fired, and the other two were under investigation. However, a source close to the investigation tells CNN that the other two individuals' jobs "will not survive the investigation."

Two of the individuals are officers and one is an employee at the department.

The Justice Department report found that African-American Ferguson residents may have felt like they were being used as the city's personal ATM, by the way the police department hit them with traffic fines.

One woman has paid $550 on what was original a $151 fine for two parking tickets -- and, more than seven years later, she still owes $541.

The police also let dogs loose on residents, sometimes without warning.

One 14-year-old African-American boy said he was waiting for his friends at a house, unarmed, when police released a dog that bit his ankle, thigh and arm.

Harassment was also a common occurrence.

An African-American man was cooling off in his car after playing basketball in a public park in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2012 when a police officer approached him and accused him of being a pedophile.

This was the atmosphere of the city where white Officer Darren Wilson and 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown confronted each other last August -- with Wilson's shooting of Brown triggering months of protests that only intensified after local officials decided not to charge Wilson with a crime.

The Justice Department completed a months-long review of the case and released those results Wednesday. The report cites "unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans," and points to a number of violations of constitutional rights.

Attorney General Eric Holder said a "highly toxic environment" existed between Ferguson police officers and the city's African-American residents before Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown last year.

"It's not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg," Holder said.

He pointed to the use of excessive force overwhelmingly against African-American residents, noting that only African-Americans were bit by police dogs, and said "no alternative explanation" except racial bias exists to explain it.

Holder also said Ferguson's police department violated residents' First Amendment rights to record the activities of officers, regularly conducted illegal searches and unlawfully detained citizens and competed with each other to "see who can issue the largest number of citations in a single stop."

He said the city's municipal courts and local government "relies on the police force to serve essentially as a collection agency."

In a press conference later on Wednesday, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said the Justice Department decision to not press federal charges against Wilson was not surprising, given the evidence.

He also took the opportunity to slam the federal agency for leaking information to the media.

"The only pattern and practice I can talk about is the pattern and practice of the Department of Justice of leaking information to the media," he said. "[No one is saying] there haven't been instances of racial profiling and other profiling, but to suggest that somehow it's all that goes on out there in fact does a great disservice to everybody."

Here are 6 of the most striking examples cited in the 102-page Justice Department report:

1. Unlawful arrest has long-term consequences

Summer of 2012. A 32-year-old African-American was cooling off in his car after a basketball game in a public park.

What comes next is a series of civil rights violations described in the Justice Department report that resulted in the man losing his job as a federal contractor.

A Ferguson police officer demands the man's Social Security number and identification before accusing him of being a pedophile and ordering the man out of his car.

When the officer asked to search the man's car, the 32-year-old refused, invoking his constitutional right.

The response? The officer arrested the man at gunpoint, slapped him with eight charges, including for not wearing a seat belt, despite the fact that he was sitting in a parked car. The officer also cited him for "making a false declaration" because he gave his name as 'Mike' instead of 'Michael.'

"The man told us that, because of these charges, he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years," the report says.

2. People? More like, "sources of revenue"

The Justice Department also revealed that driving the uneven hand of the law in Ferguson was "the city's emphasis on revenue generation."

City officials repeatedly pushed the Ferguson police department to increase city revenue through ticketing, resulting in disproportionate targeting of African-Americans.

"Many officers appear to see some residents, especially those who live in Ferguson's predominantly African-American neighborhoods, less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue," the probe concluded.

African-Americans were disproportionately targeted by those practices, ticketed and cited for minor violations at a higher rate than white residents.

And African-Americans were almost exclusively on the receiving end of some violations: They accounted for 95% of "manner of walking in roadway" charges and 94% of "failure to comply" charges, for example.

READ: Justice report finds systematic discrimination against African-Americans in Ferguson

3. Racist emails

Ferguson's police officers and city court officials' practices didn't just happen to disproportionately target African-Americans.

"Rather, our investigation has revealed that these disparities occur, at least in part, because of unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans," the investigators concluded.

Part of that bias came across in emails shared around by police and court officials:

A November 2008 email read in part that President Barack Obama wouldn't likely be president for long because "what black man holds a steady job for four years." And then in April 2011, another email depicted Obama as a chimpanzee.Another email joked that African-American women should use abortion to control crime.May 2011 email: "An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $3,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said: 'Crimestoppers.'"A March 2010 email mockingly read: "I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment!" Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!"October 2011: An email included a photo of a group of topless, dancing black women, seemingly in Africa, with the caption: "Michelle Obama's High School Reunion."A December 2011 email included jokes playing on offensive Muslim stereotypes

"Our investigation has not revealed any indication that any officer or court clerk engaged in these communications was ever disciplined," the report reads.

All those who sent the emails are current Ferguson city officials.

READ: Justice Department announces Darren Wilson will not be charged

4. Didn't pay that parking ticket? Here's your arrest warrant

The Justice Department probe revealed racial discrimination by the police department, but also by the municipal court.

The city court issued more than 9,000 arrest warrants stemming from minor violations like parking and traffic tickets.

The city wasn't just focused on revenue through tickets, but the fines associated with late payment of fines and additional arrest fees, according to the report.

The investigators spoke with one woman who is still dealing with the repercussions of a 2007 parking violation.

More than seven years later, she's now been arrested twice because of the parking violation and has already paid $550 in fees stemming from the parking violation.

She still owes $541 ... on a ticket that originally amounted to a $151 fine.

"The woman, who experienced financial difficulties and periods of homelessness over several years, was charged with seven Failure to Appear offenses for missing court dates or fine payments on her parking tickets between 2007 and 2010," the report says.

5. Use of force

The Ferguson Police Department recorded 151 instances in which officers used force, documents that provide a litany of evidence of excessive use of force.

"Our finding that FPD force is routinely unreasonable and sometimes clearly punitive is drawn largely from FPD's documentation; that is, from officers' own words," the Justice Department explained.

The federal investigation based on those reports revealed that officers are "quick to escalate encounters with subjects they perceive to be disobeying their orders or arrest."

"They have come to rely on ECWs, specifically Tasers, where less force -- or not force at all -- would do," the report explains.

The officers' use of force in some cases had "no basis in law" while others were simply "punitive and retaliatory."

"In addition, FPD records suggest a tendency to use unnecessary force against vulnerable groups such as people with mental health conditions or cognitive disabilities, and juvenile students," the investigators found.

Tasers, or "ECWs--an electroshock weapon that disrupts a person's muscle control"

"FPD officers seem to regard ECWs as an all-purpose tool bearing no risk." - DOJ report

The Justice Department described officers' use of ECWs as "swift, at times automatic" and shows several examples, such as:

A Ferguson correctional officer fired an ECW at an African-American woman because she yelled an insult at the officer and wouldn't go to her cell. She had been arrested for driving while intoxicated. The officer said he used the Taser because she was "not doing as she was told."And in September 2012, an officer stunned a handcuffed woman in the back of his squad car because she was using her legs to block him from closing the door.


"Canine officers use dogs out of proportion to the threat posed by the people they encounter, leaving serious puncture wounds to nonviolent offenders, some of them children." - DOJ report

Every single time Ferguson police officers released a dog to bite an individual involved an African-American, according to the department's records.

In one incident, a police officer released a dog on a 14-year-old African-American boy who was found hiding in the closet of an abandoned house, "curled up in a ball," according to the police report. After the boy wouldn't show his hands and after being warned, the police officer released the dog, which bit the boy's arm. The boy told federal investigators he never hid in a closet, was never warned the dog would be released and was just waiting for his friends at the house. He said he was bitten in the ankle, thigh and arm.In other incidents, the officers failed to warn suspects that they would release a dog.In another instance, an officer deployed a dog on a fleeing suspect even though he had just patted down the suspect and knew he was not armed. Officers are only supposed to release a canine officer if they fear for their life or believe the suspect may be armed.6. Shocking stats

- Less than 8% of Ferguson police officers are African-American.

- African-Americans accounted for 90% of officers' use of force.

- African-Americans weren't just more likely to be stopped, but more likely to be cited and arrested regardless of the reason for the stop. And they were more likely to receive multiple citations during a single incident.

- African-American drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband.

CNN's Eric Bradner, Sara Sidner and Catherine Shoichet contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cop Shoots Man During Traffic Stop

Dashboard footage from a fatal police shooting in Bridgeton, New Jersey confirm eyewitness accounts that the victim was stepping out of the car with his arms raised when officers shot and killed him, the Press of Atlantic City reports.
Police in Bridgeton pulled over the car in which Jerame Reid was a passenger on December 30th. Prosecutors said that “during the course of the stop a handgun was revealed and later recovered,” but witnesses said that Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley opened fire and killed Reid as he was peacefully exiting the vehicle.
Tahli Dawkins told the Press of Atlantic City that he watched the officers approaching the car yelling, “Don’t effing move!” and that they opened fire without provocation.
Denzel Mosley told KYW-TV that Reid’s hands were “in plain sight,” and that the officers “were telling him, ‘Get out [of] the car,’” then yelling “‘Stop!’ and they started shooting.”
Ben Mosley — a retired sheriff’s deputy — said that Reid may have attempted to get back into the car when the officers yelled the contradictory order to “Stop!” but that he did not believe that justified firing upon him.
“I saw a disarmed man go down to the ground and get shot,” Mosley said. “That’s exactly what I saw.”
The video — obtained by the Press of Atlantic City but not released to the public — confirmed these eye-witness accounts.
“Show me your hands. Show me your f—— hands,” Days said, before quickly adding, “Get him out of the car, Rog[er Worley], we got a gun in his glove compartment.”
After the gun is retrieved, Days continued to yell at Reid. “I tell you, I’m going to shoot you,” he shouted. “You’re gonna be f—— dead. You reach for something, you’re going to be f—— dead.”
Reid then attempted to exit the vehicle with his hands raised, at which point Officer Days yelled, “Don’t you f—— move!” before he and Worley opened fire, discharging their weapons at least six times.
Conrad Benedetto, the attorney for the Reid family, said after viewing the video on Tuesday that “you see that there was no threat to the officer, and no weapons in the victim’s hands.”
Walter Hudson, chair and founder of the civil rights group the National Awareness Alliance, said that “the video speaks for itself that at no point was Jerame Reid a threat and he possessed no weapon on his person. He complied with the officer and the officer shot him.”
Watch the dashboard camera footage of the shooting below below.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Death With Dignity

Death With Dignity Advocate Brittany Maynard Dies…:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Millennials Poised To Vote Against Their Own Self-Interest | The System ...

Unfortunately, this is what happens when money becomes so prevelant in our political discourse. You have a few people having such a large voice, that cogent discourse becomes obselete.

Get Money Out of Politics!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Darren Wilson Supporters: Michael Brown Had It Coming

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Huffpost Politics
Edition: U.S.

Group Rallies In Support Of Darren Wilson, Police Officer Who Shot Michael Brown

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Frustrated with the national coverage of protests surrounding the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a few dozen people showed up in downtown St. Louis on Sunday afternoon to show solidarity with the officer who killed the 18-year-old.
Since officer Darren Wilson shot Brown on Aug. 9, there have been nightly protests in Ferguson. But the counterprotesters said they wanted the country to know that not everyone supported the Ferguson demonstrations, and wanted Wilson and his family to know that there were people who backed them.
The protesters gathered outside KSDK-TV, a local station that they said has been biased in its coverage of the controversy.
Word of the Wilson rally spread via Facebook, according to the attendees, who were overwhelmingly white. For a $7 donation, there were pro-Wilson T-shirts, and all 55 of them sold out quickly.
Still, the rally was significantly smaller than the protests around Brown's death. The Wilson supporters said they were worried about the officer's family and for the most part had little sympathy for individuals claiming that there are problems with police behavior in Ferguson.
"If you do what the police tell you do -- if you're not doing anything wrong, and the cops ask you to do something, then you're not going to have nothing to worry about," said Michael Bates, 33.
When asked why the pro-Wilson rally didn't have many African-American attendees, John Newshaw, a retired St. Louis County police officer, said, "This sounds wrong, but I don't think the black community understands the system. Again, there's a process. They're screaming about, why isn't he [Wilson] arrested, why isn't he in jail? Well, without the investigation being done, you can't go and apply for a warrant."
Newshaw criticized the Missouri Highway Patrol for "doing exactly what the violent protesters want" and trying to use more communication and less force.
"They're going to keep pushing the envelope," he said of demonstrators who've gotten violent during protests in Ferguson. "There's no reason to stop. ... It's as simple as training your dog. If you don't tell them stop biting, guess what, he's going to continue to bite."
The Brown killing has touched a chord with many in the African-American community and beyond that goes further than the shooting. Although a majority of Ferguson residents are black, the power structure there is still white. Ferguson's mayor and police chief are both white, as are six of the city's seven council members. (The seventh is Latino.) And just three members of Ferguson's 53-person police force are black. A 2013 report found a major racial disparity in stops and searches in Ferguson, with black individuals twice as likely to get arrested.
But Bates said he was frustrated that the issue was becoming a "race thing," saying that was besides the point.
"If everyone just stopped with the racism thing, it'd all just go away and everything would go to court and come out with the way the law is supposed to do it. Rioting and everything in the streets doesn't get anything done," he said.
The Missouri Highway Patrol, which is now in charge of security in Ferguson, declared a second curfew for Sunday night, in effect from midnight until 5:00 am CDT Monday morning. One person was shot and seven people were arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning, while the first curfew was in effect.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cops Beat Man Bloody Then Arrest Him For Bleeding On Them

U.S. News


The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie

The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. How the Ferguson PD ran the town where Michael Brown was gunned down.
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him.
“On and/or about the 20th day of Sept. 20, 2009 at or near 222 S. Florissant within the corporate limits of Ferguson, Missouri, the above named defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of ‘property damage’ to wit did transfer blood to the uniform,” reads the charge sheet.
The address is the headquarters of the Ferguson Police Department, where a 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis was taken in the predawn hours on that date. He had been arrested for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number.
“I said, ‘I told you guys it wasn’t me,’” Davis later testified.
He recalled the booking officer saying, “We have a problem.”
The booking officer had no other reason to hold Davis, who ended up in Ferguson only because he missed the exit for St. Charles and then pulled off the highway because the rain was so heavy he could not see to drive. The cop who had pulled up behind him must have run his license plate and assumed he was that other Henry Davis. Davis said the cop approached his vehicle, grabbed his cellphone from his hand, cuffed him and placed him in the back seat of the patrol car, without a word of explanation.
But the booking officer was not ready just to let Davis go, and proceeded to escort him to a one-man cell that already had a man in it asleep on the lone bunk. Davis says that he asked the officer if he could at least have one of the sleeping mats that were stacked nearby.
”He said I wasn’t getting one,” Davis said.
Davis balked at being a second man in a one-man cell.
“Because it’s 3 in the morning,” he later testified. “Who going to sleep on a cement floor?”
The booking officer summoned a number of fellow cops. One opened the cell door while another suddenly charged, propelling Davis inside and slamming him against the back wall.
“I told the police officers there that I didn’t do nothing, ‘Why is you guys doing this to me?’” Davis testified. “They said, ‘OK, just lay on the ground and put your hands behind your back.’”
Davis said he complied and that a female officer straddled and then handcuffed him. Two other officers crowded into the cell.
“They started hitting me,” he testified. “I was getting hit and I just covered up.”
The other two stepped out and the female officer allegedly lifted Davis’ head as the cop who had initially pushed him into the cell reappeared.
“He ran in and kicked me in the head,” Davis recalled. “I almost passed out at that point… Paramedics came… They said it was too much blood, I had to go to the hospital.”
A patrol car took the bleeding Davis to a nearby emergency room. He refused treatment, demanding somebody first take his picture.
“I wanted a witness and proof of what they done to me,” Davis said.
He was driven back to the jail, where he was held for several days before he posted $1,500 bond on four counts of “property damage.” Police Officer John Beaird had signed complaints swearing on pain of perjury that Davis had bled on his uniform and those of three fellow officers.
The remarkable turned inexplicable when Beaird was deposed in a civil case that Davis subsequently brought seeking redress and recompense.
Schottel figures the courts might take the problems of the Ferguson Police Department as more than de minimis as a result of the protests sparked when an officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown.
“After Mr. Davis was detained, did you have any blood on you?” asked Davis’ lawyer, James Schottel.
“No, sir,” Beaird replied.
Schottel showed Beaird a copy of the “property damage” complaint.
“Is that your signature as complainant?” the lawyer asked.
“It is, sir,” the cop said.
“And what do you allege that Mr. Davis did unlawfully in this one?” the lawyer asked.
“Transferred blood to my uniform while Davis was resisting,” the cop said.
“And didn’t I ask you earlier in this deposition if Mr. Davis got blood on your uniform?”
“You did, sir.”
“And didn’t you respond no?”
“Correct. I did.”
Beaird seemed to be either admitting perjury or committing it. The depositions of other officers suggested that the “property damage” charges were not just bizarre, but trumped up.
“There was no blood on my uniform,” said Police Officer Christopher Pillarick.
And then there was Officer Michael White, the one accused of kicking Davis in the head, an allegation he denies, as his fellow officers deny striking Davis. White had reported suffering a bloody nose in the mayhem.
“Did you see Mr. Davis bleeding at all?”  the lawyer, Schottel, asked.
“I did not,” White replied.
“Did Mr. Davis get any blood on you while you were in the cell?” Schottel asked.
“No,” White said.
The contradictions between the complaint and the depositions apparently are what prompted the prosecutor to drop the “property damage” allegation. The prosecutor also dropped a felony charge of assault on an officer that had been lodged more than a year after the incident and shortly after Davis filed his civil suit.
Davis suggested in his testimony that if the police really thought he had assaulted an officer he would have been charged back when he was jailed.
“They would have filed those charges right then and there, because that’s a major felony,” he noted.
Indisputable evidence of what transpired in the cell might have been provided by a surveillance camera, but it turned out that the VHS video was recorded at 32 times normal speed.
“It was like a blur,” Schottel told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “You couldn’t see anything.”
The blur proved to be from 12 hours after the incident anyway. The cops had saved the wrong footage after Schottel asked them to preserve it.
Schottel got another unpleasant surprise when he sought the use-of-force history of the officers involved. He learned that before a new chief took over in 2010 the department had a surprising protocol for non-fatal use-of-force reports.
“The officer himself could complete it and give it to the supervisor for his approval,” the prior chief, Thomas Moonier, testified in a deposition. “I would read it. It would be placed in my out basket, and my secretary would probably take it and put it with the case file.”
No copy was made for the officer’s personnel file.
“Everything involved in an incident would generally be with the police report,” Moonier said. “I don’t know what they maintain in personnel files.”
“Who was in charge of personnel files, of maintaining them?” Schottel asked.
“I have no idea,” Moonier said. “I believe City Hall, but I don’t know.”
Schottel focused on the date of the incident.
“On September 20th, 2009, was there any way to identify any officers that were subject of one or more citizens’ complaints?” he asked.
“Not to my knowledge,” Moonier said.
“Was there any way to identify any officers who had completed several use-of-force reports?”
“I don’t recall.”
But however lax the department’s system and however contradictory the officers’ testimony, a federal magistrate ruled that the apparent perjury about the “property damage” charges was too minor to constitute a violation of due process and that Davis’ injuries were de minimis—too minor to warrant a finding of excessive force. Never mind that a CAT scan taken after the incident confirmed that he had suffered a concussion.
Schottel has appealed and expects to argue the case in December. He will contend that perjury is perjury however minor the charge and note that both the NFL and Major League Baseball have learned to consider a concussion a serious injury.
Schottel figures the courts might take the problems of the Ferguson Police Department as more than de minimis as a result of the protests sparked when an officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown on the afternoon of Aug. 9.
“Your chances on appeal are going up,” a fellow lawyer told him.
At least one witness has said that Brown was shot in the back and then in the chest and head as he turned toward the officer with his hands raised.
“I said, ‘Well, that doesn’t surprise me,’” Schottel told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “I said I already know about Ferguson, nothing new can faze me about Ferguson.”
Schottel has also deposed the new chief, Thomas Jackson, who took over in 2010. Jackson testified that he has instituted a centralized system whereby all complaints lodged against cops by citizens or supervisors go through him and are assigned a number in an internal affairs log. Schottel views Jackson as “not a bad guy,” someone who has been trying to make positive change.
“He wants to do right, but it was such a mess,” Schottel said Wednesday.
Jackson has seemed less than progressive as he delayed identifying the officer involved in the shooting for fear it would place him and his family in danger. Jackson would only say the officer is white and has been on the job for six years. This means that for his first two and most formative years the officer might have been writing his own force reports and that none of them went into his file.
“It’s hard to get people to clean things up, especially if they’re used to doing things a certain way,” Schottel said.

On Friday, police finally identified the officer as Darren Wilson, who is said to have no disciplinary record, as such records are kept in Ferguson. We already know that he started out at a time when it was accepted for a Ferguson cop to charge somebody with property damage for bleeding on his uniform and later saying there was no blood on him at all.

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