Race Soldiers with AR-15’s Gun Down Black Man Holding Water Bottle in Broad Daylight in Vineland (NJ) in Front of Dozens of Witnesses- After Murdering Him White Cops Allowed K-9 Dog to Maul His Face

From [FTP] and [HERE] A 37-year-old Black man, Rashaun Washington, was shot and killed outside of a New Jersey home over the weekend in broad daylight and in front of over a dozen witnesses. The witnesses noted that while Washington was behaving oddly, he was killed as he held a bottle of water and nothing else.

According to police, Vineland officers responded to a call around 11:22 a.m. Saturday morning in which a neighbor reported a man “acting suspiciously.” Multiple units responded and the otherwise benign incident turned deadly within minutes.

“An encounter between the officers and the subject lasted for several minutes ending with the subject being fatally shot,” Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said in a statement.

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Police have yet to release many details about the incident. The officer or officers who opened fire have not been named and they have yet to produce a reason for opening fire — including producing a weapon of any kind.

Although police are remaining silent on the details of the killing, multiple witnesses recorded the incident as it happened and have reported that they only saw Washington holding a bottle of water.

A now-deleted video, posted to Facebook by Tina Wainwright, showed Washington — shirtless and appearing to hold a bottle of water — in a confrontation with police. The confrontation was not violent and Washington merely appeared to be exchanging words with cops in a standoff of sorts.

As officers surround Washington, one of them has a K9 and another an AR-15.

Washington crouches down and then gets up and starts running toward police. At this point police open fire.

Another video, posted to Facebook by Ryonna Maven begins as Washington appears to crouch down.

“They got guns all on his ass, he’s getting closer to the fucking dog,” Maven says on Facebook Live as police show up with a dog. When Washington then tries to run, police open fire.

Instead of first releasing the K9 to detain Washington, police chose to open fire first and then, apparently for good measure, they released the K9 and allowed it to maul Washington’s face as he’s on the ground bleeding out.

“Oh my God! They just killed him. Oh my God. Oh my fucking God. Oh my God, and the dog is biting his fucking face,” Maven says. “They making the dog bite him.”

After watching cops shoot a man who witnesses said was only holding a bottle of water, those witnesses became angry and began to swarm the cops.

One of the officers then calls out for “crowd control” as the bystanders close in. Police then aim pepper spray at the bystanders and force everyone back from the scene.

“This isn’t about attacking the police, this isn’t about politics, this is about a life that was lost when it shouldn’t have been,” Josh Barreiro, a Vineland resident who helped organize a protest over the weekend, told Press of Atlantic City. “We’re here to make a statement that this needs to stop.”

“There is no reason one man with a water bottle (in his hand) should be dead right now,” said Shevone Torres, of Mount Holly, who is an activist with the New Jersey chapter of Black Lives Matter. “I’m tired, I’m angry and I’m frustrated. This should not be happening here. And the fact is that we’re in these smaller towns where cops think that because they don’t get the media attention, they can do whatever the hell they want to us.”

We are unable to embed Maven’s video as Facebook has deemed it too violent to embed, however, below is raw footage showing Washington being shot.

If you’d like to voice your concern to the Vineland Police Department over the video below you can do so at their Facebook page, here. 

“This isn’t about attacking the police, this isn’t about politics, this is about a life that was lost when it shouldn’t have been,” Josh Barreiro, a Vineland resident who helped organize a protest over the weekend, told Press of Atlantic City. “We’re here to make a statement that this needs to stop.”

“There is no reason one man with a water bottle (in his hand) should be dead right now,” said Shevone Torres, of Mount Holly, who is an activist with the New Jersey chapter of Black Lives Matter. “I’m tired, I’m angry and I’m frustrated. This should not be happening here. And the fact is that we’re in these smaller towns where cops think that because they don’t get the media attention, they can do whatever the hell they want to us.”

We are unable to embed Maven’s video as Facebook has deemed it too violent to embed, however, below is raw footage showing Washington being shot.

If you’d like to voice your concern to the Vineland Police Department over the video below you can do so at their Facebook page, here. 

Black Man “[make] Believed" his “rights" protected him & that police were his equal: White Cops Smash Car Window & Drag Him Out to En-force Obedience to Stop Sign Law in Joliet

"Only the Blind Must Believe in Sunlight." - FUNKTIONARY

A bystander recorded white Joliet Police officers on video as they confronted a Black driver and smashed out the driver's side window of the man's car, then yanked the young man out of the car. 

Friday night's traffic stop of the 21-year-old Black driver, Milton Travis, and his carload of friends appears questionable. During the video, he is heard complaining that the city's police officers who pulled him over had no legal basis to stop him. [MORE]

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In the video he is heard talking to the cops as if he is having an arm's length conversation with his equals. He demands explanations and declines orders from cops - persons he believes are his "public servants." How crazy! White people have been lying to him and his belief in those lies have made him deluded, maybe even crazy [falsified afrikan consciousness]. Dr. Blynd makes it plain;

"The child who is taught to believe the law will be his protection is the child who will become the victim of its own beliefs."     "Unquestioned beliefs own you."

What he believes are his rights are actually master's privileges. Dr. Blynd states, "Constitutional protections are window dressing to make subject-citizens feel like they are being served - instead of screwed... Your constitutional protections are made of ribbed latex - and you're getting screwed royally." What Milton believes are laws are nothing but violence; law is a command backed by the threat of force against those that don't obey. Force lurks behind each & every law, such as the stop sign law in this matter. Laws are words on paper and they protect no one on the street. Consciously or unconsciously statists worship law and believe it is morally wrong to disobey commands from "authorities." In a "De-mockery" obey or get dragged out of your car. Although there is no way through which any group of people can delegate to someone else a right which no one in the group possess and it is clear that one who represents someone else cannot have more rights than the one he represents, nevertheless, persons "with the right to rule" [authority] have granted "police" extra-super powers, such that they are paid & immunized to commit violent acts that would be criminal if they were committed by normal human beings. And public rulers do not serve their subjects. Undeceiver Larken Rose states, 

"It is very telling that many modern “law enforcers” quickly become angry, even violent, when an average citizen simply speaks to the “officer” as an equal, instead of assuming the tone and demeanor of a subjugated underling. Again, this reaction is precisely the same – and has the same cause – as the reaction a slave master would have to an “uppity” slave speaking to him as an equal. There are plenty of examples. depicted in numerous police abuse videos on the internet, of supposed representatives of “authority” going into a rage and resorting to open violence, simply because someone they approached spoke to them as one adult would speak to another instead of speaking as a subject would speak to a master. The state mercenaries refer to this lack of groveling as someone having an “attitude.” In their eyes, someone treating them as mere mortals, as if they are on the same level as everyone else, amounts to showing disrespect for their alleged “authority.” Similarly, anyone who does not consent to be detained, questioned, or searched by “officers of the law” is automatically perceived, by the mercenaries of the state, as some sort of troublemaker who has something to hide. Again, the real reason such lack of “cooperation” annoys authoritarian enforcers is because it amounts to people treating them as mere humans instead of treating them as superior beings, which is what they imagine themselves to be." [MORE]

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But other central concerns in this episode are "belief" and "obedience."  FUNKTIONARY lays out the following;

Belief- the psychological calm of imagined certitude safely beyond de-stabilizing doubt and troublesome reality-entanglement. 2) a construction of approximate truths, absolute truths, mass truths and primary myths, based on genetic predisposition, and environmental and socio-psychological conditioning. 3) the institutionalization of the unknowable, i.e., a conviction that is not necessarily based upon any empirical, direct-mind or experiential knowledge. 4) a non-physical surviving thought-form. 5) any conclusion based on a fundamental assumption; the evidence of things not seen, no longer actively sought. 6) an intellectual
rationalization surrounded by (based on) "'proofs," reasons and arguments. 7) that which springs out of cultural ideology. 8) the greatest fiction. 9) a trick of the mind to repress doubt. 10) a mental doubt-suppression tactic. A suppressed doubt is neither faith nor even trust. 11) repressed doubt. 12) an explicit or implicit assent to dogmatic propositions (with or without overgrown religious foliage) on someone else's authority. 13) reverential blindness that thwarts fresh perception and intuitive apperception. 14) a prejudice without any experience to support it. 15) a peculiar blend of fatiloquent assertion on one hand and adamant
denial on the other. 16) a manic flirtation with the terminally unprovable. 17) certainty based in the unknown. 18) having another "see" it for you while seeing him see it (for you)—in effect being for another. 19) a conclusion without the verification of direct experience—make-believe made real. 20) the inability or unwillingness to master the requisite logic or reason to counterbalance (or overcome) the willingness to be misled. 21) the abnegation of internal authenticity for outside authority. 22) ego-consoling faith. 23) acceptance of a statement, tenet or creed with available verification and substantive evidence to its contrary. The word belief in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon root 'leif, which means, "to wish." Belief is the inability to formulate the necessary suspicion that there is something seriously missing. Sin means missing the mark—and belief is the mark that's missed in the very act of merely believing. Belief is the blind spot of what's not. It's beautiful—you can't see what's not really there. When people believe something, their beliefs take form and appear real to them. Belief, even in the most arrant nonsense, often finds the greatest audience with the highest credulity. When you utter the creed, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth..." you are really saying, "I fervently wish that there exists God the Father Almighty." With belief, you have to believe only in lies; you don't have to believe in truth. Remember, you cover a lie; you discover truth. A belief is an unwarranted, unchallenged or cherished assumption that is elevated to the status of a conclusion or absolute truth without examination and verification through observation, direct or authentic experience, critical thought and contemplation. A belief is a stub (proxy-rung) in one's personal ladder of truth. Each belief carries the embedded doubt in itself. A belief is the violation of epistemological integrity in which something one doesn't really or truly know is feigned as something one knows. Most belief is founded on the form—not the content—of the words believed in. Once a belief is rigidified or solidified as dogma, individuals (believers) will predictably limit themselves only to the experiences that validate their belief (wishes). Don't believe or disbelieve, because in either case, '"you" will never undertake the effort of direct experience to really know. Belief is external absolute-truth-based blindness. Belief is something fixed, static, stagnant, frozen— a conclusion we have reached (albeit not on our own and based on the unknown). Once we believe something, we shut the door to everything outside of, or opposed to, that belief and stop inquiring or questioning. Belief is a cultural conditioning imposed on you by others; it is a slavery. Belief is our substitute for truth: truth our substitute for reality—thereby stultifying our opportunity for awareness. Belief is what we cling to when we have no true overstanding or comprehension (knowingness) of the nature of reality, existence, or the Totality. Only the blind must believe in sunlight. For those who can see with a single eye, belief plays no part in the experience of seeing. A belief is a question we have put aside so that we don't have to seek an answer from reality. Belief is present when you don't know, yet believe anyway. A belief cannot be questioned—its very nature is to end the quest in the very believing. To believe a statement or proposition "P' is to act as if 'P' is held to be true; and if so, it too holds true for others.   It is not necessary that the belief be neither conscious nor certain.   Confusion arises from failure to overstand the essential difference between theoretical (i.e., intellectual) belief, and vital (i.e., unconscious) belief. Most beliefs are merely the result of indoctrination, acculturation, programming and conditioning.   Only vital beliefs have the power to transcend the exigencies of life, and of death. The highest belief is the belief in reality, and even that position is an unenviable one.  When you are free of belief you are ready for truth; when you're free of truth, you're ready for reality, and when you're ready for reality, you're ready for Phfreedom (not having freedom but being freedom itself). With belief, you can only see your way out of it; you cannot see through it or into it. Seeing your way out provides the false impression that you can make your way out (of it). A belief may be comforting, but only through experimental transformation into knowingness, by way of revising one's truth, does it become liberating.   Shed your belief for existential relief.   Belief is always unnecessary (and a hindrance) to action but a salve to the ego. "There is no idea so stupid you can't find people to believe in it."~H.L. Mencken. Belief may console the ego-personality, but it simultaneously deludes, confines and supports it. "Belief is only as good as the ability and willingness to give it up.   Beliefs only betoken intention and doubt and that when doubt is laid to rest through experience, belief dissolves as naturally as stitches after an operation.   When you really know something, if you have the experience to back it up, belief becomes more of a hindrance than help. But its most useful function—and its most profound accomplishment—lies in its ability to disappear." -Adam G. Fisher.  The very idea of belief implies a residue of doubt, but knowing leaves no trace of skepticism. Don't believe a word of what you read here in the Funktionary. Belief is being locked into an idea; an unalterable understanding. We fail to realize how dangerous (and limiting) blocking out new information can be simply because it is new, foreign or inconsistent with our tradition or religious conditioning.   If knowledge is not constantly changing you—then you're full of shit.   How much?   It all depends.   When we're "smellin' ourselves" in our beliefs, rest assured, others are smelling us too—because it reeks from a distance. All the dangers of belief lay close to the shore of dogma. Once one has broken through the spiritual shoals and religious reefs, the expanse of the ocean of Being brings great relief. Why should many consider it a virtue to believe something or "believe in" something without any supporting evidence, or in spite of contravening evidence?   Whatever you now believe, you believe only because you were willing to release a prior belief. Knowledge comes into existence by shedding belief—it is but a natural progession from superstition to reality-based living and quantum physics experienced as a quantum leap forward into and through consciousness.   You don't have to take any responsibility for belief—that shifts responsibility or romoves it altogether from the believer, as contrasted to knowledge, wherein once you know, once you are aware, you have to take responsibility for an action based on that knowledge. With belief, you can willfully ignore knowledge and facts and remain in ignorant bliss. Challenging and questioning the void, blind spot, or fear supporting the need to defer experience and knowledge for belief presents us with the prospect of reinventing our lives anew from scratch—not the outer life, but our inner lives, our essence.  A reorientation from belief to knowledge takes tremendous courage.   Belief blocks us, i.e., stands between us and the reality-based truth we so eagerly dodge, avert or fail to even acknowledge or recognize its presence always there just beyond our fears to engage or entertain. Belief is a personal claim that doesn't matter because it has no impact on the outcome of the encounter or exchange between two people or events. Sure, you can exercise a modicum of faith to practical things in the world but that doesn't denote belief. Faith is belief sustained by some reasonable test of its validity. If a belief cannot be tested, it moves into superstition or faith. Faith (like truth) can be tested against reality and will yield either temporary knowledge or conclusive disrepute.   However, once a claim "matters," even though the question or answer may not change (what's your name and the factual response), the stakes are raised. A formula can be generated that depicts belief. Belief equals the claims divided by reason, times the evidence minus an uncertainty factor to the power of change driven by infinity.   [B = (C/R)E - Un].  We should approach a claim with some reasonable expectations (because we understand and have experienced the world and events to follow a certain pattern or be a certain way).  It is most prudent to dissect a claim from our reasonable expectations of our understanding of the world especially its uncertainty factor amidst ceaseless change. This is the safest and most sane manner or method to determine if the claim comports with the nature (attributes) of reality. Once you substitute knowledge and reality for belief and truth, your life (the substitute life you're leading will never be the same.   The end of belief is a challenging moment.   Don't be afraid to live your life without the binky of belief—it will come to you as a life-changing and most joyous relief.  Once you know—back to belief you cannot go. Not in belief, but rather in knowingness and openness to change we grow. In belief we're off to the religious races, but we never go far. Flow it down for a change and be where we really are; be who we truly are!   (See: Faith, Vital Belief, Sin, Belief System. Certainty, Phfreedom, Dogma, Knowingness, Liberation, Ego-Personality, Epistemology, Space, Seeing, True Believers. Essence, Human Beams, Overstanding, Atheism, "God," Absolute Truth, Proof, Mythology, Undoism, Subconscious, Self- Identity, Religion, Ideology, SLIP, Evil, Good, The Unknown, Guilt, Understanding, Religion, PC & Trust)


obedience - a Self-Other irreversible relationship in which there is only communication (mind-to-mind), i.e. no contact, and an imbalance of power. 2) the highest form of the power-fear systemic. 3) slavery sold to both children and adults alike deceptively packaged in a respectfully sounding label. 4) reverse terrorism. You can compel obedience but you cannot compel responsibility or respect. Everyone should have a say in waking-up to (or waking up from) whatever they have been programmed to obey. It is difficult to reduce to obedience anyone who has no wish to command. If you can't read very well and follow it up with the absence of critical thinking skills, then obey your masters and oppressors until you can—for your own survival. Life is more trouble-free when you obey. If you speak TV-English, by all means obey the beast, if you like freedom of movement with your slavery. TV's ought to have warning labels: "Use of this device can be hazardous to your freedom.'" How can you take a man seriously who watches T.V. obediently, drinks habitually and desires freedom too?

The historian Howard Zinn is clear on the role obedience has played on our conditions throughout the centuries. "[Civil disobedience] is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions of people have been killed because of this obedience. ...Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is people are obedient while the jails are full with petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem." More atrocities are commited in the name of economics than in the name of hate, ideological or religious intolerance. (See: Authority, God, Atrocities, Conditioning. TV, War, The COMB, Control, Power, Violence. Religion, Should. Duty, Hatred, Other, Inhumanity, Communication, Programming, Indoctrination, Poverty, Gangbanking, Education, Unlearning. Force. Orderlies, Police, Force Continuum. Judicial Tyranny, Residency, Labor, Property, Servitude, Critical Thinking, Holodeck Court, Questioning, Pulpit. TUFF. Authenticity. Fear & Authoritarians).

"Justice System" Based on Government Coercion & Violence: Do You "Consent" to "Near Perfect Surveillance of All Your Movements" [ankle monitoring] or Want to be Locked Up Pending Trial?

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From [HERE] Our phones are constantly searching for the greatest connection, updating our location, and often connect to multiple cell towers on any given day, divulging our whereabouts to service providers with relative ease. In recent years, the accuracy of this method to pinpoint a person’s current and past location has increased significantly. And given that there are more cell phone accounts in America than there are people in the country, wireless providers are the gatekeepers to a wealth of stored information about our daily movements.

Privacy advocates and those legitimately concerned with the attendant constraints of Big Brother government have looked to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Carpenter v. United States as a major victory, as it settles several questions about the protections that citizens have when the government seeks to use third parties to access personal information such as location. The United States Supreme Court’s position on the essentialness of cell phones to everyday life and Americans’ expectation that the government is not tracking them at every moment, in many ways builds upon its decision in Riley v. California. In Riley, the Court ruled that the contents of a cell phone found on a person may not be searched as a part of placing that individual under arrest, given the heavy expectations of privacy citizens have in the information that may be retrieved from a cell phone (in the case of David Riley, contacts and photos). Location data, in particular, can reveal intimate details about a person’s life, from visits to medical clinics, to attendance at community and political group gatherings, to trips to the liquor store.

It is hard to imagine that Timothy Carpenter, upon receiving a hundred and sixteen-year prison sentence, would have found the humor that some have found in the irony of his alleged string of store robberies involving cell phone theft, and law enforcement using cell phone technology to ultimately identify him. The Court in Carpenter, however, found this acquisition by the government of cell-site records from his wireless carriers was a Fourth Amendment search, requiring a warrant based upon probable cause, and granted his appeal of the conviction and sentence. Before Carpenter was identified by law enforcement as involved in the robberies of Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Michigan and Ohio, his cell phone number was found in the call log of another suspect. Federal prosecutors then made a request, without a warrant, to several wireless carriers and received over four months’ worth of cell-site records with location data. Law enforcement agents were able to connect Carpenter to the location of the robberies through triangulation methods that estimate a cell phone’s location within a cell site.

While the significance of this case cannot be overstated, there are many questions left unanswered by Carpenter concerning other methods of state surveillance in both corrections and policing. Interestingly, in articulating the concern in the case, the Court noted that “when the Government tracks the location of a cell phone it achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone’s user.” Some may be surprised to discover that all fifty states do in fact attach electronic ankle monitors on hundreds of thousands of people every year as a condition of pretrial and post-conviction release. In a report on the expansion of electronic surveillance, the Pew Charitable Trust notes that the use of electronic surveillance devices in the criminal justice system rose 140% between 2005 and 2015. During this same period, GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), private prison corporations, invested billions of dollars in ankle monitor surveillance technology.

I highlight, in a recent law review article, how these correctional surveillance technologies are even used frequently on minors, in ways that compromise the rehabilitative aim of juvenile court. This form of surveillance has also been widely used in the immigration system through programs under innocuous titles such as “Family Case Management.” During the recent controversy over the policy of separating migrant parents from their children, such surveillance programming was suggested as a reasonable solution, at a minimal cost.

The potential for dehumanization that comes with locking tracking devices on adults and their children, not only presents psychological harms from stigma and shame, but may also act to widen the overcriminalization net, entrenching a marginalized, subordinated class of individuals with digital scarlet letters. We are only beginning to examine the deep social costs of this expanded carceral reality, best understood as e-carceration. But what we already know is that its burden falls heaviest on poor communities of color.

Thus, one of the questions that is not addressed by Carpenter is whether this ruling opens the door for new interpretations on how the location data collected by correctional surveillance technology, such as ankle monitors, should be protected. In Grady v. North Carolina, in a case involving the use of GPS ankle monitors on sex offenders, the Supreme Court decided that the state “conducts a [Fourth Amendment] search when it attaches a device to a person’s body, without consent, for the purpose of tracking that individual’s movements.” Although at pretrial and post-conviction release individuals voluntarily consent to be monitored, the Court in Carpenter noted that when it comes to the location data that cell phones provide, the “voluntary exposure” rationale does not hold up. One could ask whether those on ankle monitors, which are increasingly supervised by private for-profit probation companies, voluntarily expose their location data when the option presented is imprisonment or “near perfect surveillance.” And like Timothy Carpenter, individuals on ankle monitors risk having their location data used to place them at the scenes of crimes, without the need for a search warrant.

Questions also remain for the extent of constitutional protections that may be afforded against newer forms of police surveillance technology. The type of location data used to convict Timothy Carpenter has been used in criminal cases for at least twenty years. In the now infamous murder case of Adnan Syed for the 1999 killing of Hae Min Lee, which is chronicled on the Serial podcast, cell site data garnered by nearby cell towers was a significant piece of evidence use by prosecutors in the February 2000 trial. The Supreme Court has been notoriously slow in catching up to the speed of advancing surveillance technology in policing. In just the past few years police departments have acquired highly sophisticated modes of surveillance such as facial recognition and pre-crime software technology that makes algorithm-generated predictions on who is likely to commit crime and where. These technologies have already received considerable criticism for their inherent racial biases and disproportionate impacts on communities of color.

If the Supreme Court in 2018 believes that the arguably rudimentary technology of ankle monitoring is near perfect, then the current law enforcement foray into the wildly powerful, yet flawed, surveillance measures of the future, may present frightening possibilities for limiting privacy and maximizing social control of vulnerable communities. And given the pace of the jurisprudence in this area, these fundamental concerns are not likely to reach the highest court for quite some time.

Most advocates fearing the encroaching surveillance state recognize that courts may not be the best route for pushing back against current police and correctional surveillance measures. The recent Supreme Court nomination, with Brett Kavaughn’s purported stance on privacy, will likely only lessen any confidence for increasing protections through litigation. Instead, advocates have focused on building local and national movements for change. For example, in corrections, the Center for Media Justice launched the “Challenging E-Carceration” project to contest the use of electronic ankle monitoring in the criminal justice and immigration system as a human rights issue, and released a set of guidelines to support advocates and policymakers. In policing, the American Civil Liberties Union introduced the Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) effort. The campaign’s principal objective is to pass CCOPS laws that ensure the elevation of residents’ voice and input into law enforcement decisions about the adoption and deployment of surveillance technologies. Even corporate shareholders have organized to raise concerns over surveillance technologies.

These new debates and movements reveal that we are only at the tip of the enhanced state surveillance iceberg. The toughest battles in balancing the risks and rewards of such technologies lie ahead. Perhaps the most important question left unresolved by Carpenter is not how we should use surveillance technologies, but rather whether some forms of surveillance technology should be used at all.

Wage Growth For Most People is "Missing in Action" As Global 1% Seize Economy's Gains

From [HERE] The world's largest economies have grown at a steady pace and unemployment has consistently fallen in the years following the greed-driven global financial crisis of 2008, but income gains during the so-called recovery have been enjoyed almost exclusively by the top one percent while most workers experience "unprecedented wage stagnation."

That's according to the OECD's 2018 Employment Outlook (pdf) published Wednesday, which examines recent economic trends and finds that wage growth for most citizens in the 35 industrialized nations studied is "missing in action" due to a number of factors, including the the rapid rise of temporary low-wage jobs and the relentless corporate assault on unions.

The decline of union bargaining power has been particularly striking in the United States, where just "12 percent of U.S. workers were covered by collective bargaining in 2016—among all the nations the OECD tracks, only Turkey, Lithuania and South Korea have been lower at any point this millennium," notes the Washington Post's Andrew Van Dam. "Workers' share of national income [in the U.S.] dropped about eight percentage points between 1995 and 2013, faster than anywhere but Poland and South Korea over that time."

In a statement on Tuesday, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría said "[t]his trend of wageless growth in the face of a rise in employment highlights the structural changes in our economies that the global crisis has deepened, and it underlines the urgent need for countries to help workers."

"Well-targeted policy measures and closer collaboration with social partners are needed to help workers adapt to and benefit from a rapidly evolving world of work, in order to achieve inclusive growth," Gurría added.

In sharp contrast to the flat wages of average workers, those in the top one percent are seeing their incomes climb, continuing a decades-long trend. The following graphic, published by the Guardian using OECD data, captures the long-term trend that continues in the present:

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How Elite Racists Do: "Public Service Electric & Gas" Shut Off Power on 68 yr Old Black Woman Living Off Oxygen Machine in 90 Degree Heat in Newark - Family Alleges Murder, Torture

 Above 80 park police. The  Public Service Enterprise Group  ( PSEG ) is a publicly traded diversified energy company headquartered in  Newark ,  New Jersey  and was established in 1985.  The company's largest subsidiary is  Public Service Electric and Gas Company  ( PSE&G ). The Public Service Electric and Gas Company is a regulated gas and electric  utility company  serving the state of New Jersey [3] and it is New Jersey's oldest and largest  investor owned utility  company; the Public Service Electric and Gas Company was established in 1928 and was originally a subsidiary of the New Jersey based  Public Service Corporation . [ MORE ]

Above 80 park police. The Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) is a publicly traded diversified energy company headquartered in Newark, New Jersey and was established in 1985.

The company's largest subsidiary is Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G). The Public Service Electric and Gas Company is a regulated gas and electric utility company serving the state of New Jersey [3] and it is New Jersey's oldest and largest investor owned utility company; the Public Service Electric and Gas Company was established in 1928 and was originally a subsidiary of the New Jersey based Public Service Corporation. [MORE]

From [HERE] Linda Daniels had fallen behind on her electricity bills, her meter run up by medical equipment going around the clock and increasingly hot weather. But on July 3, her family said, they pulled together $500 to pay down her debts, believing it would maintain her service.

Two days later, her electricity was shut off. It was a sweltering day and temperatures in Newark soared into the 90s. Ms. Daniels’s house was stifling, the air so stuffy that her daughter said it was difficult to breathe. Even more serious: Ms. Daniels relied on an oxygen machine, and it required electricity.

Ms. Daniels, 68, had various ailments, including congestive heart failure, her relatives said, and in recent months she had been placed in hospice care as her health declined. Her doctors had not given her any indication of how long she had to live, relatives said, but her family wanted her to be comfortable and to be at home.

Over several hours that day, her family said, Ms. Daniels gasped for air. Her relatives said they repeatedly called the power company, Public Service Electric and Gas, pleading for the electricity to be restored, only to be asked at one point to stop calling. Paramedics brought portable oxygen tanks but, by later that afternoon, Ms. Daniels was dead from heart failure. Toward the end, her relatives said, she was frightened, clutching her children’s hands.

“It’s just very horrifying to my entire family,” her daughter, Desiree Washington, said. “I’m at my breaking point.”

As the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has started an investigation, Ms. Daniels’s family and the utility company have offered conflicting versions of the events leading to her death. The company has argued that Ms. Daniels’s customer account was severely delinquent and that the company had no evidence of her medical condition or need for an oxygen machine. Her family disputes those statements. 

The case has also alarmed officials and advocates who questioned how Ms. Daniels could fall through the safety net in New Jersey, a state that has some of the country’s strongest protections to keep low-income families from having their utilities turned off and to stop companies from shutting off service to customers with medical emergencies.

“I’m looking at this as totally preventable,” said Mark Wolfe, the executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. “That’s what’s really troubling. The family was trying, and no one put two and two together and said she can be helped. This is really unnecessary. That was the missing part of it: There is help there.”

Officials at Public Service Electric and Gas Company said in a statement that Ms. Daniels’s customer account was “severely in arrears.” Officials said her account, as of last week, had been past due about $1,500. The company said that it had made at least 26 attempts, including two visits to her house, to notify Ms. Daniels that she risked losing power since the beginning of the year. It also said that a review of its records from 2012 onward found no indication that anyone at the address required life-sustaining medical equipment.

“When we were contacted after service had been disconnected and were notified that the customer had medical issues,” the company said in the statement, “we began the process to restore service.”

The company said it was cooperating with the official investigation. And on Friday, it announced that it had hired Theodore V. Wells Jr., of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, who is well known for helping companies investigate accusations of misconduct, to run an independent inquiry of its own actions. The company has repeatedly declined to elaborate beyond its statements.

Ms. Daniels’s family provided The New York Times with screen shots from a cellphone that appear to show bank records with a series of payments made to the company, including the one for $500 on July 3, as well as $300 in April, $250 in May and $400 in June.

The family also disputed the claim that the company was unaware of Ms. Daniels’s medical situation; they said that, several years ago, the company was informed that she needed a breathing machine to treat her sleep apnea. Ms. Washington said that an employee from the company had visited the house in June to discuss her outstanding balance and was told of Ms. Daniels’s medical needs.

In the panicked calls the family made on July 5, Ms. Washington said, the company’s representatives were “being money crazed” and, in her view, showed no empathy or willingness to help. The power was restored by the next day, she said. She added that a company executive called her brother after her mother had died and offered the company’s condolences.

“Stop putting it back on us,” Ms. Washington said of the company. “You messed up. Just own it. The truth is going to come out. Just admit that you made a mistake.”

In New Jersey, according to the state Board of Public Utilities rules, residential service cannot be shut off on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays; holidays or the day before; or if there is a medical emergency in the household. There are also limitations on shutting off service to homes if temperatures are predicted to reach 95 degrees or higher during the 48 hours afterward. (The temperature was not forecast to meet that threshold when Ms. Daniels’s power was cut off.) And consumer advocates said utility companies will often come up with payment plans for customers trying to chip away at their unpaid bills rather than cutting them off.

Last year, more than 260,000 households received energy assistance in New Jersey, and 70 percent of the recipients were homes with older or disabled residents or families with young children, according to Mr. Wolfe. This year, the state received $127 million in federal funds for a low-income energy assistance program.

State officials said that Ms. Daniels had never benefited from those programs. Her daughter said she had applied but had been denied. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs said that the agency’s records showed that Ms. Daniels had applied for low-income energy assistance in 2007, but that her paperwork was incomplete and she did not follow up.

Ms. Daniels had been in hospice care since April, as her condition worsened.

Study: Bank of America, M&T Bank, PNC, Wells Fargo Bank & Other "Banksters" are Charging the Highest Overdraft & ATM Fees in Cities with Large Black Populations

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Harrisburg, PA 52% Black

Cleveland 53% Black 

West Palm Beach 55% Latino & Black

Cincinnati 44% Black

Baltimore 64% Black

Atlanta 51% Black 

Washington DC 51% Black 

Detroit 81% Black

From [HERE] DepositAccounts.com’s conducted a study of checking account fee data from 1,711 banks and credit unions with branches in the 50 of the largest U.S. metro areas. Checking account fee data from online banks was also analyzed. The study focused on three of the common checking account fees: overdraft fees, third-party ATM fees and monthly service fees. [MORE]

Banks made $32 billion last year in overdraft fees alone. Overdrafts are one of the most expensive ways to "borrow money" in the world.

  • Banks charge effective APRs > 1,000% – making them worse than payday lenders
  • Banks have purposefully made the system obscenely complex.
  • Banks regularly re-order transactions in the background, increasing the fees you pay and stacking the deck against you

It’s Thursday, the day before payday. You only have $50 left in checking and have forgotten that your gym membership of $70 will be automatically debited from your account today. Normally, you’d transfer a little bit out of savings to cover the cost if you needed to, but you didn’t do it in time. The bank approved your gym’s charge and now your balance is negative $20. 

The bank has 2 choices: approve the transaction or decline the transaction.

If they approve the transaction, then you go overdraft and will be charged an overdraft fee. The average fee is about $35 per incident.  You can be charged multiple times a day.  One of the worst examples is Citizens Bank, which charges $37 per incident, up to a shocking 7 incidents per day - that’s $259 in fees for a single day!

When your account is overdrawn, the balance is negative. You have to bring the balance positive (by putting money into the account), or else you will be charged an extended overdraft fee.

At Bank of America, you would be charged another $35 if the account is negative for 5 days. And remember: you have to cover both the amount you borrowed and the fee.  In the case of the gym membership – you would have to pay the $20 you borrowed and the $35 fee in 5 days, otherwise you are charged another $35!

If the bank decides to decline the transaction, you still get charged a fee.  This fee is called an NSF fee aka non-sufficient-funds fee.  And, guess what?  The fee is still a shocking $35 per incident.

So: you are charged $35 if it is approved or declined. Bank of America will charge $35 even if the overdraft was less than $10.

In a normal world, transactions that take place at 8AM will be deducted from your checking account at 8AM.  Unfortunately, the rules are stacked against you.  Rather than posting the transactions when they actually happened, a lot of banks post transactions when they wish they would have happened.

Nearly 50% of banks use what is called “high to low processing.”  They take all of your transactions from the day, and deduct them from your account from highest amount to lowest amount (and they do this at the end of the day).  That means you will go overdraft sooner, and you will pay more fees.

Imagine you have a balance of $50.  You have 2 transactions: a morning trip to Starbucks for $5, and then dinner for $55.  If the transactions were posted in order, then you would only have one overdraft transaction: the dinner for $55.

If the transactions were posted from high to low (and not in the order they happen), then you would have 2 overdraft transactions!  At an average bank, that would increase the fee from $35 to $70! [MORE]

And that is perfectly legal by "banksters."

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Philadelphia, PA 56% Black & Latino

Pharmaceutical Co said Nevada “illegitimately acquired" its Drug to Carry Out its Murders [of its disproportionately Black death row] as Court Stops 1st Execution Using Fentanyl

People Scheduled to be Murdered by Nevada

Nevada Demographics

Although Nevada is only 11.6% Black, Blacks Make Up 36.5% of its death row population.

 From [HERE] and [HERE] Hours before Nevada was set to carry out the country’s first lethal injection using the powerful opioid fentanyl, a judge on Wednesday halted the execution because of a challenge from a drug company that objects to the state’s plan to use one of its products as a sedative for the procedure.

Nevada’s plans to use fentanyl as part of its execution of Scott Dozier — a white man convicted of murder who said he wants the lethal injection to proceed — made it the latest in a string of states that have turned to unprecedented drug combinations or uncommon execution methods as they try to carry out death sentences amid difficulties obtaining drugs

State officials planned to use a three-drug cocktail that includes the sedative midazolam, the opioid fentanyl and a paralytic drug called cisatracurium, which have never been used in an execution.

While some other states have turned to comparatively unknown chemicals, Nevada’s plan stood out for relying on fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller that has helped fuel the country’s ongoing opioid epidemic. Depending on what happens in Dozier’s case, Nebraska ultimately could wind up carrying out the first fentanyl-assisted execution, something that state is seeking to do this summer.


Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have sued the state and forced it to turn over invoices, revealing smaller purchases of fentanyl over months at a time in an apparent attempt to disguise the purpose of the drug's purchase.

ACLU attorneys and other critics have questioned how the state obtained the drug, according to The Guardian, including whether state officials broke the law to obtain it or whether the multibillion-dollar drug distribution company Cardinal Health ignored evidence the drug sales were intended to be used for executions.

“Using fentanyl in an execution is particularly strange and confusing because of its place in the opioid epidemic,” ACLU legal director Amy Rose said. “But on top of that it’s never been used in an execution before. It’s extremely experimental. There is a very real risk of a botched execution.”

“It’s concerning that Cardinal Health would sell it to the department of corrections if it knew the drugs would be used in executions,” Rose added. She said that the ACLU is seeking to understand whether state authorities “lied to Cardinal in any way."

Fentanyl-laced drugs have been at the center of the opioid abuse epidemic for years, as drug is often sold on the street as a more potent version of heroin or other opioids.

In 2016, 59,000 to 65,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Overdose death numbers have not yet been released for 2017.

Nevada officials faced a late challenge from Alvogen, a pharmaceutical firm that said the state “illegitimately acquired” its drug, the sedative midazolam. That drug has become controversial for its use in executions, and Alvogen highlighted some of those incidents in court, including the bungled 2014 Oklahoma execution that saw an inmate grimace and kick, an Arizona execution that same year that took nearly two hours and the 2016 Alabama execution that had witnesses recounting that the inmate coughed and heaved.

Alvogen asked a judge to block Nevada from using its drug and called for the product to be returned. During a hearing Wednesday, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who presides over the civil division of the district court in Clark County, barred the state from using its supply of midazolam in Dozier’s execution, according to a court spokeswoman. Gonzalez also set a status check in the case for September.

According to Nevada’s execution protocol, the state’s plan going into Wednesday was to inject Dozier with three drugs: midazolam to sedate him, fentanyl to cause him to lose consciousness and then cisatracurium to paralyze his muscles. Medical experts warned that the final drug could make the procedure riskier, arguing that if either of the first two drugs are administered improperly or do not work, Dozier could potentially remain conscious while the paralytic renders him unable to move or breathe.

A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections said the execution “has been postponed” because of the judge’s order and “will not take place until further notice.” She had previously declined to comment on the lawsuit and the company’s claims that the state illegally obtained the drug, citing the pending court hearing. State officials did not immediately file an appeal after Gonzalez’s decision.

Dozier, 47, was convicted of killing a man in a Las Vegas hotel, cutting him into pieces and stealing his money in 2002. Dozier also has been clear about his desire to have the execution carried out.

“Life in prison isn’t a life,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week. “This isn’t living, man. It’s just surviving. … If people say they’re going to kill me, get to it.”

Court says Govt Violated Anarchist's 1st & 2nd Amendment Rights when it Prohibited Him From Distributing Instructions on how to "print" handguns on 3-D printers

From [HERE] Cody Wilson, the Arkansas-born techno-anarchist who distributed digital instructions to "print" handguns on 3-D printers, has apparently won a landmark legal challenge against the U.S. Justice Department, Wired reports.

He may have also unlocked a new era of digital DIY gunmaking that further undermines gun control across the United States and the world—another step toward Wilson's imagined future where anyone can make a deadly weapon at home with no government oversight.

Two months ago, the Department of Justice quietly offered Wilson a settlement to end a lawsuit he and a group of co-plaintiffs have pursued since 2015 against the United States government. Wilson and his team of lawyers focused their legal argument on a free speech claim: They pointed out that by forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable data, the State Department was not only violating his right to bear arms but his right to freely share information. By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.

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"If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident," Wilson explained to WIRED when he first launched the lawsuit in 2015. "So what if this code is a gun?”

The former UCA student was featured in a Times cover story in 2014 and drawn subsequent mentions since.

'Now Wilson is making up for lost time. Later this month, he and the nonprofit he founded, Defense Distributed, are relaunching their website Defcad.com as a repository of firearm blueprints they've been privately creating and collecting, from the original one-shot 3-D-printable pistol he fired in 2013 to AR-15 frames and more exotic DIY semi-automatic weapons. The relaunched site will be open to user contributions, too; Wilson hopes it will soon serve as a searchable, user-generated database of practically any firearm imaginable.

All of that will be available to anyone anywhere in the world with an uncensored internet connection, to download, alter, remix, and fabricate into lethal weapons with tools like 3-D printers and computer-controlled milling machines. “We’re doing the encyclopedic work of collecting this data and putting it into the commons,” Wilson says. “What’s about to happen is a Cambrian explosion of the digital content related to firearms.” He intends that database, and the inexorable evolution of homemade weapons it helps make possible, to serve as a kind of bulwark against all future gun control, demonstrating its futility by making access to weapons as ubiquitous as the internet.

Gun control advocates are alarmed.

'"This should alarm everyone," says Po Murray, chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance, a Connecticut-focused gun control group created in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013. "We’re passing laws in Connecticut and other states to make sure these weapons of war aren’t getting into the hands of dangerous people. They’re working in the opposite direction."

When reporters and critics have repeatedly pointed out those potential consequences of Wilson's work over the last five years, he has argued that he’s not seeking to arm criminals or the insane or to cause the deaths of innocents. But nor is he moved enough by those possibilities to give up what he hopes could be, in a new era of digital fabrication, the winning move in the battle over access to guns.

With his new legal victory and the Pandora's box of DIY weapons it opens, Wilson says he's finally fulfilling that mission. “All this Parkland stuff, the students, all these dreams of ‘common sense gun reforms'? No. The internet will serve guns, the gun is downloadable.” Wilson says now. “No amount of petitions or die-ins or anything else can change that."

Study Finds that Bank of America, M&T Bank, PNC & Wells Fargo are Ripping Off Mostly Black Customers in Baltimore with High Overdraft & ATM Fees

From [HERE] If you have a bank account in Baltimore, there's a good chance you are paying higher overdraft and ATM fees than your friends and family in places like Boston, Denver and New York. And if you live in Baltimore there's a 64% chance you are Black. [MORE

A recent study by DepositAccounts.com ranked Baltimore No. 10 on its list of 50 cities with the highest bank fees. The study uses data about the ATM fees, overdraft fees and monthly service fees from more than 1,700 banks and credit unions across the country to determine the rankings.

Baltimore ranks No. 6 for third-party ATM fees, No. 6 for overdraft fees and No. 36 for average monthly fees.

The average third-party fee in Baltimore was $2.43. The lowest was Oklahoma City, which has an average ATM fee of $1.31. The highest was Philadelphia where ATM fees cost on average $2.58. The national average was $2.28.

Overdraft fees on average cost $34.91 in Baltimore, compared to $29.01 in Salt Lake City. The most expensive was Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where overdraft fees cost $36.14. The national average was $33.97.

The type of financial institutions that dominate a metro area contributes greatly to the variance in overdraft fees, according to the study. When credit unions make up a large percentage of the banking institutions in a city, the average overdraft fees are less than when banks make up a large percentage.

Average overdraft fee from credit unions ($29.22) are less than the average at brick-and-mortar banks ($34.91).

In Baltimore, big banks like Bank of America, M&T Bank, PNC and Wells Fargo dominate market share. While credit unions are generally growing deposits, they are still far behind banks.

When it comes to monthly service fees, Baltimore ranks more favorably. On average monthly service fees cost $3.75 in Baltimore, according to the report. Those same fees cost just $2.39 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The highest was New Orleans, where monthly fees cost $7.17. The national average was $4.58.

Baltimore overall ranked higher than major cities like Chicago (No. 12), New York (No. 16), Denver (No. 39) and Boston (No. 40). The metro area with the smallest bank fee burden score was Oklahoma City, while the highest-ranked city was West Palm Beach, Florida.

Washington, D.C. also ranked high on the list at No. 8 overall. D.C. ranked No. 9 for overdraft fees, No. 8 for ATM fees and No. 27 for monthly service charges.

The study also shows consumers will benefit from lower checking account fees by choosing online banks and credit unions over brick-and-mortar banks.

For all three fees, online banks had the lowest fee averages. The average at credit unions’ averages were higher, and the average fees at brick-and-mortar banks were the highest.

Report says Small Community Banks Punish Blacks & Latinos with Higher Balance & Opening Deposit Requirements & Fee structures

Cheaper to maintain a checking account opened in a white neighborhood. From [HERE] Small banks punish African American and Latinos with higher balance requirements and fee structures, report researchers.

These discriminatory practices—captured in national headlines and alleged against large banks—are more common at small community banks, researchers says.

“Small and community banks’ practices sometimes receive less scrutiny given their public perception, limited geographic scope, and lower share of deposits,” says Terri Friedline, a researcher at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, coauthor of the report with colleague Jacob William Faber, a New York University sociologist.

When the spotlight has focused on many small banks, the research indicates unfair practices against people of color. The analysis of data came from a national sample of 1,344 banks—mostly small and community banks.

The minimum opening deposit is substantially higher in majority black neighborhoods ($80.60) and in neighborhoods without a racial majority ($97) than in white neighborhoods ($68.50). Opening deposit requirements are almost the same in majority Latino ($68.60) as in white neighborhoods.

Bias against hiring African Americans hasn’t budged

Researchers also report that it’s cheaper to maintain a checking account opened in a white neighborhood. A minimum balance of only $625.50 is required to avoid fees in majority white neighborhoods, compared to $748.80 in majority Latino neighborhoods, $870.50 in majority black neighborhoods, and $957.10 in other neighborhoods.

Other key findings:

  • Racial bias among tellers means that checking account costs and fees depend on whom consumers talk to at the bank. Tellers in places with small white populations report significantly higher overdraft fees and greater likelihoods of using credit or screening agencies than tellers in places with large white populations.
  • Segregation substantially shapes the cost of banking. Compared to white neighborhoods, the average checking account costs and fees are $262.09 higher for Latinos, $190.09 higher for African-Americans, and $25.53 higher for Asian-Americans.
  • Banks’ costs and fees further limit the economic power of communities of color by requiring more earnings to be sequestered in checking accounts where they cannot be used. The average white American needs to deposit about 3 percent of a paycheck in order to open a checking account in their neighborhood and keep 28 percent of a paycheck deposited to avoid a fee or account closure. African Americans, by comparison, need to initially deposit 6 percent of a paycheck and keep 60 percent unused in their account. Comparable values for Latinos are 6 percent and 54 percent; for Asian-Americans, the values are 3 percent and 22 percent.

“Given these findings, financial system regulations and strong consumer protections are necessary for guarding consumers and communities of color against being charged more for inclusion in the financial system and participation in the economy,” Faber says.

The findings appear in a report from New America.

A Gang w/in a Gang: Lawsuit says Secret Clique of LA County Sheriffs Share the Same Tattoo & a Genocidal Hatred of Blacks

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From [HERE] For decades, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has struggled to combat secretive cliques of deputies who bonded over aggressive, often violent police work and branded themselves with matching tattoos.

A federal judge called out the problem nearly 30 years ago, accusing deputies of running a "neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang" named the Vikings within the Lynwood station. Others followed with names such as the Regulators, Grim Reapers, Rattlesnakes and the Jump Out Boys. Inside the county’s central jail, the 2000 Boys and 3000 Boys ran roughshod over the lockup’s toughest floors.

Now, despite past attempts by sheriff’s officials to discourage internal cliques, fresh allegations have arisen of deputies in the department’s Compton station adorned with matching skull tattoos.

One deputy acknowledged in a recent deposition that he and 10 to 20 of his colleagues at the station had the tattoos but denied there was a formal clique.

Attorneys representing the family of a black man shot by white deputies during a 2016 foot pursuit have used the existence of the tattoos to argue there is a clique tied to the killing, which they allege was racially motivated.

“In addition to investigating the police shooting, the department should also look at the culture,” said Alex Busansky, a former prosecutor who served on a county commission that in 2012 found that the department’s tolerance of cliques contributed to excessive force in the jails. “A place where 20 police officers receive matching tattoos is a place where there is a mentality of us-versus-them, and that on its face is concerning.”

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida declined to comment on the allegations, citing the pending litigation, but said in a statement that the agency expects deputies to meet high standards of integrity and appearance. She also acknowledged they have the right to free expression.

“Our department policy requires deputies to cover tattoos, which have become part of the cultural norm. However, when it comes to their conduct and their use of tactics, we have multiple systems of review and accountability both internally and externally. Every critical incident is exhaustively analyzed,” the statement said.

The controversy focuses on a deposition given in May by Deputy Samuel Aldama, one of the deputies involved in the 2016 shooting who at the time was assigned to the Compton station. Under oath, Aldama described a tattoo on his calf as a skull with a rifle and a military-style helmet with flames surrounding it. On the helmet are the letters “C P T” for Compton. He said he got the tattoo in June 2016, about two months before the deadly shooting.

Aldama said he knew of other deputies at the station who had tattoos like his, according to an excerpt of the deposition transcript reviewed by The Times. But he repeatedly denied that the inked art signified membership in a club.

Instead, he said, “working hard” on the job — making arrests, answering calls — was the only requirement for getting the tattoo. He described vaguely the selection process, saying that when deputies in the station determined someone in their ranks was deserving of the honor, they passed along the contact information of an artist who would make the tattoo.

In a court hearing Monday, the attorney for the dead man’s family, John Sweeney, raised the tattoos and a response Aldama gave in the deposition, saying that together they showed the deputy harbored racist feelings about African Americans when he opened fire — a serious allegation that a lawyer for the Sheriff’s Department denied.

We’ve “uncovered another one of those cliques,” like the Vikings, Sweeney told the judge.

“There truly is a history of tattoos in the Sheriff’s Department, but [Sweeney] has yet to prove that this is anything more than a station tattoo,” said Harold Becks, the county’s attorney. He did not respond to requests later on Monday for comment.

At the deposition, along with questions about his tattoo, Sweeney asked Aldama, “Do you have any ill feelings toward African Americans in general?” according to excerpts of the deposition reviewed by The Times. 45 seconds went by without a response. [MORE]

After asking the attorney to repeat the question, Aldama said he did have feelings. The attorney asked him to elaborate.

“They’re just human beings, sir,” Aldama replied after a long silence.

Sweeney asked again if the deputy had any ill feelings, emphasizing “ill.” Aldama, after another lengthy pause, said that he did.

About a minute later, Aldama told Sweeney he had not understood the questions about African Americans.

“I don't have any ill feelings,” the deputy said.

Seven deputies were fired in 2013 after an investigation into the Jump Out Boys, a group of gang enforcement officers who were accused of glorifying shootings by deputies. Their signature tattoo was a skeleton holding a revolver. Whenever a deputy in the group was involved in a shooting, he would earn extra ink of smoke coming out of the gun.

Deputy cliques were also criticized by the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, a blue-ribbon group that issued harsh findings in 2012 about systemic dysfunction in the department, including the use of excessive force against inmates. The commission recommended that the agency ban visible tattoos associated with the groups because they had sometimes been used to reward aggressive behavior. In one episode, a deputy in the 2000 Boys broke the eye socket of a complacent inmate during a beating to “earn his ink” — a tattoo with the Roman numeral “II.”

At his federal trial on obstruction-of-justice charges in 2016, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka was assailed by prosecutors for being a tattooed member of the Vikings. On the stand, Tanaka denied allegations he had encouraged aggressive, improper tactics by the Viking members, saying the group did not represent anything sinister.

The latest controversy emerged in a legal battle over the Aug. 25, 2016, killing of Donta Taylor.

About 8:30 p.m., Aldama and his partner, Mizrain Orrego, were assigned to a gang-suppression detail in a marked car when they saw Taylor, 31, walking on Wilmington Avenue in an area known to be controlled by the Cedar Bloc Pirus gang, according to a district attorney’s review of the shooting. Taylor was wearing a red hat with the letter C on it, which the deputies took as a sign he was affiliated with the gang. They told investigators he appeared to be holding something in his waistband, the report said.

The deputies told investigators that when they pulled alongside Taylor to ask if he was on parole or probation, he pulled a handgun from his shorts and ran, according to the report. Both deputies chased Taylor on foot and called for backup on their radios, saying they were in pursuit of a man with a gun.

In an attempt to corner him, the deputies separated and pinned him in along a wash. Orrego, who was positioned around a corner from his partner, said he fired several times when he saw Taylor approaching with a gun in his hand. Hearing the shots and seeing Taylor run into view, Aldama then fired as many a dozen rounds. Orrego said he fired again two or three times when he saw Taylor turning back in his direction. An autopsy showed Taylor had been shot six times.

Despite an extensive search, no weapon was recovered. Sheriff’s officials said tests on Taylor’s pockets and waistband turned up gunshot residue that was consistent with a handgun.

After reviewing the shooting, the district attorney’s office found the deputies acted reasonably and should face no criminal charges.

Efforts to contact Orrego and Aldama were unsuccessful. Nishida said she would alert the deputies that a Times reporter wanted to speak with them.

After the hearing Monday, Sweeney cited an arrest the two deputies made months before the killing that he said mirrored what happened to Taylor.

In January 2016, the deputies rode their patrol car up to Sheldon Lockett, who was standing with a friend in front of his godmother’s house, and pulled their handguns on him, according to a federal lawsuit Sweeney filed for Lockett.

The lawsuit alleged that although he was unarmed and not doing anything iilegal, Lockett fled out of fear. The deputies chased him and radioed falsely that they were chasing a man with a gun, the lawsuit claims. When they found him, Aldama and Orrego severely beat and Tased Lockett while repeatedly using a racial epithet, according to the lawsuit. Then, with Lockett subdued and in custody, one of the deputies “rammed the end of a police baton” into Lockett’s eye socket.

The county has yet to respond formally to the lawsuit.

Looking to bolster his legal claim that sheriff’s officials share culpability in Taylor’s death, Sweeney said the department failed to investigate the deputies after Lockett’s mother complained about the arrest.

“Had they investigated this, Donta Taylor would be alive today,” Sweeney told The Times.

Racists Function as an Auxiliary Police Force & Dial 911 To Place You in Greater Confinement: After False 911 Call White Minn Cops Falsely Arrested & Point Guns at 4 Black Kids

From [HERE] Brianna Lindell, who witnessed and filmed the incident at Minnehaha Regional Park, said on Facebook that she'd previously seen a white male who looked about 17 years old "spouting racial slurs at them and aggressing them with a metal trash can lid and saying he had a knife."

Lindell said the white male was with a woman who was using her phone and believes that that woman later made the 911 call.

Onlookers "approached and seemed to deescalate the situation," Lindell said.

Lindell did not immediately respond to request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

Two were put in the back of the cop car, and the other two were seated on the ground in front of it.

In a now-viral video of the incident, one of the boys repeatedly asks if he can put on his shirt, which was near him on the ground, because he was getting bitten by mosquitos.

"My partner tossed him his shirt and a cop jumped out of the squad car and started yelling at us that we were interfering with an arrest," Lindell wrote on Facebook.

The officers ignored the shirtless boy's multiple requests and eventually moved the two boys from the ground into the cop car.

Lindell said she asked one of the officers "why he was arresting the kids as they’d done nothing wrong and he said they had received a call that the kids had a gun."

An officer, who speaks to Lindell in the video, said the handcuffed boys were "not under arrest."

Lindell said onlookers told her that "both cops had jumped out of their cars, guns already drawn, with the guns right in the children’s faces."

Police said the 911 caller had "reported four males holding knives and sticks," "stated one suspect said he had a gun in his backpack," and claimed "the suspects were assaulting the 911 caller’s boyfriend."

One of the officers did point a gun at the boys, police confirmed.

Three of the boys were released at the park unharmed, police said, with the fourth boy being deemed a runaway and brought to the Juvenile Supervision Center. He has since been released.

The incident, as well as the "validity of the 911 call," is now being investigated. Police said they "were unable to contact, on scene or by phone, the 911 caller or the 911 caller’s boyfriend."

Witness descriptions of the incident "were inconsistent with the 911 callers account of the incident," police said.

Making a false report of a crime "is a misdemeanor-level criminal offense" in Minnesota, they said. [MORE]

'They Don’t Serve Us & We Can’t Fire Them:' White Cop Fired For Calling Black People “Porch Monkeys” at Crime Scene is Rehired by Aurora City Commission After Appeal

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From [HERE] A Colorado police officer who was fired after being caught on video using a racial slur last year will reportedly be rehired by the city commission.

In body camera footage obtained by local ABC affiliate Denver7 in June 2017, former Aurora Police Lt. Charles DeShazer can be heard saying, “We got the Alabama porch monkeys all contained.”

DeShazer reportedly made the remark at the scene of an officer-involved shooting and was referring to a crowd of African-Americans near the site of the shooting.

The slur was picked up by body cam and two other supervisors, according to a Facebook post shared by Chief Nick Metz on Tuesday. [MORE]

City Approves $3.4 Million Stop & Frisk Settlement: Suit Says Milwaukee Cops Made More Than 350,000 Unlawful Stops of Black & Latino Men

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No Freedom of Movement in Police State. Retired Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, the racist suspect presided over the city's police department during the period when the ACLU alleges it stopped over 350,000 people without reasonable suspicion. In 2012 the community wanted him fired as Flynn acknowledged that white Milwaukee cops did not act appropriately in the custodial death of Derek Williams, an unarmed Black man. Officers first crushed Williams ribs during a violent arrest and then ignored him for 15 minutes as he begged for their help in the back of their police cruiser - where he died. He suffocated to death while handcuffed, naked from a strip search. It is captured on graphic video (graphic video below, no sound for first minute). [MORE] 

From [HERE] The city of Milwaukee has approved a $3.4 million settlement over its police department's alleged stop-and-frisk practices, more than a year after a lawsuit accused Milwaukee officers of targeting black and Latino people through racial profiling.

Milwaukee police made more than 350,000 unlawful stops between 2010 and 2017, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and its Wisconsin chapter. The ACLU sued on behalf of six African-American or Latino plaintiffs who had been stopped – in some cases, multiple times — without reasonable suspicion.

The federal class-action lawsuit claimed the plaintiffs were the victims of a "vast and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program," according to ACLU press releases.

Former Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has denied the use of stop-and-frisk practices, but acknowledged his department's policy of traffic stops in areas with high crime rates.

Along with the cash payout, the settlement will require police officers to release data about all their stops to the public. Officers will also be trained on racial profiling issues, and law enforcement will be subject to oversight from an independent consultant.

As WUWM's Marti Mikkelson reports, Mayor Tom Barrett is expected to sign the settlement, which passed the city's Common Council on Tuesday by a vote of 12-2:

Alderwoman Milele Coggs voted in favor of it — she says she hopes it closes a sad chapter in the city's history.

"So that we never again are back at the same situation that we were at, where there is even a possibility that whoever is chief instituting practices and policies with the department that end up with us being in lawsuits where there is even the suggestion of racial profiling. That's an end I would think we all want to get to, to prevent future lawsuits," Coggs says.

Mikkelson reports that Bob Donovan, one of two aldermen who cast a dissenting vote, was concerned about the amount of money the city has paid out for police misconduct settlements, which he quoted at $23 million since 2015. He also registered concern that the settlement could make police scared to take action for fear of legal reprisal.

The Milwaukee Police Department has long been under scrutiny for its treatment of black residents.

In a recent high-profile incident, Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown, an African American, filed a federal lawsuit in June accusing police of unlawful arrest when officers used a stun gun on him over a parking violation.

The city also settled a $2.3 million lawsuit last year with the family of Dontre Hamilton, who was shot dead by police in 2014.

And as NPR's Gene Demby reported in 2013, more than half of all black men in their 30s and 40s in Milwaukee have been incarcerated — and almost two-thirds of them come from the city's six poorest ZIP codes.

Michigan Cops Seized $13 Million in Cash & Property of 1,000 People —Without Ever Convicting and/or Charging Them with Crimes

From [HERE] Close to 1,000 people in Michigan had their property seized by police or government officials last year even though they were neither convicted nor sometimes even charged with committing a crime.

That's the bad news. The good news is that we have this information at all. In 2015 Michigan passed legislation that mandated local law enforcement agencies report more information to the state about the extent of their seizures. The Department of State Police just released its first report that encompassed all agencies for a full calendar year.

Law enforcement agencies across the state seized more than $13 million in cash and property in 2017. And while State Police Director Kriste Etue claims in the report's introduction that all those seized assets were "amassed by drug traffickers," that's not really what the numbers show.

Tom Gantert, managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, which is published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, drilled down into the report and noted that 956 people who had their money or property seized last year were not convicted of a crime. Of those, 736 people were not even charged with a crime for which property forfeiture was permitted. And yet such forfeiture happened, quite frequently. To put it in larger context, it happened to 14 percent of the people who had their stuff taken.

Police and prosecutors are able to essentially legally steal people's property under the process of civil asset forfeiture. Under "civil" forfeiture, criminal convictions are not necessary. Instead, police and prosecutors basically accuse the property itself of being connected to a crime. Using lower evidentiary thresholds and complicated bureaucratic and administrative procedures, civil forfeiture subverts the typical legal process by forcing citizens to prove themselves and their property innocent of crimes rather than forcing prosecutors to prove guilt.

Thus citizens can have their stuff taken by the government without being first convicted. There's been a growing backlash to the use of civil asset forfeiture, and some states are attempting to restrain the police by requiring convictions before money and property can be taken. Michigan does not currently require a conviction, but some lawmakers are working on changing the rules. The state's House passed a bill in May that would require convictions before forcing somebody to forfeit property and cash valued at less than $50,000. It has not yet been taken up by the state Senate.

Perhaps knowing that more than one out of 10 folks who have their property taken from them aren't even convicted might be helpful information to convince senators to vote for change. One of the difficulties in pushing for asset forfeiture reforms is that poor transparency requirements have left citizens unclear about how extensive the practice is. Police and prosecutors typically insist that the seizures are all from drug traffickers and other criminals. Without strong reporting guidelines, citizens have no way of knowing the true circumstances of the seizures and where the money is going.

Now, thanks to Michigan's new reporting law, we do know, and it's not a good look for Michigan. Gantert notes that there are currently more than 2,000 folks in Michigan who face having their property seized while charges are still pending. If the law isn't changed, some of those folks may lose their property or money even if they're never convicted.

Neighbors Report Child Trafficking & Find Gov’t Contractors Holding [kidnapped] Latino Kids In ‘Black Site’ Prison

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From [HERE] When concerned neighbors called police because they believed dozens of non-white children were being trafficked in their neighborhood, they learned that the children were actually being held in a black site prison operated by defense contractors.

A vacant office building with dark windows in a quiet neighborhood has become a subject of controversy after residents began documenting the dozens of children who were transported to the building in white vans, and then never seen again.

The building is not licensed to hold children or to act as a shelter, and it is owned by MVM Inc., a defense contractor that once provided guards for CIA facilities in Iraq and has made nearly $250 million transporting immigrant children since 2014, according to a report from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The company’s website specifically claims that “the current services MVM provides consist of transporting undocumented families and unaccompanied children to Department of Health and Human Services designated facilities—we have not and currently do not operate shelters or any other type of housing for minors.”

However, Lianna Dunlap told Reveal that she became suspicious about what was going on at the office building in her neighborhood that is owned by MVM when she noticed new security cameras and extra locks on the exterior last month—and then saw several white vans transporting small children to the building.

There’s been times where I drive by and I just start crying because, you know, it’s right behind my house. I don’t know and I think that’s the worst part—not knowing what’s actually going on in there and just hoping that they’re OK,” Dunlap said.

Neighbors claimed that they saw pallets of water and boxes of food dropped off at the building, but they never saw the children who were escorted inside, and the darkened windows made them concerned that the children were victims of trafficking, and that they were being harmed inside.

Another neighbor, Kristen Brown, told Reveal that as a mother of a 2-year-old son, she was immediately concerned about the lack of space inside the building and the lack of access to sunlight.

“My kid has the ability to run around and play, and there are 40 kids in that place that I don’t know what you’re doing with,” Brown said. “That, as a mom, it doesn’t feel right.”

Brown also said she tried to talk to employees to ask them what was going on. She claimed that when she asked one employee what kind of business they were conducting, he said “Transportation,” and when she questioned what they were transporting, he said, “Humans.”

When concerned neighbors called the police to report the suspicious activity, they were told that it was completely legal and authorized by the government. When asked for a statement, Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis claimed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that MVM was “contracted to perform that transport.”

The report noted that when asked for a statement, a spokesperson for MVM initially pointed to the claim that the company does not run shelters or childcare facilities. However, when the spokesperson learned that neighbors had video evidence of the children being escorted into the building, the tone changed and the spokesperson insisted that the building was being used as “a temporary holding place” for children before they are transported elsewhere.

That “temporary” holding place held dozens of children for at least 3 weeks before the neighbors claimed that they saw five unmarked 12-passenger vans arrive at the building and fill up with children.

Dunlap told Reveal that as soon as the workers saw her watching the scene from her kitchen window, they moved their vehicles in an attempt to block her view. [MORE]

In Big Grab of Non-Whites 'who Look illegal' Racist Trump administration may have separated a child & parent who are both US citizens

From [HERE] The Trump administration may have separated a parent and child who were both US citizens, the government said in a court filing on Tuesday.

  • The administration is reuniting some three dozen young immigrant children it separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border, but missed Tuesday's deadline to reunite the full 102 children under the age of 5.
  • One of those children can't be reunited because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year — and they may both be US citizens, Tuesday's court filing said.

The Trump administration said in a court filing Tuesday that it was on track to reunite 38 young immigrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border — though dozens more would need more time.

A federal judge had set Tuesday as the deadline for the government to reunite 102 children in its custody under the age of five, but the Trump administration provided a list of reasons that the remaining 64 children wouldn't be reunited on time.

In one stunning example, the government listed one child who "cannot be reunified at this time because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year," and "records show the parent and child might be US citizens."

The court filing didn't clarify the circumstances of that child's separation or why it occurred so long ago. The majority of the family separations took place in recent months after the Trump administration implemented its "zero tolerance" policy to criminally prosecute adults who cross the border illegally.

The Health and Human Services department told Business Insider in a statement that it wouldn't comment on specific cases of young immigrants in its custody.

Here's what's happening with the remaining 101 children under the age of five:

  • 4 children were reunified before Tuesday's deadline
  • 34 are expected to be reunited on Tuesday
  • 16 more are expected to be reunited on Tuesday if DNA matching verifies the adults' parentage
  • 1 more is expected to be reunited on Tuesday after the parents' criminal background check results are resolved
  • 2 children can't be reunited yet — one because a parent is being treated for a "communicable disease," and one because a parent currently plans to live in a household where an adult has an outstanding warrant for sexually abusing a child
  • 10 can't be reunited yet because they're in criminal custody by state, county, or federal authorities, though they may be reunified upon their release
  • 14 children can't be reunited at all because the adults either have serious criminal histories, were determined to not actually be the children's parents, or face credible evidence of child abuse
  • 12 children's parents have already been deported and must arrange for their children to also be deported
  • 8 children's parents are living in the US and are eligible for reunification, but the government needs more time to screen for safety and "suitability"

Government Told Non-White Immigrant Parents to Pay for DNA Tests to Get Kids Back, Advocate Says

From [HERE] U.S. government officials recently told four immigrant women that they must pay for DNA tests in order to be reunited with their children, according to the shelter that housed the women.

The tests are the latest ad hoc effort by the Trump administration to reunite families it had separated—in some cases because authorities took documents from adults proving they are related to their children. The tests are being administered by a private contractor on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the care and housing of children. HHS has refused to name the contractor, which may be a violation of federal law.

“None of them have the money [for the tests], so it’s going to fall back on us to push back on that,” said Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, an immigrant shelter in El Paso where the women are staying.

Three of the women are mothers of the children, Garcia said, and the fourth is attempting to reunite with her brother, a three and half-year-old boy.

Garcia said that the tests likely cost money that many immigrants entering the country with little more than the clothes on their backs don’t have. Iliana Holguin, an immigration attorney in El Paso who works with Annunciation House, said the government made some of her clients pay between $700 to $800 to prove their relationship to a relative as part of their citizenship cases.

“The government wants the parents to foot the bill for the DNA testing when they’re the ones that caused the need for DNA testing,” Holguin said. “It’s incredible.”

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, responsible for the DNA testing, told The Daily Beast it “provides DNA testing at no cost to verify parentage.”

ORR requires DNA testing in some cases to verify adult immigrants are related to children in ORR’s custody, before the children can be released to the adults who have either been paroled or are to be deported. The tests are often required, according Garcia, when parents’ have had their paperwork regarding their children taken by Customs and Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (CBP and ICE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.)

“When these families come in, Customs and Border Protection takes away the documents from parents and puts them in their file,” Garcia said. “In the cases where they’ve been separated from their children, ORR then says, ‘You’re going to need to provide the documents that CBP took.’”

And when the immigrants can’t, Garcia said, ORR tells parents they must take a DNA test.

It’s unclear how many immigrants have been told they’d have to pay for DNA tests. Other immigration attorneys reached by The Daily Beast said their clients had not been asked to pay for DNA tests.

Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association called the tests a “delay tactic” by a government that is “primarily interested in detaining the children and parents to put pressure on them to accept deportation before they have the opportunity to get a fair hearing on their asylum claims and other claims for relief.”

“In a specific case when there’s evidence of fraud DNA testing may be warranted, but it should not be done across the board especially when proof of familial relationship can be demonstrated in other ways,” Chen said.

Those other ways include the government documents that are taken from immigrants once they’re caught for crossing the border, verification that a simple phone call from ORR to CBP or ICE could achieve, Garcia said.

“But when I go to ORR, they say, ‘We don’t. [MORE]

Fed Court says Although TSA Cops Wear Badges, Uniform & Call Themselves Officers They are Not Cops & Thus are Immune From Suits for Molesting or Falsely Arresting Travelers

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From [HERE] The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) [official website] is immune from certain claims brought by passengers alleging wrongdoing.

In a 2-1 ruling, the court held that TSA officers are not “investigative or law enforcement officers,” and therefore are protected by federal law against certain tort claims.

The Court ruled that TSA agents can not be sued for molesting or falsely arresting air travelers.

Citing a previous ruling, the court noted that, “[r]einforcing the distinction we recognized in Vanderklok, the [Aviation and Transportation Security Act] frequently distinguishes between ’employees’ who conduct administrative searches and ‘law enforcement officers.'”:

[Amicus for petitioner] argues that TSOs must qualify as “law enforcement officers” because of their title—they are “transportation security officers”—and because they wear a badge that labels them as “officers.” We are not persuaded that the word “officer” has this talismanic property.

In his dissent Judge Thomas Ambro said:

[M]y colleagues … equate airport screenings with routine administrative inspections, even though the former involve rigorous and thorough searches that often extend to an individual’s physical person. Their opinion leaves several plaintiffs without a remedy, even if a TSO assaults them, wrongfully detains them, or fabricates criminal charges against them.

Wednesday's decision was a defeat for Nadine Pellegrino, a business consultant from Boca Raton, Florida. She and her husband had sued for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over a July 2006 altercation at Philadelphia International Airport.

If this ruling does not make Americans stand up and demand a change then expect things to get worse, much worse.

The courts have essentially allowed DHS to do whatever it wants, even if that means creating a watch list of complainers.

Two months ago the New York Times warned Americans that the TSA is creating a watch list of anyone that complains about being groped.  

A five-page directive obtained by The New York Times said actions that pose physical danger to security screeners — or other contact that the agency described as “offensive and without legal justification” — could land travelers on the watch list, which was created in February and is also known as a “95 list.”

It is time to face reality, the courts are working with the Federal Government to destroy our Bill of Rights.

Everyone's rights are being threatened when government agents are allowed to molest and falsely arrest people. [MORE]

To Manipulate Public Perception & Create Pretense of Providing Safety the Police Foundation Now Calls Drones “Unmanned Aircraft Systems"

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From [HERE] The Police Foundation doesn’t want the police to call drones “drones.” Because of the public’s association with “military-style weapons like the Predator,” the organization’s 311 page report reads, the term “drone” is “a major obstacle to law enforcement’s ability to convince the public” that police drone programs “could actually increase public safety, not jeopardize it.”

Instead, the report—“Community Policing and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Guidelines to Enhance Community Trust,” published in 2016—suggests the clunky “Unmanned Aircraft System” as an alternative. UAS was coined by the Department of Defense in 2001, now repurposed by police, to make military weapons more palatable. 

To market the drone as part of a public safety system instead of a weapon, the first step is to convince a suspicious public that it isn’t a weapon, but a friendly flying gadget. Commercial dronemaker DJI has made this a priority after announcing a partnership with body camera manufacturer Axon, formerly Taser. Axon is now offering law enforcement agencies two surveillance drones: the Phantom 4 Pro, eggshell white and equipped with image recognition software; and the more expensive Matrice 200 series, metallic grey and tested for resilience to harsh winds and rain. DJI furnishes the drones, while Axon integrates the data they collect with Evidence.com, its cloud storage system used for managing body camera footage.

DJI’s marketing features videos of the Matrice used to film exotic vacation and rescue lost hikers. But, anti-surveillance activists are concerned framing drones around cinematic rescue missions obscures the privacy concerns when drones are used for policing. 

This is a chief concern among police technology experts: is technology defined by how it’s used in day-to-day or extreme scenarios? Gizmodo spoke with representatives from both DJI and Axon, including members of its’ newly formed Artificial Intelligence Ethics Board, and to understand a simple question: What problem does police drone surveillance actually solve? 

Life or death

“I don’t think anybody would question that if it’s a real life-or-death search for a missing child that you would allow a drone to fly anywhere it needs to,” Adam Lisberg, Corporate Communication Director for DJI, told Gizmodo, “the same way that you would hopefully allow searchers access to any property they need to find that child.”

The Matrice 200 series is optimized for search and rescue missions, tested for wind and rain resistance and capable of carrying payloads of food or radios. In rescue missions, Lisberg explains, drones could survey specific areas, using long-range livestreaming cameras and thermal imaging to detect survivors or missing children without expending the manpower of launching a full search party. 

“These drones are going to get more popular,” Steve Tuttle, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Axon, told Gizmodo. “They’re ever expanding, gonna be used for more crime scene evidence, for more search rescues, [and are] gonna be used to check out what are called ‘fatal funnels.’”

“Fatal funnels” are confined spaces, stairwells or hallways usually, that trap police without cover. In 2012, a Utah man shot six members of a strike team, killing one. The prosecutor on the case said he planned to “go out in a blaze of glory,” hiding while police cleared the lower floors of his home, then opening fire once they entered a narrow hallway. Drones, for example the Phantom 4 Pro with its small size, object detection, and infrared systems, could scout dangerous areas ahead of officers.

“It’s a way to see things safely,” Tuttle adds.

No rules

Like many police technologies, there’s no unifying nationwide policy on drones. How each department will actually use drones is not entirely clear. The FAA requires certifications and other restrictions (piloting near jails or airports is forbidden, for example) but doesn’t offer specific guidance on most police uses. Without this clear legal framework, police drone policies vary widely from agency to agency. 

“We don’t have a good system for police to share best practices. It’s still an antiquated word-of-mouth [system],” Jim Bueermann, AI/Ethics board member and President of the Police Foundation, which released the 2016 report, told Gizmodo. “What vendors can do, because they know a lot about the products and because they interact with so many agencies—they are a wonderful resource of best practices. It’s hard to get multiple lessons from multiple police departments at the same time. These vendors serve as de facto knowledge centers around best practices.” 

Axon and DJI don’t take specific policy positions, though both encourage police work with communities to form their own regulations. This creates recommendations and best practices, but no enforcement, leaving an opening for wildly vacillating uses. 

In Kentucky, city officials proposed using drones in coordination with gunshot detection technology. Under the system proposed in a federal grant application, if acoustic surveillance devices detected the sound of gunfire, they’d record their location and send the coordinates to drones. The proposal came in response to a longstanding problem: People in areas with high crime don’t call 911 when they hear gunshots. Drones could theoretically capture evidence of suspects and witnesses, but does sending in drones “enhance community trust,” to borrow the Police Foundation’s phrase, if there is none?

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed a bill that would permit police drones to surveil protestors. Protests can turn violent, surely, but they’re also a First Amendment protected activity. Drone surveillance could deter people from attending, for fear of being surveilled by the government, especially if it is the government they’re protesting. 

In May, Oakland passed what the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation consider to be among the “strongest” anti-surveillance regulations, requiring police to get city council approval before acquiring new surveillance devices or even soliciting funding. The ordinance requires public hearings, invalidates many NDAs, offers whistleblower protections, and limits data retention. This is where the power of framing the devices comes into full view. The public may want drones because they’re framed as safety devices, but then police can use them as surveillance devices. 

Can regulation help?

“I think that the police technology space is screaming for regulation,” Barry Friedman, director of the Policing Project at New York University School of Law and another AI/Ethics board member, told Gizmodo. “If vendors and police departments do not start to self-regulate, then they will at some point, in the not too distant future, find themselves regulated.”

Friedman hypothesized a regulatory scheme outside of a governing body that combines third-party audits, self-regulation, and specific-use warrants, getting permission from a judge if police wanted to use drones for anything outside of normal operations. He said, “I think it would behoove the policing tech industry to do some self-regulation, to think about the kinds of things that it builds, for example—whether they build accountability into the item.”

One example is Axon’s “buffering” feature, which instantly records the last 30 seconds before a body camera is turned on. The feature caught a Baltimore cop seemingly planting drugs that he then turned on his camera to later “discover” and use as evidence. The same feature has led to multiple officers unwittingly filming themselves during acts of police misconduct. 

Built-in accountability isn’t perfect, however. Last year, body cameras failed to record the death of Justine Damond, shot by police in Minneapolis. State policy required officers to turn on their cameras during investigations. They did not. Via the “Axon Signal” device Minnesota police purchased, body cameras can be configured to turn on automatically in conjunction with dashboard cameras or opening car doors. The feature wasn’t enabled and footage of Damond’s death, or the actions taken by the responding officers, was never recorded. Technology and policy can be extremely helpful, but no foolproof in regards to officer misuse, a point that some critics feels is being overlooked. 

Hamid Khan, Campaign Coordinator for the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, says agencies have a long history of using anomalies to obscure averages. Khan argues that while the terms of the public drone debate is framed around more rescue and prevention uses, agencies will always leave the door open for more troubling uses, even if policy initially prohibits it.

“The capacities and capabilities [of drones] need to be seen not just in that single tool, but in how it fits into larger architectures of surveillance and information gathering.”

Rather than looking at these technologies individually, it’s best to look at them in tandem, especially since the point of Evidence.com is to join together footage from varying sources: CCTV, body cameras, drones, even cell phone videos submitted by the public. Useful when reconstructing a traffic accident, but deeply concerning if used at protests. Without steadfast laws preventing “mission creep,” where tech is used for reasons other than intended, Khan worries officers themselves will set the terms. 

“Drones signify what ‘mission creep’ is,” Khan argues. 

A 2017 report from Stop LAPD Spying draws parallels between drone usage and LAPD use of helicopters and SWAT teams. As the report asserts, in both cases police mechanisms are introduced for use under “limited circumstances,” but eventually became routine. SWAT, the report notes, was originally demarcated for specific instances of rioting in 1967, but now is used to serve warrants and search for drugs. Helicopters, when introduced in 1956, were for traffic control, but are now used to track fleeing suspects and surveil cities from above. A May study from Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone found twice as many agencies, including firefighters and rescue, own drones than manned aircraft. The report estimates 68 percent of these drones were furnished by DJI. 

If drones offer police enhanced abilities, Khan argues, how long until these extraordinary enhancements become normalized? Via Evidence.com, officers have access to advanced searching and editing tools, aided by computer vision and object detection, letting them pinpoint even minuscule details easily. What does it mean when they can do this from a mile in the air? 

“An individual company being responsible is not going to be sufficient to solve the problem of ethical/legal use of law enforcement technology in the face of diverse technology providers with varying ethical standards, sometimes overly permissive local policies, and individual bad actors,” Miles Brundage, another boardmember and an AI policy research fellow at the University of Oxford, told Gizmodo over email. While Axon itself can’t regulate all police drones, Brundage said, they can develop internal best practices, which would influence self-regulation throughout the industry and perhaps stymie the most alarming uses. 

“The board has already discussed the internal controls used to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of body camera data, and related discussions will need to be had for drone-related data,” Brundage said. 

Questions of accountability remain unresolved with body cameras. In Baltimore, officers infamously manipulated body camera footage to abet a safe robbery, filming themselves “discovering” thousands of dollars in cash when really they’d already found and pocketed half of the money before pressing record on their cameras. A 2017 report from policy nonprofit Upturn found that police departments have increasingly made it harder for the public or media to see body cameras footage, marring their original purpose as accountability tools. Forty percent of all body camera footage is never seen by the public. Who get to see drone footage? Who makes sure it’s telling the full story? And who is held accountable when either fails?

“We’re the company that makes the drones,” DJI’s Lisberg explained. “We would certainly advise law enforcement agencies to come up with a strong policy for how they will use drones and the data they collect, but it’s not really our place to suggest ones to them.”

The question remains: who will? The public knows better than to ask police to police themselves. Tech companies claim to care about public safety, but police accountability is a public safety issue as well. And yet, technology companies continue to augment police powers without forthright, robust enforcement goals.

Activists hopeful for quick fixes provided the policy cover for body cameras, but turned on them after misuse. Hopefully, the distractingly lavish vacation videos won’t provide the same cover for drones, before startling abuse arises. Otherwise, our rights could disappear right above our heads.