According to recent reports, people who have been charged with petty crimes have been added to the US government’s “terror watch list” without warning.
This filing “error” was discovered last year when a Latino man who spoke very little English was arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest, two misdemeanors. When he had to appear in court, the man’s attorney Anisha Gupta was expecting a quick and easy trial because the charges were so small. However, Gupta was informed by the judge that her client was listed on the terrorist watchlist.
“I said to her, ‘Judge, I don’t think he’s on the terrorist watchlist. There are so many errors on the last pages of people’s rap sheets, and the judge said, ‘Well, counsel, I’ve never seen this terrorist watchlist thing. We’re going to have to check on it. I’m not going to release him,’” Gupta told The Intercept.
“Counsel, he could be a sleeper,” the judge allegedly replied.
It is not known exactly how many people this has happened to, but if previous errors with the watchlists are any indication, there are likely many others in the same situation.
The actual list is kept entirely secret, and there is no way of knowing who is on it. Even people who are on the list themselves only end up finding out by accident when they go to court or attempt to pass through airport security.
“You have the word ‘terrorist’ printed on a rap sheet that a judge is looking at to determine whether to release someone or to set bail and, in effect, ensure that they remain behind bars. That notation is very loaded. I think judges, just like anybody else, are subject to the same biases and prejudices that exist in the rest of the community. The fact that your freedom could be taken away based on a mysterious designation you didn’t even know about, and that is probably wrong, is a very scary thing indeed,” Gupta said.
In one case, a man was put on a federal watch list for two years because he called the police to report drug paraphernalia. So it seems that even having your name anywhere in a police database, for any reason, could result in an erroneous listing on the terror watch list.
Last year we reported that there are 72 people on the US terror watchlist who currently have jobs with the Department Of Homeland Security.
The fact that there are people working for the DHS who are on the terror watch-list is not necessarily as scary as it sounds, considering the fact that the list itself is a farce, with over a million names of mostly innocent people, according to the ACLU. However, this does point to the gross incompetence of the agency and highlights the facade that is “national security.”
New York, NY – Only in the twisted minds of NYPD officials would “more powerful weapons” be a solution to prevent their officers from killing people. Sadly, this is no joke. The NYPD recently announced that they are planning to stock more powerful and potent pepper spray, and they actually claim that this would be intended to prevent police from shooting people.
The potency that has been used by the NYPD and other departments previously is already highly dangerous with a concentration of just .21% capsaicinoids. The new spray will be concentrated at .67% which will undoubtedly be more dangerous and far more painful. The NYPD has already begun rolling out the new concentration and has equipped over 19,000 officers with the new mixture.
NYPD Deputy Chief Edward Mullen claimed in an interview with the Daily News that a higher concentrated pepper spray would help officers subdue unruly suspects more easily.
“A more effective pepper spray can help reduce the amount of force needed to gain control of a suspect or emotionally disturbed person,” Mullen said.
Mullen also noted that NYPD officers have been learning to use pepper spray less, claiming that NYPD officers only used pepper spray 284 times, which is down from 337 the year before.
However, this attitude places all of the responsibility on the suspect and none on the officer. In most cases where officers shoot at people, they are not actually in danger but are in pursuit of a suspect who might get away. Officers would rather take a shot at someone who is running, than let them escape and avoid a drug charge and that is where the problem lies, not in the officers ability to “take down” a suspect.
The new plan to stock high potency pepper spray has been opposed unanimously by activists and human rights organizations.
“Given that excessive force is all too common in the NYPD, we are concerned about officers having more powerful pepper spray,” Christopher Dunn, associate director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said.
Lawyer Ron Kuby supported these statements, pointing out that, “It’s not properly used, and it’s deployed somewhat promiscuously at people the cops don’t like.”
Joshua Moskovitz, another lawyer who represents many activists said, “I’m sure there are occurrences where pepper spray is useful and has been used in an appropriate manner. I’ve only seen it in a way that exacerbates the situation.”
This is not just an issue in New York either – over the years, departments across the country have been making their pepper spray more intense. The strongest pepper spray in the country is used by the Suffolk County Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Boston Police Department, each of them using a pepper spray with a potency of 1.33%.
Penn Township, Pa — 12-year-old Ciara Meyer was shot and killed by a police officer this Monday morning as her family was being evicted from their home. According to police, her father, 57-year-old Donald B. Meyer, pointed a gun at Pennsylvania State Constable Clarke Steele during the eviction. The police say that Steele shot at Meyer when he had the gun pulled on him, and grazed the man’s arm. However, the bullet went on to fatally strike young Ciara Meyer after it went through her father.
Donald Meyer was taken to the hospital but was also charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, and reckless endangerment.
An unidentified neighbor told local reporters that Ciara was a “Very kind, sweet kid.”
“Here’s a little girl that doesn’t even have a chance to grow up and live her life, and all because of this senseless act. It’s horrible, absolutely heartbreaking,” the neighbor said.
Meyer’s aunt, Hope Cordas Rohde, wrote on Facebook that, “We are so broken as she was just a little girl and we loved her so much. My heart hurts so very much. Such a sad world this is when an innocent child is shot and killed. May God give us peace.”
According to PennLive.com, the family owed $1,780.85 in rent, which was roughly 3 months behind for them.
Pennsylvania state police spokesman Trooper Rob Hicks said that there was a long and ongoing process to evict the family from their home, and that police had been to the location on several other occasions. Monday morning was to be when the police would begin forcibly removing the family from their home.
“His lawful job, because he had a valid court order, was to remove them from the property if they had not already moved,” Hicks said.
The local school district said in a recent statement that they would be providing psychological help to any students who may be traumatized by the loss and the situation.
“As previously shared, we can confirm that a police incident took place late Monday morning at the Pfautz Apartments in Duncannon. Procedures are in place across the District to address potential impacts of this incident to our students and staff. Susquenita administration and additional professional staff (psychologists and guidance counselors) are working in conjunction with counselors from Holy Spirit (Teen Line) to provide support to students and staff as needed,” the statement read.
A GoFundMe account has been set up by the school to help cover Ciara’s funeral costs.
Ciara is the 21st person and the first child to be killed by law enforcement in 2016, according to an ongoing Guardian investigation. In 2015, at least 1,138 people were killed by police, according to the same investigation.
Salt Lake City, UT — On January 8, 2015, 42-year-old James Dudley Barker was killed by Officer Matthew Taylor. Since then, Taylor managed to avoid charges because the body camera footage gave an incomplete depiction on the incident.
However, exactly one year later, cell phone camera footage was released showing that Barker was face down with his hands behind his back when he was shot 3 times by officer Taylor.
On the day of his death, Barker was knocking on his neighbors door and offering to shovel snow for them. One of the neighbors became suspicious and called 911 to report Barker. When police arrived on the scene, Barker was uncooperative with them and an argument ensued. In the midst of the argument, Barker hit one of the officers with a shovel, and that is when the body camera footage was cut off.
Taylor then claims that he shot Barker in self-defense because he feared for his life, and his story was accepted as truth until the release 0f the new video.
The new video shows that officer Taylor kneeled down over Barker and shot him three times in the back as he was laying on the ground with his hands behind his back.
Attorney Robert Rubin says that it appears that Barker was actually handcuffed at the time of his murder.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office responded to the new evidence this week, saying that they may re-open the case against Taylor.
“Our job and our commitment has always been [to be] as thorough and open and transparent as we can, so we are going to do our due diligence to re-examine what we have,” District Attorney Sim Gill said.
Family, friends and supporters of Barker protested at the site of his murder this week, demanding a new investigation into his death.
Barker was described by his neighbors as a peaceful and friendly person.
“If this could happen to one of our most peaceful citizens, … I cannot stress this enough, it can happen to anyone,” Barker’s girlfriend Heidi Keilbaugh said.
“The degree of aggression that we witnessed by Officer Taylor before [Barker’s] death was uncalled for, it was unprofessional, and it turned a peaceful situation deadly. We want these needless deaths of our loved ones … to stop,” she added.
Barker may have been violent with the officer at some point during the confrontation. However, it is obviously murder for a police officer to shoot and kill a person who is restrained, regardless of what that person had done.
While police-worn body cameras can bring extra evidence into cases on both sides, they are far from a fix for police brutality. This situation gives us a glimpse into how police attempt to manipulate the body camera footage that gets seen by the general public. It is commonplace for officers to turn off their dash cams when they are guilty of a crime, and this incident is another example of the same type of censoring occurring with body cameras as well. Body cameras are not a magic solution and they are only as reliable as the people who are in charge of the footage.
Body cameras are not a magic solution and they are only as reliable as the people who are in charge of the footage. Below is a perfect example of that claim.
As the video begins, Taylor kneels down over Barker, and we can hear 3 loud blasts — allegedly gunshots. Taylor then stands up and walks away.
Toward the end of the video, a witness walks up, but then is turned away by police. It was case closed after that — until now.
Philadelphia, PA — Philadelphia police officer Deric Lewis was recently arrested for the third time, after being arrested on two other occasions and losing his job as a result. In his two previous arrests, Lewis was charged with assault and reckless endangerment, and was reported as being violent in both situations.
As a result of the first two arrests, he lost his job. However, shortly after he was rehired, only to be arrested again. In his most recent arrest, he was booked for domestic violence after his wife called the police on him.
While on the phone with the 911 operator, his wife claimed that he was trying to kill her.
“‘Please hurry. He has a gun and he’s going to kill me,’” she told the operator.
Police say that when they arrived on the scene both Lewis and his wife turned on the police. Lewis refused to identify himself and became belligerent with the officers and reportedly attacked one of them. Lewis was arrested and charged with assault and two counts of harassment.
When asked to comment on the case, Lewis’ wife told reporters that, “I’m sure he doesn’t give a s**t about what you write. He’s on his way back to work right now.”
In his previous cases, Lewis was able to avoid prosecution because the witness never showed up for court.
Police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said that Lewis would not be getting off easy this time because the witnesses are police officers and will be required to be in court.
“This time, if the assault is against police, I’m pretty sure those officers will be responding to the hearing,” he said.
When pressed about why Lewis was rehired and allowed back on the police force, Stanford said the matter was being investigated.
In 2010 when he was arrested, the victims in the case were girlfriends he was involved with.
Domestic violence is a serious problem among police officers, and in most cases they never see any consequences. According to recent studies, law enforcement officers beat their wives or girlfriends at nearly double the rate of the rest of the population.
Several studies, according to Diane Wetendorf, author of Police Domestic Violence: Handbook for Victims, indicate that women suffer domestic abuse in at least 40 percent of police officer families. For American women overall, the figure is 25 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the Advocates for Human Rights, studies indicate that police families are 2-4 times more likely than the general population to experience domestic violence.
York County, PA — A California police officer was recently busted after driving 247 pounds of marijuana all the way across the country. Yuba County Deputy Christopher M. Heath was caught in York, Pennsylvania with a shipment of marijuana that was worth over $2 million. Heath was reportedly on vacation from his job at the Yuba County Police Department at the time of his arrest.
The York County Police Department has been cautiously silent about the investigation, and they have refused to comment on the details of the arrest, and how they became aware of the shipment.
York County District Attorney Tom Kearney admitted at a recent press conference that this arrest was a part of a large investigation that included various different police departments. Penn Township Police, West Manheim Township Police, Hanover Police, Northern York County Regional Police, York Area Regional Police, Springettsbury Township Police and the York barracks of Pennsylvania State Police were all involved in the arrest and present at the press conference.
“One has to be both saddened and angry that a law-enforcement officer was allegedly involved,” Kearney said, adding that “This was a very sophisticated operation, and obviously a large one.”
Investigators also had no idea that Heath was a cop until after the bust.
“I will tell you prior to the stop we were unaware that this individual was law enforcement,” Kearney said. “We did not become aware of that until we made the stop.”
Heath, along with two other men, Tyler N. Long, and Ryan J. Falsone traveled across the country in two pickup trucks where the marijuana was stashed in vacuum sealed bags.
Chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday that while marijuana is not the department’s main focus, they are still targeting marijuana dealers in their investigations.
“We spend a majority of our time focusing on heroin and cocaine (dealers),” Sunday said. However, he defended the arrest by saying that the men were caught with “a startling amount of marijuana.”
Undersheriff Jerry Read.of Yuba County said that Heath was an “adequate” officer.
“He was assigned to a narcotics task force … (for) almost three years. Conditions are very good in Yuba County for the growing of marijuana. We take down high-poundage dealers with some frequency, and take down growing operations sometimes with as many as a thousand plants,” Read said
This case is especially interesting because Heath was an officer on a narcotics task force, meaning that he was responsible for putting nonviolent people in prison for using and selling drugs. Meanwhile, he himself was selling drugs and taking part in the same actions that he was locking people up for.
Of course, it is the view of the Free Thought Project that anyone should be able to possess marijuana, as it is an incredibly beneficial plant. While those who would lock up morally innocent people for possessing a plant are bad enough, it takes a uniquely vile individual to ruin the lives of countless individuals while at the same time committing equivalent acts.
This hypocrite is currently on paid vacation from the department in Yuba despite admitting to transporting the marijuana from California to Pennsylvania. Heath is free on a 1$ million bond.
Merced, CA — Sister Kate and Sister Darcey of the “Sisters of the Valley” medical marijuana organization are fighting against the government in California to keep their medical marijuana business alive. These nuns are unlikely entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry, and they create cannabis-based salves and tonics in their garage. The products that they create actually don’t contain THC and do not create a high, but their local city council is attempting to put them out of business anyway.
“We spend no time on bended knee, but when we make our medicine it’s a prayerful environment it’s a prayerful time,” Sister Kate told ABC 30.
“It’s more for me about the sisterhood and the feminist movement… to live and work with other women and to do a positive thing for the community — and obviously for the world since we ship it everywhere,” Sister Darcey added.
They sell their products on websites like Etsy for a variety of different medical conditions.
“We make CBD oil which takes away seizures, and a million other things and we make a salve, that’s a multi-purpose salve… and we found out that it cures migraines, hangovers, earaches, diaper rash, toothaches,” Sister Kate said.
However, if the Merced City Council moves to ban on all marijuana cultivation in the area, they will be forced out of business.
“Yes, it’s frustrating to me because there are all of these people with negative attitudes about something that is truly God’s gift,” Sister Darcey said.
As marijuana becomes legal in some places in the country, people are taking chances and opening up businesses everywhere, even in places where the plant has not yet been legalized. As we reported last month, a marijuana delivery service named Kush Gods was recently shut down in DC, despite the fact that it has been decriminalized in the city.
Below is one of the many popular videos put out by the Sisters of the Valley, depicting their CBD oil production process.
As cannabis is taken more seriously as a medicine and a treatment, more people are taking a chance and using it as a treatment for terminal illnesses. This treatment has had overwhelmingly positive results for countless people who had no other hope of recovery. Every day more stories and scientific studies are appearing from all over the world where people of all ages, even young children, are cured of life-threatening illnesses with cannabis oil.
More often than not, these patients face legal penalties and even jail time for trying to better their lives. In the case of parents with children who have terminal illnesses, they are forced to break laws to get their kids the treatment that they need.
The father of a 2-year-old with late-stage cancer is facing jail time for using cannabis oil in an attempt to ease his daughter’s suffering.
Adam Koessler of Queensland, Australia is one of these parents who are facing potential prison time for attempting to save their children’s lives with cannabis oil. Koessler’s 2-year-old daughter was diagnosed with stage-4 neuroblastoma, and when chemo was not working, he began giving her doses of cannabis oil after reading about how well it did for other people. Instantly he noticed remarkable results and an extreme improvement in her condition.
“The results were amazing, what we saw when Rumer was given the medical cannabis oil what nothing short of miraculous. Her cancer ridden little body was alive again — Rumer had almost instant quality of life…Her skin color came back, her eyes were sparkling again…We were certain after seeing these results that her recovery was entirely possible,” Koessler said.
Sadly, the hospital contacted the police and told them about what was happening, and they quickly arrested Koessler at the hospital for
possessing ‘dangerous drugs’ and for supplying them to a minor. After he was released on bail the terms of his release prevented him from seeing his daughter and they have removed him from any involvement in his daughter’s treatment.
He has attempted to send his daughter organic meals so she is more healthy to fight the cancer, but the meals have been rejected from the hospital and they prevent her from receiving them.
A petition demanding that the government drop the charges against Koessler and allow him to see his daughter has received over 201,928 supporters, and his case has caught the attention of people all over the world.
Koessler attempted to see his daughter again last week and was denied by the staff at the hospital.
Although the government and law enforcement are at the root of this problem by continuing to wage the war on drugs, the hospital and their staff have played a major role in this incident. In their arrogance, they rejected the possibility of a natural cure and have used the enforcement arm of the government to prevent these potential cures from being explored.
Despite the fact that psychedelic drugs are still illegal and vilified in mainstream culture, many of the works of art that are beloved by millions around the world have been inspired by the altered states of consciousness produced by them. Whether it is music, film or visual art, some of the most well-respected artists have used drugs to enhance their creativity.
Star Wars animator Phil Tippet recently admitted during an interview with Vice that he took LSD while working on “Return of The Jedi.”
“I took LSD when I was working on ‘Return of the Jedi,’ and it’s fine. It was, like, very calming. And so I decided to go back to work. When I walked into the blue-screen stage, it was like, ‘Ahhh.’ I took way too much,” he said.
Tippet went on to win an oscar in 1984 as a result of his work on The Return of The Jedi.
Tippet is now 64-years-old and has had a long and successful career involved with some of the most popular movies of our time, including Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Coneheads, Robocob and a dozen others.
Without the creative application of psychedelic drugs, it is very possible that the iPod would have never been invented and DNA may have never been discovered. Francis Crick, the scientist credited with discovering DNA, was taking psychedelic drugs when he made his groundbreaking revelation.
Years later, another scientist and LSD user by the name of Kary Mullis advanced our knowledge of DNA even further with the development of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, a process that made it possible for scientists to better study how DNA works.
Steve Jobs, the mind behind the first Apple computers, iPods, iPhones, and other revolutionary technology, frequently said his experiences with psychedelics were among the most important events in his life.
Steve Jobs wasn’t the only technological pioneer who used psychedelics to boost creativity. Douglas Englebart, the inventor of the computer mouse, was also a psychedelic user.
Even the world of sports has seen extraordinary performances by athletes under the influence of LSD. The most popular case is that of Doc Ellis, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who threw a no-hitter while he was high on LSD.
As we reported earlier this month, Bill Wilson, the co-founder of the alcoholics anonymous program, actually considered promoting LSD as a tool for alcoholics to shake their addiction. Wilson was a close associate with many early adopters of LSD and took numerous trips in controlled, scientific settings while he was involved with the AA program.
There are countless people throughout the US and throughout the world who have been steered away from a life of drug or alcohol addiction after a spiritual experience with a psychedelic drug. In fact, Bill Wilson, the co-founder of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, actually considered promoting LSD as a tool for alcoholics to shake their addiction. Wilson was a close associate with many early adopters of LSD and took numerous trips in controlled, scientific settings while he was involved with the AA program.
Wilson believed that LSD was not a cure-all for mental problems and diseases such as addiction, but he felt that it could be a catalyst towards understanding one’s own life and changing direction.
“I don’t believe [LSD] has any miraculous property of transforming spiritually and emotionally sick people into healthy ones overnight. It can set up a shining goal on the positive side, after all, it is only a temporary ego-reducer. The vision and insights given by LSD could create a large incentive – at least in a considerable number of people,” Wilson reportedly said after his first LSD trip in 1956.
In a later letter to Gerald Heard, one of his associates in the LSD scene, Wilson wrote, “I am certain that the LSD experiment has helped me very much. I find myself with a heightened color perception and an appreciation of beauty almost destroyed by my years of depression.”
Despite his confidence in the experience and the substance, Wilson was forced to stay relatively quiet about his experiments because he feared legal punishment and professional embarrassment. After rumors of his involvement in the LSD scene had begun to spread, Wilson asked the scientists that he was working with to omit his name in the records of their experiments.
Wilson feared becoming a pariah in the movement that he helped create because many people involved in AA were attached to the idea that all mind-altering chemicals are dangerous and should be avoided.
According to a paper called Pass It On, which was published by AA World Services in 1984, the movement was entirely opposed to his views on LSD.
“As word of Bill’s activities reached the fellowship, there were inevitable repercussions. Most AAs were violently opposed to his experimenting with a mind-altering substance. LSD was then totally unfamiliar, poorly researched, and entirely experimental – and Bill was taking it,” the report read.
One of the ideas that permeates AA culture is that any mind altering substance whatsoever is dangerous and could trigger a relapse back into alcohol addiction. However, this view was obviously not shared by AA founder Bill Wilson, who understood that different substances have different effects on people and that it is possible to have a safe spiritual experience on a mind altering drug without slipping back into a life of addiction.
One of the most in-depth studies into Wilson’s LSD use and his connection with that realm is a book called Distilled Spirits by Don Lattin. The book features a number of thinkers, including Wilson, who both studied, and struggled with mind altering substances. The research collected many letters that were written between Wilson and his associates in the LSD scene, giving a glimpse into the thoughts that he was so apprehensive to make public.
Fort Worth, TX — Ethan Couch, the 18-year-old who killed four people while driving drunk in 2013, is on the run from police and is rumored to have fled the country after violating his probation. While he was on trial, Couch’s defense was that he had “affluenza,” or he was so rich and spoiled that he was totally unaware of consequences, and thus, not responsible for his actions.
Surprisingly, his plea was accepted by the court and he ended up getting a slap on the wrist, with ten years of probation. Probation is not an easy thing to go through, but for someone who is responsible for taking four lives, it is obviously a way more lenient sentence than most people would receive.
Recently, Couch was in the news again after a video of him surfaced at a party where he was bonging beers, drinking under-age, and violating the terms of his probation. When the video went viral and was seen by his probation officer, their office attempted to get in contact with him but, they were unable to. After checking his home, they discovered that both Couch and his mother were missing.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson recently told K5 news that if he had a top 10 most wanted list, Couch would be No. 1.
“We’re working every angle we can work, I’ve got a bunch of my fugitive guys working on it. He had a good amount of time to get a good head start, and we all know what kind of resources this family has to get out of town. Get out of the country. Who knows?“ Anderson said.
“Now we’ve got to deal with this mess, now we have to spend more time, more resources, more taxpayer dollars out looking for someone who should be locked up. He’s going to have to look over his shoulder the rest of his life. Anytime he gets anywhere we could apprehend him, we’re going to find him. And we’re going to keep looking and we’re not going to stop,” he added.
“With the wealth and the wherewithal that his family has, it’s going to be a tough assignment for us to find him,” Anderson admitted.
Most average people have their lives entirely ruined, or at least temporarily disrupted by drunk driving charges, even when no one has been hurt. If someone is killed, jail time is basically guaranteed. The fact that Couch got off so easy, especially considering his brazen “affluenza” defense, shows how corrupt and criminal the US justice system really is.
Amy George, a vice-president of the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter, says that Couch has learned nothing from being responsible for the deaths of four people.
“He has clearly shown he is not remorseful and has not taken this seriously. Thirty-five years since MADD was founded, and to still see sentencing like that? It shouldn’t happen, shouldn’t happen,” she said.
Scott Brown and Wm. Reagan Wynn, attorneys for the Couch family, made a statement on Tuesday night saying that they had no information about the family’s whereabouts.
Former Oklahoma City police officer and convicted serial rapist Daniel Holtzclaw was recently put on suicide watch, after he was found guilty of 18 different sexual assault charges in court last week.
Last Thursday, when Holtzclaw was convicted, he threw a temper tantrum in court, crying uncontrollably and banging his head against the desk in front of him. He was ironically convicted on his 29th birthday, and after the verdict was read, many activists and victims in the courtroom began to sing the “happy birthday” song.
The following day Holtzclaw was placed under suicide watch and is now being monitored 24 hours a day.
If justice is actually served, Holtzclaw could spend the rest of his life in prison. However, many are concerned that the courts will give him leniency because he was a police officer. This is sadly a regular occurrence when police are arrested for crimes, even a crime as horrific as these, while at work as a police officer.
The jurors who found him guilty recommended a total of 263 years of prison, but next month a judge will have the final say on his sentencing.
District Attorney David Prater said that they will be asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence allowed.
“We’re going to ask the judge to make sure that this defendant never sees the light of day, and we’re going to ask him to run consecutive every count,” Prater said.
In most cases, police departments and unions rush to the defense of criminal cops, but in this case, they actually didn’t.
“Your offenses committed against women in our community constitute the greatest abuse of police authority I have witnessed in my 37 years as a member of this agency,” Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said in a letter when he fired Holtzclaw.
After the verdict was announced, he stood up and shook his head and said to his family, “I didn’t do it.” However, considering that there were a minimum of 13 victims, many of whom were strangers to one another, it is impossible that he was wrongfully accused.
Also, the evidence against Holtzclaw was damning, he had actually went through the police database to find the vulnerable women that he could attack.
As we reported this week, after accessing the list of names that Holtzclaw had run through the department’s databases, the Sex Crimes Unit interviewed the women on that list and discovered six more women who accused Holtzclaw of sexually assaulting them. The women had been afraid to report the crimes because most of them had a history of drug abuse or prostitution. According to the Sex Crimes Unit, Holtzclaw used one database to check for existing warrants and the other database to see if any of his victims had reported him.
Holtzclaw must have expected that the legal protection he had as a police officer would absolve him of the crimes that he carried out behind the badge. Luckily in this case, his badge did not protect him from conviction, but sadly there are many more officers out there just like him, using their position of power as shield from legal consequences.
Police Chief Andrew Spencer resigned this week after it was revealed that he shot and killed an innocent dog that was in a cage and meant no one any harm. To make matters even worse, he took the puppy to a firing range and killed it there because he did not want to deal with finding its home.
Spencer found the dog and managed to get it into a cage using a catcher pole. He then wrote in his report that he had planned to take the dog to a shelter where it would be “destroyed,” but then he got another call about a car accident so he decided to do it himself.
The report said that he had planned to go to “the cheapest vet to destroy the dog at the cost of the city.” However, the report continued “Due to the higher priority call and the imminent destruction of the dog, I decided it was best to destroy the dog and respond to the accident.”
After the fact, Spencer claimed that the dog was charging at people in the neighborhood. However, he said that he did not believe that the dog bit anyone, otherwise he would have had it taken to the vet and tested for rabies.
Also, at the time the dog was shot, it was in a cage and thus not a threat to anyone. If Spencer just had a little bit more patience and compassion, he would have found that the family of the lost puppy was looking all over the town for him. Owner Elizabeth Womack said that her puppy Chase was extremely peaceful and friendly animal.
Womack wrote on her Facebook page how she attempted to contact the police and was lied to on several occasions about the incident. Eventually, she was told by the police Chief that he shot and killed her dog, and that they would be free to identify him if they wanted to go dig him up.
“I was told by a police officer that they didn’t catch any dogs that day. He said they got a call about Chase, but responded to an assault call instead. So we called for a whole week trying reach chief Andrew Spencer. He did nothing but give us a run around for days. So we called all dog pounds and shelters and rescue one where we got Chase from. A few days later we get a call from chief Spencer, saying he had shot a pit bull chow mix that he picked up in the trailer park down the road from us. He told us He buried him in the sludge field if we wanted to make sure it was him. We didn’t find any freshly dug holes anywhere. So we tried the Sparta shooting range but we only found a pile of burnt meth pipes, cell phones and pill bottles. Then we found out from our neighbor on Friday evening that Chase had been picked up from an unmarked police car in front of our house. So we call and call and call trying to get a hold of chief Spencer again. To pick up our dog. Finally, 5 days later, chief Spencer contacted us saying he dug him up and left him at the police station. We picked him up that night after work. He was wrapped in a garbage bag, no traces of dirt on him or the trash bag anywhere. We got the police report. It never showed who he supposedly bit. So we took our fur baby home after searching for him for a week and laid him to rest.”
The excuses Spencer gave for his actions are not acceptable. The dog was in a cage and could have been easily transported while Spencer responded to his other call. The dog could have remained in the car and in the cage as it would be highly unlikely that the entire car would be needed for an accident. If Chase was able to live just a few more hours he would have likely been reunited with his family.
Palm Beach, CA – At a Credit Suisse conference in West Palm Beach this week, representatives from major defense contractors spoke to their investors about how well business was going in these times of global war. Representatives from top firms like Raytheon, Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin were in attendance, in somewhat of a celebration of the escalating conflict in the middle east and Africa.
Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Bruce Tanner gave a speech openly praising the “indirect” benefits that defense contractors would see as a result of the war in Syria. A portion of his speech was captured on audio by someone inside and shared widely on the internet hours after the conference.
In the audio that was captured, Tanner discussed the many recent troubles in the Middle East, with an escalation of conflict in Syria and Turkey. He pointed out how these conflicts would lead to increased sales for their company.
Tanner said that the increased conflict would cause “an intangible lift because of the dynamics of that environment and our products in theater.”
According to the Intercept, during another speech at the conference, Wilson Jones, the president of the defense manufacturer Oshkosh, said that “with the ISIS threat growing, there are more countries interested in buying Oshkosh-made M-ATV armored vehicles.”
Raytheon Chief Executive Tom Kennedy also joined in the informal celebration, saying that his company was seeing “a significant uptick for defense solutions across the board in multiple countries in the Middle East.”
“It’s all the turmoil they have going on, whether the turmoil’s occurring in Yemen, whether it’s with the Houthis, whether it’s occurring in Syria or Iraq, with ISIS,” Kennedy added.
In addition to the growing wars, the contractors also celebrated the fact that the defense sector was recently granted a $607 billion budget by the government.
“Our programs are well supported [in the budget]. We think we did fare very well,” Tanner concluded.
A recent report by journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out stock prices for weapons manufacturers sharply increased just after the terrorist attacks in Paris last month. Greenwald was following the tip of Brooklyn journalist Aaron CantÃº, who posted screenshots for the recent stock performances of major weapons contractors on his Twitter page.
Defense industry stocks this morning following Friday night's attacks in Paris: pic.twitter.com/8a35RcpPJ6
— Aaron CantÃº (@aaronmiguel_) November 16, 2015
You can listen to the leaked audio from the conference below:
Baltimore, MD – When reporting on the case of police brutality victim Freddie Gray, the man that was killed by police in Baltimore earlier this year, a CNN writer described Gray as “the son of an illiterate heroin addict.” The article quickly drew backlash and CNN attempted to edit the article, but it was too late, screenshots of the article had already gone viral.
CNN president Jeff Zucker later said that it was simply a mistake and insisted that there was no intent to slander the dead victim Freddie Gray.
“This was a mistake, the digital team removed it last night and inserted an editor’s note to be completely transparent. The editorial intent as the digital team has laid it out to me was to make clear he had a difficult upbringing. But clearly it did not come across that way when it was written and published. We recognize that. It did not work and we removed it. And were transparent about that. That was a mistake,” Zucker said.
Zucker said that the comments were taken “out of context,” however, the context was clear, they were attempting to assassinate the character of a dead man with accusations that were not even relevant to the case. This type of smear campaign is typical for victims of police violence, which is one big part of the reason why people in America are so confused about the police. When the victim is demonized, it allows the police to maintain the moral high ground and it absolves them of their crimes in the eyes of the public.
According to police, Gray was first stopped and arrested by officers at 8:39 am on April 12, and was thrown in the back of a police van 15 minutes later. An entire hour later an ambulance was called to give him medical care, but he sadly fell into a coma died soon after. He suffered broken vertebra and an injured voice box, which required emergency spinal surgery that he never recovered from.
Many suspect that Gray was the victim of a “Nickel Ride”, a horrific police torture tactic where a suspect is handcuffed and placed in the back of a police van without restraints, and driven recklessly around town by police officers. This practice has also been called a “Rough Ride” or a “Cowboy Ride.”
Grays death resulted in the protests and riots that took place in Baltimore earlier this year. The police officers involved in his death are now standing trial for their crimes.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/cnn-apologizes-calling-man-killed-police-son-illiterate-heroin-addict/#IK6WSAzYZV7uVJrL.99
A recent study published by the Brookings Institution reviewed Twitter data from all over the world to track down the locations that had the most support for the terrorist group ISIS. Using a test sample of 20,000 accounts from each country, the study found that Saudi Arabia actually had the most pro-ISIS accounts, and by a fairly steep margin as well. Syria followed in 2nd with a significantly less number than Saudi Arabia, then followed by Iraq. Surprisingly, the United States is actually in fourth place, with a larger support base than most people would expect.
These numbers from Twitter showed how many supporters had through social networking, but this does not mean that every supporter is a fighter. However, Saudi Arabia is close to the top of that list as well. Recent studies from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence have actually looked into where ISIS fighters were coming from, and once again they found that large numbers of terrorists were coming from Saudi Arabia. According to the study, between 2,000-2,500 people out of every million in Saudi Arabia are suspected ISIS fighters.
Saudi Arabia has acted as a safe haven for ISIS in the middle east, because of the fact that they are the US government’s closest ally in the region.
The Saudi government has essentially been a puppet dictatorship for the US for many years, so despite their terrible human rights record and their history of fostering terrorism, the US military has no real motive to invade the country, since the government there is already cooperative with them and their interests. Instead, the US military chooses to focus on the other countries in the middle east, where the governments are less cooperative, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is considerably more authoritarian and is more closely associated with terrorist groups.
It is also important to point out that a majority of the alleged hijackers on 9/11/2001 were Saudi Arabian, although the blame was later pinned on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The military conquests in the middle east have nothing to do with liberating populations from tyrants, or fighting terrorism in areas where it is protected, and the example of Saudi Arabia is proof of this fact.
Trenton, NJ — Last month, 51-year-old police officer Michael Roadside was suspended without pay after he crashed into a woman’s car while he was drunk and offered to bribe her so she wouldn’t report the accident.
The driver of the car, Kimberly Wilson, was horrified by her encounter with Roadside and declined the offer and called 911 instead. According to a statement that Wilson made to police, Roadside hit her vehicle while she was stopped at a stop sign. She said that he emerged from his car “disheveled,” asking her not to call 911 and saying that he would give her $1,000 if she did not report the incident.
“I asked him if he was a police officer because he was a mess. His shirt was inside-out, his hair was disheveled, his belly and back were exposed,” Wilson wrote in her report.
Troopers who eventually arrived on the scene gave similar descriptions, saying that, Roadside was “only partly dressed in uniform,” and that his shirt “was unbuttoned and appeared to have vomit on it.”
While he was speaking to Wilson, a beer cap and a loaded magazine fell out of his unbuttoned shirt and onto the ground, at which point she ordered him to his car so she could call 911.
“I yelled at him to get in his car right away because he was scaring me,” Wilson wrote in her complaint.
When other officers arrived on the scene, Roadside claimed that his speech was slurred because he recently had anesthesia during a surgery, but police found empty containers in his vehicle and noticed a strong smell of alcohol.
Responding officer Sgt. M. J. Durak wrote in his report that Roadside attempted to leave the scene, telling them that he would pay for the car. He then put his vehicle in reverse. Amazingly enough, Roadside was not shot and killed like so many other people would have been had they tried to drive away from a police officer.
“What’s going on here? I’m not drunk,” said Roadside, according to Durak’s report. He was then told to put the vehicle in park and exit it.
When Roadside later took a breathalyzer test it was revealed that his blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit.
“What am I, about a one-eight?” asked Roadside before it was revealed that he just blew a .16. Roadside then admitted to drinking 9 beers that day and said, “I’ve been way more drunk than that.”
He was charged with driving while intoxicated, careless driving, and having an open alcohol container in a vehicle, but he was quickly released on bail and has not yet entered a plea for these charges.
Oklahoma City, OK – Yukon Police Officer Zachary Dean Bradford, 29, was arrested this week after he allegedly pulled a random woman from a parked car by the hair and punched her repeatedly. After the assault, Bradford reportedly ripped his shirt off and fled the scene.
According to witnesses, Bradford was drinking heavily at a party where he was behaving obnoxiously, making people feel uncomfortable and bragging about the fact that he was a police officer.
“At first when the guy came he was a little too aggressive, a little too pushy,” the homeowner who hosted the party told reporters.
The homeowner did not actually know Bradford personally, but the off-duty officer came as a guest and acquaintance of someone else.
When Bradford finally left the party around 4 am, there was a woman who was sitting in a parked car outside, and that is when he walked right up to her car, knocked on her window and ripped her out of her vehicle by the hair and began pummelling her.
The victim said that she had never met Bradford before and had absolutely no clue why he felt the need to randomly attack her.
Multiple guests at the party witnessed the occurrence and were able to identify the off-duty officer by name when they called the police.
“We aren’t going to comment further as this is still a pending investigation. The officer was suspended on Saturday, and pending the outcome of the OCPD investigation, he could be terminated.”
Bradford may be on suspension, but he is still getting paid and is still technically employed by the police department until the end of his court case.
Pinellas County, FL – Officer Michael Szeliga of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department showed up to a Mothers Against Drunk Driving conference in Fort Lauderdale so drunk that he could not even walk straight.
Szeliga was scheduled to receive an award at the conference, for making over 100 DUI arrests, but he actually showed up drunk, and it is assumed that he drove himself to the conference in that state. The officer denies that he drove drunk and insists he only had one or two drinks before the conference.
“It was wrong, and again, one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard of. When I first heard about it, that was (what) my reaction was. Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me. Really?” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.
When his supervisors encountered him, they described him as being “wasted” and sent him back to his hotel room to miss out on both the conference and his award.
After the incident, Szeliga was reprimanded. He was given one day of paid suspension and forced to write an apology letter to the supervisors for being belligerent. Szeliga was scheduled to be promoted to detective, and his promotion was not affected by the incident at the conference. He now works as a detective in the sheriff’s crimes against children unit, according to WFLA.
This is not the first time we reported a story like this. Around this time last year, David Griffin, acting chapter president for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a former deputy police chief, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Since the incident, Griffin has resigned from his position with MADD after 18 years of being a CEO and high-ranking member of the organization.
Back in 2011, Debra Oberlin, a former president of MADD was arrested for driving with an alcohol level that was three times the legal limit.
San Jose, CA – Police presence in schools has been a topic of heavy debate in recent weeks due to a viral video that showed a police officer brutally assaulting a young girl as she sat at her desk in class.
According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Justice, 76% of all high schools in the country have police officers working on the campus all day, and teachers are calling them in for the most trivial disciplinary problems. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education and published by NBC News, in the 2011-2012 school year, teachers called the cops on students a total of 31,961 times in the state of California alone, leading to 6,341 arrests.
With 175 8-hour school days, that means a cop is called every 2.6 minutes.
At one California school district, in particular, East Side Union High School District in San Jose, police were called on students 1,745 times during the 2011-2012 school year. This one school called the police on students more than 10 times a day.
East Side Union Superintendent Chris Funk admitted that his staff relies too heavily on the police presence at the school.
“I think that we had a practice here where we were relying too much on having the officer do the facilitation and the legwork versus the administration doing the legwork,” Funk said.
“I think what happened was because of zero-tolerance policies, there was a period of time where people just went to the police and had students cited for everything. Now, we’ve really narrowed that gap,” he added.
Laura Garnette, chief probation cfficer for Santa Clara County explained that this is a nationwide problem that creates a school to prison pipeline that is very damaging for students.
“There are tragic long-term consequences, I think we certainly see a lot of cases where we think, ‘seriously?’ The consequences of having the criminal justice system and police intervene in what by most people’s account is normal adolescent behavior is tragic,” Garnette said.
Linnea Nelson, an education equity staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, explained that, “The problem is that police tend to approach conflict by arresting people, rather than having a more supportive approach to keep kids out of trouble.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico – A sadistic judge is under fire after it was reported she told an 18-year-old boy he would “probably be raped every day” if he went to jail. Isaiah Gay was standing trial for burglary when Judge Christina Argyres gave him a horrific depiction of the type of violence and abuse he would suffer if she decided to send him to prison.
When Gay told the judge, “I did the things I did all because I was impulsive… I was just being young and dumb,” she responded by saying that he was weak and he would be quickly made into someone’s “bitch.”
The judge told him, “Do you know what would happen… to a young dumb person in prison? Do you have any idea what would happen to you? You would probably be raped every day, for one. And I hate to sound like that, you know, rude, but that’s exactly what would happen to you.”
“Again, he’s going to be somebody’s —I hate to use the word bitch, but that’s exactly what he’s going to be… so I am willing to put him on probation,” she added.
Prison rape is one of the unspoken horrors of American culture. Sadly, it is a topic many people take lightly because of their bias against criminals. It is likely that the judge was attempting to scare the young man away from a life of crime, and Argyres seems like she actually has a heart.
It is barbaric for people within the system not only to allow the problem of prision rape to continue, but to use it is as a threat to keep people in line.
Oklahoma City, OK – A school resource officer was recently arrested after he was caught assaulting a student on a surveillance recording. The student had reportedly been in the hallway without a pass, and after he was confronted by officer Thomas Jaha, he went to get a drink of water.
Since he did not leave the hallway immediately and go directly back to class, Jaha went into a rage and attacked the 16-year old boy. Jaha is now facing a misdemeanor assault charge.
Jaha says that the student took an “aggressive stance” so he began to strike the boy, and it was all caught on the school’s video surveillance camera.
“He struck a student twice in the head after this student got in an aggressive stance and faced the master sergeant,” Capt. Paco Balderrama of the Oklahoma City Police Department said.
In the video, the student can be seen walking out of the bathroom with the officer, and while, on his way back to class, he stops at the water fountain for a drink. The water fountain was directly next to the bathroom that they were walking out of, and the teen did not have to go out of his way or waste any time to get a drink of water. The student’s choice to get a drink of water along the way was seen as a sign of disrespect by the officer, who then took it upon himself to assault the boy.
While the teenager did not hit the officer at any time, the officer claims that he hit him in self-defense because the boy allegedly took an aggressive stance and balled his fists, which is not depicted in the video.
“They have the right to defend themselves. They have the right to use physical force to protect themselves, protect the public. And in this particular case, the force was not appropriate to the incident,” Balderrama said.
The student was arrested for disorderly conduct after the incident, but then after the surveillance footage surfaced it was apparent that he didn’t do anything wrong, and it was officer Jaha who was at fault.
Although he has been charged with assault he is still on the police force and suspended with pay.News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |
Bardstown, Kentucky – Police Officer Nick Houck is under investigation for helping his brother dispose of his murdered girlfriend’s body, and investigators say that forensic evidence ties him to the cover-up. Also, both Nick and his brother Brooks claim that they have temporary amnesia and can’t remember anything that happened during the time of the murder.
According to investigators, traces of blood were found on a blanket and trunk of a Bardstown Police cruiser that was registered to Nick Houck.
Detectives say that Brooks Houck confronted his girlfriend about an affair she was having and ended up killing her, then called his cop brother to help him get rid of the evidence.
During an interview after the murder, detectives told Nick about the case that they had against him.
“We all have times where something just happens. He probably found out that some other police officer or some other person in the town was cracking Crystal, and that very easily could happen … Your brother found out about it, confronted Crystal about it and when he did, he probably tried to maybe do something to her, as far as making her understand that wasn’t going to fly with him. And then after that point, maybe it went just a little bit too far. And when it went a little bit too far, he couldn’t turn back time. And when he couldn’t turn back time, who’s he going to reach out to, but the one person he trusts and knows that will help him out, and that would be you,” they said, attempting to coax a confession out of him.
“Why would your trunk look like a Smurf if they sprayed it? Why would it fluoresce?” one detective asked Nick.
“It lit up like Chernobyl,” he added.
“I don’t have any idea. There shouldn’t be any bodily fluids in the trunk,” Nick replied.
There is also video evidence that shows both of the brothers entering and leaving the family farm just after the murder occurred.
“What we need to know is why you both went down to the farm,” the detective asked Nick.
“I can’t remember,” he replied, adding that “I’m not going to cover something like this up for him. I’m just not that kind of guy. Furthermore, there’s no way he had anything to do with this. If something has happened to her, it wasn’t because of something he did.”
To make matters even more suspicious, Nick agreed to take a polygraph test after the interview but never showed up. Then after he was fired from the police department, he finally did take the test and he failed miserably. Houck was ultimately fired, but he has yet to face any criminal charges.
Below is the interview that Kentucky State Police had with former officer Nick Houck.
Lehigh County, PA — As batches of heroin in America are becoming more and more deadly, a police department in Pennsylvania is refusing to carry a medication called naloxone that works as an overdose antidote and saves many lives every day. The medication temporarily clears the effect of opiates for a short amount of time so the person can receive medical care before their respiratory system shuts down.
Many police departments have started carrying the medication without complaint, along with other first responders, since heroin overdoses have become so unfortunately common.
In Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney James Martin recently set up a program to provide the local police department with free Naloxone, but the police department has refused, saying that it would be “too complicated” for officers to carry the medication.
“It’s not very complicated. They just don’t want to do it. Every other police department in the country is doing it without any logistical problems that I’m aware of,” Martin told The Huffington Post.
Martin is right, the medication does not pose any risk or liability to police departments, it has no value if stolen and resold on the black market, and does not produce any psychoactive effects.
Nearby, Northern Berks Regional Police Chief Scott Eaken has refused to allow his officers to carry naloxone and does not seem very concerned with saving lives.
“Is that going to justify me having to take naloxone in and out of the police car every shift, every day, flip it back and forth between the cars for something that maybe I can envision? Where does it stop for police? We’re carrying everything under the sun, now we’re going to be medical people. At what point does it stop?” Eaken said.
Corey Davis, deputy director for the Network for Public Health Law’s southeastern region hit the nail on the head saying basically that many police departments don’t care if people overdose from drugs.
“There’s been this cultural shift, where it doesn’t seem like police, particularly the chiefs and people speaking on behalf of the department, it seems like they don’t feel that they can say the sorts of things that get to the idea that some people are not worth saving. I think that’s new,” Davis said. “If this was something else that was killing people, we’d be putting naloxone into milk cartons. We wouldn’t even be talking about it,” he added.
Naloxone many times goes by its name brand, Narcan, and in many cases is not that difficult for the average person to obtain to keep on hand in the unfortunate circumstance that someone nearby experiences an overdose. CVS recently announced that they will begin to sell naloxone over the counter in 14 states where local laws allow. In many places, local health departments require you to sit through a two-hour seminar and will give you the medication for free.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-department-refuses-free-life-saving-overdose-reversal-kits/#dHyOJvoWHzVeLi52.99
Piedmont, MO – Tina Warren has been fighting her local government over rising water bills, leaving her at odds with the town’s mayor, Bill Kirkpatrick. Warren has been running a number of campaigns against his policies, and she has even been flipping the mayor the middle finger every time she sees him.
Tina’s local activism made her a target for the local police, who pulled her over several times, reportedly demanding that she stop a petition drive that she was organizing about water bills.
According to Warren, her house was also raided and searched for drugs on Kirkpatrick’s orders. Now she is filing a harassment lawsuit against the city, stating that the mayor and the local police colluded to intimidate her and prevent her activism.
Warren’s feud with the city began last year when she lost water service for nearly a week and was treated rudely by Kirkpatrick when attempting to get answers about the lack of service. She later randomly had her water meter removed by the city and wasn’t given any explanation. The encounter where her water meter was removed can be seen in the video below.
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, has pointed out that the mayor was using the police to prevent Warren from speaking freely.
“The mayor and police cannot use their power to intimidate individuals who communicate in ways that some may find offensive,” Rothert said.
“They have been harassed repeatedly by government officials since Ms. Warren began expressing her disgust with the mayor by flipping him her middle finger,” the ACLU said in a later statement.
This week it was announced that Oregon will be expunging the old records of marijuana offenders, along with their new legalization plan. This measure is the farthest that a state has gone to date in regards to applying the new laws to old cases. However, for people who remain in jail for having a plant, the legalization plan does not go far enough.
According to the New York Times, people who have low-level felony or misdemeanor marijuana charges on their record that are at least ten years old will be eligible for expungement.
While the transition in Oregon is nowhere near what is needed for the hundreds of thousands who are still incarcerated, the aspect that allows for old cases to be expunged is at least a step in the right direction, and is helping people clear their records so they can avoid discrimination.
“Oregon is one of the first states to really grapple with the issue of what do you do with a record of something that used to be a crime and no longer is,” law professor Jenny M. Roberts told the New York Times.
It is certainly true that people who have had prior marijuana convictions should not be denied a job or volunteering opportunity because they have a charge on their record, especially after the plant is declared legal. However, if this is the case, then surely people who are currently sitting in jail for doing the same thing should not be forced to continue their sentences for something that they should never have been prosecuted for in the first place.
It is extremely important to point out that as we gain these victories in the drug war, that there are still many people suffering, even in places where the laws become more lax.
As we recently reported, a prosecutor in southeastern Washington charged three teenagers with felony offenses for simple marijuana possession. According to The Lewiston Tribune, the children were 14, 15, and 17 years old and are now facing up to 5 years in prison for felony possession charges simply for carrying a legal item that they were too young to possess.
Madison, WI — Thomas Smith, 27, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for leaving negative remarks on a local police department’s Facebook page back in 2012. After fighting the charges with his own lawsuit, Smith was recently awarded a $35,000 settlement because his rights were violated by the arrest.
The feud between Smith and the police began after he left a number of comments on a police department facebook page. In a comment thread started by Officer Nicholas Stroik, another Facebook user identified Stroik as a racist and said he had expressed that African-American people “don’t belong in his town.”
Smith then posted two comments in response, saying “Fuck the fucking cops they ant shit but fucking racist basturds an fucking all of y’all who is racist” and “Fuck them nigers bitchs wat you got on us, not a dam thing so fuck off dicks.” [Spelling in original].
Smith’s posts, along with any other posts criticizing the police were quickly deleted. Soon after, he was contacted by police who asked him if he had made the comments. When he admitted to exercizing his right to free speech, he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a computer.
After he was arrested, Smith told the police, “I put it on there, I don’t regret it and I mean it.” He was subsequently banned from using a computer or phone.
The prosecution argued that Smith’s posts were not protected by free speech because they were classified as “fighting words.”
Initially, Smith was convicted and was sentenced to a year of probation and 25 hours of community service. But shortly after, he ended up winning the case on appeal and having the convictions thrown out. The appeals court ruled that the “fighting words” doctrine only applies when the two parties are within close proximity to one another.
“In our country, we are entitled to criticize our government with passion. The use of some four-letter words in the course of doing so is never a crime,” Smith’s attorney, Thomas Aquino, said in a statement.
Los Angeles, Ca — Last week, local politicians in Los Angeles voted unanimously to create a new police task force that will be entirely focused on electronic dance music events. Earlier this summer, Los Angeles County council members proposed banning these types of events entirely. While that option is still on the table for them, they are now moving to crack down on these events until they are able to initiate a complete ban.
The recent proposal to create a police task force was put forward by county supervisors Hilda Solis and Michael Antonovich. The motion reads “Ultimately, in the interest of public safety, a ban of electronic music festivals at county-owned properties remains a possibility that will continue to be evaluated.”
“I want to emphasize that our efforts around this motion, above all, are about the health and safety of those attending these events. No lives should be lost while attending any music event,” Solis said in a statement.
The motion is a reactionary step following the death of two people at last month’s HARD Summer music festival at the Pomona Fairgrounds.
While deaths at events are a concern, they are largely due to the prohibition of these drugs, which makes them more dangerous. To make matters worse, the zero tolerance policy at events prevents drug users from getting the help they need when something does go wrong.
The development of a rave task force is reminiscent of the fear-mongering propagated about raves in the late 1990s.
In April of 2003, the government passed a law that everyone could agree on, the Amber Alert Bill. The Amber Alert is a notification system that sends warnings about missing and abducted children.
At face value, this seemed like something that was completely positive, and when it comes to rescuing abducted children, the Amber Alert system has surely saved many lives. However, the piece of legislation that put this system into effect is a perfect example of how the government is able to pass unpopular laws, by attaching them to popular bills.
In the case of the legislation that set up the Amber Alert system, there were also completely unrelated issues covered in the bill. For example, hidden deep within the bill was one of Joe Biden’s pet projects, the RAVE ACT, a law that imposes legal penalties on hosts and participants of late night dance parties.
According to the Wikipedia entry for the RAVE ACT:
On Thursday (April 10, 2003) the Senate and House passed the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act (formerly known as the RAVE Act) as an attachment to the child abduction-related AMBER Alert Bill. The language of the original act was changed slightly before the bill was passed without public hearing, debate or a vote.
Festivals and other events are not to blame for overdoses, or other personal decisions that attendees make on their own. This is especially important to consider when the events host anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 people.
In an area with that many people, as populated as some towns are, it is inevitable that a wide variety of situations can pop up. In fact, any large event that hosts so many people see occasional deaths. Due to the large volume of people, the chances increase that something will go wrong somewhere. This goes for sporting events to parades and other types of events that are considered wholesome and family-friendly.
Some other factors to consider are the many unintended consequences of the drug war, which causes drugs to be more dangerous, and limits harm prevention policies that could be put into place to prevent overheating and drug overdoses.
Pompano Beach, FL — Street artists Humberto Pellegrino and Pedro Claveria were attacked by police after surrendering for being caught spray painting train cars. According to the artists, they surrendered immediately and never resisted or attempted to run away. Despite the lack of resistance, one of the officers, Detective Davis Acevedo pointed his gun at them and “fed” one of the men to his K-9 unit, Dino.
“There was a dog and I saw an assault rifle and I was like, ‘Oh wow, I think those are the cops,'” Pellegrino told local 10 news. “We complied, we never tried to run, we never ran an inch from where we were at,” he said.
Detective Acevedo says that they refused to come out from under the train, but the men say that he is lying.
“It’s a bold lie, I came out and the first thing I said was, ‘Here are my hands, I’m sorry, I give up,'” Claveria said.
It seems that Acevedo was looking for a fight that evening, so instead of making a simple arrest or writing a citation, he became aggressive with the men, and sicced his dog on them, telling it to “eat.”
“It was him ripping into me and gnawing, I’ve never had an animal attack me that way and it felt like it was never going to stop,” Claveria said.
The dog left a deep gash in Claveria’s arm, which looked like a knife wound that someone would receive during battle.
The other officer on the scene, Deputy Gerald “Gerry” Wengert, participated in the attack and allegedly instigated the whole thing. Interestingly enough, Wengert was accused of ordering his dog to attack a suspect in 2013 but was later acquitted of the charge.
Pellegrino watched in horror as his friend was attacked by the dog.
“I was in horror, we weren’t resisting and we weren’t doing anything so I was in shock that they would sic the dog on my friend,” he said.
He then explained that both officers actually held his body so the dog could get a better bite.
“Wengert lifted my leg in front of the dog’s mouth so the dog attached to my leg. Acevedo was behind me with the dog and Wengert was to my left with the assault rifle pointing at me … I just grabbed onto the gravel and started screaming,” he explained.
“He got a really good grip on my leg, right under the knee, and I felt my leg tearing and they kept saying, ‘Eat boy, eat boy, every time he would latch onto me, they would yank him, so not only was I being bit, but I was being torn. So I just yelled as loud as I could in agony. I thought they were going to kill me, either sit here and let this dog eat you or do something stupid and get shot in the head,” he said.
“They were taking pictures with their cellphones inviting all the K-9 cops to come in there and take a look. Taking pictures, people that weren’t even involved in our case … and giggled and chuckled,” Clavaria said.
The men allege that Wengert was the officer that instigated the attack. Wengert once starred in the reality TV show on TLC called “Broward K-9.”
“I was terrified by this guy,” Claveria said. “I could see the look in his eye, he just looked like he was an animal just stalking, preying.”
Watch video here.
Heroin deaths are on the rise again in the US. While there has been a steady increase in use over the years, the main reason for the increase in deaths is because the product is becoming more dangerous. A new trend of cutting the drug with the very strong post-surgery painkiller Fentanyl is largely to blame for the recent spike in deaths that are occurring around the country.
Fentanyl is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 40 to 50 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade (100% pure) heroin.
Since Fentanyl is so strong, it can be mixed with heroin and other adulterants to trick people into thinking that they are getting more heroin than they actually are. However, the risk of death and overdose greatly increase because Fentanyl is very disruptive to the respiratory system.
“The more narcotic you take, the less your body has an urge to breathe, and it makes sense that a lot of people are overdosing on it because they aren’t sure how much to take,” Dr. J.P. Abenstein, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists said in a statement.
As I have explained countless times in the past, these types of dangerous knock-off drugs are a direct result of prohibition. If you have missed my previous drug war articles, I will summarize how prohibition makes drugs more dangerous.
In the black market, one of the major drawbacks is that there is no accountability among the people selling the drug. Since anyone can get kidnapped and thrown in a cage for even dealing with the stuff, it really doesn’t make sense for people to be plastering their names and logos all over the drugs.
In this age of corporate mercantilism logos and branding may seem like a really tacky idea, but when looking at the black market we can see the value in such things. Someone who is selling a product with their name on it, is going to go through far greater lengths to ensure the quality of their product, as opposed to someone who would remain anonymous.
The anonymity creates an incentive for people to be dishonest with what they sell, leading to rip-offs or downright contamination of the drug with unwanted harmful substances. This is why there was bathtub gin that would make you go blind if you drank it during alcohol prohibition. This is also the reason why some of the harder street drugs today are cut with toxic chemicals that increase the chance of overdose ten fold. The fact that the drugs need to be smuggled also creates the incentive to make drugs more potent, and thus, in some circumstances more dangerous.
The increased potency and decreased availability inevitably leads to a massive increase in cost. The increased cost is a whole other issue with its own unique side effects in regards to drug safety. When the price of the real drugs go up, people just start huffing paint thinner, smoking bath salts and cooking up crystal meth in their basements, which is then even many times more dangerous than the unbranded drugs on the black market.
If you want to stop the overdoses, decrease crime, and deal a death blow to the for-profit prison system, there is a simple solution – End the War on Drugs.