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.