Aletho News


Chicago’s ‘independent’ cop watchdog not so independent in Laquan McDonald case

RT | January 1, 2016

A New Year’s Eve release of hundreds of internal emails by the City of Chicago reveals the Independent Police Review Authority not living up to its name as “independent.” In one email, the mayor’s office said the IPRA was giving a “statement we approved.”

After weeks of requests from multiple media outlets, thousands of pages of emails pertaining to the Laquan McDonald case have been released. The records dump took place on Thursday – New Year’s Eve – the start of a long holiday weekend when most people are more focused on celebrating. On October 20, 2014, 17-year-old McDonald was walking away from police while carrying a small knife when he was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, who this week pled not guilty to murder charges following the release of a dashcam video last month.

The IPRA is billed as a civilian agency within the city government. It is responsible for assessing police shootings, but many emails reveal that the agency coordinated its handling of the case with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s staff.

On December 5, 2014, former IPRA chief Scott Ando emailed Janey Rountree, Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, to provide a “list of cases pending review by either the [State Attorney’s Office] or the [US Attorney’s Office]” involving Chicago police misconduct. Ando also indicated which officers were being charged at the time.

“In this case it was a status update on cases that were being reviewed by prosecutors for possible criminal investigation. The mayor’s office obviously does not direct investigations, nor are any employees involved in those investigations,” Adam Collins, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

In another email to Rountree, Collins expressed frustration with the IPRA for not taking his advice when responding to a question from the media regarding McDonald.

That May 26 email reads in part, “Against my recommendation, IPRA has already provided this response that was a little antagonistic. I’ve asked that they follow up with this as well to soften and reinforce their message,” while going on to provide a paragraph that played up IPRA’s investigatory powers and its independence.

In an earlier email dated April 10 to Stephen Patton Collins, a top legal adviser to Mayor Emanuel, Collins had expressed more satisfaction with the IPRA. In that one he reported that Jeremy Gorner of the Chicago Tribune had “just asked IPRA about the McDonald settlement,” alluding to the $5 million civil payout to the McDonald family.

“IPRA is giving him the statement we approved,” Collins wrote, going on to paste the two sentence statement.

On November 18, a week before the release of the dashcam footage showing McDonald’s killing, Collins emailed several representatives of police and law departments telling them, “we need one voice on this topic,” and then provided a “city statement” to provide talking points.

“Here’s a first crack. I don’t think we should stray far from where we have been all along on this,” the email reads, before providing a draft of an official explanation as to why the video has yet to be released.

The dump of internal emails has only fueled more criticism of Chicago’s government on social media and in the streets of Chicago, where protests calling for Emanuel’s resignation have not let up.

Dozens of protesters gathered at Emanuel’s home for the third evening in a row on Thursday, promising to show up for at least another 13 days to symbolize the 16 gunshots McDonald took from police.

Elsewhere on New Year’s Eve, protesters temporarily took over parts of City Hall and a Hyatt hotel lobby.

These demonstrations were anticipated in some of the released emails. In one dated November 20, a campaign donor of Emanuel, Graham Grady, writes to Stephen Patton, one of Emanuel’s top advisers, offering to finance what could be described as controlled opposition.

“Steve, I love Chicago and I’m concerned that the city may erupt when and if the video gets out,” Grady writes. “What if the Mayor and some community leaders such as Fr. Pfleger lead a peaceful demonstration with 100+ African-American youth wearing red mortar boards to symbolize education as the solution while also invoking the image of Laquan McDonald in a positive manner?”

“You can get red mortar board caps for $10 bucks a piece. I’ll pay for 100 of them. Please let me know if I may be of assistance in helping in any way,” the email ends.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

No Eric Garner or Tamir Rice: FBI fails to adequately count civilian deaths by police

RT | October 16, 2015

An the old saying goes: “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” It may not quite apply to a new FBI report on officer-involved shootings, but the phrase expresses some of the frustrations felt by activists on behalf of the victims who went uncounted.

Released Thursday, the FBI’s figures for police-on-civilian deadly shootings lacked adequate substance and included errors, according to a report by the Guardian. The data was collected on a voluntary basis from local police departments, but 99 percent of them did not volunteer any information.

The FBI counted 439 police killings for the year 2014 based on reports from 224 local law enforcement agencies, of which there are 18,000 in the country. That’s up from 392 homicides reported in 2009, but the number of reporting agencies also increased from 196 in the same year. No trend can be surmised from the data.

Notorious cases, including Eric Garner from New York City, and Ohio’s Tamir Rice and John Crawford, were not included. Information regarding whether or not the victim was armed was also not included. Other methods and mistakes also complicate any goal of arriving at an accurate estimate.

The reason for not including Garner, the man choked to death by an New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, was simply because the NYPD has not participated in such FBI data gathering since 2006. The NYPD, the nation’s largest police force, promises to release details on officers’ deadly use of force next year.

Garner’s daughter, Erica, told the Guardian she was “outraged but not shocked” at this missing tally from the FBI.

“It’s just another part of the cover-up and erasing of his murder from the record,” she said. “It says to the NYPD and the city and state of New York that my father’s life doesn’t matter.”

Rice, the 12-year-old holding an airsoft gun who was shot in under two seconds by Cleveland police, was not included, and neither was Crawford, the man shot by Beavercreek police in a Walmart while holding a BB gun carried by the store. Both police departments did not participate in the FBI report.

Meanwhile, some cases were recorded incorrectly. Darrien Hunt, a 22-year-old killed by Sarasota Springs police in Utah while running away with a replica sword, was listed as the killer even though he was the one who died. A knife or blade was jotted down as the deadly weapon, even though it was a police officer who shot him. Furthermore, the officer and Hunt were described as acquaintances.

The victim’s mother, Susan, told the Guardian, “There has been so much wrong with the entire incident.”

Several outlets are attempting to keep track of police shootings or non-shootings that end in civilian deaths. The Guardian’s “The Counted” aggregates all deaths at the hands of police and has counted 908 so far in 2015. The Washington Post counts 776 shot dead by police this year.

Last week, FBI Director James Comey told a group of politicians and law enforcement officials that in the same way movie tickets are counted or cases of the flu are counted, so should police killings. “It’s ridiculous – embarrassing and ridiculous – that we can’t talk about crime in the same way, especially in the high-stakes incidents when your officers have to use force,” Comey said.

In a separate 2014 FBI report, 1.16 million incidents of violent crime were reported in 2013. Violent crime hadn’t been that low in 35 years. The population has grown nearly one and a half times in that period, but police-on-civilian killings could be a type of violent crime on the rise. Until there are reliable statistics, no one knows.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | Leave a comment

NYPD officers slammed autistic teen’s head against concrete – lawsuit

RT | July 10, 2015

A 17-year-old autistic boy was thrown onto the sidewalk by New York City police officers, punched in the face, arrested, hauled to the precinct for questioning and released without charges, according to a lawsuit.

Troy Canales was standing in front of his Bronx home on the night of November 12, 2014, when two officers drove up in a police car demanding to know what he was doing, according to the Manhattan federal court lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the officers clearly had no training in how to deal with people with special needs when they began questioning Canales, who is able to talk but has a hard time making eye contact with strangers.

“[Canales] was extremely scared, but told the officers that he was just ‘chilling’ and was not doing anything,” the suit stated.

“[The officers] each grabbed the plaintiff’s arms and forcefully threw him down on the sidewalk, smashing his head against the concrete. [The officers] kneed plaintiff in the back and punched him in the face as he screamed to his family for help.”

Canales’ mother and brother came out of the house and saw him cuffed on the ground. They told the police he was autistic but the cops ignored them and took the teenager to the precinct, said the complaint.

Canales was held for an hour until his mother, Alyson Valentine, spoke to the commanding officer, who apologized and said, ‘things like this happen” before releasing the teen.

Police officers had no explanation for the assault or the arrest except to say that one officer “feared for his life” when he spoke to Canales on the sidewalk, according to the lawsuit.

In the wake of the beating, Valentine said her son became reclusive and it took professional therapy to help him go out of the house again.

“Every other house on the block, there’s a child with disability,” Valentine told DNAinfo. “A lot of them don’t come outside that much. If you’re policing the neighborhood, you should know the people.”

A lawyer for Troy Canales, now 18, said the NYPD violated the teen’s civil rights during the November 2014 incident. The federal lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and better training for police officers to deal with people with special needs.

A New York City Law Department spokesman said the suit is under review, reported the New York Post.

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYPD destroyed evidence in class action lawsuit against department

RT | July 7, 2015

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has destroyed evidence in an ongoing lawsuit against it, which alleges that police use a secret quota system to make arrests, new documents claim.

The class action suit alleges that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito were secretly applying pressure to officers to issue more arrests after falling short of quotas for traffic offenses and low-level crime, resulting in up to 850,000 wrongful summonses – or written notifications to a party telling them where and when they need to be in court. Some summons cases leave the recipient with a criminal record.

The allegations that a “quota system” for arrests exists at the NYPD are supported by emails, paperwork and text messages. One text message stated:

“We missed seat belt number by 30 last week unacceptable. if need be u guys will go with me 2 traffic stat 2 explain why u missed [sic].”

However, other such records have been destroyed, despite the city agreeing to surrender the information more than a year ago, the New York Post reports, citing a letter filed in the Manhattan federal court by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The lawyers claim that they discovered documents by obtaining them from third-party emails, including one of an NYPD captain writing, “This has to stop” when referring to an officer having only one arrest in over 50 hours of overtime.

But when the emails were requested, the city couldn’t produce them, even after searching.

“The production confirms what plaintiffs feared but defendants have repeatedly denied: Defendants have destroyed evidence that is unquestionably relevant to this matter,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Elinor Sutton wrote in a letter, the Post reported.

The letter continues, “It is simply not tenable that Commissioner Kelly and Chief Esposito did not – in the entire period of 2007 through the present – write or receive emails using terms related to the word ‘summons.’”

“The spoliation of this evidence clearly demonstrates Defendants’ bad-faith, grossly negligent, or at least, negligent destruction of relevant documents.”

She added that documents from meetings about crime statistics may have been shredded due to a policy that NYPD officers testified about previously.

The trial is expected to be held early next year.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Police brutality UK-style: The tragic case of Kingsley Burrell

By Dan Glazebrook | RT | June 12, 2015

In March 2011, Kingsley Burrell called the police requesting help, fearing he and his son were at risk from an armed gang. By the end of the day, Burrell had been arrested, beaten and had his son taken from him. Four days later he was dead.

Since then, it has been a long, hard struggle by Kingsley’s family and friends to find out the truth about what happened – but last month, during an excruciating five-week inquest, that truth finally came out.

When they arrived on the scene and found no evidence of anyone threatening Kingsley, the police decided to arrest him under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, claiming he was delusional. Both he and his son were taken away in an ambulance, where the police set upon Kingsley in an attempt to forcibly remove him from his son. During the inquest, it emerged that Kingsley had not been asked to relinquish his son before police attacked him. One officer admitted in typically guarded language: “I accept that to communicate to everybody, in an ideal situation, that would have been done.”

Kingsley was then driven to the Oleaster mental health unit of the local hospital and later transferred to another mental health facility, the Mary Seacole Unit. What exactly happened to him during this time is unclear, but his sister Kadisha visited him in the unit the following day, telling the inquest “Kingsley had three lumps, one on his forehead. I said to [his partner] Chantelle ‘take a photo of that’.”

“Kingsley said to me, ‘I can’t move’. He couldn’t move the upper part of his body… He couldn’t move his head, couldn’t move his body, couldn’t move his shoulders,” she said, adding he had deep marks around his wrists. She later discovered that her brother had been left handcuffed to the hospital floor for five or six hours, had not been allowed a drink of water or a visit to the toilet and was subsequently left to urinate on himself. He told her that after he requested the handcuffs be loosened the guards tightened them even more.

On March 30th, police were called back to the Mary Seacole Unit after staff there reported he was acting aggressively; when pressed for more detail in the inquest it transpired that he had been making ‘stabbing motions’ with his toothbrush.

This was apparently all the excuse the police needed to launch another blistering attack on the man they had left barely able to walk just three days previously. Kingsley over the course of the next two and half hours was again beaten, this time whilst sedated, handcuffed and in leg restraints. During this time, he was transferred by police to the Queen Elizabeth hospital, first to emergency to stitch up a head injury he had sustained during the course of the restraint, and then back to the Oleaster Unit of the hospital. During the ambulance journey, a towel was wrapped around Kingsley’s head; when asked why, it was explained that it was because he had been spitting. The restraints were finally removed on arrival at the Oleaster seclusion unit. A staff member present told the inquest that whilst removing the restraints, one officer “knelt on Kingsley’s back between his shoulder blades” whilst others punched his thighs “with a lot of force,” including with the butt of a police baton. He noted: “These were methods that I had never seen before—they were alarming and shocking.” He explained how the police then left Kingsley face down on the bed with the blanket still wrapped around his head. He was motionless.

During this time, Kingsley’s respiratory rate had been dropping; since he was coming out of sedation it should have been rising. The inquest revealed that this drop had been noted but not acted upon on several occasions. Even when it dropped to below half the usual rate, there was apparently “no urgency” about the situation.

Eventually, Kingsley went into cardiac arrest. Community activist Desmond Jaddoo’s blog of the inquest hearings records what happened next: “This afternoon we heard from the Doctor who was on call when Kingsley went into cardiac arrest and it was a complete case of confusion, as she claims that she was told to go to the wrong ward and when she arrived there, there were no compressions being done and they placed him on the floor for a solid surface for compressions. Furthermore, we went on to hear the wrong breathing mask was used initially, along with the defibrillator not having any pads and there was a delay whilst an alternative one was obtained from a different ward.”

Kingsley Burrell was pronounced dead the next day. Last month, the five-week inquest concluded that the police had used excessive force and contributed to his death, as did the covering left over his head, and the neglect he so clearly suffered. It was a damning indictment not only of the police, but also of the various mental health workers and ambulance staff who allowed the brutal treatment to continue, and of the Crown Prosecution Service who refused to prosecute anyone over the death. Had the coroner allowed ‘unlawful killing’ to be considered, it is quite possible the jury would have reached this verdict.

Following the verdict, the all-too-familiar refrain of “lessons learnt” began to emanate from all corners of officialdom. Coroner Louise Hunt pronounced: “The only consolation to family members is lessons can be learnt from such a tragedy.” West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said, “Crucial lessons have been learned from this tragic case and how the force manages people who are detained with mental and physical health needs.” Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson told the press: “Clearly more lessons need to be learned by all the agencies involved so that these tragic incidents are not repeated.”

This is the same refrain that is churned out every time somebody dies while in police custody. Time and again, families are forced to battle for the truth, often for years, against all the odds – but when that truth is revealed, and the states’ culpability in the death of their loved ones is revealed, the state refuses to administer justice. Instead, it calls for ‘lessons to be learned,’ as if police officers beating a man to death is akin to a schoolboy failing a math test. As the chair of the Kingsley Burrell justice campaign Maxie Hayles commented, “We are constantly told that ‘lessons are being learned.’ The black community is totally fed up with hearing this rubbish. It’s almost like we are an experimental project.”

The truth of the matter is that, precisely because justice is never done, these ‘lessons’ are never actually learned. The Institute of Race Relations published a report into deaths in custody in March of this year, examining over 500 black and minority ethnic deaths in custody that have occurred in the UK since 1990. Their report noted that “despite narrative verdicts warning of dangerous procedures and the proliferation of guidelines, lessons are not being learnt: people die in similar ways year on year.”

Indeed, every aspect of the Kingsley Burrell case is depressingly familiar to campaigners on police brutality. Every single element of ‘what went wrong’ had already contributed to previous deaths on several occasions, and everyone has already, we have been told, resulted in ‘lessons being learnt,’ long before Kingsley’s fateful call to the police in 2011.

One such lesson is the lesson of ‘institutional racism’. This was the term used in the 1999 MacPherson report into the death of teenager Stephen Lawrence, which concluded that the police mishandling of that case was a result of the institutional racism of the Metropolitan Police. This racism results in the black community being “under-policed as victims and over-policed as suspects” in the memorable words of campaigner Stafford Scott, with racial stereotyping leading both to the excessive use of force against black people and an assumption that they are deviant.

Despite the ‘lessons learnt’ from the Lawrence case, both factors clearly played a role in Kingsley’s death. PC Shorthouse, a six-foot-four tall police officer involved in Kingsley’s death, told the inquest that his “knees were knocking together” in fear of dealing with Kingsley, prompting the family’s lawyer to ask him: “Are you sure you were not applying the stereotype of Kingsley being mad, black and dangerous?” “No, not at all,” Shorthouse replied. “He was the strongest, most aggressive person I have ever met in my career as a police officer.” Perhaps. But one wonders how much aggression Kingsley was meting out whilst sedated with his arms and legs strapped down, or whilst being beaten face down and motionless on a hospital bed.

Another explanation for the incident was put forth by the Institute of Race Relations in their examination of similar cases: “Black men, especially young black men, acting erratically or even asking for help, are stereotyped first and foremost as bad, mad, and, being black, likely to be involved in drugs and/or violent – so they are met with violence.”

Even when victims display clear warning signs of being in serious danger, police often ignore them on the grounds they believe their victims are “faking it.” As Shorthouse told the inquest, he assumed that Kingsley pleading with him that he couldn’t breathe was “tactical.” Such assumptions were also fatal in the cases of Sean Rigg, Christopher Alder and Habib Ullah, as well as many others.

Yet this ‘lesson’ – that institutional racism and racial stereotyping is dangerous and can even be fatal – is one that had supposedly already been learnt from the MacPherson report in 1999. Just for good measure, it was ‘learnt’ again in 2006 when an IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) report concluded that “unwitting racism” contributed to the death of Christopher Alder – a very generous finding given CCTV footage appeared to show the officers standing around making monkey noises whilst he lay dying – and that four of the officers present when Alder died were guilty of the “most serious neglect of duty.”

Another lesson not being learnt is that, when it comes to holding the state to account, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is not fit for purpose. In 1999, the Butler Report – an official government inquiry into deaths in custody – was seriously critical of the CPS’s obvious unwillingness to prosecute police officers. Yet given the behavior of the CPS in subsequent years, the report may as well have never been written. Even when verdicts of unlawful killing are reached, as the IRR has noted, “there has still been a marked reluctance to prosecute those implicated.” The number of prosecutions resulting from the 509 suspicious custody deaths detailed in their report can literally be counted on one hand – and even where prosecutions are brought, they are not done so effectively.

Following years of campaigning by Alder’s sister, Janet, the CPS did eventually bring a prosecution of the officers involved in Christopher Alder’s death.

However, the CPS then conflicted much of the evidence, meaning the judge had to throw it out, with the most damning evidence – the CCTV footage – never presented to the jury. Janet then brought a civil case against the CPS, in which the judge concluded that she shared Janet’s concerns “as to the standard of the investigation undertaken by West Yorkshire Police into the actions of the Humberside officers.” No surprise then, that the CPS decided last August not to prosecute the police officers implicated in Kingsley Burrell’s death, leading to a protest by the Burrell family and their supporters outside its Birmingham headquarters. Lessons learnt?

The list of lessons that should already have been learnt is endless. Another lesson concerns “positional asphyxia” – suffocation due to a person’s body position blocking their airways. The IRR report shows there have been at least nine cases of deaths in police custody where ‘positional asphyxia’ was identified as a cause of death since 1990. ACPO guidance, says the IRR, already “makes clear that placing suspects in a prone position….gives rise to the risk of death by positional asphyxia and the prone position must be avoided if possible, and minimized if unavoidable. It also recommends that body weight should not be used on the upper body (ie sitting on a suspect) to hold down a person.” This lesson was supposedly ‘learnt’ in the 1990s. Yet it did not stop the officers involved in Burrell’s case from ignoring the advice, putting him in prone position and leaning on his chest, causing the positional asphyxia which led to his cardiac arrest – just as predicted by ACPO’s guidelines. If the British state really is being ‘taught lessons,’ it must be a seriously retarded pupil.

Another lesson that should by now be well understood is that “excited delirium” is a medically dubious diagnosis routinely wheeled out by dodgy police pathologists desperate to avoid verdicts of positional asphyxia at inquests. Refuted by the vast majority of medical experts, this did not stop police pathologists bringing it up both at Kingsley’s inquest, and at the inquest of Habib Ullah earlier this year.

At least the pathologists are giving distorted interpretations of the facts, however, rather than simply making them up. Another lesson is that it is not only racism that is apparently institutional in the police force – so too are cover-ups and lying. Last week, hearings for gross misconduct began against police officers involved in the death of Habib Ullah, all five of whom heavily doctored their witness statements to the IPCC about what happened, removing references to the use of force used, to other witnesses on the scene, to warning signs of his deteriorating condition and much else besides.

As Gerry Boyle, presenting the case against the officers, said: “The nature and extent of the deletions and amendments these five officers made were on a breathtaking scale, covering almost every single aspect of the incident.” (Needless to say, the CPS dismissed the IPCC’s suggestion that those involved be charged with perjury and various other charges). At Kingsley’s inquest, a similar pattern emerged. The testimony of PC Adey and ambulance driver Mr MacDonald-Booth were particularly shameless. Various witnesses had testified that, after his restraints were taken off, Kingsley’s arms dropped to his sides and he never moved again. “I know what I saw” PC Adey said, “he raised his head.” Incredulous, the coroner replied: “I suggest you are wrong, officer.”

In an earlier statement, Adey said he had seen this through a window in the door. But it emerged in the inquest that this window was covered by a locked hatch to which only nurses had the key. Adey also insisted that Kingsley’s face was uncovered, contradicting evidence from six other witnesses that his face was covered with a towel or sheet. “How can they all be wrong, officer?” asked the coroner, showing him CCTV photographs of Kingsley’s head covered. He said he wasn’t looking at him at the time. Adey also denied kneeling on Kingsley’s back, as had been described by two other witnesses.

The coroner, Louise Hunt, also became exasperated with Mr Macdonald-Booth, the ambulance driver, whose testimony in the inquest directly contradicted his own earlier statements. Mr MacDonald-Booth, it turns out, had only recently joined the ambulance service, having previously been – any guesses? – a police officer.

We were told ‘lessons had been learnt’ from the Hillsborough disaster, where police had systematically lied about the 96 football fans killed as a result of poor policing in 1989; we were told the same about the miners’ strike – where police had systematically lied about those they arrested at Orgreave; and again after “Plebgate”, when police officers had lied about what they heard Andrew Mitchell say in Downing St. Lessons learnt? Kingsley’s inquest suggests otherwise.

Yet lessons are being learnt. The real lesson – being taught again and again – is that impunity prevails; that, if you are an agent of the British state, you can falsify your evidence, you can lie in court, you can attack people from vulnerable or minority groups at will, and whatever happens – even if you kill them – that state will protect you. We don’t need any more lessons to be learnt; indeed we have had enough of this lesson being learnt. What we need is for justice to be done.

Dan Glazebrook is a political writer and author of “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis”.

Read more: Mark Duggan shooting: Officer cleared of ‘any wrongdoing’ amid police cover-up allegation

June 13, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

43 years in solitary: Federal court blocks release of last imprisoned Angola 3 inmate

RT | June 9, 2015

Screenshot from RT video

Screenshot from RT video

A federal court blocked the release of the last imprisoned member of the Angola 3, after a Louisiana judge ruled the state must release Albert Woodfox. The 68-year-old has spent 43 years in solitary, arguably the longest term of such confinement.

The ‘Angola 3’ ‒ Albert Woodfox, Robert King and Herman Wallace ‒ were inmates accused of murdering a guard at Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola Prison, during a prison riot in 1972. Though they maintained their innocence, the three men were convicted of murder and spent decades in solitary confinement. Woodfox and Wallace insisted that they were implicated solely for their involvement in a prison chapter of the Black Panthers.

On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay of Woodfox’s release, temporarily halting the ruling of US District Judge James Brady. The appeals court will hear arguments from Louisiana on whether or not to overturn Brady’s decision after he issued an unconditional writ of habeas corpus on Monday, citing five main reasons in his ruling to release Woodfox from prison.

“The five factors include: Mr. Woodfox’s age and poor health, his limited ability to present a defense at a third trial in light of the unavailability of witnesses, this Court’s lack of confidence in the State to provide a fair third trial, the prejudice done onto Mr. Woodfox by spending over forty-years in solitary confinement, and finally the very fact that Mr. Woodfox has already been tried twice and would otherwise face his third trial for a crime that occurred over forty years ago,” he wrote.

Woodfox suffers from Hepatitis C, diabetes, renal failure and a history hypertension, his lawyer told the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune.

“He a host of issues that elderly people commonly face, but his are in [the] context of [solitary confinement],” attonrey George Kendall said.

Woodfox has remained in solitary confinement for 43 years, which makes him the longest-serving solitary confinement prisoner in the US, Kendall told the Guardian in September.

Teenie Rogers, the widow of slain prison guard Brent Miller, has said she believes the two men were not involved in her husband’s death, and previously called for the release from prison, the Times-Picayune reported.

“If I were on that jury, I don’t think I would have convicted them,” she wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 2008.

King was exonerated and he was released in 2001, while Wallace’s was overturned in October 2013. Wallace died of liver cancer three days after he was released, even though a Louisiana grand jury re-indicted him on his death bed. He was never retried.

Woodfox was first convicted of second-degree murder in 1973, a verdict that was overturned in 1992 by a state court due to “systematic discrimination.” He was re-indicted by a different grand jury in 1993, then reconvicted in 1998.

Brady overturned Woodfox’s second guilty verdict in 2008, citing ineffective counsel. The state appealed, and the case wound its way up to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. That federal court reversed Brady’s ruling, saying that Woodfox couldn’t prove he would not have been convicted if he’d had a different defense team.

In 2012, Brady again overturned Woodfox’s conviction, and the state appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which then agreed with the case judge. In February, Louisiana state’s attorneys announced that a grand jury had indicted Woodfox for a third time in the Angola 3 case.

In his release order, Brady barred the state from conducting a third trial, ruling that further prosecution “would be unjust,” he wrote.

The state condemned the unconditional writ, having argued before Brady that releasing Woodfox is against the public interest and that the inmate “is a danger to the public and is a flight risk.”

“With today’s order, the Court would see fit to set free a twice-convicted murderer who is awaiting trial again for the brutal slaying of Corrections Officer Brent Miller,” Aaron Sadler, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Justice, told TheTimes-Picayune.

Woodfox’s attorneys, however, applauded the judge’s decision, saying that a third trial would have been unfair to their client.

“Now, because the State’s key witnesses are deceased, and Mr. Woodfox’s alibi witnesses are also deceased, there is no practical way for there to be a third trial which comports with the standards of a fair, American trial,” Kendall and Carine Williams said in a statement.

The state has long denied that Woodfox and Wallace were held in solitary confinement, but rather in a lockdown called “closed cell restricted,” which is designed to protect prisoners and guards.

“Contrary to popular lore, Woodfox and Wallace have never been held in solitary confinement while in the Louisiana penal system,” Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell wrote in a 2013 statement. “They have always been able to communicate freely with other inmates and prison staff as frequently as they want. They have televisions on the tiers which they watch through their cell doors.”

King and watchdog groups define “closed cell restricted” lockdown as solitary, however. Since his 2001 release, King has advocated against the use of solitary confinement. He also fought for the freedom of his fellow Angola 3 defendants.

Amnesty International ‒ which has been part of a long-running, international campaign to free the Angola 3 ‒ praised the judge’s ruling as a “momentous step toward justice.”

“Woodfox has spent 43 years trapped in a legal process riddled with flaws,” Jasmine Heiss, a senior campaigner for Amnesty, said in a statement. “The only humane action that the Louisiana authorities can take now is to ensure his immediate release.”

June 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Pennsylvania Court strikes down law aimed at keeping convicts out of public eye

RT | May 5, 2015

A federal court in Pennsylvania overturned the Revictimization Relief Act, which aimed to ban convicted criminals from speaking publicly.

The federal district court on Monday said the statute introduced by lawmakers violated the first amendment rights of one-time death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal and other prisoners. The law was introduced in response to Abu-Jamal’s [recorded] appearance at a Goddard College commencement address in Vermont in October 2014.

“The fact that certain plaintiffs have been convicted of infamous or violent crimes is largely irrelevant to our first amendment analysis. A past criminal offense does not extinguish the offender’s constitutional right to free expression,” Judge Christopher Conner wrote. “The First Amendment does not evanesce at the prison gate.”

Judge Conner wrote the law was unconstitutionally vague and over-broad. He worried that it would deter not only the speech of convicted criminals, but also people who redistribute speech such as producers quoting criminals in radio programs or newspapers publishing interviews with criminals. Conner said a law restricting expression based on content was “inherently suspect.”

Attorney Eli Segal and the American Civil Liberties Union, who brought suit against the law, told the Associated Press that the decision “says loud and clear that all of us in this commonwealth have the right to freedom of speech.”

Steve Miskin, the spokesman for the Pennsylvania House GOP leadership told AP that Conner’s ruling “is woefully short of the fact. It begs the question: Did he even read the law?”

“The point of the law was to look out for victims,” he added.

The Revictimization Relief Act, passed by Pennsylvania lawmakers in October 2014, said a victim of a personal injury crime may bring a civil action against an offender to restrict them from conduct that could perpetuate the continuing effect of the crime on the victim, including conduct causing a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, an American activist and journalist, was convicted in 1982 for the 1981 murder of Pennsylvania Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. He was on death row for 30 years before appeals converted his death penalty to life without parole. Abu-Jamal claims he is a victim of a racist justice system. The Faulkner family, public authorities, police organizations and self-described conservative groups have maintained that Abu-Jamal’s trial was fair, his guilt undeniable, and his death sentence appropriate.

Earlier this year, Tom Wolf, the Governor of Pennsylvania, offered the state’s 186 death row inmates temporary reprieves from execution, calling the system “error prone, expensive and anything but useful.”

Wolf said that if the state is going to “take the irrevocable step of executing a human being, its capital sentencing system must be infallible.” He said the system was riddled with flaws and studies had called into question the accuracy and fundamental fairness of Pennsylvania’s capital sentencing system. The studies suggested there were inherent biases indicating that a person is more likely to be charged with a capital offense and sentenced to death row if he is poor or part of a minority racial group; especially so if the victim of the crime was white.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reporters arrested in Ferguson sue St. Louis police

RT | March 31, 2015

Four journalists are suing St. Louis police over their arrests during the Ferguson, Missouri protests last August. They claim to have been detained and mistreated by the officers even though their press credentials were in plain view.

The suit was filed Monday by US citizen Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept and three German nationals residing in the US – Ansgar Graw of Die Welt, Frank Herrmann of the Rheinische Post group and freelance reporter Lukas Hermsmeier.

“This was a very new experience,” Graw wrote following his release. He had visited many disputed areas and conflict zones, from Gaza and Georgia to Iraq and Cuba. “But to be arrested and yelled at and be rudely treated by police? For that I had to travel to Ferguson and St. Louis in the United States of America.”

The four plaintiffs are charging the St. Louis Police Department with “intentionally and willfully” subjecting them to “violations of freedom of the press and free speech” for the purpose of “obstructing, chilling, deterring, and retaliating” against reporters covering the unrest in the Missouri town.

According to the San Francisco-based Freedom of the Press Foundation, 24 journalists were arrested in Ferguson between August and November 2014, including RT’s Denise Reese.

Protests broke out following the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. In addition to police officers from nearby departments, Missouri authorities deployed the National Guard, banned all assembly and even established a no-fly zone over Ferguson.

At the time, the authorities said officers had difficulty telling reporters apart from the protesting activists. In their complaint, Graw and Herrmann allege they were detained while carrying their cameras and wearing press badges around their necks. Hermsmeier and Devereaux claim they had shown the officers their media credentials before they were shot at with rubber bullets and arrested.

The complaint names the St. Louis County Police and the County of St. Louis, as well as 20 officers identified only as “John Doe,” as they refused to disclose their names to the reporters at the time of the arrests. One officer reportedly introduced himself as “Donald Duck.” The plaintiffs demand unspecified punitive damages and a jury trial.

Last week, the St. Louis County Police, city police and the Missouri Highway Patrol agreed to settle a federal lawsuit by six Ferguson protesters over the use of tear gas and other chemical agents against the demonstrators.

READ MORE: Revealed: Ferguson no-fly zone was meant to keep media away

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

NYPD says cops won’t be sanctioned for altering Wikipedia entries

RT | March 17, 2015

Two veteran New York City cops discovered to have altered Wikipedia entries related to high-profile police brutality cases from police headquarters won’t be punished, according to the commissioner.

New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton made the announcement Monday and said the two officers – whose names will not be released – do not currently work in the police headquarters, and are assigned to two different units.

“Two officers, who have been identified, were using department equipment to access Wikipedia and make entries,” NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters. “I don’t anticipate any punishment, quite frankly.”

The officers might be reprimanded for using their employer’s computers for unrelated work and are expected to be spoken to by Internal Affairs Bureau investigators.

The Wikipedia alterations were made to entries concerning some of the city’s most controversial police brutality cases, including Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, all of whom were killed by officers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the same press conference “city computers” are “supposed to be for city business. This was not authorized business.”

Most NYPD computers don’t allow access to the internet, an anonymous source told DNAinfo. Currently, the NYPD doesn’t have a policy specific to Wikipedia, but it is in the process of reviewing its social media rules. Police officials told local news source DNAinfo that they did not direct the changes made to Wikipedia.

Since Wikipedia is publicly accessed and edited by volunteers, it is not appropriate for NYPD officers to edit references they believe are inaccurate. Wikipedia users have removed some of the changes to the entries.

Capital New York reported Friday that as many as 85 IP addresses registered at NYPD headquarters have logged hundreds of edits to Wikipedia entries on victims of police brutality, dating back 10 years.

The NYPD only maintains records that can trace computer use for one year, but they were able to uncover that the two veterans had made alterations on the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia shortly after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his death.

Garner, who was placed in a chokehold, was killed by police last year during an arrest that was captured on video by an onlooker. One of the edits altered “Garner raised both his arms in the air” to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”

March 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

NYPD accused of editing Wikipedia pages for Eric Garner death, other scandals

RT | March 13, 2015

The New York Police Department is reviewing reports that computers connected to the NYPD’s own network edited the Wikipedia pages for some of the more infamous recent events to involve the force, including the choking death of Eric Garner.

Wikipedia articles pertaining to at least three individuals who died as a result of altercations with the NYPD, including Garner, were edited out of the department’s 1 Police Plaza headquarters, Capital New York reported Friday.

According to publicly available records of the online encyclopedia’s revision history, computers connected to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses traced back by the paper to NYPD headquarters edited — and sometimes attempted to delete — entries on alleged instances of police brutality and articles critical of the force’s conduct.

Along with a page on Garner — the Staten Island man who died last July after being placed in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo — Wikipedia articles detailing no fewer than two others deaths involving the Big Apple’s boys in blue were altered by computers connected to the agency’s complex in downtown Manhattan, Kelly Weill reported for Capital New York this week.

Wikipedia pages for the NYPD’s so-called “stop-and-frisk” tactic, as well as recent scandals that have tarnished the force — such as the 2013 incident in which an undercover cop was caught up in a group beating on the West Side Highway — were edited from headquarters, Capital New York reported, along with the pages for Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. Bell died in 2006 after undercover NYPD officers fired 50 times him and two other men, all unarmed, and Diallo was killed in 1999 when a cop mistook his wallet for a gun and opened fire.

Last December, someone connected through the NYPD’s network made multiple edits to the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia, Weill reported, within hours of a grand jury’s decision not to charge NYPD Officer Pantaleo in the man’s death. “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke,” Weill wrote, and “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”

“Instances of the word ‘chokehold’ were replaced twice, once to ‘chokehold or headlock,’ and once to ‘respiratory distress,’” Weill reported, both times from the NYPD network.

With regards to the Bell shooting article, a user connected to the NYPD network initiated an effort to have the entry nixed altogether by filing a complaint on the website’s internal “Articles for deletion” page.

“He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable,” the user wrote.

In 2006, according to Weill, a user of the NYPD network deleted 1,502 characters from the “scandals and corruption” section of Wikipedia’s “New York City Police Department” article. Two years later, another computer connected to the network deleted the entire “Allegations of police misconduct and the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)” and “Other incidents” sections from the main NYPD page.

Weill, an intern with Capital New York, wrote that there are more than 15,000 IP addresses registered to the NYPD, and information about them can easily be found online for free. A simple computer script programed in Python ran those addresses through Wikipedia, she said, and then flagged instances in which edits were made.

“The matter is under internal review,” NYPD spokeswoman Det. Cheryl Crispin told Capital New York in an email.

Read more – Grand jury doesn’t indict NYPD officer accused in chokehold death

March 13, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Naked, unarmed black man shot dead by white metro Atlanta cop

RT | March 10, 2015

An African American man running and “crawling” naked through his apartment complex in suburban Atlanta was fatally shot Monday by a DeKalb County police officer. The unarmed man may have had mental health issues, authorities said.

The unidentified white DeKalb police officer responded to a call regarding a man, identified as Anthony Hill, 27, according to social media and confirmed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who was allegedly “acting deranged, knocking on doors and crawling around naked,” at The Heights apartment complex in Chamblee, Georgia, said Cedric Alexander, director of the county public safety department.

Despite being equipped with a stun gun and pepper spray, the officer fired two shots when Hill allegedly ran in his direction, ignoring calls to stop.

“The officer called him to stop while stepping backward, drew his weapon and fired two shots,” he said.

Hill, a resident of The Heights, died of the body wounds. Alexander said the investigation is in the hands of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) as “a result of what’s going on currently across this country as it relates to police shootings.”

“No weapon was found,” Alexander said. “The GBI is going to take the point on this investigation.”

Alexander did not say the distance between Hill and the officer, a 7-year veteran of the police force, when the latter shot.

“I think in all fairness we need to wait and see what the outcome of the investigation is because I can’t tell you, beyond what I have told you so far, what kind of measures that officer may have taken,” he said.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave.

As for Hill, Alexander suggested the man may have had some mental health issues.

“I can only reasonably assume that if he was running around the apartment complex naked, I believe we can make the assumption there may have been some mental health experience that he might have been having,” Alexander said.

Alexander added that DeKalb County police officers do undergo some training to deal with the mentally ill, but he said there will be an examination to determine if additional instruction is warranted.

“That’s becoming more and more apparent,” Alexander said. “We have already, as many departments have begun to do, look at how to expand our mental health training when we find it certainly necessary to do so. Because it appears that we’re seeing more and more of these cases across the country in which police are engaging with those who appear to be in distress.”

Hill’s murder comes about a week after the suspicious DeKalb County police shooting of a 44-year-old Kevin Davis in Decatur.

READ MORE: Wisconsin officer who shot unarmed man was exonerated in previous fatal shooting

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

Ferguson police levied excessive traffic fines on blacks – DOJ leak

RT | March 2, 2015

A US Department of Justice report, to be released this week, alleges that Ferguson police are guilty of disproportional fining and arresting African-American residents to balance the town’s budget, making the lives of those unable to pay a nightmare.

Officials familiar with the report told The New York Times that it will be “highly critical” of police practices in the town, where the majority of the population is black but the police department and local government are mostly white.

Traffic fines are the town’s second largest source of income, after sales tax. The DoJ report says that financial incentives are driving law enforcement to continue unfair policies, predominantly targeting African-Americans.

In 2013, African-Americans accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops, while making up 63 percent of Ferguson’s population.

For those too poor to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops in Ferguson could end up in repeated imprisonment due to mounting fines.

“Because such systems do not account for individual circumstances of the accused, they essentially mandate pretrial detention for anyone who is too poor to pay the predetermined fee,” the NYT cited the top civil rights prosecutor supervising the Ferguson inquiry at the Justice Department, Vanita Gupta.

Grievances against the city administration have been accumulating for years before finally erupting in the form of violent protests in August 2014, sparked by a killing of an unarmed African-American young man, Michael Brown, by white police officer Darren Wilson on August 9.

The DoJ report will likely result in significant changes inside the Ferguson Police Department, because local officials will have to either negotiate a settlement with the DoJ or be sued by the department on civil rights charges.

The Justice Department recently filed a similar lawsuit against the city of Clanton, Alabama, which imprisoned poor debtors unable to pay fines.

The report is not expected to dig specifically into racial motivations behind Ferguson police concentrating their activities on African-Americans, but it will criticize police tactics as having a “disparate impact” on the African-American majority, which could be avoided.

Last summer, when the DoJ prepared a report into similar activities by the police department in Newark, it acknowledged that local law enforcement stopped African-Americans significantly more often than whites, meaning that African-Americans “bore the brunt” of the unconstitutional police practices taking root in the city.

“This disparity is stark and unremitting,” the Justice Department wrote in that report.


Ferguson sued for municipal fines & jailing those who can’t pay

US jail system stacked against poor, ill nonviolent offenders – report

March 2, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment