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Dash Cam Video Shows Seattle Cop Falsified Charge Against Elderly Man Walking Down Street

By Carlos Miller | PINAC | January 28, 2015

Seattle police officer Cynthia Whitlatch was cruising down the street in her patrol car when she came across an elderly man standing on the corner using a golf club as a cane, prompting her to stop her car and order him to place the club down, claiming it could be a weapon.

William Wingate, a retired bus driver and Air Force veteran who was 69 at the time, said he’s been using that golf club as a cane for 20 years and refused to set it down.

So Whitlatch escalated the lying.

“You just swang that golf club at me …. It was on audio and videotape, put it down,” she said.

The incident took place last July, but Whitlach’s dash cam video was just released after a public records request by The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly.

The video, posted below, shows Wingate remained professional but defiant, insisting she call another officer.

But when she did, the second officer took her side, arresting him on harassment and obstruction charges when it was clear from the video she was the only one harassing and obstructing his freedom to move freely in the city.

After spending a night in jail, King County prosecutors switched the charge against him to unlawful use of a weapon, obviously not bothering to watch the video.

Wingate, represented by a public defender who also didn’t watch the video, was told to sign an agreement stating the case would be dropped in two years if he complied with certain stipulations.

Fortunately, a former politician learned of the case and got involved, and eventually persuaded the judge to dismiss the case. But police never admitted wrongdoing, even after watching the video.

And Whitlach is still on the force, a protected liar who should be behind bars.

Because Wingate is black and Whitlach is white, she was accused of racial profiling, but police balk at that notion, insisting she would have falsified records to arrest him even if he had been white.

According to The Stranger :

In the police report filed by Officer Coles about the incident, Whitlach said “she observed him look at her and aggressively swing his golf club in the direction of her patrol car.”

“Because Wingate was still in possession of the golf club,” Coles wrote in the report, “and she was fearful of being assaulted by him, she said that she kept her distance from him upon exiting her patrol car.”

“It’s like, c’mon lady. You were lying,” Mason told me. “She wasn’t afraid of him at all.”

But the police commanders, including Metz and Davis, didn’t see it that way. Mason said they “tried to convince me nothing was wrong.”

Metz, in particular, “kept trying to convince us nothing was wrong here. He defended the officer.”

Nothing came out of that meeting, Mason said. But weeks later, she received a call from Deputy Chief Carmen Best, who, like Wingate, is black.

“The solution we came up with,” she said, “was actually good on the part of the [police] chief”—who’d assigned Best to look into the case. “It became African American and white women coming together to work on a solution.”

Weeks later, city prosecutors, after conferring with Best, recommended dismissing both the case against him and the two-year stipulation.

“They know that had this been a white man,” said Mason, “we wouldn’t be here.”

But, in fact, it appears they don’t know that. The Seattle Police Department insists racial bias played no role in the incident.

“If this person had been white,” said SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb, speaking by phone on Tuesday, “I would imagine it would have been the same outcome. We don’t believe this was a biased policing incident. We don’t believe the officer acted out of malice or targeted this man because of his race.”

Whitlatch enjoys playing the victim having been one of 126 Seattle police officers last year who sued the Department of Justice, claiming the agency was infringing on their Constitutional rights by requiring them to be less violent towards citizens.

Her conversation with Wingate begins at the 1:40 mark.

UPDATE: The Stranger posted another story today, revealing some comments apparently made by Whitlach on Facebook regarding her disdain for black people who blame white people for their problems.

January 29, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Seattle faces $500k suit for pepper-spraying school teacher

RT | January 29, 2015

​A Seattle, Washington high school history teacher who was pepper-sprayed by police moments after speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally is suing the city for $500,000.

Attorneys for Jesse Hagopian filed the claim against Seattle on Wednesday, nine days after the incident unfolded during, ironically, an anti-police brutality protest held in tandem with similar rallies across the United States on the holiday named for the slain civil rights leader.

Hagopian, a history teacher at Garfield High School who is known throughout the region for his activism, had just finished speaking during the January 19 event and was on the phone with his mother when a female police officer began discharging her pepper spray, striking multiple people.

An eyewitness was filming only a few feet away from where that officer and others had formed a barricade along a city intersection as law enforcement tried to control the crowd. A separate video filmed from above suggests that an officer had been knocked off their bicycle down the street, prompting the police to try and clear the area.

The ground-level footage appears to show Hagopian on the phone, walking towards the sidewalk, when he is blasted across the face with a stream of pepper spray.

“Ah, f**k. They just sprayed,”a voice on the video is heard saying as the officer barks to the crowd while attempting to clear the intersection.

Hagopian later got online and explained what happened in his own words:

“I was marching for Martin Luther King day today – amazing march! At one point after the big main march, group of bike cops set up a line to keep us from marching. Some people walked through the line, but I didn’t. When my phone rang, I turned away from the cops and began walking away to answer the phone. A cop then ran up in my face and pepper sprayed me right in the face.”

The close-up video recording of the incident has since been acquired by James Bible, the former president of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP, who in turn posted it to YouTube on Wednesday in concert with the announcement concerning the court filing. Bible is also serving as Hagopian’s attorney.

According to the Seattle Times, the suit alleges that Hagopian “instantly felt a burning sensation in his eyes and had some difficulty breathing.” The teacher later posted a photograph online showing him trying to tame the effects of the spray by dousing his face with milk.

“The main thing I’m upset about is that [I was on] the sidewalk when I was pepper sprayed so there’s really no reason at all they can use to justify what they did,” Hagopian told The Skanner News. … Full article

January 29, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boeing’s Union Workers in the Crosshairs

By David Macaray | Dissident Voice | December 26, 2013

A brief summary of what’s been happening in Seattle between the Boeing Corporation and its union workforce, the IAM (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers).  Aware they have the upper hand, and that thousands of relatively well-paying jobs hang in the balance, Boeing has resorted to an unsubtle form of carrot-and-stick extortion.

The carrot:  If the IAM agrees to re-open the existing contract and give the company several gut-wrenching concessions involving pensions, health care and future wages, Boeing will stay put, the jobs will remain in Seattle, Boeing, as planned, will allow the IAM to build its new 777X jet airliner, and the future will be rosy.  As the seminar creatures like to say, it’s a win-win.

The stick:  However, if the IAM doesn’t agree to the concessions, the Boeing Corporation will move its 777X operation out of the state of Washington and allow other, more reasonable and dependable states to bid on the job.  According to Boeing, who gleefully leaked the news to the media, 22 states have already shown interest.

More stick:  Realizing it has enormous leverage, and unwilling to let that advantage go unexploited, Boeing issued an ultimatum to the state of Washington.  Unless it gave the company a huge tax break, they would pack up and leave.  In a special legislative session, the state assembly, at the urging of the governor, granted Boeing more than $8 billion in tax breaks, the largest corporate subsidy in U.S. history.

So far, so good.  Everything was coming up roses for Boeing.  It had a state government eating out of its hand, it had the union back on its heels, playing defense, and it had the media doing its bidding. Then a startling and horrific event occurred.  Godzilla ate the carrot and stick.

By a whopping 2-1 margin, the union local, District 751, voted down the offer.  To be clear, this was specifically a vote on the company’s re-opener.  With the contract still in effect, it wasn’t a prelude to a strike.  What the membership was saying with their “no” vote was that the current contract must remain in force until it expires, in 2016, at which time the parties would negotiate a new one, just as they always have.

After that, things got ugly.  Boeing closed ranks and renewed its threat to leave, the state assembly had a cow, and the IAM International demanded that another vote be taken, a move that, understandably, created heartburn at the local.  District 751 doesn’t want another vote on an inferior contract.  Yet, with so much at stake, a very nervous International is insisting that the membership take another look at it.

There’s an old axiom in contract negotiations called the “two vote rule.”  It states that a membership will vote down a contract no more than twice.  They’ll vote it down once, to show their disapproval, they’ll vote it down twice, to show their defiance, but the third time around—partly from fatigue, partly from the realization that it’s likely the best offer they’re going to get—they’ll vote to ratify (unless they move to strike).

Thus, the union leadership’s fears are not unfounded.  Rather than buying into the company’s rhetoric, they see the Boeing move for the audacious and naked power play it is.  The IAM International may be too scared to call Boeing’s bluff, but District 751 isn’t.  In their view, all this talk about moving the 777X out of Seattle is just that….talk.

Not only are Boeing’s profits at a record high, the union believes if Boeing truly thought that uprooting its Seattle operation and moving to another state made the best business sense, they would have done it.  What’s to prevent them?  If moving was the “right” thing to do, they would have already moved.  This is a bluff, plain and simple.

Per the International’s demand, another vote is scheduled for January 3.  Unlike the bad old days, when certain unnamed unions (okay, the Teamsters) could unilaterally ratify a contract on behalf of the members, today’s unions are wildly democratic.  The members have the final say, and votes are conducted by secret ballot.

If District 751’s leadership can maintain discipline and keep the membership’s eye on the ball, this re-opener will be voted down.  And if there’s another vote following this one, we can only hope that the union is able to disprove that old “two vote rule.”  After all, weren’t rules meant to be broken? Onward!

David Macaray can be reached at: dmacaray@earthlink.net.

December 27, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

American cities installing ominous surveillance tech despite NSA scandal

RT | November 11, 2013

Mass surveillance isn’t something only being conducted by the likes of the National Security Agency anymore. Despite growing concerns brought on by the Summer of Snowden, cities around America are adopting high tech spy tools.

Never mind the negative press the NSA has received in recent weeks after Edward Snowden began leaking top-secret documents to the media pertaining to the United States’ spy group’s broadly scoped surveillance programs. Law enforcement agencies and local leaders in major American cities are nevertheless signing on to install new systems that are affording officials the power to snoop on just about anyone within range.

Seattle, Washington and Las Vegas, Nevada are among the latest locales in the US to acquire surveillance tools, the likes of which were both discussed in regional media reports over the weekend that are making their rounds across the Web and causing privacy advocates around the world to raise their voice.

Neither West Coast city has announced plans to acquire telephone metadata or eavesdrop on email traffic, and combined their operations likely pale in comparison to what the NSA has accomplished. Civil liberties activists are sounding the alarm regardless, however, after new reports revealed what kind of information city officials could collect using newly installed equipment.

In Seattle, a city of around 635,000, the police department recently used a Department of Homeland Security grant for $2.6 million to purchase and put up a number of wireless access devices that together create “mesh networks” which law enforcement officials can connect to and in turn more quickly share large chunks of data, such as surveillance camera recordings and other high-res information.

Those access points, or APs, do more than just transfer data from one node to another, though, and actually spend large amounts of time scouring for every Internet-capable device in the area that may be searching for a Wi-Fi signal — such as any smart phone that can connected to the Web. Although the mesh network is being made for emergency responders to be able to interact with ease and provide them with a widespread wireless system to share information, the APs acquire basic information about every electronic device that even momentarily makes a connection, in theory allowing officials to see much more than the average Washingtonian might want to willfully hand over.

The Stranger, a Seattle alternative-weekly, spoke to the city’s police department about the recently installed mesh network but wasn’t given many answers. Law enforcement officials insisted that the system isn’t fully functioning yet — and little more — but the Stranger learned that authorities can log the MAC (media access control) address of any iPhone, Android, laptop or Internet-able device that’s within reach of its signal, which could then provide authorities with information that even a seasoned investigator might have a hard time obtaining otherwise. Just as how telecommunication companies ping devices almost constantly from nearby towers to test signals, learning the specific location of a MAC address at any given date and time can then be coupled with other location data in order to triangulate a subject’s movements up to even just a few inches away.

Speaking to the Stranger, the Seattle Police Department admitted it does not yet have a policy to govern the use of the multi-million dollar system, but said it is “actively collaborating” with the American Civil Liberties Union, contrary to claims made by the ACLU that the SPD has been anything but speedy when responding to its questions and concerns.

“We definitely feel like the public doesn’t have a handle on what the capabilities are,” Jamela Debelak of Seattle’s ACLU office said to The Stranger. “We’re not even sure the police department does.”

Should a policy not be put in place quickly enough, many fear the results could be ravaging for the privacy of the city’s half-a-million-plus residents, many of whom surely wouldn’t suspect that the phone in their pocket it silently sending personalized information to the Seattle Police Department anytime they walk within reach of an AP’s signal.

In Las Vegas, the latest tool there might be even more Orwellian.

Sin City is one of the latest locales to purchase a line of highly-functional lampposts sold by Michigan’s Illuminating Concepts under the branding of “IntelliStreets.” As RT has reported in the past, however, the devices do much more than light up sidewalks. These lampposts are also Wi-Fi-ready to stream passers-by localized information and even audio and graphics, but it’s what Intellistreets collect that’s really shocking. In addition to broadcasting information, the lampposts are equipped with microphones and cameras that can record anything within an earshot and send it to a server to be analyzed.

On the IntelliStreets website, the company says, “Intellistreets provides a platform and many developed applications to assist DHS in protecting its citizens and natural resources.”

“We want to develop more than just the street lighting component,” Neil Rohleder of the city’s Public Works Department told KSNV News. “We want to develop an experience for the people who come downtown.”

As the technology spreads in cities unopposed, however, it could lead the other towns to journey down a slippery slope that ends with relinquishing even more personal information down the road.

“This technology, you know is taking us to a place where, you know, you’ll essentially be monitored from the moment you leave your home till the moment you get home,” local civil rights activist Daphne Lee told the network.

“At what point do we say this is the land of the free,” Lee said. “People have a right to a reasonable amount of privacy.”

As the NSA scandal has shown the world, however, one person’s idea of privacy might vastly differ from another’s. Revelations made possible through Mr. Snowden’s leaks have shown that the US government routinely collects information about the dialer and recipient of nearly every phone call made in the country, and even America’s allies, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are subject to NSA-issued surveillance.

Meanwhile, other cities along the West Coast are seeing a surge in surveillance tools that started before the first Snowden leak but are still being set in place. Federal grants totaling around $7 million to Oakland, California are being used to ensure that the city has an eye on seemingly everything by next summer, and requests by a growing number of law enforcement agencies for spy drones is expected to involve eventually equipping bureaus across the country with unmanned aerial vehicles by the dawn of the next  decade.

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on American cities installing ominous surveillance tech despite NSA scandal

In a Major Privacy Victory, Seattle Mayor Orders Police to Dismantle Its Drone Program After Protests

By Trevor Timm | EFF | February 8, 2013

In an amazing victory for privacy advocates and drone activists, yesterday, Seattle’s mayor ordered the city’s police agency to cease trying to use surveillance drones and dismantle its drone program. The police will return the two drones they previously purchased with a Department of Homeland Security grant to the manufacturer.

EFF has been warning of the privacy dangers surveillance drones pose to US citizens for more than a year now. In May of last year, we urged concerned citizens to take their complaints to their local governments, given Congress has been slow to act on any privacy legislation. The events of Seattle proves this strategy can work and should serve as a blueprint for local activism across the country.

Back in early 2012, the Seattle city council was told that the Seattle police agency had obtained an authorization to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But they did not find out from the police; they found out from a reporter who called after the council after he saw Seattle’s name on the list obtained by EFF as part of our lawsuit against the FAA.

City council was understandably not happy, and the police agency was forced to appear before the council and apologize. It then vowed to work with the ACLU of Washington and the FAA to develop guidelines to make sure drones wouldn’t violate Seattle citizens’ privacy. But as long as the guidelines weren’t passed in a binding city ordinance, there’d be no way to enforce them.

After a townhall meeting held by police, in which citizens showed up in droves and angrily denounced the city’s plans, some reporters insinuated that city counsel members’ jobs could be on the line if they did not pass strict drone legislation protecting its citizens privacy.

Documents obtained by MuckRock and EFF in October as part of our 2012 drone census showed that the Seattle police were trying to buy two more drones despite the controversy. But that ended yesterday as the Mayor put a stop to the program completely.

Critics of the privacy protests said the participants were exaggerating the capabilities of the Seattle drones, given they would only fly for less than an hour at a time and are much smaller than the Predator drones the military flies overseas and Department of Homeland Security flies at home.

But while Seattle’s potential drones may not have been able to stay in the air for long, similar drones have already been developed and advertised by drone manufacturers with the capability to stay in the air for hours or days at a time. In fact, Lockheed Martin has been bragging about a drone that weights 13.2 pounds (well within the FAA’s weight limits) that can be recharged by a laser on the ground and stay in the air indefinitely.

Since the Seattle protests have heated up, similar complaints have been heard at local city counsels and state legislatures across the country. At least thirteen states are now considering legislation to restrict drone use to protect privacy, and there are also members of Congress on both sides of the aisle pushing the same thing.

Here in the Bay Area, we’ve experienced a similar situation. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tried to sneak through drone funding without a public hearing and told the county board of supervisors it only wanted to use the drone for emergency purposes. Yet in internal documents obtained by EFF and MuckRock as part of our 2012 drone census, the Sheriff’s Office said it wanted to use the drone for “suspicious persons” and “large crowd control disturbances.”

When EFF and ACLU held a press conference pointing out this discrepancy, the county backtracked and is now attempting to write privacy guidelines that could potentially be turned into binding law. We will keep you updated on further developments.

But regardless, it’s important that privacy advocates take the lesson from Seattle and apply it all over the country. This is an important privacy victory, and like we said back in May, local governments will listen to our concerns, so let’s make our voice heard.

February 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Comments Off on In a Major Privacy Victory, Seattle Mayor Orders Police to Dismantle Its Drone Program After Protests

FBI raids homes of Occupy activists

Press TV – August 14, 2012

A US newspaper has revealed that the FBI has been raiding the houses of anti-Wall Street protesters in Oregon and Washington in what the agency describes an “ongoing violent crime investigation.”

The Oregonian newspaper reported that heavily-armed domestic terrorism units of the FBI have been raiding the homes of activists in Seattle and Olympia, Washington and Portland, Oregon over the last month.

The report said that at least six homes have been raided in the two states since July 10.

The FBI has described the raids as part of an ongoing violent crime investigation, linked to last year’s Occupy May Day protests, during which a number of minor acts of vandalism allegedly took place.

In one of the raids, eyewitnesses reported as many as 80 agents in body armor, wearing military fatigues, and armed with assault rifles participated in the raid.

“I just heard lots of pounding at 6 o’clock, and I got up and I saw the whole thing,” said one of the eyewitnesses, adding, “I saw them screaming to get in. They were using the battering ram, and then finally the door just opened.”

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele told the newspaper, “The warrants are sealed… and I anticipate they will remain sealed.”

The paper said the agents were searching for “anti-government or anarchist literature or material” and “documentation and communications related to the offenses, including but not limited to notes, diagrams, letters, diary and journal entries, address books, and other documentation in written or electronic form.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement began when a group of demonstrators gathered in New York’s financial district on September 17, 2011 to protest against corruption, the unjust distribution of wealth in the country, and the excessive influence of big corporations on US policies.

August 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Comments Off on FBI raids homes of Occupy activists