Category - USA: Law Enforcement

Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide

Washington Post, By Kimberly Kindy, May 30

In an alley in Denver, police gunned down a 17-year-old girl joyriding in a stolen car. In the backwoods of North Carolina, police opened fire on a gun-wielding moonshiner. And in a high-rise apartment in Birmingham, Ala., police shot an elderly man after his son asked them to make sure he was okay. Douglas Harris, 77, answered the door with a gun.

The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”

Overdue Justice for Ferguson, Missouri

For related articles by Numerian on the Ferguson racial crisis, see America’s Police on Trial, and The Cycle of Fear in Ferguson, Missouri, both posted on the jehoshuathebook.com website.
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The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has released its report on the causes behind the civil disturbances last year in Ferguson, Missouri.  This is a long overdue contribution to the national discussion on race and municipal policing strategies and tactics.  During last year’s protests in Ferguson, several reporters wrote about what appeared to be a side issue: the propensity of the Ferguson city authorities to use the police force and the municipal court as a money-raising mechanism, which relied on harassment to enforce its fines and penalties liberally bestowed upon the African-American population of Ferguson.  This side issue turns out to be the main focus of the Department of Justice report. The report turns attention away from Officer Darren Wilson, who was exonerated by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations, based on what the FBI learned about the shooting of Michael Brown.  The evidence suggests that Officer Wilson was responding reasonably to a threat to his life.  The attention instead turns to the municipal practices in Ferguson which pressured the police department to harass African-Americans as a matter of routine.  City authorities put no constraints on police behavior, and had no concern for community safety standards.  Instead, the police department, and the municipal court system, were turned into profit centers, with business-like monthly targets for revenue generation.  Here is what the report reveals:

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After year of record profits, Dimon decries ‘assault’ on banks

Al Jazeera, by Tom Kutsch, January 14

“Banks are under assault.”

That was the resounding message from Jamie Dimon, CEO and President of JPMorgan Chase, in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, announcing a fourth quarter decline in profits for the nation’s largest bank.

“We have five or six regulators coming at us on every issue,” he said, adding that this spoke of a general wrong directed at his industry: “You all should ask the question, ‘How American that is? How fair that is?”

Whoo!


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A Year Gone to Pot

This past year has been one of so many developments in American culture that it would be hard to pick any one thing as a signal event in the course of our nation.

From the full implementation of the surprisingly effective Obamacare to the grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson, MO, with stopovers at the broad expansion of marriage equality and Ebola outbreaks both in Africa and here, there’s a lot to mull over, a lot that will move forward with us into the new year and beyond.

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NYC protests continue despite mayor’s plea

Mayor Bill de Blasio had requested a protest moratorium after two NYPD officers were murdered in their squad car

Al Jazeera, December 23

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempts to soothe a New York City dismayed by the slaying of two officers were further rebuffed on Tuesday as protesters defied his call to suspend demonstrations over excessive police force.

De Blasio led a moment of silence at City Hall in the afternoon three days after the attack on the officers before asking his staff to hug those nearby “as a symbol of our belief that we will move forward together.”

Hours later, about 200 protesters began marching through the drizzle and traffic in the center of Manhattan, ignoring the mayor’s demand that they suspend what have become regular rallies until after the funerals of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

The Answer Coalition, organizers of the 5th Avenue march in midtown Manhattan, called the mayor’s demand to suspend protests an attempt to “chill” their speech.

AP: Key developments in case of 2 slain NYPD officers

St Louis unrest after police killing of teenager

US police have clashed with protesters in Missouri after an officer shot dead a black teenager close to where another black youth, Michael Brown, was killed in August sparking national protests.

BBC, December 24

A crowd of about 100 gathered at the scene in St Louis early on Wednesday after scuffles the night before.

St Louis County police said the man who was shot had pulled a gun at a petrol station and pointed it at the officer.

For weeks there have been widespread protests over alleged police brutality.

Berkeley is about two miles from the suburb of Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by a white officer.


Police say teen shot dead near Ferguson had pointed a gun

Protests broke out after fatal shooting they said another example of young black men being targeted by white officers

Al Jazeera, December 24

Violent protests broke out again in suburban St. Louis after another fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.

The shooting happened around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday at a convenience store in Berkeley, Missouri, just a few miles from Ferguson, where Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was killed by a white officer in August.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says the Berkeley shooting victim was black and the officer white. Police say video evidence will show that the teenager had drawn a gun on officers before he was shot.

“I had the opportunity last evening to review the video of the incident, and what I saw is not what people portray,” Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said in a presser Wednesday, referring to claims by protesters that the incident was another in a series of racially-charged shootings of black men by white police officers. “This is not a policeman half-cocked, you know black lives matter — this was not the case (that) you could even compare this with the Ferguson or Garner case.”

LAPD shoots man with pocket knife. 15-year-old killed in MO hit-and-run hate crime. Deep South goes deeper GOP. It’s hard to

not go into brain-freeze or a national seizure at the pace of militarized police killings, racial/religious/you-name-it hatred, and the racialized rightward whirlpool of the GOP’s appeal to fearful whites.

In the latest of a spate of fatal shootings, officers of the infamous Los Angeles Police Department raced to touristy Hollywood Boulevard, where they fired 10 rounds to terminate a reportedly homeless man carrying a Swiss army pocket knife. Yes, a pocket knife. Guardian story here. Police pic of the palm-sized weapon here. The victim was white, by the way.

In Kansas City, a 15-year-old Somali Muslim was run down and killed outside a mosque by an SUV driven by a Somali Christian known to have threatened Muslims with violence.

In the much-anticipated runoff U.S. senate election in Louisiana, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu fell to Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. Like many Dems in this midterm, in her race she fled the causes embraced by her base (at the 11th hour she sang the praises of the Keystone Pipeline and its claimed monetary payoff for Louisiana) only to prove, once again, that a weak-kneed Democrat commands increasingly little electoral appeal against an unapologetic Republican rightie. Much of the American South, thanks to white-powered districts, is now in the hands of a GOP that is laying its last big demographic bet – in an increasingly brown country – on the fears of petrified whites.

In other words, the headlines we read are racing into a blur of brazenly militarized everyday policing, unrelenting hatred and rage, and accelerated racialization of national politics.

What do we do with this?

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#CrimingWhileWhite

As you may know, one of the responses on social media like Twitter and Facebook to the tragic grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as to the countless stories of police abuse of power specifically against black men and boys, is for white people to contrast the treatment by cops.

The theme is for a white person to post their worst crime that they got away with, then attach the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite.

For blacks and Latinos, a similar trope of #AliveWhileBlack calls for a person to post the most dangerous encounter with either the cops or a white person that they survived.

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You don’t have to give thanks.

I believe in being grateful for the universe. It is one of the few entities with a shelf life beyond that of what can be bought, sold, or stolen. Moreover, our obscene privilege as Westerners is lethally obvious. But to hell with the manufactured gratitude of Thanksgiving™, wherein kindly advertising voice-overs urge us to count our table of blessings (and hopefully shop for some more). This excerpt from a missive by Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti rightly gives that sales pitch the finger:

Face it: Thanksgiving is depressing this year, and you don’t have to give thanks

We shouldn’t ask grieving people to plaster on a smile to make the rest of us feel better. Even if it’s the holidays.

This Thanksgiving, it’s difficult not to think about loss.

For a lot of people, this time of year brings more sadness than cheer – thinking about the kinds of relationships you wish you could have with family or friend, thinking about loved ones that aren’t there. And as injustice prevails in Ferguson, as another young man of color is killed with seeming impunity, as sexual predators are given standing ovations and sexual violence across the US continues to be unearthed, it’s hard to remember how to be thankful. It’s easier to ask what we are supposed to be thankful for at all.

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The Downside of the Boom

North Dakota took on the oversight of a multibillion-dollar oil industry with a regulatory system built on trust, warnings and second chances. The cooperative approach doesn’t seem to generate results.


NYT -In early August 2013, Arlene Skurupey of Blacksburg, Va., got an animated call from the normally taciturn farmer who rents her family land in Billings County, N.D. There had been an accident at the Skurupey 1-9H oil well. “Oh, my gosh, the gold is blowing,” she said he told her. “Bakken gold.”

It was the 11th blowout since 2006 at a North Dakota well operated by Continental Resources, the most prolific producer in the booming Bakken oil patch. Spewing some 173,250 gallons of potential pollutants, the eruption, undisclosed at the time, was serious enough to bring the Oklahoma-based company’s chairman and chief executive, Harold G. Hamm, to the remote scene.

More of this lengthy, detailed article at the link.   (image: Brent McDonald/NYT)

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