police militarization

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No Justice, No Peace (11.9.14): The State of Missouri has dedicated weapons of war to the city of Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury decision for Michael Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson. 

Does this look right to you? Military weapons ready to be used on it’s own citizens? You can be the most racist fuck in existence, if you think the same can’t happen to your town one day, you’re a bigger idiot than I can possibly fathom. Demand justice for the people of Ferguson! #staywoke #farfromover

A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son – Alecia Phonesavanh

June 24 2014

After our house burned down in Wisconsin a few months ago, my husband and I packed our four young kids and all our belongings into a gold minivan and drove to my sister-in-law’s place, just outside of Atlanta. On the back windshield, we pasted six stick figures: a dad, a mom, three young girls, and one baby boy.

That minivan was sitting in the front driveway of my sister-in-law’s place the night a SWAT team broke in, looking for a small amount of drugs they thought my husband’s nephew had. Some of my kids’ toys were in the front yard, but the officers claimed they had no way of knowing children might be present. Our whole family was sleeping in the same room, one bed for us, one for the girls, and a crib.

After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib.

Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle. When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.

There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. At least that’s what I’ve been told; I’m afraid to look.

My husband’s nephew, the one they were looking for, wasn’t there. He doesn’t even live in that house. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any.

I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.

For the last three weeks, my husband and I have been sleeping at the hospital. We tell our son that we love him and we’ll never leave him behind. His car seat is still in the minivan, right where it’s always been, and we whisper to him that soon we’ll be taking him home with us.

Every morning, I have to face the reality that my son is fighting for his life. It’s not clear whether he’ll live or die. All of this to find a small amount of drugs?

The only silver lining I can possibly see is that my baby Bou Bou’s story might make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the “war on drugs.” I know that this has happened to other families, here in Georgia and across the country. I know that SWAT teams are breaking into homes in the middle of the night, more often than not just to serve search warrants in drug cases. I know that too many local cops have stockpiled weapons that were made for soldiers to take to war. And as is usually the case with aggressive policing, I know that people of color and poor people are more likely to be targeted.  I know these things because of the American Civil Liberties Union’s new report, and because I’m working with them to push for restraints on the use of SWAT.

A few nights ago, my 8-year-old woke up in the middle of the night screaming, “No, don’t kill him! You’re hurting my brother! Don’t kill him.” How can I ever make that go away? I used to tell my kids that if they were ever in trouble, they should go to the police for help. Now my kids don’t want to go to sleep at night because they’re afraid the cops will kill them or their family. It’s time to remind the cops that they should be serving and protecting our neighborhoods, not waging war on the people in them.

I pray every minute that I’ll get to hear my son’s laugh again, that I’ll get to watch him eat French fries or hear him sing his favorite song from “Frozen.” I’d give anything to watch him chase after his sisters again. I want justice for my baby, and that means making sure no other family ever has to feel this horrible pain.

Alecia Phonesavanh is the mother of Bounkham Phonesavanh, nicknamed “Baby Bou Bou.” She and her family live in Atlanta. For more information about Bou Bou, go to www.justiceforbabyboubou.com.

The 14 Teens Killed by Cops Since Michael Brown | The Daily Beast

Since Ferguson, police have killed more than a dozen teenagers, half of them black. Some did nothing more than carry a BB gun.

Michael Brown’s death on August 9 was a nationwide wake-up call to the death-by-cop of young minority men at the hands of law enforcement. According to datastretching from 1999 to 2011, African Americans have comprised 26 percent of all police-shooting victims. Overall, young African Americans are killed by cops 4.5 times more often than people of other races and ages.

Since Brown’s death, at least 14 other teenagers—at least six of them African-American—have been killed by law enforcement in a variety of circumstances.

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice wasn’t yet a teenager when he was killed on November 22 in a Cleveland, Ohio park. The 12-year-old boy was shot by a police officer after brandishing what turned out to be a BB gun. A call made to police beforehand described Rice as “a guy with a pistol” on a swing set, but said it was “probably fake.” When officers arrived at the scene, they say Rice reached for his toy, though did not point it at them, prompting a first-year policeman to fire two shots at Rice from a short distance.

On Monday night, as the Brown indictment verdict was announced, a local councilor summed these up without getting tangled in blame and legalities:

“Perhaps, after our analysis, we learn that the police officer really did fear for his life and did everything right under the circumstances,” City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson said at a meeting. “But there is something fundamentally broken in our system when a young man can have a legal BB gun, and by the end of that day be killed by a Cleveland police officer.”

Cameron Tillman

On the evening of September 21, police were called to check on reports of trespassers with weapons going into an abandoned home in Terrebonne, Louisiana. Cameron Tillman, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead on the scene by a sheriff’s deputy. His brother, who was there, said he was shot opening the door and was unarmed, but the police said he was armed and that a gun was recovered near his body. It was later reported that the weapon was a BB gun that appeared to be a .45-caliber pistol. The cop was not named, but was identified as an African-American veteran of the division with no prior infractions.

VonDerrit Myers Jr.

VonDerrit Myers Jr. was shot in the head in early October not far from where Michael Brown died two months earlier. The 18-year-old was shot six or seven times in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis after an off-duty police officer fired at him 17 times. Police say Myers charged at the policeman, they wrestled, and then he shot at least three bullets before his gun jammed. Myers had been out on bail in a gun case, but his family claimed he was unarmed and holding only a sandwich in his hand. That night, a crowd of 300 gathered at the scene, and violence broke out: gunshots echoed and police vehicles were damaged. The officer who shot Myers was identified as Jason Flanery, a 32-year-old white patrolman.

Laquan McDonald

After a tire-puncturing spree in late October, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald wasshot dead by a police officer in Chicago. Officers reported to a call about someone breaking into cars in the Archer Heights neighborhood. The teen refused to drop his knife, according to officers, fixed them with “a 100-yard stare,” and walked toward them. That’s when a cop fired at McDonald, killing him.

Carey Smith-Viramontes

Few details have been revealed about the shooting of an 18-year-old girl in Long Beach, California last week. Officers were responding to a report of a missing juvenile girl, and found her in the house of Carey Smith-Viramontes. According to police, Smith-Viramontes was armed with a knife and was shot dead by an officer on the scene.

Jeffrey Holden

An 18-year-old was killed by police officers after opening fire on a cop with two guns in Kansas City in late October. Jeffrey Holden had reportedly been shooting at houses and passersby before the authorities arrived at the scene. he was listed as a missing person and had two outstanding warrants.

Qusean Whitten

Two armed robbers were killed after holding up a Dollar General Store in Columbus, Ohio in October. Eighteen-year-old Qusean Whitten had jumped from the car he was using to flee the scene and started running when police opened fire.

Miguel Benton

In early October, 19-year-old Miguel Benton managed to steal an officer’s gun and shoot him twice. Two cops were transporting Benton and another inmate to jail on drug and robbery charges in Georgia when the incident occurred. Another officer shot and killed Benton.

Dillon McGee

Eighteen-year-old Dillon McGee of Jackson, Tennessee, died after being shot by police officers who claim he was attempting to run them over in a car. On September 26, officers were targeted after approaching a car, driven by McGee, and fired at the driver. McGee was the father of a one-month-old son.

Levi Weaver

A man welding a baseball bat and a kitchen knife lunged at police officers in his home in Georgia, and was fatally shot in late September. According to the sheriff, 18-year-old Levi Weaver begged the officer to shoot him, and then leapt at him. The officer shot Weaver twice.

Karen Cifuentes

A 19-year-old woman was killed in September after an undercover police watched a drug deal go down in Oklahoma City. One of the suspects got in a car driven by Karen Cifuentes and took off, apparently hitting one of the officers who fired then opened fire and killed her.

Sergio Ramos

In August, an 18-year-old was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer after a car crash in a parking lot near a Walmart store. According to police, Sergio Ramos had just robbed a killed an associate when he was confronted by an off-duty cop, reached for the gun in his shorts, and was shot multiple times.

Roshad McIntosh

Some 500 anti-police protesters took to Chicago’s streets after a 19-year-old man’s death at the hands of police. On August 24, Roshad McIntosh was being questioned by cops when he began running. Police say he pulled a gun on them, but his family claimed that McIntosh was kneeling on the ground with his hands in the air. Nearly a month later, his mother brought another protest to city hall, demanding answers in her son’s killing.

Diana Showman

A mentally ill woman brandishing a power drill was shot dead by an officer after she called 911 and told San Jose dispatchers she had an Uzi. Diana Showman, 19, had come out of her house, ignored demands to put down the weapon, and was shot once. Showman’s parents criticized the officer’s response, saying that the police needed to be better equip to handle mental health issues.

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Intense photos from Ferguson last night look more like Iraq than the U.S.

Civil unrest in response to the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has received the lion’s share of media coverage. But as protests continus, the authorities’ response has increasingly looked less like police action and more like a crackdown in a war zone.

But it’s not just the equipment

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Today in Solidarity: Protesters gather in Oakland against the Urban Shield conference and police militarization

Ever wonder where cities get all their fancy ideas on how to militarize their police force? It’s not just from the Pentagon– it’s conferences like Urban Shield, that highlight the latest in tactical equipment and practices for suppressing the very people you’re sworn to serve. #staywoke #whodoyouprotect #whodoyouserve 

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(All images from pictures reporting about Ferguson, with the exceptions of the Taser diagram and my own screenshot)

I’ve seen many posts about how to protect yourself from tear gas, and your rights as a protester. I’ve also seen photographic evidence of the injuries sustained from protesters, prompting me to gather what information I could about these “less lethal” weapons being used.

Firstly, I’d like to clarify some language. These weapons are only “less lethal”, not “non-lethal”. Many of these weapons have killed in the past, as well as caused permanent, debilitating harm. Secondly, I’m only talking about those weapons I’ve seen used, either from pictures of police enforcement, injuries, or aftermath images(with the exception of TASERs, as I presume the law enforcement are carrying them but have not seen any obvious pictures thereof.)

Lets get started with my ‘exception’- TASERs. These are devices that fire 2 small dart like electrodes, using nitrogen as a propellant, that are connected to the device via wires. These can be fired up to a range of 35 feet. The electrical charge they release causes neuromuscular incapacitation.

That’s what it’s been designed for. In practical use, it has caused 334 deaths, according to Amnesty international, and the manufacturer admits that it can cause difficulties with breathing and can trigger cardiac arrest.

This next section is a combination of a few of the weapons available, but all fall under “chemical weapons” Tear gas/bombs, ‘pepperballs’ and paintball guns, due to what they can be loaded with.

The most common tear gas compound is known as CS, which reacts with the skin and mucus membranes, cause intense pain and burning sensations. This compound is used in tear gas, ‘pepperballs’ and can be used in police-grade paintballs. This, used as a weapon, has been banned from warfare since 1993, and studies have shown that is able to cause pulmonary damage, and damage to the heart and liver. In an enclosed space, if not wearing a gas mask, it can be fatal.

‘Pepperballs’ are balls of solid payloads of a powder-based irritant, such as capsaicin. These projectiles have killed in the past, in particular one woman who was part of a rowdy crowd in Boston, who was hit in the head, leading to these projectiles being banned for that PD.

Paintball guns are generally something we see used on weekends by young people, in a controlled environment, with protective gear, and even then there are injuries. Police in Ferguson have been seen carrying these devices, and after some research, I found what they can be loaded with(besides the fact that impact of an inert ball can hurt badly, or even cause eye injuries). The two examples I found show that they can loaded with capsaicin and PAVA, a stronger and synthetic capasaicinoid. When put in contact with the eyes, mucous membranes, or open wounds caused by other weapons, it is extraordinarily painful, and if breathed in can make breathing difficult and possibly painful.

Smoke grenades pose another threat, as there are types that explode to create an instant cloud, rather than disperse a stream of smoke. They are commonly filled with white phosphorous, with a charge to create the explosion and spread the smoke. Their filler is described as toxic and hazardous, requiring the use of a launcher. Particles of this substance can cause deep burns, while breathing in the smoke can irritate the lungs, eyes, and nose.

Acoustic Riot Control devices can harm, or even permanently rupture, eardrums, while the frequencies given off can cause nausea and dizziness.

Stun grenades can and have in the past, set the surrounding area on fire, can cause 3rd degree burns, and various injuries due to their explosive nature.(Lending strong credibility to the theory that it was not protesters who started the fires around Ferguson)

‘Rubber’ bullets, wooden ‘pellets’ and beanbag rounds are our last stop ladies and gentlemen. For clarity ‘rubber’ bullets are often metal rounds or spheres with a coat of rubber around them, while wooden ‘pellets’ are around the size of a hockey puck. Beanbag rounds are just what they sound like, and all three types have shown significant injuries in the past. Uses in the past have resulted in deaths, from both beanbag rounds and rubber bullets, mostly from internal bleeding and various fractures.

Stop calling this “non-lethal” retaliation, and call it out for what it really is: frilled up violence against American citizens, and the possibility of more deaths to come.

[I]f the 4,489 American soldiers killed in combat in Iraq constitute a condition of war, then the killing of 5,000 American civilians by United States police departments ought to be viewed as a war on we the People by our very own government.
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No Justice, No Peace (11.8.14): Businesses in Ferguson are boarding up in anticipation of a violent response when the non-indictment Darren Wilson is announced later this month. Meanwhile, STLPD, in collaboration with the National Guard bring vehicles of war onto the streets of Ferguson.

While I could go on and on “in defense of black rage,” I detest this assumption that protesters will turn into violent mobs as the latest round of injustice takes hold in Ferguson. They said the same thing about us in Florida when George Zimmerman was let off for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Not a single business was damaged in the aftermath. If anything, the presence of military weapons on the ground in St Louis County is the truly inflammatory statement. This is every Orwellian nightmare come true. #staywoke #farfromover

The Hunger Games trilogy was written to point out the problems with governments and corruption in our world.

Suzanne Collins knew what she was going for when she wrote the books.  The reactions of the people from The Capitol are meant to emulate news media and celebrities or the rich.  The Peacekeepers were meant as a direct parallel to the military and the police.  The focus was always supposed to be how the government was treating the people, but society took it and did exactly what Panem’s media did: turned it into a drama about love.

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Ferguson changed nothing. Local police still have access to military-grade weaponry, and Congress won’t stop them

Machine guns in my hometown. To be specific, several weeks ago, New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the formation of a new 350-officer Special Response Group (SRG). Keep in mind that New York City already has a police force of more than 34,000 – bigger, that is, than the active militaries of Austria, Bulgaria, Chad, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kenya, Laos, Switzerland, or Zimbabwe — as well as its own “navy,” including six submersible drones.  

Just another drop in an ocean of blue.

New NYPD Anti-Terror Unit Will Get Machine Guns To Police Protesters | Gothamist

Murders reached a historic low in NYC for 2014; overall crime was down across the board by nearly 5%; hell, even the holiday slowdown didn’t really lead to any additional crime. So clearly, now is the time when NYC really needs to implement a new anti-terrorism program which would empower a team of NYPD officers to roam around the city carrying machine guns. What could gowrong?

Police Commissioner Bratton made the announcement earlier today at an event hosted by the Police Foundation at the Mandarin Oriental. He said that the new 350 cop unit, called The Strategic Response Group, will be dedicated to “disorder control and counterterrorism protection capabilities” against attacks like the hostage situation in Sydney, which the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence John Miller said was an inevitability in NYC.

This new squad will be used to investigate and combat terrorist plots, lone wolf terrorists, and… protests. “It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris,” Bratton said, according to CBS.

“They’ll be equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not,” Bratton explained. “They’ll be equipped with all the extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns — unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.” Capital NY adds that these officers will also be used “to assist on crime scenes, and help with crowd control and other large-scale events.”

The pilot program will start in two precincts in Manhattan and two in Queens, though it’s unclear when they want to launch it. Bratton said Mayor de Blasio was on board, and he expected the City Council to be as well. He also said he thinks this will help improve relationships between cops and local residents. “Cops will know their sectors and the citizens will know them,” Bratton said. “They’ll know the problem areas and the problem people. I truly believe when cops embrace their neighborhoods, their neighborhoods will embrace them back.”

Already, local advocacy groups have spoken out against the plan; Priscilla Gonzalez, Organizing Director of Communities United for Police Reform, gave this statement.

Initial reports of Commissioner Bratton’s plans suggest the opposite of progress. His demands for less oversight of the NYPD and a more militarized police force that would use counter-terrorism tactics against protestors are deeply misguided and frankly offensive. We need an NYPD that is more accountable to New Yorkers and that stops criminalizing our communities, especially when people are taking to the streets to voice legitimate concerns about discriminatory and abusive policing. Despite growing evidence that discriminatory broken windows is a failed and harmful policing strategy, Commissioner Bratton stubbornly continues to defend and expand it.

(Photo Credit: NYPD Police Commissioner Bratton at yesterday’s press conference | Jen Chung/Gothamist)

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5 disturbing facts about police militarization in America

Those cops in riot armor beating and tear-gassing protesters in Ferguson didn’t drop out of thin air. As American police continue to receive billions in military-grade equipment free or subsidized by the Pentagon and Homeland Security, they’ve predictably started to act more like a military force in hostile territory than the public’s protectors.

Facts from ACLU report show just how big the problem has become Follow micdotcom

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.
— 

Sunil Dutta, a 17-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department responds to the police actions happening in Ferguson.

Pretty scary that he doesn’t even recognize that this type of police mentality is a problem.