Abusive cop picked to head police reform commission
December 3, 2014

Charles Ramsey, one of two co-chairs apppointed by President Obama to head a commission on ways to demilitarize local police, is known for leading repeated bloody and abusive crackdowns on protesters when he was Washington, D.C.’s chief a decade ago, according to a civil rights attorney who won millions in damages for 100s of citizens attacked by D.C. police.   

“If the president’s idea of reforming policing practices includes mass false arrests, brutality, and the eviscerating of civil rights, then Ramsey’s his man. That’s Charles Ramsey’s legacy in D.C.,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund(PCJF), speaking of the ex-D.C. chief and current Philadelphia Police Commissioner. “Obama should immediately rescind his appointment of Commissioner Ramsey, who is a mass violator of civil rights and civil liberties.”

On Monday, Obama appointed Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a George Mason University professor of criminology, law and society, to head a commission that the president said will suggest steps that the executive branch can take to unwind the most visible aspects of America’s militarized police—its domestic use of military gear.

“They are going to co-chair a task force that is not only going to reach out and listen to law enforcement, and community activists and other stakeholders, but is going to report to me specifically in 90 days with concrete recommendations, including best practices for communities where law enforcement and neighborhoods are working well together,” Obama said Monday, continuing, “How do they create accountability; how do they create transparency; how do they create trust; and how can we at the federal level work with the state and local communities to make sure that some of those best practices get institutionalized?”

Obama’s focus on militarized policing is sparked by the overly aggressive response by St. Louis area departments to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, this past summer and fall after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. Those protests were broken up by police SWAT teams in battle dress, the use of tear gas, and other outsized and disproportionate surplus military weaponry that is distributed across America through a mix of Pentagon and Department of Justice programs.

More than a decade ago, when Ramsey was the D.C. police chief, he lead numerous crackdowns and mass arrests of protesters—starting in 2000. His most high-profile assault was in September 2002 at Pershing Park, where demonstrators protested World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings. The police locked down the park and arrested everyone there—400 people—including journalists, legal observers and bystanders.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund sued and won millions for protesters. The April 2000 protest settlements totalled $13.7 million and Pershing Park/2002 settlement was $8.25 million. Verheyden-Hilliard said the settlements highlight a larger and especially bloody pattern of police crackdowns on protesters ordered by Ramsey. She listed the following six events in an e-mail that “are demonstrative of his leadership and the force under his command.” The first example is an earlier three-day World Bank/IMF protest from spring 2000 in downtown Washington.

• April 2000 protests IMF/World Bank. “(It is noteworthy that Ramsey deployed the National Guard against the protesters during these protests). A group of peaceful protestors sat in a circle in an intersection [20th and K Street], notably one that was already closed to traffic by the police cordon blocking vehicular traffic in areas of downtown for the IMF/WB meetings. They sat there peacefully with their arms immobilized in that PVC piping. A bus pulls up. A platoon of MPD officers get off. They have their badges obscured either by removal, taping over or punching out numbers (all common practices under Ramsey). The leader of the platoon shouts something to the effect of “let’s do this” and they charge the protesters who are immobilized and cannot flee, with their batons out and begin beating them. The officers smash in their faces with their batons, breaking noses and teeth. Blood is pouring out. For years the MPD, under Ramsey denied this happened, and it was pre-cell phone videos. We eventually obtained a video, which it turned out, had been turned over to the MPD’s General Counsel’s office directly after the incident. They had lied and withheld evidence for years. There was no investigation or discipline of any one involved. In addition, we established that Chief Ramsey was on notice to the practice of officers hiding their identity as they engaged in misconduct and allowed it.”

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You think we’re out here to ditch school, or because we’re lazy and don’t want to take a test. We’re out here because it’s time for a change. We’re sick and tired of corporate takeover of education. We’re tired of taking tests that are almost impossible. Help us by getting the word out.
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There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man.
How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.
—  Leo Tolstoy, Three Methods of Reform

Make contingency plans in anticipation of police escalation. You can be at a rally and everything is okay, then police approach and get in riot lines. Have plans in case of a)riot lines b) snatch and grab teams c) dispersal orders d) kettle e) tear gas is deployed f)flash bang grenades are deployed g) rubber bullets are shot h) sound cannon.

The police do not ever need to be provoked. But we can try to be prepared. Make “contingency plans” with your affinity group/ crew. Have a meet up spot, what to do in case of arrest, who are your priority unarrestables (everyone) how are you going to get out? What to do if a driver is arrested? You can even intentionalize roles, create a communication system, have a buddy system and make sure someone is watching the police at all times.

This is so when police escalate we can stay organized, especially if you do not want to disperse. Preparedness can decrease panic, running and keep yall a little more safe. Fuck the police.“

thinkprogress.org
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Despite his push for criminal justice reform this week, President Barack Obama’s inaction on juvenile justice reform has left Youth First! President Liz Ryan unimpressed.

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I walked into a prison expecting to meet criminals. Instead, I found a community of men.