A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Posts tagged ‘outrage’

The Character Assassination Of Black Men

reposted from ThinkProgress by Moody Jim Rathbone

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony ButtsOn Wednesday, the Washington Post obtained a Baltimore Police Department document, which states that a prisoner in the vehicle transporting Freddie Gray heard Gray “banging against the walls” and “intentionally trying to injure himself.” The Post was given permission to publish the information, provided that the name of the witness remained anonymous, yet the newly-released details counter previous reports about the events leading up to Gray’s death. What is consistent, however, is police departments’ selective release of information that paints people injured or killed by police in a bad light — and mainstream media’s decision to buy into it.

Since Gray’s death, BPD’s missteps in arresting him have been well-documented. In widely-publicized videos of the arrest, Gray yells in pain as three officers drag him to their van. They refused to give Gray, an asthmatic, an inhaler. They didn’t put his seatbelt on. And sometime between his arrest and hospital admission, Gray’s voice box was crushed and his spinal cord severed.

But of all the documents compiled during the course of BPD’s investigation, the one given to the Washington Post offers a different narrative: that Gray injured himself. That document minimizes officer responsibility for the 25-year-old’s death, and it’s emblematic of a larger police strategy to deflect blame.

Scott-police-fatal-shootingIn some instances, officers make false claims that are eventually disproved. Before video of Officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott in the back surfaced, North Charleston police claimed Scott grabbed Slager’s Taser and attempted to use it. The Cleveland Police Department said Tamir Rice was sitting at a table, was told multiple times to put his hands up, and reached for his gun before officers shot and killed him. Video later disproved the department’s claims.

In other cases, police disclose background information that has nothing to do with the encounters in question, but which seems to undermine the character of someone who is no longer alive to defend themselves. Sanford Police told the Orlando Sentinel that, prior to his death, Trayvon Martin (who was killed by a private citizen and not a police officer) was suspended for an empty marijuana baggie. In the case against Officer Johannes Mehserle, who shot Oscar Grant in the back while he lay on a train station floor, defense attorneys brought up Grant’s criminal background and history of resisting arrest.

Other times, officials reveal details that fuel local outrage. After Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police Department released a video of Brown robbing a convenience store. The day before, Captain Ron Johnson took to the streets in solidarity with peaceful demonstrators, and many believed the tide was turning. However, the ill-timed release of the video was subsequently perceived as a power play to distract from Brown’s death.

equal justice fraudBut cops aren’t the only group to affect smear campaigns against victims of lethal police force, as evidenced by the Post’s decision to publish the BPD document. As noted by Al Jazeera, the New York Times published an article about Brown’s recreational activities, saying “he dabbled in drugs and alcohol” and detailed his “rebellious streak.” The Associated Press tweeted that Renisha McBride, who was shot and killed by a Detroit homeowner, was intoxicated. CBS and NBC reported that Scott had a bench warrant for missing child support payments. Northeast Ohio Media Group detailed Rice’s father’s history of domestic violence.

And since the Washington Post article was published last night, people have taken to social media to express their anger:

WaPo isn’t simply smearing someone murdered by police, they are profiting off of smearing someone murdered by police. #FreddieGray

— Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) April 30, 2015

So the Washington Post reports an unnamed prisoner is claiming #FreddieGray willfully injured himself in transport van. For real y’all.

— ReBecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) April 30, 2015

Complete takedown of the lies spread by the Baltimore Police & Washington Post on #FreddieGray http://t.co/N0aYK0ZETe pic.twitter.com/QALCmbKQOu

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) April 30, 2015

overthrow

Web of Inquisitional U.S. Law Creating Criminals

we the peopleFor decades, Washington D.C. has been adding to the number of federal laws and regulations that carry criminal penalties. Now the number is so high, no one is actually sure how many there are. Experts say practically anyone could be convicted of some sort of federal crime. And it’s all too easy for anyone to violate one of these laws and never know it. Congress has made it dangerous just to be alive in America, never mind whether you are guilty or not. Like federal child support laws, it’s all a matter of inquisition. Common law is dead.

The truth is that anyone can fall prey to overcriminalization. Civil rights have become secondary to the Rule of Law and I don’t mean Common Law. This law certainly isn’t your grandfathers law. [protected] Legal misadventures happened to racing legend Bobby Unser beginning in 1996. Unser went snowmobiling in the Rio Grande National Forest on the border of New Mexico and Colorado.

He and a friend got caught in a blizzard and were stranded for two days and two nights. They barely escaped with their lives. But that was only the beginning of his ordeal. “Bottom line: Don’t trust any government agency,” he warned. “Stand as clear from them as you can. Stay away from them because they’re not there for your good.”

Unser found himself in the middle of a fight with the U.S. Forest Service, facing a possible $5,000 fine and six months in jail for violating The Wilderness Act. The agency accused him of illegally snowmobiling on federally protected land known as “wilderness area.” The racing champ claimed that even if he was in the wilderness area, it was only when he was lost in the snowstorm. With money in the bank and the idea of principle, Unser decided to fight the charge in court.

“Well, I estimate that we probably spent around $300,000, maybe $350,000 would be my guess,” Unser said. As for the government, they spent millions of dollars in their efforts for prosecute Unser. “At the time we went to court, they’d already spent up somewhere around a million dollars. What – it’s the taxpayers money. They didn’t really care how much it cost,” he said.

In the end, he lost and paid a $75 fine. Now the three-time Indy 500 winner has another title to add to his record: He’s been convicted of a federal misdemeanor for getting lost in the wilderness.

Like many others, Unser blames Congress and the men that run it for the growing number of federal laws.

But it’s not just lawmakers who are at fault. Federal agencies not only enforce the laws, but write their own regulations which also carry criminal penalties. With government involved in everything from the environment to employment to health, anyone can easily get caught in the web of federal laws. The numbers prove it. Between 2000 and 2010, close to 800,000 people were sentenced for federal crimes.

Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican – Texas is among a few lawmakers on Capitol Hill sounding the alarm about the disturbing phenomenon, saying that Congress should re-think stiff penalties on simple accounting errors when filing taxes. In the past 20 or 30 years the number of people in jails and prisons in American has gone up almost tenfold because every time you turn around there are new laws.

One solution is for the House Judiciary Committee to oversee any new regulation that carries a criminal penalty, but this may be akin to having another fox to watch the hen house. The attitude behind the penalties is that Congress wants to appear to be tough on crime, including doubling up where state law is sufficient. It wastes money and doesn’t reduce crime. Orwell’s classic book “1984” states the case where fear is predominant and the violation of federal law is likely. There isn’t enough public awareness or outrage! Sadly, this is already because of fear.
[/protected]

Tag Cloud