Australian PM trades freedom for security, deserves neither

Tony Abbot's given a speech warning Australians that the police state is inevitable, saying there would be "more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others."

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Alameda Sheriff boots reporter from SWAT show for "unauthorized photos"

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St Louis police offer to fingerprint all the children in #Ferguson


The free fingerprinting kits are part of the long-running national push to fingerprint children in the name of public safety, and are a new tone-deaf low from the region's cops.

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NYPD arrest human rights lawyer waiting outside restaurant while kids used bathroom


Chaumtoli Huq, former general counsel for NYC Public Advocate Tish James, attended a rally in Times Square with her family, and afterwards, waited on the sidewalk outside of a Ruby Tuesday restaurant while her husband took their children (10 and 6) to the bathroom.

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Being physically unable to commit a crime is no defense against a system that has been fine tuned for prosecution

Techdirt's Tim Cushing highlights some of the more Kafkaesque moments in modern American justice -- handcuffed men who shoot themselves in the back, men who are arraigned for crimes they allegedly committed while in jail, and comes to this conclusion:

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Ferguson's "free speech zone" is a padlocked no-man's-land


Man arrested for briefly failing to keep moving #Ferguson/Jon Swaine/@jonswaine

The ACLU was denied an emergency injunction against Ferguson's cops' illegal "no standing on the sidewalk" rule because Ferguson promised to erect a "free speech zone," but the only thing on that site is a fenced-off, locked-up pen that no one is allowed to use.

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John Oliver on Ferguson and police militarization - must-watch video

"[A curfew] is profoundly patronizing. 'Look, let's see if you can all remain quiet for twenty minutes, and then we'll see if you can all go and play outside.' If even the governor can't distinguish between the good and the bad elements of the community, and has decided to punish everyone equally, then that should go both ways. I know the police love their ridiculous, unnecessary military equipment, so here's another patronizing test: let's take it all away from them, and if they can make it through a whole month without killing a single unarmed black man, then, and only then, can they get their fucking toys back.'"

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization

NYPD arrest NY gubernatorial challenger for videoing street-arrest

Randy Credico is challenging Cuomo in the primary; so much for the NYPD's vaunted stop arresting photographers memo.

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DOJ slams Riker's Island for horrific violence against young inmates

From the age of 16 on, children are integrated into the general population at Riker's Island, where the guards routinely engage in brutal, illegal beatings whose video evidence mysteriously disappears.

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Report from America's militarized, constitution-free border-zone


The expanding powers, vicious unaccountability and violent, invasive searching conducted in America's 100-mile "border zone" should concern you.

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California Highway Patrol seize medical records of woman beaten by cop

It's a damning turn of events in the horrible saga; after one of its officers was caught on video repeatedly smashing a homeless woman in the face, the force went to a psychiatric ward and seized her medical records.

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New Mexico threatens inmate with 90 days' solitary because his family made him a Facebook page

The New Mexico Corrections Department has a policy prohibiting inmates from "accessing the Internet through third parties," which they've interpreted to mean that prisoners whose families maintain Facebook pages for them can be punished with solitary confinement.

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Drone protesting grandmother gets a year in prison in Syracuse


Mary Anne Grady Flores, a grandmother from New York State, was sentenced to a year in prison for nonviolently recording a likewise nonviolent protest over the training of drone pilots at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse.

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CHP patrolman videoed beating homeless black woman by roadside

An LA driver caught video of a California Highway Patrolman tackling a homeless black woman walking by the side of the road and then repeatedly punching her in the face.

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SWAT teams claim to be private mercenaries, immune to open records laws


The ACLU reports [PDF] that when it made Freedom of Information requests for Massachusetts SWAT team records, the SWATs claimed that because they were organized as "law enforcement councils" (jointly owned by many police departments, with additional federal funding) that they were not government agencies at all, but rather private corporations, and not subject to open records laws.

SWATs are the white-hot center of the increasingly brutal and militarized response of US police forces, which have outfitted themselves with ex-Afghanistan/Iraq military materiel and have deployed it in an escalating violent series of attacks, largely as part of the war on drugs. As Radley Balko writes in the Washington Post, the SWATs' claim to be private companies doesn't pass the giggle test: they are funded by the government, pay government employees, and do the government's business.

The argument boils down to this: we are not the police, we are private mercenaries armed with automatic weapons and military-grade vehicles and equipment, and when we attack and kill in the streets of American cities, we do so as private soldiers who happen to be funded by the police departments' budgets.

The ACLU is suing the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council to challenge this ruse, but even if they win, this should be setting off alarm bells for anyone who believes in good government and responsible policing. The cornerstone of democratic legitimacy is a duty to the public, with all the transparency and respect that implies. When police forces up and down the state structure themselves to create and exploit a loophole that lets them obscure the details of their most violent, most spectacular screw-ups -- which generally result in gruesome injuries and deaths to innocent members of the public -- there is no way they can claim to be acting in the public interest.

The fact that the city governments that oversee these departments and the federal agencies that fund the LECs have been complicit in this suggests that this isn't a matter of police overreach, but rather is a policy that goes literally all the way to the top of the policing regulatory structure in America.

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