An Omaha, Nebraska policewoman substituted her ignorance of the law with an authoritarian compulsion to shame a mother who was feeding her infant the way mammals have done so for 65 million years. Rosalyn Mizzell, the mother who was breast feeding her child at a school forum meeting, said the officer told her, "Don't do that in front of me. Have more respect for yourself and everybody else here." The officer threatened to cite Mizzell for indecent exposure.
When Mizzell complained, she said the officer's apology "went along the lines of, 'I was offended, other people were offended, if you wanted to breastfeed you could have done it in the bathroom or stayed home.'"
The Omaha Police Department issued a statement that read: "Officers responded to a complaint from a citizen who thought the breast feeding was inappropriate. Officers followed up and did not cite the woman for any offense."
According to Nebraska state law, it is legal for mothers to breastfeed their children in "any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be." Read the rest
One day, when I was in the sixth grade, a classmate came to school with a baggie containing tea leaves from a couple of Lipton bags. He joked that it was pot. The teacher saw it, told told the kid he was stupid for doing it, and tossed the baggie in the trash. End of story. That was the 1970s. Today, a kid in Virginia brings a Japanese maple leaf to school (which has a passing resemblance to cannabis) and he gets suspended for a year.
The student, the 11-year-old son of two school teachers, had to enroll in the district's alternative education program and be homeschooled. He was evaluated by a psychiatrist for substance abuse problems, and charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court. In the months since September, he's become withdrawn, depressed, and he suffers from panic attacks. He is worried his life is over, according to his mother, and that he will never get into college.
The only problem? The "leaf" found in the student's backpack wasn't what authorities thought it was -- it tested negative for marijuana three separate times.
Ahmed Mohamed is a gifted, driven maker-kid who's in the ninth grade at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas. When he showed the homemade clock he soldered and pieced together to his engineering teacher, he was told to keep it in his bag. But when the alarm went off in English class, his teacher accused him of bringing a bomb to school.
He told the teacher, and then the principal, and then the police offers who'd been summoned, that it was a digital clock he'd made and brought to school to show as evidence of the kinds of things he was making. He'd loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to connect to a similar peer group in his new high school.
He was arrested, handcuffed, and paraded through the school with an officer on each arm, wearing his NASA shirt.
When he was brought before the school police, the officer who arrested him looked at him and said, "Yup. That’s who I thought it was." Ahmed Mohamed and his family (and the Council on Islamic American Relations) believe that the officer was referring to the color of his skin and his name.
Police spokesman James McLellan admits that Mohamed always maintained that the device was a clock, not a bomb, "but there was no broader explanation." When the Dallas Morning News asked him what "broader explanation" he was looking for, McLellan said, “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. Read the rest
Rutgers students taking exams are required to pay $32 in fees for Verificient's Proctortrack, an anti-cheating program that collects, audio, video, web activity and "scans the ID, face and knuckles" as well as voice-prints. Read the rest
Officer James Frascatore's only been on the NYPD for 4 years, but has racked up a long history of complaints for unprovoked acts of brutality -- and for lying about them. Read the rest
Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer's Association introduced an amendment to ND HB 1328 that allows cops to shoot at citizens with drone-borne rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, tasers and sound cannon. Read the rest
Denver Police Officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine maced four women without provocation and shoved them to the ground in 2009, then lied about it for years. Read the rest
Michael from Muckrock writes, "The federal government has a pretty good picture of where bees are dying across America, with two federal agencies collaborating on a systematic, scientifically-rigorous, long-term look at the problem, particularly important given the danger that colony collapse disorder presented." Read the rest
The woman recorded video of a Miami cop punching a suspect who had already been handcuffed and put in the back of a cruiser; the video was interrupted by another officer trying to seize her phone. Read the rest
Rogers, MN honor student Reid Sagehorn was suspended after he tweeted two words, using his own device, on his own time, off school property. Read the rest
A 16-year-old boy was prohibited from video-recording his own pat-down at New Orleans airport -- something explicitly allowed by the TSA -- and when he recorded his father's pat-down, the TSA supervisor at his checkpoint called the police on him. Read the rest
In 2013 Patience Paye called 911 to report a domestic violence incident that took place in her home. When police arrived, Payne stepped on her porch to talk to them, because she didn't want to disturb her kids, who were in the house. The police gave her a breath test, determined she was intoxicated and arrested her for being drunk in public.
At her trial, the judge ruled that a person's front porch is indeed a public place because it is “plainly accessible and visible to any passer-by.” The Iowa Supreme Court disagreed:
If the front stairs of a family home were always considered a public place, it would create “absurd results” and make it a “crime to sit there calmly on a breezy summer day and sip a mojito” or even grill with “bourbon-infused barbecue sauce,” the court concluded.
The case was sent back to District Court for dismissal.
The UK has at least 20 operating Stingrays -- fake mobile phone towers that record the movements of whole populations -- used without any paper-trail, and configured to listen in on conversations. Read the rest