Yesterday, Ella Jones became the first black, and first female, elected mayor of Ferguson, Missouri where an uprising kicked off
in 2014 after a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, and was not indicted. From the New York Times
Ms. Jones, 65, and her opponent, Heather Robinett, 49, had both vowed to continue changes enacted after the 2014 shooting of Mr. Brown, including a federal consent decree, a legally binding agreement requiring reforms to a police department.
“I’ve got work to do — because when you’re an African-American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart,” Ms. Jones said after her victory, in a video (below) posted online Tuesday night by the journalist Jason Rosenbaum of St. Louis Public Radio. “I know the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we’re going to work together to get it done.”
image: Ferguson City Council directory
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After St Louis police officer Jason Stockley, killed an unarmed black man named Anthony Lamar Smith with an unauthorized AK-47, planted a pistol on his body, and was then acquitted on murder charges in 2017, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Dustin Boone sent several texts in which he relished the prospect of beating up the protesters he anticipated following the verdict: phrases like "It’s still a blast beating people" and It’s gonna get IGNORANT tonight!!” and “It’s gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these s---heads once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!!!!”
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Smartphone video footage of police brutality being exercised against black Americans and other ethnic minorities living their lives within the nation’s borders have become depressingly commonplace. While difficult to watch and, most likely for the videographer, difficult to stand by and film, such footage can be an important tool in bringing cops who abuse the power of their office to justice. The news, social media and water cooler talk here in North America often overflows with reports of abuses of power by law enforcement officials. It’s easy to forget that the very same brand of injustice and violence are served up in other parts of the world – a lot.
According to The New York Times, in Australia, a country that’s been marred by institutional racism since its inception, “...aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are incarcerated at 13 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. They make up 27 percent of Australia’s prisoners, compared with 3 percent of the overall population.” Given the disproportionate representation of Indigenous Australians in the clink, it’s safe to say that there’s some greasy shit going on Down Under, of a similar sort to the greasy shit we see going on up here in places like New York City and Ferguson, Missouri.
To help Australia aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples to mitigate this prejudicial treatment at the hands of those meant to serve and protect them, human rights activists are teaching them how to respond to the threat of police violence and to record their interactions with law enforcement, just like we do up here:
From The New York Times:
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The Copwatch workshops, activists said, are intended to teach people their legal rights and how to safely record interactions with police officers.
Massive income inequality, combined with Republican attacks on the taxation of the wealthiest, has produced a situation in which the state increasingly depends on extracting fines, interest and debt service from people who grow steadily poorer and less able to pay, and thus the state must turn to ever-more-extreme measures to extract the money it needs to survive.
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The US Department of Defense's 1033 program sends "surplus" military equipment to US police forces ("surplus" in quotes because military contractors lobby for the US military to buy more weapons than they need in order to feed materiel to the program), which has created a situation in which cops show up in their communities literally clad in the armor of an occupying army. Read the rest
After 1954's landmark Brown v Board of Ed ruling, America's (largely racially segregated) cities began racially integrating their schools by busing black kids to white neighborhoods, a project that hit its stride at the start of the 1970s. It worked. Read the rest
When Philando Castile was killed by a Minneapolis cop after a traffic stop, we learned that he had been stopped 46 times before and had been fined for driving without a license. Read the rest
In the aftermath of the Ferguson uprising, much ink was spilled on the reliance of the predominantly black city on fines from its residents to pay its bills -- and on the use of what amounted to debtors' prisons that locked up those who wouldn't or couldn't pay the constant stream of fines and scared the rest into begging and borrowing to pay their own fines. Read the rest
FBI Director James Comey told reporters that "viral video effect" (which is his latest term for what used to be called the "Ferguson effect") is responsible for increased violent crime in some US cities, in that police are scared to do their jobs because they might end up on Youtube in an unflattering video. Read the rest
Ferguson's cops aren't just notorious for being an invading domestic military force: long before that, they were notorious for "failure to comply" arrests, where (mostly brown) people who were minding their own businesses were arrested for refusing to show ID, move along, or following other orders from uniformed officers. Read the rest
St. Louis Fire Department captain Garon Mosby calls the fires "arson," but despite the shocking string of racist attacks, major media have hardly breathed a word about the fires. Read the rest
Judge Ronald J Brockmeyer -- who filled Ferguson's coffers by fining its poorest residents and sent them to inhumane, overcrowded prisons when they couldn't pay a few hundred dollars -- stands accused of fixing fines for his cronies, and owes $170K in unpaid taxes. Read the rest
The police department "routinely" blocks citizens from recording their activities under a bizarre rubric of "officer safety," according to the Justice Department's investigation. Read the rest
Breaking news: unacceptable behavior by police continues in the town where a police officer shot an unarmed black kid dead, and was not charged with any crime for the killing.
Jetta Rae Robertson brings us the view from the front line of recent Berkeley protests on recent police violence against black people. Read the rest
Amy Barnes was jailed and held in solitary in 2012 when she called out "fuck the police" as she bicycled past Cobb County cops who were questioning a suspect by the roadside. Read the rest
Led by the families of black men and children killed by police in recent high-profile cases, thousands are marching in the nation's capital today to demand “Justice For All.”