John Oliver on police brutality

A half-hour special episode on how police in America respond to protests against police brutality: with greater brutality, armed for war.

As nationwide protests over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are met with police brutality, John Oliver discusses how the histories of policing and white supremacy are intertwined, the roadblocks to fixing things, and some potential paths forward.

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If you see the police, start recording

T.C. Sottek writes that this week's protests, marked by soaring levels of police violence against demonstrators, show that we have a responsibility to record them when we can. Last night's horrific attack on an unarmed, elderly man by Buffalo police is only the latest and sharpest example of a lie—the officers claimed he tripped—exposed by video.

You have a right to record the police

Everyone in the United States — citizen or resident — has a constitutional right to record police who are performing their public duties. The police don’t have the right to stop you as long as you’re not disrupting their business, and they aren’t allowed to confiscate your phone or camera just because you were recording them. This is the consistent opinion of federal courts and the Supreme Court, which affirmed in 2014 (in a 9-0 decision) that cops need a warrant if they want to seize and search your cellphone.

Many excellent tips. Extra batteries! Read the rest

"Law Enforcement" seizes hundreds of coronavirus masks to prevent use by protestors

The Huffington Post reports that law enforcement has siezed hundreds of coronavirus masks to prevent protestors from wearing them in public.

The U.S. Postal Service tracking numbers for the packages indicate they were “Seized by Law Enforcement” and urge the mailer to “contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for further information.”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

It’s not entirely clear what law enforcement entity seized the masks or why.

Without masks, protestors have less protection against coronavirus (and may even be breaking the law). They are therefore less likely to protest and more likely to fall ill if they do.

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Elderly man shoved to ground by Buffalo cops in horrific footage

Two officers from Buffalo police department were suspended late Thursday after footage of them shoving an elderly man spread on social media. The man, who was unarmed and clearly unthreatening to the officers, was seriously injured and taken to hospital. Buffalo police claimed he tripped and fell. Only the footage, which shows the man unconscious and bleeding from a head injury and one ear, forced the truth from them.

Buffalo Police Department Captain Jeff Rinaldo told CBS News later Thursday night that "the Police Commissioner has immediately suspended two officers without pay in connection with the incident observed in the video." Rinaldo said the department has launched an internal affairs investigation.

Buffalo Police originally told reporters in a summary of the protest that "one person was injured when he tripped and fell."

This is what they do when they know the cameras are rolling. Think what they do when they know they aren't. Read the rest

NYPD officers assault Associated Press journalist, force crew to stop covering protest

NYPD forced an Associated Press film crew to stop covering protests in New York City, the news agency reported today, pushing and threatening to arrest the journalists in lower Manhattan. The AP describes it as the latest act of aggression against media by police during protests against the killing of George Floyd.

Portions of the incident were captured on video by videojournalist Robert Bumsted, who was working with photographer Maye-E Wong to document the protests in lower Manhattan over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The video shows more than a half-dozen officers confronting the journalists as they filmed and took photographs of police ordering protesters to leave the area near Fulton and Broadway shortly after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect.

An officer, using an expletive, orders them to go home. Bumsted is heard on video explaining the press are considered “essential workers” and are allowed to be on the streets. An officer responds “I don’t give a shit.” Another tells Bumsted “get the fuck out of here you piece of shit.”

Did you know the NYPD's annual budget is $5.6bn? The only other force with a budget this big appears to be London's Metropolitan Police. Together the two forces have a similar budget to the Iranian military. Either alone would rank in the top quartile of the world's armed forces.

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Is 2020 over yet?

Climate change, growing inequality, systemic racism, militarized police, rising fascism, Covid-19 pandemic, plagues of locusts. From is2020over.com, a list of 2020's bad news to date.

January More than 20% of Australia's forest is lost to forest fires.[>] World War III is barely averted after US aggression.[>] Africa is plagued by unprecedented locust swarms.[>] February The UK withdraws from the European Union.[>] The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are postponed due to COVID-19.[>] March COVID-19 is declared a global pandemic. Hundreds of thousands die. [>] Schengen borders are closed, halting European travel. Global public air traffic comes to a halt. April Mecca sits eerily empty, despite Ramadan. Pentagon releases UFO footage. White people riot to get haircuts. 1986 sent a "Miss Me?" as a wildfire in the radioactive forests around Chernobyl caused radiation to spike 20-fold. May Eurovision Song Contest is cancelled. Microsoft breaks Windows via update, again. Locusts now sweep India and Pakistan. The murder of George Floyd sparks protests & riots throughout the US. June A new Ebola outbreak was declared in Mbandaka, Congo, where no cases had been found since 2018. Read the rest

Police response to protests against police brutality with more brutality

Over a weekend of protests against police brutality, America's police (with exceptions) responded with as much brutality as they could muster, targeting protestors, media and bystanders alike with rubber bullets, tear gas and random pre-emptive violence.

The New York Times:

Videos showed police officers in recent nights using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked. The footage, which has been shared widely online, highlighted the very complaints over police behavior that have drawn protests in at least 75 cities across the United States.

In Salt Lake City, officers in riot gear shoved a man with a cane to the ground.

In Brooklyn, two police S.U.V.s plowed into a crowd of protesters.

In Atlanta, police officers enforcing a curfew stopped two college students in a car, fired Tasers on them and dragged them out of the vehicle.

And in Minneapolis, where there have been six consecutive nights of protests and clashes, a video appeared to show officers yelling at people on their porches to get inside and then firing paint canisters at them. “Light them up,” one officer said.

The photo below shows a cop removing the face-mask of an obviously peaceful protestor so that he can mace him in the face. The cop has concealed his badge number to prevent easy identification.

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Wife of George Floyd's Killer has filed for divorce

CBS News reports that Kellie Chauvin, wife of the police officer who killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 consecutive minutes, has filed for divorce.

Sekula Law Offices, the law firm representing Mrs. Chauvin, posted this on Facebook:

This evening, I spoke with Kellie Chauvin and her family. She is devastated by Mr. Floyd’s death and her utmost sympathy lies with his family, with his loved ones and with everyone who is grieving this tragedy. She has filed for dissolution of her marriage to Derek Chauvin.

While Ms. Chauvin has no children from her current marriage, she respectfully requests that her children, her elder parents, and her extended family be given safety and privacy during this difficult time.

According to International Business News, Mrs. Chauvin was born in Thailand in 1974, and spent the first several years of her life in a refugee camp before her family moved to Wisconsin. She entered in an arranged marriage in 1991, and had 2 children before leaving that first husband after a decade for alleged abuse. In 2018, she became the first woman of Hmong descent to be crowned Mrs. Minnesota. She met the man who killed George Floyd when he came in on a work shift while she was working at Hennepin County Medical Center — by which he already had an established record of violent conduct that went unpenalized — and married him in 2010.

The Chauvins also own property in Orange County, Florida — where the officer who killed George Floyd cast his voting ballots in 2016 and 2018, despite presumably being a Minnesota permanent resident in order to serve as a police officer (although only 8 percent of Minneapolis police actually live in Minneapolis). Read the rest

Footage shows Louisville police shooting pepper rounds at news crew

In the footage below, broadcast live by an NBC affiliate and posted to Twitter by Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a news crew moves into the street near a line of riot police. Protestors are not nearby in significant numbers and the police are not engaging them. A cop steps forward from the line and opens fire on the news crew with what appear to be pepper rounds.

Video of the encounter shows Kaitlin Rust, a reporter for CBS affiliate WAVE 3 News, narrating as she walks around the area of the protest before suddenly screaming: "I'm getting shot!" Rust appears shocked but continues reporting, explaining what's happening as the camera focuses in on an officer pointing a gun with pepper bullets at the cameraman. ... The incident took place as police were reportedly trying to clear the area of large groups of protesters. It is unclear why the police chose to open fire on the reporters.

When policing is this violent and contemptuous of constitutional rights, it seems pointless to single out specific aspects of the problem. The shooter's immediate goal for opening fire on the news crew is stop the filming. He didn't get what he wanted, but he won't face any consequences, either. Read the rest

Minneapolis Mayor declares curfew after protests over impunity in George Floyd killing

The Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, has declared a curfew for the city following protests over impunity in the killing of George Floyd.

An 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the mayor late Friday will extend through the weekend.

PREVIOUSLY ON BOING BOING:

Cop who killed George Floyd arrested

Minneapolis ablaze after prosecutor suggests no crime was committed by cops who killed George Floyd

• The cop who killed George Floyd has a long record of police brutality Read the rest

The cop who killed George Floyd has a long record of police brutality

A 46-year old black man named George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25, 2020. A police officer named Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck, after vaguely accusing him of forgery and/or public intoxication. He pressed his knee down so hard — and kept it there — that it cut off the air to Floyd's lungs, suffocating him. Three police officers stood around and watched as Floyd used his last breaths to cry for help; several bystanders filmed the scene, and tried to get the cops to stop, but to no avail.

Those 4 police officers were fired shortly after the video was released (by their official account, Floyd had been "resisting arrest," something which is a physically impossible to do while also dying under restraint). That sounds like good news on the surface — but thanks to Police Union rules, bad cops who get fired for misconduct usually just get re-hired in a nearby precinct. Their past behavior — even repeated, established patterns of violent misconduct — are left off their permanent record, or otherwise ignored.

And that's exactly how the police officer who killed George Floyd was in the position to do so in the first place. As Insider reports, Derek Chauvin had a long and ugly history of police brutality, long before he killed George Floyd:

[Chauvin] was involved in violent incidents before, including three police shootings. And he has been the subject of 10 complaints filed to the city's Civilian Review Authority and the Office of Police Conduct.

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Houston cop shoots black man trying to wash his car window, claims it was "terrorist threat"

An undercover cop in Houston shot a man who he claims approached his car, made terroristic threats, then reached for a gun. The man, Keith Martin, 45, says he was simply offering to clean his car. Martin survived his injuries, but is stuck in jail.

Martin, 45, survived the shooting and has since been charged with misdemeanor terroristic threat. His backpack did not contain a gun, but rather his car detailing equipment and cellphone, said his lawyer Andre Evans. Martin runs his own mobile car detailing service, Evans said.

In the statement, Evans said the shooting was “unjustified” and that the officer’s actions displayed racial bias. Martin, who is black, remains in Harris County Jail in lieu of a $2,000 bond.

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Hawaii cop "to plead guilty" after forcing homeless man to lick public urinal

KHQ6 reports that John Rabago, a Hawaii cop accused of forcing a homeless man to lick a public urinal, plans to plead guilty on a civil rights charge. Another officer, Reginald Ramones, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge: "Ramones says Rabago convinced him not to report it."

More from the AP:

The homeless man feared he would be arrested and reluctantly obeyed Rabago’s orders, according to Ramones’ plea agreement. Rabago had previously threatened another man he was questioning by saying he wouldn’t be arrested if he stuck his head in a toilet, the document said.

Alt headline: Blue water blues for the boys in blue Read the rest

The NYPD is out of control, paying hundreds of millions a year in settlements to its victims

New Yorkers paid nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in 2018 to settle lawsuits filed against the New York Police Department. And that's the good news! It's down from the $335m paid out in 2017. The Daily News reports on the staggering price tag attached to New York City's notoriously violent and uncontrollable cops. The NYPD sees it a normal operating cost to be managed.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie said the reduction in claims shows the department’s ability to fight frivolous cases and provide top-of-the-line training to its officers.

“These gains represent another example of how the NYPD is building greater trust and respect with the community to collaboratively solve problems, drive down crime, and enhance public safety,” McRorie said.

Critics say the numbers in the report are not indicative of a reformed police department.

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Orlando cop fired after grabbing teen by hair and yanking her head

An Orlando county Sheriff's deputy was fired on the spot after video showed him grabbing a teen girl by her hair and yanking her head backwards.

The video shows the deputy, who the agency has not publicly identified, taking a girl into custody Thursday afternoon in the parking lot of the Summerset apartments off Oak Ridge Road in south Orange, about a block from the middle school. The girl screams as the deputy pulls her head backward.

Later in the video, which has been viewed more than 45,000 times on Facebook, the deputy brandishes his baton at a crowd that gathered. Near the end of the encounter, he yells at the crowd that they are all “stupid little children."

The Sheriff's office is, however, refusing to release the deputy's name.

Asked under what exemption to Florida’s Sunshine Law the deputy’s name was being withheld, the agency acknowledged the question but did not provide an exemption or further explanation Friday.

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'MURDER' — Aaron Dean, former Fort Worth TX police officer, charged with murder for fatal shooting of black woman

“This man murdered someone,” the victim's brother, Adarius Carr, said at a news conference. “He should be arrested.” Read the rest

Texas cop shoots black woman dead in her own home, through her window

A black woman was shot dead by a white police officer early Saturday in her own home. The officer, responding to a call from a neighbor concerned about an open door, opened fire only four seconds after seeing Atatiana Jefferson, 28 through a window. He approached the house, spotted her in the dwelling she shared with an 8-year-old nephew, shrieked instructions at her, then shot and killed her.

The clip shows police searching the perimeter of the residential property, before noticing a figure at the window. After demanding the person put their hands up, an officer then fired a shot through the glass.

The Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement that the officer, who is a white man, had "perceived a threat" when he drew his weapon.

He has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, officials added.

The undeniable fact that this is a problem of training will mask another undeniable fact: that this is another blatantly lawless execution of an innocent person in their own home by cops. Fort Worth police are already circulating crudely-edited screengrabs that appear to show there was a gun in the house--an unwielded gun posed as a rationale for killing an unarmed woman on the spot after the officer's bizarre and bungled attempt to stealthily enter her house exploded into hysterically-screamed instructions and gunfire.

To call the cops on a dark-skinned person (or anyone else they can claim to be scared by as an prelude to eager and murderous escalation, such as mentally ill people) is a death sentence. Read the rest

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