Is This the Summer of Snitches? Meet Burrito Bob, Permit Patty, and other vigilante informants

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A man wearing a Hawaiian shirt on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) went viral earlier this month after calling the cops on a man eating his lunch. A video posted to Reddit shows an angered passenger, who is now referred to as Burrito Bob, confronting another passenger on a BART train for snacking while traveling on the Dublin/Pleasanton line, close to the famed Fruitvale Station. BART currently has rules against eating and drinking; violations carry a fine of $250.

“You can’t wait? A sign says no eating and drinking. You don’t get it? You don’t get it. You must be stupid. I’ve seen people like you on TV,” he tells the passenger.

Bystanders look on and laugh when the man announces that he’s going to contact authorities. Burrito Bob proceeds to use the train’s emergency contact system to ask for an officer, saying: “Please, can you get a policeman on board? We’ve got somebody dining on the first car.” While Burrito Bob waits, surrounding passengers encourage the man to “eat your burrito, bro,” including one drinking from a nearly empty Starbucks cup. Burrito Bob continues to defend his position, saying that the passenger should wait to nourish himself in the appropriate venue.

Burrito Bob now joins a growing list of alliterative offenders who have attempted to use authorities to enforce petty regulations this summer.

BBQ Becky: In late April, a woman called police on black barbecuers at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, after claiming that they were not allowed to operate a charcoal grill in the area. When police did not take the call as seriously as she’d hoped, she broke down into tears. Oaklanders threw a cookout called “BBQing While Black” in response.

Permit Patty: In June, a woman called police on a young black girl selling water without a permit. The woman later argued that she did so because the girl’s mother was “screaming for hours.” Some noted the hypocrisy of the call after it was revealed that she was the CEO of a “kind of like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell'” pet weed business.

Pool Patrol Paula: Also in June, a woman threatened to call police after telling a black teen that his friends were “punks” who “didn’t belong” at a community pool in Summerville, South Carolina. In a video, she’s visible striking in the general direction of the teen at least twice. When investigators in the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve her a warrant for third-degree assault, she picked up some additional charges after fighting back.

Honorable mentions go to a Philadelphia Starbucks employee who in April called police on two black men while they were waiting in the coffee shop for a meeting and Ohio neighbors who called police in June after a 12-year-old cut the grass on their property by mistake—the young man’s business ended up growing as a result.

Even CountryTime lemonade has gotten involved, promising to pay the fines of children who have the police called on them for running unlicensed lemonade stands.

These stories are a part of a phenomenon that Reason‘s Mike Riggs has dubbed the “Nation of Narcs.” Riggs offers a number of solutions to scale back the problem, one of which is reducing the scope of government:

The second project is a political program: to drastically scale back the police powers of every arm of the state. Not just the police police, but the health police and the tax police and the zoning police. All those agencies work in concert. The person who refuses to pare back her garden gets a fine. If she doesn’t pay the fine, she loses her driver’s license. If she drives regardless, because her job or family needs her to, she gets arrested. The police state is a hydra, so let’s treat it like one.

By Zuri Davis/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Modern Black Codes and the Cops That Enforce Them

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“The police respond as if the black person is guilty of whatever transgression the white person said they committed.”

Recent online videos have shown African Americans being arrested, sometimes violently, in places like Starbucks and Waffle House, but also while barbecuing in a gated community or sleeping in the common area of an Ivy League university dorm, after having had the police called on them by a white people. These aggressively racist incidents made the headlines briefly and but have all but dissipated from public discussion. The Starbucks incident only lingered, arguably, because the black men arrested were not brutalized, but perhaps more importantly, because the black men at the center of the incidents didn’t portray anger toward the police, the company or the system that allowed the police to arrest them for sitting in a restaurant. In fact, their statement that it wasn’t just a black thing, turned a clear incident of racial hostility on the part of the Starbucks employee and on the police into a feel good story for Starbucks, the city and America. It became part of the lame, useless “conversation on race” Americans like to exhalt, none of which leads to anything concrete from the masses of black people.

“African Americans’ safety in public spaces is contingent upon how whites feel about our presence.”

In each of the incidents, none of the police personnel were fired or disciplined and in fact, at least initially in the Starbucks case, the cops were supported by their black supervisors. What these incidents show is that black people are never free from white hostility or police violence and it also shows that, despite the enactment of Title II, the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black people still occupy a separate and unequal status in public places.Whites can inhabit public spaces free from suspicion, hostility and state violence, whereas African Americans’ safety in public spaces is contingent upon how whites feel about our presence.

When African Americans engaged in sit-ins during the mid-60’s at restaurants, sitting in sections labeled “whites only,” they challenged the separate but equal doctrine articulated in Plessey v. Ferguson that legitimized the racial caste and apartheid system known as Jim Crow. Black people in places like Gary, Indiana occupied an area of the beach that was reserved for white people and blacks around the country did the same in their own communities. They demanded to be treated as equal citizens in public spaces and to enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship. Nowhere is second class citizenship starker than in public spaces. Parks, restaurants, coffee shops, dining spaces, all set aside for the purpose of providing citizens with places to shop, eat, cook, socialize or just to be, all on equal terms, is the essence of citizenship in a supposed free society. However, the gains made in the 50’s and 60’s to dismantle Jim Crow in the South and de facto segregation in the North, were never perfect gains. African Americans still faced discrimination in public places whether it was being seated in the back of an empty restaurant, provided inferior service, being denied service or entry into certain spaces like night clubs, or charged higher prices for the same or lesser goods. Other mundane transgressions in public spaces include being stopped and frisked, being asked for identification, refusal to rent commercial or apartment spaces and insurance redlining.

“Black people still occupy a separate and unequal status in public places.”

The recent high-profile transgressions against blackness simply expose the dark underbelly of Black inequality and white antagonism in public and commercial areas. Most of the vitriol is aimed at the white person who calls the police, such as the white employees at Starbucks and Waffle House. However, equally complicit in ensuring inequality of black people are the police themselves. Whether it was the police who answered the call of the white Yale student and harassed the black student, or the ones who viciously, physically assaulted the young black woman (in front of her child) at Waffle House, the police have no responsibility to assume that the white instigator should be believed and they have the discretion to chastise the caller and/or to just leave. Instead, in all of these cases, they behave toward the black person, well, like they behave toward black people. They responded with suspicion, harassment and brutality in situations that deserved neither. Rather than speak to and credit the narrative of the black person to whom they were sicced on, the police respond as if the black person is guilty of whatever transgression the white person said they committed. This amounts to enforcement of separate but unequal public accommodations.

“The police have no responsibility to assume that the white instigator should be believed.”

The police were and still are a necessary instrument in the maintenance of an unjust system. They must behave this way to continue this informal version of Black Codes. Students of history know that Black Codes were laws enacted after the Civil War that regulated Black life in ways such as preventing African Americans from testifying against whites in court, denying the right to own and bear arms, and mandating employment contracts with the former enslavers. The beating of the young sister at Waffle House reminds one of Jim Crow lynch laws, where blacks could be killed based on nothing more than the accusation of a white person, typically a white woman.

Despite the nonsense of a post-racial America that was kicked around at the election of Barak Obama, our supposed right to equal citizenship with whites is not yet fulfilled and, frankly, may never be. We must remember that John Crawford was shot dead by the police in the public space of a Wal-Mart. Tamir Rice, a child, was murdered by the police in a public park, paid for by the citizens which included his mother. Trayvon Martin was killed in a gated community that his parents paid to live in. And, all across America, black people are killed by law enforcement whose salaries they pay, with bullets they paid for. The reality is that African Americans continue to occupy this space of contingent citizenship where our ability to exercise our supposed rights on the same level as whites is conditioned upon our willingness to act a certain way, our income, or whether white people call the authorities on us, which frequently leads to the police exacting the price of our life, liberty and/or health or dignity, from us based solely on the word of someone white.

“Our supposed right to equal citizenship with whites is not yet fulfilled.”

This is a modern day version of a white woman claiming rape against a black man in the south with no evidence. These incidents often resulted in death (Emmit Till, a child accused of simply whistling at a white woman) or even in the destruction of whole black communities, as in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Instead of being told to get off the sidewalk when a white person approaches, with the penalty being vigilante justice, now the domestic militia (which is what the police look and act like) is called on us if we, while in public spaces, dare to refuse to order coffee, have the temerity to ask for proper utensils, or to be tired enough to sleep in the common areas of universities we pay to attend. This neo-Jim Crow and will take more than a Starbucks training day, or conversation on race, to defeat.

By Attorney Bryan K. Bullock/BAR

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Marijuana firms snuff ties with ‘Permit Patty’ company after she threatened to call cops on girl selling water

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They are taking the high road.

At least six businesses are cutting ties with the marijuana company owned by Alison (Permit Patty) Ettel, who was caught on video threatening to call cops on an 8-year-old girl selling water.

Magnolia, a cannabis store in Oakland which has been dispensing marijuana since 2009, said in a statement that it will no longer carry Treatwell Tinctures.

“After seeing this video of their CEO, calling the police on an 8-year-old entrepreneur selling water on a hot day, we decided without hesitation that we could no longer patronize her company,” the statement read.

The company added that while Treatwell was one of their best-selling products, “integrity is always before profits.”

The Apothecarium, the Bloom Room and Green Trees Wellness, all marijuana dispensaries in California, voiced displeasure with Ettel and distanced themselves from her company. The cannabis delivery service Herb and reviews website Ganjly also took issue with the video.

More from NY Daily News

Posted by Libergirl

Black Caucus Sells Out Its Constituents Again – to the Cops

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This bill will be received as yet another attack on these communities and threatens to exacerbate what is already a discriminatory system of mass incarceration in this country.”

The bigger the Congressional Black Caucus gets, the more it betrays its constituents. Last Wednesday, three out of every four members of the Black Caucus in the U.S. House voted to make assaults on police officers a federal hate crime. The Protect and Serve Act of 2018 is totally superfluous, since cops are already the most protected “class” in the nation. Nearly a million sworn officers inhabit a legal dominion of their own, where immunity from prosecution for even the most heinous crimes is the norm. As People for the American Way point out : “All fifty states have laws that enhance penalties for people who commit offenses against law enforcement officers, including for homicide and assault,” and federal laws already “impose a life sentence or death penalty on persons convicted of first-degree murder of federal employees or officers, killing state and local law enforcement officers or other employees assisting with federal investigations, and killing officers of the U.S. courts.” However, like the Israel lobby, the cop lobby demands abject, groveling obeisance from the people’s representatives — lest there be any doubt as to who rules in either of the world’s white settler states.

Nearly a million sworn officers inhabit a legal dominion of their own, where immunity from prosecution for even the most heinous crimes is the norm.”

The Protect and Serve Act, which sailed through the U.S. House on a vote of 382 to 35 , is a “Blue Lives Matter” bill that serves no other purpose than to give a giant middle finger to the Black Lives Matter movement. When the cops demanded to know, Which side are you on? three-quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus kissed the feet of the Blue Beast: “Your side, Boss!”

The Ugly

Twenty-nine CBC members paid homage to the world’s largest police state.

Alma Adams (NC); Joyce Beatty (OH); Sanford Bishop (GA); Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Val Butler Demings (FL); Keith Ellison (MN); Dwight Evans (PA); Marcia Fudge (OH); Al Green (TX); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); Hank Johnson (GA); Robin Kelly (IL); Brenda Lawrence (FL); Al Lawson (FL); John Lewis (GA); Donald McEachin (VA); Gregory Meeks (NY); Bobby Rush (IL); David Scott (GA); Terri Sewell (AL); Bennie Thompson (MS); Marc Veasey (TX)

The Worthless

Three Black Caucus members did not bother to vote, which was the same as casting a “Yea” for the Act.

Anthony Brown (MD); Cedric Richmond (LA); Frederica Wilson (FL)

The Few That Did Not “Comply”

Below are the 11 members that stood up the police lobby, voting “Nay.”

Karen Bass (CA); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm. Lacy Clay (MO); Alcee Hastings (FL); Johnson, E. B.(TX); Barbara Lee (CA); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)

A Slap in the Face

Donald Trump and three-quarters* of the Black Caucus are on the same side, despite all the Democratic rhetoric seeking to distinguish between the two parties. When it comes to the Mass Black Incarceration State, Black Democrats are First Responders, ever ready to buttress the power, prestige and immunities of the cops and jailers.

As People for the American Way, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights put it : “Rather than focusing on policies that address issues of police excessive force, biased policing, and other police practices that have failed these communities, the Protect and Serve Act’s aim is to further criminalize. This bill will be received as yet another attack on these communities and threatens to exacerbate what is already a discriminatory system of mass incarceration in this country.”

Worse than Misleaders, the CBC is the Enemy

The advent of the Black Lives Matter movement has wrought virtually no change at all in the political behavior of the Congressional Black Caucus; collectively, they are just as treacherous as in the pre-Ferguson days. Back in June of 2014, two months before Mike Brown’s murder sparked a national movement, four-fifths of the Black Caucus voted down an amendment to halt the Pentagon’s infamous 1033 program that has funneled billions of dollars in military weapons and gear to local police departments. Twenty-seven members voted to continue the militarization of local police forces, five abstained from voting, which amounted to an endorsement of the status quo, and only eight members – one out of five — supported the Grayson Amendment. We at BAR called the Black Caucus super-majority “The Treasonous 32.” Below is the breakdown of the vote from that day of shame:

The Ugly

Karen Bass (CA); Joyce Beatty (OH); Sanford Bishop (GA); Corrine Brown (FL); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm Lacy Clay (MO); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Chaka Fattah (PA); Al Green (TX); Alcee Hastings (FL); Steven Horsford (NV); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); E. B. Johnson (TX); Robin Kelly (IL); Gregory Meeks (NY); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); David Scott (GA); Terri Sewell (AL); Marc Veasey (TX); Frederica Wilson (FL)

The Worthless

The abstainers of 2014, as four years later, effectively endorsed the status quo: militarization of the police.

Marcia Fudge (OH); Charles Rangel (NY); Cedric Richmond (LA); Bobby Rush (IL); Bennie Thompson (MS)

The Few for Demilitarization

John Conyers (MI); Donna Edwards (MD); Keith Ellison (MN); Hank Johnson (GA); Barbara Lee (CA); John Lewis (GA); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA)

Are Black People Represented in the Congress?

When 80 percent of Black Democrats in the U.S. House vote for continued militarization of local police forces, and then four years later 75 percent of these same Black Democrats give “protected class” status to cops, then we must conclude that the intervening period of “Black Lives Matter” agitation had no effect on Black Democratic Party politics — and further, that the Caucus is wholly and brazenly unaccountable to its constituents.

As Malcolm X said: “You’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok.”

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

* Of the Congressional Black Caucus’ 48 members , two are U.S. Senators (Cory Booker and Kamala Harris), and two are delegates from Washington DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands, who cannot vote on the House floor. BAR does not count Mia Love, the Black Republican CBC member from Utah, in its tabulations on Black Caucus behavior. (She voted “Yea” on the Protect and Serve Act.) That leaves 43 Black Democrats with full voting privileges in the U.S. House.

By Glenn Ford/BAR

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Plainclothes Police Officers are Terrorizing, Robbing and Killing Black People

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Plainclothes or undercover police officers are engaged in an inordinate amount of killings, suggesting there is a fundamental problem with the practice of placing law enforcement out of uniform.
In the New York Police Department, plainclothes officers are involved in fatal shootings far in excess of their numbers on the force, as The Intercept reported. An analysis of 174 fatal shootings by NYPD on-duty officers since 2000 found that plainclothes or undercover officers, who are approximately 6 percent of the force, were involved in nearly one third — 31 percent — or 54 of those killings.
According to a 2016 report from the NYPD, plainclothes cops accounted for nearly half of officers involved in “adversarial conflicts” in which police are in confrontation with a suspect and intentionally discharge a weapon. Specialty units such as anti-crime units, which proactively pursue people on the street, claim one-third of these gun discharges. These elite units of plainclothes officers, unlike their uniformed counterparts, do not respond to 911 calls but instead pursue violent criminal activity while or before it takes place. Typically, undercover officers patrol without body cameras, use unmarked vehicles, and operate without accountability. Further, unlike beat NYPD cops who may form relations with the community, plainclothes police are known to instigate, harass and engage in aggressive and dangerous behavior.

Plainclothes officers have long been associated with death in the Black community, failing to protect and placing Black lives in harm’s way. In the 1960s, the NYPD used Black undercover officers to infiltrate Black radical organizations through the department’s clandestine operations, the Bureau of Special Services, or BOSS. The NYPD was monitoring Malcolm X up until his assassination. Undercover agent Gene Roberts was a member of Malcolm X’s OAAU and the minister’s chief of security. Known as “Brother Gene,” he unsuccessfully administered CPR to the fallen leader at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. This man who betrayed Malcolm went on to infiltrate the Black Panthers. FBI agents worked undercover in the Nation of Islam, including John Ali, the NOI national secretary. Another undercover NYPD agent, Ray Wood, who infiltrated the Bronx chapter of CORE, was reportedly seen running out of the Audubon at the time of the assassination.

Over the past few decades, plainclothes officers have been involved in the slayings of a number of Black men. For example, in 1999, members of the infamous NYPD street crimes unit killed Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 bullets because they reportedly thought he was a suspect and mistook his wallet for a gun. Although the NYPD disbanded the unit, the brutality against Black people continued unabated.

Another casualty of undercover police was Sean Bell, who was shot to death in 2006 at his bachelor party, hours before his wedding. Undercover officers opened fire on Bell’s car with 50 shots, killing Bell, 23 and injuring two others. In 2013, Kimani Gray, 16, was fatally shot by members of an anti-crime unit in Crown Heights. The officer who choked Eric Garner to death in 2014 on Staten Island on suspicion of selling untaxed “loosie” cigarettes was working in plainclothes as well.
The Baltimore Police Department abolished plainclothes policing because of a “cutting corners mindset” among crime fighting units, as the Baltimore Sun reported, and as a result of federal indictments against seven officers who were engaging in robbery and extortion of Baltimore residents, filing false police reports and fraudulently collecting overtime pay. Members of the Gun Trace Task Force acted as both cops and robbers, stealing large amounts of money from Black men with no recourse. Such units charged with fighting and reducing crime have violated the rights of the public.
Undercover police are also a common fixture of antifascist protests, infiltrating crowds and student activist groups that oppose the presence of white supremacist hate groups on college campuses. As white extremist groups continue their demonstrations, police arrest anti-racist protesters, sometimes at home or their place of work, in an effort to intimidate left-wing and racial justice activists. This as campus, state and local police face accusations they protect and collaborate with white supremacists. For example, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was scheduled for a speaking engagement at Michigan State University in March, 200 officers from eight different departments were present that day, including nine undercover officers, of whom two were campus police.

As plainclothes officers violate the civil rights of Black people, sometimes they are taken to court and made to answer for their crimes. In 2014, a federal jury awarded art student Jordan Miles, 22, $119,000 for a 2010 false arrest and beating from three white Pittsburgh police officers. Because of his race and dreadlocks, the police, who reportedly assumed Miles was a drug dealer, rolled up in an unmarked car, without identifying themselves, asking for drugs, money and a gun. Jacqueline Little, a Philadelphia resident and IRS employee, sued the city and three plainclothes officers who pulled her over, claimed she had drugs in her possession, and falsely arrested her. She admitted herself to a hospital after sustaining injuries from the tight handcuffs while in police custody. Meanwhile, Glen Grays, a New York postal worker, was nearly struck while making a delivery by an unmarked NYPD police vehicle, then arrested in his uniform. The officers involved had a history of various civil rights complaints filed against them.
It is clear that plainclothes police are a problem, particularly where Black people are concerned.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Officer wants charges dismissed in black motorist killing

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The attorney for a fired police officer said he should not stand trial for fatally shooting a stranded black motorist, saying the slaying was tragic but justified.

Attorney Richard Lubin began the two-day hearing Monday for former Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja by saying Corey Jones pointed his gun at Raja after he identified himself as a police officer. He said Raja should be protected by Florida’s so-called stand-your-ground law.

Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer will decide whether to dismiss manslaughter and other charges against Raja for the 2015 shooting of Jones, who was legally carrying a handgun.

Raja was working undercover in plainclothes. Prosecutors say he never identified himself as a police officer, making Jones think he was a robber. Raja is of South Asian descent.

More from News & Observer

Posted by Libergirl…why in the f*uck should the charges be dismissed!

In Louisiana, Threatening to File a Complaint Against Police Can Lead to a Five-Year Prison Sentence

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Livingston Parish Sheriff’s deputies (Facebook)

On April 30, 2015, William Aubin Jr. was at home with his wife in Livingston Parish, Louisiana when a patrol car from the sheriff’s office pulled onto his street. The deputy, William Durkin, was there to investigate a reckless driving complaint. Aubin wasn’t involved in the incident but he knew about it and went outside of his home to speak with Durkin. During a vulgar and combative conversation, according to Aubin, Durkin repeatedly called Aubin a “pussy.”

“I’m calling your supervisor,” Aubin said. “I’m gonna get you fired.” Aubin took out his cell phone, called the sheriff’s department, and started walking back towards his house. But before he made it inside, Durkin arrested him. The charge: intimidation of a public official — a felony that in Louisiana carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

The 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office (whose jurisdiction includes Livingston Parish) ultimately declined to prosecute Aubin. But in a lawsuit filed in April 2016 in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Louisiana against Durkin and his supervisor, Sheriff Jason Ard, Aubin challenged the constitutionality of the statute that led to his arrest. The statute prohibits “the use of violence, force, or threats … with the intent to influence [an official’s] conduct in relation to his position, employment, or duty.”

The statute’s constitutionality was also called into question in a December 2015 incident in nearby Tangipahoa Parish, when officers pepper sprayed a man named Travis Seals even though he was already in handcuffs. After telling the officers he was going to file a complaint against them, he too was charged with public intimidation. Seals then launched his own lawsuit, also in federal court, challenging the constitutionality of the statute.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry intervened in both cases to defend it. But in the past year, federal judges in the two cases have called the statute unconstitutional. In a September 2017 ruling, Chief Judge Brian A. Jackson of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana pilloried the application of the statute in the Aubin case. “The right to criticize the police without risk of arrest distinguishes a democracy from a police state,” he wrote.

In the Seals case, Jane Triche Milazzo, a judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District Of Louisiana, ruled last July that the statute violates the First Amendment.

“The Attorney General does little in the way of arguing that [the law] is constitutional as written or in overcoming the presumption of unconstitutionality,” Milazzo wrote. She noted that the statute broadly criminalized “threats to engage in lawful conduct such as, criticizing a police officer, writing a letter to the newspaper, filing a lawsuit, voting for an official’s opponent, or filing an ethics complaint.”

Landry has appealed her ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

Kearney Loughlin, the New Orleans-based attorney representing both Aubin and Seals says that the statute has become a “sort of a hammer that the police officers can use” since it was ratified in 1942. “You get a higher bail because it’s a felony,” he said. “It’s a more serious felony than battery on a police officer. You can punch an officer and not face the same ramifications.”

According to Loughlin, higher bail means that often many are jailed simply because they can’t afford to purchase their freedom. Loughlin also says that prosecutors may be using the law against defendants arrested for less serious offenses, such as public intoxication, in order to leverage them into pleading guilty to lesser charges.

In August 2017, the ACLU condemned the statute after it was used in the case of a Northern Louisiana man who raised his middle finger to a state trooper. “Among the freedoms this country provides is the right to criticize the government and public officials, including police officers,” wrote Marjorie Esman, who was then the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana.

Sheriff Ard, one of the defendants in the Aubin lawsuit, argued in court filings that the statute is necessary to protect public officials from threats and coercion. “The government certainly has a substantial interest in ensuring that such threats are not allowed to influence the behavior of police officers and other officials,” Ard’s office wrote in a memo submitted to court in January 2017.

Not everyone in law enforcement, however, agrees that the statute is necessary to ensure the safety of public officials. Twenty-first Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux recently told the Advocate that there are other laws that his office can use to fulfill the statute’s original aim — protecting public officials from true threats and coercion. Perrilloux did tell the newspaper, however, that he believes that the basis for the statute is sound.

But Seals’ and Aubin’s attorney Loughlin maintains that the statute’s broad reach is a clear violation of constitutional protections. “Ultimately the case is, can you threaten to do something lawful and go to jail for it, or is that protected by the first amendment,” Loughlin said. “That’s what this comes down to.”

By Michael Stein/InJusticeToday

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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