Category Archives: Police

America Asleep

“The summer of 1919, called “The Red Summer” by James Weldon Johnson, ushered in the greatest period of interracial violence the nation had ever witnessed. During that summer there were twenty-six race riots in such cities as Chicago, Illinois; Washington, D.C.; Elaine, Arkansas; Charleston, South Carolina; Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee; Longview, Texas; and Omaha, Nebraska. More than one hundred Blacks were killed in these riots, and thousands were wounded and left homeless. The seven most serious race riots were those which occurred in Wilmington, N. C. (1898), Atlanta, Ga. (1906), Springfield, Ill. (1908), East St. Louis) Ill. (1917), Chicago, Ill. (1919), Tulsa, Okla. (1921) and Detroit, Mich. (1943).”

— Robert Gibson

“A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct.”

— California Governor Peter H. Burnett, 1851

“At the time, Executive Order 9066 was justified as a “military necessity” to protect against domestic espionage and sabotage. However, it was later documented that “our government had in its possession proof that not one Japanese American, citizen or not, had engaged in espionage, not one had committed any act of sabotage.( ) These Japanese Americans, half of whom were children, were incarcerated for up to 4 years, without due process of law or any factual basis, in bleak, remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.”

— Michi Weglyn.

The recent attack in Charlottsville hardly stands out as in any way unique in American history. But there are several very telling aspects to this display of organized white supremacist values. First, how is it the police allowed it to happen? Well, ok, we know the answer. That was rhetorical. The next question would be perhaps the media coverage of this. Third would be the President and his response.

In a sense, the media coverage actually encloses the other issues. For the narrative being manufactured by the NY Times and Washington Post and all the rest, CNN and MSNBC is pretty much the same, with only variations that are designed to target specific demographics. The story of U.S. racism and colonial plunder, of a settler mentality and the reality of Manifest Destiny and genocide is simply erased. In its place is the fairy tale of white American goodness that I and millions of others were taught in school. Charlottsville is thus not a result of Trump, of his personality, of his friends such as Steve Bannon. It is part of a deep current in the collective psyche of the U.S.

There has never been a time when America was good. There was goodness in America, certainly in culture, in art and even in certain movements for social justice. There was the Wobblies and early socialists and union organizers. But the overriding reality has been one of acute racism, both institutional and individual, and of conquest and since WW2 of a rabid all consuming anti communism and quest for global hegemony. The U.S. was founded on the twin pillars of slave labor and the genocide of six hundred indigenous tribes. It is a settler colonial project that has never wavered in support for the Capitalist system. It was founded by rich white men, and that also has never changed.

“Blacks can’t run it. Nowhere, and they won’t be able to for a hundred years, and maybe not for a thousand. … Do you know, maybe one black country that’s well run?”

— Richard Nixon (Whitehouse tapes)

“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of 10 are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the 10th.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

I mean one could just go on and on. Woodrow Wilson worked to keep blacks out of Princeton when he was that Universities president. Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Johnson, James Polk — who deserves a special place as the most pro slavery president, perhaps, in U.S. history. In fact, its pretty hard to find a president who wasn’t overtly racist.

“While it may be tempting to dismiss 500 knuckle-dragging racists marching through Charlottesville waving Confederate flags as unrepresentative of a nation that takes pride in values of tolerance and racial equality, it would be wrong. Those who took part in those ugly scenes are the reality rather than the myth of America. They know that the American exceptionalism which Obama, while president, declared he believed in with every fiber of his being, is in truth white exceptionalism – ‘white’ in this context being not only a racial construct but also an ideological construct.”

— John Wight

But what has struck me is the outcry from the educated white class. Those gatekeepers to media and what passes for culture these days. The outrage is extreme and this has served to amp up the anti Trump sentiments even further than they already were. But none of these people uttered a peep about Obama and his CIA support for radical head chopping takfiri killers in Syria, and not a word when Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland (and John McCain) orchestrated the coup in Ukraine that installed a full on Nazi Party, complete with swastikas. But then U.S. foreign policy has a long history of support for fascism. In Africa, the U.S. supported war lords and mass killers…as Keith Harmon Snow wrote…

“The violence wreaked on Congo-Zaire by Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame was exported by perpetrators who first waged genocidal campaigns and coups-d’état that violated the most fundamental international covenants on state sovereignty first in Uganda, then Rwanda, then Zaire (Congo). On 6 April 1994, they assassinated heads of state from Rwanda and Burundi, again the most fundamental and egregious violations of international law. The U.S., U.K., Canada and Israel could not have been happier.

These first campaigns of Tutsi-Hima guerrilla warfare set the stage for unprecedented violence as the terror regimes of Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame tortured, slaughtered, raped, disappeared, assassinated, and terrorized millions of innocent non-combatant civilians from Uganda to Rwanda to Burundi to Congo (and in South Sudan). They had the backing of western intelligence and covert operations at the start.”

Or take Haiti. The U.S. ushered out President Aristide at gunpoint and replaced him with former Ton Ton Macoute fascists. The U.S. removed Zelaya in Honduras (on order from Hillary Clinton) and replaced him with a far right wing fascist. The U.S. supports fascist Leopoldo Lopez and his friends in Venezuela at this very moment. But rarely if ever do I hear a word from those people *outraged* at the tiki torch Blood and Soil pro confederate neo Klansmen in Virginia this week. The U.S. openly supported the fascist loving Croatian secessionists under Franjo Tudjman, an ardent admirer of the fascist state of Croatia in the 1930s under Ante Pavelic, as they dismantled socialist Yugoslavia. The racist murderers in Charlottsville are ideologically the same as countless parties and leaders the U.S. has supported for sixty years. No, for two hundred years and supports today.

I read a meme on social media yesterday that described Trump as having disgraced the office of the President. This is from a liberal and a Democrat. Honestly I’m not sure what one would have to do to disgrace that office. Harry Truman ordered the destruction of two Japanese cities with Atomic bombs, the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, women, children, the elderly…everyone. Disgrace the office? The School of the Americas, now rebranded, taught torture and subjugation to several generations of right wing dictators, and helped train death squads throughout Latin America.

I suspect that if Barry Goldwater returned from the dead and ran as a Democrat today he would be hugely successful. There is a certain swooning adoration for rock ribbed conservatives in liberal America. It is the result of an endless inculcating of the idea of money equating with merit. Most Americans have an unconscious knee jerk respect for the wealthy. Listen to how the owners of major sports franchises are talked about…it is always MISTER Bennet, MISTER Dolan, MISTER Snyder, MISTER Kendrick. It is a kind of weird hologram of the plantation system brought to you on network TV.

“While demanding an Open Door in China, it had insisted (with the Monroe Doctrine and many military interventions) on a Closed Door in Latin America-that is, closed to everyone but the United States. It had engineered a revolution against Colombia and created the “independent” state of Panama in order to build and control the Canal. It sent five thousand marines to Nicaragua in 1926 to counter a revolution, and kept a force there for seven years. It intervened in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time in 1916 and kept troops there for eight years. It intervened for the second time in Haiti in 1915 and kept troops there for nineteen years. Between 1900 and 1933, the United States intervened in Cuba four times, in Nicaragua twice, in Panama six times, in Guatemala once, in Honduras seven times. By 1924 the finances of half of the twenty Latin American states were being directed to some extent by the United States. By 1935, over half of U.S. steel and cotton exports were being sold in Latin America.”

— Howard Zinn

The white liberal today operates from an ideological position of intellectual containment. One might think Hiroshima would be condemned without qualification. This is not the case. The intellectual containment is to partition aspects of history and simply ignore the disturbing parts — things like the reality of slavery for example. Hollywood goes a long ways in sanitizing the story of the slave trade, and more, of the enduring scars, emotional and psychic, that such barbarism produced. White supremacism is, as John Wight rightly notes, is an ideological construct.

So back to Charlottsville. The goofy Hitler haircuts and ridiculous tiki torches (Wal Mart sells them by the by) make for good TV and provide an easy target for hand wringing liberals, but the reality is, of course, that most people have no desire to upset the status-quo. How many white American football fans applaud Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the anthem? According to a Reuters poll 72% of Americans saw Kaepernick as unpatriotic. The overt racism and fascist symbols in Virgina are easy to denounce. They seem almost made for that. And the attendant cries of how empowered the Trump base is seem almost silly (for one thing Trump’s real base is upwardly mobile whites, suburban usually, and nominally educated). The cartoon crackers in Virginia are not a significant force. But they do have symbolic weight. And yes, a woman died. Killed by a former Marine. Quelle surprise says I. The police watched. The U.S. domestic police system was born of militia hunting runaway slaves. It has not traveled a very great ideological distance since.

“As an internal colony in what some refer to as a prison house of nations that characterizes the U.S. nation state, black communities are separated into enclaves of economic exploitation and social degradation by visible and often invisible social and economic processes. The police have played the role not of protectors of the unrealized human rights of black people but as occupation forces.”

— Ajamu Baraka

The U.S. society is one in distress. There is a desperation in the affluent classes that suggests a growing recognition that the system they believe in, that has protected their privilege, is starting to fray at the edges. And maybe worse than fray. A recent study on addiction to smart phones among teenagers links depression and feelings of isolation with smart phone usage. It also has resulted in a generation that goes out less, has less sex, and desires independence less. Teens live at home longer, and wait longer to get their driver’s license. One in four Americans take anti depressants.

Jonathan Crary’s excellent book 24/7 dissects the global present in which most Westerners today live. And disruptions of sleep play a prominent role in the infantilization of U.S. culture. Everyone today sleeps less. Six and half hours a night compared to eight hours only a generation ago. In a society that metaphorically sleepwalks when awake, the material reality is that people sleep less. They are more anxious, and more afraid.

“The anti war movement (of the 60s) had spawned an identification with pacifism and public empathy for the victims of war; but in the 1980s the conditions nurturing these currents had to be eliminated and replaced in all areas with a culture of aggressivity and violence. That millions of supposedly liberal or progressive Americans will not dutifully avow that they ‘support our troops’ while remaining silent about the thousands murdered in imperial wars attests to the success of these counter measures.”

— Jonathan Crary

This marked the conscious ridicule of the sixties counterculture in mass media. It also marked the start of an aggressive re-writing of history, even recent history. Today it is a criminal offense in many places to feed the poor. It is criminal in many places to grow a vegetable garden in your front yard. It is illegal to criticize the Israel, too. Poverty is shameful, and worse. Against this has come an onslaught of demonizing all communist leaders from Castro to Mao. Chavez is routinely called a dictator, a caudillo, a strongman. Never mind this is only more racism, it is also untrue, factually untrue. No matter. It is a society of mass propaganda on all levels. So Charlottsville will distract the educated white populace for a week or so, and Trump will be made fun of and denounced. One wonders who watched his TV show, though. I mean it can’t have been just those guys in Hitler haircuts, right? Now Trump is a vile and dangerous man. Clearly close to illiterate, weak, resentful and insecure. But Trump is only a signifier for a wider problem. And that problem is that the United States has never altered its basic course. It began as a settler colony, one with genocidal tendencies and a thirst for violence. And so it is today. Eight hundred military bases across the planet. And allies like Saudi Arabia, where women are beheaded for being witches. Where confessions are the result of torture. Torture that isn’t even denied. The UN appointed Saudi Arabia as head of their human rights council. You see the problem…its much bigger than Charlottsville. If a society has stopped reading, and cannot sleep, and is the most obese in history, and where fertility rates are in steep decline; well, one suspects this is the dawn of the Empire’s collapse.

Ajamu Baraka summerized it best I think.

“Looking at white supremacy from this wider-angle lens, it is clear that support for the Israeli state, war on North Korea, mass black and brown incarceration, a grotesque military budget, urban gentrification, the subversion of Venezuela, the state war on black and brown people of all genders, and the war on reproductive rights are among the many manifestations of an entrenched right-wing ideology that cannot be conveniently and opportunistically reduced to Trump and the Republicans.”

George Jackson wrote…“The Capitalist class reached its maturity with the close of the 1860-64 civil war. Since that time there have been no serious threats to their power; their excesses have taken on a certain legitimacy through long usage. Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of its legitimacy?” The U.S. military lays waste to parts of every continent on earth, or threatens to. There are U.S. troops killing people in Yemen, in Syria, in Afghanistan. The U.S. threatens small nations without real power. And the leadership today, and not just Trump, is infantile and narcissistic and ill-educated. It is as if the very worst and most stupid people in the country are now running it. But this has been trending this direction for thirty years now. It is not new. It has only gotten much worse, I think. There were mass pro Nazi rallies in Madison Square Garden in the 1930s. Americans adore royalty, too. The same Euro royals who have supported and protected fascists for hundreds of years. There is an unmediated worship of power and authority. Nearly anyone in uniform is fawned over. The American bourgeoisie always side with authority. With the status quo. With institutional power. Charlottsville is indeed a symptom, but it is not in any way an aberration.

By John Steppling/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

BLACK POLICE WORRY COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS BEING UNDERMINED

ATLANTA (AP) — The Trump administration’s tough talk on crime and the treatment of suspects has left black police officers worried that efforts to repair the fraught relationship between police and minority communities could be derailed.

A major black law enforcement group is set to hear Tuesday from Attorney General Jeff Sessions days after President Donald Trump said police shouldn’t be “nice” to suspects by shielding their heads as they are lowered, handcuffed, into police cars. The comment, now described by the White House as a joke, angered some cops who said it only served to dial back progress they’d made with the people they serve.

Black police officers talk of straddling two worlds: the communities where they live, and the police departments where they work. They take seriously their oath to uphold the law and to go after criminals, but they also worry about their own friends, relatives and neighbors who fear the police.

“We live in some of the same communities that are affected by this disparate treatment. We go to church in those neighborhoods. We go to the barbershops. Certain things people don’t realize: It’s really hard being black and being a police officer when these things happen,” said Clarence E. Cox III, former chief of Clayton County Schools in Georgia and incoming president of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Sessions has questioned the far-reaching federal civil rights investigations that were a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s efforts to overhaul troubled police departments, often after high-profile police deadly encounters with black men inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations.

Sessions has so far been silent on the president’s remarks, and the Justice Department did not immediately say whether he would mention them during the speech. Sessions has said aggressive federal intervention in local law enforcement can malign entire agencies and make officers less effective on the streets, but he has promised to prosecute individual officers who break the law. Still, he believes low officer morale can contribute to spikes in violence.

Civil rights advocates – and black police officers – are closely watching his efforts to reshape the department. Some of his most sweeping changes have come in the area of policing.

Sessions has been traveling the country touting his tough-on-crime agenda. He believes rising violence and the nation’s opioid epidemic necessitate a return to tougher tactics, vowing to make fighting ordinary street crime a top priority for a Justice Department.

Perry Tarrant, the assistant chief of the Seattle Police Department and the current president of NOBLE, expressed concern about Sessions’ pledge to dial back civil rights investigations. He notes that the Seattle department is under a settlement agreement – just shy of a consent decree – related to use-of-force complaints. While there are effective interim steps that can help address bad departments, he said, “at the end of the day if you have systemic issues in any organization, the Department of Justice has an obligation to intervene.”

Tarrant blanched when he heard the president’s remarks, worried it would encourage bad cops and taint the entire profession at a time when police are trying to instill trust among those they serve.

“We are professionals. We are not thugs,” he said. “If there’s any deviation from that, there’s certainly cause for concern and to suggest that we treat people less than nice and it results in any kind of injury, we’re talking about a crime.”

Trump’s remarks came last Friday before law enforcement officers in Suffolk County, New York, during a visit to highlight his administration’s efforts to crack down on a street gang known as MS-13. He appeared to advocate rougher treatment of people in police custody, speaking dismissively of the practice of shielding the heads of handcuffed suspects as they are placed in patrol cars.

“Don’t be too nice,” Trump said. “I said, ‘You could take the hand away, OK,'” he said.

His remarks were later denounced by the Suffolk County Police Department, which issued a statement afterward that it has strict rules and procedures about how prisoners should be handled and “we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”

For officers in the field, Sessions’ suggestion that he will no longer pursue court-enforceable improvement plans for police departments and Trump’s remarks were a double whammy, complicating efforts to improve relations with minority communities already suspicious of police, said Eddie Hawkins, a school resource officer in Ohio and president of the Sentinel Police Association, a group of black police officers in Cincinnati.

“This is like a marriage and this marriage is getting rougher and rougher,” he said.

BY LISA MARIE PANE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Michele Bachmann Calls Minneapolis Cop An ‘Affirmative-Action Hire’ Adding to Unwanted Attention Brought to Somali Community

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The killing of an unarmed Australian woman by a Minneapolis police officer who is a Somali-American has turned an unwelcome spotlight on the city’s beleaguered Somali community, where many again find themselves on the defensive.

The city’s police chief said Officer Mohamed Noor’s race and ethnicity had nothing to do with the July 15 killing of Justine Damond, who was shot after she called 911 to report a possible rape. But negative comments have included former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s recent statement that Noor was an “affirmative-action hire by the hijab-wearing mayor of Minneapolis” — an apparent reference to the fact that Mayor Betsy Hodges has worn a head scarf when meeting with leaders of the city’s Somali-American community. Bachmann also suggested Noor may have shot Damond for “cultural” reasons.

But Mohamud Noor, a community advocate who is not related to the officer, said the shooting “has nothing to do with the Somali community, period.”

“It’s easy to target individuals who are from a small minority community and say, ‘See, I told you so,’ rather than focusing on the issue we have, which is a police issue.”

Damond, a white, 40-year-old spiritual teacher who was engaged to be married in August, was shot by Officer Noor as he sat in the passenger seat of a police vehicle. Noor’s partner, who was in the driver’s seat, told investigators he was startled by a loud noise immediately before Damond approached the squad car. Noor fired across his partner and through the driver’s side window, hitting Damond once in the abdomen.

Police Chief Janee Harteau, who resigned Friday, criticized Noor’s actions but said he was well-trained. On Thursday, she dismissed the notion that he was an affirmative-action hire, saying: “This is about an individual officer’s actions. … It’s not about race or ethnicity.”

From Sunday until noon Friday, the city had logged 55 complaints to its civil rights division, many expressing concern or anger about the shooting. Several were characterized as derogatory, discriminatory or anti-Muslim. At least one death threat was made against Noor.

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States, roughly 57,000 people according to the latest census figures, most of whom live in the Minneapolis area. The immigrants have been coming to Minnesota from their war-torn homeland since the 1990s, drawn by generous social services and the sense of community among the diaspora.

Minneapolis has made an effort in recent years to hire more Somali officers to ensure the department “reflects the city,” and Hodges said that effort will continue. The Somali officers on the force are seen as community role models, and are among the success stories of the immigrants in Minnesota.

The Somali community also is seeing its political influence grow. Ilhan Omar gained worldwide attention when she was elected to be the United States’ first Somali-American state legislator last November. Her election followed that of Abdi Warsame to the Minneapolis City Council in 2013. He was the first Somali elected to a U.S. city council. Somalis also serve on the Minneapolis and Mankato school boards.

But there have been troubles along the way, too.

More than 22 young men from the community have left the state since 2007 to join al-Shabab in Somalia, and roughly a dozen people have left in recent years to join militants in Syria, including the Islamic State group. In November, nine men were sentenced on terror charges for plotting unsuccessfully to join the group and fight in Syria.

Separately, a 20-year-old Somali-American went on a stabbing rampage at a shopping mall in St. Cloud last September, wounding 10 people before an off-duty police officer fatally shot him.

Community, city and government leaders have worked to combat such violence, with programs including a pilot project designed to counter violent extremism by bolstering social services for Somali youth. State funding was allocated to similar programs to help keep the community engaged.

Farhio Khalif, a Somali and women’s advocate, called Damond’s shooting “unacceptable” and said the incident has taken a toll on local Somalis.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “We are Minnesotans. We come together and light the candle as Minnesotans and treating us as different is unfair. … Just like in the Somali terrorist cases — this community is not a terrorist community.”

Abdirizak Bihi, another community advocate, said when other officers have fatally shot people, city leaders have typically reserved judgment until all facts are in and the police union has stood up for the officers. In this case, he noted, the union hasn’t been vocal and the police chief spoke out against the officer’s actions.

“What in the world is that supposed to mean?” he said. “This was completely different because of his ethnicity, and that’s what scares the hell out of us.”

By Tracy/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Jeff Sessions Just Revived a Policy Nobody Supports

Every day, law enforcement officials across the United States seize cash from motorists stopped at the side of the road. It’s called “civil forfeiture,” and the stories of abuse are legion: over $17,000 seized from the owner of a barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Virginia; over $13,000 seized from a former church deacon in DeKalb County, Georgia; and over $50,000 seized from a Christian rock band in Muskogee County, Oklahoma.

Civil forfeiture allows government to seize property based on the mere suspicion that it is connected to a crime. For instance, the fact that the cops think someone has too much cash is enough to warrant a seizure. After the property is seized, in a complete reversal of the way the American justice system is supposed to work, owners must prove their own innocence to get it back.

Public outrage over the practice has grown as more tales of abuse have been reported. And fortunately, over the last three years, 24 states have passed reforms to protect property owners and curtail civil forfeiture. Less fortunately, on Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new federal policy that threatens to undermine those reforms.

Speaking in a small conference room surrounded by law enforcement officials, Sessions announced the federal government was rolling back a Holder-era policy that had sharply curtailed so-called adoptive seizures. An adoptive seizure occurs when a state police officer seizes property and then transfers it to the federal government, which then forfeits the property under federal law. Importantly, state law enforcement gets to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the forfeiture.

More from Politico Magazine

Posted by Libergirl

Study: cities rely more on fines for revenue if they have more black residents

The study also offers a potential solution: Elect more black people to local government.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

If you want to stop police from disproportionately ticketing black communities, a recent study has one potential answer: Elect more black people to local government.

The study, by political science researchers Michael Sances of the University of Memphis and Hye Young You of Vanderbilt University, had two major findings.

Using data from more than 9,000 cities, the researchers first found that cities with larger black populations rely more on fines and court fees to raise revenue. The average collection was about $8 per person for all cities that get at least some revenue from fines and fees, but that rose to as much as $20 per person in the cities with the highest black populations. The findings persisted even after controlling for other factors, such as differences in crime rates and the size of cities.

Then the researchers wanted to look at how much this disparity would be alleviated if at least one black person is on the city council. Using a smaller sample of about 3,700 cities due to data limitations, they found that having at least one black person on the city council reduced the relationship between race and fines by about 50 percent.

“What a lot of cities do is rely on a source of revenue that falls disproportionately on their black residents,” Sances told me. “And when blacks gain representation on the city council, this relationship gets a lot better. The situation doesn’t become perfect, but it becomes alleviated to a great extent.”

The study does not prove causation, and the researchers caution against drawing definitive conclusions from just one study. Although they tried to control for all sorts of variables that could explain the findings, it’s always possible that something else is going on that they missed. The researchers hope to address some of these limitations in future studies.

Nonetheless, the study’s findings are corroborated by a lot of evidence we’ve seen over the past few years — particularly since Black Lives Matter protests rose up in Ferguson, Missouri, following the August 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown. Time and time again, we’ve seen that when cash-strapped cities need revenue, they use their police departments to ticket vulnerable populations, particularly racial minorities.

The study adds to the existing evidence by offering a potential solution: electing more black representation to local governments. The researchers can’t definitively explain why this is the case. But one possibility is that black politicians are more receptive to black voters’ concerns, so they’ll often hear complaints about fines from their black constituents and tell the local police department to stop exploitative practices.

One caveat, though, is that the researchers don’t expect even full black representation to completely solve this problem. “There’s a degree of influence there for sure,” Sances said. But “we don’t assume city councils have perfect control over the police.”

The study gives more evidence to a long-existing concern

The exploitation of black populations for local revenue is not new. This has often been a big concern in many cities with large black populations, including Ferguson.

After Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, the US Department of Justice released a report validating many of these concerns. The March 2015 report found that city officials worked together at every level of enforcement — from city management to the local prosecutor to the police department — to make as much money from fines and court fees as possible, ranging from schemes to raise total fines for municipal code violations to asking cops to write as many citations as possible.

Law enforcement appeared to deliberately target black residents: Although black people made up about 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, about 85 percent of the people stopped and about 90 percent of the people who received a citation were black.

So what explains this? One possibility is that police are simply targeting the people who are most vulnerable and less likely to have any political clout.

Some cops have admitted to this. “When you put any type of numbers on a police officer to perform, we are going to go to the most vulnerable,” Adhyl Polanco, a New York City police officer, told WNBC last year. “We’re going to [the] LGBT community, we’re going to the black community, we’re going to go to those people that have no boat, that have no power.”

Indeed, Sances named this as one of the possible explanations for his study’s findings. “These city officials are taking advantage of a population that’s basically voiceless,” he told me.

This would also explain why local black representation seems to offer a bulwark against the problem: By electing a black council member who’s more likely to listen to black voters’ concerns, black populations see their political clout — and ability to complain about potential police exploitation — grow.

These kinds of issues lead to more distrust in the law, which can lead to more crime

The practices exposed by the study are not only unfair but also may make it more difficult for police to do their chief job: fight crime.

The idea, known as “legal cynicism,” is simple: The government is going to have a much harder time enforcing the law when large segments of the population don’t trust it or its laws.

This is a major explanation for why predominantly minority communities tend to have more crime than other communities: After centuries of neglect and abuse, black and brown Americans are simply much less likely to turn to police for help — and that may lead a small but significant segment of these communities to resort to its own means, including violence, to solve interpersonal conflicts.

There’s research to back this up. A 2016 study, from sociologists Matthew Desmond of Harvard, Andrew Papachristos of Yale, and David Kirk of Oxford, looked at 911 calls in Milwaukee after incidents of police brutality hit the news.

They found that after the 2004 police beating of Frank Jude, 17 percent (22,200) fewer 911 calls were made in the following year compared with the number of calls that would have been made had the Jude beating never happened. More than half of the effect came from fewer calls in black neighborhoods. And the effect persisted for more than a year, even after the officers involved in the beating were punished. Researchers found similar impacts on local 911 calls after other high-profile incidents of police violence.

But crime still happened in these neighborhoods. As 911 calls dropped, researchers also found a rise in homicides. They note that “the spring and summer that followed Jude’s story were the deadliest in the seven years observed in our study.”

That suggests that people were simply dealing with crime themselves. And although the researchers couldn’t definitively prove it, that might mean civilians took to their own — sometimes violent — means to protect themselves when they couldn’t trust police to stop crime and violence.

“An important implication of this finding is that publicized cases of police violence not only threaten the legitimacy and reputation of law enforcement,” the researchers write, but “they also — by driving down 911 calls — thwart the suppression of law breaking, obstruct the application of justice, and ultimately make cities as a whole, and the black community in particular, less safe.”

The fiscal exploitation of black communities could have the same effect. When you’re pulled over as many as dozens of times for petty offenses, you’re going to be much less likely to trust the police are working to keep you safe — and much less likely to call on them when you need help. And that could ultimately make it much harder for police to do their jobs.

by German Lopez/Vox

Posted by The NON-Conformist

An Ill-Advised Lawsuit Against Black Lives Matter Activists

Last July, Gavin Long, a black, 29-year-old former Marine, ambushed police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killing three officers and wounding three more before being killed. Now one of the wounded, who was rendered permanently disabled in the shooting, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Black Lives Matter movement and activists including DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie, whom he blames for inciting the attack.

Image: Time Magazine

The unnamed police officers’ injuries were so grave, and so grievously unfair, that it’s not hard to understand this officer’s urge to hold someone accountable. But blaming Black Lives Matter is wrong.

Passages like the following are typical of the complaint:

In 2016, as a leader of BLACK LIVES MATTER, DERAY MCKESSON and the other Defendants planned the Summer of Chaos, Weekend of Rage, and used the internet and social media to organize, stage and orchestrate protests and to attend and/or lead multiple protests and violence that accompanied the protests including, among many others, those in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; McKinney, Texas; Dallas, Texas; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Baton Rouge protests, in large part, took place outside the Baton Rouge Police Department located in front of the former Woman’s Hospital on Airline Highway. This place is the same area where this shooting took place.

More from The Atlantic

Posted by Libergirl

A Riot Started in Newark 50 Years Ago. It Shouldn’t Have Been a Surprise

Image: Time Magazine

On Wednesday in Newark, N.J., members of the community will gather at a memorial to 26 citizens of that city. Under an inscription — “We will forever remember the names of those whose lives were lost” — it lists the names of those who were killed during a riot that began 50 years ago.

But, as urban riots in recent history have drawn comparisons to those of a half-century ago, it’s clear that, while the names of the fallen are an important piece of history, there’s something else worth remembering, too.

The incident that sparked the Newark riot occurred during the early evening of July 12, 1967, when a black cab driver was beaten and arrested by two white police officers for a minor traffic infraction in Newark’s Central Ward area. As word of the incident spread, a crowd gathered outside police headquarters where the injured driver, who was rumored to be dead, was being held. Despite calls to remain calm, frustrated protesters, fed up with the lack of response to their concerns, began throwing rocks, breaking police station windows. Two days of looting followed — and when the looting stopped, the killing began, as New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes called in state troopers and the National Guard to restore order. The violence only escalated, resulting in the loss of life. By the time the fighting ended on July 17th, the level of property damage was massive, and injuries were in the hundreds.

More from Time Magazine

Posted by Libergirl