The Devil is in Ferguson and Everyone is in Danger. . .
8.15.14 Ferguson: New Police Practices are Window Dressing To a Systemic Failure
The Devil is in Ferguson and Everyone is in Danger. . .
8.15.14 Ferguson: New Police Practices are Window Dressing To a Systemic Failure
Oakland Police Radio: “And the male black, he actually fleeing. .” and then 8 shots.
A young man was shot and killed Sunday Morning by an Alameda Sheriff assisting Oakland Police in a search yesterday morning in Oakland.
Oakland Police say the vehicle and Jacorey Calhoun, 23, the person driving it, matched the description of an armed robber from an incident two weeks ago. Oakland Police claim they initially tried to stop the vehicle. An alleged chase ensued, ending in deep east oakland with the car being abandoned and a hours to house search being conducted.
An Alameda Sheriff and their K-9 assisted in the search and just before 6 am they found Jacorey and shot and killed him.
Seconds after an Oakland Police Officer shattered Scott Olsen’s skull with a lead-filled munition, Officer Robert Roche threw an explosive teargas grenade at persons who were attempting to come to Olsen’s aid as he lay critically injured on the ground in clear view of the police. Roche was fired, but on July 30, an arbitrator overturned the termination and reinstated him with full back pay.
For those who don’t know. The murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was a defining moment in history. An 17 year old adolescent was murdered on his way home from the store by a self proclaimed “Neighborhood Watch” volunteer.
1. George Zimmerman called the police about a “suspicious person” and called Trayvon a “Coon” while speaking to the 911 dispatch who ordered him not to follow Trayvon.
2. Any self proclaimed “Neighborhood Watch” volunteer would know their neighbors. However this piece of trash didn’t.
3. George Zimmerman cited the “Stand Your Ground” law in his defense which allows people to use maximum force when defending themselves from hostile aggressors. The only problem was, the child that he murdered was the only person who could have cited that law as a justification for force. Zimmerman attacked Trayvon, even after being ordered by the police to not follow him.
4. A grown man attacks an unarmed child and shoots him. It is clear who the threat was in this instance and it’s clear who should have had the sense to stand down.
San Francisco – Otto Pippenger and Dimitrios Philliou, CCSF students who were injured and arrested in a violent attack on student demonstrators by San Francisco Police and City College Police on March 13, 2014, have filed tort claims against the City and County of San Francisco and against the San Francisco Community College District. Their attorney, National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area President Rachel Lederman, explained that the claims are required under state law as a first step before suing the City and County or the College and their employees in court.
Video by Jacob Crawford of WeCopwatch
On March 13, 2014, CCSF students held a demonstration calling for the resignation of Special Trustee Robert Agrella and the reversal of a new tuition policy put in place in response to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)’s decision to terminate CCSF’s accreditation. After a rally, the students marched to the administration building, Conlan Hall, a traditional site of student protests and sit-ins which is open to students and the public. To the students’ surprise, CCSF Chancellor Arthur Tyler ordered Conlan Hall closed to the demonstrators, and called in the San Francisco Police as well as the San Francisco Community College Police.
When students attempted to enter the building, the police responded with violence, hitting and shoving multiple students. Officers broke both of Otto Pippenger’s wrists with baton blows and punched him in the back of the head, slamming his face into the concrete and giving him a concussion. Dimitrios Philliou was thrown to the ground, choked and pepper-sprayed. Pippenger and Philliou were arrested and incarcerated until the early morning. Neither has been charged with any crime, but Chancellor Tyler issued a public statement on March 14 accusing the students of violence, and administrators have threatened the students with college discipline.
Explaining that students came to Conlan Hall to protest peacefully, Lalo Gonzalez, Student Senator said, “The accusations against the students are completely unfounded: scores of witnesses and video footage clearly show that all physical assaults were by police against students – not the other way around.”
“We demand that the chancellor retract his March 14 statement accusing student protesters of ‘engaging in violent outbursts’, and that his office make a public apology concerning the administration’s actions that day,” said student Sharon Shatterly, also a member of the Save CCSF Coalition, adding, “The removal of the elected Board of Trustees has resulted in many changes that are detrimental to students. Apparently, this includes new policies restricting freedom of speech on campus. The newly appointed Chancellor is making many such decisions behind closed doors, in violation of the Brown Act, without student input.”
“The police came in and started hitting people right away,” said Otto Pippenger, a first year CCSF student. “I was hit with a stick, dogpiled, punched in the head and held in jail all night. The concussion has really affected my schoolwork this semester. I am afraid of retaliation by the administration, but I want to continue to stand up for City College to remain an institution where the disenfranchised can get the tools to realize their dreams.”
Dimitrios Philliou described how the police held his face and pepper-sprayed it. “It was extremely painful. I couldn’t breathe and my face was on fire. There are so many ways that this whole incident could have been avoided.”
“The college administration has announced plans to hire an independent investigator to review this incident, but we have doubts about such an investigation in light of the Chancellor’s comments,” said Lederman. “We’ve conducted our own investigation and it is clear that both police agencies engaged in unconstitutional, excessive and unnecessary force. Both Otto and Dimitrios were seriously injured and have ongoing medical expenses. We will be pursuing legal remedies to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other students and that students don’t have to be afraid to speak out about issues on campus.”
$4.5 Million Tentative Settlement Reached In Scott Olsen’s Lawsuit for “Less Lethal” Shooting by Oakland Police
The City of Oakland has agreed to pay Scott Olsen $4.5 million to compensate him for devastating brain injuries he suffered when an Oakland Police officer shot him in the head with a “less lethal” munition on October 25, 2011, during a demonstration in support of Occupy Oakland. The lead filled “bean bag” round, fired from a 12 gauge shotgun, shattered Mr. Olsen’s skull and permanently destroyed part of his brain. The settlement in Olsen v. City of Oakland, 3:12-cv-06333, is pending final approval by the Oakland City Council. Mr. Olsen was represented by attorneys Jim Chanin, Rachel Lederman, and Julie Houk.
“After serving two tours of duty as a United States Marine in Iraq, Scott Olsen could never have imagined that he would be shot in the head by an Oakland Police officer while he was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights in support of the budding “Occupy” economic justice movement,” said Rachel Lederman. “Scott was 24 years old when the shooting and ensuing brain damage robbed him of what had been a promising career as a computer network and systems administrator.”
Jim Chanin said, “There was no dispute that Scott Olsen never posed a threat and was protesting peacefully. He was shot because OPD commanders decided to simultaneously use chemical agents to disperse the demonstrators and have officers shoot impact munitions at anyone who might be throwing something — even though this violated their own written policies. The obviously foreseeable result was that the officers shot people who were desperately trying to flee the scene, including Mr. Olsen.”
Mr. Olsen had only been at the demonstration for a matter of minutes before OPD commanders gave the order to use munitions on the assembled crowd. He was shot 18 seconds later. Lederman explained, “The commanders knew the teargas and flashbangs would cause people to panic and run, yet they elected to shoot SIM into the densely packed crowd and it is only a matter of luck that more people weren’t injured as severely as Scott Olsen or killed. If the police had done sufficient planning for the demonstration and followed their own Crowd Control Policy, the use of weapons could have entirely been avoided. After all, no other Bay Area city responded to Occupy with SIM or teargas and no other city has incurred the enormous costs that the people of Oakland have as a result.” “The cost is not only money,” added Olsen. “If people can’t speak out without fear of being shot we don’t really have democracy.”
After being shot, Mr. Olsen lay on the pavement critically injured and bleeding from the head, clearly visible very close to the line of police officers. When concerned protesters ran to his aid, OPD Officer Robert Roche threw a flashbang-like CS Blast grenade into their midst, causing them to scatter. The grenade exploded close enough to Mr. Olsen to burn his shoulder as he lay helpless. Civilians re-approached and persisted in carrying Mr. Olsen to safety, screaming for medical aid – but no law enforcement personnel responded or summoned medical attention even though their own policy requires them to provide medical aid to anyone hit with a SIM.
In an independent investigation commissioned by the City, former Baltimore Police Chief Tom Frazier found that “the fact that no law enforcement officer, supervisor, or commander observed the person falling down or prostrate in the street during the confrontation was unsettling and not believable.”
Mr. Olsen said that he is unable to return to his high tech career. “In the hospital, I had to learn how to talk all over again. Part of my brain isn’t working anymore. It’s not like something I really want to talk about all the time. I relive it every day.“
“This is the same police department that shot longshoremen and protesters with so-called less lethal munitions during a peaceful antiwar picket at the Port of Oakland in 2003,” explained Chanin. “At that time, the City and Police agreed to stop these practices and adopted a model policy for constitutional policing of demonstrations.” “But as soon as they had some more large protests,” said Lederman, “OPD scrapped that agreement and repeated the same mistakes. Scott Olsen’s is the worst of the injuries that resulted from that and I wish I could say it will be the last but that remains to be seen.”
In July, 2013, the Oakland City Council approved a $1,170,000 settlement in a civil rights lawsuit brought by Rachel Lederman, Jim Chanin, and other attorneys on behalf of journalist Scott Campbell and 11 other persons, Campbell et al v. City of Oakland, 3:11-cv-5498. A separate lawsuit, Sabeghi v. City of Oakland, 3:12-cv-6057, was resolved in December, 2013, for $645,000.
As part of the Campbell settlement and a companion $1,025,000 settlement in Spalding v. City of Oakland, 3:11-cv-2867, regarding unlawful mass arrests of protesters, the City and OPD again agreed to abide by the negotiated Crowd Control Policy and gave U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson the power to enforce compliance with the policy for up to seven years.
However, according to Lederman, “OPD has refused to get rid of so-called “less lethal” weapons such as CS Blast grenades and lead shot filled beanbags, and until they do so, it is only a matter of time before we see another tragedy.”
Police Cameras- Quick Fix for Police Misconduct, or Counter- Surveillance Tool?
by Rachel Lederman, Chapter President National Lawyers Guild – S.F. Bay Area & Jacob Crawford, Legal Worker & Copwatcher
“S.F. officers scandal shows need for wearable video cameras,” proclaimed a March 1 Chronicle editorial on the recent indictments of SFPD officers for drug dealing, theft and corruption. After all, the indictments were based in significant part on hotel surveillance video, and bystander videos have played a huge role in bringing police violence to public attention. Wouldn’t police misconduct be deterred if all cops had to wear body cameras?
Across the country, body cameras are being purchased by police departments in the name of transparency. According to a widely publicized study, Rialto, California, boasted an 88% drop in complaints in the first year after the cameras were introduced there, along with a 60% drop in police use of force. Rialto is a small city with only 66 cops, and its Police Chief, Tony Farrar, collaborated with Taser International, Inc., in the study. The Taser corporation has gained record profits by marketing body cameras to hundreds of cities, along with a cloud-based backup and search service called Evidence.com, which was used to collect the data for the Rialto study that led to many of these sales.
Even the study’s authors acknowledged that their methodology was flawed, because no evidence was collected from the members of the public who were also being videotaped by the wearable cameras to see how that influenced their behavior in relation to the police and their willingness to make complaints. Taser’s involvement should be a red flag to anyone who thinks these cameras are an easy tech fix for police accountability, as should the public’s inability to access the body cam video recordings.
The Oakland Police purchased PDRDs (Personal Digital Recording Devices) following the videotaped murder of Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009. Although Grant was murdered by a BART officer, there was fallout in the streets of Oakland against OPD, which has been unable to bring its police force under control despite its 2003 agreement to a federal court monitored consent decree. Oakland was one of the first agencies to implement PDRDs, so our experiences here should be instructive for those calling for PDRDs in other large urban areas where there is an entrenched police culture of racism and impunity.
PDRD video is treated as evidence first and foremost. This means that regardless of whether the video has captured illegal activity, or is being used in an investigation, it is not accessible to the general public – at least not without an attorney and a federal lawsuit, and even then, it may be difficult and take months or years to obtain the complete videos.
And like dashcam video, these chest mounted cameras have already shown themselves highly likely to malfunction during crucial incidents – or fall off, or be left behind or not turned on, despite policies which require officers to wear them and activate them during stops and other encounters.
For example, on October 25, 2011, when Scott Olsen was being shot in the head during OPD’s attack on Occupy Oakland, only one out of the eleven officers who were assigned PDRDs and who were wielding less lethal weapons wore and turned on his PDRD during the critical time. Other police surveillance video from that notorious day was withheld literally for years, even from the City’s own attorneys in ongoing federal civil rights litigation (and some of it seems to have disappeared permanently.) In another high profile Occupy related OPD fiasco, on January 28, 2012, multiple officers were documented by independent journalists with their PDRDs off at various times, despite orders mandating that the devices be activated during direct contact with the crowd.
In his most recent, January 2014, quarterly report, the court appointed Independent Monitor of the OPD found that “The matter of the proper use of the Department’s PDRDs remains a concern. In too many instances, there are questions about the measure to which personnel throughout the Department understand the use, review, and utility of these devices.” While there had been some improvement in the past six months over previous years, “recent assessments of force cases revealed several serious incidents in which officers – who were in a position to obtain evidence of the facts and circumstances surrounding the use of force – did not have or activate their PDRDs.”
Moreover, even when they are used, the chest cam doesn’t show close proximity physical encounters between an officer and victim, allowing the officer to supply his own narration, such as yelling “Stop resisting” while pummeling a person, or turning the camera on and stating that she smells marijuana or that he has just seen the person drop something that might be drugs, to justify a search, arrest or brutality. And officers are able to turn the cameras on and off at will, thus editing on the fly. Since, absent lawyers and major effort and expenditure, the videos, if they are preserved, are only accessible to the police and not the public, they effectively turn primarily into tools for the police to collect evidence against the public and combat the public’s videotaping of the police, by creating their videos from the law enforcement point of view videos. After all, as Taser claims in its marketing materials for the wearable cameras and content management software, “Testimony is interesting. Video is compelling.”
As with Tasers, which were marketed as a high tech method of reducing Officer Involved Shooting deaths, PDRDs are a mixed bag and not an easy solution to what are actually much broader issues of racism and state repression. If the cameras are to create greater police accountability, it is essential that the videos be made immediately accessible to the public – and that the public (including Copwatchers and NLG Legal Observers) continue our own independent documentation of law enforcement actions.
More Info Below. . .
Journalists Ali Winston and Jacob Crawford reported on Oakland Police not using their cameras back in 2012
A New Way To Punish Oakland Cops?
You can watch the video produced by Jacob Crawford
Oakland Police MisUsing their Cameras
Oakland Police have been forced to wear cameras since 2011. A new report (2012) shows the department is still plagued with the same problems that landed it in a decent decree back in January of 2003, and their cameras still aren’t being used according to their own policy. .
You can read the Warsaw report here. .
You can read the “Rialto/Taser”Study here. . .
THE GHOSTS OF MARCH 21 premiers this week in the Bay Area.
La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA
This interrogation of a day in the life of Oakland, California, is focused on March 21, 2009, when a shoot-out between a young man named Lovelle Mixon and members of the Oakland Police Department resulted in the death of Mixon himself and four Oakland police officers. Closely following the day’s events, this documentary examination of the encounter’s underlying contradictions challenges the mainstream narrative of the confrontation and in so doing, it sheds new light on the nature and reproduction of racism in the contemporary United States.
To date, the dominant narrative of the shoot-out, propagated by the Oakland Police Department, state officials and the media, has been that Lovelle Mixon was a monster and a rapist and the slain officers were angels and heroes. This perspective, viewed through a liberal lens and reliant on misleading labels, pretends the shoot-out occurred in a vacuum devoid of history and sociopolitical factors; producing an illusion that has re-enforced the status quo, suppressed critical thought, and ultimately, attempts to delegitimize the Black experience in America by rejecting the validity of the systemic factors at its root.