The Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT) is seeking US government accountability for the killing of four unarmed students and the injury of nine others by US military personnel on May 4, 1970 at a Kent State University anti-Vietnam war rally. The Kent State killings gained national attention in 1970 leading to mass protests and student strikes across the United States. Witnesses and historians have asserted a pronounced role by the FBI before and during the shootings, and command responsibility that pointed to Ohio governor James Rhodes’ collusion. In response to the surge of activism following Kent State, on May 5, 1970 President Nixon said: “This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy. It is my hope that this tragic and unfortunate incident will strengthen the determination of all the nation’s campuses, administrators, faculty and students alike to stand firmly for the right which exists in this country of peaceful dissent and just as strong against the resort to violence as a means of such expression.”
Essentially, the hate that Malcolm X spoke of, historically reserved for “defenseless black people,” is now developing into indiscriminate rage – targeting poor and working-class people of all colors throughout the US. Through this ongoing process, it is becoming apparent that even white privilege, in itself, is beginning to lose its immunity from this unaccountable wrath. The 2011 beating of a homeless schizophrenic man, Kelly Thomas, in a transit parking lot in Fullerton, California confirmed this wrath. The incident was, unbeknown to officers, recorded by security cameras on the night of July 5, 2011, and later viewed by millions of Americans as the officers’ trial was closely followed. Thomas was unarmed and posed no threat at the time of the beating. “The surveillance camera footage shows Thomas being beaten, clubbed and stunned with a Taser by police.” Thomas suffered a coma and died five days later in a hospital bed.
It’s no Iron Man suit, but if you’ve got a knack for civil disobedience and often find yourself on the business end of a Taser, the folks at Hackaday discovered that carbon fiber clothing can actually let you shrug off those electric shocks. To be more specific, they cut open the lining of a sports coat and lined it with endless strips of iron-on no-sew hem tape and carbon fiber tape so that the resulting jacket still had lots of flexibility. The carbon fiber conducts electricity much better than human skin, and since the strips were placed close enough to let the juice flow between them, they were able to dissipate the charge without shocking down the dapper-looking target.
“Robert Boyle and Phillip G. Dantes, attorneys for Conway, filed a motion on his behalf based on this ruling, arguing that the judge in Conway’s trial had not properly instructed the jury that this “beyond a reasonable doubt” proviso was mandatory for conviction. Based on this motion, they negotiated an agreement whereby Conway would be resentenced to time served and be released from prison. In exchange, Conway and his lawyers agreed not to litigate his case based on the Unger ruling[…] Scores of former Black Panthers are serving virtual life sentences in prison, largely the result of the efforts of J. Edgar Hoover, who ordered his FBI in the 1960s and ’70s to target the Black Panther Party – as revealed by the 1977 Church Committee Senate hearings. The first Panther chapter was started in 1966 in Oakland, California, but by the time a chapter was formed in Baltimore in 1968, the FBI had had ample time to insert more than its usual share of informants into the fledgling organization.”
Even in this time of indiscriminate corralling of the nation’s data — or the use of online operations to upend and discredit one’s opponents — there is still the old-fashioned retail approach: slowly developed entrapment and sting operations launched against those resisting government policy. Such activity came to light again this week with the revelation that surveillance and dirty tricks designed to infiltrate and undermine a nonviolent activist group based in Olympia, Wash., was much more extensive than previously thought. The Port Militarization Resistance, or PMR, movement organized nonviolent action aimed at peacefully blockading shipments of weapons from Fort Lewis military base — later renamed Joint Base Lewis-McChord — to Iraq and Afghanistan from ports in Olympia and Tacoma. ( Numerous actions took place between 2006 and 2009, including a 2007 nonviolent blockade in which activists were pepper-sprayed by police.)
On the night of March 3, 2014, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK Medea Benjamin was on her way to Egypt to join an international delegation of women going to Gaza when she was detained by border police in the Cairo airport, held overnight in a cell, and then brutally tackled (her arm badly injured), handcuffed, and deported to Turkey. During her time in the detention cell she had access to a cell phone, from which she contacted colleagues at CODEPINK about the poor conditions of the cell and chronicled her ordeal via Twitter. When the Egyptian police removed her from the detention center, they used such excessive force she sustained a fracture and torn ligament in her shoulder.
King claimed the city and the officers violated his First, Fourth and 14th amendment rights. In addition, he asserted the IMPD used excessive force against him and that he was a victim of false arrest and malicious prosecution. The settlement was reached within weeks of King’s March 10, 2014, trial date. Along with requiring the city to implement a new policy, the settlement also awarded King $200,000 in damages. Police Chief Rick Hite now has two months to issue a bulletin informing his officers that they should not stop civilians observing or filming their actions in public, so long as the person filming does not interfere with their duties and keeps a “safe and reasonable” distance. Chock this one up for a win!
The very point of the FBI’s COINTELPRO strategy of the 1960s was paranoia, divisive hatred, and ultimately cannibalization of radical opposition movements in the United States. And it was grimly successful. Now that there are signs that US police agencies are reviving such tactics, it is imperative that activists learn from the mistakes of their counterparts two generations ago, and find rational, principled, humane and above all tactically astute ways to respond…COINTELPRO functioned first through surveillance, with the FBI supplying intelligence to local police forces. But infiltration wasn’t merely aimed at information-gathering. It was aimed at creating paranoia about who was an infiltrator. This was consciously exacerbated through the use of false rumors, poison-pen letters and other such “black propaganda.” There was even a term for it back then: “snitch-jacketing”—ruining someone’s reputation by portraying him or her as a government snitch. The aim was to enflame factionalism—preferably to the point of violence. And, again: It worked.
In a major development in the Cecily McMillan prosecution, the trial scheduled to begin on March 3rd has been delayed again. The Justice for Cecily campaign has announced the new schedule this morning. On March 19th there will be a motions hearing on the motion submitted by Cecily’s attorney, Martin Stolar to unseal the personnel record of the sole eye witness in the case, Officer Bovell. This is a major development as such motions are rarely even taken seriously. In this case we already know that Officer Bovell has been reprimanded for his involvement in the Bronx ticket fixing scandal and is being sued for alleged assault on a young African American. Among the police misconduct in the ticket fixing was officers not showing up in court or testifying falsely by claiming not to remember the incident when the ticket was given. The personnel file of Officer Bovell should provide details of his wrong doing. In other trials jurors have rejected the testimony of officers involved in the ticket fixing scandal.
Has our country become one giant correctional institution? Americans are not typically aware of how their federal and state prison systems work. What we think we know, we learned from watching television. When I took my first walk through at FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) El Reno Oklahoma as a new employee, I was surprised at how non-Hollywood real prison life is. Frankly, all I knew about prison life was what I saw on television or at the movies. Not even close. As I got closer to retiring from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP), it began to dawn on me that the security practices we used in the prison system were being implemented outside those walls. “Free worlders” is prison slang for the non-incarcerated who reside in the “free world.” In this article I am going to compare a number of practices used in federal prisons to those being used today in the “free world.”
Take Action Now To Support Cecily McMillan: NY District Attorney Cy Vance said: “I believe that prosecutors should be among the most skeptical actors in the criminal justice system about what that concept means and how our decision-making process gets us there. Otherwise, we risk the phrase ‘doing justice’ devolving into an empty shibboleth.” District Attorney Vance’s words will be an “empty shibboleth” if he does not reconsider the prosecution of Cecily McMillan based on the testimony of a police officer who sexually assaulted her, who lacks credibility and whose testimony is inconsistent with other evidence. Mr. Vance has the opportunity to seek justice for Cecily McMillan but the only way to do so is to dismiss the charges against her.
Occupy participant Cecily McMillan is being prosecuted for felony police assault and may face up to 7 years in prison. In reality, it is the NYPD that should be on trial for their assault on McMillan. The trial has already been delayed because of the credibility of the arresting officer, however, New York City should review the case and drop all charges against McMillan. On the six month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street Cecily McMillan arrived at midnight to Zuccotti Park to meet some friends and go out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, she would find herself unconscious, in seizures and badly bruised. McMillan was not in Zuccotti to protest, but she arrived as the police began to violently break up the crowd. She felt someone grab her right breast she involuntarily swung her elbow around and hit the offender in the face. It turned out to be police officer, Grantley Bovell. She was violently arrested, knocked to the ground, unconscious and began suffering seizures while she was handcuffed.
The demonstration had started in a friendly atmosphere. “No thank you Ayraultport”, “No to Ayrault pork”, “Ayrault also emerges Vinci”, “Ni or airport metropolis, the city is ours” we heard in the procession. “The mobilization is great here. We are here to show our determination to abandon this useless and expensive at this time of shortage project,” said AFP Eva Joly MEP EELV. Given the anti-capitalist component of the event and clashes that have marked previous events, the prefecture on Friday adopted a modification of the route so that it avoids the downtown core. The event is organized two months after the publication of prefectural ordinances authorizing the start of pre-construction of the airport. Appeals were filed against these orders but do not have suspensive effect.However, work has still not started.
Terrorists are relatively rare. So, every now and then, undercover cops have got to go out and drum up some likely suspects to reassure the public that our money isn’t being wasted. The agents go to activist communities, sit around in anarchist cafes, hang out at punk rock concerts, and pop into open air, general assemblies. After getting the lay of the land, they start to advocate violence . . . just to see if there are any violence-prone potential terrorists in the crowd. The agents then arrest the individuals they have actively encouraged to consider violent means. Some would call this entrapment, but, apparently, the courts disagree. Forgive me for being less than grateful to the undercover agents who disrupt meetings, encourage violent tendencies, and even go so far as offer instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails, but this is hardly amusing to those of us in the activist community who take nonviolence – and our work – seriously.
On February 20, 2014 a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the New York City Police Department’s broad surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. In a summary 10-page opinion, and without oral argument, the case was dismissed for lack of standing and because the court considered plaintiffs’ claims of discrimination from NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program not “plausible.” Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) case, Hassan v. City of New York, was brought on behalf of a broad group of American Muslims from a variety of backgrounds – including a decorated Iraq war veteran and the former principal of a grade school for Muslim girls – who have been subjected to invasive NYPD spying. The City had argued that the events of 9/11 justified broad surveillance of any and all New Jersey Muslims, without any indication of wrongdoing. Hassan is the first direct legal challenge to the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey.