For decades, law enforcement has tried to intercept drug couriers on Amtrak trains. These efforts have utterly failed to stop the easy availability of marijuana, cocaine, and other narcotics. Meanwhile they’ve violated the rights of countless Americans. Earlier this week, I highlighted the story of Joseph Rivers, a 22-year old black man who left his hometown in hopes of becoming a music-video producer. En route to L.A., the DEA boarded his Amtrak and seized his life savings, $16,000 in cash, even though there was apparently no evidence he’d committed a crime or possessed any drugs. In a country in which police officers shoot and kill many more unarmed people than their analogues overseas, having the DEA hassle you and cost you $60 isn’t the biggest of law-enforcement abuses. It is, nevertheless, worth remembering that these sorts of incidents happen, because unlike misconduct that results in death or serious injury, relatively modest violations of rights like this often go unreported. Heuser didn’t complain to the DEA. “I’ve had my friends complain to the police before,” he explained, “and they basically said, you better watch yourself pal.”
On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped a bomb froma helicopter onto the MOVE organization, comprised of the Africa family, killing 11 people including five children, wounding scores and destroying 65 homes. John Africa, the founder of MOVE, said it stood for getting active, change and revolution. They had constant conflicts with mass arrests, hunger strikes in jail and police attacks. Would the Philadelphia police have bombed a white neighborhood? Such action is hard to imagine, therefore the racism of the MOVE bombing is hard not to see. But, the MOVE bombing also showed what happens when you give military power to a police force, problems we continue to see today.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray were being charged brought cheers and celebratory honking of horns. On closer inspection, however, there are important questions as to whether the arresting officers who began the process that led to Gray’s death were charged with an adequately serious offense. Indeed, if it had not been for the illegal arrest and the damage they did to Gray before the van ride, Gray would not have died. Further, comparing how the police were treated with how protesters were treated shows further injustice and prompts questions about amnesty for all those arrested during the protests. If a country truly believed in freedom of speech and the right to assembly, there would be amnesty for all the protesters who were arrested. They should have their records cleansed, the arrests should never have occurred and there should be no record of them. There is a human right to resist injustice that should be respected. As for the case of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Mosby still has a chance to amend the charges against the officers involved in his arrest or bring the case before a grand jury and seek an additional charge of second degree murder against the three arresting officers.
Three retired judges will review around 3,000 arrests connected to 14 San Francisco Police Department officers who are under investigation for allegedly sending racist and anti-gay text messages, the city’s top prosecutor announced Thursday. The judges, who are not being paid, will also try to determine if there is a “deeper culture of bias at the SFPD, and what the impact of such bias may be on prosecutions made by the District Attorney’s Office,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said. “If just one individual was wrongly imprisoned because of bias on the part of these officers — that’s one too many,” Gascón said. The judges will look at the circumstances of the 3,000 arrests to examine whether biases influenced arrest decisions, the decisions of prosecutors and potentially resulted in wrongful convictions.
The U.S. Justice Department on Friday launched an investigation into the Baltimore police department’s use of force and whether there are patterns of discriminatory policing. The probe, announced by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, was requested by Baltimore’s mayor in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who sustained fatal injuries while in police custody, and the outrage it sparked in Maryland’s largest city. Though the Justice Department is already investigating Gray’s death and working with the Baltimore police on reform, Lynch said last week’s protests pointed to the need for an investigation. “It was clear to a number of people looking at this situation that the community’s rather frayed trust – to use an understatement – was even worse and has in effect been severed in terms of the relationship with the police department,” Lynch said on Friday.
Video is shown of the militarized police enforcement of a civil disobedience action to enforce a curfew by National Guard troops and Baltimore Police in full riot gear. The protesters are sitting quietly after 10 PM and are surrounded by these militarized police who aggressively arrest them. The legality and effectiveness of the curfew are discussed. The panel also discusses the charges against six Baltimore police and the death of Freddie Gray as well as the circumstances leading up to the urban revolt in Baltimore after Gray was killed. Jay discusses the likelihood that the use of the National Guard and militarized police was a dress rehearsal for the use of military force during a civil disturbance which he predicts will come in future years. Jay describes the militarized policing as not justifiable for any other reason. He also describes conversations with top enforcement officials who have described similar activities in Canada as practice for when an insurrection occurs in the future.
The Chilean-born brothers of Rebel Diaz, a New-York-based hip hop duo, released a new video, which features a new remix of the labour movement classic “Which Side Are You On”, first written by in 1931 by Florence Reese, the wife of a mine worker. “The Which Side Are You On REMIX came out on our  Radical Dilemma album, but the time is NOW for the song and the message it represents,” wrote Rebel Diaz on their YouTube page. “We are living historic moments of oppression, to which the people have the right to respond with historic moments of resistance.” The lyrics highlights various social ills within US society, including political conformism, the prison industrial complex and economic inequality, while the video-clip includes numerous references to the recent police killings of Black men in the United States, including the latest in Baltimore with the death of Freddie Gray. The song features hip-hop legends Dead Prez and Rakaa Iriscience from Dilated Peoples.
Video of medics, legal observers being arrested as prisoners chant from inside BCDC Minutes after the 10 p.m. curfew went into effect on Saturday, Baltimore police arrested several self-identified medics and legal observers accompanying protesters marching on Greenmount Avenue. Police allowed the medics to hand over their medical supplies to others to hold for them before they were handcuffed and loaded into waiting police vans. As the medics and legal observers were waiting to be loaded into the van, after this video was taken, observers heard banging from inside the adjacent Baltimore City Detention Center, and then prisoners chanting, “All night, all day, we gonna fight for Freddie Gray.”
On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray was jumped by six Baltimore cops for staring at one of them. Less than an hour later, after a ride in the paddy wagon, Freddie’s spine was 80% severed and his voicebox crushed. On May 1, 2015, District Attorney Marilyn Mosby indicted all six cops, some even charged with murder or manslaughter. This article describes five things you need to know about the urban revolt that led to this conclusion. And concludes that Police cameras, civilian review boards, changing the police bill of rights and the like, fail to do the most important thing: fundamentally shift power by ending the occupation and the colonial relationship. That can only happen with Black Power. That can only happen when Black communities can exercise Community Control Over the Police. That must be our objective and demand for this time- Black Community Control Over Police, and then every other aspect of our lives.
The six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray – who died last month after being injured in police custody – have been charged criminally, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office. Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment. Warrants were issued for the arrest of all six officers. It wasn’t immediately clear where the officers were Friday morning. Mosby’s announcement on the steps of the War Memorial Building was greeted with cheers and applause. She said she told Gray’s family that “no one is above the law.”
The man who recorded one of two videos showing Baltimore cops dragging a screaming Freddie Gray into the back of a police van was arrested Thursday night, two days after voicing concerns that police were trying to intimidate him by plastering his photo all over the news, saying they wanted to interview him. The law caught up to him Thursday night, handcuffing him and two friends at gunpoint during a traffic stop that involved two police helicopters, one armored car, a police SUV and plenty of military looking cops with guns. “It looked like something out of a video game,” he said during a telephone interview withPhotography is Not a Crime Early this morning. “We asked them why are we being detained. They said it was because we made an illegal turn.” That illegal turn, according to police, consisted of the driver using a left turn signal to make a right turn, which Moore finds very dubious. Moore said he did not have identification on him, but when he told them his name, a flash of recognition crossed their faces and they ordered the paddy wagon.
WBAL investigative reporter Jayne Miller had told MSNBC on Wednesday that her own reporting suggested Gray was in no state to behave in the manner described in the Post report. “According to our sources, by the time that prisoner is loaded into that van, Freddie Gray was unresponsive,” Miller said. “Secondly, we have reported [there] is no evidence, medical evidence, that Freddie Gray suffered any injury that indicates that he injured himself.” Medical professionals have also said the catastrophic nature of Gray’s trauma suggestsit was not self-inflicted. Thursday’s developments about the nature of Gray’s injury don’t necessarily change any of Miller’s reporting. If the only factor in his death was in fact the spinal damage he reportedly suffered while in the back of the police van, the circumstances of that incident remain unclear. In fact, only one thing has become clear since Freddie Gray’s death: The police aren’t telling the whole story. And what they have chosen to disclose has in most cases left us with further questions, not concrete answers.
Anger boiled over in Baltimore as the funeral of Freddie Gray seems to have put the city over the breaking point, as we reported on Saturday the violence and property damage began at the end of Sunday’s protests at Camden Yards where protesters had conflicts with baseball fans who had been drinking. At the request of Gray’s family, things calmed down after that, but after the funeral, many lost control. These riots were not planned by protest leaders but seem to have happened spontaneously. The reality is this has been building from generations of gross neglect in very poor communities. Fifty years ago Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that a “riot is the voice of the unheard.” These riots have been building from the era of Dr. King. David Simon, the writer of the HBO series The Wire, got it right when he wrote on his blog: Yes, there is a lot to be argued, debated, addressed. And this moment, as inevitable as it has sometimes seemed, can still, in the end, prove transformational, if not redemptive for our city. Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard. All of that is true and all of that is still possible, despite what is now loose in the streets.
On May 9th Black mothers from across the United States will converge on Washington, DC to demand an end to the murder of unarmed husbands, sons and more frequently their daughters by police terror and white vigilantes. Frederick Douglas once said: “I prayed for twenty years (during captivity) but received no answer until I prayed with my leg.” Hundreds of mothers are coming to Washington, DC to pray with their feet and demand an end to the killings of their children. Maria Hamilton, founder of Mothers for Justice United will lead the Million Moms March for Justice. Hamilton’s son, Dontre (31) was killed by Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney on April 30, 2014.