By Seed Coalition for SEED. Heather and another activist with Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED) climbed a crane on a site being used for the construction of a massive fracked gas export terminal in the community of Cove Point, Maryland. They hung a banner from the top of the crane that read “Dominion, go home. No gas exports. Don’t frack Maryland. Save Cove Point.” The climbers’ lives were jeopardized when law enforcement officers tried to remove them from the crane in an unsafe way — an allegation that the state’s attorney didn’t challenge in court. The complaint Heather filed that is central to this case stems from her being assaulted during the extraction by a 6’4”, 285 lb. cop while surrounded by numerous officers, Dominion employees, and contractors. A statement about the assault and endangerment was released after the court process from that action ended, in order to not incriminate the defendants when they had open legal cases.
By Kit O’Connell for Truthout – At a protest in downtown Denver, on April 29, 2015, a police officer stole Jessica Benn’s smartphone. Benn had been filming her husband, Jesse, from the safety of the sidewalk as police arrested him. That was enough for her to be targeted and to have her property illegally seized. “An officer just stepped up to me and grabbed it right out of my hand,” she told Truthout. “Right behind him was an officer in SWAT gear who then took me and pushed me up against a bus with a baton across my neck and held me there.”
By Baynard Woods for The Guardian. Feb. 27, 2016, Baltimore, MD – For the more than 240 days since Keith Davis was shot in the face by Baltimore police, he has nursed his wounds from a jail cell, facing a barrage of charges on allegations that he robbed an unlicensed cab driver and fled. Davis was the first police-involved shooting since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody set off citywide protests in April. And while Gray became a household name as representative of the more than 1,000 people who are killed by police each year, activists have held up Davis as an example of how Gray and others like him might have been treated by the law enforcement system if they had lived. On Thursday, a jury found Davis not guilty on all the charges but one.
By Brian Bowling and Andrew Conte for Trib Live – Federal prosecutors declined to pursue civil rights allegations against law enforcement officers 96 percent of the time since 1995, a Tribune-Review investigation found. The Trib spent six months analyzing nearly 3 million federal records on how the Justice Department and its 94 U.S. Attorney offices handled criminal complaints against law enforcement officers from 1995 through 2015. The records include matters referred to Justice by the FBI and other agencies and those it opened on its own.
By M. David for The Free Thought Project – Tremonton, UT — Bear River, Utah resident Rex Iverson, 45, died in the Box Elder County Jail on January 23 after being incarcerated for his failure to pay an ambulance bill. A deputy arrested him on a $350 bench warrant issued by the justice court on December 29. He was found unresponsive in his cell by a detention deputy a few hours after being arrested. “We go to great lengths to never arrest anybody on these warrants,” Box Elder County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dale Ward told the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
By Sarah Ryley for ProPublica and the New York Daily News – A wide swath of public officials are calling for change in response to a Daily News and ProPublica investigation about the NYPD’s use of an obscure type of lawsuit to boot hundreds of people from homes. The cases are happening almost exclusively in minority neighborhoods. Several city council members said they were considering amendments and other reforms to safeguard abuses. Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson said the statistics included in the story are “shocking.”
By George Joseph for The Guardian – Contracts between police and city authorities, leaked after hackers breached the website of the country’s biggest law enforcement union, contain guarantees that disciplinary records and complaints made against officers are kept secret or even destroyed. A Guardian analysis of dozens of contracts obtained from the servers of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) found that more than a third featured clauses allowing – and often mandating – the destruction of records of civilian complaints, departmental investigations, or disciplinary actions after a negotiated period of time.
By Sebastian Murdock for The Huffington Post – The Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald intentionally damaged his dashcam and never synced his microphone to it. And he’s not the only one. More than 1,800 police maintenance logs first obtained by DNAinfo Chicago show a disturbing trend of Chicago cops intentionally and routinely tampering with their dashcams and mics in an effort to block audio. Jason Van Dyke, the officer charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old McDonald in October 2014, caused “intentional damage” to his dashcam at least once, along with other instances of his dashcam breaking, the logs show.
By Ali Abunimah for the Electronic Intifada. An Israeli court ordered the immediate, unconditional release of Palestinian human rights defender Nasser Nawaja on Thursday, but as of Friday morning he remained in custody. Lawyers are filing a motion against Israeli police for contempt of court. Nawaja, who works as a field researcher for B’Tselem in the occupied West Bank, was picked up as part of an intensifying crackdown on Israeli human rights groups. Butavia, being transported while in police custody, alleges that Israeli police are working hand in hand with Ad Kan. “The people sitting across from me [during interrogation] had Ad Kan forms in their hands,” Butavia states. “They simply received all the questions and the entire interrogation, ready made, from Ad Kan. The Israeli police is working for the Shomron Settlement Committee.” “This is entirely a political arrest. It’s whole purpose is to undermine our activity for human rights in the [occupied] territories and against the crimes and criminals of the occupation,”
By Kevin Gosztola for Shadowproof. Jared Chase is the last member of the “NATO 3,” who remains in prison. Chase suffers from Huntington’s disease and faces additional charges for alleged aggravated battery against a prison guard. He is set to go on trial in April. Chase, Brian Jacob Church and Brent Betterly came to Chicago in May 2012 for protests against NATO. They became known as the “NATO 3” after they were targeted by undercover Chicago police and arrested on May 16. The state of Illinois accused the “NATO 3” of making explosives. On February 7, 2014, after a lengthy trial in which the key role of undercover cops became even more apparent, a jury acquitted the “NATO 3” of all terrorism charges. But they were found guilty of arson-related offenses and “mob action” charges. Betterly, who was released from prison in April 2015, was last with Chase while they were beat up by guards during their arrival at the Stateville prison’s receiving center. During a recent pretrial hearing on December 7, 2015, Chase showed up to court with a black eye and a swollen face. Betterly said he’s lost a considerable amount of weight, perhaps fifty pounds.
By Nick Robins-Early for Huffington Post. While the protests met their initial goal of stopping the urban expansion, demonstrators have been invigorated by the crackdown and have continued to rally against the government. “The complaints of the protesters have now expanded to include the killing of peaceful protesters and decades of marginalization,” Human Rights Watch Horn of Africa researcher Felix Horne told The WorldPost over email. What began as a protest over land rights is now representative of a number of grievances with the government and ruling EPRDF. Ethiopia has seen a period of rapid economic growth in the past 10 years, but its urban and industrial expansion has also resulted in land disputes, corruption and authoritarian crackdowns on opposition groups. As demonstrators increasingly demand solutions for Ethiopia’s many social and political problems, rights groups worry that the unrest and violence will continue.
By Mara H. Gottfried for Twin Cities – A St. Paul police sergeant issued a public apology Wednesday for a Facebook comment to “run them over” about an upcoming Black Lives Matter march, but the mayor and others said they continue to be outraged. Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker, who is on paid leave from the department and is the subject of an internal affairs investigation, said he is “extremely sorry” and understood “the post was insensitive and wrong.” “My poor choice of words conveyed a message I did not intend and am not proud of,” Rothecker said in a statement.
By Michael Nigro for The Huffington Post – During the Tamir Rice protest in downtown Cleveland, on December 29, 2015, police officer Brian Dorin, after using his cop car to “win” a game-of-chicken versus street protesters, rolled down his window and yelled at a 25-year-old black student-activist, “Do you want to be the next one.” The incident is recounted in my Huffington photo essay published on January 8, 2016. Alana Belle, the student-activist to whom the phrase was directed, has now filed a complaint against Officer Dorin through the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), a civilian run police review board.
By Staff of Police Spies Out of Lives – On Friday 15th January 2016, the Metropolitan Police withdrew their defence in a case brought against them over undercover police relationships. In a significant development at the High Court, the police asked for judgment to be entered against them in respect of the claims for deceit, assault/battery, misfeasance in public office and negligence. The claim had been brought by Kate Wilson, who was deceived into a 2-year relationship with undercover officer Mark Kennedy.
Michael Nigro for The Huffington Post – A Cleveland police cruiser lurches forward into a coterie of protesters and stops dangerously close to hitting a number of us who, along with about 150 others, had taken the streets for a second day in a row since the local grand jury decided not to indict the officers who shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice. And then, quite unbelievably, the officer behind the wheel does it again; he continues his odd and unnecessary game of chicken with the protesters. A siren blast. An engine rev. And then the cop bucks his car closer. And then he does it again.