sights & sounds

June 7, 2010

freedom of association

Dear Rand Paul,

You sorely embarrassed yourself in the debate on the Civil Rights Act with Rachel Maddow a few weeks ago. You could have waxed lengthy on grassroots solutions to racist policies that don’t rely on state authority, but you didn’t – instead, you just hemmed and hawed about your (false) commitment to freedom of association and ‘the Constitution’; and as a result, many people accused you of being a racist. Although Maddow never accused you of racism herself, perhaps you deserve such accusations – you can’t invoke ‘freedom of association’ and then violate Americans’ freedom to associate with people born in Mexico1; you can’t claim to have a love affair with the Constitution and then proclaim your rejection of the 14th amendment2.

But not to worry! You have a chance to redeem yourself. (more…)

June 6, 2010

‘being gracious’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 4:39 am
Tags: , ,

Officer James Crooker

From OregonLive.com; emphases mine:

In mid-May, Portland police Officer James Crooker  went to Southeast Portland on a patrol call. With a few minutes to spare, he decided to get a coffee.

So, he popped into the Red & Black  cafe on Southeast 12th Avenue near Oak Street, bought a coffee and was heading out when a customer approached him, saying she appreciates the hard job that police officers do every day in Portland.

One of the co-owners of the cafe, John Langley,  has another point of view. While the officer and customer were chatting, he walked up and asked Crooker to leave, saying he felt uncomfortable having a uniformed officer in the vegan cafe.

The incident, which was brief, speaks volumes about the tensions between Portland police and some members of the community who are more worried about police shootings than protection.

Crooker said he was surprised to be shown the door but left immediately. He said this marked a first during his nine-year in law enforcement, two in Portland and seven in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

“The places that I’ve been kicked out of before have been places like the methadone clinic,” he said. “I’ve never been kicked out of a regular cafe.”

But the 36-year-old officer, who was born and raised in Portland, said it’s all part of working this city’s streets in a uniform.

“We have a unique relationship with the community,” he said. “You’re there to protect them but on the other hand they don’t know what that involves. Being gracious is part of it.”

When Langley asked Crooker to leave, [Cornelia Seigneur] was startled.

“It was shocking,” Seigneur said. “Everyone deserves to have a coffee, and he was served a coffee. It was humiliating.”

A former Marine who served in Iraq2, Crooker didn’t take the incident to heart.

(more…)

June 1, 2010

reclaiming the streets

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 12:56 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the NY Times; emphases mine:

Starchild is one of a handful of working men and women fighting a proposed city law that would make it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks in San Francisco for most of the day. Backed by the city’s Police Department and Mayor Gavin Newsom, the “sit-lie” law is being hailed by supporters as a weapon to combat aggressive behavior by the city’s myriad sidewalk dwellers.

But advocates of the homeless and some sex workers see it as a direct attack on the city’s weakest, as well as on the city’s own image as a tolerant refuge for live and let live.

Advocates for men and women of the night like Starchild say the proposed law has the potential to make their difficult lives — what with the fear of arrest, disease and occasionally dangerous clients — even more arduous.

Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for Mr. Newsom, a Democrat who is running for lieutenant governor, said the law was not meant to target any specific group, but to protect residents from harassment in neighborhoods like the Haight-Ashbury, the hippie-friendly enclave where groups of youths still congregate to drink, panhandle and smoke marijuana.

“It’s about unacceptable behavior,” Mr. Winnicker said, “and giving police another tool to deal with it.”

Leaving aside the utter absurdity of denying someone’s right to occupy a public space they’re forced to maintain with their own tax dollars1, the fact that cops are focusing on petty ‘infractions’ like loitering speaks volumes about their priorities – it’s completely disingenuous for supporters to pretend that this law has anything to do with public safety. (more…)

May 18, 2010

police accountability

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 9:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones

From Associated Press; emphasis mine:

DETROIT — State police will take over the investigation of the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl by a Detroit police officer during a weekend raid at the girl’s home, a prosecutor said Monday.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said bringing in the state police to investigate the killing of Aiyana Jones would avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

“I agree that it is most appropriate that this be done independently,” Worthy said.

Aiyana was asleep on the living room sofa in her family’s apartment when Detroit police, searching for a homicide suspect, burst in and an officer’s gun went off, fatally striking the girl in the neck, family members said.

Her father, 25-year-old Charles Jones, told The Detroit News he had just gone to bed early Sunday after covering his daughter with her favorite blanket when he heard a flash grenade followed by a gunshot. When he rushed into the living room, he said, police forced him to lie on the ground, with his face in his daughter’s blood.

“I’ll never be the same. That’s my only daughter,” Jones told WXYZ-TV.

Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said officers set off the flash grenade as they entered the apartment with their guns drawn about 12:40 a.m. Sunday with a warrant to look for a suspect in the Friday slaying of a 17-year-old boy. The lead officer’s gun went off after he encountered a 46-year-old woman inside the front room of the home and “some level of physical contact” ensued. Police do not believe the gun was fired intentionally. (more…)

May 7, 2010

‘child endangerment’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 4:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

From Columbia Tribune; emphases mine:

A man arrested on suspicion of drug charges and child endangerment said he is concerned with the actions of police who shot two dogs they described as “aggressive” while serving a drug-related search warrant at his home earlier this month in southwest Columbia.

Police arrested Jonathan E. Whitworth, 25, of 1501 Kinloch Court on Feb. 11 on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and second-degree child endangerment.

A police SWAT team entered Whitworth’s residence around 8:30 p.m. suspecting a large amount of marijuana at the location, police spokeswoman Officer Jessie Haden said. SWAT members encountered a pit bull upon entry, held back and then fatally shot the dog, which officers said was acting in an uncontrollably aggressive manner.

Whitworth was arrested, and his wife and 7-year-old son were present during the SWAT raid, Haden said. A second dog, which Whitworth’s attorney Jeff Hilbrenner described as a corgi, also was shot but was not killed.

“The family is concerned with what happened,” Hilbrenner said. “We don’t feel like what happened in the home was appropriate. The priority right now for us is the misdemeanor charges.”

(some upsetting video footage of the incident below the cut)
(more…)

April 25, 2010

of police states and imaginary borderlines

From the NY Times; emphasis mine.:

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

[Governor Jan Brewer] acknowledged critics’ concerns, saying she would work to ensure that the police have proper training to carry out the law. But she sided with arguments by the law’s sponsors that it provides an indispensable tool for the police in a border state that is a leading magnet of illegal immigration. She said racial profiling would not be tolerated, adding, “We have to trust our law enforcement.”

…..

“We have to trust our law enforcement”? (more…)

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