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Posts Tagged ‘ACLU’

Alabama Expands Law Allowing Private Police Forces — And the Opposition Goes Nuts | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 2, 2019

Thus, it’s not even clear that the church police force legally has much more power than would private civilians providing security.

Some colleges in PA have their own police force. What about private security guards/firms?

Government. Power and control over you.

Recently, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation permitting Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish its own police force for its church and school campuses, which are used by 2,000 students and faculty, as well as 4,000 parishioners. The legislation is to take effect in the fall. The church’s attorney who drafted the legislation, Eric Johnston, said that they have traditionally hired off-duty police officers to patrol their campuses, but they are not always available, and therefore the church would like to have its own dedicated sworn peace officer. The bill’s language is similar to that found in the Alabama Code, Section 16-22-1, which lists various educational institutions (including private ones) that may hire their own police officers who are charged with all the duties and powers of police officers, trained in the use of non-lethal weaponry, and certified by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission. Johnston stated that it would not involve a jail or other facilities, but basically an officer and an official car and “If there is an arrest on campus, the local jurisdiction would be called and they would come pick the person up.”

Of course, there has been the expected knee-jerk reaction regarding the desirability of such an arrangement. Randall Marshall of the Alabama ACLU, for instance, says the law will help the church cover-up criminal activity that occurs on its campuses, and that it is a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause because “It establishes a singular religion that is favored above all others in the state of Alabama and it gives them the authority of state government.”

It is interesting to note, however, that the functions the church wants the police to perform would not require sworn peace officers. Various media accounts of the story (for example, see here, here, and here), emphasize that the proposed police force would have the power to arrest people committing crimes on campus property, as if this would be a major power grab. However, in comparing the arrest powers of private citizens in Alabama (AL Code § 15-10-7) to those of a sworn officer without a warrant (AL Code § 15-10-3), one sees striking similarity.

Here is the statute on arrests by private persons:

 Section 15-10-7 Arrests by private persons.

(a) A private person may arrest another for any public offense:

(1) Committed in his presence;

(2) Where a felony has been committed, though not in his presence, by the person arrested; or

(3) Where a felony has been committed and he has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it.

(b) An arrest for felony may be made by a private person on any day and at any time.

(c) A private person must, at the time of the arrest, inform the person to be arrested of the cause thereof, except when such person is in the actual commission of an offense, or arrested on pursuit.

(d) If he is refused admittance, after notice of his intention, and the person to be arrested has committed a felony, he may break open an outer or inner door or window of a dwelling house.

(e) It is the duty of any private person, having arrested another for the commission of any public offense, to take him without unnecessary delay before a judge or magistrate, or to deliver him to some one of the officers specified in Section 15-10-1, who must forthwith take him before a judge or magistrate.

And here is the section on arrests by sworn officers without a warrant: 

Section 15-10-3 (abridged) Arrest without warrant — Generally; written report; protection orders.

(a) An officer may arrest a person without a warrant, on any day and at any time in any of the following instances:

(1) If a public offense has been committed or a breach of the peace threatened in the presence of the officer.

(2) When a felony has been committed, though not in the presence of the officer, by the person arrested.

(3) When a felony has been committed and the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed the felony.

(4) When the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested has committed a felony, although it may afterwards appear that a felony had not in fact been committed.

(5) When a charge has been made, upon reasonable cause, that the person arrested has committed a felony.

(6) When the officer has actual knowledge that a warrant for the person’s arrest for the commission of a felony or misdemeanor has been issued, provided the warrant was issued in accordance with this chapter. However, upon request the officer shall show the warrant to the arrested person as soon as possible.

Thus, it’s not even clear that the church police force legally has much more power than would private civilians providing security. Regardless, the church finds having sworn officers provide security, with the concomitant costs of getting the state to allow it and the promised litigation by the ACLU, to be preferable to hiring non-sworn personnel. Without speaking to the church leadership directly, one can only speculate why this is the case.

Despite the insignificant legal change, there is a strange asymmetry with which power in the hands of a state actor is treated compared to the same (apparent) power in the hands of a non-state actor. No doubt the writer of the CBS News article on the subject meant the following to sound ominous:

Some of the restrictions of the church’s police force would include: no jail, police activity would be limited to church property, officers would answer to the church and if you had a complaint, you’d have to complain it [sic] to the church.

To most ears, the idea of complaining to the church about its own police force seems ludicrous. How could they be an impartial arbiter? And yet, for most municipal police departments, the recourse if one has a complaint is to complain to the department directly. It is not clear why we should expect better outcomes in the latter case.

Others question whether the church police force will be properly transparent and accountable, saying, “Most police forces serve public entities, so ultimately they are accountable to the community they serve.” If we grant such an incredibly naïve and tautological view of government accountability some degree of plausibility, I can see no reason why the same idea would not apply to a church campus serving 4,000 parishioners and 2,000 students, numbers on par with a rather small municipality. Unlike a city government, the parishioners and parents of students choose whether to give money to the church and can more easily switch churches than cities. Even if one thinks that an individual parishioner or parent will have little influence over church governance, it is absurd to think that their influence over municipal government will be any stronger. The only way to come to the conclusion that a municipal police force has any advantage in terms of accountability over a 2-man church police force patrolling a privately-owned campus is to not have thought about the issue at all.

This is not to argue that Briarwood Presbyterian Church’s upcoming police force should be thought of as an ideal arrangement; granting certain parties privileges to use coercive force is inherently suspect. However, if one is concerned about Briarwood’s police force, they ought to be hysterical over pretty much any police force in the United States. Somehow, the state seems to get a pass in areas where non-state entities are treated with suspicion.

One final thought: advocates of community-oriented policing should be Briarwood’s champions. Briarwood a well-defined and organized community with specific problems they want the police to solve, and will itself be involved in the co-production of security. The Briarwood police will be more accountable to community leadership than the typical municipal police force, who in addition to the tax money they extract from locals also receive federal “community-oriented policing services” grants to purchase SWAT equipment. Yet I would be surprised if any policing scholar who has written in support of community policing will come to the defense of Briarwood, or see it as an example of what they purport to support. If I am right, there ought to be no doubt left that community policing is truly rhetoric over reality.

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Top Execs of 180 Companies: Abortion Necessary to Be Successful in Business

Posted by M. C. on June 11, 2019

The US did pretty well for 200 years without it. Oddly, things don’t look so good anymore.


The top executives of more than 180 companies have signed a letter that says abortion is essential in order for people to be successful in their businesses.

“When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities and our economy are better for it,” the executives say in the letter posted on a newly launched website titled “Don’t Ban Equality.”

“Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers,” they said, adding:

Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business. It impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.

A full list of the companies who signed the letter can be found here. They include:

  • Slack Technologies
  • Bloomberg LP
  • MAC Cosmetics
  • H&M
  • Yelp
  • Square, Inc
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Atlantic Records & Warner Music Group
  • Hint, inc.
  • The Body Shop US

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, signed the letter for his other company, digital payment platform Square.

The letter appeared as a full-page ad in the New York Times Monday, reported CNN.

The abortion lobby, led by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU formed the coalition of business executives as more states are passing restrictions on abortion.

Ilyse Hogue, NARAL’s president, said her abortion advocacy group is praising the executives for “taking a stand on behalf of their employees, customers, and communities.”

“We encourage the entire business community to join us in protecting access to reproductive health care in the critical months and years to come,” she said.

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FBI arrests leader of armed group stopping migrants in New Mexico

Posted by M. C. on April 22, 2019

“Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement of Hopkins’s arrest.

The problem is trained law enforcement officials (ie government) aren’t doing the job.

TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) – The FBI on Saturday said it had arrested Larry Hopkins, the leader of an armed group that is stopping undocumented migrants after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border into New Mexico.

The arrest came two days after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the group of illegally detaining migrants and New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered an investigation.

Hopkins, 69, also known as Johnny Horton, was arrested in Sunland Park, New Mexico, on a federal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement…

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DHS wants to ramp up use of facial recognition at airports from just 15 to almost all in 4 years | Daily Mail Online

Posted by M. C. on April 20, 2019

According to the DHS, the technology is not only scalable, but also extremely accurate.

That makes me feel better. From ACLU about Amazon’s scanning technology misidentifying members of congress.From ACLU about Amazon’s scanning technology misidentifying members of congress.

By James Pero For


  • Facial recognition software could soon be standard in airports across the U.S.
  • The tool would be used to track people coming in and out of the country
  • Photos of passengers would be run against a database of visas and passports 
  • DHS’ interest in facial recognition comes amidst rising human rights concern

Despite concerns over facial recognition’s impact on civil liberties, public agencies have continued to apply the tool liberally across the U.S. with one of the biggest deployments coming to an airport near you.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that it plans to expand its application of facial recognition to 97 percent of all passengers departing the U.S. by 2023, according to the Verge.

By comparison, facial recognition technology is deployed in just 15 airports, according to figures recorded at the end of 2018.

In what is being referred to as ‘biometric exit,’ the agency plans to use facial recognition to more thoroughly track passengers entering and leaving the country.

The system functions by taking a picture of passengers before they depart and then cross-referencing the image with a database containing photos of passports and visas.

According to the DHS, the technology is not only scalable, but also extremely accurate.

In its current iteration, a summary states that the technology has scanned more than 2 million passengers with a near-perfect match rate of 98 percent.

In its limited deployment, the DHS says that it has helped to identify 7,000 passenger overstays since being introduced in 2017 as well as six passengers attempting to use identification not belonging to them…

Among the most unlikely voices of caution against the widespread deployment of facial recognition has been Microsoft — one of the biggest and most sophisticated purveyors of facial recognition software.

This month the company announced that it denied lending its software to an unnamed California law enforcement agency who planned to use the tool to scan the faces of people the agency pulled over, so that it could be checked against a database.

The reason behind the decision, according to Microsoft President, Brad Smith, is that the company felt the software — artificial intelligence systems that use machine learning to improve its capabilities — would disproportionately affect people of color and women…

One of the most vocal critics, the ACLU, has argued that scanning someone’s face skirts laws involving probable cause and could be used for mass government surveillance…

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Your Alternative to Facial Recognition





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New Gun Bill Would Require Buyers To Reveal Social Media History

Posted by M. C. on February 7, 2019

Didech says his bill is a less intrusive version of a similar measure that’s been proposed in New York state. That version allows police to recover a gun license applicant’s entire browsing history. Even Didech says that goes too far.

The reality of social media and it’s originators. FB, Google, Twitter would fall over each other to hand over your history.

Like the ad says-the possibilities are endless. Any innocent comment can be interpreted by some rabid anti-fill in the blank bureaucrat so as to ruin you and your reputation.

The good thing is even the virulently anti-gun ACLU doesn’t like this idea. So far.

New Gun Bill Would Require Buyers To Reveal Social Media History

By Derrick Blakley

That’s why Didech is proposing gun buyers reveal their public social media accounts to Illinois police before they’re approved for a firearm license.

“A lot of people who are having mental health issues will often post on their social media pages that they’re about to hurt themselves or others,” Didech said. “We need to give those people the help they need.”

Pro-gun groups are outraged.

“When people look at this everyone who has a Facebook account or email account or Twitter account will be incensed or should be,” said Richard Pearson with the Illinois State Rifle Association.

But the ACLU is opposed as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Resistance to US laws censoring criticism of Israel goes mainstream | The Electronic Intifada

Posted by M. C. on December 26, 2018

In response to Amawi’s lawsuit, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that “Texas stands with Israel. Period.”

What about US?

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Anti-BDS bills are designed to suppress Palestine rights activism in the US. (Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)

Opposition to laws muzzling Americans who criticize Israel has gone mainstream.

Two separate lawsuits were filed this week against a Texas law requiring state contractors to certify they will not boycott Israel.

Another lawsuit was filed by a local newspaper in Arkansas, which refused to sign a similar pledge in order to win an advertising contract.

Meanwhile, senators Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein, and The New York Times editorial board, have condemned efforts to rush through federal legislation aimed at silencing Israel’s critics.

On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Bahia Amawi, a speech pathologist in Texas, who refused to sign a contract to renew her job with the Austin public school district.

The contract included a clause that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that country.

Amawi says this requirement violates her First Amendment rights. Read the rest of this entry »

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Possible Congressional move on Israel Anti-Boycott Act alarms activists – Mondoweiss

Posted by M. C. on December 12, 2018

Because we know who really runs the show.

Pro-Palestine and free speech activists who have been mobilizing against the Israel Anti-Boycott Act are sounding an alarm about rumors of a secret attempt this week to slip the legislation, which the ACLU has declared unconstitutional even in its revised form, into the must-pass House spending bill.

Despite having 292 House cosponsors and 58 in the Senate, Congressional leaders have not brought the IABA to a vote during the 115th Congress. Now, with just days before Democrats take control of the House, and with numerous cosponsors leaving office due to retirements and midterm losses, time could be running out.

The declining chances for the passage next year of the IABA, a longtime AIPAC priority, may account for machinations like the rumored attempt to slip it into the appropriations bill. A newsletter from Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) warns:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Media Too Busy Defending John McCain to Report News That Actually Affects You

Posted by M. C. on August 29, 2018

Written by 

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — Right on schedule, the corporate media is in a tizzy over President Donald Trump’s failure to acknowledge the death of Senator John McCain, who passed away over the weekend after a battle with brain cancer.

As CBS “reported”: “While the White House originally lowered the flag late Saturday evening, White House reporters, including CBS News’ Mark Knoller, noticed that the flag was back at full staff Monday morning.

As Trump Stays Silent on John McCain’s Death, the Senator Gets a Last Word,” reads a New York Times headline.

NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw tweeted Monday:


Tom Brokaw


pres trump – you are commander in chief by law, duty bound to honor sen mccain
ignoring his death is a disgrace

You get the picture. The media feeding frenzy has reached a fever pitch over Trump’s failure to adequately honor the same senator who pushed for war in Iraq and advocated arming and training Syrian rebels, a U.S. government program that eventually saw the Department of Defense empowering extremist factions. McCain then criticized Trump for ending the CIA’s iteration of that program, claiming doing so was handing a win to Russia.

But McCain is an American hero today, seemingly because he was a Republican who openly challenged Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the media is ignoring a far more important development: Read the rest of this entry »

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Amazon, Stop Powering Government Surveillance | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Posted by M. C. on June 6, 2018

It also offers to flag things it considers “unsafe” or “inappropriate.”

I wonder if Jeff Bezos considers reading blog as  “unsafe” or “inappropriate.” Not sure? Just ask the government.

EFF has joined the ACLU and a coalition of civil liberties organizations demanding that Amazon stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure. Last week, we signed onto a letter to Amazon condemning the company for developing a new face recognition product that enables real-time government surveillance through police body cameras and the smart cameras blanketing many cities. Amazon has been heavily marketing this tool—called “Rekognition”—to law enforcement, and it’s already being used by agencies in Florida and Oregon. This system affords the government vast and dangerous surveillance powers, and it poses a threat to the privacy and freedom of communities across the country. That includes many of Amazon’s own customers, who represent more than 75 percent of U.S. online consumers… Read the rest of this entry »

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ACLU: Amazon shouldn’t sell face-recognition tech to police

Posted by M. C. on May 22, 2018

Amazon sells everything, including your privacy.


The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy activists are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency — the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon — to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.

But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time….

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