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The Rutherford Institute :: Virtual School Dangers: The Hazards of a Police State Education During COVID-19 | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on September 16, 2020

As a result, students are being subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up,” in addition to being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk.

This is what constitutes a police state education these days: lessons in compliance meted out with aggressive, totalitarian tactics.

It won’t be long before you start to see police carrying out knock-and-talk investigations based on whatever speculative information is gleaned from those daily virtual classroom sessions that allow government officials entry to your homes in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

It won’t take much at all for SWAT teams to start crashing through doors based on erroneous assumptions about whatever mistaken “contraband” someone may have glimpsed in the background of a virtual classroom session: a maple leaf that looks like marijuana, a jar of sugar that looks like cocaine, a toy gun, someone playfully shouting for help in the distance.

This may sound far-fetched now, but it’s only a matter of time before this slippery slope becomes yet another mile marker on the one-way road to tyranny.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/virtual_school_dangers_the_hazards_of_a_police_state_education_during_covid_19

By John W. Whitehead

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984

Once upon a time in America, parents breathed a sigh of relief when their kids went back to school after a summer’s hiatus, content in the knowledge that for a good portion of the day, their kids would be gainfully occupied, out of harm’s way, and out of trouble.

Back then, if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school or suffering through a parent-teacher conference about your shortcomings.

Of course, that was before school shootings became a part of our national lexicon.

As a result, over the course of the past 30 years, the need to keep the schools “safe” from drugs and weapons has become a thinly disguised, profit-driven campaign to transform them into quasi-prisons, complete with surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs, school resource officers, strip searches, and active shooter drills.

Suddenly, under school zero tolerance policies, students were being punished with suspension, expulsion, and even arrest for childish behavior and minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight.

Things got even worse once schools started to rely on police (school resource officers) to “deal with minor rule breaking: sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes.”

As a result, students are being subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up,” in addition to being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk.

This is what constitutes a police state education these days: lessons in compliance meted out with aggressive, totalitarian tactics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another troubling layer to the ways in which students (and their families) can run afoul of a police state education now that school (virtual or in-person) is back in session.

Significant numbers of schools within the nation’s 13,000 school districts have opted to hold their classes online, in-person or a hybrid of the two, fearing further outbreaks of the virus. Yet this unprecedented foray into the virtual world carries its own unique risks.

Apart from the technological logistics of ensuring that millions of students across the country have adequate computer and internet access, consider the Fourth Amendment ramifications of having students attend school online via video classes from the privacy of their homes.

Suddenly, you’ve got government officials (in this case, teachers or anyone at the school on the other end of that virtual connection) being allowed carte blanche visual access to the inside of one’s private home without a warrant.

Anything those school officials see—anything they hear—anything they photograph or record—during that virtual visit becomes fair game for scrutiny and investigation not just by school officials but by every interconnected government agency to which that information can be relayed: the police, social services, animal control, the Department of Homeland Security, you name it.

After all, this is the age of overcriminalization, when the federal criminal code is so vast that the average American unknowingly commits about three federal felonies per day, a U.S. Attorney can find a way to charge just about anyone with violating federal law.

It’s a train wreck just waiting to happen.

In fact, we’re already seeing this play out across the country. For instance, a 12-year-old Colorado boy was suspended for flashing a toy gun across his computer screen during an online art class. Without bothering to notify or consult with the boy’s parents, police carried out a welfare check on Isaiah Elliott, who suffers from ADHD and learning disabilities.

An 11-year-old Maryland boy had police descend on his home in search of weapons after school officials spied a BB gun on the boy’s bedroom wall during a Google Meet class on his laptop. School officials reported the sighting to the school resource officer, who then called the police.

And in New York and Massachusetts, growing numbers of parents are being visited by social services after being reported to the state child neglect and abuse hotline, all because their kids failed to sign in for some of their online classes. Charges of neglect, in some instances, can lead to children being removed from their homes.

You see what this is, don’t you?

This is how a seemingly well-meaning program (virtual classrooms) becomes another means by which the government can intrude into our private lives, further normalizing the idea of constant surveillance and desensitizing us to the dangers of an existence in which we are never safe from the all-seeing eyes of Big Brother.

This is how the police sidestep the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for probable cause and a court-issued warrant in order to spy us on in the privacy of our homes: by putting school officials in a position to serve as spies and snitches via online portals and virtual classrooms, and by establishing open virtual doorways into our homes through which the police can enter uninvited and poke around.

Welfare checks. Police searches for weapons. Reports to Social Services.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Profits from Militarizing the Police? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2020

Under the circumstances and given who’s providing the equipment, you won’t be surprised to learn that the 1033 Program also suffers from lax oversight. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) created a fake law enforcement agency and was able to acquire $1.2 million worth of equipment through the program, including night vision goggles and simulated M-16A2 rifles. The request was approved within a week of the GAO’s application.

Companies in the military-industrial complex earn billions of dollars selling weapons, as well as building and operating prisons and detention facilities, and supplying the police while theoretically dealing with problems with deep social and economic roots. Generally speaking, by the time they’re done, those problems have only become deeper and more rooted.

https://mises.org/wire/who-profits-militarizing-police?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=310502e004-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-310502e004-228343965

Ever since images of the police deploying armored vehicles against peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, hit the national airwaves in 2014, the Pentagon’s program for supplying “surplus” military equipment to local police departments has been a news item. It’s also gotten intermittent attention in Congress and the executive branch.

Since 1997, the Pentagon’s 1033 Program, as it’s called, has channeled to 8,000 separate law enforcement agencies more than $7.4 billion in surplus equipment, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles of the kind used on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with rifles, ammunition, grenade launchers, and night vision devices. As Brian Barrett has pointed out at Wired, “Local law enforcement responding to even nonviolent protests has often looked more like the U.S. Armed Forces.” Political scientist Ryan Welch coauthored a 2017 study suggesting, when it came to police departments equipped in such a fashion, “that officers with military hardware and mindsets will resort to violence more often and more quickly.”

Under the circumstances and given who’s providing the equipment, you won’t be surprised to learn that the 1033 Program also suffers from lax oversight. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) created a fake law enforcement agency and was able to acquire $1.2 million worth of equipment through the program, including night vision goggles and simulated M-16A2 rifles. The request was approved within a week of the GAO’s application.

The Obama administration finally implemented some reforms in the wake of Ferguson, banning the transfer of tracked vehicles, grenade launchers, and weaponized aircraft, among other things, while requiring police departments to supply more detailed rationales describing their need for specific equipment. But such modest efforts—and they proved modest indeed—were promptly chucked out when Donald Trump took office. And the Trump administration changes quickly had a discernible effect. In 2019, the 1033 Program had one of its biggest years ever, with about 15,750 military items transferred to law enforcement, a figure exceeded only in 2012, in the Obama years, when 17,000 such items were distributed.

As noted, the mere possession of military equipment has been shown to stoke the ever stronger “warrior culture” that now characterizes so many police departments, as evidenced by the use of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams armed with military weaponry for routine drug enforcement activities. It’s hardly just SWAT teams, though. The weaponry and related items provided under the 1033 Program are widely employed by ordinary police forces. NBC News, for instance, reported that armored vehicles were used at least 29 times in response to Black Lives Matter protests organized since the murder of George Floyd, including in major urban areas like Philadelphia and Cincinnati. NBC has also determined that more than 1,100 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles have been distributed to local law enforcement agencies under the MRAP program, going to communities large and small, including Sanford, Maine, population 20,000, and Moundsville, West Virginia, population 8,400.

A report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has similarly documented the use of Pentagon-supplied equipment in no-knock home invasions, including driving up to people’s houses in just such armored vehicles to launch the raids. The ACLU concluded that “the militarization of American policing is evident in the training that police officers receive, which encourages them to adopt a ‘warrior’ mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies, as well as in the equipment they use, such as battering rams, flashbang grenades, and APCs [Armored Personnel Carriers].”

Who Benefits?

Companies in the military-industrial complex earn billions of dollars selling weapons, as well as building and operating prisons and detention facilities, and supplying the police while theoretically dealing with problems with deep social and economic roots. Generally speaking, by the time they’re done, those problems have only become deeper and more rooted. Take, for example, giant weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon that profit so splendidly from the sales of weapons systems to Saudi Arabia, weaponry that in turn has been used to kill tens of thousands of civilians in Yemen, destroy civilian infrastructure there, and block the provision of desperately needed humanitarian assistance. The result: more than a hundred thousand deaths in that country and millions more on the brink of famine and disease, including COVID-19.

Such major weapons firms have also been at the front of the line when it comes to benefiting from America’s endless post-9/11 wars. The Costs of War Project at Brown University estimates that the United States has spent over $6.4 trillion on just some of those overseas conflicts since 2001. Hundreds of billions of those dollars ended up in the pockets of defense contractors, while problems in the US, left far less well funded, only grew.

And by the way, the Pentagon’s regular budget, combined with direct spending on wars, also manages to provide huge benefits to such weapons makers. Almost half of the department’s $750 billion budget goes to them. According to the Federal Procurement Data System’s latest report on the top recipients of government contracts, the five largest US arms makers alone—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics—split well over $100 billion in Pentagon awards among them in 2019. Meanwhile, those same five firms pay their CEOs a total of approximately $100 million per year, with hundreds of millions more going to other top executives and board members.

Meanwhile, in the Trump years, the militarization of the border has become a particularly lucrative business opportunity, with General Atomics, for instance, supplying ever more surveillance drones and General Dynamics supplying an ever more intricate and expensive remote sensor surveillance system. There are also millions to be made running privatized prisons and immigrant detention centers, filling the coffers of firms like CoreCivic and the GEO Group, which have secured record profits in recent years while garnering about half their revenues from those two sources.

Last but not least is the market for even more police equipment. Local forces benefit from grants from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase a wide range of items to supplement the Pentagon’s 1033 Program.

The True Bottom Line

Much has been written about America’s failed post-9/11 wars, which have cost trillions of dollars in taxpayer treasure, hundreds of thousands of lives (American and otherwise), and physical and psychological injuries to hundreds of thousands more. These wars have also propped up sectarian and corrupt regimes that have actually made it easier for terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS to form and spread. Think of it as the ultimate boomerang effect, in which violence begets more violence while allowing overseas terrorist organizations to thrive. As journalist Nick Turse has noted with respect to the militarization of US Africa policy, the growth in American military operations on that continent has proceeded rather strikingly in conjunction with a proliferation of new terrorist groups. Put the best light on them and US counterterror operations there have been ineffective. More likely, they have simply helped spawn further increases in terrorist activities in the region.

[This is an selection from a longer essay published at TomDispatch.com.]

Author:

William D. Hartung

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

 

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The Rutherford Institute :: The Worst Is Yet to Come: Contact Tracing, Immunity Cards and Mass Testing | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on May 19, 2020

This war on COVID-19 will be yet another war on the American people, waged with all of the surveillance weaponry at the government’s disposal: thermal imaging cameras, drones, contact tracing, biometric databases, etc.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_worst_is_yet_to_come_contact_tracing_immunity_cards_and_mass_testing

By John W. Whitehead

The things we were worried would happen are happening.”—Angus Johnston, professor at the City University of New York

No one is safe.

No one is immune.

No one gets spared the anguish, fear and heartache of living under the shadow of an authoritarian police state.

That’s the message being broadcast 24/7 with every new piece of government propaganda, every new law that criminalizes otherwise lawful activity, every new policeman on the beat, every new surveillance camera casting a watchful eye, every sensationalist news story that titillates and distracts, every new prison or detention center built to house troublemakers and other undesirables, every new court ruling that gives government agents a green light to strip and steal and rape and ravage the citizenry, every school that opts to indoctrinate rather than educate, and every new justification for why Americans should comply with the government’s attempts to trample the Constitution underfoot.

Yes, COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on the nation emotionally, physically, and economically, but there are still greater dangers on the horizon.

As long as “we the people” continue to allow the government to trample our rights in the so-called name of national security, things will get worse, not better.

It’s already worse.

Now there’s talk of mass testing for COVID-19 antibodies, screening checkpoints, contact tracing, immunity passports to allow those who have recovered from the virus to move around more freely, and snitch tip lines for reporting “rule breakers” to the authorities.

If you can’t read the writing on the wall, you need to pay better attention.

These may seem like small, necessary steps in the war against the COVID-19 virus, but they’re only necessary to the police state in its efforts to further undermine the Constitution, extend its control over the populace, and feed its insatiable appetite for ever-greater powers.

Nothing is ever as simple as the government claims it is.

Whatever dangerous practices you allow the government to carry out now—whether it’s in the name of national security or protecting America’s borders or making America healthy again—rest assured, these same practices can and will be used against you when the government decides to set its sights on you.

The war on drugs turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with SWAT teams and militarized police.

The war on terror turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with warrantless surveillance and indefinite detention.

The war on immigration turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with roving government agents demanding “papers, please.”

This war on COVID-19 will be yet another war on the American people, waged with all of the surveillance weaponry at the government’s disposal: thermal imaging cameras, drones, contact tracing, biometric databases, etc.

So you see, when you talk about empowering government agents to screen the populace in order to control and prevent spread of this virus, what you’re really talking about is creating a society in which ID cards, round ups, checkpoints and detention centers become routine weapons used by the government to control and suppress the populace, no matter the threat.

This is also how you pave the way for a national identification system of epic proportions.

Imagine it: a national classification system that not only categorizes you according to your health status but also allows the government to sort you in a hundred other ways: by gender, orientation, wealth, medical condition, religious beliefs, political viewpoint, legal status, etc.

Are you starting to get the bigger picture yet?

This is just another wolf in sheep’s clothing, a “show me your papers” scheme disguised as a means of fighting a virus.

Don’t fall for it.

The ramifications of such a “show me your papers” society in which government officials are empowered to stop individuals, demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless screenings, searches, and interrogations are beyond chilling.

By allowing government agents to establish a litmus test for individuals to be able to exit a state of lockdown and engage in commerce, movement and any other right that corresponds to life in a supposedly free society, it lays the groundwork for a society in which you are required to identify yourself at any time to any government worker who demands it for any reason.

Such tactics quickly lead one down a slippery slope that ends with government agents empowered to force anyone and everyone to prove they are in compliance with every statute and regulation on the books.

It used to be that unless police had a reasonable suspicion that a person was guilty of wrongdoing, they had no legal authority to stop the person and require identification. In other words, “we the people” had the right to come and go as we please without the fear of being questioned by police or forced to identify ourselves.

Unfortunately, in this age of COVID-19, that unrestricted right to move about freely is being pitted against the government’s power to lock down communities at a moment’s notice. And in this tug-of-war between individual freedoms and government power, “we the people” have been on the losing end of the deal.

Curiously enough, these COVID-19 restrictions dovetail conveniently with a national timeline for states to comply with the Real ID Act, which imposes federal standards on identity documents such as state drivers’ licenses, a prelude to this national identification system.

Talk about a perfect storm for bringing about a national ID card, the ultimate human tracking device.

Granted, in the absence of a national ID card, which would make the police state’s task of monitoring, tracking and singling out individual suspects far simpler, “we the people” are already tracked in a myriad of ways: through our state driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, purchases and electronic transactions; by way of our correspondence and communication devices—email, phone calls and mobile phones; through chips implanted in our vehicles, identification documents, even our clothing.

Add to this the fact that businesses, schools and other facilities are relying more and more on fingerprints and facial recognition to identify us. All the while, data companies such as Acxiom are capturing vast caches of personal information to help airports, retailers, police and other government authorities instantly determine whether someone is the person he or she claims to be.

This informational glut—used to great advantage by both the government and corporate sectors—has converged into a mandate for “an internal passport,” a.k.a., a national ID card that would store information as basic as a person’s name, birth date and place of birth, as well as private information, including a Social Security number, fingerprint, retinal scan and personal, criminal and financial records.

A federalized, computerized, cross-referenced, databased system of identification policed by government agents would be the final nail in the coffin for privacy (not to mention a logistical security nightmare that would leave Americans even more vulnerable to every hacker in the cybersphere).

Americans have always resisted adopting a national ID card for good reason: it gives the government and its agents the ultimate power to target, track and terrorize the populace according to the government’s own nefarious purposes.

National ID card systems have been used before, by other oppressive governments, in the name of national security, invariably with horrifying results.

For instance, in Germany, the Nazis required all Jews to carry special stamped ID cards for travel within the country. A prelude to the yellow Star of David badges, these stamped cards were instrumental in identifying Jews for deportation to death camps in Poland.

Author Raul Hilberg summarizes the impact that such a system had on the Jews:

The whole identification system, with its personal documents, specially assigned names, and conspicuous tagging in public, was a powerful weapon in the hands of the police. First, the system was an auxiliary device that facilitated the enforcement of residence and movement restrictions. Second, it was an independent control measure in that it enabled the police to pick up any Jew, anywhere, anytime. Third, and perhaps most important, identification had a paralyzing effect on its victims.

In South Africa during apartheid, pass books were used to regulate the movement of black citizens and segregate the population. The Pass Laws Act of 1952 stipulated where, when and for how long a black African could remain in certain areas. Any government employee could strike out entries, which cancelled the permission to remain in an area. A pass book that did not have a valid entry resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of the bearer.

Identity cards played a crucial role in the genocide of the Tutsis in the central African country of Rwanda. The assault, carried out by extremist Hutu militia groups, lasted around 100 days and resulted in close to a million deaths. While the ID cards were not a precondition to the genocide, they were a facilitating factor. Once the genocide began, the production of an identity card with the designation “Tutsi” spelled a death sentence at any roadblock.

Identity cards have also helped oppressive regimes carry out eliminationist policies such as mass expulsion, forced relocation and group denationalization. Through the use of identity cards, Ethiopian authorities were able to identify people with Eritrean affiliation during the mass expulsion of 1998. The Vietnamese government was able to locate ethnic Chinese more easily during their 1978-79 expulsion. The USSR used identity cards to force the relocation of ethnic Koreans (1937), Volga Germans (1941), Kamyks and Karachai (1943), Crimean Tartars, Meshkhetian Turks, Chechens, Ingush and Balkars (1944) and ethnic Greeks (1949). And ethnic Vietnamese were identified for group denationalization through identity cards in Cambodia in 1993, as were the Kurds in Syria in 1962.

And in the United States, post-9/11, more than 750 Muslim men were rounded up on the basis of their religion and ethnicity and detained for up to eight months. Their experiences echo those of 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were similarly detained 75 years ago following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Despite a belated apology and monetary issuance by the U.S. government, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to declare such a practice illegal. Moreover, laws such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) empower the government to arrest and detain indefinitely anyone they “suspect” of being an enemy of the state.

You see, you may be innocent of wrongdoing now, but when the standard for innocence is set by the government, no one is safe.

Everyone is a suspect.

And anyone can be a criminal when it’s the government determining what is a crime.

It’s no longer a matter of if, but when.

Remember, the police state does not discriminate.

At some point, it will not matter whether your skin is black or yellow or brown or white. It will not matter whether you’re an immigrant or a citizen. It will not matter whether you’re rich or poor. It won’t even matter whether you’re driving, flying or walking.

After all, government-issued bullets will kill you just as easily whether you’re a law-abiding citizen or a hardened criminal. Government jails will hold you just as easily whether you’ve obeyed every law or broken a dozen. And whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, government agents will treat you like a suspect simply because they have been trained to view and treat everyone like potential criminals.

Eventually, when the police state has turned that final screw and slammed that final door, all that will matter is whether some government agent—poorly trained, utterly ignorant and dismissive of the Constitution, way too hyped up on the power of their badges, and authorized to detain, search, interrogate, threaten and generally harass anyone they see fit—chooses to single you out for special treatment.

We’ve been having this same debate about the perils of government overreach for the past 50-plus years, and still we don’t seem to learn, or if we learn, we learn too late.

All of the excessive, abusive tactics employed by the government today—warrantless surveillance, stop and frisk searches, SWAT team raids, roadside strip searches, asset forfeiture schemes, private prisons, indefinite detention, militarized police, etc.—started out as a seemingly well-meaning plan to address some problem in society that needed a little extra help.

Be careful what you wish for: you will get more than you bargained for, especially when the government’s involved.

In the case of a national identification system, it might start off as a means of tracking COVID-19 cases in order to “safely” re-open the nation, but it will end up as a means of controlling the American people.

For those tempted to justify these draconian measures for whatever reason—for the sake of their health, the economy, or national security—remember, you can’t have it both ways.

You can’t live in a constitutional republic if you allow the government to act like a police state.

You can’t claim to value freedom if you allow the government to operate like a dictatorship.

You can’t expect to have your rights respected if you allow the government to treat whomever it pleases with disrespect and an utter disregard for the rule of law.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if you’re inclined to advance this double standard because you believe you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, beware: there’s always a boomerang effect.

 

 

 

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Duncan Lemp’s Parents Threatened With Jail For Protesting His Killing

Posted by M. C. on April 26, 2020

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/duncan-lemps-parents-threatened-with-jail-for-protesting-his-killing/

by

It has been six weeks since a SWAT team shot and killed 21-year-old Duncan Lemp in a 4:30 a.m. raid at his family’s home in Potomac, Maryland, an affluent and sedate suburb of Washington, D.C. Montgomery County Police have thus far refused to provide any evidence on how or why they killed Lemp. But a county prosecutor leaped to action on Wednesday, effectively threatening any Lemp family members who attend a protest over his killing with a $5000 fine and a year in jail.

The reason? Maryland’s strict stay-at-home orders, imposed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan last month.

Read the entire article at The American Conservative.

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The Rutherford Institute :: Welfare Checks Turn Deadly: You Might Want to Think Twice Before Calling the Cops | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on September 25, 2019

Think twice before you call the cops to carry out a welfare check on a loved one.

Think twice when involving the cops in anything.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/welfare_checks_turn_deadly_you_might_want_to_think_twice_before_calling_the_cops

By John W. Whitehead

“Anyone who cares for someone with a developmental disability, as well as for disabled people themselves [lives] every day in fear that their behavior will be misconstrued as suspicious, intoxicated or hostile by law enforcement.”—Steve Silberman, The New York Times

Think twice before you call the cops to carry out a welfare check on a loved one.

Especially if that person is autistic, hearing impaired, mentally ill, elderly, suffering from dementia, disabled or might have a condition that hinders their ability to understand, communicate or immediately comply with an order.

Particularly if you value that person’s life.

At a time when growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety, even the most benign encounters with police can have fatal consequences.

Unfortunately, police—trained in the worst case scenario and thus ready to shoot first and ask questions later—increasingly pose a risk to anyone undergoing a mental health crisis or with special needs whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent or require more finesse than the typical freeze-or-I’ll-shoot tactics employed by America’s police forces.

Just recently, in fact, Gay Plack, a 57-year-old Virginia woman with bipolar disorder, was killed after two police officers—sent to do a welfare check on her—entered her home uninvited, wandered through the house shouting her name, kicked open her locked bedroom door, discovered the terrified woman hiding in a dark bathroom and wielding a small axe, and four seconds later, shot her in the stomach.

Four seconds.

That’s all the time it took for the two police officers assigned to check on Plack to decide to use lethal force against her (both cops opened fire on the woman), rather than using non-lethal options (one cop had a Taser, which he made no attempt to use) or attempting to de-escalate the situation.

The police chief defended his officers’ actions, claiming they had “no other option” but to shoot the 5 foot 4 inch “woman with carpal tunnel syndrome who had to quit her job at a framing shop because her hand was too weak to use the machine that cut the mats.”

This is what happens when you empower the police to act as judge, jury and executioner.

This is what happens when you indoctrinate the police into believing that their lives and their safety are paramount to anyone else’s.

Suddenly, everyone and everything else is a threat that must be neutralized or eliminated.

In light of the government’s latest efforts to predict who might pose a threat to public safety based on mental health sensor data (tracked by wearable data such as FitBits and Apple Watches and monitored by government agencies such as HARPA, the “Health Advanced Research Projects Agency”), encounters with the police could get even more deadly, especially if those involved have a mental illness or disability.

Indeed, disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers.

That’s according to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation,  which reports that “disabled individuals make up the majority of those killed in use-of-force cases that attract widespread attention. This is true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers are ultimately fully exonerated… Many more disabled civilians experience non-lethal violence and abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers.”…

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Gossip,News,Fashion & Sports.: SWAT team throws a stun ...

Stun Grenade in Crib

 

 

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The Death of Privacy: Government Fearmongers to Read Your Mail — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on July 12, 2019

The policemen then informed the family that they were there over failure to pay the gas bill. Animal rights groups report that the shooting of pets by police has become routine in many jurisdictions because the officers claim that they feel threatened.

As usual, a disconnected and tone-deaf government’s perceived need “to keep you safe” will result in a loss of fundamental liberty that, once it is gone, will never be recovered.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/07/11/death-privacy-government-fearmongers-read-your-mail/

Philip Giraldi

 

It is discouraging to note just how the United States has been taking on the attributes of a police state since 9/11. Stories of police raids on people’s homes gone wrong are frequently in the news. In one recent incident, a heavily armed SWAT team was sent to a St. Louis county home. The armed officers entered the building without knocking, shot the family dog and forced the family members to kneel on the floor where they were able to watch their pet struggle and then die. The policemen then informed the family that they were there over failure to pay the gas bill. Animal rights groups report that the shooting of pets by police has become routine in many jurisdictions because the officers claim that they feel threatened.

Indeed, any encounter with any police at any level has now become dangerous. Once upon a time it was possible to argue with an officer over the justification for a traffic ticket, but that is no longer the case. You have to sit with your hands clearly visible on the steering wheel while answering “Yes sir!” to anything the cop says. There have been numerous incidents where the uncooperative driver is ordered to get out of the car and winds up being tasered or shot.

Courts consistently side with police officers and with the government when individual rights are violated while the Constitution of the United States itself has even been publicly described by the president as “archaic” and “a bad thing for the country.” The National Security Agency (NSA) routinely and illegally collects emails and phone calls made by citizens who have done nothing wrong and the government even denies to Americans the right to travel to countries that it disapproves of, most recently Cuba.

And traveling itself has become an unpleasant experience even before one sits down in the 17 inches of seat-space offered by major airlines, with the gropers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acting as judge, jury and executioner for travelers who have become confused by the constantly changing rules about what they can do and carry with them. The TSA is now routinely “examining” the phones and laptops of travelers and even downloading the information on them, all without a warrant or probable cause. And the TSA even has a “little list” that identifies travelers who are uncooperative and flags them for special harassment.

Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime, establishing a precedent that will end freedom of speech, and the impending prosecution and imprisonment of Julian Assange for espionage will be the death of a truly free press. Americans are no longer guaranteed a trial by jury and can be held indefinitely by military tribunals without charges. Under George W. Bush torture and rendition were institutionalized while Barack Obama initiated the practice of executing US citizens overseas by drone if they were deemed to be a “threat.” There was no legal process involved and “kill” lists were updated every Tuesday morning. And perhaps the greatest crimes of all, both Obama and George W. Bush did not hesitate to bomb foreigners, bring about regime change, and start wars illegally in Asia and Africa…

There is apparently little desire in Congress to take up the encryption issue, though the National Security Council, headed by John Bolton, clearly would like to empower government law enforcement and intelligence agencies by banning unbreakable encryption completely. It is, however, possibly something that can be achieved through an Executive Order from the president. If it comes about that way, FBI, CIA and NSA will be pleased and will have easy access to all one’s emails and phone calls. But the price to be paid is that once the security standards are lowered anyone else with minimal technical resources will be able to do the same, be they hackers or criminals. As usual, a disconnected and tone-deaf government’s perceived need “to keep you safe” will result in a loss of fundamental liberty that, once it is gone, will never be recovered.

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Digital privacy, Internet Surveillance and The PRISM ...

 

 

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Chicago Cops Use Explosives to Raid Innocent Family’s Home, Hold Kids at Gunpoint, Cuff 8yo Boy – The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 14, 2019

Recruited killers (military), SWATtized, Powerized enforcers

To Serve and Protect – Long ago dead

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/chicago-cops-use-explosives-to-raid-innocent-familys-home-hold-kids-at-gunpoint-cuff-8yo-boy/

By

Matt Agorist

Chicago, IL — In only a matter of months, the city of Chicago is now facing its fifth lawsuit for raiding the homes of innocent people — allegedly by mistake. TFTP has reported on several of these lawsuits in which cops raided a four-year-old’s birthday party and held other children at gunpoint. In the most recent lawsuit stemming from violent police negligence, an innocent family was terrorized, a small child handcuffed, and police used explosives to literally blow holes in their home to search it.

On March 15, Alberta Wilson says Chicago police woke her up, along with her four children as cops forced their way into her home. It was below freezing outside with ice on the ground and despite this fact, the entire family was forced from the home and made to stand in the freezing rain.

Thinking he was a threat, the cops even handcuffed Wilson’s 8-year-old son Royal, who was also forced to stand in the freezing cold…

As the family sat outside in handcuffs in the freezing rain, police ransacked their home, tearing mattresses apart, and even using explosive devices to blow holes in their ceiling to look for a non-existent assault rifle.

Not until after a sergeant arrived on scene did any of the cops worry about removing the handcuffs from the tiny child.

“Even after they released him out the handcuffs, they showed no remorse. He’s a baby. Where’s your leadership? ‘Sorry young man. We sorry for placing you in handcuffs, are you ok?’ None of that was shown,” Wilson said.

After cops destroyed the family’s home, they simply left it like it was and didn’t even give them the courtesy of an apology…

Just last August, two little boys who used to look up to police were traumatized and their view of police tarnished after a SWAT team burst into their home at night and held the entire family at gunpoint, including the children. The family was innocent and just like the above case, the raid was on the wrong home.

Those two children now suffer from PTSD and have to attend counseling.

It’s not just children either, Chicago cops have raided the wrong homes of elderly women too.

Elizabeth Harrison, 82, used to tell kids to “respect the law.” Then on March 17, 2016, a gang of Chicago cops raided her home, busting down the door and holding her at gunpoint. Because of this trauma, Harrison had to be rushed to the hospital.

The great-grandmother said police must have had the wrong house, but they insisted it was the correct address based on their “intelligence.” No one believed her when she said she was a widow and lived alone. Harrison was made to sit in a chair, overwhelmed with anxiety, while they searched her home for non-existent drugs. The stress was so overwhelming, Harrison was hospitalized…

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The Rutherford Institute :: Don’t Shoot the Dogs: The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on March 20, 2019

The absurd cruelties of the American police state keep reaching newer heights.

Consider that if you kill a police dog, you could face a longer prison sentence than if you’d murdered someone or abused a child.

These dog killings are, as Balko recognizes, “a side effect of the new SWAT, paramilitary focus in many police departments, which has supplanted the idea of being an ‘officer of the peace.’”

https://rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/dont_shoot_the_dogs_the_growing_epidemic_of_cops_shooting_family_dogs

By John W. Whitehead

“In too much of policing today, officer safety has become the highest priority. It trumps the rights and safety of suspects. It trumps the rights and safety of bystanders. It’s so important, in fact, that an officer’s subjective fear of a minor wound from a dog bite is enough to justify using potentially lethal force, in this case at the expense of a 4-year-old girl. And this isn’t the first time. In January, an Iowa cop shot and killed a woman by mistake while trying to kill her dog. Other cops have shot other kidsother bystanderstheir partnerstheir supervisors and even themselves while firing their guns at a dog. That mind-set is then, of course, all the more problematic when it comes to using force against people.”—Journalist Radley Balko

The absurd cruelties of the American police state keep reaching newer heights.

Consider that if you kill a police dog, you could face a longer prison sentence than if you’d murdered someone or abused a child.

If a cop kills your dog, however, there will be little to no consequences for that officer.

Not even a slap on the wrist.

In this, as in so many instances of official misconduct by government officials, the courts have ruled that the cops have qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that incentivizes government officials to engage in lawless behavior without fear of repercussions.

This is the heartless, heartbreaking, hypocritical injustice that passes for law and order in America today.

It is estimated that a dog is shot by a police officer “every 98 minutes.”

The Department of Justice estimates that at least 25 dogs are killed by police every day.

The Puppycide Database Project estimates the number of dogs being killed by police to be closer to 500 dogs a day (which translates to 182,000 dogs a year).

In 1 out of 5 cases involving police shooting a family pet, a child was either in the police line of fire or in the immediate area of a shooting. For instance, a 4-year-old girl was accidentally shot in the leg after a police officer opened fire on a dog running towards him, missed and hit the little girl instead.

At a time when police are increasingly inclined to shoot first and ask questions later, it doesn’t take much to provoke a cop into opening fire on an unarmed person guilty of doing nothing more than standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a weapon…

Even in the absence of an actual threat, the perception of a threat is enough for qualified immunity to kick in and for the cop to be let off the hook for behavior that would get the rest of us jailed for life…

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Exterminate

 

 

 

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The New Police Motto – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 22, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/02/john-j-baeza/the-new-police-motto-shoot-first-ask-questions-later/

By

NYPDTRUTH.COM

When I look back on my experience at the 32nd Precinct I see real “peace officers” at work. No SWAT raids, no armored vehicles.  Just cops getting by with their wits, guts, and courage.

When I look at the current police culture I see a theme of “Officer Safety First, Citizens Second.”  Which leads to the other new unofficial motto “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later.”

I recently viewed a video of a speech made by Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY, Engine 69 in Harlem.

Ray’s speech was original and referred to the fire service but it mirrored the problem we see with the “Officer Safety First” police problem plaguing this country.[1]

I would like to adapt Ray’s speech and make it relevant to the problem with today’s policing.

The mantra of “the officer is first and the citizen, or even the criminal, is second” must be changed. This pecking order is the problem. This change can only come from good leadership and effective training starting at the police academy level and continuing throughout an officer’s career.

Attempting to make the officer’s job safer by teaching him to place himself above those in need is wrong.  We have seen this time and again with botched militarized search warrants and with officers refusing to engage a school shooter. 

When that parent or teacher meets the officer outside the school or their house and tells the officer their child is trapped at gunpoint inside the officer is their last hope.  What is an officer to do?  Wait for a SWAT team or armored vehicle?  Wait for five other officers for backup?  No, the officer must find a way to save that life if humanly possible.  What are the officer’s chances?  Their chances are always the same-50/50.  Either you do it or you don’t.

We need more courage, determination, and pride. We need more of the old style “peace officer” tactics used as depicted on television by that Sheriff that rarely carried a gun-Andy Griffith. Some cops will respond “you are aware we are not in Mayberry anymore don’t you?” My reply to that is that people are people if you treat them with dignity and respect whether in Mayberry or Harlem.  We need to use tactics like those depicted by Paul Newman’s character in the movie “Fort Apache: The Bronx.”[2]

I will leave you with the following:  Too much officer safety makes Johnny a terrible leader, a poor last hope for the citizens he has sworn an oath to protect and serve, and a first rate candidate for a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality.

[1] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwiyP1JkTY8&t=1048s

[2] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWshVtIA63Q

 

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The real reason 4 cops got shot in Houston last week | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on February 7, 2019

https://www.thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/the-real-reason-4-cops-got-shot-in-houston-last-week/

By Joe Jarvis

We are sick and tired of having dirtbags try to take our lives when all we are trying to do is protect this community and protect our families…

Well just know, we all got your number now.

We are going to be keeping track of all of ya’ll, and we’re going to make sure we hold you accountable. Every time you stir the pot on our police officers. We’ve had enough, folks.

We’re out there doing our jobs every day, putting our lives on the line for our families. Enough is enough. Now please, keep these officers in your prayers.

That was the Houston Police Officer’s Union President Joe Gimaldi.

He made the comments after 5 cops were injured while serving a warrant.

He thinks that rhetoric critical of police officers is responsible for, what he claims is an increase in police being targeted.

All the headlines would have you believe these cops were ambushed, attacked just for being cops while minding their own business.

But when you look deeper at the case, you realize these cops didn’t get shot because of anti-police rhetoric.

They got shot because they invaded an innocent couple’s home without announcing themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

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