Category Archives: news

Explosions Rock East Oakland Neighborhood : Car Fire

26 May 2017

In the early morning hours, just after two o’clock, the neighborhood near Allendale and 38th Avenue in East Oakland was awakened by a loud explosion first thought to be an earthquake. Within minutes, more explosions demanded investigation. A car was in flames, and the flames were climbing a tall tree as fuel began streaming downhill along the curb in the form of liquid fire.
 


 

One of the problems Oakland faces reared it’s ugly head again as this reporter attempted to call for fire services : dispatch from a 911 call goes directly to California State Patrol, which then has to forward the call to Oakland dispatch. This arrangement causes delays in response time. In this case, the dispatcher acknowledged knowing about the fire, yet insisted upon asking for the name of the caller, which was the least important bit of information under the circumstances at the time. These delays can be deadly. In this situation, the fire and explosions threatened two other nearby cars and one very tall tree. Had those also caught fire, the next to go would’ve been the duplex just across the sidewalk.

Thankfully, a crew arrived in time to extinguish the fire before it spread. The burned out car was removed before dawn.

Fire crews are still investigating.

car ablaze

car ablaze

 

CA Prison Spending Soars to All Time High in Governor’s Budget

11 May 2017

CA Prison Spending Soars to All Time High in Governor’s May Budget Revise
Advocates Argue that Savings from Parole and Sentencing Reforms Not Fully Realized

Sacramento — This morning, Governor Jerry Brown released California’s 2017-18 revised budget – a budget that increases total funding on corrections to $11.4 billion (2017-18), up from $10.6 billion last year (2016-17). Brown’s increase in corrections spending falls out of step with the will of the people of California. The budget projects a decline of the adult prison population by .7% due to voter mandated criminal justice reforms like Proposition 57, yet, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget continues to soar at an all time high this year. In a moment where California’s values are under threat by the federal government, the state cannot afford to drain its social safety net to expand prisons and jails.

Over 64% of California voters have already taken a stand against wasteful spending by passing Prop 57 last fall, however the savings are offset by the Governor’s budget. The budget estimates that Prop 57 will reduce the average daily population by approximately 2,000 in 2017-18 with result in net savings of $38.8 million in 2017-18, yet the total corrections budget increases by an all time high of $600 million. Despite these spending increases, CDCR insists on neutering the potential cost saving effects of Prop 57 by refusing to implement retroactivity, expanding credits to non-violent third strikers and applying credits to the earliest possible parole dates. As the budget is finalized, advocates turn to legislative budget leaders, encouraging them to with Prop 57 regulations. Arguing that by fully implementing the will of California voters to reduce mass incarceration millions of dollars in savings could be realized.

“In the Senate Budget committee hearing Senator Skinner asked Secretary Scott why CDCR won’t implement retroactivity. He stated that it was because CDCR did not have the capacity to do so. The Governor’s revised budget allots an additional $1 million to implement Prop 57. We strongly recommend CDCR use this additional funding to implement retroactive milestone earning credits” said, Charles Berry, board member of Initiate Justice, a member organization of Californians United for a Responsible Budget.

In addition to full implementation of voter-mandated reforms, state legislators are still concerned about California’s deadly prison and jail overcrowding and are pursuing further common sense sentencing reforms like SB 180 (RISE Act). Authored by Senator Mitchell, the RISE Act would repeal an enhancement for prior drug convictions. Experts believe these enhancements have contributed to jail and prison overcrowding, and do little or nothing to deter drug sales.

“The policy of sentencing people with nonviolent drug offenses to long periods of incarceration has proven an expensive failure,” said Eunisses Hernandez, Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Like Prop 47 and 57 before it, savings from reduced jail crowding would free up funds that could be invested in programs and services that improve public safety, including community-based mental health and substance use treatment, job programs, and affordable housing.”

Donald Trump’s repeal of federal reforms, like Obamacare, are well underway, and his threats to withhold federal funds from states that refuse to comply with his aggressive immigration policies continue. Governor Brown’s budget and press conference shared no plan if a major federal financial hit impacted California like the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“In a moment when federal pressure could lead to severe cuts to health and human services, as well as education, it seems like a no-brainer that funding should be cut from the state’s bloated corrections budget to protect the social safety net. Now is the time for the Governor to take a stand against the racist and oppressive policies that will come down federally.”

The people of California, progressive legislators and the CURB coalition believe that the appropriate response to looming budget threats is not more wasteful spending on incarceration, but commonsense reforms coupled with a reduction in corrections spending. California should continue to pursue aggressive parole and sentencing reform efforts and repeal all prison and jail expansion efforts.

CURB will be joining the California Partnership at a series of statewide press conferences to respond to today’s budget.

Los Angeles, Thursday May 11th at 12pm – Ronald Reagan State Building (300 S. Spring St.)
Sacramento, Thursday May 11th at 11am – State Capitol Bldg 1st Floor Room 1190
San Francisco, Friday May 12th at 1pm – California State Building (355 McAllister St.)
Riverside, Monday May 15th at 10 am – CA Towers (3737 Main St.)
Coachella, Monday May 15th at 10 am – Veterans Park (1515 Sixth St.)
Bakersfield, Monday May 15th at 11 am – Kern County Liberty Bell (1415 Truxtun Ave.)

Ace Hardware Admits to Profiling and Discrimination

1 December 2016

In response to either a ‘request’ or ‘order’ from Morton County Sheriff, Ace Hardware Corporate instructed stores in the vicinity to refuse to sell small propane tanks and other ‘incendiary devices’ to anyone who looks like they might be from or supporting one of the nearby Water Protector encampments. These camps are full of people enduring winter weather for the sake of protecting the regional water supply from future contamination by the Dakota Access Pipeline. A representative from Demotropolis was told as much over the phone on 30 November. In the audio which is posted here, an Ace Corporate representative not only acknowledges that Ace is agreeing to follow the wishes of Morton County Sheriff or Mandan Police, he also acknowledges committing profiling and discrimination by admitting they will still sell all items to people, unless those people look like they’re from the encampments or are getting supplies for those who are.

Beginning at 19:45 in the embedded audio recording :

Ace Corporate rep Scott : Any materials that could be used as incendiary devices
Guillermo : So … that’s propane … only to Standing Rock, people from Standing Rock. … How would you know who the customer is? … How are they determining who’s from the camp and who is not?
Ace Corporate rep Scott : That’s being done by law enforcement officials.
Guillermo : … in the Ace Hardware store … This isn’t a blanket ban. It’s not that the store has completely stopped selling that. They’ve only stopped selling this to who [sic] they believe is from the camp …
Ace Corporate rep Scott : I don’t think that’s part of the statement at all. I think law enforcement is at Ace to refrain from selling any materials to anybody. There’s nothing that specific in the statement at all.
Guillermo : So does that mean that the hardware stores are not selling to … to anybody … I mean they stopped selling propane completely?
Ace Corporate rep Scott : That’s my understanding
Guillermo : … I spoke to the hardware store at Bismark and they said that they aren’t, in fact, selling propane to anybody. So which is it?

The long recording goes on, Guillermo having conferenced in representatives from a Bismark Ace Hardware store. After awhile, one of those reps acknowledged that he agreed to refrain from restocking the small green fuel canisters because police told him one was used as a weapon and almost killed someone. Guillermo pointed out that there is no evidence of such a thing happening at all. The representative refused to hear the truth that there is video evidence that police have been firing explosives, claiming he is not interested in politics. He said, ‘I don’t care about the facts, they’re threatening my life.’ While anything is possible, it seems he interpreted calls made to pressure him as threats to his own safety. By all accounts so far, callers have threatened to boycott, not to harm him as a person. Jeff claimed he has ‘a great relationship with the tribe.’

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has published a Statement of Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline. The Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC), an initiative of the NLG, has filed suit for Excessive Force against Peaceful Protesters. The recent filing of the MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION and accompanying PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION lay out some of the abuses which have been committed by law enforcement against unarmed, non-violent, prayerful Water Protectors. An online search using the key terms #NoDAPL, Water Protectors, Dakota Access Pipeline, #ProtectOcetiSakowan, #DefendStandingRock, #WaterIsLife, #MniWiconi #IStandWithStandingRock … combined with the word ‘livestream’ or ‘video’ will bring one to plenty evidence supporting the claims made in the lawsuit. No evidence has been found which supports the claims made by law enforcement that Water Protectors have rioted or used violence or weapons of any kind.

Throughout the recorded discussion, it became clear that the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. One thing is certain : the owner of one of the Bismark stores had ‘selling the store’ on his mind. While that’s a harsh reality for him, it proves that the pressure from a boycott and making calls to the stores and to Ace Corporate offices is already having an effect. It’s also become clear that people are willing to make decisions based solely upon false information being delivered to them by police, as there is evidence and eyewitness testimony that Sophia Wilansky was injured by rubber bullets and also by an explosive device aimed directly at her by police. There is no evidence that any Water Protector has used any weapon at all, including fuel canisters.

A second call this morning to Mark Zeman, who manages the Ace Corporate customer service department, brought news which is in direct opposition to everything learned earlier today and yesterday. During a call yesterday, a representative named Cathy began reading a statement which acknowledged that Ace Corporate had agreed to follow a mandate by law enforcement to stop selling anything which ‘could be used as incendiary device’ to anyone from the #NoDAPL encampments. After passing the Demotropolis reporter to Mark Zeman, he began to read that same statement. The reporter requested that Zeman please email the statement, so as to assure that the statement would be published in full and without error. After agreeing to do so, Zeman failed to send the document. During today’s call, Zeman directed our reporter to a new web page set up by Ace Corporate, claiming that they are not refusing to sell any products to any people. He also refused to send yesterday’s statement for comparison, so there is no visible verification of that previous statement as of publication.

The updated statement reads :

Oak Brook, Ill.,December01,2016
Ace Hardware statement on North Dakota protest and product sales
Update: As of Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. local time, Ace Hardware stores in Bismarck, N. D., are in-stock and selling 1 lb. propane canisters.

At Ace, our local store owners take great pride in serving their neighbors and it is our policy to serve all customers without discrimination and to follow all laws in each respective community.

We understand the concerns that have been shared with us regarding product sales related to the recent protests in North Dakota and have been working very hard to gather all of the facts from our locally-owned Ace stores that operate in the area and local authorities. To be candid, we’ve been working feverishly to unearth all of the facts, which have been cloudy at times.

In an effort to clear any misunderstanding and/or misinformation, Ace Hardware can now confirm that there is no ban on the sale of products at our locally-owned Ace stores; customers should feel free to check with their local store for inventory availability.

On Thursday morning, 1 December 2016, Ace Corporate revised it's statement regarding the sales of propane canisters to the public, including to Water Protectors.

On Thursday morning, 1 December 2016, Ace Corporate revised it’s statement regarding the sales of propane canisters to the public, including to Water Protectors.

A call to verify this new statement, and to get a copy of yesterday’s statement went unanswered. As is visible on the screenshot of the Ace revised statement 1 Dec released today, the Ace Corporate contact regarding this issue is :

Kate Kirkpatrick
Corporate Media Relations
kkirk@acehardware.com
630-990-1478

During a call to Bismark Ace Hardware this morning, the worker who first answered and subsequently a manager named Jeff first claimed that the information which has been circulating was wrong. Jeff claimed that the Bismark Ace Hardware was not refusing to sell specific items to specific people or to anyone, and that all products were being sold to any shopper. After a few minutes, he clarified that he was the manager, not the owner by the same name. When he was informed that the owner had been recorded saying the opposite, he entered into conversation. He did not have answers when asked from whom and what agency came the original mandate from law enforcement to refrain from selling fuel canisters to Water Protectors. Jeff was asked whether if he as manager, or the owner of the store, could be convinced that Water Protectors are acting in absolute non-violent fashion and are putting their health and safety and even lives on the line to protect the water supply, the Bismark store would consider actually making donations in their support. After a few minutes of listening to descriptions of the violence being used by law enforcement against Water Protectors, along with an offer to provide evidence, his answer was yes, that donating might be possible. He was provided an email address to enable the owner to contact Demotropolis.

If and when Demotropolis acquires a copy of (or statement verifying) any mandate received by the Bismark (or any) Ace Hardware from law enforcement, that will be added to this article.

If and when Demotropolis acquires a copy of the 30 November 2016 Ace Corporate statement regarding this issue, that document will also be added.

Water Protector Sophia Wilansky : Victim of State Sponsored Terrorism

22 November 2016

As Water Protectors at Standing Rock attempted to clear wreckage which had been blocking a public road for a month, they were attacked by a militarized police force which was led by Morton County Sheriff. While the sheriff and his deputies are legally public servants, they have spent the past many months working for private security firms and private business which have moved onto tribal lands (designated by treaty) for the purpose of digging up sacred sites to bury a pipeline. After years and decades of oil pipeline leaks, truck explosions, and other highly destructive ‘accidents’ caused by oil distribution methods, the people are attempting to stop the pipeline from crossing under the Missouri River. They are also claiming rights to the lands, and attempting to protect sacred sites from destruction by these corporate and police state entities.

1851 Treaty Map

1851 Treaty Map

After months of altercations in which private security, pipeline workers, and police from several states attacked Water Protectors with dogs, teargas, ‘rubber’ bullets, explosives, pepper spray, water cannons, vehicles, loaded guns, and long range acoustic devices (LRAD, also known as ‘sonic weapons’), police again attacked.

On 21 November under cover of darkness, police used many of the above mentioned weapons against Water Protectors. Police have repeatedly lied about these attacks, this time claiming they did not spray water on Water Protectors, then returning to defend the use of water as weapon. During this attack, the ambient temperature that night dipped to 18°F, well below freezing, thereby putting Water Protectors in immediate risk of death by hypothermia.

Among the injured was Sophia Wilansky, who was unarmed and, as is true of all other Water Protectors involved, presented no threat to any person. She had her arm blown apart by an explosive device fired by police. Below is the press statement made by the family of Ms. Wilansky as to her injuries and status at this time.

Sophia Wilansky was one of 300 Water Protectors injured by militarized police violence.

Sophia Wilansky was one of 300 Water Protectors injured by militarized police violence.

Sophia Wilansky's horrible injury

Sophia Wilansky’s horrible injury

Sophia Wilansky's torn arm : closeup reveals bone

Sophia Wilansky’s torn arm : closeup reveals bone

November 22nd, 2016 at 9:00am CST
For Press Conference information contact medichealercouncil@gmail.com
Prepared by Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council at the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Camps
On November 21st as a direct result of the violent police response at Standing Rock towards unarmed people opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 21 year old woman from New York City, Sophia Wilansky, was severely injured when a concussion grenade thrown by police hit her left arm and exploded. Sophia was heading to bring water to the unarmed people who were being attacked for several hours by Morton County Sheriff forces. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has stated that she was injured by a purported propane explosion that the Sheriff’s Department claimed the unarmed people created. These statements are refuted by Sophia’s testimony, by several eye-witnesses who watched police intentionally throw concussion grenades at unarmed people, by the lack of charring of flesh at the wound site and by the grenade pieces that have been removed from her arm in surgery and will be saved for legal proceedings.
Sophia was safely taken out of North Dakota for emergent surgery and is currently in stable condition. Below is her statement as conveyed by her father, lawyer Wayne Wilansky.
“At around 4:30am after the police hit the bridge with water cannons and rubber bullets and pepper spray they lobbed a number of concussion grenades which are not supposed to be thrown at people directly at protesters or protectors as they want to be called. A grenade exploded right as it hit Sophia in the left forearm taking most of the undersurface of her left arm with it. Both her radial and ulnar artery were completely destroyed. Her radius was shattered and a large piece of it is missing. Her medial nerve is missing a large section as well. All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away. The police did not do this by accident – it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her. Additionally police were shooting people in face and groin intending to do the most possible damage. Sophia will have surgery again tomorrow as bit by bit they try to rebuild a somewhat functioning arm and hand. The first surgery took a vein from her leg which they have implanted in her arm to take the place of the missing arteries. She will need multiple surgeries to try to gain some functional use of the arm and hand. She will be, every day for the foreseeable future, fearful of losing her arm and hand. There are no words to describe the pain of watching my daughter cry and say she was sorry for the pain she caused me and my wife. I died a thousand deaths today and will continue to do so for quite some time. I am left without the right words to describe the anguish of watching her look at her now alien arm and hand.”
A fund set up by friends and verified to help with Sophia’s recovery is set up here:
https://www.gofundme.com/30aezxs
The Standing Rock Medic Healer Council deplores the ongoing use of violence by the state of North Dakota to address the concerns of the thousands of people peacefully assembled at Standing Rock to insist on the right to clean healthy drinking water.
Water is Life, Mni Wiconi
Signed,
Linda Black Elk, PhD, Ethnobotanist, Sitting Bull College
Michael Knudsen, MPH candidate, Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council
Noah Morris, EMT
Amelia Massucco, RN
John Andrews, RN
Kristina Golden, EMT, herbalist
Sebastian Rodriguez, RN
Rosemary Fister, RN, MNPHN, DNP Candidate
Rupa Marya, MD, DoNoHarm Coalition, University of California – San Francisco
David Kingfisher, MD, JD, Wichita State University
Jesse Lopez, MD, Heartland Surgical Care
Kalama O Ka Aina Niheu, MD, Aha Aloha Aina
Howard Ehrman, MD, MPH, University of Illinois – Chicago
Geeta Maker-Clark, MD, University of Chicago
Elizabeth Friedman, MD
Vanessa Bolin, ALS Paramedic
Contact: Michael Knudsen, Medic Coordinator and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe ethno-botanist Linda Black Elk, PhD – medichealercouncil@gmail.com

Ms. Wilansky’s father, Wayne Wilansky, was interviewed by Paul Blume about the incident, her surgery, current condition, and prognosis.

24 November 2016 UPDATE : video from interview with Wayne Wilansky by Democracy Now Wayne Wilansky Interview

Check back for updates to this situation, as links will be added for those who have not researched the back story to this most recent attack by police. With permission from the family, photos and video will also be added.

Arizona Highway Patrol Terrorizes Man and Young Daughter at Gunpoint

18 August 2016

This was posted by the victim of this State of Arizona sponsored terror attack on 12 August 2016.

Tonight, I was arrested at gunpoint by an Arizona highway patrol officer who threatened to shoot me in the back (twice) in front of my 7-year-old daughter. For a moment, I was certain he was going to kill me for no reason. I’m alive, and I need to share the story. PLEASE SHARE IT, because I have an important reason for staying up past 1AM to write it down.

Here’s what happened:
My daughter and I are from San Francisco, on vacation, traveling through the Southwest. Today we were driving from Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon in a Toyota Camry we’d rented from Fox Car Rental in Las Vegas. In Williams, Arizona, as I exited Interstate 40 to head north toward the Canyon rim, I was pulled over by an AHP officer who’d been tailing me for a couple of miles. I hadn’t been speeding, so I wondered if perhaps the car had a broken taillight or something. I rolled down my window and waited.

Suddenly, the officer rapped on the rear passenger side window with his pistol. My daughter, who was sitting inches from the barrel of his gun, jumped with fear as the officer yelled at me to roll down the front passenger window, his service weapon pointed directly at me. I knew something was terribly awry and I tried to remain calm, keeping my hands visible as I slowly fumbled for the window controls in an unfamiliar car. My daughter rolled down her window and I explained that we were in a rental car, that we had no weapons, and I was having trouble figuring out how to roll down the front passenger window from my driver’s side door. The officer didn’t listen, and kept yelling louder and more insistently, ordering me to comply with his request as he leered at me down the barrel of his pistol. My daughter panicked and tried to get out of her booster seat to reach forward to roll down the front window, and the officer screamed her at her not to move as he pointed his pistol at her.

Somehow I was able to get the window down, and then the officer ordered me to exit the car with my hands up. I did so slowly and with my hands raised as high in the air as possible, and as he came around to the driver’s side of the car he screamed at me to face away from him, as if I were doing something wrong. (I didn’t know this was the protocol for being arrested at gunpoint.) Then, as I had my hands in the air, he yelled, at the top of his lungs, in a voice I will never forget, as my daughter looked on in terror, “Get your hands away from your waist or I’ll blow two holes through your back right now!” My hands were high in the air as he said this, and I was not in any way reaching for my waist. I was utterly terrified. I’ve heard stories of police yelling out false things like this before they unjustifiably attack someone as a way to justify the attack, and I thought this was what was happening to me. I braced for bullets to hit me and all I could think of was my daughter having to watch it happen and being left alone on the side of the highway with an insane, violent cop.

The bullets didn’t arrive, though. I followed every order of the officer as slowly and deliberately as I could, very slowly backed toward him, got to my knees, was placed in handcuffs, and was thrown inside the back of his car. By this time many more officers has arrived, and I could see a couple of them talking to my daughter.

Why was I arrested? The car I was had rented had previously had its front license plate lost or stolen, so the car rental company reported this to the Nevada DMV. The Arizona highway patrol officer, who looked up my plate number while he was tailing me, misinterpreted this Nevada DMV report as meaning that I was driving a car with a stolen license plate, and somehow this prompted him to approach me at gunpoint and threaten to kill me in front of my little girl.

After a few minutes he released me from the handcuffs, and since I knew the truth, I called him out for over-reacting, and told him he had no reason to threaten to shoot me. He stood by his story that I had made a threatening movement toward my waist, and I said it wasn’t true, and he said this wasn’t the place to discuss it. He let me go attend to my daughter but continued to “detain” us for another 20 minutes as he talked to his supervisors, presumably plotting damage control.

I got his card, his supervisor’s number, the case number, and the cards of other officers on the scene. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. My daughter is traumatized. She said she wanted to cry to the officers who were comforting her, but she was afraid they would get mad at her. As we drove the final hour to our Grand Canyon hotel, she told me she was confused, because she thought the police were the good guys, and she didn’t know why the officer said he would kill me when my hands were in the air. I tried to come up with an explanation but I struggled for words.

I’m not sure why I’m writing all this down. Maybe it’s because, as I sat in that back of that police car and heard the AHP officer learn the truth from his dispatcher – that the man he’d just captured at gunpoint and threatened to murder was totally innocent – I realized it was very possible that the only reason I was alive was because I am a scrawny 48-year-old white man wearing a Micky Mouse t-shirt and cargo shorts and hiking boots. The officer that arrested me was so pumped up on adrenaline and eager to get a “bad guy” that he could barely control himself, and if I’d looked just a little bit more threatening to him – because I was black, or young, or long-haired, or tattooed, or didn’t speak English – I believe he might have pulled the trigger.

If you are a person who has ever looked skeptically at the claims of Black Lives Matter, or others who talk about police violence, I urge you to consider what happened to me and put yourselves in the shoes of others. I just survived a bizarre gunpoint situation in which I was as innocent as Philando Castile, who was not as lucky as I was. We live in a society where anywhere and everyone can have a gun at any time, and police are responding with fear in dangerous ways. I got lucky tonight. My daughter and I made it to the Grand Canyon and I’m going to try to salvage what’s left of our vacation. Many others – because of the color of their skin or the way they look or because of simple bad luck – did not meet the same fate.

 
 

Killer Cop’s Attorney Harasses Victim’s Mother

 

11 June 2015

On 2 November 2012, Danielle Willard was shot and killed by Shaun Cowley, then a detective in West Valley City, Utah. Willard was crouching down in the passenger seat of her own car just before two plainclothes detectives approached and shot her. Police subsequently claimed that she had driven the vehicle toward them, but no evidence supports this claim. A witness saw Danielle Willard and a man drive into the parking lot. The male was driving. Another witness said that they heard gun shots before the car started moving again. This would mean that Willard was shot and her car was already in gear to go backwards. The first shot killed her and she had no control of the car after that. There was no way she could have been trying to run anyone over. Another witness said that, after the shooting, Cowley went to the middle of the parking lot. He laid down. There was no car or person anywhere around him. There has never been any explanation as to why he would do such a thing. There has also been no explanation as to why, when police contacted the man who was running away, they failed to identify him, accepting (or inventing) the story that he just happened to be jogging nearby this police action.

Because of incidents which occurred in the weeks before this police killing of an unarmed woman, efforts are still being made to explain why police targeted Danielle Willard in the first place. She had made 911 calls to get help when her apartment was overrun, then taken over, by people she feared. Her family wants to obtain records of these 911 calls and records and reports of any police action or contact with Willard as a result of those calls.

Jarvis with Cowley just after case dismissed

Jarvis with Cowley just after case dismissed


In June 2014, Cowley was charged with manslaughter, but 3rd District Court Judge L.A. Dever dismissed the case against Cowley four months later. By the end of October 2014, after a 10-month investigation, an internal review board found the shooting of 21-year-old Willard to be “unjustified” and West Valley City fired Cowley.

Recently, two and a half years after Shaun Cowley shot and killed unarmed Danielle Willard, Cowley managed to force the hand of the city to be reinstated, collect partial back pay and partial pension, only to resign from the job. Much of what lead to this resolution, according to City Manager Wayne Pyle, was due to a technicality. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Pyle’s statement to the press :

Pyle said he was “very pleased” with Cowley’s resignation, adding that it was a “step that needed to occur.”

Pyle insisted that the case for firing Cowley was “completely reasonable and justified,” but said it was dismissed over a technicality.

“Mr. Cowley is not in any sense of the word either vindicated or a scapegoat,” he said. “All of the problems that existed with Mr. Cowley from the very beginning of this investigation still exist today. Drugs and money were missing and continue to be missing.”

Cowley’s attorney is a former prosecutor and law enforcement instructor. Lindsay Jarvis Harding has used mostly political explanations for why West Valley City settled with her client. According to the same Salt Lake Tribune article :

She asserted that city and police officials may have rushed to settle with Cowley to keep potentially damaging information from being made public during the employment hearing.

“At that hearing, every single one of West Valley City’s skeletons would have been uncovered,” Jarvis said Monday outside her Sandy office. “Part of what the city had to prove was that the discipline against Shaun was proportionate. That gives us the opportunity to go through the discipline of every single other officer in that department. We are talking about people who are breaking into houses to steal panties. Officers who were having sex on duty. We are talking lieutenants violating their own policies and procedures to break into Shaun’s locker and take evidence without Shaun’s presence. This is a situation where West Valley City did not want this information out in the public.”

This looks to be an admission of her client’s guilt.

The most recent twist in this story came via facebook message from Lindsay Jarvis Harding on 10 June 2015. Her facebook page has since been taken down.

So, at this point, after seeing your posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re a hateful bitch. I tried to talk to as a person because my heart ached for you and I thought you were actually a human being just suffering from the loss of your daughter. However, it’s honestly no wonder your daughter turned to heroin, had sex with the dealer, had marijuana and heroin in her system at the time of her death (in spite of your ongoing public assertions that she didnt). Have you actually read the police reports? Have you forgotten you told police this was her “last chance” as she was in rehab for the third time? Hello, she was a junkie. She needed a fix. She was desperate. She tried to kill an officer. You’re so blinded by your hate, and probably your regret, as you’ve flown to Utah more times since she died than you did when she was alive, that you refuse to see the truth. Why don’t you take your million and shut up? At the end of the day, you got paid by a corrupt city, your daughter’s bull shit case was thrown out of court, and Shaun was reinstated with full benefits. Get a hobby – the people you surround yourself on the bullshit sites are criminals. Three of the death threats have come from convicted stalkers on your websites.

She sent this message to Danielle Willard’s still grieving mother, Melissa Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy had only one direct message exchange with Jarvis previously. That exchange occurred during the afternoon of 19 November 2014. Jarvis was angry about words which had been posted by others on the facebook page set up demanding Justice for Danielle Willard. Though Ms. Kennedy apologized for and took down the comments which Jarvis found offensive, Jarvis still threatened ‘legal action’ against anyone posting words she didn’t like. As an attorney, it would seem that Ms. Jarvis would know about the first amendment, but she revealed complete ignorance by making the threat, proving herself a bully :

Discussions regarding my husband and unborn child are pretty low and I will not tolerate it. If it continues, I will take legal action.

Ms. Kennedy reports that she was completely taken by surprise and horrified when this most recent message appeared in her inbox.

lindsay jarvis harding 1

lindsay jarvis harding 2

Rules of professional conduct for Utah lawyers is a state mandated standard enforced by the Utah State Bar Office of Professional Conduct . The discipline process is described on their website.

The Utah State Bar provides a reporting tool for beginning the process of reporting attorney misconduct.

 
 
 

Crystal Clear Corruption at Baltimore Police Department

During a routine drug investigation which resulted in the beating of a handcuffed suspect, a new leader in the fight against police corruption came to light. His name is Joe Crystal.

On 27 October 2011 in the city of Baltimore, Maryland : Baltimore Police Detective Joe Crystal, Department Sergeant Marinos Gialamas, along with Detective Keith Tiedemann, were on duty together in a single vehicle near Prentiss Place, when they observed what appeared to be suspicious drug related activities. As police were approaching the scene, suspect Antoine Green attempted to avoid arrest by running, then concealing himself in what he believed to be an abandoned home on Prentiss Place. He tossed his bag of drugs over a fence along the way. Unfortunately for him, the home he entered was inhabited by Nakishia Epps, who was, at the time, the girlfriend of another Baltimore Police Officer, Anthony Williams.

Williams was off-duty that day.

Upon hearing someone enter her home, Epps hid in her room with her child and called 911. She also called her boyfriend, Officer Williams.

Several other officers located Green inside the house and proceeded to effect an arrest. They placed Green into the wagon and began to drive away. While en route to the station, they received a new order from Sgt. Gialamas. (This order is part of the record, as Baltimore PD has a recording system of police communication, referred to in reports as KGA.)

Gialamas had conspired with Officer Williams, and together they had made a decision to have the arresting officers return the already apprehended and cuffed suspect back to the Prentiss address, where Williams had arrived in response to his girlfriend’s call.

Detective Keith Tiedemann, in his ‘‘Statement of Probable Cause’ filed in reference to this case, suggests that the reason for bringing Antoine Green back to the arresting location was the suspect’s aim to apologize to Officer Williams’ girlfriend, whose home Green had invaded.

Statement of Probable Cause, Det. Keith Tiedemann

In the Statement, Tiedemann seems to suggest that Antoine Green beat himself up. He also claims to have witnessed Green victimizing himself. However, Det. Tiedemann had not accompanied Green into the back of the home, so could not have witnessed what occurred in that part of the house.

During his interview with the state’s attorney’s office, Det. Tiedemann claimed that Sgt. Gialamas had instructed him to state in the report that Green’s shirt was torn prior to being transferred back into the house. Tiedemann later perjured himself in court by claiming that he believed the report he wrote was accurate, even though he had already admitted to the ASA that the report had been doctored according to instructions by Gialamas.

In fact, at the beginning of his Probable Cause report, Tiedemann claims Green’s ‘pants and shirt were slightly ripped … while he was running or while he was breaking into the home.’ This particular claim was likely the part Det. Tiedemann was instructed, by Gialamas, to edit. Near the end of the report, he acknowledges that Green ‘was photographed at ED due to his shirt being torn in the scuffle.’

It seems that, when Det. Gialamas was instructing Det. Tiedemann to edit the report, he failed to notice the second reference to the torn shirt. Thus, not only were Det. Tiedemann’s claims in the report and to the court contradictory, Tiedemann also contradicts himself within the body of his own Statement of Probable Cause.

According to Det. Crystal and accepted as fact by both juries :

During the pursuit of Antoine Green, Tiedemann remained at the Prentiss address, and Det. Crystal was standing by, awaiting assistance to retrieve the tossed bag of drugs from the other side of a construction fence. After Det. Crystal received assistance with recovery of the drugs, he was taken to the home of Epps only moments prior to Green being placed into the wagon. Crystal was present when Green was being delivered back to the scene. He saw that Green’s shirt was not torn before being taken back into the house.

Green was taken into a back room. Detectives Crystal and Tiedemann remained at the front of the house to secure the location, as a crowd of neighbors gathered to witness the unfolding events. Crystal saw, when Green emerged, that he had been roughed up and that his shirt had been torn after being taken in, and before exiting the house.

To reiterate : Det. Tiedemann could not have seen what he described in his report, because he remained at the front the house after Antoine Green was taken to the back to receive his beating.

Tiedemann’s father, who shares the same name, is a retired Major in Internal Affairs for the Baltimore PD. This might explain why Det. Tiedemann was not charged with committing perjury.

What actually occurred at Prentiss Place was abuse of authority and aggravated assault & battery on Green by Williams and Gialamas. Neither were ever charged with the conspiracy to commit this crime. Neither were charged with abuse of authority.

All charges against Antoine Green, as related to this incident, were dropped. 

Three years later, in February 2014, a jury found that Officer Williams and Sgt. Gialamas had committed criminal acts in their treatment of Green.

In what is commonly seen as a dangerous choice, Detective Joe Crystal told only the truth in his attempt to report the Antoine Green incident to another sergeant by the name of Robert Amador. Sgt. Amador warned Det. Crystal that if Crystal went to Internal Affairs about this issue, he would be labeled a snitch and it would be the end of his career. Because of this warning, Crystal filed his complaint directly with Assistant State’s Attorney Anna Mantegna, bypassing Internal Affairs.

Detective Crystal testified against both accused officers, branding himself a whistleblower. In doing so, he joined an ever growing movement of honest law enforcement officers and ex-officers who are stepping out of the shadows to shatter what has been seen, historically, as an unbreakable code of silence, also known as the ‘thin blue line’ or the ‘blue wall of silence.’

Frank Serpico was the original police whistleblower, and became famous for doing this back in the early nineteen seventies. While others before him had tried to out corruption, Serpico was the first who succeeded to the point of being noticed by the press and, in turn, the system. His story was told by Hollywood.

Serpico joined the ranks of the New York City Police Department in 1960. After years of attempting to get fellow and superior officers and the city to address rampant corruption in the department, ‘Serpico finally was able to testify to the Knapp Commission in 1972, becoming the first policeman to voluntarily testify against a fellow officer. He paid for his perceived disloyalty to the force — other officers refused to come to his aid when he was shot during a drug raid in 1971.’  He was given an award, but never truly honored for his sacrifice.

The resulting Knapp Commission Report reveals a frightening depth of corruption in the NYCPD up until the nineteen seventies. In spite of efforts by Frank Serpico and the Knapp Commission, the corruption continues to this day in police agencies around the country, with the gang known as NYPD leading the pack.

A Village Voice article published in 1973 by Adam Walinsky lays out the Serpico story well.

A more recent Village Voice series of articles gives an in-depth view of the experiences of NYPD whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft, who was kidnapped by his superior officer and forcibly removed from his home and deposited in a mental health institution against his will for working to report corruption at NYPD.  Schoolcraft testified in the 2013 lawsuit against NYPD for using what has now been ruled unconstitutional stop & frisk policy.

There are other officers who, in response to their attempts to hold fellow officers accountable for criminal and otherwise corrupt acts, have been and are being harassed and threatened for doing so. These include, but certainly are not limited to the following :

‘Former Buffalo Police Officer, Cariol Horne is fighting for her pension since she was fired after 19 years on the force, over an incident in 2006 when she stopped a fellow officer from choking a handcuffed suspect.’

In Seaside, CA : ‘A 20 year veteran of the CSU Monterey Bay police force, was given a notice of termination this week for choosing NOT to immediately resort to violent escalation during a confrontation with a suicidal student.’


In October 2011, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Donna Jane Watts stopped and arrested Miami Police Department officer Fausto Lopez, after she clocked his patrol car speed at 120 mph. ‘Over 80 officers from 25 agencies accessed Watts’ private information’ in efforts to intimidate her for taking action and making the appropriate report against Lopez. Watts has filed suit against each of those officers and their departments.

On 9 August 2006, retired Albuquerque officer Samson Costales, Patrolman 1st Class, testified against Bernalillo County deputies for using excessive force on Al Unser, Sr. near a SWAT roadblock Unser had happened by. Costales ‘claims in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Thursday [23 August 2007] that APD Chief Ray Schultz, Sheriff Darren White and James Badway, an APD officer and police union official, defamed, slandered and retaliated against him after his testimony.
Costales, 52, also names the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department.’

A jury ruled in favor of Costales in his case against APD, and settlement in favor of Costales was reached with APOA (police association) and the Bernalillo County Sheriff.

Costales was recently present, along with several elected representatives, at protests against APD for their shooting and killing homeless victim James Boyd.

Nine months after the shooting, ‘SWAT team member Dominique Perez and former Detective Keith Sandy will each face a single count of open murder in the death of 38-year-old James Boyd, Second District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said. Open murder allows prosecutors to pursue either first-degree or second-degree murder charges.’

The day after charges were filed against Perez and Sandy, Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Levy refused to allow Chief Deputy DA Sylvia Martinez to participate in a meeting regarding a more recent shooting by APD officers. Her claim is that, having filed murder charges against two other APD officers, the District Attorney’s office has a conflict of interest, and cannot be involved in any investigations of other APD officers.

In April 2014, ‘Louisville [Kentucky] Metro Government … agreed to pay $450,000 to … former police detective [Barron Morgan] who says he was demoted to patrol officer on the graveyard shift for trying to help an imprisoned woman prove her innocence on a homicide charge.

Eight years after the crime was committed, Susan Jean King, in fear of being sentenced to life without parole, had pleaded guilty to the 1998 murder of Kyle ‘Deanie’ Breeden. In the plea deal, she had been sentenced to ‘only’ ten years, with possibility of parole after serving two.

King was granted a new trial by an appeals court, after the request for new trial had been denied by Spencer Circuit Judge Charles Hickman. The judge had acknowledged that a believable confession given by Richard Jarrell, Jr. in May of 2012 would have cleared King of the charges, but claimed her confession legally prevented him from granting a new trial. The appeals court disagreed, and On 9 October 2014, ‘King’s long ordeal ended when the Commonwealth of Kentucky dropped all charges.’

In February of 2008, ‘A jury gave $4.1 million to a trio of Long Beach police officers who were burglarized and harassed after they turned in their colleagues for pilfering lobsters from the Pacific. … Patterson and Harris have long contended that they were marked as “snitches,” denied job opportunities and had personal items stolen and vandalized in the aftermath of the mini-scandal sarcastically dubbed #lobstergate. Gage said he was forced into early retirement.’

More recently, an ‘anonymous whistleblower is in talks with private investigators about how some officers with the department in Oxnard were getting tattoos on their left shoulders as “notches” to signify their shooting victims. … The former officer wished to keep his identity private, as a confidential informant, because he fears retaliation from the other officers.’

check back in this box for more cases

 

Finally, three years after the Baltimore Police attack on Antoine Green, the cases against the two Baltimore officers went before juries.




assault 2nd degree guilty

obstructing guiltyOfficer Anthony Williams was recently found guilty of second-degree assault and obstructing and hindering the Internal Affairs investigation. With a possible ten year sentence for second degree assault, Judge M. Brooke Murdock handed down a year long jail sentence, then reduced it by suspending ten months and fifteen days. The sentence was effectively reduced to 45 days of incarceration for conspiring to and committing assault & battery against a person in custody.

Williams maintains he did nothing wrong by assaulting a handcuffed suspect, saying “I shouldn’t be in this situation. I did nothing wrong. Would I change what I did that day? No.”

The jury found Sergeant Marinos Gialamas guilty of one of three charges of misconduct. Gialamas was found not guilty of assault.

probation before judgementThe official records of the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, inconsistent with media reports, show that Sergeant Gialamas was subjected to ‘probation before judgement’ on the charge of misconduct in office.

guilty verdict stricken

The case against Gialamas, having been closed on 5 July 2014, shows that the jury’s judgement was reversed by Judge M. Brooke Murdock on 6 November 2014, four months later. The dates on the state’s website report show the case called ‘closed’ on 5 July, disposition and guilty verdict stricken both on the same day, 6 November. This judge overturned the decision made by the jury.

Though he conspired to deliver Antoine Green to the off-duty Williams for a beat down, Sgt. Gialamas, unlike Officer Williams, received support from the police union. The union paid for Gialamas’ defense, and produced union president Robert F. Cherry, Jr. as a character witness. Cherry testified that the sergeant should retain his job.

Williams had to pay for his own defense, and received no union support.

Nearing the end of 2014, more than three years after conspiring to assault and assaulting a person in custody, both officers were still working for Baltimore Police Department.  However, documents now reveal that both Marinos Gialamas and Anthony Williams recently resigned.

resignation williams

Fitting with the confusion evident in state records regarding the court cases against these two men, the resignation order for Williams is dated 14 January 2015, citing effective date 31 December 2014. The document was issued fifteen days after his resignation was effective.

resignation gialamas
Gialamas will apparently be collecting his pension, after having been found guilty in a court of law for participating in violence against a handcuffed prisoner.
Joe Crystal kept a journal documenting the abuse he was suffering.

crystal blood in blood out

Crystal continued to receive harassment from within his own precinct, so he approached FOP President Cherry seeking support. Cherry offered none. The union president wouldn’t even look at Crystal’s journal .

Joe Crystal has embarked upon a journey of truth telling in a realm where deceit and corruption are the norm. Having been a key witness to the abuse of Antione Green by Officer Williams and Sergeant Gialamas in 2011, Detective Crystal exhibited the moral integrity and courage in an insidious environment, a system which adheres to an unnatural silence pertaining to violence and various other forms of illegal conduct by police. His act of honesty led to years of harassment and threats by other police officers. While there were several other officers who were supporting and encouraging Crystal to keep pushing for the truth to be revealed, Det. Crystal mostly experienced obstruction, threats, and retaliation by fellow and superior officers alike, including from within the office of Internal Affairs. While Internal Affairs personnel claimed to be investigating the misconduct reported by Crystal, they never even took a statement from him until mid-summer of 2014, three years after he had begun reporting the harassment. Protocol dictates that no investigation can occur without an initial complaining statement.

During his tenure at Baltimore PD, Detective Crystal was a Class Commander at the police academy, and received a Police Commissioner’s Award for his leadership skills. Having been promoted in 2010 (only a year after graduating the Police Academy) from Officer to Detective, and in direct contradiction to the respect he had earned, Crystal was now being threatened and harassed. Detective Crystal had been warned that, by doing the right thing and telling the truth, the harassment would follow him throughout his career.

Before and after testifying against Gialamas and Williams, Detective Crystal regularly received offhand remarks about cheese and rats from fellow officers within the precinct. He was called a rat and a snitch. In one day, Sgt. John Burns delivered several pictures of cheese and rats, on post-it notes, to Crystal’s desk. Various fellow officers engaged in taunting him, with Det. Calvin Moss stating, “Are you having a cheese party? I know rats like cheese.” Crystal was also harassed at home.

Before giving court testimony, he received calls from Sgt. Amador, this time yelling at him, saying: “Sergeant Gialamas states you are the star witness.”

journal star witnessCrystal was warned, “You better pray to god you are not the star witness.” Crystal was told to watch his back.

The next day, Amador contacted Crystal and prompted him to pick up and correct documents Crystal had submitted regarding an unrelated case.  Det. Crystal reviewed the documents in question, then reported back to Det. Amador that there were no errors to be found. Amador then ordered Crystal to change the date on the forms to a different day that did not match the police report. When Crystal refused, Amador became increasingly agitated, warned Crystal, “Change the date, or I can charge you departmentally, or give me the $100 back.”

Sgt. Amador was ordering Crystal to falsify documents. Crystal was acutely aware of the ramifications if caught committing any act of misconduct. Such a violation would make him ineligible to testify in court against Gialamas and Williams.

Concerned that his superior officer might falsify the documents himself, Det. Crystal photocopied the documents before returning them, along with the $100 he was coerced into giving Amador in cash. Amador tore up the original documents after receiving the money, and did not supply Crystal with a receipt.

In November 2012, soon after showing the journal to ASA Shelly Glenn in the state’s attorney office (which by now included the fact that Amador had ordered Crystal to falsify documents) a rat appeared on Crystal’s car with its head under the windshield wiper and its guts torn out. Shelly Glenn had replaced ASA Jan Bledsoe, who who had resigned mid-investigation under threat of being fired relative to a separate issue. Glenn was good friends with the wife of Sgt. Amador.

Det. Crystal filed a police report about the rat, but there was never any actual investigation.

rat report

The case is referred to as #ratgate because of this particular action.

The harassment quickly manifested into actions which put Joe Crystal’s life in danger, including, as had occurred decades earlier to Frank Serpico, fellow officers refusing to have Crystal’s back in dangerous situations.

At the end of May, 2012, Detective Crystal lost out on a new assignment in the VRO Squad (violent repeat offender) based upon, according to Lt. M. Fries, his perceived inability to work ‘in the gray area.’ He was effectively being punished by the department for his integrity.

While on duty, routine calls for back-up were not dispatched. Detective Crystal feared for his safety by November, 2012.

In return for having displayed honor and dedication to justice by upholding his oath as a police officer, Detective Joe Crystal was rewarded with threats and retaliation from co-workers and superior officers.

Having failed to support Crystal as a whistleblower, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts eventually requested assistance from outside investigators.

In June 2014, two investigators from Philadelphia PD and two from Montgomery County were assigned, but quickly got off course by opening internal investigations into some of Det. Crystal’s allies. Crystal’s attorney, Nick Panteleakis, said, “… some of Crystal’s allies who have been interviewed by the investigators were labeled ‘suspects’ and the agency opened internal complaints against them, which upset the officers and Crystal.  … We said, “That’s not correct, we don’t want open [Internal Affairs] complaints against them.” but they said, “We’re going to keep them open.” Those cases are still open Internal Affairs investigations.

Unfortunately, the investigation didn’t even begin until after the statute of limitation had run out on the offense of the rat on the car, and on any other potential misconduct related to this story.

Conditions escalated. Det. Crystal lost his hard-earned security clearance. He was assigned to cases where instructions from supervisors were confusing and often contradictory, and also bounced from one assignment to another with little to no choice nor explanation. Being subjected to this campaign of attrition : knowing that without proper procedures being followed by fellow officers, and without support from his department, Joe Crystal realized he could not safely continue to serve the public. Not only were the actions of his co-workers dangerous for Det. Crystal, the willingness of his fellow officers to leave him hanging, without backup, also endangered the public.

Having not bothered to do any serious internal investigations into the misconduct by officers in retaliation against Det. Crystal regarding his testimony against Gialamas and Williams, Internal Affairs made time in a hurry to target him in an internal investigation for the misuse of a police vehicle.

non-preventable

In June 2014, while driving an official vehicle with his wife as passenger, someone rear-ended the vehicle. The investigator into Det. Joe Crystal’s responsibility for the accident labeled the accident type ‘Non Preventable.’

However, IA used the opportunity to harass Crystal even more by attempting to sully his record for having allowed his wife to ride in the vehicle. At the time of the incident, there was no actual General Order prohibiting a spouse from riding in an official vehicle.

notification of internal investigation

After waiting three years for Internal Affairs to investigate harassment and threats against him with no response, Crystal was forced to sign a notice of investigation six days after this incident.

joe crystal general order

take-home-vehicles p. 4

Subsequently, a new General Order regarding such use of vehicle was published 4 September 2014. In the precinct, the new order was referred to as ‘Joe Crystal General Order.’

crystal resignation

Crystal had already resigned from Baltimore PD, effective the previous day, 3 September 2014, after refusing to sign a proposed Settlement and Release Agreement.

Detective Crystal was and continues to be in fear for his safety and that of his family. Having received no support from Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, his union, or any of his superior officers, Crystal has filed a lawsuit :

‘The law firm of DISCEPOLO LLP has filed a lawsuit on behalf of former Baltimore City Police Department Detective Joseph Crystal against Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, Sergeant Robert Amador, and the Baltimore City Police Department with allegations of First Amendment Freedom of Speech retaliation, violation of Maryland wage and hour law, and constructive discharge in retaliation for reporting to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office an unjustified 2011 physical assault of a drug suspect by other Baltimore City police officers. The Federal Lawsuit is Crystal v Batts. et al, filed in the United States District Court of Maryland, Northern Division, case 1:14-cv-03989-JKB.’

Joe Crystal has been in the news lately, telling his story.

researched, written, and edited by chloe laran and wiseoldsnail

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Oakland Public Safety Committee Stalls Public Safety Oversight Commission

24 June 2014

The people of Oakland showed up in force today to support the changing of the city charter to require the city to staff a commission, called the Public Safety Oversight Commission, to hold historically violent and irresponsible Oakland police accountable for their illegal and otherwise violent and inappropriate actions. This hearing was held by the Public Safety Commission, whose members are Noel Gallo, chairman of the committee and sponsor of the item, Dan Kalb, Libby Schaaf, and Lynette Gibson McElhaney.

Speakers in favor of this change spoke to everything from the lack of police service to the inappropriate and violent responses by OPD, which have gone on for decades with impunity. Often, even in the case of murder by officer Miguel Masso of young Alan Blueford, officers, instead of being investigated and charged with the crimes they’ve committed, officers are put on ‘paid administrative leave’ aka vacation. The public is kept in the dark as to any action taken against officers by OPD internal affairs or the Citizens Police Review Board, which shares all information given to them by complainants, making it a dangerous action to file complaints at all.

Alan Blueford’s mother, Jeralyn Blueford, spoke, in tears, to remind us that Miguel Masso had a history of police violence and misconduct before ever being hired by the city to be in power to murder her son. ‘We shall not tolerate this and officers will be held to a higher standard…’

One speaker mentioned the value of civilianizing public safety functions when possible, allowing sworn officers to spend their time out in the streets serving the people.

Mayoral candidate Dan Siegel spoke about the millions and millions of dollars lost to lawsuits from OPD conduct. He advised the council to confer with OPOA, the police union, regarding the issue. He said the voters have a right to decide this, but OPOA can be involved in the process. He urged, as did most other speakers, the placing of this issue on the ballot.

One woman insisted upon calling protestors ‘rioters’ … having seemingly missed the miles of video evidence that it was OPD who were rioting during the height of Occupy Oakland actions. She also urged council to place this on the ballot, and acknowledged councilmember Noel Gallo for showing great leadership in this effort.

Isaac Taggart, with PUEBLO, pushed the council to vote to put this measure on the ballot. ‘You cannot afford to vote no or abstain … we will remind you at the polls.’ He spoke about the large number of unemployed black men in the city, and drew the connection of poverty being a major cause of crime.

Oakland Police officer Frank Marrow, a 26 year public servant with a law degree, spoke about accountability needing to happen from the top of the organization. He mentioned the consent decree. He acknowledged that ‘they’re running a game’ … suggesting that attorneys are making millions of dollars off the consent decree and other attempts to reign in violent police. He said ‘I’m too radical because I believe in telling you the truth of the OPOA, and too blue for Burris.’ He wants to see ‘a police department that is constitutional.’

When councilmember Pat Kernighan stood up to speak, Gallo recognized the attendance as constituting a full council. She attempted, with earned interruptions, to suggest that what she sees as recent improvements in the efforts by OPD to comply with the consent decree makes this charter change unnecessary. She suggested, also, that the CPRB could somehow magically change the culture of the police department. She spoke in opposition to placing the measure on the ballot.

Attorney Yolanda Huang reminded us all that the foundation of appropriate prosecution of criminal action is banked in complete, true, and honest reporting by police. This is something on which we should all be able to depend, and which is not the way OPD officers do their reporting.

Akiba Bradford, a researcher in the criminal justice/juvenile justice system said, ‘The numbers don’t add up … in order for there to be a change in culture there also has to be a change in oversight.’

Sange Basha’s only question isn’t ‘why would you put this on the ballot, but why wouldn’t you?’ She spoke to the economics of spending the money to hold police accountable. She says the measure is ‘revenue neutral,’ mentioning the $70 million lost to lawsuits and settlements in the recent decade.

Jasmin Coleman is a seventeen year old youth, involved with PUEBLO. She spoke to the teachings of her elders, explaining that we are taught that we will be held accountable for our actions, but police are not. She said she is afraid of police, and that people have to protect ourselves, because police aren’t doing it.

J. Jones with PUEBLO and Oakland Youth Policy Builders mentioned hearing what he called ‘crazy stories’ about police brutality. ‘There’s no reason to wait. Put it on the ballot now, give people of Oakland a chance to decide for ourselves.’

Rashida Grinage, also from PUEBLO, spoke about the politics of the issue. ‘what you have before you in the way of a ballot measure is defined … no controversy … because it is also the work of several months of many many people in the community … from the point of view of process, we don’t have any red lines … we have agreement … we don’t have an disagreement from you … ‘ She suggested the council/committee members aren’t disagreeing possibly because they’re not considering this a real possibility. She said, ‘we’ve done the work in the community, and we are all of one mind … ‘ She went on to say, ‘we want to work with you, not against you … ‘ and delivered words of appreciation for Noel Gallo for being willing to take on what she called a ‘thorny’ issue. ‘This is time for this community to realize accountability, and we hope that you will not stand in the way of that.’

Oakland Police Chief Whendt said he agrees with Jeralyn Blueford that police should be held to a higher standard. While he claimed to be dedicated to holding officers and the department accountable, and feels that he’s making progress since coming on board as chief, he doesn’t claim to know that it’s ‘enough.’

Patrick Caceras, manager and policy analyst for the CPRP, who refused to give an opinion previous to this meeting, said that the CPRB is going through changes. While never actually stating an opinion about the proposal, he meandered around it only to compare the concept of the Public Safety Oversight Commission to the current CPRB, with, of course, increased powers. Being the person most able to acknowledge the failure of the CPRB, as it is defined, to actually do anything about police violence, he managed to state no opinion.

While acknowledging that this is an effort to actually change the city charter, Libby Schaaf asked the city attorney to explain if there was a way to create this commission without a ballot measure. In fact, as an attorney, one would think she would understand that a change such as this would require a charter amendment. This is partly the answer given by the city attorney, qualified with a statement that the office would need to do more work to completely answer the query.

Three of these committee members were elected to office in the most recent past election. Only Libby Schaaf has tenure on council.

Dan Kalb admitted to not having read the entire proposal. He said he looked into the Los Angeles version of this type of commission. He suggested that combining the current CPRB and CPAB into such a commission ‘could work.’ While stating that he is open to this concept, he never really stated support for putting this measure on the ballot. ‘I don’t know if now, when we’re under the NSA, the public should be asked.’ He clarified that he’s not against the idea, but wanting to change the language of the proposal, after community members spent months drafting this proposal, that he did not bother to read it.

‘This subject is always a tough one for me. It’s difficult when we wade into these waters’ were some of the first words out of Lynette Gibson McElhaney. She talked of growing up in gangland, made a weepy attempt to acknowledge the pain expressed by the people, then stated she wasn’t certain this was the ‘appropriate remedy.’ She also, like Kalb, acknowledged not reading the entire proposal. ‘We often think we’re gonna fix something with something, but we don’t think it all the way through’ were the words she used to suggest that this proposal is less than optimum. She claimed to have worked hard to reform the CPRB, which is notorious for having no teeth to actually stop police brutality and misconduct, and basically undermined the work of the many folks who worked so hard to develop and deliver this proposal.

Noel Gallo repeatedly mentioned ‘by the people, for the people,’ referring often to the fact that we, the people, are paying for the services of everyone from members of OUSD, to the city attorney. He thanked the people for working so hard on this effort. ‘Out of your effort and out of your push to have a better Oakland … the reality is on the neighborhood, and all the polling says … there’s lack of confidence, not only in the police department, but in my neighborhood.’ He basically went off on the CPRB for never providing the required bi-annual reports to the committee and council, and reminded us all that the proposal for a public safety commission looks very much like what the CPRB was supposed to have been doing for many years.

Gallo thanked everyone for informing him about everything from community policing to CPRB regulations and the power of the public safety committee to oversee the CPRB.

When chairman Gallo asked for a motion to approve the recommendation to send this proposal to council for consideration, Libby Schaaf immediately spoke against doing so. She suggesting putting this off ‘until the fall.’ As a reminder, this is a proposal for council to include this on the next ballot. Schaaf’s effort is to stall to make that impossible. McElhaney followed suit, wondering whether there was any ordinance which could do what this proposal is trying to do. Kalb said ‘this is not an attempt to bury the motion’ while joining forces with Schaaf and Mcelhaney to stuff the effort into the trash heap. He spoke only negatively.

Item stays in committee.

Alameda County Supervisors to Forcefully Drug People

22 February 2014

The agenda for 25 February of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors contains an item which, if passed, will implement California AB 1421, aka ‘Laura’s Law.’  This law, if implemented, would criminalize people with mental illness, empowering local government to require those who experience mental illness to ingest dangerous chemicals as ‘treatment’ for their condition.  While most of the agenda item refers to a voluntary pilot program, one sentence in the proposal acknowledges that the implementation of this law empowers a county to use police to enforce a policy of ‘compliance’ with the law, under threat of incarceration :

The AB 1421 Pilot court processes will require a $50,000 increase in County General Funds, as involuntary services cannot be funded by MHSA or realignment.

The very mention of ‘compliance’ indicates criminalization of those with symptoms of mental illness.  This is an obvious deepening of the police state.

AB 1421 is already law, but was written to be implemented county by county, as each jurisdiction develops a plan (including local funding) to use the power the law delivers to doctors, social workers, and police to conspire to incarcerate any mental health patient, or person with perceived mental illness, who refuses to ingest dangerous chemicals.  The power to ‘diagnose’ and label a person as having mental health issues already lies in the hands of doctors who reap great economic benefit, in the form of kickbacks and gifts from pharmaceutical companies, for applying such labels and prescribing these drugs.  A county (including sheriff agency) employs it’s own doctors, who become empowered, by the implementation of this law, to prescribe psychiatric drugs to people with whom they otherwise have no doctor/patient relationship.

It doesn’t help that so many people are self-prescribing psychotropic drugs, via willing doctors, based on misleading television advertising.

Pharmaceutical companies have notoriously failed to publicize findings from initial drug studies which indicate the dangers of the drugs they sell for profit.  Every chemical ‘treatment’ for mental health conditions has been proven, often long after hundreds of thousands of people have been negatively affected, to cause other health problems.  These include but are not limited to : causing the increase and exacerbation of symptoms of those already diagnosed with mental illness.  Some drugs used to treat mental illness have been found to actually cause mental illness.

Drugs used in the treatment of mental illness come with dire warnings that the drug may cause suicidal or homicidal ideology.  Additional warnings acknowledge that the drugs, while already dangerous to ingest, offer specific, increased, dangers of mental maladjustment when a patient, whether forced, by choice, or due to lack of funds to continue to fill prescriptions, abruptly stops taking a drug.

Many of the recent mass shootings in the news have been reported as being committed by persons under the influence of, or in withdrawal from, these drugs. In the article linked above, the CCHR documents, among other facts, the incidence of mass shootings and other school related acts of violence :

Fact: At least least 31 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 162 wounded and 72 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs).

Another CCHR article point outs other violent acts which have been linked to the use of prescribed psychotropic drugs :

School-related acts of violence aren’t the only cases commonly found to be under the influence of psychiatric drugs. There are 16 other recent acts of senseless violence committed by individuals taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 61 dead and 32 wounded

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health watchdog. Its mission is ‘to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections.’  They have reported extensively on these issues of the dangers of psychiatric medications, including providing a search engine to enable one to discover the effects of specific drugs or drug categories.  On their site is an article published in July 2009 by former pharmaceutical representative K.L. Carlson.  Carlson, author of the compelling expose, Diary of a Legal Drug Dealer – One Drug Rep. Dares to Tell You the Truth, explains the dangers of the use of psychiatric drugs, which can be prescribed by any medical doctor :

These drugs are literally mind-altering.  They can cause people to terminate loving, supportive relationships with family and friends, the very relationships that are extremely important to helping people recover from depression.  The drugs can cause hallucinations, paranoia, and mania.

Dr. Joseph Mercola addresses some of these issues in an article which includes a video interview with medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker. As reported by former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell, Whitaker has this to say regarding the use of psychiatric drugs :

Prior to treatment, patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression, and other psychiatric disorders do not suffer from any known “chemical imbalance.” However, once a person is put on a psychiatric medication, which, in one manner or another, throws a wrench into the usual mechanics of a neuronal pathway, his or her brain begins to function …  abnormally.

To add to this problem, almost every county jail has a policy of not only refusing to allow a newly or recently incarcerated person to continue with their chosen drug treatment, but of filing additional charges against people for being in possession of their own, prescribed, medications.

Any policy of forced drugging is anti-American.