Tasers Are No Magic Bullet - Top 10 Reasons to Say NO to Berkeley Police with Tasers

After each mishap or tragedy that occurs these days in Berkeley, we are told that it could have been averted “if only” the police had been issued tasers. The mayor of Berkeley made this claim after six Berkeley police killed a mentally ill transgender woman in her own home last year. BPD officers made the same claim again when a mentally ill man stabbed himself several times. This week, Chris Stines of the Berkeley Police Association (BPA) went to great pains to spread the notion that if a Berkeley police officer had had a taser this past week, he wouldn’t have been assaulted. It is regrettable that the BPA uses these incidents as nothing more than a way to win political points. The issue of how to protect officers as well as the human rights of the citizenry is far more complex than simply giving cops more hardware on their belts.

Of course, these kinds of statements can never be proven. No one can know whether a taser would have prevented the confrontation in which the officer was involved in a fistfight with a suspect who was believed to be mentally ill. The BPA continues to apply steady political pressure to our local politicians and insists that somehow, real safety resides in our ability to meet suspects with electric shocks. At Berkeley Copwatch, we disagree. We believe that it is the duty of the officers to place the well being of the community at the forefront of their efforts. We believe that mentally ill people have a right to treatment and should not be subjected to torture because of a condition which they do not control. It is time for the City of Berkeley to return to the humane approaches for which it was once famous and reject the militarization of care which has overtaken our approach to community health and safety.

Top Ten Reasons to say NO to Tasers

1. Tasers are a “sometimes lethal” weapon. There have been at least 547 deaths related to the use of tasers by law enforcement since 2001, according to the human rights agency Amnesty International. It is also reported that 90% of those who died were unarmed. TASER International, the main manufacturer of tasers, has begin issuing on its website a new warning to law enforcement, stating that its conducted electrical weapon “can cause death or serious injury.” Tasers used on most people harbor few long-term effects, but they are deadly for a small minority. Their use should be considered potentially lethal and limited to only those situations in which lethal force would have been justified.

2. Police already have an alternative. They can use their pepper spray. In 1997, the Berkeley Police made a campaign to obtain pepper spray. This they claimed was the best alternative to deadly force. If this was true, then why are we now being asked to finance yet another round of the latest torture technology? Why can’t we invest in longer term, more humane approaches to community safety? According to Chris Stines, police only needed to use their pepper spray three times last year. If so, then is it worth spending a few hundred thousand dollars to equip a department for three incidents a year?

3. Cops can’t tell if there are underlying medical conditions. Studies by the American Medical Association confirm that tasers CAN cause heart attacks. Taser International also warns that tasers should not be used on people who are pregnant, on drugs, have asthma or who have heart problems. How can officers know if there is an underlying medical condition? They can’t. That is the problem. They are playing a lethal game of chance each time they use them.

4. Not a substitute for critical analysis of police strategies and training. While we are glad that Berkeley officer Jeff Shannon is recovering from his encounter last week, we do not see how a taser would have saved him. For some unknown reason, the officer went to this call alone. It is rare that a traffic stop in Berkeley attracts less than 2-4 officers. Why did officer Shannon answer this call alone? His attacker surprised him and having a taser would not have changed that. According to press reports, the attacker was attempting to ignite a liquid. A taser blast on a flammable liquid could ignite (and has in the past) causing an even greater risk to the officer, the suspect and the public.

5. The city increases its liability exposure. TASER International knows that this is a lethal weapon. They are covering themselves legally by issuing warnings about the lethal capacity of these weapons. In one month alone in 2013, five law enforcement agencies in North Texas announced they had discontinued using Tasers or were reviewing their policy regarding the weapons. The city of San Francisco declined to adopt tasers and opted to seek a truly non-lethal alternative. Across the country, agencies are reviewing their policies or seeking alternatives as a way of reducing their exposure to lawsuits.

6. Mentally ill people are 2-4 times more likely to be tasered. A study by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that 30% of the people tasered in New York were identified as being mentally ill. How does the Berkeley Police department treat the mentally ill? With a desperate lack of emergency mental health services, police are often called upon to deal with emergency situations. At this point, our police chief sanctions the inhumane practice of hooding of mentally ill individuals and allows officers to engage in this practice without even have a policy on the use of such hoods. We fear that this lack of regard for the human rights of the mentally ill would extend to the way officers are empowered to use tasers.

7. People of color are more likely to be tasered. African Americans are only 13.6% of the total population, yet represent 45% of the 2009-2014 taser-related deaths in America. In Albany, New York, 28% of the population is African American, yet they are 68% of those Tasered. Racial profiling exists. Sadly, Berkeley Police don’t even keep data on the race/ethnicity of people they stop so we can’t even track the degree to which policies are implemented in racist ways.

8. We have a crisis of accountability for police. “Well, if a Berkeley officer acts out of line, why not just file a complaint?” you might ask. At this time, police accountability in this city (and state) is almost non-existent. Due to a California Supreme Court decision in the mid 1990’s called Copley Press vs. The City of San Diego, civilian review was severely limited, and in the city of Berkeley, it was decimated. These days, it is a minor miracle when an officer actually has a complaint sustained against him or her. If we put tasers into the hands of police, we will be powerless to even know whether or not they are being misused by police, let alone to actually punish an officer who deliberately misuses a taser.

9. The Berkeley Police Association has conducted a misleading, high profile campaign. The BPA touts a “survey” claiming to show that 83 percent of Berkeley residents support investigating the use of tasers to restrain violent individuals. It is useful to note that the survey was given to a select group of people from the BPA over email. The very biased questions yielded the desired results, but did nothing to help us build a community wide approach to emergency mental health services.

10. If someone dies from taser exposure, the DA won’t necessarily investigate because they only investigate firearms deaths. The employees in the District Attorney’s office explained this strange policy to us when we asked why the death of Kayla Moore was not being investigated. We know that there will be no justice for those who are wrongly tased and die as a result. It is sad, but it is the truth of the matter.

From our perspective, tasers only make sense if they are identified as lethal force and their use is limited to those situations in which lethal force would be justified. The problem is that far too often, tasers are used to overcome resistance to officer commands. It is common to read about officers who used tasers on people in cars, people who didn’t act quickly enough, or on people who asked “why?” one too many times. They have been used on children as young as eight and old people into their 80’s. They are known to be lethal.

We must raise the standard of what we consider to be real community safety and work to ensure that the safety of everyone in our community is of importance.

http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2014-04-18/article/42023?headline=Tasers-Are-No-Magic-Bullet—By-Andrea-Prichett-of-Berkeley-Copwatch

https://www.facebook.com/Berkeley.Copwatchers

anarcho-queer
anarcho-queer:

Women Prisoners Sterilized To Cut Welfare Cost In California
In California, prison doctors have sterilized at least 148 women, mainly Mexicans, from 2006 to 2010. Why? They don’t want to have to provide welfare funding for any children they may have in the future and to eliminate ‘defectives’ from the gene pool.
The sterilization procedures cost California taxpayers $147,460 between 1997 and 2010. The doctors at the prison argue it is money well-spent.
Dr. James Heinrich, an OB-GYN at Valley State Prison for Women, said, “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”
In 1909, California passed the country’s third sterilization law, authorizing reproductive surgeries of patients committed to state institutions for the “feebleminded” and “insane” that were deemed suffering from a “mental disease which may have been inherited and is likely to be transmitted to descendants.” Based on this eugenic logic, 20,000 patients in more than ten institutions were sterilized in California from 1909 to 1979. Worried about charges of “cruel and unusual punishment,” legislators attached significant provisions to sterilization in state prisons. Despite these restrictions, about 600 men received vasectomies at San Quentin in the 1930s when the superintendent flaunted the law.
Moreover, there was a discernible racial bias in the state’s sterilization and eugenics programs. Preliminary research on a subset of 15,000 sterilization orders in institutions (conducted by Stern and Natalie Lira) suggests that Spanish-surnamed patients, predominantly of Mexican origin, were sterilized at rates ranging from 20 to 30 percent from 1922 to 1952, far surpassing their proportion of the general population.
In her recent book, Miroslava Chávez-García shows, through exhaustively researched stories of youth of color who were institutionalized in state reformatories, and sometimes subsequently sterilized, how eugenic racism harmed California’s youngest generation in patterns all too reminiscent of detention and incarceration today. California was the most zealous sterilizer, carrying out one-third of the approximately 60,000 operations performed in the 32 states that passed eugenic sterilization laws from 1907 to 1937.
Although such procedures may seem harsh, they are not illegal. The Supreme Court ruled in 1927 that women can be forcibly sterilized in jail in Buck vs Bell. Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
Credit

anarcho-queer:

Women Prisoners Sterilized To Cut Welfare Cost In California

In California, prison doctors have sterilized at least 148 women, mainly Mexicans, from 2006 to 2010. Why? They don’t want to have to provide welfare funding for any children they may have in the future and to eliminate ‘defectives’ from the gene pool.

The sterilization procedures cost California taxpayers $147,460 between 1997 and 2010. The doctors at the prison argue it is money well-spent.

Dr. James Heinrich, an OB-GYN at Valley State Prison for Women, said, “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.

In 1909, California passed the country’s third sterilization law, authorizing reproductive surgeries of patients committed to state institutions for the “feebleminded” and “insane” that were deemed suffering from a “mental disease which may have been inherited and is likely to be transmitted to descendants.” Based on this eugenic logic, 20,000 patients in more than ten institutions were sterilized in California from 1909 to 1979. Worried about charges of “cruel and unusual punishment,” legislators attached significant provisions to sterilization in state prisons. Despite these restrictions, about 600 men received vasectomies at San Quentin in the 1930s when the superintendent flaunted the law.

Moreover, there was a discernible racial bias in the state’s sterilization and eugenics programs. Preliminary research on a subset of 15,000 sterilization orders in institutions (conducted by Stern and Natalie Lira) suggests that Spanish-surnamed patients, predominantly of Mexican origin, were sterilized at rates ranging from 20 to 30 percent from 1922 to 1952, far surpassing their proportion of the general population.

In her recent book, Miroslava Chávez-García shows, through exhaustively researched stories of youth of color who were institutionalized in state reformatories, and sometimes subsequently sterilized, how eugenic racism harmed California’s youngest generation in patterns all too reminiscent of detention and incarceration today.

California was the most zealous sterilizer, carrying out one-third of the approximately 60,000 operations performed in the 32 states that passed eugenic sterilization laws from 1907 to 1937.

Although such procedures may seem harsh, they are not illegal. The Supreme Court ruled in 1927 that women can be forcibly sterilized in jail in Buck vs Bell. Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Credit

Squatters, police clash in Rio de Janeiro; 5,000 evicted
April 20, 2014

Squatters in Rio de Janeiro clashed with police last week after a Brazilian court ordered the eviction of nearly 5,000 people from buildings they had occupied.

More than 1,000 police officers arrived on Friday to move people out of the buildings and parking lot owned by the telecommunications company Oi. The move came amid preparations for the World Cup from June 12 to July 13.

Some squatter families left peacefully, but many others fought police with rocks and Molotov cocktails and set fire to parts of a building, four buses and a police cruiser, police said. The vehicles of local TV stations were also attacked.

Officers used tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray to disperse the families.

"When the police arrived, some of them asked us to remain calm but others started pushing us around," squatter Drielo Almeida told TV Globo’s G1 internet news portal. "Now I am crying because I have nowhere to go to. I have no place to live."

Rodrigo Moreira said faced a choice of squatting or starving.

"With the money I earn I could either pay rent or eat. That is why I came here," he told G1.

Police spokesman Claudio Costa told the Globo TV network that the “eviction was successfully completed in three hours,” but that groups of people continued clashing with police in surrounding areas.

During the clash, five police officers, three children and four squatters were injured and taken to nearby hospitals where they were treated for bruises and smoke inhalation and discharged.

Costa said police detained more than 20 people, some for attacking police officers and others who tried to loot a supermarket and shops in nearby neighborhoods.

The O Globo newspaper said its reporter Bruno Amorim who was covering the eviction was taken into custody but released hours later.

Brazil correspondent Zoe Sullivan reported for Al Jazeera in January that 78 families’ homes in Camaragibe were appropriated by the municipal government to make way for an expanded urban transit hub set to serve international guests to the World Cup. Sustainable housing advocates around the globe have for decades blamed preparations for international sporting events for displacing locals, despite the promised — but often unrealized — economic benefits derived from injecting foreign capital into a local economy. China, by way of example, reportedly barred scores of Beijing residents from protesting land-grabs, and the resulting displacement, required to make way for new Olympic facilities.

Source
Photos via Reuters

Gentrification report proposes bold solutions to stop displacement in OaklandApril 20, 2014
Last week Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC) released a report titled Development Without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area. The 112-page document, prepared in collaboration with the Alameda County Public Health Department, goes beyond describing the public health implications of gentrification to proposing steps that cities like Oakland can take to stop displacement of historic residents.

Six key principles create a framework for the report’s policy recommendations:
Baseline protections for vulnerable residents
Production and preservation of affordable housing
Stabilization of existing communities
Non-market based approaches to housing and community development
Displacement prevention as a regional priority
Planning as a participatory process

“Because gentrification is an issue that crosses various different kinds of aspects, you actually do need a variety of policy strategies,” said Maria Zamudio, San Francisco Housing Rights Organizer with CJJC.  “There is no silver bullet to take on the housing crisis.”
The report classifies neighborhoods by their place on a spectrum of gentrification. “Gentrification in different neighborhoods is in different stages, so the need for policy interventions is different,” she said.
The report lays out proposed policies, including just cause eviction ordinances, proactive code enforcement to make sure current affordable housing stock is maintained, inclusive zoning that mandates affordable housing be part of development projects, and community trainings to encourage resident participation in planning processes. A proposed community health impact analysis of new projects would be designed to help cities like Oakland welcome much-needed development while mitigating displacement.
The report advocates against the market-driven planning process that is the norm in cities throughout the Bay Area. Instead, it suggests, cities should invest in affordable housing through Community Land Trusts and Limited Equity Housing Co-Ops and levy taxes aimed at making real estate speculation less attractive to investors.“Right of first refusal” and “reparation and return” policies would allow residents displaced by habitability issues or urban renewal the opportunity to return to their former homes. A “No Net Loss” policy would “require all affordable units lost through renovation, conversion, or demolition be replaced within the same neighborhood if possible and within the same city at a minimum.” Public data on civic investment and demographic changes by neighborhood would highlight areas of  neglect and displacement where resources are most needed.
“Policy fights need to be organizing opportunities,” said Zamudio, highlighting another recommendation:  to bring affected communities into the process of preventing their own displacement. “Our policies are never going to be visionary enough to take on the problem,” she said, without input from “the most impacted residents of neighborhoods” experiencing gentrification.
Some of the proposals in the report are already being implemented in other cities. San Francisco is listed as a model for a number of the proposals. Yet displacement is, if anything, a bigger problem in that city than in Oakland. “We’re seeing a compounding of impacts,” said Zamudio. “Planning by the city has been in line with changes that the speculative market wants.” She noted that demographic shifts, as working class residents are pushed out, compound the problem by raising the median income and, with it, the threshold for affordable housing. “The income of the city is unbalanced,” she said, which leads to increasing challenges in finding housing affordable to working class residents.
Full article

Gentrification report proposes bold solutions to stop displacement in Oakland
April 20, 2014

Last week Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC) released a report titled Development Without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area. The 112-page document, prepared in collaboration with the Alameda County Public Health Department, goes beyond describing the public health implications of gentrification to proposing steps that cities like Oakland can take to stop displacement of historic residents.

Six key principles create a framework for the report’s policy recommendations:

  1. Baseline protections for vulnerable residents
  2. Production and preservation of affordable housing
  3. Stabilization of existing communities
  4. Non-market based approaches to housing and community development
  5. Displacement prevention as a regional priority
  6. Planning as a participatory process

“Because gentrification is an issue that crosses various different kinds of aspects, you actually do need a variety of policy strategies,” said Maria Zamudio, San Francisco Housing Rights Organizer with CJJC.  “There is no silver bullet to take on the housing crisis.”

The report classifies neighborhoods by their place on a spectrum of gentrification. “Gentrification in different neighborhoods is in different stages, so the need for policy interventions is different,” she said.

The report lays out proposed policies, including just cause eviction ordinances, proactive code enforcement to make sure current affordable housing stock is maintained, inclusive zoning that mandates affordable housing be part of development projects, and community trainings to encourage resident participation in planning processes. A proposed community health impact analysis of new projects would be designed to help cities like Oakland welcome much-needed development while mitigating displacement.

The report advocates against the market-driven planning process that is the norm in cities throughout the Bay Area. Instead, it suggests, cities should invest in affordable housing through Community Land Trusts and Limited Equity Housing Co-Ops and levy taxes aimed at making real estate speculation less attractive to investors.“Right of first refusal” and “reparation and return” policies would allow residents displaced by habitability issues or urban renewal the opportunity to return to their former homes. A “No Net Loss” policy would “require all affordable units lost through renovation, conversion, or demolition be replaced within the same neighborhood if possible and within the same city at a minimum.” Public data on civic investment and demographic changes by neighborhood would highlight areas of  neglect and displacement where resources are most needed.

“Policy fights need to be organizing opportunities,” said Zamudio, highlighting another recommendation:  to bring affected communities into the process of preventing their own displacement. “Our policies are never going to be visionary enough to take on the problem,” she said, without input from “the most impacted residents of neighborhoods” experiencing gentrification.

Some of the proposals in the report are already being implemented in other cities. San Francisco is listed as a model for a number of the proposals. Yet displacement is, if anything, a bigger problem in that city than in Oakland. “We’re seeing a compounding of impacts,” said Zamudio. “Planning by the city has been in line with changes that the speculative market wants.” She noted that demographic shifts, as working class residents are pushed out, compound the problem by raising the median income and, with it, the threshold for affordable housing. “The income of the city is unbalanced,” she said, which leads to increasing challenges in finding housing affordable to working class residents.

Full article

The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’April 16, 2014
Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.
This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.
To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.
Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.
Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.
The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.
However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.
People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.
One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.
It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.
Source

The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’
April 16, 2014

Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.

This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.

To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.

Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.

Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.

The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.

However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.

People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.

One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.

It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.

Source

Report: Hundreds killed while defending environment, land rights
April 16, 2014

Hundreds of people have been killed while defending the environment and land rights around the world, international monitors said in a report released Tuesday, highlighting what they called a culture of impunity surrounding the deaths.

At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2013 during disputes over industrial logging, mining, and land rights – with Latin America and Asia-Pacific being particularly hard-hit – according to the study from Global Witness, a London-based nongovernmental organization that says it works to expose economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction.

Only 10 people have ever been convicted over the hundreds of deaths, the report said.

The rate of such deaths has risen sharply – with an average of two activists killed each week – over the past four years as competition for the world’s natural resources has accelerated, Global Witness said in the report titled “Deadly Environment.”

“There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,” said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.

“This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,” Courtney said.

The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.

Land rights are central to the violence, as “companies and governments routinely strike secretive deals for large chunks of land and forests to grow cash crops,” the report said. When residents refuse to give up their land rights to mining operations and the timber trade, they are often forced from their homes, or worse, it said.

The study ranked Brazil as the most dangerous place to be an environmentalist, with at least 448 killings recorded.

One case that especially shocked the country and the global environmental movement involved the 2011 killings of environmentalists Jose Claudio Ribeira da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva.

“The couple had denounced the encroachment of illegal loggers in the reserve and had previously received threats against their lives,” the report said.

Masked men gunned down the couple near a sustainable reserve where they had worked for decades producing nuts and natural oils. The killers tore off one of Jose Claudio’s ears as proof of his execution.

Full article

thinkmexican

thinkmexican:

Stories From the Real Coachella

Below is an excerpt from “How the P’urhépechas Came to the Coachella Valley,” an oral history of Pedro Gonzalez, one of thousands of P’urhépecha farmworkers living and working in the Coachella Valley of California. In an interview, he recounted the history of the P’urhépecha migration that created the Duros and Chicanitas labor camps located on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation:

I grew up in Ocomichu, Michoacán, which is a P’urhépecha town. When I was growing up, nobody knew how to speak Spanish. When you asked something in Spanish while they were working in the fields they would run, because they didn’t understand what you were saying. You suffer when you don’t know the language. My father wasn’t P’urhépecha, though, just my mother, so he taught us Spanish when we were young.

I first came to the U.S. in 1979. When I first arrived in Riverside I didn’t get a paycheck for two weeks. We survived off tortillas and oranges. We were working in the orange fields, and ate them for every meal. Someone lent us a couple of dollars and we would buy a package of tortillas. We needed to help each other, even when someone just needed a dollar. I just felt like crying back then, not knowing what to do.

Today in Duros or Mecca you can practically go anywhere and speak P’urhépecha with anyone. It wasn’t like that when I got here. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I lived with an African-American man in Palm Springs for two months and felt very lonely. Nowadays the younger generation says our memories of what we suffered are exaggerated. That makes me feel bad. We walked two nights and two days crossing the border back then. Now it costs as much as $3,000 to cross the line. You have to work for more than two or three months to earn that much. It used to be that you didn’t have to pay another person to help you cross. Now it’s much harder and the coyotes charge so much. I used to help people cross for $300, and it was no big deal. I’ve helped others cross and they’ve never paid me. They forget.

I would say we have about three thousand P’urhépecha people in this area now. There are a lot of us. In Riverside alone I think there must be fifteen hundred people. Our hometown in Michoacán has also grown a lot. It used to be a small town, but it’s now a lot bigger. A few years back, they conducted a census in Mexico and determined there were about eight thousand indigenous people living in the hills of that area of Michoacán. I would say most are still there, but there are many of us now all over the U.S. We’re spread out in Palm Springs, Coachella, Indio, and Riverside.

Here in the Duros trailer park, there were only four trailers when I came in 1999. Slowly, people started arriving and everything started growing. Now I think there must be hundreds of people in these two parks, Duros and Chicanitas.

Most of us here work picking lemons and grapes, depending on the time of year. I like working the lemon harvest the most, because it pays piece rate (and not by the hour). If you work by the hour, it’s just over $7. On piece rate you can make about $1,550 every two weeks. If we do odd jobs here and there, it’s enough for us to live on. But piece rate makes you work fast, and some people don’t like it because they don’t like to work hard. For example, today I finished nine rows while some others only did five.

The owner of the park is a good man, a Native American. He even helped me fill out the immigration paperwork for my family, and only charged $500 when others would have charged $2,000.

But we used to have a lot of problems before the state took control of the park. A big one was the lack of security. Once, my wife heard knocking right after we’d left for work. She thought we’d come back, so she opened the door. It was an intruder. She yelled and he ran off, but the security guards wouldn’t do anything to protect us.

Rent on the trailer here costs us about $250, and with garbage, water, and security it goes up to $300 a month. If you’re getting paid $7 or $8 an hour, that’s hard. Gas prices keep going up and our wages don’t. Food prices are high. I spend more than $300 every time I buy food. If people got together and decided not to work for one day, it would have a tremendous impact on the economy; but people don’t do that because they are in need of money. We participated in a strike once. But there were other people who really needed work. They went into the fields to work even though we told them not to.

My kids are here legally now, and I’m in the process of obtaining legal residency for my last child. They all speak P’urhépecha, which is what we speak in the house. My wife doesn’t speak Spanish too well. She refused to learn it in the beginning because she said she wouldn’t need it. But now look at how necessary it is to speak English in this country. When my kids were young we had such a humble life in Mexico. They used to run around with holes all over their clothes. But our life has changed. Now if they have a little tear, they want to throw the clothes away. They even waste a lot of food. They don’t know how to value things. My family still has land in the ejido. My brother sold his plot when the land reform law changed, but I still have mine. My father died but my mother is still alive, and my wife’s mother is as well. We never forget about them, and send them money continuously. I don’t think my kids will return to Michoacán to live, though. Even though some were born over there, when we go to visit they always want to come back. But I don’t think they will lose their language and culture living here. We hold onto the P’urhépecha traditions with dances, weddings, baptisms, and quinceañeras. We all help each other out. There are many P’urhépechas here so everyone feels at home. I might go back to Mexico to live someday, but I don’t know when. I haven’t been there in years. I don’t even have my voter card. I’ve never voted in my life.

Read more at New America Media

Photos and interview by David Bacon

randomactsofchaos

ashkenazi-autie:

Three people were reported dead on Sunday in a possible anti-Semitic shooting attack at two buildings serving the Jewish community near Kansas City.

A gunman opened fired in the parking lot of the Overland Park Jewish Community Center and the nearby Village Shalom retirement home, both in the Kansas City suburb.

"At around 1 p.m. today, Overland Park police received multiple calls regarding a shooting on the campus of the Jewish Community Center, 5801 W. 115th Street. Additional calls were received by police of another shooting at the Village Shalom Retirement Community, 5500 W. 123rd," according to the Overland Park Police Department.

“Three victims are confirmed deceased. A person of interest has been taken into custody at this time,” the police spokesman said.

CNN reported that the deceased included a teenager and an elderly woman.

During the initial developing story, a spokeswoman for Overland Park Regional Medical Center said the hospital was treating a 14-year-old male who suffered a gunshot wound and who was in critical condition.

The gunman fired toward a total of five people, three of whom were confirmed dead, authorities investigating the incident said at a press briefing.

Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said it was too early to label the attacks as anything other than “vicious acts of violence.”

He stated that two males were killed outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas and one female at the nearby Shalom Village retirement home.

He confirmed that police had a white male in his 70s in custody for questioning. He added that the man was unknown to police until today.
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City said on Facebook that no shooting had occurred inside its campus, and it had released home all the participants of its programming.
Overland Park, the second biggest city in Kansas, is a short drive away from the state’s main Jewish concentration in Kansas City.

According to Kansas’s KSHB 41 Action News, police were holding one suspect in custody, who was reported as yelling “heil Hitler” as he was being detained.

The entire JCC campus was locked down.

One witness was quoted by KSHB 41 Action News as saying that a man, presumably the shooter, had aimed a gun at him before shooting the windows of his vehicle.

US Federal Bureau of Investigation officials were helping local authorities investigate the two shootings, CNN cited FBI spokesman Joel Sealer as saying.

The JCC of Greater Kansas City announced that it would be closed on Monday.

“We will post more information following a debriefing at the Overland Park Police Command Center and a 5:00 pm press conference, which will be carried live,” the JCC said on Facebook.

The Jerusalem Post was unable to reach the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City for further comment.

The shooting comes only weeks after the Anti-Defamation League released a report describing an increase in physical assaults against Jews despite an overall 19 percent decrease of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.

In its Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, the ADL reported that there 751 incidents in 41 states and Washington, DC — among the lowest number since 1979, when the ADL began collecting data. The number of incidents has been steadily declining for the past decade.
I am asking for my followers, Jewish and non-Jewish, to spread this like wildfire. Antisemitism isn’t often discussed in social justice circles, but I need y’all to know that hate crimes are committed against us. So far, I have only been seeing this circulate among Jews on Tumblr, but I want it to go farther than that.
I want this to lead to a larger discussion about antisemitism. I don’t want it to be derailed merely as a discussion about gun control. I don’t want people asking if the shooter had mental illness. I want people to acknowledge that the shooter is a blatant antisemite. I want people to know why we often have cop cars parked outside our synagogues. I want people to know why we are still afraid.

Meet the Lakota Tribe woman teaching thousands how to resist the Keystone XL Pipeline
April 14, 2014

On March 29, a caravan of more than 100 cars plodded along the wide open roads of the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, stopped at a forlorn former corn field and prepared for battle. 

Leaders from eight tribes in South Dakota and Minnesota pitched their flags. Participants erected nine tipis, a prayer lodge and a cook shack, surrounding their camp with a wall of 1,500-pound hay bales. Elders said they would camp out indefinitely. Speakers said they were willing to die for their cause.

This spirit camp at the Sicangu Lakota Rosebud reservation was the most visible recent action in Indian Country over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. But it was hardly the first … or the last.

On the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Debra White Plume, an activist and community organizer involved in Oglala Lakota cultural preservation for more than 40 years, has been leading marches, civil disobedience training camps and educational forums on the Keystone XL since the pipeline was proposed in 2008.

White Plume, founder of the activists groups Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), the International Justice Project and Moccasins on the Ground, has crisscrossed the country, marched on Washington and testified at the United Nations against the environmental devastation of tar sands oil mining and transport. Now, perhaps only weeks before President Obama is set to announce whether to allow a private oil company, TransCanada, to plow through the heartland to transport tar sand crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries for export, White Plume is busier than ever. 

White Plume is leading a galvanized, international coalition of grassroots environmental activists, the largest and most diverse in decades, in the last fight against the Keystone XL. The coalition is planning massive actions against the Keystone XL in Washington, D.C. and in local communities from April 22 (Earth Day) through April 27. In what is a first in decades, indigenous tribes from the heartland will be joined with farmers and ranchers along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route in the actions. The “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” is inviting everyone in the country to their tipi camp on the National Mall in the hopes that a show of strength will steel President Obama’s resolve to be the “environmental President.” 

Since the State Department implicitly signed off on the Keystone XL pipeline in February by announcing that its environmental impact statement had found no “significant” impacts to worry about, White Plume and other environmental leaders concerned about the Keystone XL’s impact on climate change have also stepped up their plans for direct, non-violence civil disobedience. Those plans are under wraps, but blockades will surely be a major weapon in their arsenal.

White Plume talked about why the Keystone XL pipeline has become such a firestorm.   

* * *

Evelyn NievesWhy is it so important that the Keystone XL pipeline NOT become a reality?

Debra White Plume: The tar sands bitumen inside the KXL pipeline is hazardous, flammable, a carcinogen — and deadly. When it gets into our drinking water and surface water, it cannot be cleaned up. These pipelines further the development of the tar sands sacrifice area in Alberta.

ENWho is involved in the activism surrounding the opposition to the pipeline? Stories talk about this as a women’s movement, an elders movement and a youth movement. That means it’s pretty much everyone’s movement except for middle-aged men.

DWP: That might be true elsewhere, but all of our people are engaged to protect sacred water. I can’t speak for any middle-aged American men, but I know there are hundreds of American ranchers and farmers in South Dakota and Nebraska ready to defend their rights. Our Lakota warriors are opposing the KXL — this includes men and women.

ENWhat sorts of direct action are you willing to take and what kind of support are you receiving from Indian Country in general?

DWP: We will blockade TransCanada’s KXL to protect our lands and waters if we have to. Many tribal governments and Red Nations people have committed to blockade. Our Oglala Lakota Tribal Council is meeting soon to discuss declaring war on the KXL, as is the Rosebud Lakota Tribal Council.

EN:What kind of support are you receiving from outside of Indian Country?

DWP: We have support from all over the big land (so-called U.S.A.) and so-called Canada. We do not recognize these manmade borders. Our people were here from time immemorial, this is our ancestral land, people to the north and south are our relatives. We are connected through prophecy.

Full interview

Monica Jones, AZ transgender woman, convicted of the crime ‘Walking while trans’April 14, 2014
A Phoenix judge on Friday found a transgender woman guilty of a prostitution-related offense based on a city ordinance that the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has deemed unconstitutional.
Monica Jones, 29, was arrested in May as a part of a Phoenix police prostitution-sting operation.
Jones, an activist for sex-worker rights, was charged with manifestation of prostitution, which police can enforce based on a number of qualifiers: repeated attempts to engage a passer-by in conversation, attempts to stop cars by waving at them, inquiries as to whether someone is a police officer or requesting that someone touch his or her genitals.
She pleaded not guilty and challenged the constitutionality of the law she allegedly violated. She subsequently asked that the case be dropped. Attorneys for Jones filed a memorandum in March stating that the ordinance targets transgender women by its interpretive nature and violates the First Amendment.
"Even assuming the government has a compelling interest in prohibiting prostitution, a measure that criminalizes a broad range of legal speech surely cannot be the ‘least restrictive’ means to furthering such an interest," the document states.
In an interview with The Arizona Republic on Thursday evening, Jones said she felt she was targeted because of her race and gender.
"You never see a heterosexual transgender man (accused of manifestation of prostitution)," she said. "It targets women, especially women in poverty, and women of minority."
Jones returned to court Friday with reinforcement.
Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona, argued on behalf of Jones. He said the ordinance is a “classic example of criminalizing protected speech” and said courts in other states have vacated similar statutes.
Assistant City Prosecutor Gary Shupe argued that the ordinance contains an element of intent and said that there appears to be a split between how courts have dealt with comparative laws.
Two witnesses were called to testify during the trial before Phoenix Municipal Judge Hercules Dellas: Jones for the defense and an undercover Phoenix police officer for the prosecution.
Their stories about what happened the night the officer picked up Jones in his truck diverged on a key factor: Although Jones agreed that she accepted a ride from the officer, she maintained that he was the one who approached her.
The courtroom gallery was spilling over with supporters for Jones and transgender and sex-worker rights, many of whom protested the charges outside the courthouse just before the trial. An audible moan rang throughout the courtroom when Dellas announced his guilty verdict.
The case underlines a rift among some activists who work with sex workers. Many advocates work within the bounds of existing anti-prostitution laws to offer other life alternatives. Others, like the Sex Workers Outreach Project, aim to decriminalize the profession altogether. Jones is an advocate for the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Phoenix.
Jones’ crusade shone a spotlight on Project Rose, a Phoenix initiative that aims to divert prostitutes away from jail and toward social-service providers.
Through an interagency collaboration, the project offers those picked up for prostitution-related offenses a chance to sidestep the charge upon the completion of a diversion program and provides health and housing services immediately after police contact. If the person does not complete the program, the arrest is filed.
Other prostitution-diversion programs require suspects to plead guilty, with a promise to dismiss the conviction once the program is completed.
Jones was arrested in one of the Phoenix police stings that involved Project Rose. She said she had been protesting the project just one day before her arrest.
Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of Arizona State University’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, who evaluates Project Rose, said that of the 367 people who were offered diversion under the project, 366 chose it over jail.
She said there is a 28 percent success rate in the diversion program. But Roe-Sepowitz added that it’s important to note that it often takes multiple tries for sex workers get out of the profession. She said a first chance is offered through Project Rose and a second chance through traditional plea agreements.
Jones said that even with the diversion program, Project Rose is helping to criminalize sex workers. She said resources would be better spent talking to sex workers and offering services without criminalization.
Source

Monica Jones, AZ transgender woman, convicted of the crime ‘Walking while trans’
April 14, 2014

A Phoenix judge on Friday found a transgender woman guilty of a prostitution-related offense based on a city ordinance that the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has deemed unconstitutional.

Monica Jones, 29, was arrested in May as a part of a Phoenix police prostitution-sting operation.

Jones, an activist for sex-worker rights, was charged with manifestation of prostitution, which police can enforce based on a number of qualifiers: repeated attempts to engage a passer-by in conversation, attempts to stop cars by waving at them, inquiries as to whether someone is a police officer or requesting that someone touch his or her genitals.

She pleaded not guilty and challenged the constitutionality of the law she allegedly violated. She subsequently asked that the case be dropped. Attorneys for Jones filed a memorandum in March stating that the ordinance targets transgender women by its interpretive nature and violates the First Amendment.

"Even assuming the government has a compelling interest in prohibiting prostitution, a measure that criminalizes a broad range of legal speech surely cannot be the ‘least restrictive’ means to furthering such an interest," the document states.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic on Thursday evening, Jones said she felt she was targeted because of her race and gender.

"You never see a heterosexual transgender man (accused of manifestation of prostitution)," she said. "It targets women, especially women in poverty, and women of minority."

Jones returned to court Friday with reinforcement.

Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona, argued on behalf of Jones. He said the ordinance is a “classic example of criminalizing protected speech” and said courts in other states have vacated similar statutes.

Assistant City Prosecutor Gary Shupe argued that the ordinance contains an element of intent and said that there appears to be a split between how courts have dealt with comparative laws.

Two witnesses were called to testify during the trial before Phoenix Municipal Judge Hercules Dellas: Jones for the defense and an undercover Phoenix police officer for the prosecution.

Their stories about what happened the night the officer picked up Jones in his truck diverged on a key factor: Although Jones agreed that she accepted a ride from the officer, she maintained that he was the one who approached her.

The courtroom gallery was spilling over with supporters for Jones and transgender and sex-worker rights, many of whom protested the charges outside the courthouse just before the trial. An audible moan rang throughout the courtroom when Dellas announced his guilty verdict.

The case underlines a rift among some activists who work with sex workers. Many advocates work within the bounds of existing anti-prostitution laws to offer other life alternatives. Others, like the Sex Workers Outreach Project, aim to decriminalize the profession altogether. Jones is an advocate for the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Phoenix.

Jones’ crusade shone a spotlight on Project Rose, a Phoenix initiative that aims to divert prostitutes away from jail and toward social-service providers.

Through an interagency collaboration, the project offers those picked up for prostitution-related offenses a chance to sidestep the charge upon the completion of a diversion program and provides health and housing services immediately after police contact. If the person does not complete the program, the arrest is filed.

Other prostitution-diversion programs require suspects to plead guilty, with a promise to dismiss the conviction once the program is completed.

Jones was arrested in one of the Phoenix police stings that involved Project Rose. She said she had been protesting the project just one day before her arrest.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of Arizona State University’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, who evaluates Project Rose, said that of the 367 people who were offered diversion under the project, 366 chose it over jail.

She said there is a 28 percent success rate in the diversion program. But Roe-Sepowitz added that it’s important to note that it often takes multiple tries for sex workers get out of the profession. She said a first chance is offered through Project Rose and a second chance through traditional plea agreements.

Jones said that even with the diversion program, Project Rose is helping to criminalize sex workers. She said resources would be better spent talking to sex workers and offering services without criminalization.

Source

realworldnews

anarcho-queer:

oww666:

anarcho-queer:

Albuquerque Police Department Substations Vandalized Overnight

Four Albuquerque Police Department substations across the city were vandalized with red paint Monday night.

The substations at Central and Rio Grande by Old Town, Central and Girard near the University of New Mexico, Montgomery and Tramway in the foothills and one on South Broadway were all painted overnight, according to an APD news release.

The defacement is most likely in retaliation to the recent shooting of James Boyd, a homeless man who was fatally shot after a three hour-long confrontation with police over illegal camping.

Residents have held several protests against police violence by Albuquerque police since the shooting last month.

In a highly scathing assessment, the Justice Department said Thursday that the Albuquerque Police Department, whose officers have shot a and killed 23 people in the past four years, had engaged in a “pattern or practice of use of excessive force,” often acting recklessly and violating people’s constitutional rights.

one crime does not justify another crime

This is an artistic form of protest. IDGAF if the state calls it a crime.

How can you even relate the brutal murders of 23 human beings to a non-violent action against genocide?

^^^^

+ A U.S. Justice Department report says Albuquerque police ‘too frequently’ use force against the mentally ill and people in crisis, which it declares unconstitutional:

APD officers have been involved in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal, since 2010. There is no national record of how many times police departments throughout the United States use deadly force, but according to Micah McCoy with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, Albuquerque’s rate of deadly force rivals that of New York City. New York City is 15 times larger by population than Albuquerque.”

 

justryingtoblendin
america-wakiewakie:

Oakland Spent $74 Million Settling 417 Police Brutality Lawsuits | Oakland Police Beat

A Catholic priest who said an officer put him in a chokehold and slammed his head into a glass door. A woman who said she shouldn’t have been handcuffed when officers arrested her.
A father who claimed officers beat him in the hallway outside of his child’s hospital room until his head was bloody. A bank robber who was shot by officers after a high-speed chase. A man whose head was slammed into something so hard that the bones in his face broke.
In each situation the Oakland Police Department was sued. And in each one, the City of Oakland chose to settle out of court rather than take the case to trial.
A review of Oakland City Attorney lawsuit data and hundreds of federal and state court cases has found that since 1990, Oakland has spent $74 million dollars to settle at least 417 lawsuits accusing its police officers of brutality, misconduct and other civil rights violations.


Oakland spends more on civil-rights police lawsuits than nearly any other California law enforcement agency, with multimillion-dollar settlements coming directly out of funds that could go to libraries, police and fire services or road repair.
Supporters of the Oakland Police Department say that high number is a reflection of the city’s willingness to settle at any cost. But Oakland Police Beat’s analysis found that the City of Oakland has successfully defended itself against many lawsuits it considers to be unfounded.
Our investigation found that more than 500 officers were named in those lawsuits. At least 72 of those officers were named in three or more of the suits. Settlement amounts per lawsuits range from $100 to the nearly $11 million paid out following the so-called Riders scandal, where more than 100 plaintiffs accused officers of beating, kidnapping and planting evidence on suspects.
Historically, the number of OPD-related lawsuits filed against the city varies from year to year. But over the last three years the number of cases settled dropped, leaving some — like Oakland civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — cautiously hopeful that long-sought-after reforms are beginning to impact the Oakland Police Department.
(Pictured: An Occupy Oakland protester is arrested in the early morning hours of Thurs, November 3, 2011 in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Lawsuits alleging excessive force by OPD officers during the demonstrations have cost the city more than $6 million in settlements. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage)
(Read Full Text)

america-wakiewakie:

Oakland Spent $74 Million Settling 417 Police Brutality Lawsuits | Oakland Police Beat

A Catholic priest who said an officer put him in a chokehold and slammed his head into a glass door. A woman who said she shouldn’t have been handcuffed when officers arrested her.

A father who claimed officers beat him in the hallway outside of his child’s hospital room until his head was bloody. A bank robber who was shot by officers after a high-speed chase. A man whose head was slammed into something so hard that the bones in his face broke.

In each situation the Oakland Police Department was sued. And in each one, the City of Oakland chose to settle out of court rather than take the case to trial.

A review of Oakland City Attorney lawsuit data and hundreds of federal and state court cases has found that since 1990, Oakland has spent $74 million dollars to settle at least 417 lawsuits accusing its police officers of brutality, misconduct and other civil rights violations.

Oakland spends more on civil-rights police lawsuits than nearly any other California law enforcement agency, with multimillion-dollar settlements coming directly out of funds that could go to libraries, police and fire services or road repair.

Supporters of the Oakland Police Department say that high number is a reflection of the city’s willingness to settle at any cost. But Oakland Police Beat’s analysis found that the City of Oakland has successfully defended itself against many lawsuits it considers to be unfounded.

Our investigation found that more than 500 officers were named in those lawsuits. At least 72 of those officers were named in three or more of the suits. Settlement amounts per lawsuits range from $100 to the nearly $11 million paid out following the so-called Riders scandal, where more than 100 plaintiffs accused officers of beating, kidnapping and planting evidence on suspects.

Historically, the number of OPD-related lawsuits filed against the city varies from year to year. But over the last three years the number of cases settled dropped, leaving some — like Oakland civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — cautiously hopeful that long-sought-after reforms are beginning to impact the Oakland Police Department.

(Pictured: An Occupy Oakland protester is arrested in the early morning hours of Thurs, November 3, 2011 in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Lawsuits alleging excessive force by OPD officers during the demonstrations have cost the city more than $6 million in settlements. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage)

(Read Full Text)