Tag Archives: police

Scenes from America

20 Aug

In Ferguson, Missouri, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager. The shots were not at close range, indicating no immediate struggle, and there were at least six shots fired. Setting aside the subsequent character assassination of the victim, the police response to popular outrage and demonstrations has been militaristic in nature, and overflowing with issues of race and class in contemporary America. 

No one condones looting or violence, but the ridiculously overwrought police response has quashed the people’s right to demonstrate. 

Hysterical right wing commentators have overwhelmingly sided with the police officer who shot Michael Brown, labeling the dead kid a “thug” who clearly deserved to die. Of course, we still don’t have a copy of the police report surrounding the shooting incident. The people in Ferguson are outraged by the latest homicide of an unarmed Black teenager under questionable circumstances, and their demonstrations have been met with this: 

Some months back, there was a standoff in Nevada over Cliven Bundy and his cows. Back in 1993, Bundy didn’t like a change in policy at the Bureau of Land Management, so he refused to renew his license to permit his cattle to graze on public land. In 1998, a federal court barred Bundy from letting his cattle graze on the “Bunkerville Allotment”. In July 2013, a federal judge further ordered Bundy off of additional lands

It should be noted that, in both court cases, Bundy had an opportunity to be heard, and exercised it.

In 2014, the Bureau of Land Management undertook action to forcibly remove Bundy’s cattle from federal lands pursuant to the court orders. Hundreds of armed, right-wing, so-called “militia” came to Bundy’s aid in the Nevada brush, and the rancher became a right-wing, anti-Obama cause celebre. 

American fascists justify the homicide of Michael Brown, whom they dismiss as nothing more than a thug who got what was coming to him. They deride the outpouring of grief and anger in Ferguson as being nothing more than a subhuman gallery of violent looters. They have nothing whatsoever to say about a military show of force against lawful protests in Ferguson, and ignore the obvious provocation of police snipers and tanks aiming at civilians in middle America. 

But when Cliven Bundy disregarded a lawful order of the court, and declared some sort of idiotic war against a federal government he claims has no legitimacy, hundreds of American fascists came to his aid. The bloodlust against federal agents was shocking, and we had images that contrast with those out of Ferguson in one very salient way: 

In Ferguson, protesters are mostly African-American, and the government’s guns are pointed at them. 

In Nevada, protesters were mostly white, and they pointed their guns at government agents. 

It’s like the anti-Burning Man

 

Cliven Bundy had people aiming guns at federal agents, but we’re supposed to get all upset because some angry demonstrators in Ferguson broke a McDonald’s store windows or stole some TVs? 

The people who support Cliven Bundy’s defiance of legitimate government authority think that the demonstrators in Ferguson have no business protesting questionable government actions. 

Go home, America. You’re drunk. 

Transforming Americans into Enemy Combatants

19 Aug

Stealing a pack of cigars and shoving a clerk justifies being shot 6 times to death

If the rioting in Ferguson, MO is to stop, the police should be as forthcoming with the incident report of Brown’s homicide as they were with the surveillance tape of him apparently ripping off cigars from a store. If cops could justifiably kill every kid who shoplifted or shoved someone, we’d probably be almost all out of kids

What I’m waiting for is all the big swinging 2nd Amendment / open carry dicks to defend Ferguson residents against tyrannical government behavior. The people who live in that community have a right to protest, and, as one Facebook friend writes, “the police are supposed to be peace keepers. Not funeral planners in fucking camouflage and armored tanks.”

Many have already convicted Michael Brown of Black thugdom in the 1st degree, and are using an irrelevant incident to justify his killing. In the meantime, we don’t have a copy of the police incident report regarding the shooting (those who support the shooting don’t wonder why, or give a damn because it might interfere with their conviction of Michael Brown), and the police officer has, as far as anyone knows, not once been required to give a statement to anyone in any forum, much less under oath. 

No one is justifying looting or violence in connection with these protests, and not all of the demonstrations have been thus. Consider whether a police response that looks more like Iraq than Missouri is a ham-handed provocation that serves mostly to treat local residents as enemy combatants. 

Scary big Black kid may have resisted arrest or talked back to a cop, so don’t tase or pepper spray him. Just shoot him 6 times.

Cop Block WNY’s Debut

28 Apr

A police officer is empowered to use reasonable force to overcome resistance and effect a lawful arrest. Once a person is subdued and in custody, however, smacking, hitting, or kicking the suspect is straight up brutality. If you hit a handcuffed suspect who’s lying on the ground, you’re basically torturing him.

But why? They don’t appear to be asking him any questions. They’re not trying to get information – there’s no evidence he’s giving that the courts can suppress.  They appear merely to be battering him for the sake of it.

That is to say, there’s a fine line between using force lawfully to subdue a suspect who is resisting arrest, and sadism. So, I’d love to know what precipitated this.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind people that your smartphone’s shape is like a widescreen TV, but only when you hold it horizontally. If you take video in the vertical aspect, that video is going to suck.

 

Niagara Falls Error Suspects

19 Apr

Friday in Niagara Falls, this happened

[View the story “Two Guys from Massachusetts Drive to Niagara Falls” on Storify]

Two Guys from Massachusetts Drive to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned…

Storified by Alan Bedenko· Fri, Apr 19 2013 11:28:01

Falls and the State Police have shut down Elmwood and 19th in the city while the State Police’s "robot" checks out a suspicious car.Niagara Gazette
BREAKING NEWS – 2 RUSSIAN NATIONALS PULLED OVER IN NIAGARA FALLS, 4 SUSPICIOUS BACKPACKS IN THE TRUNK. BOMB SQUAD AND FBI HEADING IN! WGRZ.911 Operator
Latest WTF RT @WGRZ: Police: 2 Russian nationals pulled over in Niagara Falls; 4 suspicious backpacks in car, robot & bomb techs on scene.jimgeraghty
FBI joint terrorism task force working with NYSP in the Falls @WGRZ go to WGRZ.com for latestHeather Ly
Suspicious car with Mass. plates being investigated fb.me/23nxWmG6NNiagara Gazette
RT @WGRZ: Police source: 2 Russian nationals pulled over in Niagara Falls; 4 suspicious backpacks in the car, robot & bomb techs on scene.jmartpolitico
What’s the difference between a backpack and a suspicious backpack? @WGRZ @NiagaraGazetteAlan Bedenko
UPDATE: Large police presence around vehicle on Elmwood & 19th in #NiagaraFalls. Car has Mass. plates. Unsure if connected to #Boston.WGRZ
Police are interviewing two Turkish brothers who drove into Niagara Falls this morning in a vehicle with Massachusetts plates.The Buffalo News
Caution tan people with Mass plates: lay low today.Alan Bedenko
So, Niagara Falls car with "2 Russian nationals" "suspicious backpacks" & Mass plates is really 2 Turkish guys. @WGRZ @NiagaraGazetteAlan Bedenko
Source says activity in #NiagaraFalls is routine traffic stop. vehicle has Mass. plates. Extensive search out of caution. Nothing found yetWGRZ
Russian, Turkish. Same difference. @WGRZAlan Bedenko
Residents near Elmwood & 19th Ave. in #NiagaraFalls asked to stay inside as police search vehicle with Mass. plates.WGRZ
State Police has bomb detection unit at 19th & Elmwood in #NiagaraFalls. Nothing found yet. Scene remains calm.WGRZ
BEING SWARTHY, HAVING MASS PLATES TO GO SEE NIAGARA FALLS IS NOW PROBABLE CAUSE.Alan Bedenko
Scene from 19th and Elmwood in the falls @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/J2aCAt1l1DHeather Ly
Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said two men are being detained as Falls and State Police… fb.me/wvePZfGYNiagara Gazette
UPDATE: 2 men in custody as investigation into Mass. car continues in Falls fb.me/2DH3ygEJeNiagara Gazette
Troopers say two people in vehicle were NOT armed, are cooperating, pulled over by NFPD acting on tip from resident @WGRZHeather Ly
Turkish-American sightseeing brothers from Massachusetts arrested in Niagara Falls, police suspect they did not "click it".Alan Bedenko
Police in #NiagaraFalls telling residents to move 100 feet back from vehicle with Mass. plates. Scene remains calmWGRZ
Look! @WGRZ has found two more "suspicious" Russians! Here is a photo: img.ly/ueho @ChrisSmithAV @BuffaloPunditJosh Potter
BREAKING: Possible photo of Turkish man pulled over in Niagara Falls. api.monosnap.com/image/download…Alan Bedenko
This just in, @WGRZ has photos of Niagara Falls suspects. moviesmedia.ign.com/movies/image/a… @J_Potter @buffalopundit @trendingbuffaloChristopher Smith
Mayor Paul Dyster on the car investigation: "There are many rumors circulating, none of which are based on fact…. fb.me/2mmxFCPSmNiagara Gazette
Updated story from Niagara Falls, where two brothers of Turkish ancestry were stopped this morning: bit.ly/11qTsrOThe Buffalo News
tow truck pulled up to car in Niagara falls, command unit now blocking view. ATF NYSP NFPD all here. Public moved back a block .@wgrzDave McKinley
Robot now being used to approach suspicious car w/ Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls..@wgrzDave McKinley
State police "robot" is still investigating car from Massachusetts. Press and bystanders have now been moved down… fb.me/2Dzj22FCONiagara Gazette
UPDATE from #NiagaraFalls: Robot removed backpack, pillow & clear plastic bag of objects from suspicious car. Now opening passenger doorWGRZ
UPDATE: Bomb squad continues to investigate Massachusetts car as crowd is pushed back fb.me/2TQnEiPAGNiagara Gazette
#NiagaraFalls update: Robot removed 2nd backpack from vehicle w/Mass plates. Also took out a pillow & plastic bag of objects.WGRZ
.@wgrz robot drops 2nd backpack removed from car w/Mass plates in NF. Papers blowing all over. Earlier, robot ran over 1st backpack. WhoopsDave McKinley
Niagara Falls bomb robot cannot handle Kafka-esque municipal ennui, detonates itself, video at 11.Christopher Smith
Bomb Robot elected Mayor of Niagara Falls, promptly indicted. #niagarafallsbombrobotAlan Bedenko
Police say suspicious packages have been removed from the Massachusetts car on Elmwood. "I have seen at least 3 or… fb.me/zOETdAhRNiagara Gazette
Police add that the two men being detained are cooperating with authorities.Niagara Gazette
.@wgrz removed from stopped carw/Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls by police robot so far: 2 backpacks, 2 sleeping bags, 1 satchel, 1 plastic bagDave McKinley
Suspicious packages removed from Massachusetts car; detained men cooperating with authorities fb.me/yIFncGe5Niagara Gazette
#NiagaraFalls police say they have NOT found anything suspicious in the packages removed from car with Mass. plates. Still searching trunk.WGRZ
"So far, everything is going good," police at scene say of packages removed from Massachusetts car. Investigators… fb.me/2aP2nx2qsNiagara Gazette
.@wgrz fully donned bomb squad member now inspecting items removed from vehicle w/Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls. Put a device over one itemDave McKinley
A member of the State Police bomb squad is now investigating the Massachusetts car. He’s opened the driver’s-side… fb.me/AQqSznyaNiagara Gazette
PIC from #NiagaraFalls: Several items removed from car are on sidewalk pic.twitter.com/kqZcNNUe7SWGRZ
LIVE: News conference in #NiagaraFalls on car with Mass. plates stopped at 19th & Elmwood on.wgrz.com/17LAsuqWGRZ
Police officials say nothing found in Mass. Car in Niagara Falls but paper and clothingWGRZ
#NiagaraFallsRobot is now new spokeman for @WGRZ’s annual 2PackABackPack campaignChristopher Smith
Police only saying two men are in 20s, traveling to visit WNY, cited with failure to stop at stop sign, use turn signal @WGRZHeather Ly

Valenti’s: The North Tonawanda FOIL

10 Feb

When Terry Valenti called in to the Shredd & Ragan show some weeks ago, he downplayed the police involvement at his now-defunct restaurant as being no big deal. Here are the police reports on Valenti’s dating back to October last year. Is this any way to run a business or conduct oneself?  

On 11/1/11, Valenti threw Brocuglio and Janiszewski off the property, and purported to fire them.

On 11/18/11, Brocuglio claimed that she was being harassed by an ex-employee, and applied for a restraining order.

On 11/26/11, Brocuglio argued with fired employee William Ripley over a “company car”. Brocuglio accused Ripley’s girlfriend of striking her.

On 12/31/11 at 11pm, a black Ford F-250 backed into the east door of the restaurant. Valenti claims he didn’t know whose truck it was, and that he didn’t get the plate number. It was, of course, the truck driven by Lori Brocuglio, but he did not admit this to the police until the following day.  Brocuglio told a police officer that she rammed the truck into the restaurant because, “we were fighting and he went to hit me so I tried backing away but I put it in gear moving forward and hitting the window”. 

On 1/1/12, Valenti and Brocuglio were in an altercation, and Brocuglio’s son was present for it.

On 1/10/12, Budwey made his complaint to the police about the bad $3,000 rent check. 

On 1/11/12, Budwey blocked the doors and told patrons to leave. A Valenti’s employee, Debbie Reining claimed Budwey pushed her out of the store, and pled out a harassment complaint against him. 

On 1/27/12, Budwey returned to the restaurant to curse Brocuglio out using some colorful language. 

Valenti’s: The North Tonawanda FOIL

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Paranoid Secrecy at City Hall? *Gasp*

12 Sep

They set up a public commission to review how the Buffalo police department is run. The police department and city government are stonewalling the commission, refusing to release crime data – data which other cities routinely make available to the general public.

Mascia said he spoke earlier in the week with Michael J. DeGeorge, who serves as a spokesman for both Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and Mayor Byron W. Brown. Mascia assured Kearns that much of the information has already been compiled and will be released soon. But Mascia said DeGeorge added that the commissioner will refuse to release some information on the grounds that it is “sensitive.” Administration officials have confirmed several times in recent months that they intend to release some — but not all — data that has been requested.

“I can’t imagine how anything we requested could be even remotely viewed as sensitive,” Mascia said.

DeGeorge confirmed today that some of the data requested by the panel was available on Friday afternoon. What information is the department refusing to release? DeGeorge declined to get into specifics.

The Council created the study group to perform the first outside review of police operations in two decades. The commission has asked for information about job vacancies, the number of officers who are out on work-related injuries, manpower deployments in each of the five police districts and other data.

Seems reasonable to stonewall an independent commission that’s trying to lurch an important part of the city into the 21st century. It’s like shadow mayor Steve Casey says,

We try to be nice, and they attack us.

When has Steve Casey’s renegade camp of Collins Democrats tried “to be nice”?

Council Punts on Derenda

14 Jul

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And in the end, the Buffalo Common Council punted on Daniel Derenda’s bid to become Police Commissioner. The Legislation Committee voted 4-2 to hold the issue until such time as they can inquire of the absent city HR director regarding the supposed, too-little-too-late “national search”.

As with many things in Buffalo City Government, a skeptical council faces off against an obstinate executive office and instead of something good or something bad happening, nothing happens.

As an aside, Councilman Joe Golombek, who is running against Sam Hoyt for State Assembly, is currently allied with the Mayor and voted in favor of the Derenda nomination whilst making concern-trolling mouth-noises to maintain a Saran-wrap-like sheen of “independence”.

Nationwide Search If Nation Means “Nowhere”

21 May

Obviously, the city never got serious about doing a nationwide search for a new police commissioner. But it’s almost June, and the BPD has been without a commissioner since January. Whether they were going to do a nationwide search or hire a local person, what’s the holdup?

What’s Spanish for “Gastarbeiter”?

27 Apr

There are books’ worth of statutes, regulations, procedural rules, and background information on the issues of police stops. Generally, a cop can briefly detain you and ask you questions if he has a reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime. Definitions like “reasonable suspicion” get litigated because they’re open to so much interpretation.

The legalities and constitutional issues surrounding these types of police interactions are what separate us from police states. Nothing can be done arbitrarily or with impunity.

But Arizona recently passed a law allowing state law enforcement to detain and demand proof of citizenship from people who they reasonably suspect may be in the country illegally.

In other words, it’s a license for police officers to stop, detain, and investigate someone who “looks” or “acts” like an undocumented immigrant. There’s no question that it’s directed towards illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America, so it will exclusively be affecting the day to day lives of Arizona Latinos.

I guess this law is a whole lot easier than cracking down on people who illegally employ undocumented immigrants. It’s the lazy, unconstitutional way out. Unconstitutional because at its essence it requires Hispanic people present in Arizona to keep proof of citizenship on their person at all times and subjects them – and only them – to a “papers, please” police state reality. This law makes it a crime for a Latino person in Arizona to not always carry their immigration documents – Green Card, Passport. It’s not just a 4th and 5th Amendment problem, it’s also a massive equal protection issue. Irish immigrants, I suspect, won’t be subjected to these rules because…well, you know.

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What other ethnic group will we single out for especial treatment? The Republican Party makes occasional progress with Latino voters because they tend to be more socially conservative, but then they pass and support laws like this ones and drive them into the waiting Democrats’ arms.

Megan McCain leaves this thought in her piece:

Arizona is ground zero for the wingnuts. There’s a problem with illegal immigration and no one wants to do anything constructive about it so you get crap like this.

It’s no surprise whatsoever that the teabaggers, given a direct and palpable example of what an unconstitutional police state looks like, remain silent. Because it’s only bad when Democrats do it. Especially Democrats from Africa or Chicago or California who “pal around with terrorists”. Even George W. Bush recognized the need for comprehensive immigration policy reform, but was thwarted by those in his own party who are more narrow-minded (!) and refused to go along with anything that could be called “amnesty”. Because “amnesty” is an epithet, I guess.

First American Latino who gets detained will sue, and this law is not long for this world. It’s a shame that the United States’ immigration policy is mired in the 1960s, but God forbid we make tough decisions and change things to stem the illegality. A reasonable guest worker program would be completely acceptable, document the undocumented, permit these immigrants doing menial work you won’t do to do the work, send money home to Mexico, and be taxed on all of it.

Just over 30% of Arizona’s population is of Hispanic origin – twice the national average. 1/3 of the state’s population now has to carry citizenship papers on their person in their own country. Because some people of Hispanic origin are doing something bad, the lazy and stupid solution is to criminalize the entire population.

It beats thinking. Or problem-solving.

Sometimes, it’s not unlike the Buffalo mentality – see how everyone else does it relatively effectively, and then do the exact opposite.

There will be a march in Buffalo for immigration reform on May 1st, starting at Goodell and Main at 2pm, ending up at MLK, Jr. Park. Immigration is an important issue, and we’re hurting our own economic growth by keeping skilled people out. We’re also hurting ourselves and turning our backs on the Constitution when we single out particular ethnic groups for special police scrutiny.

CrimeReport.com: Buffalo

29 May

The City of Buffalo is adding raw crime data to this Google Map mashup.