As Student Activism Grows, So Does Campus Resistance to Free Speech Reply

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Reason

“Free speech all the time. Not just when admin says when, where, what about,” read one side of the neon-yellow sign fielded by Ali Cohen, an education major at Coastal Carolina University, during a recent campus rally. On the sign’s flip side: “#BlackLivesMatter. And I should not be facing charges for writing that… in chalk.”

@StudentUnionCCU/Twitter@StudentUnionCCU/Twitter

Cohen is one of a handful of Coastal students facing disciplinary action for sidewalk chalk messages protesting racial injustice and the non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s shooting. Three of the students—those caught in the act—were handcuffed and detained by CCU police. Cohen was identified by surveillance camera footage from the night before. “The video showed multiple people,” says Cohen. “They identified me from a picture of me in the library.”

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The Pan-Anarchist 12-Step Program 2

1. Continue to attack all mainstream institutions across the board, until all of the system’s institutions have a single digit approval rating, just as Congress presently does.

2. Continue all dissident movements everywhere, and grow these to the point that they collectively become a majority, and then a super-majority.

3. Promote the idea of secession until a substantive majority of Americans wishes for their state, region, or locality to secede, thereby effectively breaking up the USA.

4. Continue to build support for military non-intervention, which is at an all-time low, across the political spectrum.

5. Continue to build support for anti-police state protests until these become an Eastern Europe circa 1989 moment.

6. Continue to attack the war on drugs which is the foundation of the modern American police state.

7. Continue to grow the libertarian grey tribe as an anti-state opposition force in U.S. politics.

8. Advocate for the city-state system as a practical means of implementing decentralist ideas.

9. Advocate for the repeal of consensual crimes and the surveillance state, the definitive social issues for the grey tribe.

10. Continue to critique red state fascism.

11. Continue to critique blue state totalitarian humanism.

12. Continue to build the pan-anarchist philosophy as the leading revolutionary ideology of the 21st century, comparable to Marxist in the 20th century, and classical liberalism in the 19th century.

Americans want federal government out of marijuana policy Reply

This is interesting. A 50 percent plus majority of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. However, two thirds say it should be a states’ rights issue. How can this be? Because the demographic that is least likely to favor legalizing marijuana is the one that is most likely to favor states’ rights due to their constitutional fundamentalism. As I have been telling my fellow anarchists and libertarians for years, this is the key to ending consensual crime laws and overcriminalization. Use local initiative and ballot referendums in order bypass the professional politicians that make up state legislatures. Take your issues directly to the public, and build support for your movement over time. Do so in jurisdictions where your are likely to get a sympathetic hearing. Invoke wider principles like states’ rights, local autonomy, the Bill of Rights, human rights, anti-racism, civil liberties, freedom of choice, whatever is most appropriate for the particular issue, time, and place. This is how we shut off the fuel pump to the police state and prison-industrial complex.

Russia Today

Reuters/Gary Cameron

Reuters/Gary Cameron

The legalization of recreational marijuana is still a controversial issue in the United States, but approximately two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government should not interfere with state laws on the subject.

In fact, 67 percent of voters want Congress to pass a law that carves out a “safe haven” for states that legalize recreational pot use, according to a new poll conducted by Third Way think-tank. Under the law, “legal” states would be protected from federal legislation, which still classifies recreational and medical marijuana as illegal.

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Seven Reasons Police Brutality Is Systemic, Not Anecdotal 1

By Bonnie Kristian

The American Conservative

Darrin Manning’s unprovoked “stop and frisk” encounter with the Philadelphia police left him hospitalized with a ruptured testicle. Neykeyia Parker was violently dragged out of her car and aggressively arrested in front of her young child for “trespassing” at her own apartment complex in Houston. A Georgia toddler was burned when police threw a flash grenade into his playpen during a raid, and the manager of a Chicago tanning salon was confronted by a raiding police officer bellowing that he would kill her and her family, captured on the salon’s surveillance. An elderly man in Ohio was left in need of facial reconstructive surgery after police entered his home without a warrant to sort out a dispute about a trailer.

These stories are a small selection of recent police brutality reports, as police misconduct has become a fixture of the news cycle.

But the plural of anecdote is not data, and the media is inevitably drawn toward tales of conflict. Despite the increasing frequency with which we hear of misbehaving cops, many Americans maintain a default respect for the man in uniform. As an NYPD assistant chief put it, “We don’t want a few bad apples or a few rogue cops damaging” the police’s good name.

This is an attractive proposal, certainly, but unfortunately it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Here are seven reasons why police misconduct is a systemic problem, not “a few bad apples”:

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Why We Need a Worldwide Protest Movement Against the War on Drugs on the Scale of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement 2

This event that took place this past June is a prototype for what there needs to be more of. There needs to be mass protests all over the world against the U.S. and U.N.-led War on Drugs that ties all of the relevant issues together: police militarization, civil liberties, the U.S. prison industrial complex, prisoners rights, race and class disparities in criminal justice, medical freedom, mandatory sentencing, police brutality, institutional corruption, Third World poverty, and U.S. imperialism. Such a movement needs to be organized on the level of the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s, the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, and the Palestinian solidarity movement today.

This is also the idea issue for anarchists, libertarians, and radical anti-statists to asset themselves and become frontline leaders of radical and revolutionary movements all over the world. Anarchists and libertarians, where are you?

Cities Worldwide Protest the War on Drugs

June 26, 2014

By Marya Pasciuto

For decades, government policies against drugs have created problematic situations in virtually every corner of the world, from cartel warfare to rampant incarceration. For many citizens and advocacy organizations, the war on drugs has created more problems than solutions.

On June 26, 2014, citizens of 80 cities across the globe will take to social media, press rooms, and the streets in a joint day of protest declared by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) against the war on drugs. From Nairobi to Rome, hundreds of individual organizations and cities have stepped up to plan their own demonstrations.

As each nation has its own nuanced perspective and experience with the war on drugs, each protest has its own focus and reasons for participating. By participating in a worldwide protest, however, all of the organizations stand as one and become a formidable force against outdated government drug policies gone awry.

World Policy Journal reached out to leaders of war on drugs protests on three continents to provide a sampling of the different campaigns around the world:

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Small Massachusetts Town Fumes Over Proposed Tobacco Sales Ban Reply

I am very to see the outspoken public opposition that emerged in response to this proposal. And it’s not surprising this proposal emerged in the same state that gave us the Salem Witch Trials. The puritans have merely traded in their Calvinist clothing for a new secular, progressive costume.

By Stav Ziv

Newsweek

11_13_cigbantown
A public meeting on Westminster, Massachusetts’s proposed first-in-the-nation ban on tobacco and nicotine sales ended early Wednesday because officials say the crowd was getting too unruly to continue. Steve Lanava/Worcester Telegram & Gazette/AP

Residents of the small town of Westminster, Massachusetts, are fuming over a proposed ban on the sale of all tobacco products within town limits. A town meeting held Wednesday evening to discuss the proposal ended after barely 20 minutes when attendees refused to stop clapping and shouting.

“It was going to get out of control,” Board of Health Chairwoman Andrea Crete told The Boston Globe after the board decided to bring the meeting came to a premature close. “We don’t need any riots.”

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When San Francisco Stopped Prosecuting Drug Users, Violent Crime Went Down Reply

By Zach Weismueller

Reason.Com

“I’m a narc. I’ve been a narcotics guy forever,” says San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr. “But I’m just telling you, I’ve always felt bad for the people that were addicted to drugs.”

Suhr is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, George Gascon, who is now District Attorney in the city and who began the process of de-emphasizing drug enforcement in the midst of cutbacks to the police force in the wake of the 2007 recession. Since Suhr has taken over, he’s disbanded most of the force’s narcotics unit, and drug arrests have plummeted by 85 percent.

Suhr is no fan of drug legalization. He views drug addiction as a serious public health problem, a debatable assertion with its own set of dubious public policy implications, and he looks upon drug dealers with scorn and says they are preying on the sick.

But regardless of the questionable nature of Suhr’s underlying logic, San Franciso offers an enticing glimpse at what American cities might begin to look like if drugs were legalized or decriminalized. Suhr’s department still makes arrests for drug dealing, but only on a complaint-driven basis. They don’t go out of their way to set up stings or raids. And while causation does not equal correlation, Suhr believes that the drop in violent crime since the shift in policy began indicates that his department has its priorities straight.

“Not trying to just keep a stat game going on arresting people for narcotics has not hurt us in trying to achieve our goal in trying to make San Franciso safest,” says Suhr.

Watch the full interview with Suhr above. Scroll down for downloadable links, and subscribe to Reason TV’s YouTube channel for daily content like this.

Sorry, But the Grand Jury Got It Right With Darren Wilson Reply

This piece will probably piss off many anarchists and libertarians, but these arguments are worth hearing. The procedural rights of the accused and due process are as important an aspect of civil liberties as any other. One of the reasons we now have the massive prison-industrial complex is because of the gradual elimination of these rights by courts in the name of fighting the war on drugs and other “wars on…”.

Too many people on all sides of this case seem to me basing their opinions on their own political affiliation, or their views on crime, guns, cops, race,rioting, looting, etc. But none of that is a basis for deciding legal cases.

By David Harsanyi

Reason.Com

For many in the media, the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision was going to confirm the existence of deep American injustice one way or another. If it found there was insufficient evidence for an indictment against Darren Wilson—the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teenager, in August in Ferguson, Missouri—it would mean that the American justice system is corrupt, unjust, and rife with racism. If the grand jury decided to move forward with an indictment, it could only mean that American law enforcement is corrupt, unjust, and rife with racism.

Even if many of your grievances are legitimate, “justice” doesn’t exist to soothe your anger. In the end, there wasn’t probable cause to file charges against Wilson. And after all the intense coverage and buildup, the predictable happened. Even taking a cursory look at the evidence the grand jury saw and heard, the details of Brown’s death were far more complex than what we heard when the incident first broke. Lawyers will, no doubt, analyze every morsel of evidence in the coming days. But if Wilson’s testimony is corroborated by forensic evidence—and much of it seems to be—it seems unlikely that any jury would be able to convict him.

That doesn’t mean that many of black America’s concerns about these kinds of incidents aren’t genuine. It doesn’t mean that police departments like the one in Ferguson aren’t a major problem. It only means that this incident should be judged on the evidence, not the politics or the past or what goes on elsewhere.

No person should be shot by authorities for stealing some cigarillos. Too often, cops in this country use excessive force rather than prudently avoid violence. Just the other day, a 12-year-old boy playing with a BB gun was shot dead in Cleveland. We have a need for criminal justice reform and law enforcement reform. After reading through the grand jury testimony in the Wilson case, it’s obvious there are far more egregious cases that deserve the attention.

According to Wilson’s grand jury testimony, Brown hit Wilson 10 times while he was in his police car. He had punched Wilson twice in the face and was coming for more. Wilson asked Brown to get down. Witnesses saw Brown charge the police officer. Brown also reached for the cop’s gun.

In this case, a number of witnesses paraded out by the media had never actually seen Brown’s death and simply repeated what they had heard elsewhere—namely, that Brown was shot in cold blood from afar. Those stories became part of a narrative—repeated even after the report was released—that is almost certainly believed by many of those protesting in Ferguson and elsewhere in the country.

Cramming all those problems into one microcosmic event has had tragic consequences. Of course, plenty has happened since Brown was killed that has been disconcerting. Watching a militarized police force treat African-American neighborhoods as if they were war zones is troubling. Watching cops unable to deal with rioters—most of whom probably do not care about Brown—and protect private property, even when they do have a militarized police force, is distressing. All of this continues to fuel more anger and frustration.

For the sake of argument, let’s concede that prosecutors punted and allowed Wilson to walk because they were racist or incompetent or terrified. Let’s concede that the grand jury capitulated to the will of the prosecutor. Even if that were the case, we still don’t have an out-of-control cop callously gunning down an innocent, defenseless black man. This does happen in the United States far too often, and all too often there is no indictment. But there is no proof that racism played a role in this shooting. Unless all scientific evidence in the case is debunked and unless new evidence emerges, it’s fair to say that Brown was an aggressor and, at the very least, put himself in a perilous position. So indicting Wilson to soothe the anger of the community would not be just. It would be the opposite.

Chicago police to begin testing body cameras on officers in 60 days Reply

By Tony Briscoe

Chicago Tribune

hicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday that the department would begin testing body cameras on officers within about 60 days as part of a pilot project.

McCarthy offered few specifics at a news conference called to highlight crime statistics, but he made it clear he backs the test.

“We have a number of officers who have volunteered because that’s how we’re going to handle it initially,” McCarthy said. “I endorse the program. I would say within 60 days we’ll be up and running.”

The announcement comes after a front-page story in the Tribune in September said the department planned a pilot project in a limited number of districts.

The move in Chicago follows a growing national trend and comes amid greater scrutiny after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown Jr., 18, by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis suburb.
lRelated Brown’s Attorney Proposes Police Body Camera Law

The cameras — about the size of a pager and typically clipped to the front of a shirt — are intended to capture an officer’s interaction with the public on video and audio, providing potentially crucial evidence in any dispute.

The new technology has won early backing among disparate groups that often clash over law enforcement issues, from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the state NAACP to the union that represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers and the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates allegations of misconduct by officers.

Proponents hope the cameras will reduce the number of citizen complaints and costly lawsuits over police misconduct while at the same time discouraging citizens from making baseless accusations. The U.S. Justice Department has warned of the scarcity of research on the cameras’ effectiveness, but a widely cited study of body cameras in 2012 by police in Rialto, Calif., a small town about 55 miles east of Los Angeles, found that complaints against its officers plummeted by 88 percent that year while officers’ use of force dropped by 60 percent.

Im glad the police are getting these .. I was pulled over yesterday and the police man told the others police who showed up “this kid is a piece of sht..” im also paralyzed, he said I deserved to be in the position I was in because I was arrested a couple times, he also said other…

Meanwhile, McCarthy said that heading into the last month of the year, homicides in Chicago are on pace to be the lowest since the 1960s, down 3 percent from a year earlier. But shootings remain considerably higher than last year, according to police statistics released Monday.

The number of homicides has fallen to 369 through the first 11 months of 2014, 13 fewer than a year earlier and the lowest figure since 1965, according to the department. But last month, despite being the eighth-coldest November on record for Chicago, homicides rose to 38, from 29 a year earlier.

Despite the overall drop in homicides, shootings continued to rise. Through the first 11 months of this year, Chicago has seen 1,885 shooting incidents, 172 more than a year earlier, about a 10 percent increase. For November there were 138 shooting incidents, 26 more than a year earlier or a 23 percent jump.

November ended with a high-profile slaying-suicide at Nordstrom along the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday. Employee Nadia Ezaldein, 22, died Sunday, two days after she was shot by ex-boyfriend Marcus Dee, 31, who then turned the gun on himself, police said.

McCarthy said investigators are looking into Dee’s background and where he obtained the gun. The superintendent confirmed that both of Dee’s parents are Chicago police officers.

In light of rising concerns over police-community relations after Brown’s death in Ferguson, McCarthy also highlighted that complaints against Chicago police officers had dropped by 17 percent.

“I think at some point there has to be an honest discussion,” he said. “It’s obviously a very charged issue.”

Texas Police Department To Get Training To Lower The Number Of Dog Deaths By Shooting 1

Inquistr.Com

Austin Police Dog Car
Police officers in Austin, Texas, will soon undergo training to help decrease the number of dogs shot by officers. The training will focus on teaching officers how to spot the difference between a dog that is attacking and a playful or curious dog. The department is hoping the training will help curb the number of dogs shot by police officers on their force.

According to KSAT, the training is the result of public outcry following a few high-profile dog shootings by police officers. One of the high-profile cases being the Cisco the Dog case which garnered national attention when police officer shot Cisco the dog point-blank after responding to a call at the wrong address. Another case involved the shooting of a pit bull when officers responded to an auto theft call. In the case, the dog was shot in the head and then shot a second time as it was retreating back to its home.

The Austin American Statesman reports that the department is spending $12,000 to train its 1700 police officers. With 38 officers at Leander Police Department already undergoing the training thanks to a grant. During the training of the Leander Police Department, Jim Osoria, a canine instructor, noted that many dog shootings by police officers occur when a dog is running toward an unfamiliar officer, so it’s important to know the difference between one that is attacking (tail straight up, ears pointed forward) and one that is coming to investigate or play (tail wagging and ears up).

In the four-hour class, officers are taught how to identify aggressive dogs as well as how to use nonlethal force on dogs instead of lethal force. In the class, Osoria’s highly trained search and rescue dog, Coral, demonstrates different behaviors so officers can learn to read dog body language. The police department notes that prior to this real-life training course, the police officers were only required to sit through a short video on the topic.

Leander Police Cheif Greg Minton said, “It has opened their eyes.” Minton mandated the training for his police force after one of his officers shot and wounded Vinny, a German shepherd therapy dog, in June 2013 while trying to serve a warrant at the wrong address. Minton wanted the public to know that the police officers are trained to deal with aggressive people, and had limited training in dealing with dogs prior to Osoria’s training.

“I would like people to understand that we don’t have a thorough understanding of dogs. We’re trained to deal with violent and aggressive people.”

What do you think of the new mandate that police officers must undergo dog behavior training to work with the Austin police force? Should all police forces adopt this new policy?

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/1466169/texas-police-department-to-get-training-to-lower-the-number-of-dog-deaths-by-shooting/#G6EY468TMDEfFM32.99

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Black and Blue: Why more diverse police departments won’t put an end to police misconduct. Reply

By Jamelle Bouie

Slate.Com

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
The problem of blacks and police goes beyond shootings to general interactions between black communities and law enforcement.

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

When the video begins, all you hear is yelling. “It was just a cigarette! Mister, it’s just a cigarette, sir!” The video focuses, and you see a plainclothes police officer holding 17-year-old Marcel Hamer to the gutter with his foot. He bends down, punches the man in the head, and tries to arrest him. “Do you wanna get fucked up?” the office says, “Yeah, get it on film,” he continues. At this point, the young man is unconscious and unresponsive, and his friends are still shouting, screaming that he’s knocked out, begging him to get up.

This footage—taken on June 4—comes from New York City, and follows video of a similar incident from August in a nearby neighborhood, where an officer pistol-whipped an unarmed 16-year-old for briefly running away from police.

But there’s an important difference between the two videos. In the second, we see a familiar scene: black youth, white cops. The first, on the other hand, shows something less common: a black youth and a black cop.

In the aftermath of the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown—a black teenager—was killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, we learned that Ferguson Police Department was nearly 95 percent white in a town where blacks were the large majority. Residents wanted change. “We want answers, we want justice in our community, we want diversity,” said Rev. Derrick Robinson in one of the early protests.

On the last point, at least, Ferguson city leaders agreed. “We hire everyone that we can get,” said Mayor James Knowles when asked about police diversity. “There’s also the problem that a lot of young African-American people don’t want to go into law enforcement. They already have this disconnect with law enforcement, so if we find people who want to go into law enforcement who are African-American we’re all over it because we want them to help us bridge the gap.” Likewise, during one forum, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson said, “The perception is if we don’t have the diversity, we don’t have the understanding, and perception is reality.”

But there’s a problem. For as much as police diversity has value for image and community relations, it’s not clear that it does anything to cure the problem of police abuse and brutality in black and Latino communities. Just because an officer is black, in other words, doesn’t mean he’s less likely to use violence against black citizens.

The best look at this comes from Brad W. Smith, a researcher from Wayne State University in Detroit. In a 2003 paper, he looks at the impact of police diversity on officer-involved homicides in cities of more than 100,000 residents and cities of more than 250,000 residents. Regardless of city size, there wasn’t a relationship between racial representation and police killings—officer diversity didn’t mean much. At most, in smaller cities, female officers were more likely to commit shootings than their male counterparts, a fact—he speculates—that could be tied to sexist pressures on female officers, who might feel the need to act “tough” to prove their bona fides.

What mattered for police shootings wasn’t the makeup of the police department, it was the makeup of the city. In all measured cities, an increase in black residents brought an increase in police shootings. In smaller cities, a substantial change in the proportion of black residents resulted in a slight increase in the predicted number of police-caused homicides. And in the larger cities, the same change increased the chance for police-caused homicides by a factor of 10 compared to smaller cities. Put another way, the quickest way to predict the number of police shootings in a city is to see how many blacks live there.

And, in turn, the most likely victims of fatal police shootings are young black males. According to a ProPublica analysis of federal data on police shootings, young black males ages 15 to 19 are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts. “One way of appreciating that stark disparity,” notes ProPublica, “is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring—185, more than one per week.” What’s most relevant for the diversity of police departments is this fact: While black officers are involved in just 10 percent of police shootings, 78 percent of those they kill are black.

Here’s the Shocking Tally of How Many Americans Die From Police Shootings Reply

By Jared Keller

Mic.Com

ter weeks of deliberation and speculation, a grand jury in Missouri has declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August.

As protesters fill the streets of Ferguson and continue to question the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans, one thing is sure: American police officers shoot more civilians of all races and walks of life than many other advanced countries.

In 2012, 410 Americans were “justifiably” killed by police, according to FBI data examined by the Economist. By contrast, British police officers fired their weapons just once that same year. No one was killed.

The data continues to draw a stark picture: In the U.S., you’re far more likely to be gunned down by a police officer than other countries:

Even after adjusting for the smaller size of Britain’s population, British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014, the police force of one small American city, Albuquerque in New Mexico, shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’ 43 forces during the same period.

But why is this? The Economist explains:

The explanation for this gap is simple. In Britain, guns are rare. Only specialist firearms officers carry them, and criminals rarely have access to them. The last time a British police officer was killed by a firearm on duty was in 2012, in a brutal case in Manchester. The annual number of murders by shooting is typically less than 50. Police shootings are enormously controversial. The shooting of Mark Duggan, a known gangster, which in 2011 started riots across London, led to a fiercely debated inquest. Last month, a police officer was charged with murder over a shooting in 2005. The reputation of the Metropolitan Police’s armed officers is still barely recovering from the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, in the wake of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London.

In America, by contrast, it is hardly surprising that cops resort to their weapons more frequently. In 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed — just a fraction of the 9,000 or so murders using guns that happen each year. Add to that a hyper-militarized police culture and a deep history of racial strife and you have the reason why so many civilians are shot by police officers. Unless America can either reduce its colossal gun ownership rates or fix its deep social problems, shootings of civilians by police — justified or not — seem sure to continue.

The U.S. has a problem with police and guns. It may be racial — many observers in Ferguson and beyond seem to think so — but it’s an undeniable fact that police officers may be the deadliest force on the streets. Just look at a recent report from the Salt Lake City Tribune, which found that more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members, drug dealers, child abuse or domestic disputes in the past five years. Or a 12-year-old Cleveland boy shot and killed for wielding a pellet gun in public.

It makes sense, sadly: The U.S. has a gun problem as it is, according to this analysis of gun deaths and gun ownership in advanced nations:


Image Credit: Mark ReidBut the death of Michael Brown speaks to a larger issue with guns in America. Law enforcement officials needs the appropriate tools to to their jobs and protect themselves — but not at the expense of the population they’re sworn to defend. After all, it’s “Protect and Serve,” not “Shoot to Kill.”

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Police policies cut deadly shootings Reply

By Sam Wood

Philly.Com

Carolyn Moses holds a photograph of her son, Jamil Moses, in her home in Northeast Philadelphia. Jamil was shot to death on February 8, 2011, after police boxed in the stolen car in which he was a passenger. (COLIN KERRIGAN / Philly.com)
Carolyn Moses holds a photograph of her son, Jamil Moses, in her home in Northeast Philadelphia. Jamil was shot to death on February 8, 2011, after police boxed in the stolen car in which he was a passenger. (COLIN KERRIGAN / Philly.com)
Deadly police shootings in Philadelphia have fallen by 75 percent over the last year as the Police Department has implemented a number of steps to reduce the use of lethal force.

So far in 2014, police officers have shot and killed three people.

By the same date last year, they had killed 12.

And in 2012 by this date, officers had killed 16.

In a wide-ranging interview this week, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said he hoped that the trend reflected the department’s shake-up in training and tactics, which range from adopting a “statement on the sanctity of human life” to emphasizing “reality-based” weapons training for officers.

Ramsey met with federal officials Monday to go over a draft of a new Department of Justice report examining the Police Department’s use of deadly force. A Police Department spokesman said they reviewed key points of the report and the feasibility of the federal recommendations.

In May 2013, the commissioner invited the federal experts to examine the department’s practices as part of a “collaborative review.”

The request followed a Philly.com report that documented a spike in the number of police-involved shootings despite a citywide drop in crime.

As the new policies have been phased in, the total number of shootings to date – fatal and nonfatal – has plummeted from 48 in 2012 to 35 in 2013 and to 18 so far this year, according to the department.

“To the extent that is the result of better training and accountability, Ramsey deserves credit,” said Philadelphia civil rights attorney David Rudovsky. “On the other hand, it’s far too early to say that whatever measures that have been put in place will result in a permanent decrease in shootings.”

The Justice Department report, which will be made public before the year’s end, closely mirrors a similar report prepared for Las Vegas police, Ramsey said.

Some of the federal recommendations will require negotiations with the police union, Ramsey said. He declined to discuss specific recommendations for Philadelphia’s force but addressed questions prompted by the Las Vegas findings.

“We’ve already begun making some revisions in our training and our response to officer-involved shootings,” Ramsey said. “Whether or not they go as far as the DOJ wants us to go, that’s another question.”

The federal report on the Philadelphia force was originally expected in September. While the assessment in Nevada was finished in six months, Ramsey said the Philadelphia study focused on a larger force and required more interviews and focus groups.

“It’s a lot of work,” Ramsey said. “I’d rather they be thorough. They talked to a lot of folks.”

In its 2012 Las Vegas report, the Justice Department recommended making information more accessible to the public. Philadelphia followed suit in January, posting online summaries of police shootings dating to 2007. The Justice Department also recommended that Las Vegas formally adopt a “sanctity of human life statement” as part of police policy.

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How Often are Unarmed Black Men Shot Down By Police? 2

This would make for a good dissertation for some enterprising PhD student.

By Vyan

Daily Kos

We stand today, two weeks after the shooting Death of Unarmed John Crawford, a week and a half after the Police Shooting Death of Unarmed Michael Brown, about a week after the shooting of Death of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, in the wake of the Choke-Hold Death of Eric Garner in New York, years after the shooting death of unarmed Sean Bell and Amadour Diallo also in New York, years now after the Shooting Death of Unarmed and Hand-cuffed, Face Down Oscar Grant in Oakland, years after the shooting death of unarmed Kendrec McDade in Pasadena, a decade after the asphyxiation of unarmed Johnny Gammage in Pittsburgh, more decades after the choke-hold police Murder cover-up of Ron Settles in Signal Hill, the Police shooting of Eula Love over a $22 water bill payment in 1979, and of so many others.

We are told these are isolated incidents.  We are told that they are simply the Officers procuring their own safety and if only the “suspects” had surrendered or obeyed they would still be alive today.

Every time.  In each case.  Police never get it wrong.  They never make a mistake, are never in a bad mood, have a short temper, may have been overly fearful and may have overreacted.  Because in nearly all these cases that’s what we’re initially told by Police sources and their supporters.

“It was a good shoot”.

It’s a familar broken record.

How often does that record get put on in the iPad when Police want to drown out the cries of an outraged public, until they forced to find out what really happened and it’s not anything like the Police initially claimed? How often do Police shoot and kill unarmed suspects who pose no real threat to them?  How often does this happen to Black People?  How often does it happen to White People? Or anyone?

The truly frightening thing is that we apparently don’t know.  We have no idea.  Not even a clue.  We’ve been tracking the statistics about Crime for decades at individual police agencies and in the FBI Uniform Crime Report, But those reports don’t document exactly when Cops become Murdering Criminals.  This fact – which has sparked police riots and racial unrest going all the way back to the 1960’s – is still a mystery.

According to Fivethrityeight.com – no one tracks this.

Efforts to keep track of “justifiable police homicides” are beset by systemic problems. “Nobody that knows anything about the SHR puts credence in the numbers that they call ‘justifiable homicides,’” when used as a proxy for police killings, said David Klinger, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri who specializes in policing and the use of deadly force. And there’s no governmental effort at all to record the number of unjustifiable homicides by police. If Brown’s homicide is found to be unjustifiable, it won’t show up in these statistics.

Is being shot down by a cop in the street something that’s just as likely to happen to White Suspects as a Black person, or do those who’ve sensed a decades long pattern here actually have a point? Why don’t we have this information?  Could it be intentional?

More…

Why Darren Wilson wasn’t charged for killing Michael Brown Reply

This gives a pretty good overview of the legalities involved in the Ferguson case from a fairly objective legal experts’ perspective. It’s also fairly consistent with my own amateur analysis of the case. In my view. Wilson was not indicted for these reasons:

1. Unreliable and contradictory witness testimony.

2. Inconclusive forensics reports.

3. The fact that Brown had committed a strong armed robbery not long before the shooting which likely prejudiced the grand jury.

4. The letter of the law concerning the use of deadly force (a cop only has to believe he is in danger, not actually be in danger).

5. The tendency of grand jurors to give cops the benefit of the doubt.

6. Possible jury tampering by the prosecution (see here)

My take on what actually happened between Wilson and Brown? No idea, and the grand jury probably didn’t either.

My biases? I’m usually biased for civilians against the cops, and think police brutality and killing of civilians is a serious, serious public problem (which would prejudice me in favor of Brown). But I’m usually biased for criminal defendants against the state, and  I’m also big on self-defense rights and the rights of the accused (which would prejudice me in favor of Wilson). Essentially there are two different sets of fundamental civil liberties concerns that are (potentially) in conflict in this case.

Vox.Com

The grand jury responsible for deciding whether Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson should be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown has returned its answer: no.

Wilson won’t be charged. He won’t be arrested. He won’t face any criminal consequences for shooting and killing the unarmed black 18-year-old on August 9.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch made the announcement in a statement Monday night, during which he said that Wilson knew that Brown was a robbery suspect at the time he shot him.

Still, many are wondering how it’s possible that 12 men and women who’ve been investigating the case since September didn’t conclude that there was probable cause to believe a crime had occurred.

After all, witnesses who’ve spoken to the media have given the same basic description of Brown’s final moments: he had both hands in the air when Wilson fired the shots that killed him — a narrative that made “hands up, don’t shoot” the rallying cry for protestors that flooded the streets of Ferguson after the shooting, demanding an indictment for Wilson.

In his statement, McCulloch said that some of the witnesses changed their stories and were unreliable. Some of them, he said, were “making it up.”

That determination explains in part why Wilson wasn’t indicted. Here are the other reasons that this outcome was somewhat predictable.

The law makes it easy not to charge police officers.

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The Cat is Out of the Bag Reply

By Keith Preston

For an opposing perspective, see this article by Joseph Nye. For an article that makes comparable arguments, see this piece in Foreign Policy by Gideon Rachman.

When the future history of the former United States of America is written, the pivotal turning point that likely marked the downfall of the USA will be the events of September 11, 2001.

The United States emerged from World War Two as the most powerful nation-state in the world, rivaled only by the second-rate Soviet Union. American hegemony and dominance spread throughout the world as Western Europe became protectorates of the USA, and the colonies of the former European colonial empires in Asia, Africa, and Latin America became U.S. client states. However the postwar era and the late 20th century were also a time of anti-colonial insurgency, leading the U.S. to get bogged down in the anti-colonial war in Indochina and eventually experience defeat. This had the effect of de-legitimizing U.S. militarism to a great degree. More…

New Pew Poll Confirms Americans Ready to End War on Drugs Reply

For enemies of the War on Drugs, victory is now on the horizon.

Drug Policy Alliance

Two Out of Three Americans Think People Shouldn’t Be Prosecuted for Possession of Drugs Such as Cocaine and Heroin; 63% Support Moving Away from Mandatory Minimums; 54% Support Marijuana Legalization

DPA’s Ethan Nadelmann: It’s Time to Stop Arresting People for Drug Use or Possession

A new national survey released today by the Pew Research Center reveals that a broad majority of Americans are ready to significantly reduce the role of the criminal justice system in dealing with people who use drugs.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • More than six in ten Americans (63%) say that state governments moving away from mandatory prison terms for drug law violations is a good thing, while just 32% say these policy changes are a bad thing. This is a substantial shift from 2001 when the public was evenly divided (47% good thing vs. 45% bad thing).  The majority of all demographic groups, including Republicans and Americans over 65 years old, support this shift.
  • At the same time, there has been a major shift in attitudes on whether the use of marijuana should be legal. As recently as four years ago, about half (52%) said they thought the use of marijuana should not be legal; 41% said marijuana use should be legal. Today those numbers are roughly reversed – 54% favor marijuana legalization while 42% are opposed.  Just 16% say it should not be legal for either medical or recreational use.
  • Two-thirds (67%) say the government should focus more on providing treatment for people who use drugs like cocaine and heroin. Just 26% think the focus should be more on prosecuting people who use such drugs.

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The State: Its Rise and Decline Reply

Read this classic lecture from 2000 by Professor Van Creveld, and then read my “Philosophical Anarchism and the Death of Empire” from 2003. Van Creveld’s lecture describes the emerging world order, and my essay outlines a new paradigm for the “worldwide Grey Tribe” as it might be called.

By Martin Van Creveld

October 16, 2000

This is an excerpt from the keynote lecture given at the Mises Institute conference on the themes in Professor van Creveld’s talk.

The background of the state as we know it today is formed by civil war, although at that time, of course, it was not yet called civil. The endless wars between the various principalities, some of them Christian and others Moslem, that took place in the Iberian Peninsula during the fifteenth century; the English Wars of the Roses; the French guerres de religion; and the Thirty Years War which devastated much of Germany and Central Europe–all these resulted in so much death and destruction that, to end them, people were even prepared to have their appetites controlled. As figures such as Jean Bodin and Thomas Hobbes argued, the only way to bring about peace and quiet was absolute government invested in a single person. And peace and quiet, more than anything else, was what people wanted and what history seemed to demand.

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Sharyl Attkisson vs. Obama’s Police State Reply

The return of “The Plumbers.” As others have pointed out recently, the Obama Democrats are Nixon Republicans under another name (plus some cultural leftism thrown in to pacify potential critics from the Left).

The former Trotskyite turned Cold War liberal turned Israel Firster neoconservatives took over the intellectual leadership of the Republican Party in the 1970, 80s, and 90 (in collusion with Sun Belt plutocrats, neoliberal economists, military-industrial complex war profiteers, and moral majoritarians), So where did the former Nixon-Rockefeller liberal Republicans go? They went to the Democrats (in collusion with the totalitarian humanists). Hence, today’s Democratic Party is a hybrid of Nixon Republicans from the right and warmed over New Leftists from the left (symbolized in many ways by the present day friendly relationship between Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger, who would have been on opposite sides of the fence forty years ago).

By Justin Raimondo

Antiwar.Com

If the revelations of Edward Snowden didn’t convince you that we’re living in a police state, then Sharyl Attkisson’s book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, is the clincher. Indeed, it is more convincing insofar as the reporting that came out of Snowden’s disclosures never definitively demonstrated how such powerful technology in the hands of unrestrained government has led to the targeting of political opponents by government officials. In Attkisson’s book, the ultimate Orwellian nightmare comes true….

It’s 3:14 in the morning when Sharyl Attkisson – star CBS reporter – is wakened by a noise: her computer has come to life, unbidden – again. It’s been happening a lot lately: and it’s not just her desktop Apple. The other night her Toshiba laptop clicked on all by itself. And her phones are so afflicted with clickings and other mysterious noises as to be unusable.

Attkisson, a 20-year veteran of the CBS newsroom, has been investigating some pretty hot stories: “Fast and Furious,” the code name for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) program that let US guns “walk” over the border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and the Benghazi incident, among others. She knew the administration considered her an adversary (as these emails prove), an obnoxious pit bull out to trip them up, but she never imagined they would go so far as to spy on her. It’s the fall of 2012, and Snowden’s secrets are still under wraps. A friend with a connection to “a three-letter agency” expresses admiration for her coverage of Benghazi-gate and then clues her in:

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Gays, Guns, and Ganja: See the Libertarian-ization of America in 3 Maps Reply

Interesting.

The Skeptical Libertarian.

We libertarians like to gripe about all the things that are getting worse for freedom in this country, but along some dimensions, the libertarian agenda of personal liberty is winning: from the right to marry to the right to carry, America has become much more free over the last few decades.

In 1995, marijuana was illegal in every American state for any purpose. In 2003, same-sex couples could not marry in any state. In 2002, sodomy was still illegal in 13 states. In the 1980s, the vast majority of states either banned carrying firearms or had restrictive “may issue” permit laws.

But today, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, while four others have decriminalized possession, and now (after last week’s election) 4 states and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational use. Same-sex couples can now marry in 32 states and DC, and today, 5 states have lifted all restrictions on bearing firearms and 37 have instituted “shall issue” rules for permits.

In the courts, libertarian arguments have succeeded in striking down sodomy laws (Lawrence, 2003), the Defense Of Marriage Act (Windsor, 2013), and unconstitutional bans on gun ownership (Heller, 2008). (We did, however, lose the medical marijuana case in Gonzalez in 2005.)

Someone once defined libertarianism as “defending the right of gay couples to protect their marijuana farm with an assault rifle.” Sure, there’s more to it than that — but it’s not a bad place to start.

VIEW THE MAPS HERE