UWO, London Ontario Police Violently Assault Student

by matttbastard

This hits a bit too close to home — seriously:

Officials at the University of Western Ontario in London [my hometown — mb] are defending the violent arrest of a student that was captured on video and posted on YouTube.

The video, shot on Wednesday at the university’s social sciences building, shows what appears to be five campus and police officers surrounding the man and pinning him to the ground.

The officers knee and punch the student several times before they are able to restrain him.

They appear to be trying to put handcuffs on the man while repeatedly shouting, “Stop resisting!”

Elgin Austen, the head of campus police, told a news conference Thursday that by the time he arrived during the arrest, he didn’t see “anything out of order” with the level of force being applied.

“It was being conducted consistent with the Ontario Police College and the training that officers have there.”

Watch:

Alt Angle:

Yeah, um if repeatedly walloping someone on the ground is “consistent with the Ontario Police College and the training that officers have there,” perhaps we need to reconsider what we are teaching our law enforcement officials. Then again, who are you gonna believe — some PR flack, or your lyin’ eyes? As Austen helpfully notes, ‘people seeing just the video alone “may not understand what the officers were actually doing.”‘

Of course, some would beg to differ with Austen’s spin objective analysis of the situation.

Over at the Law is Cool blog, former police officer Ryan Venables provides his take on whether the officers in question went too far in their brutal efforts to “restrain” 22 year old Western student Irnes Zelijkovic:

After having viewed the video, and from my experiences and past training, I see NO REASON why one of the officers applied force to the middle and upper portions of Mr. Zeljkovic’s back and neck with his asp baton.  Officers are trained to specifically NOT to use this hard impact weapon on areas where significant damage could be caused (i.e. neck, forearms, and head) because of the risk to the suspect.  While an actively resisting suspect is a very dynamic situation, in my humble opinion this exceeded the appropriate options available to this officer.

Regardless, Mr. Zeljkovic should be thankful the boys in purple and blue didn’t break out the Tasers — or accidentally discharge a firearm.

Special thanks to my buddy Albert for the heads up

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PSA: A call for action on trans rights in Tennessee

by matttbastard

Via The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition:

For Immediate Release: Dated December 27, 2008

Another Transgender Woman Shot in Memphis

On Christmas Eve, a Memphis television station reported the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards in Memphis. She becomes the third transgender woman shot in Memphis in just six months. At last report, Leeneshia is in critical condition. We extend our hopes and prayers to Leenashia for a speedy recovery.

We also ask for anyone with any information about this latest crime to call Memphis Crimes Stoppers at (901)528-CASH.

The shooting of Leeneshia Edwards helps shed light on a disturbing trend in Memphis. Transgender women who work in the sex industry in order to survive are now being targeted by a pervasive culture of violence.

The indifferent attitude of law enforcement towards the February 16, 2006, murder of Tiffany Berry, and the February 12, 2008, beating of Duanna Johnson by Memphis Police Department officers, has sent a message that the lives of transgender people are not important. This has fed the culture of violence that has permeated the second half of 2008, and is exemplified by the July 1 murder of Ebony Whitaker, the July 28 murder of Dre-Ona Blake, a two year old girl who was killed by the man who had previously been charged with the murder of Tiffany Berry, but was allowed to walk free for two and a half years, the November 9 murder of Duanna Johnson, and now the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.

This open season on transgender people in Memphis and elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they engage in sex work, must come to an end right now.

We call on business people who refuse to hire transgender people to open their doors immediately to transgender workers so there are alternatives to working on the streets.

We call on shelters that routinely turn away transgender people who are seeking help, to open their doors so that transgender people do not have to live on the streets.

We call on religious leaders who preach intolerance towards crossdressers and transsexuals from the pulpit to cease immediately and begin preaching messages of love and acceptance of diversity.

We call on political leaders of all parties to stop campaigning against transgender people and start supporting fully inclusive employment non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation to show that the lives of transgender people have value.

Marisa Richmond
President

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact:

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
http://ttgpac.com
TTGPAC@aol.com
(615)293-6199
(615)353-1834 fax

h/t Cara by way of Queen Em.

Related: More on Leeneshia Edwards from Em and Monica Roberts

Update: Renee, bumped from comments:

What bothers me most about this is the way in which these acts of violence and murders are ignored. When I wrote about this issue I focused on the race aspect. Trans women of color are being targeted. At remembering our dead over 65% of the women listed are of color. I want to know where the hell the NAACP is. I want to know where the hell NOW is. When are we going to decide that these women matter?

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This Year’s Whitewash Model: “Sudden Death Following Restraint”

by matttbastard

What? We had THREE pathologists come up with that one. THREE!

Because ‘excited delirium’ is, like, so 2007.

Jesus wept.

Related: Alison has more regarding the Criminal Justice Branch ruling on the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski (shorter: “It was his own goddamn fault that he died!”); make sure to also check out this post at Dawg’s place, where the good Dr. is once again calling for the RCMP to be disbanded.

Hard to argue with him this time.

Update: more from Dawg.

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Obey DNC: Denver Riot Cop Viciously Assaults, Arrests Code Pink Protester

by matttbastard

To paraphrase The Strokes, “Mile High city cops/they ain’t too smaaart”:

The Rocky Mountain News:

A police officer was videotaped Tuesday shoving a CodePink protester hard to the ground without any apparent sign of provocation.

Footage of the incident prompted the city’s independent monitor to call for a review and the police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau to request a copy of the tape.

Police arrested Alicia Forrest, 24, a Los Angeles resident whom CodePink representatives identified as the woman involved in the altercation, shortly afterward as she was addressing reporters just outside Civic Center.

The arrest – in which Forrest was grabbed and hauled away from reporters – also was caught on camera, and CodePink legal liaison Sally Newman said Forrest was doing “nothing violent at all” to incur either the shove or the arrest.

“Horror, shock and total support of Alicia,” said CodePink spokeswoman Jean Stevens, describing the reaction when she and other members of the antiwar group viewed the video for the first time. “We wish we could help. We wish we could be with her.”

Three guesses what the police spin is:

Lt. Ron Saunier, a Denver police spokesman, said the 30-second clip was “kind of jumpy” on his computer and that it doesn’t provide enough context.

“Just shown in that context, you don’t get what the whole dynamics or the full situation is,” he said.

Yeah, who are you gonna believe — a sniveling PR flack, or your lyin’ eyes?

More from the RMN on Alicia Forrest:

[Forrest]…is tired from the ordeal, but “she’s optimistic for further CodePink action and progress for the week,” her organization said in a statement.

“I was standing up for my free speech rights, showing support for a fellow activist,” Forrest said in the statement. “If anything, this has showed me how powerful standing up for your beliefs can be, and how necessary it is for the truth to get out even in the face of resistance.”

Powerful and, therefore, as far as those who are empowered to demand obedience at all costs are concerned, a threat (to their authority, their ego, their apparently fragile manhood).

h/t Hysperia and bfp

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Obey: Black, Gay, and Female? Talk About a Prime Target For Protection and Service.

by matttbastard

Via Renee:

Elle nails it:

What I noticed about the video (aside from the cops jerking a young woman off a public bus and injuring her for a damned finger sign) was how police brutality has led us to be always ready to assume the defense. Her mother stated over and over that her daughter was “good” and wasn’t a “criminal.” She’d never been in any trouble. She theorized that the police officers’ actions were a manifestation of the  problem” LBPD has with young, black lesbians.

[…]

What do you say when we are still at the point where we assume the defensive, have to proclaim our status as “good” and “like everyone else,” otherwise mistreating us is okay?

Renee also has it exactly right:

If the people who are supposed to be upholding the law, daily violate the law, then we have no law.  What we have is a masquerade of justice wherein certain bodies matter, and others are only considered to the extent that can be exploited, and marginalized.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, “assaulting a police officer” is an Orwellian synonym for ‘disobedience’, as manifested in this specific instance by Ms. Patton not showing appropriate fealty towards, as Elle puts it, “the power of the uniform.”  And, these days, that’s a hollow, impotent power, devoid of any earned respect or authority to bolster the legitimacy of those who wear the uniform.  I mean, really, would a goddamn bird-flip warrant such a horrifyingly disproportionate response unless the officers who got dissed didn’t feel obligated to subsequently assert and affirm their dominance–to demand obedience–by force?

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“To protect the privacy of the person stunned”

by matttbastard

Alison at the Beav notes that the RCMP has stripped several key details from the Robert Dziekanski TASER™ report, recently obtained by The Canadian Press and CBC under the Access to Information Act:

Missing from the RCMP report :
1) Dziekanski’s name [!]
2) the name and rank of the officer who fired the TASER™
3) the name of his supervisor
4) details about the duration of the firing
5) the number of times the weapon was used in stun mode
6) whether Dziekanski was armed
7) a written summary of the incident
8) “assessments as to whether use of the TASER™ helped the RCMP either “avoid use of lethal force” or “avoid injuries to subject or Police.”

In other words, pretty much everything of use for the general public to understand exactly what happened (and, more importantly, why), all purportedly redacted in order to to protect the late Mr. Dziekanski’s “privacy”.

Yeah. To protect [redacted]’s privacy–sure. As Alison further notes,

It’s worth remembering that none of these inquiries would be happening at all had not Paul Pritchard of Victoria first recorded Dziekanski’s murder, stood his ground and hired a lawyer to get the recording back from the RCMP on being told it might be several years before they would return it, and then released it to the public.
Previous to Pritchard’s YouTube going worldwide, the RCMP were already covering their tracks, muttering darkly about the likelihood of Dziekanski being a drug mule and how the officers were forced to use stun guns because the room was crowded with airline passengers.

Sorry–after all that’s gone down with regards to Dziekanski’s death, a hubris-laden request from the Feds that basically amounts to “hey, trust us” doesn’t fucking cut it. The only way to clear up the haze of corruption that has been hovering over the Mounties for far too many years now is for the government to call for a full public inquiry into the activities of the RCMP. Are you finally listening, Stockboy?

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Post-Race Era? Once Again, My Black Ass.

by matttbastard

Contra Barack Obama and Frank Rich, the reaction to the Sean Bell verdict shows that Americans still have a long way to go to “[transcend] the racial and cultural rifts that [have] divided them for centuries”, says Max Blumenthal.

Related:

[W]hile we might be outraged at the Sean Bell decision itself, it comes directly from the flawed jurisprudence that gave us the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Bakke in 1978, Croson in 1989, Adarand in 1995, Gratz in 2003, and all of the Ward Connerly-inspired attacks on the very same affirmative action hard won by students facing water hoses and dogs, men and women facing jail, lynch mobs, and death.

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More On Acceptable and Unacceptable Victims

by matttbastard

Christina with the question (and subsequent answer) of the day:

[What] if Hope Steffey had been black? Or an immigrant? Or gay? Or trans? Or poor? We would have immediately wondered what she had done. When we heard that she’d handed the cop the wrong ID, we would probably have thought she was trying to pull something. When we heard that she demanded it back, we might have assumed she “gave the cop attitude”. She might have gotten the benefit of the doubt that she hadn’t caused it somehow or that the reaction had been out-of-proportion to the infraction but there would have been a doubt there–there must be in order to get a “benefit of”.

Werd.

Also make sure to check out the AlterNet article that provoked Christina’s musings, along with the related discussion at Feministe.

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Obey: The Sequel

by matttbastard

This is absolutely mind boggling. 15 months ago, after having called police because she had been assaulted, an Ohio woman was arrested for “disorderly conduct” and charged with “resisting arrest”. What happened next is, in my opinion, a textbook example of excessive force (and, later, what some might call sexual assault) perpetuated by butched-up cops intoxicated by the entitlement that comes packaged with a badge and a gun.

According to Salem News, Hope Steffey is suing the Stark County Sheriff’s department for “assault, battery, unreasonable seizure and deliberate indifference by failing to provide adequate medical care.” Her husband, Greg, the athletic director at Salem High School, is also named as a claimant in the suit for “damage from “unreasonable governmental actions by the defendants.”

More:

Named as defendants are Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson, the three commissioners, Deputy Richard T. Gurlea, along with John and Jane Does numbers one through 15.

The Stark County Sheriff reportedly denied the allegations.

The narrative of court documents said that on Oct. 20, 2006 Hope Steffey was allegedly assaulted by another woman on Weimer Dr. S.E. and Gurlea responded, questioned Steffey and asked for identification and she “mistakenly” produced the driver’s license of her dead sister, which she kept as a personal memento.

She immediately recognized her mistake and asked for it back, but Gurlea allegedly refused.

Documents say she “begged” for the return of her license but it wasn’t returned.

The deputy then ran a computer check of the right license and Steffey’s cousin noticed a bald spot on her head from the assault.

The cousin “reminded” the deputy that Steffey was the victim while advising Steffey of the hair loss which made her visibly upset.

The documents alleged Gurlea failed to call for medical assistance despite knowledge Steffey was injured.

Gurlea the, documents allege, warned Steffey to calm down and Steffey replied she was upset and could exercise her freedom of speech and her cousin again attempted to remind the deputy that Steffey was the victim and she had been knocked unconscious by the assailant.

The deputy allegedly refused to acknowledge her injuries.

Court documents said that after searching Steffey’s car, he turned to the two and questioned the cousin when Steffey asked for her sister’s license back.

Gurlea allegedly turned angrily and responded “shut up about your dead sister.

Steffey pointed her finger at her sister’s license in the deputy’s pocket and said, “she was here, she was someone” and Gurlea allegedly, suddenly exploded into a rage and allegedly slammed her face into his cruiser breaking a tooth, and pinning her against the cruiser, allegedly saying, “are you going to stop?”

The documents allege Gurlea then threw her to the ground causing cuts and bruises and with the weight of his body on her she could not breathe.

Steffey was then handcuffed and told to sit in the cruiser.

Sit down, shut up and don’t even think that you have any rights–sound familiar?

Once at the station, the ordeal continued as Steffey was forcibly strip searched by 7 sheriff’s deputies–including 2 men.

The Raw Story has the grisly details:

Eventually, Steffey was arrested and taken to the Stark County Jail, charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But once in custody, her attorney says seven jail workers, male and female, forcibly removed Steffey of all her clothes, including her undergarments, while she lay face down in handcuffs. Local news footage shows Steffey wailing, asking “What are you doing?!?”

“And you have to ask yourself, what was the purpose of the strip search?” said Steffey’s lawyer. “What was the necessity of it? This was a disorderly conduct claim.

As noted by The Raw Story, even though it is department policy for “officers conducting any strip search to be of the same sex”, Stark County Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson is trying to claim that Steffy was not actually strip searched. Yeah. And I’m sure that leaving her naked in a freezing cold cell for seven hours and denying medical assistance doesn’t constitute “cruel and unusual”, either.

Watch the video* and decide for yourselves. Just remember: Hope Steffy was the one who was assaulted, first by a member of the general public, then (allegedly) by a law enforcement official who had been summoned by Steffey’s cousin for assistance (“The cousin “reminded” the deputy that Steffey was the victim“). Later, after having been arrested for apparently no good reason other than the arbitrary whim of an overzealous (read: power-mad) sheriff’s deputy, Steffey was subsequently “raped without penetration” by those who are supposed to serve and protect the general public (so says the rumour mill, anyway).

Libby Spencer gets an unequivocal “hear hear” from yours truly:

I don’t believe in violence, but if she doesn’t win her court case and these cretins skate, I hope the good citizens of this town riot on the streets. This really shouldn’t happen in America.

Unfortunately, all too often it does happen, both in America and north of the border. Once again, we are reminded that, as far too many law enforcement officials are concerned, blind obedience on the part of the citizenry is paramount (“are you going to stop?”)

Welcome to 21st century policing, where excessive force is operational policy.

*Warning: video can be triggering.

(update 04/08 – video fixed, h/t BlueBerry Pick’n @ BnR)

h/t Crooks and Liars

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A Stunning Incident In The UK

by matttbastard

“International” isn’t just corporate hyperbole:

Police fired a 50,000-volt Taser into the head of a 45-year-old company director who later proved to be unarmed and innocent. Daniel Sylvester, the owner of an east London security firm employing 65 staff to guard council offices, pubs and nightclubs, was driving home on October 20 when he was stopped by armed police because of “firearms related intelligence”.

According to Sylvester, he got out of his car and was surrounded by officers, at least two of whom were carrying automatic weapons. Without warning, one officer fired a Taser into the back of his head which made him drop to his knees, he said. A second shock caused him to fall on his face, breaking a front tooth. A further six shocks made him wet himself and left him lying in the road in pain while the officers and sniffer dogs searched the car and found nothing.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has started an investigation and David Lammy, Sylvester’s MP in Tottenham, north London, has written to Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, to say he is “deeply concerned”.

[…]

“Armed police jumped out and opened my car door,” he said. “I said OK, I’m coming. I asked what was going on and as soon as I stepped out of the car I felt something touch me on the back of the head and then I was on my knees. Then it happened again and I was on my face and I felt somebody pressing my head down with their foot. By the fifth time I realised officers were pinning my arms together. It was like they were trying to break my arms and I was in pain, screaming out.

“I was shocked eight times altogether and I had urinated on the floor. It was like being tortured. It went on and on and I felt they were going to kill me.”

Wait–I left out the best part:

Sylvester said the incident had left him traumatised and he now suffered from short-term memory loss. He doubts the police would have stopped him had he not been black.

[…]

Tasers have been used 47 times in London this year, with black people accounting for almost two-thirds of those stunned.

Sheesh–even in the mother country “driving while black” still applies.

Quoth stageleft:

Personally I hope that British law allows Sylvester to sue the living crap out of the cop who fired the weapon, the cops who assaulted him, the police force that obviously doesn’t police the use of their weapon, and the government that licensed their use.

Seconded.

h/t pale via IM.

Update: I wonder if this latest incident will be added to the pre-Christmas press blitz? (The purple model would totally match my mother’s curtains.)

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