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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