A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag

When Being Arrested is Enough to Land You in Prison

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A man is currently sitting in prison because he was arrested. Mind you, he wasn’t found guilty of anything but being arrested violated a condition of his parole so he’s not rotting in a cage again:

In March 2016, a year after Smith’s arrest, prosecutors dismissed the other charge against Smith — the drug crime — after the man who claimed the package of pot pleaded guilty, court records show.

“Your case is dismissed,” a judge told Smith, according to the transcript. “That’s the end of that, so, for you.”

The problem: Smith’s arrest was a violation of his parole. Such violations can send him back to prison. It doesn’t matter that the charges were dropped. And the ultimate arbiter of whether Smith violated his parole isn’t the judge or prosecutor, but the Tennessee Board of Parole. And that group of seven people, all appointed by the governor, has decided to keep Smith in prison.

Just another day in the freest country on Earth.

The whole point of parole (ideally, not in practice though) is to release individuals who haven’t demonstrated themselves to be dangerous on the condition that they behave themselves. However, including the stipulation that a parolee avoid being arrested takes control away from them because, as we all know, a law enforcer can arrest you for any damned reason they please. As the old saying goes, you might avoid the charge but you won’t avoid the ride.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Minneapolis Police Not Using Body Cameras

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The City of Minneapolis spent millions of dollars to equip its law enforcers with body cameras. It also created a policy of when its law enforcers are supposed to turn their body cameras on. That policy lacked any real consequences for officers who didn’t follow it. In an absolutely shocking turn of events, it turns out that Minneapolis law enforcers are willing to suffer the lack of consequences for not following the city’s policy:

Minneapolis police officers frequently fail to turn on their body-worn cameras, a City Council member said Monday, a day before the release of an audit detailing their use.

That was among findings of a two-month examination of the department’s body camera program, said Council Member Linea Palmisano, who reviewed the report over the weekend. It shows that most of the problems stem from a lack of accountability for officers who don’t activate their cameras when responding to calls or turn them off without explanation, she said.

“There’s some people who never have it on,” said Palmisano. “This is a very expensive program, and there isn’t oversight of this, and there isn’t governance.”

This is what happens when you put the foxes in charge of holding themselves accountable to the chickens. Body cameras have the potential to catch police officers behaving badly but that potential will remains unrealized so long as the officers wearing them get to decide when to turn them on. I feel pretty safe in saying that policy changes won’t make any difference. There is too much precedence for law enforcers disobeying policies and getting away with it.

Until the decision of when to turn on body cameras and control over any recorded video is taken away from law enforcers, those cameras will only serve to collect evidence against individuals who law enforcers want to see prosecuted.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2017 at 10:30 am

Deploying the Slave Catchers

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A higher up in the Spanish government heard the disconcerting (to him) sound of shackles breaking. Worried that some of his slaves were making a break for it, he deployed his slave catchers to restore order:

Spanish national police have stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia’s regional government to put a stop to the region’s independence referendum.

The Guardia Civil, which acts with the authority of Madrid’s interior ministry, is searching for evidence regarding the planned 1 October referendum on Catalan independence, which Spain’s Constitutional Court has declared illegal.

In the early hours of the morning armed officers arrived at various Catalan ministries, including the economy department, foreign affairs department, and social affairs department, Spanish media reports.

At least twelve Catalan officials are said to have been arrested, including the chief aide to Catalonia’s deputy prime minister, Josep Maria Jové. The arrests come as the mayors of Catalan towns who back the referendum were yesterday questioned by state prosecutors.

For those of you who haven’t been following the situation in Catalonia, the region has been wanting to declare itself independent on Spain for quite some time. This makes sense since Catalonia is the largest part of Spain’s economy and if you’ve looked at the economic situation in Spain, you know that the government there is desperate for successful people to exploit.

Unfortunately, Spain is doing everything in its power to ensure that the only way Catalonia will gain its independence is through civil war. The question will be whether the Catalonians want to pay that high of a price to break away from the boat anchor that is currently dragging them down.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2017 at 10:00 am

Discarding the Veil of Legitimacy

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Since their inception, government law enforcers here in the United States have pretended to be servants of the people. That facade is finally being discarded as more law enforcers begin to show their true colors. For example, in the past law enforcers might respond to questions about arresting protesters by citing their duty to protect the community. Now, at least in St. Louis, their responses are almost indistinguishable from statements one might expect from nongovernmental criminal gangs:

Gov. Eric Greitens is eager to show he’s not like a former governor whom he accused of tolerating looting and arson in Ferguson. So much so that his Facebook post Sunday about vandalism in the Delmar Loop dropped any claim to formality.

“Our officers caught ’em, cuffed ’em, and threw ’em in jail,” it said. “They’re gonna wake up and face felony charges.”

On Sunday night, as police officers marched downtown, a Post-Dispatch photographer heard them chant a refrain most often heard at Ferguson protests: “Whose streets? Our streets.”

Later, after St. Louis police made more than 100 arrests downtown on Sunday night, Acting Chief Lawrence O’Toole’s words seemed meme-ready: “Police owned tonight.”

“Whose streets? Our streets.” In other words, the streets are our turf. “Police owned tonight.” Put another way, law enforcers won the fight against a rival gang.

The lack of professionalism is refreshing because it reveals law enforcers’ true colors. However, it’s also disconcerting because the thin veil of legitimacy is probably the only thing that has restrained the behavior of law enforcers in any way. If they’re no longer concerned about appearing legitimate, they may begin acting even more viciously.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Making Open Access Less Open

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Most states have a version of the federal government’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which nominally allows mere peasants like myself to request records from the mighty government. While both the federal law and the various state versions do technically exist, they’ve become more and more useless as various barriers to entry have been raised between requesters and the documents they desire. Now various government bodies are throwing up yet another barrier, court cases:

Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests — taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense.

The lawsuits generally ask judges to rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged. They name the requesters as defendants but do not seek damage awards. Still, the recent trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates, who say it’s becoming a new way for governments to hide information, delay disclosure and intimidate critics.

Even though the government bodies in question aren’t seeking damages, anybody who has been involved in a court case knows that they’re expensive regardless. At the very least you’re required to take time off of work so you can attend court. Much of the time lawyers are involved and they rack up a significant bill rapidly. You also have the other ancillary expenses like fuel to drive to the courthouse, parking fees, etc.

The law might say that government agencies are required to divulge specific records upon request but it doesn’t say that those agencies have to do it in the way more convenience for requesters, which was almost certainly by design. So while the laws may technically exist they are becoming more useless by the day in practice.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 19th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Emperor Has No Cloths But Don’t Tell Him That

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How petty are those who claim authority over us? So petty that they can’t handle us snickering at them:

This is no joke, because liberal activist Desiree Fairooz is now being put on trial a second time by the Justice Department — Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department — because she laughed at Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Specifically, she laughed at a line about Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law” (which is, objectively, kind of funny).

Police asked her to leave the hearing because of her laugh. She protested and was charged. In May, a jury of her peers found her guilty of disorderly conduct and another offense (“first-degree chuckling with intent to titter” was Stephen Colbert’s sentence at the time). The judge threw out the verdict, objecting to prosecutors’ closing argument claiming that laughter alone was enough to convict her.

But at a hearing Friday, the Justice Department said it would continue to prosecute her. A new trial is scheduled for November. Maybe Sessions, repeatedly and publicly criticized by Trump, thinks Justice’s anti-laughing crackdown will protect whatever dignity he has left.

Considering what I’ve seen from Sessions, I’m not at all surprised that the Department of Justice (DoJ) is pursuing such a petty thing under his watch. The man is such a piece of shit that I have no doubts that he’d order Fairooz executed if he had the authority to do so.

In the end, unless the next judge is pretty horrible (which is likely), these charges will likely be thrown out. However, Fairooz might be able to beat the charges but she wasn’t able to beat the ride. The hours of her life wasted fighting these bullshit charges are gone forever. It’s also possible that she’ll be out the expenses for her legal defense because it’s not guaranteed that a judge will order the DoJ to cover her legal expenses if it loses. She might be able to recover those expenses through civil court but then the hours of her life wasted on that will also be gone forever. Meanwhile, nobody in the DoJ will likely receive any punishment whatsoever for pursuing these charges.

The design of the system is as such that no matter how innocent you are or how erroneous the charges brought against you are, you will still be punished.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Gun, Camera, What’s the Difference?

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Another day, another isolated incident. This isolated incident involves a law enforcer who apparently mistook a camera tripod for a gun:

A newspaper photographer from Ohio was shot Monday night by a sheriff’s deputy who apparently mistook his camera and tripod for a gun, and fired without a warning, the newspaper reported.

Andy Grimm, a photographer for the New Carlisle News, left the office at about 10 p.m. to take pictures of lightning when he came across a traffic stop and decided to take photos, according to the paper’s publisher, Dale Grimm.

“He said he got out, parked under a light in plain view of the deputy, with a press pass around his neck,” Grimm told The Washington Post. “He was setting up his camera, and he heard pops.”

Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Shaw did not give any warnings before he fired, striking Andy Grimm on the side, according to the paper.

Did the officer mistake a tripod for a gun or was he simply not in the mood to be photographed and knew that the likelihood of him being punished for shooting an innocent person was practically zero? There’s no way to know for sure since law enforcers almost always get away with shooting innocent people with little or no punishment.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 6th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Utah Hospital Tries to Prohibition Cops from Further Abusing Its Nurses

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I’m sure you’ve already heard about the incident with Alex Wubbels. Some armed thugs came into her hospital and demanded to draw blood from an unconscious patient. She refused to allow the thugs to do so because the hospital’s policy is that blood can only be drawn from an unconscious individual if they are under arrest or if there is a court order. While the officers in question didn’t have enough evidence to arrest the unconscious person of interest, they apparently had enough evidence to arrest Wubbels… roughly. She paid a price for standing in the way of an officer’s power trip and that has resulted in the hospital prohibiting officers from interacting with its nurses:

The University of Utah Hospital, where a nurse was manhandled and arrested by police as she protected the legal rights of a patient, has imposed new restrictions on law enforcement, including barring officers from patient-care areas and from direct contact with nurses.

This may be a nice gesture but it will likely be unenforceable. The lack of accountability for law enforcers in this country means any restriction placed upon them by a private entity can be ignored. After all, who is going to enforce this policy? The good cops? Seeing as they stood by while their fellow officer kidnapped a nurse because she was doing her job I don’t have much faith that they do anything. Maybe the hospital itself will enforce the policy. Of course, any staff member who attempts to enforce the policy will receive the same treatment that Wubbels did.

The biggest problem with government monopolies is that individuals don’t get a choice of whether or not they want to participate. Participation is mandatory. If you refuse to participate, you are usually arrested and charged with a crime. I hope this changes someday but I don’t have a lot of hope that it will.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 5th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Being the Designated Fall Person is Lucrative

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After Officer Noors gunned down Justine Ruszczyk the mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, sought out a sacrificial lamb that she could toss to the public to appease their anger. The sacrificial lamb she found was Janeé Harteau, the now former police chief for the City of Minneapolis. Initially it looked like a pretty raw deal but it turns out that being the sacrificial lamb can be quite profitable:

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau would receive $182,876 in separation pay plus 12 months of health benefits under a severance deal with the city released Friday.

The deal must earn City Council approval. It includes a sweeping mutual non-disparagement clause: Harteau must say nothing negative about Mayor Betsy Hodges, the City Council or other high-ranking city officials, and they must say nothing negative about her.

Shielding the mayor and City Council for criticism doesn’t come cheap.

These deals always amuse me. On the one hand, a person in a management position is terminated because they supposedly did a bad job. On the other hand, their severance package is so good that they’re actually rewarded for doing a bad job. It’s like the people above the sacrificial lamb want to have their cake and eat it.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 5th, 2017 at 10:00 am

More Hero Things

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Let’s say that you’re a law enforcement officer and you’ve just pulled over a white individual because you suspect that they’re driving under the influence. Due to the reputation the people in your profession now have, the suspect is hysterical because they’re afraid that you’re going to murder them on the spot. How do you handle the situation? If you answered, by informing the suspect that law enforcers only murder black people, a promising career in law enforcement may be in your future:

On a Sunday night in the summer of 2016, a Georgia police officer pulled over a white woman he suspected was under the influence. Lieutenant Greg Abbott walked up to her car on the shoulder of an Atlanta highway and stopped at the passenger side window. Asked to take her hands off the steering wheel and pick up her cellphone, the woman refused, telling the officer she’d “seen way too many videos of cops—.” He cut her off.

“But you’re not black,” he told her. “Remember, we only shoot black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All of the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the black people get killed? You have.”

And now you know why Officer Noor and his partner didn’t bother to turn on their dashcam or body cameras when they gunned down Justine Ruszczyk. If it weren’t for the dashcam recording, Officer Abbott wouldn’t have been caught in this embarrassing position.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 1st, 2017 at 10:30 am