A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ tag

Remember That Officers are Easily Spooked

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A few days have passed since an innocent woman was gunned down by a rabid Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer. Conveniently both officers’ body cameras and the car’s dashboard camera were turned off and the only other witness is dead so the only account we can get is that given to us by the officers. Now that a few days have passed the officers have had a chance to get their stories straight and their excuse for this shooting is even more feeble than most excuses given to us by cops who gunned down a person under extremely questionable circumstances:

As they reached West 51st Street, Officer Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad. Immediately afterward Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side window of the squad. Harrity indicated that Officer Noor discharged his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the open driver’s side window.

Much like a wild animal, police are apparently easily startled by loud noises. Unlike a wild animal though, when a police officer becomes startled they apparently shoot the first person they see who isn’t also a cop.

This excuse is ridiculous and the fact that it’s the best that they could come up with shows that they aren’t worried about even appearing legitimate. I’m guessing the fact that Yanez got away with murder has emboldened police officers to the point where they no longer feel the need to bother justifying their acts of murder. They know that the chances of them being punished in any meaningful way are roughly equal to those of winning the Powerball lottery.

My hope is that the State sees this situation as egregious enough to toss us lowly serfs a bone and actually punish this officer for his misdeeds. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Somebody calls the police to report a potential crime and the police arrive and shoot the person who called them while their body cameras were mysteriously turned off:

Minneapolis police responded to a call of a possible assault. At some point, a weapon was fired and a woman fatally shot. The BCA is now in charge of the investigation. They say the officers involved had body cameras, but they were not turned on.

Last year the City of Minneapolis spent $4 million to equip the officers in its department with body cameras. This was done in an attempt to restore some of the public’s trust in the department after its officers were involved in a serious of very questionable shootings. Here we are over a year later and that $4 million investment has been entirely wasted since when incidents like this happen body cameras are turned off for some inexplicable reason.

Unfortunately, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), as far as I know, has no policy in place for punishing officers who don’t turn on their body cameras (and if the department does it obviously doesn’t enforce it), which means these officers probably won’t receive any discipline. Moreover, the officers involved will probably say the magical words, “We feared for our lives,” which will ensure that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) absolves them of any wrongdoing.

The only way body cameras can be useful is if departments implement policies that severely discipline officers for using nonfunctional (which would have to cover everything from the body cameras not being turned on to the batteries dying partway through a shift) body camera while on duty. So long as an officer can turn their camera off at will without repercussions they will only serve the purpose of collecting evidence against those who the police interact with. But I’ve said all of this before and I’m sure I’ll have to continue saying it until the day I die.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 17th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Murder Includes a Nice Severance Package

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Killing Philando Castile has been lucrative for Officer Yanez. Not only did he enjoy a paid vacation but he also received a generous severance package:

“A reasonable voluntary separation agreement brings to a close one part of this horrible tragedy. The City concluded this was the most thoughtful way to move forward and help the community-wide healing process proceed.”

According to a copy of the agreement supplied by the city’s attorney in the matter, Yanez will receive a lump sum of $48,500 minus applicable deductions and tax withholdings.

He also will receive payment for up to 600 hours of accrued personal leave. The agreement did not note how much time he has accrued.

Yanez was making $72,612.80 a year when he fatally shot Castile on July 6, 2016, during a traffic stop on Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights.

$48,500 plus 600 hours of accrued personal leave for murdering somebody is a pretty decent deal. Granted, he’ll have to hang low for a while and wait for this entire mess to blow over before another department will likely take him on.

When a police officer screws up they receive a paid vacation until whatever they did falls out of the news cycle. When they screw up more they might get fired and have to wait until their union forces their department to reinstate them. When they really screw up they are brought before a grand jury to be exonerated. When they really screw up they’re brought before a jury to be exonerated and given a nice severance package.

I must say, being a police officer and screwing up sounds like a good gig.

Survival Tips for Minnesotas for the Next Two Weeks

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For the next two weeks the road pirates are going to be increasing their fund raising efforts enforcement of the arbitrarily set speed limits:

On Wednesday, Zak, a lieutenant with the State Patrol, joined with officials from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to put on the demonstration to show how long it takes to stop while traveling at various speeds and how drivers’ reaction time goes down the faster they go. It comes as law enforcement from 300 agencies statewide begin a two-week speeding enforcement campaign from Friday through July 23.

[…]

The state’s crackdown on speeding coincides with a national effort and is paid for using funds allocated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While officers will be on the lookout for lead-footed drivers statewide, target teams will be stationed along routes known to see fast drivers, including I-494 in Bloomington, near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and on I-94 in the construction zone from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center.

Since the threat of violence against motorists is going to increase I feel the need to point out some survival tips.

  1. Don’t be black. Studies have shown that road pirates tend to respond more violently to black individuals.
  2. Use Waze to both report any road pirates and to receive warnings about any reported road pirates.
  3. Turn on your smartphone’s camera, preferably to livestream the stop, and lock the screen. You want to have a record of the entire stop in case you’re murdered but you don’t want the phone unlocked because the officer might decided to rummage through it for evidence of more crimes. While such a search may be illegal the Supreme Court has ruled that illegally collected evidence is admissible in court.
  4. If you are a permit holder remember that Minnesota law only requires you to disclose if you’re carrying a firearm to an officer if they specifically asks. Don’t volunteer such information. If you do the police officer may panic and fire multiple rounds into you at point blank range. If this happens the officer will be acquitted of any wrongdoing.
  5. During a traffic stop make sure you have your license and proof of insurance out before the officer gets to your window. Failing to do so will require you to move your hands when the police officer is at your window and that might spook them. Like any wild animal, a spooked police officer is unpredictable.
  6. Have both hands firmly of your steering wheel at all times. By firmly I mean gripping your steering wheel so hard that your knuckles turn white. Only consider moving from this position if the officer gives you a direct order to do so.
  7. Assume the most submissive position possible. Police officers like to feel dominant. If they feel that their authority is being questioned in any way they might “fear for their life” and shoot you dead.

While this list could be extended I’m going to keep it brief in the hopes that you’ll be able to remember every point if you’re pulled over. If you follow these tips your chances of surviving a police encounter should increase. If for some reason, say due to your genetic makeup, you’re unable to follow one or more of these tips, well…

Written by Christopher Burg

July 7th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The $3 Million “Justified” Shoot

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One of the more disgusting claims being made by cop apologists is that the jury’s ruling in the Yanez case proves that the officer’s killing of Castile was justified. The jury only ruled that Yanez wasn’t guilty of the crimes the prosecutor brought against him. That’s different from ruling that his actions were justified. Now we have evidence that even the municipal government of St. Anthony thought the actions of its office were in error. How much in error? Roughly $3 million in error:

The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

The settlement to be paid to Valerie Castile will avoid a federal wrongful death lawsuit stemming from Philando Castile’s death. The 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker was killed by St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop July 6 after Castile told the officer he was armed. Castile had a permit for his gun.

Valerie Castile was probably smart in taking this settlement after seeing how the court system works. Between the prosecution being able to select charges based on whether or not they want to win or lose a case; the jury selection process, which usually results in the jury box being stacked with people of low intelligence and high susceptibility to manipulation; the judge’s almost absolute authority in the courtroom; and various other little tricks the State has available to ensure a jury trial goes the way it wants, jury trials end up being a mechanism for the State to reinforce its own policies by claiming they were reviewed by an impartial body.

If Valerie pursued a federal lawsuit, it’s likely she would end up receiving nothing since the State’s courts have an unsurprising tendency to side with the State.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2017 at 10:30 am

It’s Not Your Property, Serf

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Can you own property in the United States of America? Many people would make the mistake of answering yes to that question. But the United States itself as well as the individual states that make it up are democracies and democracies mean that individuals cannot own property. At best an individual can lease property from the government. If, for example, an individual fails to pay their rent property taxes the government will revoke their lease. And it’s not even a contractual lease because the rules can change whenever an empowered voting body votes to alter the terms:

Tom Erickson feels like someone is taking a bite out of his front yard.

A 12-foot-wide strip of lawn will become part of a multi-use path, which he says will reduce his front yard by about a third.

“It’s incredible to me that they can just grab your property,” said Erickson, who is fighting Woodbury city officials over the plan to create the path along Commonwealth Avenue.

Mr. Erickson paid a large buy in for the privilege to lease the property he currently lives on. He probably thought that his buy in entitled him to perpetual use of the same amount of property so long as he paid his rent on time. But the city officials voted to change the terms of his lease so now he’ll likely have to pay the same amount of rent (or more if the officials decide the trail increases his property value) for only two-thirds the amount of property.

What Mr. Erickson is experiencing isn’t unusual. City governments are constantly voting to change the terms of their denizens’ leases. Oftentimes they completely invalidate leases so they can be transferred to somebody else (this is usually referred to by the euphemism “eminent domain”). So Mr. Erickson should be grateful that he is being allowed to continue living on any of the property he’s currently paying rent for.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 23rd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Taxes Them Again

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Whenever you mention privatizing roads some statist inevitably says, “But then we’ll all have to pay tolls to use the roads!” This is an especially funny criticism because many states including Illinois, Florida, and Texas charge tolls. And now Minnesota is looking to do the same thing:

State lawmakers have given Minnesota transportation officials an assignment: Study the feasibility of toll roads here and report back by January.

Were this to turn into a law Minnesotans would not only have to continue paying property taxes for local roads and gas taxes for state roads but they would also have to pay a toll on various roads. That is where privatized and government roads differ. On privatized roads you may have to pay a toll. However, unlike tolled government roads, you aren’t required to pay a tax in addition to the toll.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Leniency Will Not Be Tolerated

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Justice is supposed to be a mechanism for righting wrongs but when it’s controlled by the State is becomes a mechanism for expropriating wealth and viciously punishing the disobedient. At one point in time some common sense could be exercised even within the justice systems of the United States. Nowadays common sense has been almost entirely removed from the courts by minimum sentencing laws, lying to juries about their rights and duties, etc. And when those mechanisms fail there is always the overriding ability of higher courts.

Here in Minnesota a man had the poor judgement to get drunk and tweet threats at the St. Paul Police Department over a speeding ticket (that wasn’t even issued by that department). Not surprisingly, charges were pressed against the man. As luck would have it, the man in the muumuu who oversaw his case wasn’t entirely vicious:

He wrote a letter of apology to the police and pleaded guilty to making terroristic threats and under the state’s sentencing guidelines, he should’ve been sentenced to 12 months and one day in jail. His attorney asked for a 365 day sentence because that would convert his crime from a felony to a gross misdemeanor.

“I don’t think you had the intent to do it,” the judge said at sentencing. “You didn’t have a gun. You weren’t going out to try to search where they live. You weren’t going to make a planned attack. You just wanted to send a tweet out to affect as many people as you can, and that worked.”

“To give you a felony sentence . . . at your age . . . I don’t feel in balance that that’s in the best interests of society. We got too many people on probation [for] felonies already, and . . . I can accomplish much of the same thing on a . . . durational departure on a gross misdemeanor,” Dakota County Judge Timothy McManus said.

And that’s the sentence Rund got — a misdemeanor: four months in jail, the rest of the one-year sentence stayed, three years probation, no booze.

Since it’s obvious the man had neither the intent or ability to carry out his threats, I don’t find any jail time to be appropriate. But jail time was inevitable so I’m happy that the judge saw that a felony was entirely out of line for this kind of behavior. However, the common sense he tried to introduce to the system was squashed by a higher court:

Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court said the judge shouldn’t have done that, ruling that none of the reasons for departing from the state’s guidelines for the crime are allowed under the law.

Another travesty of justice committed.

Punishments should fit crimes. A felony charge is often a life ruining event since it can render an individual almost unemployable and it strips them of many of their so-called rights. Getting drunk and tweeting unrealizable threats isn’t a life ruining act and therefore should not result in a life ruining punishment. The first judge understood that but the “justice” system was unwilling to let that kind of good judgement stand.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 8th, 2017 at 10:30 am

That’s a Shame

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Here in Minnesota we have a part time Legislature. With the exception of special sessions, the Legislature is constitutionally limited to meeting for a total of 120 days every two years. While that sounds pretty sweet it means that we deal with a lot of special sessions and, more annoyingly, have to hear about a bunch of political drama at the beginning of the year.

This year, as with most years, the biggest political drama involves how the government is planning to spend other people’s money. After the usual backroom deals and partisan showmanship the Republicans and Democrats came to an agreement on an overall budget. The budget was signed by Mark Dayton but he failed to sign the bill that would fund the Legislature itself:

Gov. Mark Dayton invited a high-stakes constitutional clash Tuesday by signing bills that will fund the executive branch while eliminating funding for the Legislature, leaving lawmakers with dwindling cash to continue operations.

[…]

The Senate budget is about $30 million and is carrying a reserve of about $3 million, Gazelka said.

The House budget is roughly twice that and has a reserve of about $7 million, Daudt said, meaning both chambers would run out of money in a matter of months — especially in the case of a protracted legal fight. Most of the money to fund the Legislature goes to pay lawmakers and the staff required to do their work.

The Legislature won’t be receiving other people’s money? That’s a shame. Whatever will us Minnesotans do without our lawmakers being paid to create new ways to oppress us?

Written by Christopher Burg

May 31st, 2017 at 10:00 am

State Representative was Taxed, Didn’t Enjoy the Experience

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Last week a Minnesota state representative got a taste of his own medicine didn’t seem to care for the taste all that much:

Police are investigating after a state representative reported being robbed at gunpoint on a St. Paul street Thursday night.

Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, was not injured in the robbery at Grand Avenue and Milton Street, police said.

“A gentleman approached me and he had a gun out, asked for my wallet and my phone and I agreed. And I was able to walk away safely,” Smith said Friday morning.

So Mr. Smith was taxed.

Honestly, I can’t bring myself to have many ill feelings towards the mugger. Whether intentionally or accidentally, the mugger found the one person who deserves to be mugged, another person who professionally mugs people. It’s kind of like inter-gang warfare. If gangs keep their violence to themselves I don’t care all that much.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 24th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

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