News Releases

Are Police Targeting People Who Take and Distribute Damning Videos of Them?

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Untitled design

The Daily Beast reports: “The owner of the convenience store where Alton Sterling was killed last week by cops alleges in a lawsuit that police stole surveillance video from his shop, confiscated his cell phone, and locked him inside a car for the next four hours.

“Abdullah Muhlafi, proprietor of the Triple S Mart, saw police confront and kill Sterling who was selling CDs with his permission in the front parking lot last Tuesday night. Muhlafi recorded part of the incident in footage he gave The Daily Beast last week that shows Sterling did not have a weapon in his hand when Officer Howie Lake shouted ‘gun!’ and Officer Blane Salamoni fired six shots into his chest.

“Muflahi claims in a lawsuit filed Monday in Baton Rouge district court that after Salamoni killed Sterling, he immediately told responding officers Lt. Robert Cook and Officer Timothy Ballard to confiscate the ‘entire store security system’ and detain him.”

CARLOS MILLER, carlosmille[at]pinac.org, @pinacnews
Miller is author of The Citizen Journalist Photography Handbook and founder of the website PhotographyIsNotACrime.com — which regularly posts videos of wrongdoing by law enforcement. He recently broke the story: “Man who Posted Alton Sterling Shooting Video Arrested 24 Hours Later on Fabricated Charges,” which states: “The man who made the video of the Alton Sterling shooting death go viral, one of two brutal videos from two states that sparked a national outrage and led to the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers during an anti-police brutality protest Thursday — was arrested 24 hours later [Note: PhotographyIsNotACrime.com is experiencing server problems; the story is also available on AlterNet. Also see Photography Is Not a Crime’s page on Facebook.com]

“Chris LeDay believes it was an act of retaliation.

“Considering police handcuffed and leg-shackled him after accusing him of assault and battery — only to jail him overnight for unpaid traffic fines — it certainly appears that way.

“Especially considering his arrest took place 24 hours after he had posted the video on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where it instantly went viral.

“LeDay, 34, lives in Georgia, but was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the shooting took place early Tuesday morning, so he learned of the video through friends back home but it wasn’t getting much exposure.

Miller said today: “Since when does a person with unpaid traffic tickets get arrested at his place of work that he did not even drive to, then get led away in handcuffs and leg shackles?

“The fact that his arrest took place 24 hours after he posted a video that exposed two Baton Rouge cops killing a man who was already restrained shows this is likely a deliberate act of retaliation.

“Cases like this should be investigated by media and political figures who say they want reform: Who gave the order for the arrest and why?”

See Photography Is Not a Crime’s side-by-side videos of both videos of the killing of Alton Sterling.

Also see: “NYPD Arrest Ramsey Orta, Man who Recorded Eric Garner Death, for Recording too Closely” and — from last week: “The man who filmed Eric Garner’s death just accepted a plea deal that puts him in prison for 4 years.”

Dem Platform “Colonialism” and NATO’s “Provocations”

Untitled design (7)

RANIA KHALEK,
[in D.C. area] raniakhalek[at]gmail.com,
@RaniaKhalek
CommonDreams.org reports in “Pro-Fracking, Pro-Colonialism, Anti-Single Payer: Dem Platform Disappoints,” that: “At the committee’s final meeting in Orlando, Florida, supporters of Hillary Clinton successfully voted down amendments supporting a single payer healthcare system, a nationwide ban on fracking, as well as an amendment objecting to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and characterizing the settlements as illegal.”

Khalek, associate editor at the ElectronicIntifada.net and co-host of the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast, live tweeted much of the meeting, writing: “Cornel West: ‘We’re in same condition party was in 80yrs ago when they didn’t wanna deal w Jim Crow.'” “Hillary supporter argues against universal health care in #DemPlatform bc it would disrespect Obama’s accomplishment with ACA. I’m floored.” “Room is chanting ‘single payer now!’ Amendment defeated, no universal healthcare in #demplatform. We wouldn’t wanna hurt Obama’s feelings.”

Khalek recently wrote the piece “Democrats try to bury Palestine in middle of the night,” about Democratic platform committee meetings.

ALICE SLATER, alicejslater[at]gmail.com
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She said today: “Having met in Warsaw this weekend, the NATO communique issued by the heads of state reflected no change in its belligerent policy towards Russia.”

Slater noted a series of aggressive actions from NATO: “In 2002, the U.S. government withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty we had signed with the Soviets in 1972 and put new missile bases in Poland and Romania.” She recently co-wrote a piece “Time to Rethink NATO” in the Hill: “Although NATO took no military action during the Cold War, during the first Gulf War it deployed forces for the first time, and then acted unlawfully when it bombed Yugoslavia without UN authorization. The UN Charter, devoted to preventing ‘the scourge of war,’ allows nations to the use force only in self-defense when under threat of imminent attack, or when authorized by the Security Council, neither of which had occurred when NATO bombed Yugoslavia in the 1999 Kosovo war. Since then NATO has taken part in many military actions, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. But this year it has been particularly aggressive and provocative, conducting massive military maneuvers on Russia’s borders.”

Escalating Militarization of Police

militarization

PETER KRASKA, peter.kraska[at]eku.edu
Kraska is professor and chair of Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Justice Studies Eastern Kentucky University. He is considered a leading expert on police militarization and is author or co-author of numerous books including Militarizing The American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and Police.

See his tweets about latest developments via @Peterkraska: “Steady chorus on MSM about how police reforms take time. BS. Requires putting real reforms into place. This Never happened!” “Folks talked about the Us vs. Them before Dallas. They ain’t seen nothing compared to what’s coming. I warned WH commission — deaf ears.” See interview with Kraska: “White House Commission May End Up Training More Cops to Use Military Weapons.”

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal[at]gmail.com, @marjoriecohnhttp://marjoriecohn.com/
Cohn is professor emerita at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and editor and contributor to Drones and Targeted Killings: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

She is quoted in the just published piece by CommonDreams.org: “Legal Experts Raise Alarm over Shocking Use of ‘Killer Robot’ in Dallas.” Says Cohn: “Police cannot use deadly force unless there’s an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to them or other people. If the suspect was holed up in a parking garage and there was nobody in immediate danger from him, the police could have waited him out. They should have arrested him and brought him to trial.

“Due process is not just enshrined in our constitution, it’s also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the U.S. has ratified, making it part of U.S. law. …

“The same way that the Obama administration uses unmanned drones in other countries to kill people instead of arresting them and bringing them to trial, we see a similar situation here. … As the technology develops, we’re going to see the increasing use of military weapons in the hands of the police, which is going to inflame and exacerbate a very volatile situation.”

Police Killings

dallas

Rev. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER, gshagler[at]verizon.net, @graylanhagler
Hagler is senior pastor at the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. and chairperson of Faith Strategies. The church just had a community meeting on police violence and community engagement.

KATHY KELLY, kathy[at]vcnv.org, @voiceinwild
Kelly is co-coordinator of the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence. President Barack Obama at a NATO meeting in Warsaw decried the violence in Dallas while at at meeting of the military alliance. Kelly writes regularly on issues of violence and peace. She recently wrote the piece “Of Lethal Drones and Police Shootings.” Her books include Other Lands Have Dreams: Letters From Pekin Prison.

MATTHEW FOGG, matthew.fogg[at]leap.cc, @marshalfogg
Fogg is a retired Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal. He won the largest ever ($4 million) employee Title VII discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.

Democratic Platform on Health Care

health care

The full Democratic Party platform committee is meeting in Orlando on Friday and Saturday.

PILAR SCHIAVO,
pschiavo[at]calnurses.org,
@californiaglow
Pilar Schiavo is an organizer for National Nurses United. Her work is focused on replacing private health insurance with improved Medicare through a program called Medicare for All.

Schiavo stated in testimony for the DNC platform that, “the ACA had great gains: ending lifetime limits and pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance longer. These gains have had a great impact on Americans. Yet nearly 30 million Americans remain uninsured and just over that are underinsured because they can’t afford their co-pays, deductibles, and premiums. It’s no wonder that the majority of U.S. bankruptcies are from medical expenses. The majority of those were people who actually have insurance.

“Currently inequity is hard-wired into our health care system. We continue to see wide disparities based on gender, race, age, where you live, and what you can afford.

“Luckily, nurses have the cure — Improved Medicare for All. It provides a single standard of quality care, freedom to choose any doctor — while saving trillions of dollars. Plus access isn’t based on the size of your wallet.

“Nurses believe you can’t put a price tag on human life — but I do want to share one key number: $1 trillion. That’s what we save with Medicare for All over 10 years. That could instead be invested in free tuition, fighting climate change, jobs and infrastructure projects.

GERALDINE SCHAUMBURG, via Pilar Schiavo
Schaumburg is an RN with National Nurses United who submitted testimony to the DNC platform in Phoenix, AZ. She spoke of her experience being an advocate for her patients, but also as a patient herself after she had to use her life savings to pay her medical bills. She also described how her health care was so costly that she couldn’t afford necessary lab work and medicine. Because of this, she had to drive to Mexico to get affordable care. She can now afford to see a doctor, pay for her medication and get her required lab work and tests at one-fifth what she would pay in the United States — and that is keeping her alive.

Schaumburg wrote in her testimony: “In America we have access to health insurance — not access to health care. It is a broken system and one which cannot be tweaked. It is broken when we can’t access health care because of our inability to pay. It is broken because when you marry a for-profit insurance system with health care, you get a system based on denying and reducing any access to health care. America is thus ranked 39th in the world for medical outcomes and medical care, while paying an average of two and a half times as much as other major countries. 29 million people have no insurance and twice that number of people are underinsured, like me.”

WaPo on Hillary’s Attempted “Sister Souljah Moment” on Charter Schools

chillary

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Hillary Clinton addressed the governing body of the 3-million member National Education Association. Although she received their overwhelming vote of endorsement for the general election, she also heard boos as she outlined elements of her education platform.

KEVIN KUMASHIRO,
kkumashiro[at]usfca.edu,
@kevinkumashiro
Kumashiro is dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco, and recipient of the 2016 Social Justice in Education Award from the American Educational Research Association.

He said today: “Educators are skeptical. Journalists and bloggers have spotlighted Clinton’s close ties with Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and others of the wealthiest drivers of modern-day educational policy and practice who have reframed the conversation from schooling as a public good to schooling as a business or commodity. Among her closest advisors are those who previously advocated the appointment of Arne Duncan, whose legacy as Obama’s Secretary of Education is the magnification, not reversal, of some of the most destructive elements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind.

“Not surprisingly, the optimism among many within and alongside NEA who supported Obama in 2008 is greatly tempered by the acknowledgment that, during the past eight years, we have seen a willful ignoring of educational research. Instead, our nation followed the seductive rhetoric that the solution lies in ‘higher standards’ and ‘accountability’ in the form of high-stakes testing, privatization and marketization, the de-professionalization of teaching, and the closing or take-over of schools and subsequent fracturing of the communities they serve. In reality, the gap between the schools for the 1% and the schools for all others has only widened, even as our leaders claimed to be serving those who struggle the most. Thus the booing of any priorities in Clinton’s platform that even hint at a continuation of failed ‘reforms.

“Clinton’s presidency will have the opportunity to defy the rhetoric that has become so commonsensical today as to be embraced by both political parties. But doing so requires working collectively with educators and educational researchers to craft a radically different vision and plan for what schools can and should be. She told NEA that educators will “always have a seat at the table,” and we therefore must accept this invitation to shape the nation’s vision, platform, and path forward for a better education system.”

Clinton, Trump and the “War on Terror” Hub

norman

The Overseas Hub for Perpetual War
Awaits Orders from Clinton or Trump

The Nation magazine today published an in-depth probe of “the overseas hub for America’s ‘war on terror’” — the Ramstein Air Base in southwest Germany — a huge facility that is crucial for the Pentagon’s expanding air war in numerous countries.

“Few Americans are aware of what’s actually going on at Ramstein, but its mix of vast military activity is based on the assumption that large-scale U.S. war-making has no end in sight,” the writer of the article, Norman Solomon, said today. “Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have given clear indications of wanting to double down on war policies that rely on massive air power and depend on Ramstein.”

The article says that Ramstein is “the most important Air Force base abroad, operating as a kind of grand central station for airborne war — whether relaying video images of drone targets in Afghanistan to remote pilots with trigger fingers in Nevada, or airlifting special-ops units on missions to Africa, or transporting munitions for airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.”

To read the article on The Nation website, click here.

Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and coordinator of its ExposeFacts program. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive[at]gmail.com

Chilcot Report Avoids Smoking Gun

Untitled design (6)

While many are calling the just-released British Iraq Inquiry — the so-called Chilcot Report — a “damning indictment” of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and others who led the way to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the report contains stark gaps.

Particularly glaring is that there is no mention of Katharine Gun in the 2.6 million-word report. She exposed U.S. and British spying against United Nations Security Council members prior to the invasion.

While President George W. Bush was claiming during the buildup to the invasion that “we are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq” — in fact, the U.S. government was going to great lengths to ensure war.

Shortly before the invasion, as the UN was considering a second resolution authorizing war, Katharine Gun, who worked at the Government Communications Headquarters — the British equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency — exposed a damning NSA memo.

The memo talked of “mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council” to get an “edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals.”

Her exposure of the effort helped scuttle efforts for a UN resolution authorizing war. The U.S. and Britain proceeded with the “shock and awe” bombing campaign and invasion without such approval.

Katharine Gun faced years in prison for exposing the document, but after she mounted a legal defense that demanded to see legal advice Blair had received regarding the invasion of Iraq, the charges against her were dropped.

A piece by Katharine Gun is set to appear tomorrow in the British Guardian.

KATHARINE GUN, kthgun[at]yahoo.co.uk

For background see: “Katharine Gun’s Risky Truth-telling,” by Sam Husseini (from 2014) and “For Telling the Truth,” by Norman Solomon (from 2003). Also see: accuracy.org/gun.

The Institute for Public Accuracy issued several news releases prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq exposing false U.S. government claims, including: “U.S. Credibility Problems,” and “White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit.

WikiLeaks notes: “Cable reveals #Chilcot report fixed to ‘protect U.S. interests.'”

Corbyn Coup Attempts and the Chilcot Iraq War Report

Untitled design (5)

The British Independent writes in: “Jeremy Corbyn Labour coup designed to stop him ‘calling for Tony Blair’s head’ after Chilcot report, says Alex Salmond” that “Salmond has appeared to suggest the internal Labour party coup against Jeremy Corbyn is connected with the publication of the long-awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq war.

“His comments come just three days before the publication of the inquiry into the 2003 Iraq war. Earlier reports have suggested Mr. Blair, the former Prime Minister, and his contemporaries will be savaged in an ‘absolutely brutal’ verdict.

“In an article for the Herald, the former Scottish First Minister wrote: ‘It would be a mistake to believe that Chilcot and current events are entirely unconnected. The link is through the Labour Party.'”

The Chilcot report is slated for release on Wednesday. Just a little over a month ago, the Independent reported: “Jeremy Corbyn ‘still prepared to call for Tony Blair war crimes investigation.'” Meanwhile, a recent bombing in Baghdad just killed more than 200 people.

The Washington Post reports: “Britain’s Nigel Farage resigns as leader of right-wing party in wake of Brexit vote.” Prime Minister David Cameron stated just after the Brexit vote that he would be resigning.

ASA WINSTANLEY, mail[at]asawinstanley.com@AsaWinstanley
Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London and is associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. He wrote the piece “How Israel lobby manufactured U.K. Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis” and has written extensively on the rise of Corbyn.

TOM BARKER, tom.p.barker[at]googlemail.com
Barker recently wrote the piece “Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members” for CounterPunch. He is an independent journalist and PhD student in aesthetics and politics. See his papers, including: “The War for the British Labour Party: Re-selecting Socialism,” and “Corbyn’s Enemies Within: Working Class Heroes or Right-wing Populists,” at durham.academia.edu/ThomasBarker.

He said today: “Rather than taking the fight to a weak and divided Conservative Party, 172 MPs and 600+ councillors in the Labour Party have joined forces with right-wing and liberal media to take pot-shots at Corbyn. They claim that Corbyn is ‘unelectable,’ despite winning the biggest mandate of any party leader in British history. Even leaders proven to be ‘unelectable,’ such as Ed Miliband, are now calling for Corbyn to resign.

“Right-wingers within the Labour Party would rather sabotage their own party than see it elected with a socialist leader.

“This latest round of attacks on Corbyn’s leadership also coincide with the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry, set to be announced later this week. Because many Blairite MPs voted in favour of the war in Iraq, they would have liked to have removed Corbyn before the report was made public and their leader (Tony Blair) is completely discredited.

“Corbyn was thrust into office by a popular movement against austerity, mostly from outside of the Labour Party. But since then, he has been trapped behind enemy lines, with an overwhelmingly hostile Parliamentary Labour Party, committed to austerity and war.

“Now they are going for the kill.

“It should now be clear to everyone that the strategy of pacifying the Labour right has failed and we need to step up the fight back.

“The only way to defeat Blairism is to harness and build on the anti-austerity movement that got Corbyn elected.

“Corbyn should call a conference of all anti-austerity forces — inside and outside of the Labour Party — that want to support him. This should include affiliated and unaffiliated trade unions, anti-cuts organisations, the organisations involved in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition such as the Socialist Party, anti-austerity Greens, and others.

“This would be a real step to building a movement capable of defeating the right, and would also be a step towards creating a genuinely anti-austerity Labour Party, organised on a democratic federal basis, in which all socialists can be involved, including those like the Socialist Party expelled by the Blairites in the past.”

Administration Accused of Whitewashing Drone Killings

drone1

The New York Times reports: “Partially lifting the secrecy that has cloaked one of the United States’s most contentious tactics for fighting terrorists, the Obama administration on Friday said that it believed that airstrikes it has conducted outside conventional war zones like Afghanistan have killed 64 to 116 civilian bystanders and about 2,500 members of terrorist groups.

“The official civilian death count is hundreds lower than most estimates compiled by independent organizations that try to track what the government calls targeted killings in chaotic places like tribal Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. …

“In a seeming acknowledgment that the long-anticipated disclosure would be greeted with skepticism by drone critics, the administration released the numbers on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend.”

The British Guardian just published the article “Former U.S. drone technicians speak out against programme in Brussels.”

JENNIFER GIBSON, via Katherine Oshea, katherine.oshea[at]reprieve.org, @reprieve
Gibson is an attorney at Reprieve, an international human rights organization that has studied U.S. government drone killings. She said today: “For three years now, President Obama has been promising to shed light on the CIA’s covert drone program. Today, he had a golden opportunity to do just that. Instead, he chose to do the opposite. He published numbers that are hundreds lower than even the lowest estimates by independent organizations.

“The only thing those numbers tell us is that this Administration simply doesn’t know who it has killed. Back in 2011, it claimed to have killed ‘only 60′ civilians. Does it really expect us to believe that it has killed only four more civilians since then, despite taking hundreds more strikes?

“The most glaring absence from this announcement are the names and faces of those civilians that have been killed. Today’s announcement tells us nothing about 14-year-old Faheem Qureshi, who was severely injured in Obama’s first drone strike. Reports suggest Obama knew he had killed civilians that day. Is Faheem’s family in those numbers? They make no mention of nine-year old Nabila Rehman. She traveled all the way to the U.S. in 2013 to try to get answers about the strike that killed her grandmother, Mamana Bibi. Will she now get the same apology as an American and Italian hostage killed in another strike?

“We need real transparency and accountability, not more smoke and mirrors. It’s past time that there be an independent investigation into just who the U.S. drone program has killed and what the rules and legal framework were for doing so. Only then can we begin to grapple with the effectiveness of this program and whether it really has made us any safer.”

Reprieve released a statement which also quoted Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an engineer from Yemen whose family members were mistakenly killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2012, who said: “The Obama administration is wrong to think that publishing statistics makes up for the pain his secret drone program has caused families like mine.

“It’s no surprise that the White House didn’t bother to consult the victims of drone strikes before publishing these figures — the U.S. has never even acknowledged its role in the deaths of our loved ones. My brother-in-law was an Imam who was leading a campaign against Al Qaeda’s ideology — particularly their targeting of young boys. He spoke out against Al Qaeda in his sermons just few days before he was assassinated. We all expected that one day he would be killed by Al Qaeda, but instead he was killed by a U.S. drone.

“Obama’s secret drone wars have also killed schoolteachers, policemen, women and children. What we need from President Obama is an apology — and a promise that these terrible crimes will not be repeated.”

« Previous PageNext Page »