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"I don't like this book because it don't got know pictures" Chief Rhorerer

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”
“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

Police Reform Is Impossible in America

Donovan X. Ramsey

In recent weeks, the White House has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening "community policing" around the country. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has coalesced around the same theme, releasing a report days ago with recommendations for community policing measures to be adopted nationally. The suggestions for building better "relationships" and boosting "trust" are comprehensive but, for a national crisis brought on by the killing of unarmed black people, there's one thing conspicuously absent from the public policy solutions: the acknowledgement of racism.
The New Testament says that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Well, in the absence of data to support excessive policing and police brutality in communities of color, it appears that America has just stepped out on faith.
Rates of violent crime are down and have been falling sharply for more than 20 years. In fact, since the early 90s, the national homicide rate has fallen by 51 percent, forcible rapes have declined by 35 percent, robberies have decreased by 56 percent and the rate of aggravated assault has been cut by 45 percent. And black Americans have contributed to the decline. For blacks, rates of robbery and serious property offenses are the lowest they've been in more than 40 years. Murder, rape, assault, domestic violence—all down.
America is safer than it was 20 years ago. Really. Still, white Americans (and many black Americans, for that matter) believe there's more violent crime than there actually is, and that blacks are largely responsible for it.
In fact, nearly half of white Americans polled believe that violent crime has increased in the last 20 years. Another 13 percent believe that it's stayed the same. Less than a quarter of whites realize there are less violent crimes today than there were in the 90s when the crack epidemic and gang violence were at their height. Even more, whites overestimate just how much blacks are involved in "serious street crime" and, on average, believe that black people commit a larger proportion of crime than whites do. According to a 2012 study by researchers at the University at Albany, whites significantly overestimate the share of armed robberies, break-ins and drug crimes committed by black people.
So, this is how we get to Rudy Giuliani, a man once in charge of the nation's largest police force, insisting that, "White police officers wouldn't be [in black neighborhoods] if [blacks] weren't killing each other" as a justification for the killings of unarmed black people. This is how we get Stop and Frisk policies, Tamir Rice shot dead in a park, John Crawford shot dead in Wal-Mart, Akai Gurley shot dead in a dark stairwell, Miriam Carey shot dead outside the White House (the list goes on and on.) And this is also how we get a grand jury reviewing video of Eric Garner choked to death and seeing no evidence of a crime. Each is an example of racist policing based on the assumption of threat.
In a country that has identified black people as its criminal element, public safety (and perceived security) is more tied to the suppression of blacks than it is to the suppression of crime. And as long as the public insists on its myth of black criminality—almost as an article of faith—police practices will be impossible to reform.
In the summer of 1963, Boston public television aired "The Negro and the American Promise," an hour-long examination of racial tension in America featuring interviews with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin conducted by renowned psychologist Kenneth Clark. During his segment, Baldwin delivered a blistering indictment of the white American psyche that is essential to untangle the myth of black criminality and its serviceability to American identity and feelings of security.
In a country that has identified black people as its criminal element, public safety (and perceived security) is more tied to the suppression of blacks than it is to the suppression of crime. And as long as the public insists on its myth of black criminality—almost as an article of faith—police practices will be impossible to reform.
"What white people have to do," Baldwin offers, "is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a Nigger in the first place...If I'm not a Nigger here and you invented him, you, the white people, invented him, then you've got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that."
"Nigger" as used by Baldwin is, of course, more than an epithet. It is arguably the very articulation of racism in this country. Its utterance summons a phantom that is as essential to American identity as the American Dream and the Pursuit of Happiness. So, when Baldwin talks about the creation of the Nigger, he's speaking to more than the word. He is assigning responsibility for a construct that has permeated every single American institution, one essential to the nation's founding and development.
Willie Horton, for example, was not the Nigger but it was conjured out of his cold stare, from OJ's courtroom smirk and even seen by some in the form of our "contemptuous" attorney general. Darren Wilson invoked the Nigger quite adeptly in his testimony before a grand jury to convince them it was necessary to shoot an unarmed Michael Brown at least six times.
"He looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that's how angry he looked," said Wilson about the moments before he fired the first bullet into Brown.
"At this point," Wilson said, "it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I'm shooting at him. And the face he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn't even there, I wasn't even anything in his way."
More bullets. Then the final shot into Brown's head from 148 feet away.
"And then when it went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone, it was gone, I mean, I knew he stopped, the threat was stopped," said Wilson.
A grand jury believed it. A great many Americans find the story believable—most without ever even having to hear it from Wilson's lips or read the transcript.
So, why does America need such a narrative? The question is something of a psychoanalytic approach to our country's policing problem but one that's been gaining traction in the media as of late. Ta-Nehisi Coates gestured toward it in his column for The Atlantic weeks ago. He wrote:
"...And knowing that identity is not simply defined by what we are, but what we are not, can it be that our police help give us identity, by branding one class of people as miscreants, outsiders, and thugs, and thus establishing some other class as upstanding, as citizens, as Americans? Does the feeling of being besieged serve some actual purpose?"
I am not white. The Nigger has never been of any use to me so, unfortunately, I don't think the question is mine to answer. I do have my theories, though. I imagine, like Coates seems to, that identifying blacks as this country's criminals helps white Americans dismiss their own criminal activity as incidental (teenage drug use, insider trading, mass shootings, etc). But I think it also must help to organize their fear in an uncertain world. Like "Goldstein" in Orwell's 1984, perhaps the Nigger gives white Americans something specific to fear so they don't fear everything—including themselves and each other.
Ultimately, the contrast between the reality of black crime and this nation's perception of it reveals just how invested in the myth of the Nigger America actually is. And, as protesters push forward and leaders federal and local circle around "community policing" as reform, Baldwin's question will only become more urgent. White Americans of good conscience will have to confront their boogeyman head on. Because the truth is that there can be no "community policing" in black communities without engaging the community, without engaging black people and our distortion in the American imagination.
Donovan X. Ramsey is a multimedia journalist whose work puts an emphasis on race and class. Donovan has written for outlets including MSNBC, Ebony, and TheGrio, among others. He's currently a Demos Emerging Voices fellow.

An Elite That Has Lost the Impulse to Police Itself

The DEA secretly instituted a mass surveillance program—and almost no one objected, even after it was revealed.
Few in public life are as contemptuous of privacy as Stewart Baker, an attorney whose career has included stints at the NSA and Department of Homeland Security. He is a staunch defender of most every U.S. government surveillance effort. As Americans expressed alarm at the scope of spying revealed by Edward Snowden, he delivered a speech asserting that they were engaged in an irrational moral panic.
But even this man, who believes that bulk, warrantless surveillance is fine under the Fourth Amendment, acknowledges that the Drug Enforcement Administration deserves censure for secretly operating surveillance programs. In fact, he believes that the DEA's behavior was egregious enough that the public's failure to respond more forcefully calls the value of transparency itself into question.
Yet he isn't personally condemning the DEA.
* * *
One of my disillusionments is the failure of governing elites to speak out against one another's bad behavior. An extreme example is the CIA's torture of prisoners, which involved the complicity of lawyers, medical professionals, and legislators, many of whom kept their mouths shut even after interrogations ending in death. Some governing elites still work to ensure that no torturers will be punished.
I want to look at a much less extreme example, because I think it is more typical. The person I'll focus on is not a villain. But I do think he is unwittingly failing a civic obligation, despite his admirable willingness to participate in public life. 
Baker attended law school at UCLA, clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and served as the NSA's general counsel from 1992 to 1994. Before and after his time in government, he built a private practice at the law firm Steptoe and Johnson, focusing on national security, electronic surveillance, export control encryption, and more. He also served as an assistant secretary at the DHS under President George W. Bush. And while he's since returned to private practice, he's an active participant in public discourse surrounding NSA surveillance. I've seen him speak at The Aspen Ideas Festival and UCLA law school. He hosts a podcast for his law firm and blogs at Lawfare and the Washington Post.
Almost always, I disagree with him, but that is irrelevant here. He believes that intrusive government spying is both legal and necessary for maintaining national security. I dispute his logic, but cannot fault him for voicing his conclusions. What I do fault is his failure to forcefully object to the U.S. government's behavior on certain rare occasions when even he thinks it has gone too far.
So we return to recent revelations that the Drug Enforcement Administration has spent many years engaged in the bulk collection of both phone records and license plate data.
These news stories have been discussed on successive episodes of Baker's podcast, where he makes clear his position that these tactics shouldn't be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Unlike Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, who has expressed discomfort with prevailing executive branch logic, Baker believes that civil liberties ought to be safeguarded by limiting how metadata in the government's hands can be used, not what can be collected, and that even a nationwide system of cameras that snap photos of license plates to track the movement of cars isn't a violation of Constitutional privacy rights since everyone puts their license plate on their bumper for anyone to see.
Baker also recognizes that even if these practices are constitutional, that doesn't resolve the separate questions of 1) whether they are prudent policy, and 2) whether it was appropriate for the DEA to implement them in secret. That's where I want to focus. On Baker's podcast, Rebecca Richards, the Director of Privacy and Civil Liberties at the NSA, discussed that surveillance agency's need to maintain some secrecy even as it offers the American public an undefined degree of transparency.
In that context, Baker said, "My faith in transparency is shaken by these DEA stories. They hid this not even classified—this was law enforcement sensitive—program, they kept it hidden for 25 years, it was a mass collection of data in support of a legal regime that is deeply controversial. Colorado has opted out of the regime. And the reaction, unlike the reaction to NSA, has been, 'Oh yeah, cops do that.'"
That aside struck me so powerfully.
Out of nowhere, Baker adeptly summed up why the DEA's behavior was objectionable: In a country meant to be governed by the people, it hid a program with huge privacy implications, knowing full well that it would be deeply controversial, despite the fact that it wasn't classified or vital to national security. That was objectionable, even if one thinks the program was legal and effective.
As noted, Baker went a bit farther. For him, the very value of transparency got called into question when no outcry was sparked even by a program with all those strikes against it.
While I agree that these revelations about the DEA made barely a blip in the news, and that they ought to have sparked a bigger outcry, objections have been raised. Last month, I wrote that the DEA's behavior was "an affront to self-government." The American Civil Liberties Union said, "It’s unconscionable that technology with such far-reaching potential would be deployed in such secrecy. People might disagree about exactly how we should use such powerful surveillance technologies, but it should be democratically decided, it shouldn’t be done in secret.’’
The sorts of writers, publications, and civil liberties organizations that typically object to government overreach undertaken in secret sounded all the usual alarms.
But Baker didn't forcefully object to the DEA's behavior at the Washington Post or Lawfare. He didn't use his significant influence among elites to publicly shame the DEA. He hasn't championed ways to ensure such anti-democratic behavior doesn't happen in the future, unless he has undertaken such a campaign in secret. And in his silence, he has behaved much like the rest of his tribe of lawyers and civil servants who've become insiders in the national security state—a tribe that behaves as if the responsibility to criticize and fight objectionable behavior of this sort is best left to civil-liberties organizations and journalists.
This is a tribe that has lost the inclination to police itself.
Baker understands the problem with the DEA's behavior well enough to pinpoint it, but despite being a prominent voice in public discourse, he never thought to strenuously object, even as he scoffed at the public for not objecting more strenuously. Indeed, he only noted the factors that made the DEA's behavior so at odds with democratic values as an aside, to cast doubt on the value of transparency at the NSA. And even that is more than most in his tribe have done.
When a prominent attorney and former appointee sees a government abuse more clearly than his fellow citizens, is he obligated to raise his voice against the abusers? I'd argue that doing so is a civic obligation—and that the obligation is particularly acute for people who advocate for a powerful, opaque national security state, dismissing warnings that the federal government is too vulnerable to abuses. The assurances Americans are given about agencies like the NSA, FBI, and DEA ring hollow precisely because elites so often prove unwilling to hold them accountable—even elites who are otherwise committed to serving their country.

Family of man shot by Fairfax Co. officer to demand internal affairs files

Sharon "Show me the money" Bulova with her  pal

 By Kathy Stewart /WTOP

WASHINGTON — It has been more than a year since a Fairfax County police officer shot and killed Springfield, Virginia, resident John Geer, and the man’s family is still in a legal battle over his death.
Geer was killed in his doorway in August 2013 by county police officer Adam Torres during a standoff. Geer had guns in his home according to a report released last year and some witnesses claim that he was unarmed when he was shot.
Geer’s family is suing the police department for wrongful death.
Some say they believe the police department has been stonewalling the public and prosecutors in the case, but the lawyers for Geer’s family will ask for all internal police affairs files on Torres at a hearing Friday afternoon in Fairfax County Circuit Court, The Washington Post reports.
The Fairfax County police department had remained silent on the August 2013 shooting until Jan. 30, 2015, when a court order forced the release 11,000 pages of documents in the case. 
In addition to the internal affairs files, Geer’s family will also request the files on an incident at the Fairfax County courthouse where Torres was fuming and cursing out an assistant county prosecutor, The Post reports.
There are three other internal affairs complaints or cases against Torres and the family lawyers want information to them as well.
Two of the complaints involved car accidents that Torres had in his police cruiser, but neither of the accidents was the officer’s fault and the third complaint involved a suspect’s lost property, The Washington Post reports.

Also, the family lawyers want documents on the internal affairs investigation into the shooting. That investigation began on September 2014.

Sharon, you're full of crap

Letters to the Editor

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is committed to justice
Then why hasn’t the board ever spoken out against the cop’s killings or ruining people’s careers and why did it take you almost two years to   speak out againstthe latest killing?
Regarding the Jan. 20 editorial “Secrecy takes a hit”:
Fairfax County’s positive relationship between its police department and the community has fostered trust in public safety, a major factor in keeping our crime rate low.
My God Sharon do you see what’s going on around you? If we show you money will you notice? The Fairfax County police department is reviled across the nation, a US Senator from a different state had to step in to get our local government to act in the Geer killing. And the crime rate is low because of the citizens who abide by the law, not because of the cops who work under a quota to arrest people for crimes.
The John Geer case has been painful for everyone involved. Policies for handling police-involved incidents, which served us well for decades, were inadequate in this complicated situation.
There is no way in hell you’re getting away with that one. The polices served the cops and the board of supervisor well Sharon, not the people.
The lengthy delays are unacceptable.
It took you almost two years and federal intervention by the US Senate to make you do something.
 The Board of Supervisors called for an independent review to initiate changes to policies and procedures for releasing information and for working with multiple levels of investigative bodies while ensuring that its policies do not jeopardize criminal or civil investigations.
It took you almost two years and federal intervention by the US Senate to make you do something….it also cost the lives of three people and ruined one teacher’s career.  

I asked Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) to assist with identifying resources and expertise for this review. I am committed to a quick turnaround and resulting policy changes.
It took you almost two years just to do that much and in doing that you are underlying the point that our local government is so corrupt and self-serving that it can’t and won’t do the right thing on its own.
“Additionally, the Fairfax County Police Department is reviewing its use-of-force and critical incident response policies, training and practices.”
Which means the vampire is guarding the blood bank….Sharon, Sharon, Sharon…you are dumb, but are you so dumb that you actually believe the cops will investigate themselves and find themselves guilty of anything? According to the New York Times, the Fairfax County Cops don’t report the numbers of people they shoot to the FBI and you think those same guys are going to come up with an honest assessment of themselves?
 This review, conducted by an outside firm, is led by an oversight board established by the internal auditor to ensure objectivity. The review should be completed in March.
The theme here is secrecy and there you go being secretive. You are a dumb person. Who is doing the review? What’s the firm’s name and back ground?   Who is the internal auditor? How did he get that job? What does he know about police practice?
The judicial system’s role is to interpret what happened on the day of the shooting, whether charges should be filed and whether an officer is guilty or innocent of a crime. The Board of Supervisors has taken the steps needed to ensure its policies allow for justice to be fairly and swiftly served.
The board of supervisor has never, not one time, ever, in anyone of the three killing of unarmed citizens by the Fairfax County Police, that the cops were wrong for what they did and that they are out of control….never, not once. You’re a bunch of cowards.

Sharon Bulova, Fairfax

The writer, a Democrat, is chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors….and should be thrown out of office ASAP