Prisoner abuse scandal in Texas, USA


This video from Texas in the USA says about itself:

On July 23, 2015 Austin residents held a candlelight vigil for Sandra Bland that started at the historic Victory Grill and ended at the state capitol. Sandra was found dead in a Waller County, Texas jail cell of an alleged suicide. However, her family, friends, and most of the public have questions surrounding her death which has caught the attention of the world. Sandra was a vocal activist who spoke out against social injustices and police brutality.

From Click2Houston.com in the USA:

Community leaders release video showing inmate beating at Washington County Jail

Author: Nakia Cooper, Sr. Web Editor

Published On: Aug 20 2015 03:32:17 PM CDT Updated On: Aug 20 2015 10:16:16 PM CDT

HOUSTON – Surveillance video appearing to show a Washington County jailer assaulting a college student has been released to the public.

Minister Quanell X, the New Black Panther Nation and New Black Muslims leaders joined Bishop James Dixon, other community leaders, family, friends, and supporters gathered at Community of Faith Church Thursday in support of Gregory Webb.

Webb, who was a Blinn College student at the time, was pulled over for a traffic stop in August 2013 and was arrested for possession of marijuana, and booked into the Washington County Jail.

“This young man was pulled over, he went to jail for possession of marijuana. Many college students experiment with marijuana, not a drug dealer amount, just a joint amount,” Quanell X said at the press conference.

The activist said that while Webb was in jail, he got into a verbal confrontation with Deputy Christopher Kulow, a jailer who was attempting to harass and intimidate him.

“Deputy Kulow did not like what this young man had said to him and he wanted to show this young man who was in charge, who was the boss,” Quanell X said.

During that time, Kulow and another deputy took Webb out of his cell and placed him in a restraint chair.

Webb’s hands and feet were strapped down, his head was strapped down and his chest was strapped to the chair.

Kulow allegedly kicked the chair on its side and got on top of Webb, then began punching him in the face. A surveillance camera captured the incident.

“Deputy Kulow is boom, boom, boom, and then after that third lick, the others deputies grab him and pull him off of him,” Quanell X said. “This is the first time where I’ve seen deputies, even the janitorial service, came forth and called the DA’s Office.”

Quanell X said janitors and the deputies who witnessed the assault testified that they knew it was wrong.

Kulow was found guilty of official oppression for violating the civil rights of Webb.

Quanell X said he was surprised by the outcome of Webb’s case.

“I didn’t think in that rural small Texas town that an all-white jury would come back and find a white deputy guilty of anything against a young African American male, but that jury took its time, the district attorney was dynamic and they came back with a guilty verdict,” Quanell X said. “[It was] the first time in Washington County’s history that a cop has been found guilty of misconduct, abuse on any level against an African American person, male or female.”

Quanell X said the deputies admitted that they thought the camera was broken. It had been fixed just a few days before.

“This happens too often. The outcries that have been made by the public around the nation are legitimate outcries. There are people who have been victimized by injustice in the criminal justice systems and in jails who have not yet been heard,” Dixon said. “I tremble to think what if we did not have a fixed camera. A broken camera is all that we needed not to ever have known the story that Mr. Webb had endured.”

Bishop Dixon said there is a thin line between the cameras and reality.

“Today, we are here to shed light on reality that this is a human life. We say ‘all lives matter and black lives matter,’ but I want us to understand that cameras matter,” Dixon said.

Quanell X said this type of behavior is the reason why so many people are skeptical about Sandra Bland’s death.

“This just goes to show why so many African Americans believe that something happened to Sandra Bland inside that jail. Because Washington County is right next door to Waller County,” Quanell X said. “This is why so many African Americans are not trustful, have no faith and confidence in what’s coming out of Waller County because we know what they do to our young people in jail. He [Webb] is a living testimony of what happened in that jail.”

The brutal police crackdown of a peaceful gathering of roughly 100 people near the site of the police murder of black 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Bey in a residential suburb of north St. Louis has once again brought to the surface the underlying drive toward police state rule in the US. In the recent period, the First Amendment guarantee of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” has been steadily stripped of its meaning, along with other democratic rights spelled out in the US Constitution: here.

U.S. police forces are so out of control there’s not even a reliable database on how many times police officers shoot citizens. So, beyond racism and fear of guns, the problem includes fragmentation in law enforcement and gaps in training among the 18,000 police agencies in the 50 states, notes Daniel Lazare: here.

United States police violence against homeless people


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Man with one leg taken down by 14 San Francisco Police Department officers

17 August 2015

This happened a few seconds away from some of the biggest tech companies in the world, on August 4 2015. Footage by Chaédria LaBouvier.

From Daily Kos blog in the USA:

Mon Aug 17, 2015 at 10:38 AM PDT

14 San Francisco Cops vs. 1 One-Legged Man, Two Crutches and Multiple Phone Cameras.

by jpmassar

It took fourteen San Francico police officers to not arrest a man (need we say he is African-American) walking down the street with crutches and a prosthetic leg.  It also took at least 30 minutes to not arrest him, during which time they had him pinned to the ground by his prosthetic leg, face down into the brick sidewalk.

A reporter, Chaedria LaBouvier, from Medium happened by and caught most of the incident on video, but not the initial disturbance (if, indeed, there was one) or the takedown.

a Black man… was taken down by police in the mid-Market area of San Francisco… I began to see outlines of the incident unfold… a limping Black figure, wearing black, increasingly cornered by a wall of blue. By the time I had crossed 8th street, I was pulling out my phone as fast as I could.

Witnesses said there had been a call about somebody waving sticks around… By the time I arrived… several officers had arrived on the scene, and forced this man to the ground, which is where this footage begins. And they held him down, much of the time half-naked, for at least half an hour on one of San Francisco’s busiest streets…

The sticks? They were his crutches. You can hear people in the background around say so much.

No, no one was murdered. No one was even arrested. No phone cameras were snatched or stomped on, no police person even went crazy, as we’ve seen in so many other incidents. But still, as La Bouvier notes…

“These are my crutches. I use these to walk.” … they stood on his leg, held it, and twisted it around even after they had cuffed him and pinned him to the piss-stained concrete…

5 seconds in, you can see a cop literally stomp this man’s real leg and prosthetic leg.

At 10 seconds, the man-handling of his head begins.

At 22 seconds the man says, “What the fuck is you doing this to me?”

… this is everyday harassment. Which is to say, that we’ve normalized and habitualized the kind of policing in San Francisco and the rest of America that brutalizes the most vulnerable people, which strips them of their human dignity, the agency to their bodies – to walk with crutches when physically disabled, to have this body unviolated – when in actuality, they are whom the police are especially supposed to be protecting.

By D. Lencho, about New Mexico state in the USA:

Albuquerque police officers who killed homeless man to stand trial for murder

19 August 2015

An Albuquerque judge ruled August 18 in favor of trying two Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers for the shooting death of mentally ill homeless man James Boyd in March 2014. Judge Neil Candelaria’s decision followed closing arguments at a preliminary hearing that morning by the prosecution and defense attorneys for Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, who fired the fatal shots.

The killing of Boyd, who was gunned down by officers armed with assault rifles for the “crime” of illegally camping, ignited protests in Albuquerque and around the nation after a video of the incident went online.

The preliminary hearing began August 3, took a one-week break between August 10 and 14, and resumed on August 17. The prosecution’s case was presented by private attorney Randi McGinn, who was appointed Special Prosecutor due to the disqualification of Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, who was under investigation for bribery allegations that were later dropped.

In her opening statement, McGinn blamed the shooting on a “paramilitary response” that escalated a case of illegal camping in the city’s northeast foothills into a lethal encounter involving 19 officers and more than 700 rounds of ammunition. “What was the crime that prompted this paramilitary response? It was not a terrorist act. It was illegal camping,” she stated. She added, “They created the danger. It was not Mr. Boyd who came at them.”

Sandy’s defense attorney, Sam Bregman, presented the incident as a justified shooting “of a crazy man with two knives.” Perez’s lawyer, Luis Robles, claimed that Boyd was responsible for his own death, having given the officers “no choice” but to fire flash bang grenades and a Taser, sic a police dog on him and ultimately fire six shots at Boyd, three of which struck and killed him.

McGinn pointed to numerous discrepancies throughout the hearing. When she questioned APD lead investigator Detective Geoffrey Stone, he admitted that though “I do typically try to interview [officers accused of wrongdoing] right away”—in order to keep them from coordinating their stories—he waited two days to talk to Sandy and Perez. During defense questioning, Stone quoted Sandy’s claim, customary in post-incident interviews of officers, that he felt “threatened” by Boyd’s “aggressive manner.”

Stone could give no explanation for the fact that neither Sandy nor detective Richard Ingram, who fired the Taser shot, ever produced lapel cam videos. When Judge Candelaria asked APD criminalistics detective Nathan Render if he requested their videos, he replied, “I don’t believe so. I believe it may have been missed.” When he finally requested a video from the on-scene Sergeant— eight or nine days later by his recollection­—“the video had been cleared and the Boyd encounter wasn’t there,” according to a KRQE report.

APD officers are notorious for not recording incidents on their video cams, either because they “forgot” to turn them on or because the video cam mysteriously malfunctioned right at the crucial moment. If they do function, they may, as Render’s testimony makes clear, get misplaced or erased.

On the third day of the hearing, defense attorneys moved to dismiss all charges. Of the four charges—second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery—the judge dropped only the involuntary manslaughter charge, since “the evidence what I’ve heard is more of intentional and I haven’t heard much of anything unintentional,” as he told the attorneys.

The hearing included the testimony of Dr. William J. Lewinski. According to a KRQE report, “The defense maintains that Lewinski is an expert when it comes to officer action and reaction times during shootings, with a substantial academic background.”

In fact, as the World Socialist Web Site has reported, Lewinski, “who charges $1,000 per hour to testify at trial, specializes in offering psychological justifications for police shootings, in which he purports to determine what each of the participants thought and observed. He also testifies that police officers who give inaccurate accounts of shootings are really just experiencing memory loss.”

Or, as the WSWS article put it, Lewinski is in “the lucrative business of cooking up junk science to justify police shootings.”

Lewinski was in typical form at the hearing, using frame-by-frame footage of the shooting to make the claim that James Boyd was hit in the back because the first gunshots had caused him to turn. The judge cut his testimony short because of objections by McGinn, who called his testimony “hogwash” and quoted comedian Jon Stewart: “’There is B.S. out there,’ is what he said, except he used the real words, and when you smell it, you need to call somebody on it.”

Other defense witnesses, including an APD sergeant, a police instructor and the police dog handler—who claimed that Sandy and Perez “saved my life”—presented the officers as acting appropriately when confronted with a dangerous, “crazy man with two knives” threatening the very lives of terrified (and heavily armed) police officers. Since they could not subdue Boyd with “less lethal” means, they were eventually forced to shoot him. Sgt. Jim Fox praised Perez for being “very calm under fire [!]” and said that, “he made great decisions.”

McGinn countered that it was never a full SWAT callout, that Boyd was outmanned and that there was a third lethal cover officer, in addition to Sandy and Perez, who did not fire even when James Boyd took out his knives. Sandy, in fact, had told investigators that he had been called to the scene by mistake, but decided to go anyway. Moreover, it was the police dog handler, Scott Weimerskirch, who approached Boyd when he tried to correct his dog, who had not followed his ‘sic’ order at first.

Three hours after hearing the closing arguments, Judge Candelaria stated, “Counsel, having considered all the evidence in the case and applying the standard of probable cause… The court finds—with the exception of involuntary manslaughter—that the state has established probable cause as to all the counts in the amended information. The court will bind the matters over for trial.”

Still more to the east, in Texas:

Brazos County Sheriff’s Office investigating death of mentally ill inmate: here.

Cecil the lion killed, court charges


This video is called The Hide, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

From Reuters news agency:

Zimbabwe Court Charges Game Park Owner Over Cecil The Lion

He has been accused of letting an American tourist illegally hunt and kill Cecil.

HARARE – The game park owner accused of letting an American tourist illegally hunt and kill a lion on his property in Zimbabwe has been charged in connection with the killing and released on bail in Hwange, his lawyer said.

The killing of Cecil, a 13-year-old, rare, black-maned lion and a popular tourist attraction, caused global consternation and triggered a major backlash against Africa’s multi-million dollar hunting industry.

Honest Ndlovu owns the game park into which Cecil was lured from the adjacent Hwange National Park and shot with a bow and arrow by American dentist Walter Palmer.

A copy of the charge sheet seen by Reuters said Ndlovu was charged with permitting “a person who is not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe to hunt the said animal which was not on the hunting quota.”

His lawyer Tonderai Mukuku said Ndlovu denies the charge and was set free on $200 bail. He will return to court on Sept. 18.

The same Hwange court last week postponed until Sept. 28 the trial of local hunter Theo Bronkhorst.

Bronkhorst, who acted as Palmer’s guide, is accused of failing to prevent Palmer from killing Cecil, who had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study, and was a favorite with tourists visiting Hwange park.

Zimbabwe wants Palmer, 55, extradited from the United States to face trial.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

‘Ten thousands of Dutch war crimes in Indonesia’, new research


This 2012 video about the 1945-1949 Dutch-Indonesian war is called War memory of Indonesian freedom fighter.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Leiden research confirms: structural and excessive violence in Indonesia

Dutch troops were using structural and extreme violence against the Indonesians, according to new research. In his book Soldaat in Indonesië (published end of October) historian Gert Oostindie, basing himself on other sources, draws the same conclusion. He presents new findings and makes clear what moved the soldiers.

100,000 Indonesians were killed

The question of whether Dutch were guilty of structural and excessive force during the period 1945-1950 was never properly answered. The conclusion of historian Remy Limpach, who will get his PhD this fall at the University of Bern, was front page news in the run-up to the commemoration of 70 years of independence in Indonesia. In his book Soldaat in Indonesië Gert Oostindie, Leiden Professor and Director of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), describes the war on the basis of testimony from Dutch soldiers. In the struggle for independence, roughly estimated, 100,000 Indonesians and nearly five thousand Dutch soldiers died, in addition to a higher but unknown number of European civilians.

What is your reaction to the conclusion of Remy Limpach?

“I largely agree with his conclusion that ‘excessive violence’ was not as exceptional as has long been asserted also by the Dutch government. It is good that Limpach has thoroughly investigated the context of this violence. He relies, I understand, especially on government archives. … From my research together with KITLV colleagues about personal documents of Dutch soldiers and veterans also emerges the picture that frequently war crimes were committed.”

Where do you rely on?

“We examined 700 published testimonials, together by about 1,400 soldiers, diaries, correspondence, memoirs and biographical sketches. We found in these personal documents about 700 individual cases of war crimes. That is staggering. Especially if you extrapolate this, then I fear that one, though one should be cautious, should think in terms of tens of thousands rather than in thousands of cases. Indeed, over the period there were 220,000 soldiers on the Dutch side. ”

“Some explain the violence with an attitude of ‘better safe than sorry’, saying it is better to deal ruthlessly with the opponent than becoming a victim oneself. Others write that also purely out of revenge war crimes were committed.”

“But most soldiers do not write about violence, and there are those who explicitly state that they oppose brute force, or afterwards regretted the actions of the armed forces.” …

Oostindie conducted the research with colleagues from the KITLV, especially Ireen Hoogenboom and Jonathan Verwey. Also Leiden students and trainees worked on this.

You call for more investigation into the violence in Indonesia. What questions are there?

“In 2012, the KITLV, the NIOD and the NIMH (Dutch Institute for Military History), called for a broad investigation into this war. The argument has not changed: this is the biggest war ever fought by the Dutch armed forces, but a balanced view of it is not there. We want to understand the war and come to a balanced judgment on how the armed forces acted. That includes questions about war crimes and the manner in which the military leadership and ultimately the politicians coped with it. It’s not moralizing. But the Netherlands owes it to its own position and foremost ambitions to allow unprejudiced research: for we are often the first to let others know how important respect for human rights is“.

Soldaat in Indonesië, 1945-1950 1945-1950 Getuigenissen van een oorlog aan de verkeerde kant van de geschiedenis
Gert Oostindie m.m.v. Ireen Hoogenboom and Jonathan Verwey
(Prometheus, Bert Bakker, 2015)

The book will be presented on October 31 during History Night at the Rijksmuseum.

(August 18, 2015 – LVP)

Poaching gang arrested in Veluwe, the Netherlands


Illegal poaching gang weapons, confiscated in the Veluwe region in the Netherlands

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

In Barneveld town and the surrounding area ten people have been arrested in an investigation into illegal arms trafficking and poaching. In house searches dozens of weapons, including double-barreled shotguns, rifles, a handgun, alarm pistols and an electroshock weapon have been found.

Also silencers and ammunition have been seized, as well as two vehicles and a large amount of meat from illegal shooting of protected species.

The main suspect is a man of 28 years old from Barneveld. He has, according to the police, no hunting permit and no gun license, but he did have several weapons and ammunition in his house. Presumably he regularly hunted wild boar, deer, ducks, rabbits, pigeons and geese.

Poachers

He is also said to have delivered weapons to other poachers in Gelderland. Nine of them have also been arrested.

There were three houses and business premises searched in Barneveld and four houses in the municipality of Ede. In the raids also documents were seized.

The police work in the investigation into arms trafficking and poaching together with the Forestry Department and the Geldersch Landschap conservation organisation.