New York police spying on Eric Garner solidarity activists

This video from the USA says about itself:

No Charges For White Cop In Eric Garner Killing, Despite Shocking Video

3 December 2014

“A Staten Island grand jury voted on Wednesday not to bring criminal charges in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a white police officer.

The decision was reached after months of testimony, including from the officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo. The grand jury reached its decision less than two weeks after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., declined to bring charges against a white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

An autopsy by the city’s medical examiner found that Mr. Garner’s death was a homicide resulting from the chokehold and the compression of his chest by police officers.” The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

By Sandy English in the USA:

New York cops spied on activists against police violence

29 August 2015

A report published last week in Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept has revealed that police spied and exchanged information on activists who led protests against police violence last winter in New York City.

The spying was conducted by a special counterterrorism squad from police working for the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

The protests erupted after the refusal of a grand jury to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the murder of Eric Garner. Pantaleo was videotaped strangling Garner during a targeted arrest for allegedly selling tax-free cigarettes in the borough of Staten Island on July 17 last year.

As he lay on the ground, Garner told police officers on the scene several times that he could not breathe. He was given no first aid and was pronounced dead at the hospital. His death was later ruled a homicide by the city coroner’s office.

Activists obtained 118 pages of police reports from the MTA and 161 pages from the MetroNorth Railroad through New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents cover protests that took place from December 2014 to February 2015 in Grand Central Station in Manhattan where the MTA police have jurisdiction. A number of protests in the timeline occurred there.

The NYPD has not released any documents, but those that have been supplied reveal an information exchange between the NYPD and the MTA police, and the presence of both NYPD as well as MTA undercover officers at the protests.

Police tracked demonstrators as they were moving around Grand Central Station and in the city and identified specific individuals among the demonstrators. One undercover officer sent frequent email updates on the activities of protesters at the station during a protest on Martin Luther King Day in January. These included notice of the presence of Jose LaSalle, a founder of CopWatch Patrol Unit, in an email that includes his photograph.

Another email chain from December includes a chart of upcoming protests, including one organized by high-school students.

It is worth noting that some of the police spying occurred after Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a halt to the protests against police violence in the aftermath of the shooting death of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn on December 20 by a deranged gunman, although the documents indicate that surveillance of protesters also took place before de Blasio’s plea.

The political atmosphere during the first half of December in New York City was one of intensifying anger at police violence, particularly over the Garner case, but also including the dozens of police shootings in the city over the past decade, as well as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the refusal in November of a grand jury to indict his killer, Officer Darren Wilson.

During the period from December 4 to December 15, large demonstrations against police violence took place throughout the city, some of them partly spontaneous, with tens of thousands of workers and youth protesting in Washington Square Park on December 15.

After the December 20 shooting, however, elements of the state apparatus attempted to go on a counteroffensive. Police union officials claimed that de Blasio had blood on his hands for his supposed tolerance of anti-police-violence protests, and the NYPD staged a near-mutiny when cops turned their backs on de Blasio on several occasions in what became a political mobilization of the police. Over the next few weeks, NYPD officers then performed a systematic slowdown in arrests and citations for minor crimes across the city.

While police surveillance and intimidation of protesters during this period were undoubtedly intensified, these practices certainly did not begin from scratch. Spying on protesters in New York City who have not broken the law and represent no threat to public safety is the modus operandi of the NYPD and other state agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The NYPD has a long and well-documented history of spying on and harassing Muslims in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. More recently New York cops have video-recorded, photographed, followed and intimidated nonviolent protesters, such as those involved in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. The NYPD also subjected these protesters to beatings, pepper spraying and the use of LRAD sound cannons. One of the most egregious state attacks on protesters’ democratic rights was the frame-up of organizer Cecily MacMillan in 2014.

There can be little doubt that the documents published by the Intercept are only the tip of an iceberg of sustained and extensive surveillance of organizers of and participants in protests against police violence, not only in New York City, but throughout the United States.

Music for #BlackLivesMatter in the USA

This music video from the USA says about itself:

Janelle Monae, Wondaland & Jidenna Perform in Times Square

13 August 2015

Jidenna & Wondaland Artists Take Fight Against Police Murder to Times Square During ‘EEPHUS’ EP Tour

In New York City, Jidenna & Wondaland Artists will take the fight against police murder to the belly of the beast, Times Square – by joining parents of people murdered by police, activists, and artists to call out mass incarceration and police terror – and contribute towards mass nationwide mobilization against it during #RiseUpOctober. In coordination with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Artists 4 Justice, and Stolen Lives Parents, the event will be composed of a press conference, rally and creative speak-out, with the goal merging prominent artists with victims of and fighters against police murder to draw a line in society, boldy asking the question: ‘Which Side Are You On?”

The press conference will feature Jidenna, Wondaland artists, Carl Dix, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, who was recently arrested in Ferguson this weekend with fellow SMIN co-founder, Cornel West, and Nicholas Heyward, whose 14 year-old son was murdered by police in 1994, among others.

Following the rally and press conference, the speak-out itself will take the form of ‘performance protest’, an interactive disruptive action that remixes a traditional ‘die-in’ with elements of street theatre and open mic. As part of strengthening this effort, Wondaland artists take part in this simple, but dramatic creative action, joining in to do the movements, perform a verse, sing a song, or speak out.

From in the USA:

August 14, 2015

Janelle Monae Leads Protests For #BlackLivesMatter Movement, Releases Powerful New Song

Janelle Monae and her fellow Wondaland band mates, including Jidenna, marched in protest against police brutality on August 12 in Philadelphia. In a preview of the song “Hell You Talmbout,” the Guardian reports that Monae addressed the protesters with passion.

“They say a question lives forever, until it gets the answer it deserves. Won’t you say their names? Can we say their names right now? Can we speak their names, as long as we have breath in our bodies?”

The group released a powerful remake of Monae’s bonus track “Hell You Talmbout” off her 2013 album The Electric Lady. The full Wondaland roster is present on the song: Roman GianArthur, Deep Cotton, George 2.0, St. Beauty, Jidenna, and Monae. The foundation of “Hell You Talmbout” is built on a drumline progression and between choruses of “hell you talmbout,” and accompanied by that strong marching beat, the artists urge us to “Say his/her name!” The names of Blacks throughout history who have been victims of police brutality and racism are chanted. You can listen to “Hell You Talmbout” on Wondaland Records Soundcloud.

The list of names chanted in the “Hell You Talmbout” song includes Walter Scott, Jerame Reid, Phillip White, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Freddie Gray, Aiyana Jones, Sandra Bland, Kimani Gray, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Miriam Carey, Sharonda Singleton, Emmett Till, Tommy Yancy, Jordan Baker, and Amadou Diallo.

The inclusion of Emmett Till proves just how long the struggle has been going on. Till was only 14-years-old when he was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for talking to a white woman. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the white men who took the young boy’s life, were both acquitted and later admitted to the crime knowing that due to “double jeopardy” they could not be tried again. Till’s funeral was an open casket one, a move his mother made to show just how mutilated her child was. Outrage over his murder actually helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.

The #SayHerName hashtag is an offspring of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It was a means to amplify the struggles of black women who have been killed or sexually harassed by the police in the U.S. The death of Sandra Bland in Texas last month while she was in police custody helped the movement to gain more visibility. was established in an effort to raise awareness of the systematic erasure of black lives in the United States and “demand the intentional dismantling of structural racism.”

The Wondaland artists seem to be using their tour as a platform for the social justice movement as they also held another protest in New York city. The group called to action their supporters and gathered at a police station in Times Square once more.

With their protests and “Hell You Talmbout,” Monae and the Wondaland crew join other artists who have spoken out in public or on social media about the Black Lives Matter movement. Common and John Legend’s song “Glory” won best Original Song at this years Oscars, and at her Grammy performance, Beyonce’s dancers referenced the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture associated with Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri.

The collective Wondaland EP, The Eephus, is set to be released today. They have free invite-only shows scheduled throughout the month of August, which end in Atlanta on August 31.

Saving birds’ lives in New York City

About this video, from in the USA:

Manhattan’s own Snow White

This woman’s love for wildlife has saved thousands of urban birds

By Hanneke Weitering

August 7, 2015

When animal lover Rita McMahon stopped on a highway to help an injured Canadian goose almost 20 years ago, she had no idea that this particular bird would change her life forever. What started with one goose eventually led McMahon to open Manhattan’s first wildlife rehabilitation center, the Wild Bird Fund Center, located on the Upper West Side.

McMahon says her center has “the prettiest windows on Columbus Avenue,” with adoptable pigeons, doves and turtles greeting passers-by on the sidewalk. Inside, a swan with an injured foot casually attempts to strut around the education center while a spunky seagull oversees the reception desk. A goose on the loose stalks the staggering swan at a safe distance. Then there’s Ben, a resident one-eyed cardinal who constantly flutters from shoulder to shoulder, tickling people’s necks with his feathers and occasionally nibbling on their earrings. Most patients here, however, are pigeons — dozens and dozens of pigeons.

Growing up in rural Connecticut, McMahon always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. “As a child I took in everything.” She’d rescue chipmunks, skunks, pheasants, rabbits, and lots of birds. “That’s what you do in the country,” she said. In middle school she began assisting the veterinarian across the street from her house. “He would do the medical end, and I would take care of the animals.”

Then came the fainting spells. Every time McMahon observed the vet in surgery, the sight petrified her and she’d flop unconsciously onto the floor. Although her mentor assured her that this sensitivity would pass, McMahon simply could not get over the distress of everyday veterinary duties. She abandoned her dream, moved to the city to study art history, and ended up working in the television industry.

McMahon spent 35 years doing television research and programming for NBC, ABC and Fox. Although she started helping birds again in the 90s, she did not retire from television until she opened the Wild Bird Fund Center in 2012. She could not have done it without a $250,000 donation from one of the volunteers. “Prior to that I had 60 birds in my apartment — and a very tolerant husband and son.”

When McMahon was first introduced to her future husband, Peter Gelfan, the friend who introduced them warned Gelfan that “she has a thing about birds.” Although it wasn’t easy, Gelfan got over the constant squawking, musty air and stray feathers to be with the woman he loves. After the Wild Bird Fund opened, the birds finally moved out.

McMahon’s bird-rescuing career really began about 20 years ago with the injured goose on route 684. She stopped her car, wrapped the animal in her coat and took it home in hopes of finding someone who could give it proper medical attention. “For three days I phoned everywhere, and finally went to the Animal Medical Center and put down my credit card, because I could not find anyone who would take care of the goose.”

The Animal Medical Center tried to save the goose, but it died days later. “We were the only major city without a rehab center,” McMahon said. The goose led McMahon to local rehab expert Vivienne Sokol, a bird doctor for the Bronx zoo, and the two began rescuing birds together. “Vivienne would always tell me, when your cat goes, you ought to become a rehabber.” When Sokol learned that McMahon’s cat had disappeared, she started bringing over pigeons and sparrows. And when word got out that McMahon was caring for birds, more and more birds began arriving at her door. “So many people find injured birds and they care enough to bring them in and help,” McMahon said. Thankfully she wasn’t alone, with volunteers from the nearby Animal General hospital eager to help.

McMahon created a website for her services, and the business exploded. “Suddenly we weren’t just dealing with 300 birds,” she said. “We were dealing with over a thousand birds a year, and my apartment was getting really full. A few more years passed and we were getting ready to bust at the seams.”

Now McMahon and around 50 volunteers at the center help thousands of birds every year, and even some squirrels, groundhogs, bunnies and turtles. The overwhelming majority of patients, however, are birds. About half of their cages house sick and injured pigeons, but several migratory birds, seagulls, geese and even swans can be found throughout the center. Most are in cages, but many roam free.

Sandra Bland’s family files lawsuit in Texas

This video from the USA says about itself:

Sandra Bland’s Sister Responds to Suicide Allegations, Lawyer Says Waller County Withholding Details

24 July 2015

Law enforcement officials in Waller County, Texas, have concluded that the cause of Sandra Bland’s death in police custody was suicide. But Bland’s family and friends dispute claims she was suicidal, and say there is no evidence she previously tried to kill herself before her traffic stop escalated into an arrest.

We are joined by Sharon Cooper, who is Sandra Bland’s sister. Also with us is Cannon Lambert, the attorney representing Sandra Bland’s family. He says authorities have given the family only “piecemeal information” from the autopsy they conducted, and disputes the relevance of tests showing marijuana in her system. Cooper says Bland should be remembered as “someone who was unapologetically confident — and that’s OK in today’s world — somebody who was assertive, and somebody who truly stood for what she believed in.”

From in Texas, USA:

Family of Sandra Bland filing federal lawsuit

Adam Bennett & Staff 5:24 a.m. CDT August 4, 2015

HOUSTON – An attorney representing Sandra Bland’s family will file a lawsuit at the federal courthouse in downtown Houston on Tuesday, the attorney’s office says.

The lawsuit will be filed against Trooper Brian Encinia “and others responsible for the death of Sandra Bland,” the office stated in a press release overnight.

Encinia arrested Bland on July 10 in Waller County. She was later found dead in a jail cell in Hempstead on July 13. Officials say she used a plastic bag to hang herself.

Many of Bland’s family, friends and others on social media worldwide have questioned that explanation.

The 28-year-old was arrested her for allegedly kicking Encinia during a traffic stop near Prairie View A&M. Dashcam video does not make clear whether or not that happened, but does show the encounter quickly escalating after Encinia tells Bland to put out her cigarette.

The trooper was put on desk duty for violating procedures during the stop. …

On Tuesday night, Texas Southern University is also continuing that conversation. They’ll be holding a forum with community organizations and leaders to come up with more ways to hold law enforcement accountable and try to prevent another situation like Bland’s from happening again.

Sandra Bland vigil

Across US, Activists Shine Light On Sandra Bland’s Mysterious Death: here.

This 31 July 2015 video from the USA is called Community Demanding US Attorney Investigate the Death of Raynette Turner.

From the Philadelphia Tribune in the USA:

5th Black woman dies in police custody in July

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 12:00 am

Courtney Jacobs, AFRO Staff Writer

A New York mother of eight is the fifth Black woman to die while in police custody in the month of July.

Raynette Turner, 43, died in a Westchester County jail cell after being arrested for allegedly stealing crab legs at a wholesale food store.

Turner was arrested July 25 on the petty larceny charge and was set to be arraigned on July 27. However, the previous evening, she complained about not feeling well and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Turner was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The next day, the defendant’s husband, Herman Turner sat at Mount Vernon City Court patiently awaiting her appearance for the arraignment. She never made it, however, dying just two hours before her 4 p.m. arraignment.

Turner’s family was not notified of her death until the following morning when police detectives told them at their house.

“I want somebody’s head to roll on this,” Herman Turner told The Journal News. “I am not going to rest until I get some type of justice for my wife. That’s the bottom line.

“No one said anything to me about my wife was downstairs, dead, they just let me sit in the courtroom all day long, waiting for her to come and be seen by the judge,” he added. “I’m angry, very angry. Somebody needs to pay. Somebody really needs to pay for this. I’m sorry, I’m not going to let this rest.”

Turner’s autopsy is still currently pending for the cause of her death.

The case has drawn attention in social media and elsewhere, coming in the wake of the well-publicized deaths of four other Black women in police custody

Sandra Bland died, Texas police whitewash continues

This video from the USA says about itself:

‘United We Stand!’ – Protest of Sandra Bland death broken up by police in NYC

23 July 2015

Activists took to the streets of New York City to protest police brutality and the death of Sandra Bland.

By Evan Blake in the USA:

Selective release of autopsy findings continues whitewash of Sandra Bland killing

24 July 2015

On Thursday, Waller County Prosecutor Warren Diepraam declared that an official autopsy found that the July 13 prison death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland death was a suicide.

Following a week in which Bland’s unexplained death has been leading the daily news cycle in the US, Diepraam’s claim that Bland committed suicide has been repeated uncritically by almost every mainstream news outlet in America. The selective release of the autopsy findings is part of a deliberate move to sweep the entire case under the rug and shift the focus away from the fact that the string of events that led to Bland’s death were initiated by her unlawful arrest.

Bland was found hanged in her jail cell a mere three days after being beaten and wrongfully arrested during a routine traffic stop. Her friends and family have continually questioned the official account of her death, and assert that Bland would not have committed suicide, particularly as she had just accepted a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M. They have also called for an independent autopsy.

Theresa Dear, a longtime friend of Bland’s, criticized officials for selectively releasing “crumbs and morsels,” without revealing the full story. She told a local news station KTLA, “We, as a family and a community who love Sandra Bland, do not accept…this narrative that the Texas authorities are putting in the media that she had suicidal tendencies.”

Diepraam made clear that the release of details from the autopsy report was aimed at quelling any suspicion of the possibility that police murdered Bland. “We feel compelled to release [this information] because of specific allegations from some individuals about the circumstances that occurred in the Waller County jail and/or on the streets of Prairie View, Texas,” he declared.

Diepraam said that because the mark around Bland’s neck was uniform and consistent, and there was no observable damage to her trachea and esophagus, that she did not experience a violent struggle at the time of her death.

He further asserted that there were “no defensive injuries” on Bland’s hands, and that lacerations found on her wrists were incurred while being handcuffed by officers.

The most significant finding of the autopsy as reported, however, was that Bland was found to have scabs on her back and on the right side of her shoulder blade, consistent with being forced down on the ground during her arrest. Bland’s sister, Sharon Cooper, said that there was “Deep tissue bruising to her back which is consistent with the officer having his knee in her back.”

At the very least, the autopsy report confirms Bland’s audible statements during her arrest that officer Brian Encinia severely brutalized her and slammed her into the ground.

Despite the attempts to bury the story and exonerate the police, her death remains unexplained, and the official story is full of holes and contradictions.

Emerging from a dubious, closed door meeting on Wednesday between dozens of leading figures in the Texas political establishment and the Texas Rangers/FBI team investigating Bland’s death, authorities released two suicide-risk assessment forms allegedly completed during Bland’s processing into prison. The forms contradict each other in critical ways.

The first form, reportedly completed at 5:32 p.m., claims that Bland stated that she tried to commit suicide in 2014 by taking pills, due to a “lost baby.” On this form, she also allegedly checked a box indicating that she had felt “very depressed” at some point in her life, and another asking if she had felt like committing suicide in the past year.

On a second form, completed a mere three hours later, Bland reportedly answered “no” to the same questions regarding depression and thoughts of suicide. The lawyer for Bland’s family, Cannon Lambert, declared, “We take issue with the notion that she was suffering from depression. She was not clinically diagnosed that this family understands.”

Two crucial pieces of the investigation, the video footage showing Bland’s arrest and the prison surveillance footage, are shrouded in mystery and strongly suggest a police cover-up. The former contains numerous gaps and glitches, including cars vanishing and looping sequences, while the latter includes a lengthy gap spanning the hour leading up to Bland’s death, which police attribute to the motion sensors shutting down the camera in the absence of foot traffic.

No credence can be given to the official narrative put forth by the local authorities regarding Bland’s death.

Bland was an outspoken political activist, in particular concerning police violence. Over the past year, she became involved with the protests against police killings that took place across the US, and posted about them frequently on her Facebook page.

At a prayer vigil held in Texas Tuesday night, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, recalled a recent conversation with her daughter: “She said ‘Mom, now I know what my purpose is. My purpose is to go back to Texas, my purpose is to stop all social injustice.’”

United States jazz musician Jeremy Pelt on Eric Garner’s death

This music video says about itself:

1 November 2012

Jeremy Pelt Quintet in “We’ll Be Together Again” (Fischer-Laine), Live al Duc des Lombards – Paris

Jeremy Pelt trumpet, Roxy Coss sax, David Bryant piano, Dwayne Burno bass, Jonathan Barber drums.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Art, protest and restless humanity, never quelled

Tuesday 21st July 2015

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt echoes a nation’s grief as US police continue to target, hurt and kill innocent black men, writes CHRIS SEARLE

Tales, Musings and Other Reveries
(High Note HCD 7270)
Jeremy Pelt

IT WAS July 17 2014 on a busy shopping street in Staten Island, New York City. A 43-year-old African-American ex-horticulturalist from the New York Parks and Recreation Department, Eric Garner, was confronted by some police officers, accused of selling “loosies” — single cigarettes from unlicensed and untaxed packs.

An argument ensued, with an officer — one Daniel Pantaleo — putting Garner into a 15-second chokehold and forcing him face down onto the pavement.

Garner spluttered: “I can’t breathe!” 11 times while his head was held down. An ambulance was called, and by the time it arrived at the hospital an hour later, Garner was dead.

After a grand jury decided not to charge Pantaleo for murder, there were nationwide protests and demonstrations at yet another fatal police attack on an African-American, and the mass indignation spread into popular culture too. No more efficaciously than in the new album by the southern Californian-born trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, Tales, Musings and Other Reveries.

In his sleeve notes, Pelt remembers “witnessing Los Angeles go up in flames” after the broadcasting of footage showing police beating black taxi driver Rodney King following a high-speed car chase though the city’s streets in 1991, and the subsequent acquittal of the police officers.

In the track Ruminations on Eric Garner, the twin brutalities against King and Garner are brought together in Pelt’s powerful hornplay and the two sets of pulsating drums of Virginian Billy Drummind and Victor Lewis of Omaha, Nebraska.

Pianist Simona Premazzi and bassist Ben Allison are there in the introduction and fading finale, but all the rest is Pelt, Drummond and Lewis creating an incensed colloquy of brass, skin and cymbal, with the trumpeter’s high-pitched runs and soaring, defiant notes calling out like a clamour for justice, and the two drummers pitched in the earth of wronged and savaged humanity.

I Only Miss Her When I Think of Her, which follows, is very different, with Pelt’s beautifully bent notes and burnished tone singing of love and tenderness. Nephthys is songlike and full of rapture, with the drums and Allison’s throbbing bass dancing below Pelt’s high horn trajectory. Premazzi seems to love the two drummers beside her too, and her keys jump off their sound.

Pelt writes that the blues piece The Old Soul of the Modern Day Wayfarer is about him and “the soujourner in myself” as if the nomadic musical life and the perennial touring has in some way defined his sound. His note-perfect delivery brings into strange unity the form of Art Farmer and the fierce passion of Freddie Hubbard: quite a fusion of excellence and tradition.

The hard bop classic Glass Bead Games, written by the tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, is transformed into a brass rhapsody by Pelt, flying above Lewis’s and Drummond’s pounding drums. Premazzi’s solo enriches the artistry before the drummers have their own palaver, loving their togetherness, prefacing Pelt’s final flourish as a salute to their union. Then there is Vonetta, written by another great tenorist, the survivor Wayne Shorter, for the 1967 Miles Davis album The Sorcerer. Pelt’s long, anguished notes reveal an unexpected tenderness in the heart of enchantment.

Pelt’s own Harlem Thoroughfare is a quasi-Ellingtonian title for another side of New York, and its village of black achievement. Premazzi’s solo is racked with complexities and Pelt is the griot and historian of his own dwelling place.

Pelt blows with a tender lucidity and Allison’s bass palpitates all through Everything You Can Imagine is Real, a dictum attributed to Picasso, whose Guernica is close to Pelt’s home, there in the New York Museum of Modern Art. The man who painted that would have understood Pelt’s artistry and his Ruminations on Eric Garner, that’s for sure. They come from the same soul of art, protest and restless humanity, never to be quelled or silenced.