Category Archives: policing/justice

Open Thread: Homeland Security and Racism

by Latoya Peterson
While skimming through my news feeds, I noticed this article in the New York Times:

After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article.

Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

Yeah, now I feel *really* secure.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

When the Outside Looks Like The Inside

by Guest Contributor G.D., originally published at Feministe and PostBourgie

A few years back, my co-blogger quadmoniker worked for New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, which is supposed to act as a watchdog group for the city’s police department. If a citizen wanted to file a complaint against a police officer, she would do so with the CCRB, who would then dispatch an investigator (like quad) to interview the police officer and other people involved in the incident. Tracking down complainants, though, meant occasionally trekking to some woebegone corner of the city, where “probable cause” was broadly interpreted and which meant that cops stopped and patted down anyone they deemed to be suspicious. In some housing projects, there are police observation rooms, where officers monitor any activity in the complex via video camera. The cops can stop anyone and request I.D.; you can be arrested for being inside buildings where you’re not a resident. For most people, contact with law enforcement is rare, and antagonistic encounters with the police are even rarer. But for many of the people quad had to interview, it was an inescapable fact of everyday life. Continue reading

Cop Sues Burbank Police Department for Discrimination

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Last week, Christopher Lee Dunn, a decorated Asian American police detective, filed a civil lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department, alleging that he was the victim of discrimination and retaliation before being unlawfully fired: Sixth Burbank officer sues department over discrimination.

Dunn, who won the Medal of Valor as a Los Angeles Police Department officer before joining the Burbank force, says that he was subjected to years of racial taunts and discouraged from joining department’s narcotics unit because he was not white. He was apparently targeted by management before eventually being run out of the department.

He isn’t the first cop with grievances against the department. In May, five Burbank police officers sued the department and seven current police officials, alleging that they tolerated an environment in which officers commonly used slurs about race, ethnicity and sexual preference directed at them, their colleagues, suspects and the public at large.

Dunn’s suit, filed separately, seeks civil penalties and compensatory damages. He specifically alleges that he was discouraged by members of an elite, “all-white” narcotics unit who said they didn’t want to work with non-whites. When Dunn was ultimately promoted, he was subjected to racist jokes and comments.

The lawsuit also alleges that Dunn was given less desirable assignments in the unit despite having more narcotics seizures than any other Burbank officer. When one of the offending colleagues was transferred, the harassment apparently got worse. More here: Sixth Minority Officer Sues Burbank Police Department.

Akwesasne under siege

by Special Correspondent Jessica Yee, originally published at Rabble

Ed. Note: Jessica wrote this in response to Canadian border patrol agents being armed in Akwesasne. This article gives a summary of the situation:

A respected security and anti-terrorism expert says Canada’s federal government should stand by its guns and ignore threats from Mohawk militants in Cornwall, Ont., who have vowed to storm the Canadian border post if Ottawa gives sidearms to border agents there.

John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, a Toronto-based think-tank, said Monday that Mohawk militants are “blowing smoke,” and would never attempt an armed, illegal occupation of the offices of the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Native leaders and activists at Akwesasne have been warning for months they would take action to prevent Canada from giving 9-mm pistols to its border agents, because they say the presence of armed government agents on their reserve is an affront to their aboriginal sovereignty.

“Things are escalating in Akwesasne. The Indians aren’t being peaceful anymore,” the news reporters are saying.

500 years of colonization and the continuous refusal to acknowledge our fundamental human rights do not produce peaceful results. I’ll tell you that right now.

But I’m not currently in Akwesasne — my home community which has been under siege by the Border Patrol Services for quite some time now. Yes, the existence of a transnational border that tears a community apart is a sign of putting us under siege. Only this time, since June 1, 2009 to be exact, they want to legitimize and regulate their firearms against us.

So if you want to get a first hand account of what’s going on there right now — I implore you to ask someone who belongs to and is in the community as we speak. But I do have some things to say about this situation which has been a long time coming.

The media have repeatedly asked me about which “side” do I think is right, do I agree with the border being closed, do I side with the “warriors” who refused to back down to the rule of the governments, or am I simply indifferent to it all since I live in Toronto now?

I actually know precisely where I stand – as a Kanionke:haka woman, a Mohawk woman, who belongs to the Haudenosaunee people, and as young person who is part of the next seven generations, I am on the side of my community who is on the side of the land – of Mother Earth. As women we are titleholders and caretakers of the land. And I know very well that the border should not be there.

Continue reading

Of Thin Blue Lines, Race, and Stereotypes

by Latoya Peterson

On Friday, I was in transit when I saw the message pop up on Thea’s twitterfeed:

White NYC cop fatally shoots black NYC cop, mistaking him for an armed criminal: http://bit.ly/QXgtq Aiyeee. (thanks @sunnykins)11:23 AM May 29th from web

Damn, really?

The New York Times has the scoop:

A New York City police officer who had just gotten off duty was fatally shot late Thursday in East Harlem by a fellow officer who mistook him for an armed criminal, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.

The officer who was killed, Omar J. Edwards, 25, a two-year veteran who was assigned to patrol housing projects and was wearing plain clothes, was shot in the arm and chest after a team of three other plainclothes officers in a car came upon him chasing a man on East 125th Street between First and Second Avenues with his gun drawn, Mr. Kelly said.

The team’s members, assigned to the anticrime unit in the 25th Precinct, got out of their vehicle and confronted Officer Edwards. The police were investigating whether the officers had identified themselves or demanded that Officer Edwards drop his weapon before one of them opened fire.

The shooting officer is white. The deceased officer is black. All kinds of racial inferences can be drawn from this description of the scenario. But is that the whole story? Continue reading

The Maddening Case of Anthony Harris

by G.D., originally published at PostBourgie

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One of the (many) reasons I oppose the death penalty is because of the shitty track record the criminal justice system has not just in the prosecution of capital offense but also for routinely botching non-capital felony cases. Why should we have faith in the system when it comes to deciding whether people should live or die?

This stance was affirmed when quadmoniker put me on to the case of Anthony Harris earlier today.

On the afternoon of June 27, 1998, Lori Duniver discovered that her five-year-old daughter, Devan, was missing from her home in New Philadelphia, Ohio. The following day, Devan’s body was found in a wooded area near her home. She had been stabbed seven times in the neck. Captain Jeffrey Urban (“Urban”) of the New Philadelphia Police Department led the investigation into Devan’s murder. Urban identified several “persons of interest” who might have killed Devan, including Devan’s mother, Lori, who had recently called a suicide hotline to report that she was depressed and considering harming herself and her children; Lori’s boyfriend, Jaimie Redmond, a drug addict and felon of whomDevan was afraid, who had previously kidnapped Devan for three days and beaten her with a belt, who may have been in the neighborhood of Devan’s house at the time of her disappearance, who was later found in possession of an unexplained pack of children’s playing cards, and whose alibi witness was later discovered to have given a false name and Social Security number to the police; Devan’s father, Richard, a violent alcoholic who had recently complained about having to pay child support for Devan and who refused to help Lori search for Devan after Devan’s disappearance, claiming to be too drunk to drive; Devan’s brother, Dylan, who was described by several individuals as violent and who had recently stabbed a cat; and Harris, a twelve-year-old, African-American neighbor of the (Caucasian) Duniver family.

Some background real quick. Both Anthony Harris and Devan Duniver lived in the same apartment complex in New Philadelphia, Ohio, which was 97% white as of the 2000 census. Anthony and Devan played together, and had once got into a scuffle when the little girl threw a brick at him.

Continue reading