Category Archives: Fourth Amendment

Millions of Tax Dollars Spent to Defend Police Abuse – Your Money Squandered

police target suspected gun owner in no knock raid

 

Millions of Tax Dollars Regularly Spent to Defend Police Abuse

by Stirling Watts

Are you a tax paying resident in a large American metropolitan city?  Are you concerned about the accountability of the your hard earned tax dollars?

A recent Russia Today article revealed that in New York City alone over the last five years, nearly half a billion in tax dollars were used to pay settlements to plaintiffs in cases of civil rights violations against citizens – civil rights violations perpetrated by the police.  Yes, that’s right – legal settlements, payoffs, large sums of money paid from pubic taxpayer coffers to compensate for civil rights abuses wrongfully carried out by police officers.

Documents that were recently made available to the public by the New York City Law Department revealed that these payoffs totaled more than $428 million, and  were the result of more than 12,000 such civil rights cases that have been processed through the New York City court system from 2009 until now, October 2014.

Those are huge amounts of money for just one city to have paid out to compensate for abusive, illegal, actions carried out by paid professional police officers —- and we are talking about New York City alone.  Just imagine how much money is being squandered the very same way in other major metro areas of the United States.  If you’re an American, you know which cities I mean – the ones constantly in the news for police abuse.  Really, if you watch the non-mainstream news, you know that means that virtually all of our cities are guilty.

Let’s think about the basic moral aspects that drive this abuse of taxpayer dollars.  We’re talking about taxpayer dollars spent to defend countless unconstitutional actions carried out in supposed “good faith” by law enforcement agencies dealing with crimes which are, for the most part, completely victimless.

To begin with, how many cases of police abuse should we reasonably expect to hear about each year?  In an imperfect human world, we might expect that every law enforcement agency will experience at least a blip on the radar of individual problems with officer or agent misbehavior.  That’s just human nature.  But, shouldn’t the sum total number of abusive police actions reported every year amount to no more than a few isolated instances, caused by a tiny number of bad cops?

And when those inevitable cases of bad behavior do rear their ugly heads, shouldn’t we expect law enforcement agencies to implement immediate and appropriate correctional actions?  Why is it that following every deadly shooting by a police officer, regardless of the sequence of events that led to the incident, officers who have discharged their weapon killed someone are routinely put on paid administrative leave?  Isn’t something missing in the individual accountability and responsibility requirements expected of the average American law enforcement officer?

If that’s not a relevant issue, then how is it that just last year, New York City paid more than $96 million (yes, that’s right, $96 million!) in settlements to citizen plaintiffs whose civil rights were abused by NYC cops?  Even more amazing is that Mayor Bloomberg, at least according to the claims of the Russia Today article, regularly shrugs these numbers off as irrelevant.  As a taxpayer in New York City, would you also find these figures irrelevant?

A  bigger moral dilemma, and the “war on drugs”

This excessive abuse of taxpayer funds is only a part of an even bigger moral dilemma.  Is it morally sound public policy for police departments to pay off victims whose civil rights have been violated by police with massive amounts of money taken from the taxpayers – taxpayers who quite reasonably expect the responsible use of public funds?

On the other hand, when any citizen’s civil rights are violated as the result of irresponsible police behavior, are those citizens not rightfully due compensation for the wrongs done to them?  Of course they are, and who then is to pay for the wrongs committed by our public servants?

When anyone does wrong, is not the wrongdoer the final responsible party?  Why, then, is the responsibility laid on the taxpayers and not on the police officer?  It is simply because taxpayers are a convenient source of easy cash for large and powerful city operated organizations like police departments.  It is because we all know that the police department itself serves to isolate the officers within that police department, the officers who carry out these cowardly and irresponsible acts, from blame or guilt.

What might be done to begin to curb this massive financial fraud?   Change just might begin with ending the all too common unconstitutional practices of no knock raids, warrantless searches, reasonless traffic stops, unconstitutional checkpoints, and other many varieties of 4th amendment violations.  What is fueling that?

This alarming trend of police abuse and the constant daily violation of individual’s constitutional rights by police is fueled almost completely by a senseless “war on drugs”.

It’s time to stop that nonsense.

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5 Startling Numbers Reveal the Militarization of U.S. Drug Policy

question everything

The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war

This average death toll of Americans murdered in drug-related crimes is higher than the annual fatality rate of US soldiers in either the Afghanistan or Iraq war. In fact, according to an analytical study of FBI crime statistics, the Vietnam War is the only conflict in the past half-century that has been deadlier for Americans. Disturbingly, this figure doesn’t even take into account the numerous individuals who have been killed by law enforcement in drug-related raids.

$51 billion – The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs

This huge figure, which is $5 billion more than the average annual expenditure on the Afghanistan War, is primarily allocated to arming and training the increasingly militarised law enforcement.  According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), weaponry held by US counter-narcotic agencies for use against American drug suspects includes flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and submachine guns. There is also an increased prevalence of drug-targeting SWAT teams using armoured personnel carriers – vehicles that were originally created to “transport infantry and provide protection from shrapnel and small arms fire on the battlefield.”

61 percent – The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color

The ACLU investigated the impact rates of SWAT teams in sixteen counties around the US, and in every single one, people of color were disproportionately targeted. In Allentown, PA, Latinos were 29 times more likely than white people to endure a SWAT raid, while Blacks in Burlington, NC, were 47 times more likely than whites to face this violence. This bias treatment is ongoing despite the rates of drug use and selling being comparable across racial lines.

18 months – The age of Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war

On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh’s home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range – critically injuring him. In  a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing “a singed crib” and “a pool of blood”, and later being informed by medics of the “hole in his chest that exposes his ribs.” Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may “make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs.” Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is  relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.

82 percent – The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs

American polling company, Rasmussen,  reported this staggering statistic, which contrasts considerably with the miniscule four percent who believe that the drug war has been successful. Despite the inordinate human and financial cost of the war on drugs, and its lack of success in quelling drug use or trafficking, Republican and Democrat leaders continue to express anti-democratic defiance as they ignore the will of the people and perpetuate the drug war’s inhumanity.

This article first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/5-startling-numbers-reveal-militarization-us-drug-policy

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Women Sue Over Public Body Cavity Searches | They Don’t Need a Reason to Molest You In Public

women sue over body cavity searches

Texas Department of “Justice” officers apparently don’t need a compelling reason to stick their hands down your pants or fingers in your private parts In full view of traffic beside the highway in broad daylight with cars full of random strangers zooming by.

If this sounds like possibly one of those urban legends that couldn’t have happened because it’s just too bizarre, ridiculous and over-the-top to have happened, then think again. It was all caught on the troopers dash-cam. And, actually, this wasn’t the first time that a body cavity search was done on two women with the same glove in Texas beside a busy highway. In that case it was due to suspicion of marijuana and none was found. This is obviously a flagrant disregard for constitutional rights, but it’s also bad policy that is going to cost taxpayers a bundle. It’s even more unnerving than forcing women to shake their bra out while lifting their shirt as reported recently.

So let’s get this straight… In the “land of the free”, if “they” say they found a small amount of marijuana (possibly dropped by your slacker brother or some acquaintance you gave a ride to the store or something), it’s a perfectly legitimate reason for someone with little to no medical training to use the same rubber glove to go in any and all orifices of your body at their discretion with no oversight from a superior or protocol (or sanitation)?

Uh… Sounds reasonable…

 

Women Sue Over Public Body Cavity Searches.

…And remember… “they hate us for our Freedom”…

BRAZORIA COUNTY, TX — Two women had the inside of their crotches (orifices)  searched on the side of the highway, thanks to the dutiful enforcement of tyrannical drug prohibition laws.

Officers pulled the women over for speeding on their way home from the beach. Of course, traffic stops are just the excuse a good enforcer needs to begin fishing for reasons to throw people in cages.

After finding a small amount of forbidden plants in the vehicle, officer Nathaniel Turner, wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. The two women, dressed only in bikinis, were told they were going to get an internal body cavity search. He called a female trooper to search their genitalia for drugs on the side of Highway 288 in Brazoria County

“Are you serious,” Brandy Hamilton asked the trooper.

“If you hid something in there, we’re going to find it,” said the trooper.

“You’re going to go up my private parts?!” Hamilton said.

“Yes ma’am.”

The women say that the same glove was used to violate all of their orifices.

women sue over body cavity searches

Women Sue Over Body Cavity Searches Beside Highway In Daylight

There are truly no limits to the amount of terror and tyranny that are created by the fascist Drug War that plagues the country.

“These police officers are here to protect and serve,” said Hamilton. “They did not protect me at all. Not one of them, and it was three officers out there.”

Brandy Hamilton and Alexandria Randle are suing the officers involved.

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www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI6VHn5_7os

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/texas-women-sue-humiliating-body-cavity-searches-roadside-article-1.1390230#ixzz2Y6wIDJOF

If you enjoy knowing what’s going on in the world, please defend the First Amendment that 41 Democrats and 1 Socialist in the senate have voted to repeal. 

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