on Wednesdsay, it was announced that a settlement has been reached in which law enforcement officers will receive more training. While the official details of the settlement were “confidential,” the Huffington Post got a copy of the settlement using a FOIA request and found some interesting details, including an agreement that none of the four journalists in question will “publicize” the agreement in any way
In the wake of the Michael Brown verdict and the Ferguson uprising, a number of “elite” law schools decided that their students could get a deferral on exams if they were “emotionally” unable to proceed. (source)
This reinforces the impression that the so-called elite law schools are simply places where students are pre-selected and then coddled. As a graduate of one of these schools (Georgetown), I’ll confirm that the quality of the education is clearly secondary to the “brand name.” I did a year as a visiting student at the University of Florida, which is a little lower ranked – and got way better education there.
Of course, I only got into Georgetown as a fluke. I actually got piss drunk with a member of the admissions committee one night in September of 1997, at the Irish Times. He asked me what I did before law school. I said “my last job was working on oil tankers and freighters.” He said “ohhh, I remember you! We thought it would be very interesting to see how the other students would react to someone with your background.” I held back from punching him in the face. But, at least I knew what the fuck I was doing there. Yep, I was an affirmative action admission – I guess they saved one seat for foul mouthed sailor working class shitbags.
And then I figured out that it was impossible to get less than a C. Even then, you really had to work at it — like by falling asleep in class, snoring, not studying for the exam, and getting two right out of 10 questions. That was C performance.
… you may wish to consider the following information in re: your salary.
You won’t be surprised to learn that Edmundson is a “city” in St. Louis County, about a ten-minute drive from Ferguson (might take a lot longer, of course, if you’re black). As Radley Balko has written about in detail, St. Louis County is made up of almost 100 teeny little municipalities, each one of which has its own municipal code, police force, and court. “Teeny” may not be scientific, but it’s accurate. Edmundson’s slogan is “Front Door to St. Louis Lambert International Airport,” and that slogan is almost as bad as the location but my point is that Edmundson is actually much smaller than the airport.
Okay, maybe that’s not fair—airports are big. How about, Edmundson is not much bigger than the terminal?
And yet it has its own city government, law code, and law-enforcement system. Any town of 834 is going to have difficulty paying for that with a sales tax alone. The solution, as the letter shows, is to prey on the citizens. According to this report, Edmundson gets almost 35 percent of its revenue from court fines and fees, and that is not uncommon in the area. But with so few people in these towns, they have to get creative and aggressive. Of course some of the revenue is extorted from travelers, but residents suffer the most from being targeted and written up over and over again, and then punished for being unable to pay. (The report says another nearby town has 1,300 residents and over 33,000 outstanding warrants.) And this is just scratching the surface of what these reports show. It is astounding.
Of course, none of this is official policy, as the mayor’s letter clearly states. He specifically says that he wants only “good tickets” written. (He’s probably one of those people who uses quote marks for emphasis.) And, in an entirely separate and unrelated matter, he takes the opportunity to remind officers of certain unfortunate fiscal realities that might impact their remuneration. He’s not telling them what to do, you understand. He’s just stating facts. Do what you think is fair (to yourself and the city, that is).
On a late spring evening eight years ago, police pulled over my mother’s 1997 Oldsmobile Aurora, in the suburb of St. Ann, Missouri, as she raced to pick up a relative from St. Louis’s Lambert International Airport. “Do you know why I stopped you?” the officer asked. “No I don’t,” my mother answered. The police charged her with speeding, but she did not receive a mere ticket. Instead, an officer ran my mother’s name and told her that since she had failed to appear in court for driving without a license, there was a six-year-old warrant out for her arrest. “I just started crying. I couldn’t believe it,” my mother said. The police arrested her and hauled her off to St. Louis County Jail, where authorities eventually allowed her one phone call, which she placed to my stepfather. He said, shaking his head, “I was surprised because I knew she didn’t have no warrants.”
St. Ann is one of the more notorious cities in the county when it comes to traffic violations, and in my mother’s case, the city’s finest, quite simply, fucked up. As it was, my mother had no warrant; the police confused her with another woman who shared her name — sans the middle initial.
She would go on to spend two nights in jail, pay $1,000 in fines that she did not owe, and plead guilty to the crimes of the other woman. She paid a devastating price, financially and emotionally, for the racist and classist policing described in last month’s Justice Department report on the tumult in Missouri. The 102-page document details the physical and economic terror inflicted upon the poor and black residents of Ferguson, Missouri. The report echoed the torrent of criticism that residents have long lodged at the city’s overseers. But, as my mother’s experience helps illustrate, the injustices cataloged by the investigation are not confined to one tiny Midwestern suburb. Ferguson is emblematic of how municipalities in the St. Louis region, and across the country, operate as carceral, mob-like states that view and treat poor black people as cash cows.
In Ferguson, at least 16,000 individuals had arrest warrants last year compared with the town’s total population of just 21,000 residents. Those warrants fed what the DOJ called a “code-enforcement system … honed to produce more revenue.” In nearby City of St. Louis, the 75,000 outstanding arrest warrants are equivalent to about one-quarter of the population, part of a county-wide problem of cash-strapped cities incentivized to “squeeze their residents with fines,” as The Washington Post put it. One city, Pine Lawn, Missouri, recently had 23,000 open arrest warrants compared with the city’s population of just 3,275 residents; court fees and traffic tickets make up nearly 30 percent of its municipal revenue. “Getting tickets — and getting them fixed — are two actions that define living in the St. Louis area,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier this month.
“At the time officer Mearkle fires both rounds from her pistol, the video clearly depicts Kassick lying on the snow covered lawn with his face toward the ground. Furthermore, at the time the rounds are fired nothing can be seen in either of Kassick’s hands, nor does he point or direct anything toward Officer Mearkle,” the affidavit said.
FBI Director James Comey repeatedly defended the police in a speech intended to address race relations after a series of high-profile killings by law enforcement officers.
Speaking at Georgetown University this morning, Comey said citizens need to have more empathy for police, that police response time is not influenced by race, and that “law enforcement is not the root cause of problems in our hardest-hit neighborhoods.”
Comey also cited and quoted from the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from the Broadway play “Avenue Q,” adding that while everyone has a duty to try and overcome bias, “racial bias isn’t epidemic in those who join law enforcement any more than it is epidemic in academia or the arts.” And yet “after years of police work, officers often can’t help but be influenced by the cynicism they feel” and begin viewing black citizens differently.
The much-anticipated address comes in the wake of a series of killings of black citizens at the hands of local police, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio.
Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th.
That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.
Some of the U.S.’s closest allies fared even worse, including Saudi Arabia (164), Bahrain (163), Egypt (158), the UAE (120), and Israel (101: “In the West Bank, the Israeli security forces deliberately fired rubber bullets and teargas at Palestinian journalists”; 15 journalists were killed during Israeli attack on Gaza; and “the authorities also stepped up control of programme content on their own TV stations during the offensive, banning a spot made by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem that cited the names of 150 children who had been killed in the Gaza Strip”).
To explain the latest drop for the U.S., the press group cited the U.S. government’s persecution of New York Times reporter Jim Risen, as well as the fact that the U.S. “continues its war on information in others, such as WikiLeaks.” Also cited were the numerous arrests of journalists covering the police protests in Ferguson, Missouri (which included The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux, who was tear-gassed and shot with a rubber bullet prior to his arrest).
About a month after a white officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., the city’s assistant police chief, Al Eickhoff, took to Google and searched under the words “less lethal.”
Eickhoff, a 36-year veteran of Missouri police work, said he was looking for any new device, weapon or ammunition — any alternative to lethal force — that might have prevented a deadly result when Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson encountered each other in the noonday heat last August.
Browsing a California company’s Web site, Eickhoff found pictures and videos of an odd-looking, blaze-orange device docked on a normal handgun barrel. When a bullet fired, it melded with an attached projectile the size of a ping-pong ball that flew with enough force to knock a person down, maybe break some ribs, but not kill him, the product’s makers said — even at close range.
Its name: the Alternative.
Great, but how about actually teaching officers gun safety and incident management, instead of letting them shoot at anything that moves?