A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Corruption Corner’ Category

Reefer Madness

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Anybody who has watched Reefer Madness knows that marijuana can send people into psychotic rages. Take Officer Yanez, for example. One sniff of the devil’s weed made him go from a calm cop who was issuing a citation for a broken taillight to a hardened killer:

The officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year told investigators that the smell of “burnt marijuana” in Castile’s car made him believe his life was in danger.

Of course cannabis doesn’t send people into psychotic rages. It actually has quite the opposite effect. If Castile was being influenced by cannabis he was probably more compliant and relaxed than normal. Likewise, had Yanez toked up before hitting the road it’s possible that Castile would still be alive today.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 22nd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Dashcam Footage from Yanez Case Released

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Now that the jury has acquitted Officer Yanez of wrongdoing the dashcam footage from his cruiser has been publicly released:

The video is pretty damning. Officer Yanez pulled Castle over for a broken taillight. After handing the officer his papers Castile calmly informed Yanez that he was currently carrying a firearm. At first Yanez appears to be calm and tells Castlie not to reach for it. Almost immediately afterwards Yanez is drawing his firearm and screaming at Castile not to reach for it while he and his girlfriend scream that he’s not reaching for it. Then Yanez shoots Castile without any apparent regard for the child and girlfriend who were also in the car.

After that Yanez just stands there aiming his gun at the surviving occupants of the vehicle while screaming a few profanities. After a few minutes pass another squad car arrives. Unlike Yanez, those officers were decent enough to attempt to provide medical aid to Castile. Meanwhile Yanez was panicking or continuing to panic. He wasn’t even able to get his gun back into his holster.

The absolute best case scenario here is that Yanez panicked and gunned Castile down without cause. It really makes me wonder if the nine pages of instructions the jury received concluded with, “As you can see the law is written in such a way that an office who panics is not legally responsible for their actions and that’s why you must acquit Officer Yanez.”

Legalizing More Thievery

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Civil asset forfeiture is simply a euphemism for theft. Unlike most other forms of government theft, civil asset forfeiture doesn’t even have the thin veil of criminal or civil charges either being proven in court or confessed to by the accused to justify it. Instead civil asset forfeiture relies on the concept of guilty until proven innocent. If a man with a badge believes that your assets are in any way tied to a drug crime they can legally steal them and the only way you can get them back back is by proving they aren’t, which is an impossible task.

While there has been a lot of pushback in recent years to civil asset forfeiture by a handful of individual states, the United States Senate is working hard to expand it:

A new bill seeks to track your money and assets incessantly, will enjoin any business with government ties to act as a de facto arm of DHS, and would steal all of your assets — including Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — should you fail to report funds when traveling with over $10,000.

Under the guise of combating money laundering, Senate Bill 1241, “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017,” ramps up regulation of digital currency and imposes other autocratic financial controls in an attempt to ensure none of your assets can escape one of the State’s most nefarious, despised powers: civil asset forfeiture.

The best thing about a law like this is that most people won’t know about it and therefore will fail to comply with it out of sheer ignorance. Since ignorance of the laws isn’t an excuse a law like this creates a huge number of new criminals for the State to prey on.

There are a lot of banking laws that people violate every day because they are simply unaware of them and the government loves to go after them. The Internal Revenue Service was going after people who turned their legitimate deposits over $10,000 into multiple smaller deposits to avoid filling out reporting paperwork. Legally this is known as structuring and the law that prohibits it was passed under the guise of catching tax evaders but most people are entirely ignorant of it so they violate it accidentally. Senate Bill 1241 aims to create a similar law that will likely be violated by innocent people who are simply unaware of the law, which will give the State an excuse to seize their assets. Best of all, if it happens under civil asset forfeiture, the government doesn’t even have to prove guilt.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 20th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The State’s Definition of Justice

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To most people the term justice creates images of people who were wronged being compensated by the individual(s) who wronged them. The State has a different view of justice. In the eyes of the State justice creates an image where it is compensated whenever anybody has been wronged. This skewed view of justice is what motivated the State to primarily pursue crimes that will be profitable to it instead of crimes involving a victim. It’s also why when the State wrongs somebody it resists compensating them:

A Tennessee man who served 31 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit is petitioning the state to compensate him $1 million for the years of his life that were taken away. All he’s gotten so far is $75.

In October 1977 a Memphis woman was raped in her home by two intruders. She later identified one of them as her neighbor, Lawrence McKinney, who was 22 at the time. He was convicted on rape and burglary charges in 1978 and sentenced to 115 years in jail.

DNA evidence cleared him of the charges in 2008, and when he was released in 2009, the Tennessee Department of Corrections gave him a $75 check to restart his life.

This story is from 2016 but a search indicates that he still hasn’t been compensated beyond $75 even though the State stole 31 years of his life.

If you kidnapped somebody and detained them for 31 years do you think that you’d get off with a $75 fine? Probably not. You’d likely face a lifetime in prison. But when it comes to rules the State’s attitude is that rules are for thee, not for me. Mr. McKinney will be lucky if he ever sees more than $75 from his case because the State wants to profit off of every crime, even its own.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 30th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Chicago Police Department’s Watch List

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The Chicago Police Department (CPD), like seemingly every other government agency, has a watch list. And like every other government agency’s watch list, CPD’s contains names that don’t fit into its described scope:

Yet the list is far broader and more extensive than Johnson and other police officials have suggested. It includes more than 398,000 entries — encompassing everyone who has been arrested and fingerprinted in Chicago since 2013.

Nearly half of the people at the top of the list have never been arrested for illegal gun possession. About 13 percent have never been charged with any violent crime. And 20 of the 153 people deemed most at risk to be involved in violent crime, as victim or shooter, have never been arrested either for guns or violence.

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The police concluded the people who hadn’t been arrested for guns or violence were at great risk to commit a violent crime or become the victim of one — and, as a result, should be watched closely — because they:

  • Had been shot or assaulted.
  • Had been identified by the police as a gang member.
  • Or recently were arrested for any crime, even a nonviolent offense.

Watch lists are always advertised by government agencies as having names of suspected criminals. However, they always end up containing names of people that don’t fit the advertised criteria. This is why those of us who aren’t a bunch of statist bootlickers are so touchy about punishing people for having the misfortune of being placed on a government watch list.

If, for example, CPD’s Strategic Subject List was used to prohibit gun ownership (something gun control advocates want done for people appearing on federal terrorist watch lists), people would find their gun ownership privileges revoked because they were the victim of an assault.

Altering the Deal

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A judge in Georgia disagreed with a jury’s verdict and decided to punish the suspect in spite of the fact that he was found not guilty:

A black man who was found not guilty of armed robbery will still serve up to seven years behind bars after a judge ruled he had breached the rules of his probation sentence for another crime.

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The 24-year-old was already was serving a five year probation term (a court order served outside prison through fines and community service) for his first ever offence, breaking and entering an apartment to steal a television worth $120 (£92) in 2012.

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The following February, a judge decided it was likely he did commit the robbery and as a result Chatman was re-sentenced for the original crime of stealing a TV and ordered to serve 10-years behind bars, back dated to the day of the crime.

This is a major problem with a monopolistic justice system. The judge is obviously untrustworthy. He decided that he didn’t like the verdict of a jury so he decided to renege on a previous deal made between the courts and the suspect. But even with this information in hand it’s not possible for people in the judge’s jurisdiction to choose to not do business with him. The best they can hope for is that there are multiple judges in that jurisdiction so they have a chance of getting one who is more upstanding.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Hiding Public Records in the Private Sector

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Axon, the company formerly known as Taser, announced that it would give free body cameras and one year of online video storage to any department in the United States for one year. This seems like a phenomenal deal but there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. The deal is meant to make Axon money and to please its biggest customers, the police:

But isn’t just video. Police agencies and local governments are using Evidence.com to store other evidence, too. Defense attorney Rick Horowitz recently put up a post about how in order to access discovery in a case, the district attorney told him to log on to the website. And in order to log on, Horowitz had to sign this user agreement:

You consent to Axon’s access and use of the Account Content in order to….improve Axon’s Products and Services. In addition, for content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP Content”), you specifically give us the following permission: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, irrevocable, royalty-free, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use any IP Content that you post on or in connection with the Services (IP License).

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Second, this isn’t just any public record. We’re talking about evidence in criminal investigations. To have that evidence stored on servers owned by a private company creates some bad incentives. The company’s primary client isn’t the public; it’s the police agency. And it’s primary interest isn’t just outcomes in courtrooms; it’s keeping the client happy. For example, the company might win favor with police agencies — for example, allowing officers to take certain liberties with body camera video in a way that keeps the courts or opposing attorneys in the dark.

Body cameras were sold as a tool for police accountability but it has become clear that they were meant to collect evidence that the State can use to prosecute more individuals. Axon’s primary customer is the State and therefore it is incentivized to help the State use body cameras to collect evidence against individuals while not allowing the footage to be used to hold police accountable.

People often wonder why the State empowered corporations so much. At one point I thought it was primarily a protection racket, the State offers corporations extra legal privileges in exchange for money. But now I’m starting to think that the primary purpose was so the State could conceal its dirty laundry from the public by hiding behind the shield of the private sector. Remember, the State has given you permission to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request against it but not against a private entity. So long as it can give a corporation the job of hiding information the State can rightfully say that it has no information pertaining to your FOIA request.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 16th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Coincidences Everywhere

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In 2013 it was revealed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has a propensity to stop and frisk minorities. How much of a propensity? In one precinct 98 percent of the people stopped and harassed by the police were minorities. I’m sure that was just a coincidence just like I’m sure that this is also just a coincidence:

Black and Hispanic kids accounted for 99% of all public school students handcuffed by NYPD school safety agents in crisis incidents in 2016, data published Monday shows.

A “child in crisis” incident is one where a student displaying signs of emotional distress is removed from the classroom and taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation.

In 2016, there were 262 child in crisis incidents where handcuffs were used, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which first reported the data — and all but three of those incidents, or 259, involved black or Latino children.

When I said that this was a coincidence I was being sarcastic but I know a lot of “tough on crime” people who would say that sincerely.

Racism is a collectivist idea and therefore incompatible with individualism (which is not to say that an individual can’t be racist, they certainly can, but by being racist they are necessarily being a collectivist) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the State, the greatest form of anti-individualist organization on Earth, has such a strong tendency to institutionalize racism. Even when it goes so far as to create laws against racism, the State manages to institutionalize racism in its actions.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 16th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Wonders of Late Stage Socialism

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Maduro has disarmed Venezuelans, armed his loyalists, and is now in the process of rounding up dissidents and trying them in secretive military courts:

Hundreds of Venezuelans arrested in the past week have been tried in secretive military courts, a new maneuver by the government of President Nicolas Maduro as he fights to retain his grip on power in the face of escalating political opposition and massive street protests.

Those taken into custody were charged with crimes including “rebellion” and “insulting authorities,” and some were sentenced within hours, according to civil-rights groups. Thousands of people have been detained across the country in recent months, with authorities rounding up politicians, activists, student leaders, even shoppers waiting in queues to buy food who made complaints police officers decided were out of line.

Yet more proof that Venezuela is experiencing late stage socialism.

Military courts usually come into play after a government has either fully cemented its power or see its power slipping away. In either case the government is motivated to eliminate all dissenters, which is difficult with drawn out public trials. It’s far more convenient to declare dissenters war criminals, whisk them away to a secret military court, and perform a quick show trail to get all of the paperwork in order (because governments are hopelessly addicted to paperwork), and either toss them in a labor camp for the rest of what will be their very short lives or simply execute them.

What Venezuela is experiencing is nothing new. It’s the way pretty much every socialist government has played out. Yet believers in socialism will be quick to claim that Venezuela isn’t real socialism because it didn’t lead to their mythical utopia.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Stories Change to Match the Facts

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There’s been yet another case of police using deadly force under very questionable circumstances. This incident happened in Texas and resulted in the death of a 15 year-old. While this incident isn’t unique here in the United Police States of America, it has offered us a look into how law enforcers will change the story to make it match the facts:

Jordan Edwards, 15, died after Officer Roy Oliver fired a rifle into a car that was driving away from a party in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs.

Police initially said the car reversed “aggressively” towards the officer, but footage discredits that claim.

Police Chief Jonathan Haber said he “misspoke”.

Rules are for thee, not for me. When a suspect lies to a police officer they can be charged with a crime but when a police officer lies to the public they simply misspoke.

The officer in question has been fired but this too is a double standard. If you or I fire a rifle into a vehicle and kill the occupant we would most likely be charged with murder. However, when police officers do this they often suffer nothing more than having to take a forced paid vacation (called administrative leave in police parlance) or, in severe cases, losing their job. And even in the severe cases that result in an officer being fired their department is often strong armed into reinstating them by a police union.

Trust in the police is diminishing because of police actions and how the government responds to their actions. Stories like this where one officer steps in to defend another officer who obviously lied exacerbate the problem as does the fact that the officer in question hasn’t been charged after being caught in a lie.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 4th, 2017 at 10:30 am