A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘United Police States of America’ tag

No Honor Among Thieves

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The primary job of a police officer is to extort wealth from the subjects of the State by enforcing the letter of the law. Most people don’t sign up for the job since the law prohibits a mind boggling number of peaceful activities and most people are disinclined to initiate violence against peaceful individuals. That means that the State has to recruit from the minority of people who enjoy initiating violence. While this gives the State an army of officers willing to do whatever it says, it also means that it has to deal with its ranks being filled with psychopaths and that has a lot of unintended consequences:

ST LOUIS – A black off-duty St. Louis police officer was shot by a white on-duty police officer from the same department who apparently mistook him for a fleeing suspect, according to a statement from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

There’s no honor among thieves. If given the opportunity one thief will gladly steal from another or, in this case, shoot another. With that said, I do appreciate it when violent gangs confine their violence to their own ranks.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Lies and Damn Lies

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Since Diamond Reynolds livestreamed the aftermath of Castile’s death the cop apologists have been desperately trying to spin the preceding events in a way that justified what Officer Yanez did. Now that the jury has ruled that Yanez wasn’t guilty of manslaughter based on the explanation of the statute that was provided to them, they’re celebrating. Of course, their celebration involves making a great many false claims.

One of the worst dens of cop apologists that has popped up on the Internet in recent times is Blue Lives Matters. Whenever an officer is involved in a use of force case the writers of that site are quick to character assassinate the victim, anybody connected to the victim, and anybody who disagrees with their narrative. Not surprisingly, their spin requires a great deal of speculation or outright false claims.

On Monday the site posted this article to celebrate Yanez’s court victory. It’s not only a great example of the tendency for cop apologists to revel in death but also a great example of the speculation and false claims their narratives are often based on. For starters:

“Philando Castile responded, “I don’t have to reach for it,” while reaching in the area where his gun was located.”

This statement is entirely speculative. Many cop apologists have pointed out that the dashcam footage doesn’t show what was happening inside of the car, which is correct. However, usually immediately afterwards, they then say that Castile shouldn’t have been reaching. Since the dashcam video doesn’t show the inside of the car there’s no way to know whether Castile was reaching for anything, had both of his hands placed on his steering wheel, or was playing with a Rubik’s Cube while eating ramen with chopsticks.

It was later determined that Castile was high on marijuana at the time of the stop, which impaired his ability to listen to Officer Yanez when he was instructed not to reach for his gun. Officer Yanez shot Castile after he ignored orders and reached towards his gun.

This is speculative but bordering on lying. Toxicology noted that Castile had THC in his body. However, that doesn’t mean he was impaired (“high”). THC can remain in the body for months after using cannabis so the fact that it was in his system doesn’t indicate that he had recently used the it. Furthermore, different people react differently to THC. Some people are not impaired by even high levels of THC. There is no way to know whether or not Castile was impaired from the THC in his system.

In fact, Officer Yanez asked for Philando Castile’s license and insurance near the beginning of the stop and Castile had already handed over paperwork before informing Officer Yanez about his gun.

I’m highlight this except because of what comes afterwards. From the court documents here are the contents of Castile’s wallet after he was killed. Specifically note his drivers licensed (middle card on the right side).

Philando Castile didn’t have a driver’s license to turn over to turn over because his license was suspended.

As you can see, this is entirely false. Castile clearly had a drivers license to hand Yanez and since it was in his wallet after he was killed he hadn’t handed it over yet. Officer Yanez clearly asked for Castile’s license and registration. Castile hand’t completely complied with his order before being shot. Even if Castile was reaching for his wallet, which we don’t know he was, he was doing so under orders from Yanez.

St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez had stopped Castile’s vehicle on July 6, 2016, because he believed Castile might have been involved in a convenience store robbery a few days earlier.

If you’ve watched the dashcam footage you know this is false. The footage makes it very clear that Yanez pulled Castile over for a broken taillight (the taillight was actually broken). While the article claims that pulling Castile over for a broken taillight was really just a clever ruse, there is no evidence whatsoever supporting that claim.

After making speculative and outright false statements the article moves on to character assassination.

Castile’s long previous criminal history does not show a tendency toward violence, although he had been stopped 52 times in the past few years for traffic-related issues.

Long criminal history is hyperbole at best. Castile was stopped 46 (six of the 52 noted incidents were for parking violations, not traffic violations) times but it was always for minor traffic-related incidents:

Castile had been stopped before, when officers spotted him not wearing a seat belt, or when an officer ran his plate number and found his license had been revoked for not paying an earlier fine. Numerous stops came after he didn’t use a turn signal. A few came after he was speeding. He was stopped for rolling through a right turn on a red light, having window tints that were too dark, and at least twice for not having a rear license plate light. He was rarely ticketed for the reason he was stopped. His interactions with police eventually slowed. Although he was continuing to receive licensing and insurance violations, there were only seven incidents involving police contact from 2011 to when he was killed.

About half of Castile’s charges were ultimately dismissed after he paid fines, made plea bargains, took driving courses, and in one case paid $275 to not have two violations show up on his record. (Previous media reports said he had been stopped 52 times; however six of those incidents were for parking violations.) He represented himself in most of the cases. At least three times the court granted him a public defender, which is provided to defendants who cannot afford a private attorney.

Hardly a long previous criminal history. After attempting to assassinate Castile’s character the article moves on to assassinating his girlfriend’s character.

After the Philando Castile shooting, Diamond Reynolds lied after Castile was shot and said that he didn’t have any criminal history. Reynolds also lied by claiming that she was Castile’s fiance, when she wasn’t. She claimed that she was held overnight by the police, when she was only interviewed for two hours before an officer bought her groceries and took her home. And Reynolds claimed that police didn’t provide first aid to Castile, when they did.

We now know that Reynolds’s account of the shooting did not reflect what happened.

Diamond Reynolds was later arrested in an unrelated case for being involved in an attack, using a hammer to attack other women.

This is a great example of the tactic I mention early on in this post. The writer wasn’t only content with assassinating Castile’s character but he felt the need to assassinate the characters of those connected to him. What Reynolds did or did not say after Yanez killed Castile has no relevancy on whether or not Yanez’s actions were justified or not. Likewise, her previous arrest is entirely irrelevant to the case. The only reason to bring it up is to establish guilt by association.

I hope this analysis was educational and illustrated some of the common tactics used by cop apologists when an officer is involved in a seemingly unjustified use of force.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Police Training

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Being a police officer is a pretty safe career choice. However, many police officers seem to think that everybody is out to get them. Why might that be? Perhaps it has something to do with the training they receive:

[Grossman] views the world as almost unrecognizably dangerous: a place where gang members seek to set records for killing cops, where a kid “in every school” is thinking about racking up “a body count.” His latest book, Assassination Generation, insists that violent video games are turning the nation’s youth into mass murderers. The recent wave of “massacres” is just the beginning. (“Please stop calling them mass shootings!”) He smacks the easels: “These [thump] crimes [thump] are [thump] everywhere!” He foresees attacks on school buses and day care centers. “Kindergartners run about point-five miles an hour and get a burst of about 20 yards and then they’re done.” It won’t just happen with guns, but with hammers, axes, hatchets, knives, and swords. His voice jumps an octave: “Hacking and stabbing little kids! You don’t think they’ll attack day cares? It’s already happening in China. When you hear about a day care massacre,” he shouts, “tell them Grossman said it was coming!”

That’s not the end of it. “More people are signing up with ISIS than we can count,” Grossman says. He predicts a terrorist organization will soon detonate a nuclear bomb off the West Coast. “We have never been more likely to be nuked, and we have never been less prepared!” Terrorists will send “suicide bio-bombers” across the border to spread deadly diseases. “The day will come,” Grossman insists. “Folks, it is very, very bad out there!”

This is the guy who has trained more U.S. police officers than anyone else. The guy who, more than anyone else, has instructed cops on what mind-set they should bring to their jobs.

David Grossman, for those who don’t recognize his name, is the dumbass that brought us the idiotic wolves, sheep, and sheep dogs parable. In his world view there are three categories of people. The first is the sheep, which is composed of everybody who doesn’t agree with his paranoid worldview. The second is the wolves, which include everybody from ISIS to kids in schools who are obsessed with racking up a body count. The third is the sheep dogs, which is composed of everybody who shares his paranoid worldview.

When you realize he’s paranoid and the man who has taught more police officers than anybody else you start to understand how police transformed from peacekeepers to professional soldiers waging a war. How can you have a peacekeeping force, which is what the police are always sold as, when its standard training involves telling members that everybody they look at in the world is planning to murder them?

If people really want to reform policing in the United States, a goal that I don’t think is possible at this point, they need to advocate for giving police realistic training.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 22nd, 2017 at 10:30 am

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

The System Worked as Intended

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The Iron Maiden concert wasn’t the only big thing to happen on Friday. The jury for the Jeronimo Yanez case finished their deliberations and, as expected, determined that the officer was innocent. What was also unsurprisingly is that protesters responded by shutting down I-94.

A lot of people have been arguing that the system has failed but I would argue that the system is working as intended. Some people raised questions about the charges being brought against Yanez, mostly noting that other charges could have been brought against him that would have been easier to prove. I’m not familiar enough with the subject of charges to know if there’s any validity to that claim but brining difficult to prove charges against agents of the State isn’t unprecedented. However, we do know that the judge seemed to be extending a little professional courtesy to Yanez by denying the jury’s request to review some of the evidence. Since I wasn’t on the jury I don’t know whether that denial had any bearing on the ruling or not but it’s a fact that will likely haunt this trial for a while.

We know from previous trials that the courts purposely feed jurors erroneous information that benefits the State. For example, jurors are usually instructed that they must rule on the letter of the law, which goes against a jury’s right of nullification. As the Yanez trial demonstrated, judges also hold a great deal of sway over what jurors are allowed to see and not allowed to see. If the jury requests to review evidence, a judge can deny their request.

Jury trials are often thought of as a check on government power but the “justice” system here in the United States is designed in such a way that the State almost always wins. But the State holds a monopoly on writing, interpreting, and deciding the legality of laws. It makes the rules so it should come as no surprise that the rules favor it just as the rules of a Casino favor the house. When the State wins in its courts, even when the case against it is damning, people should realize that the system isn’t broken. In fact it’s working exactly as intended.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 19th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Police Body Camera Footage Being Placed Under Lock and Key

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Equipping police with body cameras was supposed to help the public hold law enforcers accountable but like any solution the State agrees to, body cameras turned out to be yet another weapon in the State’s arsenal to expropriate wealth from its subjects. State governments are placing body camera footage under lock and key so it can’t be used by the public:

North Carolina, for example, passed legislation last year excluding body camera video from the public record, so footage is not available through North Carolina’s Public Records Act. That means civilians have no right to view police recordings in the Tar Heel state unless their voice or image was captured in the video.

Louisiana also exempts body camera video from public records laws.

South Carolina will only release body camera footage to criminal defendants and the subjects of recordings.

Kansas classifies body camera video as “criminal investigation documents” available only when investigations are closed. The Topeka Police Department may have wanted positive public relations with the release of its pond rescue video, but if a news outlet had requested that video through Kansas’ Open Records Act, that request would’ve likely been denied.

I stated pretty early on in the body camera debate that the footage would be useless, at least as far as holding the police accountable goes, unless the video was streamed directly to a third-party server that wasn’t under the control of any government entity. However, most body cameras upload their data to services, such as Axon’s evidence.com, that are controlled by parties with a vested interest in pleasing police departments. Combine that setup with the state laws that put the footage outside of the public’s reach and you have another tool that was sold as being good for the people that was actually very bad for them.

The Evils of the Drug War

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The war on unapproved drugs may be one of the most evil acts being carried out here in the United States. It took an entirely voluntary activity, introducing chemicals into one’s own body, and turn it into an excuse for unprecedented levels of expropriation and criminal activity by agents of the State.

Using the drug war as justification, police have stolen cars, cash, and other property as well as sexually assaulted a practically uncountable number of victims. Their victims include the elderly, disabled, and even children:

But now, a lawsuit filed on behalf of several students and seeking class-action status for all of them makes some far more disturbing allegations:

a) Deputies ordered students to stand facing the wall with their hands and legs spread wide apart;

b) Deputies touched and manipulated students’ breasts and genitals;

c) Deputies inserted fingers inside girls’ bras, and pulled up girls’ bras, touching and partially exposing their bare breasts;

d) Deputies touched girls’ underwear by placing hands inside the waistbands of their pants or reaching up their dresses;

e) Deputies touched girls’ vaginal areas through their underwear;

f) Deputies cupped or groped boys’ genitals and touched their buttocks through their pants.

[…]

According to the lawsuit, the deputies had a list of 13 suspected students. Three of them were in school that day. For that, they searched 900 students. (And, let’s just point out again, found nothing. In a school of 900.)

If several adults went into a school and sexually assaulted 900 children most people wouldn’t even wait for a trial, they would grab the pitchforks and torches. But when the adults are wearing badges the behavior is suddenly seen as excusable in many people’s eyes. Oftentimes when officers commit such heinous crimes they receive no punishment, which encourages more wicked people to seek a job in law enforcement.

I’m hoping this lawsuit results in the involved officers being jailed. Even if the accusations of sexual assault are unfounded (which, considering the actions performed by officers in the pursuit of unapproved drugs, seems unlikely) the officers violated the privacy of 887 students (they only had a list of 13 suspected students) by searching them without any reason whatsoever.

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 TSA is Working Hard to Make Your Life More Miserable

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How much do you hate the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)? I bet that you don’t hate it as much as you will. The TSA has announced that it’s investigating methods to make its security theater even more annoying and time consuming:

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the TSA’s plans are still vague, but the agency has been testing a variety of security procedures at smaller airports before expanding them to major cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Boston and others. In some cases, passengers were required to remove all food items or put any electronics larger than a cellphone — meaning tablets and kindles too — in separate bins. In one failed test, confused passengers were even asked to take out any paper items in their bags, including notepads. The TSA hasn’t announced which rules it will implement yet and even when it does, enforcement will vary at each airport and security line. There’s even the possibility that an agent could ask you to take something out and put it in a bin without warning. While compliance is optional, non-compliance means stepping out of line for a manual check.

The TSA, as it is apt to do, is blaming travelers for these proposed policies. According to the TSA checked luggage fees have caused air travelers to cram more stuff into their carry-on bags, which is making life difficult for the TSA’s x-ray machine observers. However, I find it difficult to believe that paper, which previous didn’t hinder x-ray scanners, suddenly developed the ability to hinder x-ray scanners. I also fail to see how requiring air travelers to place all of their electronic devices into separate bins will make life easier for x-ray machine observers. Perhaps the people proposing the requirements are just entirely stupid when it comes to security. That would explain the agency’s 95 percent failure rate.

Of course, any changes to the TSA’s already inconsistent security policies will lead to longer security lines, which means you’ll have to show up to the airport even sooner to guarantee you can get through the line in time to catch your flight. And you know what? Unless you can avoid air travel, there’s nothing you can do about it. Unlike market actors, you cannot choose to not do business with the TSA.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 26th, 2017 at 10:30 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.

[…]

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.