Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

Archive for the ‘Solutions’ Category

Spokane City Press Release on Ombudsman Ordinance

Posted by Arroyoribera on July 2, 2010

(To read the ordinance fought for by the people of Spokane, approved by the Spokane City Council and to be signed by the Mayor, go to ORDC34609.pdf)

——————————————————————–

Mayor to Sign Updated Ombudsman Ordinance; Commends Council and Community for Work

Release Date: 6/29/2010 4:45:00 PM
Contact: Marlene Feist,
(509) 625-6740

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner today said she will sign the ordinance adopted by the Spokane City Council on Monday, June 28, that updates the authorities and responsibilities of the City’s Police Ombudsman.

“I want to commend the City Council, the City Attorney’s Office, and the community members who worked so diligently to find a path ahead on this important issue,” the Mayor said. “For me, the creation of the Ombudsman office always has been about devising a comprehensive system of civilian oversight that provides accountability and ultimately earns the trust of citizens. Today, we have an improved system.”

Under the revised ordinance provides the Office of Police Ombudsman with independent investigatory authority and requires the office provide closing reports about complaints. These reports will include a summary of the OPO’s conclusions and recommendations regarding revision of policies, procedures, or training.

The revised ordinance also clarifies ambiguous language and formalizes that complaints can originate with the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit or with the Ombudsman.

Attached is the revised ordinance. Additional information about the Office of Police Ombudsman is found at SpokaneOmbudsman.org.

ORDC34609.pdf

Posted in Educating the Chief, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Law, Solutions | Leave a Comment »

URGENT CALL — Spokane Campaign Against Violence Motivated by Hate

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 11, 2008

A CAMPAIGN AGAINST VIOLENCE MOTIVATED BY HATE

Working together to address the increase in random acts of violence against homeless individuals in our community. We hope as a community we can put an end to this appalling and frightening trend.

Central United Methodist Church

518 W 3rd

Tuesday March 18, 2:00 pm

Please RSVP with

Holly Jean Chilinski

Shalom Ministries

Shalom30@qwestoffice.net

(509) 455-9019

*********************************

http://www.spokesmanreview.com/media/video/?ID=844 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003089027_webhomeless27.html  http://thegimpparade.blogspot.com/search?q=spokane  http://thegimpparade.blogspot.com/2006/07/disabled-homeless-man-set-afire-after.html

 

Posted in Ethics, In Collective Self-Defense, Know Your Rights, Racism, Solutions, Testimonies, Urgent Call | Leave a Comment »

FILM — Up The Ridge: A US Prison Story — Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Magic Lantern

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 9, 2008

Up The Ridge: A U.S Prison Story
A Shocking Look Inside The Incarceration Industry

Film Screening & Public Discussion

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 — 7:30 to 9:00 PM
Magic Lantern Theater, 25 W Main, Spokane

*Due to the graphic nature of this film, it is not recommended for children
Sponsored by November Coalition Foundation and Thousand Kites

For more information call (509)684-1550 or e-mail tom@november.org

Admission is free; donations gladly accepted!

Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story

Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story is a one-hour television documentary produced by Appalshop’s Nick Szuberla and Amelia Kirby. In 1999, Szuberla and Kirby were volunteer DJ’s for the Appalachian region’s only hip-hop radio program in Whitesburg, KY when they received hundreds of letters from inmates transferred into nearby Wallens Ridge State Prison, the newest prison built to prop up the region’s sagging coal economy. The letters described human rights violations and racial tension between staff and inmates. Filming began that year and, through the lens of Wallens Ridge, the film offers viewers an in-depth look at the United States prison industry and the social impact of moving hundreds of thousands of inner-city minority offenders to distant rural outposts. Up the Ridge explores competing political agendas that align government policy with human rights violations, and political expediencies that bring communities into racial and cultural conflict with tragic consequences. As the film makes plain, connections exist, in both practice and ideology, between human rights violations in Abu Ghraib and physical and sexual abuse recorded in American prisons.

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, Know Your Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisons in Spokane, Racism, Solutions, Surveillance Society, Urgent Call, Videos | Leave a Comment »

Torok — a troubling choice as spokesperson on police interrogation of 12 year olds

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 6, 2008

The March 6, 2008 edition of the Spokesman-Review ran a story on the interrogation by Spokane Police and Spokane School District 81 Resource Officers of two 12-year-old girls, KellyAnn Cameron and Taylor Wyatt, who signed away their Miranda rights despite indications that they did not understand the process nor the implication of their actions. At least one of the girls was unclear as to whether or not an “attorney” and a “lawyer” were one and the same. Nevertheless, the four law enforcement personnel interrogated the girls without presence of parents or other staff.

The story is very troubling, both in the details of the incident itself as well as in the person chosen as the spokesperson for the Spokane Police Department, Sgt. Dan Torok.

Sgt. Dan Torok is perhaps the most controversial police officer in Spokane, both for his involvement in three high profile incidents in the last few years, two of which resulted in deaths, and for his belligerent online comments under the name “Dan” at blogs run by the local Spokesman-Review newspaper. In the matter of the Alford death by Torok’s service weapon, the chief of police ordered him to issue a Garrity letter, so infrequently used that Spokane County Sheriff’s investigators were confused about its propriety, according to the reporting of the Spokesman-Review. The Garrity letter effectively shielded Torok from questioning by investigators.

(It is highly ironic that Torok was shielded by the Chief from questioning from investigators over the Alford killing yet Torok is commenting publicly in defense of the SPD regarding the interrogation of the two twelve year old girls after questionable application of a Miranda waiving statement).

The killing of Alford by Torok remains controversial. Beyond that, however, the death of Otto Zehm is even more controversial not to mention the fact that the case remains unresolved from the perspective of many. To this date it remains unclear whether or not the FBI has a review of this matter open or not. And a report on the Spokane Police by consultant Mike Worley paid for by the city of Spokane remains incomplete to this date. The status of the contract the city signed with Worley’s company to write that report also remains unclear.

Torok was one of seven Spokane Police Officers involved in the brutal March 18, 2006 attack on and subsequent death of Otto Zehm, an unarmed mentally ill man who was beaten, tasered, hog-tied, kicked, kneed, and suffocated, before dying March 20, 2006 in what the coroner called a “homicide”.  Almost exactly a year later, Torok shot a homeless man, Jerome Alford, in a little trafficked area of Spokane.

As quoted in the Spokesman-Review article, Sgt. Torok waxes eloquent in justifying the actions of the SPD and suggests that police must interrogate pre-teens and other youth at school because the presence of parents is an impediment to their interrogation techniques.

I can assure you that Miranda rights are not in the curriculum of School District 81 in the seventh grade or elementary school and I believe it is safe to say that they are not in the curriculum through 10th grade as well. One of these girls was not even sure what the word “attorney” meant without asking for clarification.

Is Sgt. Torok — who with his men did not have the judgment to understand that Otto Zehm was “carrying” a pop bottle as opposed to being “armed” with a pop bottle before brutalizing him — a credible spokesperson for the tax-payer financed Spokane Police Department on issues of police discretion and police interpretation of policy? That the Spokane Police Department would even consider Torok in such a role shows just how far they are from understanding the crisis of credibility from which they are suffering.

Sgt. Torok — whose fellow SPD detectives did not have the training, judgment and ethical uprightness to understand that the photos taken by a Spokane Fireman of a minor girl with whom improper sexual contact occurred constituted evidence of a possible crime and therefore should have been confiscated as legal evidence rather than deleted at the direction of the detectives as in fact occurred — is going to be defending the SPD before the press and public in matters of alleged misconduct? Ironically, Torok’s experience at the center of significant controversy caused by his own poor judgment and questionable actions in the field makes his selection by the SPD brass as a spokesman to the media logical in a certain perverted bureaucratic sense. Furthermore, Torok has been practicing his role defending the SPD’s indefensible and ongoing scandals for months on the blogs of the Spokesman-Review, blogs such as Hard 7 and others. In his comments on those blogs he has become a master of stonewalling, rationalization, and the dodge.

Given his role in killing mentally ill Otto Zehm and his shooting to death of homeless Jerome Alford, it is extremely dangerous and troubling to see Torok resort on multiple occasions to calling members of the Spokane community participating in those blogs ‘mentally ill‘ when their comments simply seek to inform or when they express the disdain and disgust felt in many sectors of the community towards SPD misconduct, corruption, and lack of accountability.

In fact, prominent members of the city government and the professional community should be vocally outraged and up in arms that Torok is being allowed to play this role of public spokesman, given his direct role in the murder of Zehm and the killing of Jerome Alford, not to the mention the SPD’s severely botched “intervention” in the matter of Josh Levy who jumped to his death from the Monroe Street bridge following 18 hours of being surrounded and isolated by Spokane Police and after they lied to him and botched a sneak taser attack on him.

This is a police department with ZERO credibility in dealing with “other” (the term used by Dr. John “Gus” Olson, Spokane community activist and advocate for the disadvantaged, to describe those in Spokane who are rejected for being different, looked upon with disdain for being poor, excluded for being “other”, left to rot by a society incapable of real compassion). Recall Carmen Jacoby, who testified to the Chief of Police in the public forum at City Hall on September 19, 2007. Jacoby told of the Spokane policeman who told her that in relation to homeless people sleeping in the green space near a freeway on ramp, “I have a job to do…to get these shit bags out of this park” and then threatened to put her in the bag of his squad car if she persisted in demanding his name and badge number.

Having shown incompetence which endangers public safety and a shocking level of disdain for the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and non-white, does the Spokane Police Department now move on to 12-year-old girls? Apparently so.

The manner in which a police department deals with the most vulnerable among us is highly indicative of their attitude towards the people they pretend to “protect”. How the SPD handles pre-teen girls provides a window into the core attitudes of the Department. Many members of our community, like these girls, are easily exploited by a police department without adequate procedural training, supervision, and independent oversight.

The S-R article contains links to both the pertinent R.C.W. (Washington state Revised Code of Washington, i.e., the law in Washington state) and the OLR Research Report on the Miranda rights of children.

The study states: “In determining whether a juvenile effectively waived his Miranda rights, courts consider whether the juvenile had the capacity to understand the warnings given to him, the nature of his constitutional right to remain silent, and the consequences of waiving those rights.”

The parents of the two 12-year-old girls in this case have appropriately and effectively questioned whether in this case these young girls had in fact “the capacity to understand” the Miranda warnings given to them, their constitutional rights, and “the consequences of waiving those rights”, prior to the police interrogation.

This is an area of great controversy and a fundamental issue of individual rights and protections in our nation. While some states set higher ages for children to be able to waive their Miranda rights, other states require the presence of parents. Some states, including Washington, use a “totality of circumstances” test. It is heartening to see that the ACLU is involved.

I, for one, do not trust the judgment of SPD officers in the field nor their integrity in reporting the of facts. In the case of the interrogation of these two pre-teen girls by SPD officers, that lack of integrity rises to such a level that a court would have difficulty establishing that these very young, very vulnerable girls clearly understood the waiving of their right within the “totality” of circumstances. With two Spokane Police officers and two District 81 resource officers in the room, and with at least one of these girls not certain if an attorney and a lawyer are the same thing, clearly there was an intimidation/coercion factor.

I would certainly be interested in the outcome of the internal affairs complaint filed by these parents. Sgt. Jim Faddis used to be an internal affairs officer so he could help the Spokane people and media out on that one. Sgt. Faddis was asked by me on the S-R’s Hard 7 blog (where he blogs under the names “Jim F” and “Kevin”) to clarify the exact procedure for making an internal affairs complaint in Spokane. Not surprisingly, Faddis has failed to respond to that request.

It would also be nice to get more comment from Spokane School District 81 on the parents’ request for a change in the policy regarding police interrogation of children at school. I for one would strongly support changes in the policy as well as a public education effort to educate Spokane area youth on their rights in dealing with the police.

Posted in Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Solutions, Spokane LE Personalities, Spokane Police Guild, Spokane taser, Testimonies, Torok, Trained to Kill, Unanswered Questions | 2 Comments »

WikiLeaks.org

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 1, 2008

U.S. Federal Judge fails in effort to censor WikiLeaks website…

More Twists and Turns in WikiLeaks Case (New York Times, 2/28/08)

The site describes itself as “developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis” and committed to assisting “people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.”

Judge Says WikiLeaks Site Can Have Its Web Address Back (New York Times, 2/29/08)

A federal judge in San Francisco said on Friday that he would withdraw an order that shut down the Web address for Wikileaks.org, a site that allows anonymous posting of documents to assist “peoples of all countries who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.” … The judge’s action drew criticism – and court filings – from numerous organizations concerned that the order violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

As an example of what you might find on the Wikileaks.org site, here is a link to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual for the “Soviet-style gulag” run by the U.S. at Camp Delta inside the unlawful torture and detention facility run by the United States government and military and CIA at Gitmo (Guantanamo) on Castro’s Cuba.  There on page 1.3 you will read curiously specific language stating that:

(quote)   Personnel are not authorized to use or have in their possession unauthorized weapons, including but no limited to,  firearms, knives, ,batons, sap gloves (lead filled padded gloves), kubatons, night sticks, PR-24s, collapsing/expandable batons and any other weapons not specifically authorized.  (end quote)

Any one who believes that they may be subject to unlawful detention or forced disappearance by the increasingly fascistic U.S. government or forces in its deploy (Blackwater-type mercenaries, for ex.) would be well-advised to thoroughly read this document to understand the rules for processing prisoners, medical care, access by International Red Cross, permissible use of force, etc. 

According to analysis of the document on the WikiLeaks site, the U.S. military manual lays out torture at Guantanamo at the Wikileaks site:

*quote*

The Miami Herald describes the manual and its importance and gives a flavor of its bureaucratic contents:

“A how-to manual, it draws back a curtain on the secretive, isolated base in 2003, more than a year into operation of the Bush administration prison. And it lays out — with typical military attention to detail — everything from when to use pepper spray to who should witness a cavity search to how to dig a proper Muslim grave. It also offers the mundane details of what detainees were given at the open-air prison camp overlooking the Caribbean, where the Pentagon today holds about 300 war-on-terror captives at Guantanamo for possible interrogation and trial by Military Commission. No hair dye, it says on one page. But a double amputee got to keep a bucket in his cell, it says.”

*end quote*

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Law, Solutions, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Spokane’s Center for Justice

Posted by Arroyoribera on February 20, 2008

The website of the Center for Justice is an important resource in the search for justice in Spokane.

Jim Sheehan, founder of the Community Building and president of the board of the Center for Justice, stands for the spirit of justice and the need for compassion in the attainment of justice.

Though the webmaster is still in the process of working out some of the bugs, the newly updated CFJ website provides information on the Spokane River Project, a list of exceptional cases in which the CFJ has participated, case criteria, and staff biographies.

One of the most valuable and exciting — might I even say radical — projects of the Center for Justice is the Street Law program which since 2005 has provided legal advice to the community every weekend of the summer in Riverfront Park.  I would encourage the Center to make availability of language interpretation services an integral part of the project and part of the commitment of those attorneys and firms participating in the project.

Finally, the Center for Justice website provides useful links to legal resources in the Spokane area.

[Note: As an added bonus, the Center for Justice recently acquired the services of Jeffrey Finer, well-respected and long-time Spokane civil rights attorney.  And on its board of directors sits Jim Bamberger, another prominent civil rights lawyer in the state of Washington, now head of the Washington State office of Civil Legal Aid.]

Posted in Know Your Rights, Law, Solutions | Leave a Comment »

4/16/08 Chief Anne Kirkpatrick on Keeping the Community “Safe”

Posted by Arroyoribera on January 31, 2008

Of all people…

On Wednesday, April 16, 2008, the Spokane City Forum will bring Anne Kirkpatrick, chief of the scandal-ridden Spokane Police Department, speaking about “What it takes to keep a Community Safe”.

Interestingly, in the age of private security contractors, domestic spying, and use of illegal government powers, Kirkpatrick will team with the local head of a national company which engages in secret collaborations with the police.

If you would like to see which side of her mouth the Chief speaks on this occasion, or perhaps even hear her sing, “I fought the Police Guild and the Police Guild won”, as well as learn more about private/public cooperation in the age of the police state, please read the following details. Then don’t miss the event…


Phone: 509-777-1555
Fax: 509-747-1171

Remind me of upcoming Spokane City Forums…


Meeting Location:
First Presbyterian Church
318 South Cedar Street
Spokane, WA 99204

Meeting Time: 11:45 A.M.

Take me to…
First Presbyterian Church

Cost to attend is $10.00 and includes lunch. Please make reservations at least two business days in advance.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 11:45 First Presbyterian Church, Spokane

Anne Kirkpatrick, Spokane Police Chief & Pat DeVries, President of DeVries Business Records Management

“What it takes to keep a Community Safe”

One of the most fundamental necessities in life is safety. To reach this level of safety, it takes a partnership between both civilian and governmental organizations. Anne Kirkpatrick and Pat DeVries will speak about what it takes to prevent crime from the Police Department down to the civilian level.

* Anne Kirkpatrick, Spokane Chief of Police, has been in law enforcement for more than 25 years, including three posts as Chief of Police in Washington cities. Her diverse experience has given her great perspective on leadership. She will speak in detail about the guiding principles important in leading a Police Department as well as discuss what it takes to lead “through the storms” that come.

* Pat DeVries is the Owner/President of DeVries Business Records Management, a company celebrating 20 years of operation. In addition to his professional experience, he has been leading the charge of crime prevention from the civilian sector. He is the President of “Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest,” a local division of a national civilian crime prevention organization. He will share his wisdom in what civilians can do to collaborate with the Police Department to make our communities safer for everyone.


Posted in Educating the Chief, Freedom to Fascism, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Solutions, Unanswered Questions, Yes ma'am Chief | Leave a Comment »

Spokane Racism — new blog by Arroyoribera

Posted by Arroyoribera on January 29, 2008

Racism in Spokane – a 21st century reality

by Arroyoribera on January 24th, 2008

Racism in Spokane?

Not a topic that will make you very popular among those you know in Spokane, especially if they are white.

Twice today it was suggested to me by whites I know that if people (a category which clearly was intended to include me) are unhappy with the situation of race in Spokane or the white dominance of Spokane or the exclusion of non-whites in Spokane, then I or anyone else with similar concerns can move to Seattle or anywhere else that we chose and where – it was implied – we will see more people of color on a routine basis.

Other interesting reactions to the topic of “racism in Spokane” can be seen in the anonymous postings on the blogs of the Spokesman-Review and even in the Spokesman’s publication/blog for area high school students.

Instead of leaving Spokane, I decided to begin this blog – Spokane Racism.

We will explore not only the perception and reality of racism in Spokane but also the reaction to the suggestion that Spokane is racist as well as the reaction to the evidence that Spokane is racist.

We will look at Spokane’s beginnings through the violent and unlawful taking of the lands of the native peoples and nations that lived, and fished, and roamed, and played, and celebrated, and raised families on this land and along this river.

In addition, we will look at the use and abuse of language and imagery of race, as well as the enshrinement of the areas racist past.

We will look at the history of explicitly racist organizations in the Spokane area from the Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations and Washington State Militia to Phinneas Brotherhood and White Order of Thule.

And we will look at the realities of community and organizational exclusion in Spokane from our media and our local governments to our police forces, our schools, and our cultural life.

I invite those with comments on the topic to send them to SpokaneRacism@google.com

Posted in Know Your Rights, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Solutions, Statistics, Testimonies, Unanswered Questions, Urgent Call | Leave a Comment »

How to beat a red-light camera

Posted by Arroyoribera on January 27, 2008

Hard 7 blogmeister, indy-journalist, and leading Spokane Police critic Frank Sennett has moved on to Chicago where he will edit the British-owned Time Out Chicago. As soon as Sennett left Spokane, the Spokesman-Review blocked access to the enlightened and left-leaning commentary and dialogue of Sennett and his readers. The S-R deemed to unblock that access a few days ago and I have been reviewing Sennett’s insightful and informative writings. Here is one from February 9, 2007:

How to beat a red-light cam

If Spokane approves the hugely flawed red-light camera system–studies show they increase rear-end collisions dramatically while longer yellows do more to reduce side impacts–this week’s column details how frustrated motorists can hide in plain sight.

But hopefully the City Council will look beyond police department hype, examine the uncooked data and opt to increase the length of those yellows–as traffic engineers recommend–instead of sticking Spokane motorists with a backdoor tax that won’t make them safer and will enrich an out-of-state contractor.

And while you’re waiting for the light to turn green, please sign up for the free Alternative Source podcast.

Posted in Know Your Rights, Solutions, Unanswered Questions, Videos | Leave a Comment »

Surveillance Rights for the Public

Posted by Arroyoribera on January 3, 2008

“Mike Elgan has an interesting take on surveillance technology, and how audio and video recordings should be used in private and public life. He cites the case of a New York City Police Detective who was secretly taped by a suspect during an interrogation that the detective initially denied took place during the suspect’s murder trial, as well as a case involving two parents in Wisconsin who slipped a voice-activated recorder in their son’s backpack after suspecting he was being abused by his bus driver. In the first case, even though the detective was later charged with 12 counts of perjury, Elgan notes that the police interrogation probably would not have taken place had the suspect announced to the detective that he was recording the session. In the second case, the tape was initially ruled inadmissible in court because Wisconsin state law prohibits the use of “intercepted conversations” (it was later allowed as evidence). Elgan argues that there should be no questions about members of the public being allowed to record such interactions. He says surveillance should be “legalized, normalized or even required” when members of the public have interactions with police, and the public should be allowed to record interactions between caregivers and children, meetings between politicians meet with lobbyists, court sessions, and phone conversations. Elgan says, “Surveillance technology is on the rise. Powerful organizations — law enforcement, corporations, governments and others — have demanded and won their right to videotape the public, often secretly. They do this in order to hold individuals accountable for their actions. Yet the rights of individuals to use similar technology to do the same are often restricted. Why should shoppers, pedestrians, bank customers and citizens be held accountable, but politicians, police, judges and others are not? What kind of democracy is that?” What’s your take? Would Elgan’s proposals improve democracy and the rule of law? What kinds of complications or unintended consequences might result?”

http://computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9055126&intsrc=hm_list

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/01/03/2232218&from=rss

Posted in History of SPD Abuses, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Photographic Evidence, Protest and Free Speech, Solutions, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

2007 Was Worst Year of Iraq Occupation — by Dahr Jamail, IPS News

Posted by Arroyoribera on January 3, 2008

2007 Was Worst Year of Iraq Occupation

by Dahr Jamail, IPS News
Posted on December 31, 2007

http://www.alternet.org/story/72064/

Despite all the claims of improvements, 2007 has been the worst year yet in Iraq.

One of the first big moves this year was the launch of a troop “surge” by the U.S. government in mid-February. The goal was to improve security in Baghdad and the western al-Anbar province, the two most violent areas. By June, an additional 28,000 troops had been deployed to Iraq, bringing the total number up to more than 160,000.

By autumn, there were over 175,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. This is the highest number of U.S. troops deployed yet, and while the U.S. government continues to talk of withdrawing some, the numbers on the ground appear to contradict these promises.

The Bush administration said the “surge” was also aimed at curbing sectarian killings, and to gain time for political reform for the government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

During the surge, the number of Iraqis displaced from their homes quadrupled, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent. By the end of 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 2.3 million internally displaced persons within Iraq, and over 2.3 million Iraqis who have fled the country.

Iraq has a population around 25 million.

The non-governmental organization Refugees International describes Iraq’s refugee problem as “the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.”

In October the Syrian government began requiring visas for Iraqis. Until then it was the only country to allow Iraqis in without visas. The new restrictions have led some Iraqis to return to Baghdad, but that number is well below 50,000.

A recent UNHCR survey of families returning found that less than 18 percent did so by choice. Most came back because they lacked a visa, had run out of money abroad, or were deported.

Sectarian killings have decreased in recent months, but still continue. Bodies continue to be dumped on the streets of Baghdad daily.

One reason for a decrease in the level of violence is that most of Baghdad has essentially been divided along sectarian lines. Entire neighborhoods are now surrounded by concrete blast walls several meters high, with strict security checkpoints. Normal life has all but vanished.

The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates that eight out of ten refugees are from Baghdad.

By the end of 2007, attacks against occupation forces decreased substantially, but still number more than 2,000 monthly. Iraqi infrastructure, like supply of potable water and electricity are improving, but remain below pre-invasion levels. Similarly with jobs and oil exports. Unemployment, according to the Iraqi government, ranges between 60-70 percent.

An Oxfam International report released in July says 70 percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water, and 43 percent live on less than a dollar a day. The report also states that eight million Iraqis are in need of emergency assistance.

“Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, healthcare, education, and employment,” the report says. “Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 percent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent in 2004.”

Nearly 10 million people depend on the fragile rationing system. In December, the Iraqi government announced it would cut the number of items in the food ration from ten to five due to “insufficient funds and spiraling inflation.” The inflation rate is officially said to be around 70 percent.

The cuts are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, and have led to warnings of social unrest if measures are not taken to address rising poverty and unemployment.

Iraq’s children continue to suffer most. Child malnutrition rates have increased from 19 percent during the economic sanctions period prior to the invasion, to 28 percent today.

This year has also been one of the bloodiest of the entire occupation. The group Just Foreign Policy, “an independent and non-partisan mass membership organization dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy,” estimates the total number of Iraqis killed so far due to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation to be 1,139,602.

This year 894 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year of the entire occupation for the U.S. military, according to ICasualties.org.

To date, at least 3,896 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of defense.

A part of the U.S. military’s effort to reduce violence has been to pay former resistance fighters. Late in 2007, the U.S. military began paying monthly wages of 300 dollars to former militants, calling them now “concerned local citizens.”

While this policy has cut violence in al-Anbar, it has also increased political divisions between the dominant Shia political party and the Sunnis – the majority of these “concerned citizens” being paid are Sunni Muslims. Prime Minister Maliki has said these “concerned local citizens” will never be part of the government’s security apparatus, which is predominantly composed of members of various Shia militias.

Underscoring another failure of the so-called surge is the fact that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad remains more divided than ever, and hopes of reconciliation have vanished.

According to a recent ABC/BBC poll, 98 percent of Sunnis and 84 percent of Shias in Iraq want all U.S. forces out of the country.

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who reports from Iraq.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/72064/

Posted in Censorship, Protest and Free Speech, Solutions, Statistics, Testimonies, Urgent Call, War Abroad & At Home | Leave a Comment »

Filing a complaint against the Spokane Police Department

Posted by Arroyoribera on December 22, 2007

Let’s see just how anxious the Spokane Police Department is to have its citizens file a complaint against an officer.

The following is from the website of the Spokane Police Department:

How do I file a complaint against an Officer?
Complaints are handled on several different levels. The complaint can be handled in three ways. You can speak with the Officer’s Sergeant, the Shift Commander, or Internal Affairs. The complaint can be taken verbally or in writing. Call 477-5980 and choose option one for Spokane Police, then choose the option for front desk if you would like to speak with the shift commander or Sergeant. Choose Internal Affairs option if you would like to speak to Internal Affairs.

The information provided is as unclear and deceptive as it has always been. Let’s start with the fact that a 7 year old could have written the paragraph. Complaints are handled “on several different levels” and “in three ways” and can be “taken verbally and in writing”. If that is not convoluted and vague enough, only a phone number is provide. No address is provided to file a written complaint. No information is provided on where to obtain a complaint form and, in this day and age of electronic media, no downloadable or printable complaint form is provided.

(The SPD website has a streaming media page, formatted e-mail pages, interactive crime maps and other evidence of technological sophistication. There is zero reason why the citizens of Spokane do not have access to a downloadable and printable complaint form except that the Spokane Police Department has always sought to make it nearly impossible to complain without a citizen feeling threatened, discouraged, harassed and further victimized.)

This is has long been the modus operandi of the Spokane Police Department in regards to citizen complaints. First, discourage complaints by making it virtually impossible to complain. Second, make it very difficult to obtain any information on making a complaint without having contact first with police personnel. Third, make the existence of a complaint form next to impossible to confirm and even harder to obtain.

Without independent civilian oversight of the Spokane Police Department, the people of Spokane will continue to be subjected to the guffaws of the Spokane Police Guild echoing through the Public Safety Building. It will continue to be the most vulnerable and the least represented who will be the most victimized. And that reality will continue to be the legacy of Spokane — a justice system which fails to hold the police to a standard of accountability and oversight which assures our safety and freedom.

(Note: The website of the Spokane Crime Reporting Center, which is joint contracted by the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, provides even less information on the process for making a complaint of official police misconduct. In fact, they are so anxious to have a complaint filed that they don’t even complete the question in list of Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.spokanecounty.org/crimereportingcenter/faq.asp )

Posted in Educating the Chief, History of SPD Abuses, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Solutions, Testimonies, Urgent Call | 1 Comment »

Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual (ACLU)

Posted by Arroyoribera on December 19, 2007

Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual (12/1/1997)

CONTENTS

PREFACE

1. SOME OPERATING ASSUMPTIONS

2. GETTING STARTED — IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM

3. GATHER THE FACTS
Forget the Official Data
What You Really Need to Know, And Why
Where To Get The Information, And How

4. CONTROLLING THE POLICE — COMMUNITY GOALS
A Civilian Review Board
Control of Police Shootings
Reduce Police Brutality
End Police Spying
Oversight of Police Policy
Improved Training
Equal Employment Opportunity
Certification and Licensing of Police Officers
Accreditation of Your Police Department

5. ORGANIZING STRATEGIES
Build Coalitions
Monitor the Police
Use Open Records Laws
Educate the Public
Use the Political Process to Win Reforms
Lobby For State Legislation

A FINAL WORD

RESOURCES
Bibliography
Organizations
ACLU Affiliates

CREDITS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Posted in In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Solutions, War Abroad & At Home | Leave a Comment »

When Others Were Silent, Dennis Kucinich Stood Up and Spoke Up

Posted by Arroyoribera on December 6, 2007

http://www.dennis4president.com/go/issues/

Strength Through Peace

strength_peace.jpgDennis Kucinich is the only democrat running for President who has voted against authorizing the war in Iraq and against funding its continuation. He has proposed a bold, new policy to re-establish America’s place in the world. Diplomacy and a return to statesmanship as the path to strong international leadership. A new policy of investing in our communities and our infrastructure. A new policy of Strength through Peace.
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A Healthy Nation
insurance_paperwork.jpgHealth care in the US is too expensive and leaves 46 million Americans without insurance and millions more underinsured. Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate for President with a plan for a Universal, Single-Payer, Not-for-Profit health care system.
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Survival of the Middle Class
mature_couple.jpgFor most American families, the loss of a job or one serious illness spells catastrophe. Stagnant wages, expensive health care and rising education costs are vital issues being ignored by the Congress and White House. A champion of working families, Dennis Kucinich will lead America into expanding opportunities, universal health care, restore our schools and strengthen Social Security and protections for private pensions.
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Securing Constitutional Democracy
constitution_flag.jpgA corrupt campaign finance system, coupled with vulnerable electronic voting have eroded America’s confidence in our elections. The USA Patriot Act and secret strategy meetings to set policy tear into the very concept of We the People. As President, Dennis will protect individual liberty and privacy and restore balance and fairness in America’s electoral system.
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A Sustainable Future
turbines.jpgAs the world population soars towards eight billion, critical issues of survival face all of us. Living on a planet of finite resources means that human life can not be sustained indefinitely without careful thought and compassion coupled with political courage.
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End to Poverty
poverty_iwashere.jpgHalf the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day. In 2003, 10.6 million children died before they reached the age of five. Without hope and stricken by the AIDS pandemic, religious strife and no opportunity for an education; desperate poverty is a fact of everyday life for the majority of the world’s people. It manifests itself in war, terror and genocide over scarce resources, hopelessness and intolerance. Dennis Kucinich will make it a national priority to fight poverty worldwide. He understands that the path to a safe, strong America is through peace, tolerance and committing our nation to eradicating the root causes of global poverty.
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Saving Capitalism
business_compass.jpgAs President, Dennis Kucinich will end America’s participation in NAFTA and the WTO. Huge, multi-national corporations ship American jobs overseas, turn a blind eye to human rights abuses and hide behind their lobbyists in Washington. Read more about Dennis’ plan to instill ethics, accountability and fairness in global trade and big business.
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Posted in In Collective Self-Defense, Protest and Free Speech, Solutions, Urgent Call, Videos, War Abroad & At Home | Leave a Comment »

The ACLU Defends Police

Posted by Arroyoribera on December 2, 2007

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Because Freedom Cannot Protect Itself

The ACLU Defends Cops

The ACLU is well known for its vigorous efforts to combat police misconduct, but not as well known for its legal advocacy on behalf of police officers. Our criticism of some police officers and departments has led some to conclude that the ACLU is “anti-cop.” Ironically, this misconception actually derives from the ACLU’s commitment to promote good policing. Often, we support good policing simply by defending police officers. Police are, of course, just as entitled to constitutional protection as the rest of us. They also have their rights violated like the rest of us.The ACLU regularly defends officers whose rights to free expression are denied or violated.The ACLU defended officers’ right to religious freedom in a case close to home this year. Officers Faruq Abdul-Aziz and Shakoor Mustafa wear beards in accordance with their Sunni Muslim faith. For this, they were to be fired by the Newark Police Department, which prohibits beards except for those suffering from a skin condition aggravated by shaving.The ACLU of New Jersey filed an amicus brief in support of the two officers and the Fraternal Order of Police position that the dismissal constituted a violation of their First Amendment right to religious freedom. “When the government grants secular exemptions to workplace rules, it should not be able to deny comparable religious exemptions without a compelling reason,” said David Rocah, ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney.

In May 1997, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed suit on behalf of the Latino Officers Association. The suit challenges a New York (City) Police Department (NYCPD) policy requiring officers to seek and obtain the consent of the Police Com- missioner before speaking publicly about non-confidential matters concerning the Department. The ACLU won a preliminary injunction in federal court ordering the Department to cease enforcing the policy. The City has appealed the decision.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of a St. Louis Police officer who was suspended without pay for fifteen days after he spoke at a public workshop about racism in the police force. The officer, Dennis McLin, was off-duty and not in uniform when he made the speech, but nonetheless found himself the subject of disciplinary action and harassment.

The ACLU of Michigan successfully represented an Oxford police officer who was sued for defamation by his chief for reporting to public officials that the chief altered a police report. “This case is about one of the most important purposes of free speech in a democracy: the right to criticize government and the actions of government officials,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Neal Bush. The ACLU won a motion to dismiss the suit, Ford v. Miller, in May 1999.

The ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh represented Allegheny County police officer Anton C. Uhl, Jr. in his lawsuit to stop disciplinary proceedings against him for criticizing the depart- ment in a series of letters to the Allegheny County Commissioner.

In a particularly patriotic moment, your ACLU affiliate here in New Jersey advocated on behalf of North Wildwood police officers, war veterans, who were prohibited from wearing flags on their uniforms as symbols of their service. Yes, the ACLU sticks up for police officers, war veterans, and the American flag!

Police officers have also turned to the ACLU when exercising their right to participate in the political process has resulted in retaliation from superiors. The ACLU has represented officers all over the country who have been fired for campaigning for or against elected officials in their chains of command.

A classic example of this kind of case occurred in North Carolina in 1994 when ten Buncombe County deputy sheriffs were terminated for actively supporting the incumbent, at that time their boss. The deputies engaged in political campaigning only while off duty and fully intended to work loyally and cooperatively with their new sheriff. Nonetheless, he fired them on his first day in office. The ACLU lost this one.

We were more successful in Georgia, where, in May 1998, four former sheriffs were awarded $1.25 million in damages. The deputies were fired for not publicly supporting a newly elected sheriff. The jury in the case ruled that the sheriff had violated the freedom of speech and association rights of each of the deputies. In a statement to the press, Marcia Borowski, a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Georgia said, “The jury found that the job of deputy sheriff should not be subject to political patronage . . . We need professional law enforcement personnel protected from the vagaries of politics.”

Many law enforcement officers and many of those who would join their ranks face discrimination in various forms.

In Southern California, for example, the ACLU is representing a huge class of officers, mostly women, in a class action suit charging that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) discriminates against women-particularly women of color-in hiring, promotion, and assignment.

In April 1997, the NYCLU filed a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a New York City administrative code that imposes a 35-year old age restriction on candidates for the NYCPD. The NYCLU argued that the age limitation was not a narrowly tailored predictor of job performance and that the age restriction was introduced only after the candidates had completed their written and physical examinations. This July, after settling lawsuits made on behalf of 33 men and 6 women, the NYCPD appointed 39 qualified men and women over the age of 35.

The ACLU of South Carolina filed a discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a nine-year police veteran fired after taking parental leave upon the birth of his first daughter. The ACLU asserts that officials refused to grant the officer parental leave because of his gender and then fired him in retaliation for attempting to exercise his rights.

The ACLU of Maryland represented State Trooper Kevin Knussman in the nation’s first-ever sex discrimination case under a federal medical leave act. Immediately after a court victory and $375,000 award this past February, Knussman was barred from returning to work. His employers’ excuse for the retaliation was that his testimony that he suffered mental distress four years earlier called his mental fitness into question. The ACLU moved to have the State Police held in contempt, and they reversed their position and reinstated Knussman. Officer Knussman’s struggle earned him a personal visit with President Clinton in 1995 to celebrate passage of the Family Medical Leave Act.

Litigation is only one way that the ACLU supports law enforcement. In both Pittsburgh and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the ACLU launched programs to improve relations between police and community members.

Allegheny Police Association president Jim Hasara summed up a feeling shared by many law enforcement officials—”Just because we are police officers doesn’t mean that we gave up our constitutional rights.” Let the record show that the ACLU supports liberty and justice for all.

Reprinted with permission of ACLU of New Jersey

Copyright 2006, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
P.O. Box 32159, Newark, NJ 07102
973-642-2084

info@aclu-nj.orghttp://www.aclu-nj.org

Posted in Educating the Chief, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Solutions, Testimonies | Leave a Comment »

Be a Whistle Blower

Posted by Arroyoribera on November 24, 2007

original link

Nobody wants to be party to coverups, outright lies and the other scandalous behavior sometimes exposed in the worlds of big government and big business. But what should you do if you discover something you think is unethical or potentially criminal? Something totally nefarious and evil? Here’s our guide to snitching on the bad guys without getting caught.

Understand the Consequences

Going up against the evil corporations or the Big Bad Fed can have serious repercussions — whistleblowers have been ostracized, fired, threatened, jailed, and worse.

Still, from Deep Throat to Big Tobacco, whistleblowers have a distinguished legacy of helping the public good. Stephen M. Kohn, President of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington DC says “The majority of all civil fraud recoveries in the U.S. are based on whistleblower disclosures,” which means it could be up to you to point out wrongdoings.

In the end, most whistleblowers do end up exposed out of necessity, whether for legal testimony or simply due to accidental exposure. Most get fired, but many whistleblowers have also sued their former employers and won their cases. Legal protection for whistleblowers varies from country to country, and Wired can’t provide you with legal advice, but you should understand that the choice to blow the whistle is ultimately fraught with risk.

Here are some tips that might help you remain anonymous — and possibly evade detection long enough to get the word out.

Surf Anonymously

One tool explicitly designed with whistleblowers in mind is Tor (surf to https://tor.eff.org/). Tor is a free networking software program and allows you to use the internet anonymously. Need to log in to that GMail account you used to contact the press, but you’re stuck at work? Tor can help cover your tracks.

When you log into to Tor you join a network of machines scattered around the world that pass internet traffic randomly amongst themselves before it emerges at its destination. The process is somewhat like a ball bouncing around inside a sealed box. Every now and then a ball comes out of the box, but it’s impossible to tell who put it in the box to begin with.

The process is called “onion routing,” and it was first developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. Tor uses a layered encryption protocol, which is where the onionskin analogy comes from. Tor is designed to defeat one specific type of digital eavesdropping known as traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that tracks who is talking to whom over a public network.

Without Tor, a malicious employer can easily detect any outgoing traffic announcing your whistleblowing intentions.

Use Encryption

Tor alone isn’t enough to hide you from the snoops. To use our earlier example, if you login to Gmail via Tor and send your whistleblowing message, the company might not be able to trace where it can from, but they can read it the minute it leaves Tor.

In other words, anonymity is not the same as security.

It’s important to recognize that Tor does not encrypt traffic once it emerges from the Tor network. Thus, there’s the possibility your data is going to be exposed unless you’ve bothered to encrypt it.

To learn more about encrypting your e-mail, see the Wired How To Wiki entry: Keep Your E-mail Private, Secret and Secure.

But if you’re collecting whistleblowing data you’ll likely want to encrypt more than just your e-mail.

Lock Down Your Files

Protect those contact lists and secret documents with some hefty crypto if you don’t want to get caught.

Encrypting a file in Windows XP is easy as long as your hard drive is formatted as NTFS. The FAT32 filesystems doesn’t natively support encryption, but if you’re running NTFS, the process is simple. Just select the files or folder in Windows Explorer, right click and choose “Properties.” In the “Attributes” section at the bottom, click “Advanced” and check the “encrypt contents to secure data” box. Click OK twice.

There are a couple of caveats here. First, the encryption is useless if someone else knows your login password (which is often assigned by the IT department). Second, if you encrypt a folder, anyone can still read the file names. They just can’t open the files. So, changing the names to something obfuscated is a good start.

A better option is to use GPG4win, an open source encryption program for Windows. It encrypts files with a private key, always the strongest type of file encryption. Again, if anyone else has access to your account, the security provided is ruined because they will have access to your GPG key.

If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t control access to your computer, you might consider investing in an encrypted USB thumb drive, though there could be some record of accessing it on your computer that leaves you vulnerable.

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All text shared under a Creative Commons License

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Use a local encrypted file system for your private files – http://www.truecrypt.org/ You can encrypt a flash drive or keep an encrypted file system as a file on your hard drive.

Posted in Freedom to Fascism, In Collective Self-Defense, Know Your Rights, Protest and Free Speech, Solutions, Testimonies, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

SPD officials endorse Citizen Oversight of Police– Major Bruce Roberts

Posted by Arroyoribera on November 11, 2007

Spokane Police Major Bruce Roberts is grateful to the people of Spokane.  And, as reported in the Spokesman-Review, “that gratefulness transfers to his belief that citizen oversight could be beneficial to both the community and the Police Department.”

“A police department withers and flourishes based on that partnership of trust between the community and law enforcement,” Roberts said. “Citizen oversight would help establish that trust, where a committee could say, ‘Yes, people are complaining about the police, but the police are doing their job right.’ It’s a validation for the public.” (July 6, 2006 edition of the SpokesmanReview)

Posted in Independent Oversight, Solutions, Spokane LE Personalities | Leave a Comment »

Working up from the streets — Rev. Greg Boyle on Word For Word

Posted by Arroyoribera on November 2, 2007

“Gang members are not our enemies. They are our children. And if we do not help them, no one will.” — The mother of a former gang member speaking about the work of Father Greg J. Boyle, S.J.

“It is not about service provider or service recipient. It’s about us belonging to each other”. — Father Greg Boyle

(Click here to Listen to this brilliant, entertaining and inspirational speech by Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries)

In recent presentations by the Spokane Police Department, the expression has been used on more than one occasion, “we are not going to police ourselves out of gang problems“. To be honest, what was said was, “YOU are not going to police yourselves out of gang problems”, as if the solution lay only with the community minus law enforcement.

Nevertheless, the truth of this message — that we will not succeed in dealing with any gang problems Spokane may have, nor any other social problems we have unless we begin “working up from the street” — is the message of Jesuit priest Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.

Rev. Greg Boyle  

November 2, 2007

Working up from the streets — Homeboy Industries

Rev. Greg Boyle is the founder of Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries, an organization that gives jobs to young men and women who agree to give up the gang life. They make T-shirts and tacos, do maintenance and landscaping work, and in the process Boyle says they find a sense of self-worth. Rev. Boyle described his mission to “plan futures, not funerals” in an Oct. 25 speech in Minneapolis.

http://download.publicradio.org/podcast/wordforword/2007/11/02_wordforword_64.mp3

Homeboy Industries

Word for Word from American Public Media

Posted in All-white SPD?, Educating the Chief, Gangs?, History of SPD Abuses, Solutions | Leave a Comment »

 
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