Rights? Peaceful Protestor? Five heavily armed police officers
attacked by unarmed man? Police-State?
are too many reasons why I made this shirt design to count. Scroll
down to see some of the the many reasons. I'll continue to update
as I can with new accounts of police abuse and killings. New stories
will be added at the bottom of the page. My efforts here are no
where near a full accounting of police brutality in the US.
made this shirt to graphically inform people about the levels of
repression and brutality directed at people exercising their constitutional
rights of free speech and assembly these days. Most people will
not believe mere descriptions of police violence because on a societal
level we have been raised to believe that the police are always
the good guys. Most prime time television shows are police shows.
Then there's Cops and other shows that glorify the police and celebrate
their forceful nature. So, there's a little bit of double think
going on here as well (police are nice vs. police use force so don't
mess with them). Due
to this near constant barrage
of pro-police propaganda, police
brutality just doesn't register with many people
unless they actually witness it or see it on video.
recommend people see the violent and totalitarian nature of modern
police forces for themselves via photographs and video footage which
leave no question that overwhelming and out of proportion force
is being used on citizens in the US at protests and during drug
raids, and on the streets of America every day. Go to the Indymedia
websites to find such footage and photographs. The corporate media
by and large is filled with lies and pro police propaganda. They
never say "non-violent protestors" anymore, instead its
always "violent protestors", even though its a lie most
of the time.
Occupation in the Cities and Ghettos of the US
must be mentioned first and foremost that the violence dished out
by police in the US is felt disproportionately by minorities. In
Minneapolis, where I live, there is a virtual apartheid approach
to policing dubbed CODEFOR. This strategy results in unequal enforcement
of laws: zealous enforcement in minority neighborhoods and much
more lax enforcement elsewhere. Racial profiling is rampant.
years ago I lived in the Philips Neighborhood in Minneapolis, a
CODEFOR neighborhood. I was sitting on my stoop one night and witnessed
a shocking scene. A young black man was walking down the street
minding his own business, when a squad car arrived and shined its
spot light on him. Then it pulled up to him and a white officer
exited the vehicle and told the black youth to get up against the
car with his hands up. The youth asked what was the matter, why
were they targeting him. He then complied. The officer didn't respond
to his question, but proceeded to search him.
a white man in a plaid shirt exited the back seat of the cruiser.
He stood there laughing while the officer patted the youth down.
The officer was laughing with him, and then they let the youth go
on his way making no explanation to him as to why he had been stopped.
It became clear that this man in plaid was a ride-along, possibly
a friend of the officer's, and the officer seemed to be showing
him just how much power he had and how he could mess with the youth
kind of thing, and much worse happens all the time in the US. Take
the Rodney King incident, and so many others. In November of 2000
in Minneapolis, Alfred Charles Sanders was unarmed in his car (boxed
in on all sides by squad cars) when a hail of over thirty police
bullets killed him. Many more people have been killed by overwhelming
police force in Minneapolis
and all over the US. Organizations like Communities United Against
Police Brutality (CUAPB)
keep extensive records on such killings and other episdoes of police
agency of the federal government, the U.S. Department of Justice,
admits that police kill around 350 people (many unarmed) every year
in the United States [source PULSE
of the Twin Cities, 8/10/05, p. 3]. "Every
Mother's Son" is an Emmy-nominated film that tells the
story of three mothers who lost sons to police violence in New York
City, including the mother of Amadou Diallo who was riddled with
44 bullets while he was unarmed.
Seige by Philadelphia Police in 1985
of the most notorious examples of police brutality (actually this
goes beyond that term in its degree of militaristic barbarity) in
the United States by a civilian police force is that of the raid
on the MOVE house in Philadelphia on May 13, 1985. MOVE was a self-help
black community activist group in Philadelphia along the lines of
the Black Panthers in the 1980's. With funding and weapons (including
C4 explosives, and M60, 50 caliber, and 20 mm anti-tank machine
guns) supplied by the FBI and the ATF, the Philadelphia police raided
the house where the activist group was located at the time along
with the children of some of the activists. The police dropped a
bomb made from the C4 explosives on the house from a helicoptor
piloted by a police officer. Absolutely unbelievable, but true!
Yes a civilian police force dropped war ordinants on civilians in
a civilain neighborhood in the United States. Then they proceeded
to fire over 10,000 rounds of ammunition into the house. Eleven
people, both activists and young children, were killed in the blaze
that consumed the house along with the other houses on the block
and 61 other houses total. This left 250 people, mostly people who
had nothing to do with the activist group homeless.
by NYPD just Beofre his Marriage Ceremony
On November 26, 2006 in Jamaica Queens New York, over 50 bullets
fired at unarmed man and his grooms men as they left a strip club
early in the morning during the groom's bachelor party. The groom
died, and a few of his buddies were seriously wounded. You don't
need fifty fucking bullets to stop an unarmed man! Thta's an unambiguous
piece of evidence that points to the killing being an outright execution.
How sad the bride must be!
Zongo Killed by Police
2003, in New York, Ousmane Zongo, 43, a native of the western African
country of Burkina Faso, was killed during a NYPD raid on a warehouse
where he repaired art and musical instruments. He was shot four
times, twice in the back.
Killed by Police in a Hail of 41 Bullets
peole heard about this one already. Before Rudy Guiliani became
a "hero", he was known by the residents of New York City
as a racist mayor who gave the city's minorities hell. He was at
the helm in 1999 when a bunch of plain clothes police burst into
Amadou Diallo's apartment and executed the legal immigrant who had
been in the United States for two years. The man had no weapon,
and was shot when he pulled out his wallet to give the police his
identification. Not just one or two or three bullets were fired,
but 41 bullets. That's a hell of a margin of error, and its erring
on the side of overwelming deadly force rather than cautious policing.
love it when peole call the police heros by definition. Real heros
are courageous people who make sacrifices. Real heroes don't shoot
first to protect themselves and ask questions later. Real heros
put their own safety on the line to protect people like you and
me and Amadou Diallo. If you can't hack the tough job of being a
police officer (and it is truly a tough job at times), then don't
sign up for it! The old motto of "protect and serve" has
been turned on its head, turned upside down. Police officers are
automatically heros before they've done one single thing to protect
the public, and the public is immediately expected to turn over
our rights to the police in order to make their job safer. Another
case of the means becoming the ends.
more about the MOVE seige and the shooting of Amadou Diallo here.
in Seattle and the FTAA in Miami
particularly recommend two films "The
Miami Model" and "This
is What Democracy Looks Like," shot by independent media
activists on the ground during the protests against the FTAA in
Miami in 2003 and the WTO in Seattle in 1999 respectively. You will
be apalled and shocked if you've never seen police in the US use
overt and brutal violence against unarmed citizens who have committed
no crime, but who are trying to exercise their Constitutional rights.
The evidence of police violence contained in these films is incontrovertible,
undeniable and well documented. This may cause your whole view point
and mindset about the country you live in to change irreversibly...
that is unless you decide to try to forget the harsh reality and
live your life in denial.
RNC in NYC... August
2004 (pre RNC)
it looks like there may be a fair amount of police brutality and
repression against protestors at the Republican
National Convention in New York City (Aug 29 to Sep 4).
police-state-style repression has already begun, as activists are
and arrested on bogus charges well before the convention.
corporate media is working hard to stir up the spector of violent
protestors. In the past, (such as in Miami last fall at the
FTAA ministerial) this
has worked well to justify police violence against peaceful protestors
in the minds of an uninformed public. In reality, in Miami and at
other recent protests, the police brutally attacked peaceful protestors
with aggressive charges, pepper spray, tear gas, batons, tasers,
shotguns loaded with bean bag ammunition...
FBI has issued warnings that label anarchists who may be in New
York for the convention as domestic "terrorists" who might
attack the corporate media there. Proof? Sources anyone? Oh, that's
top secret... national security you know. Actually this was uncovered
because there's been a lot of "chatter" from a little
bird that only sings in the ears of Tommie Ridge and Johnny Aschcroft...
there are rumors that a handful of right-wing
vigilantes who will be carrying concealed weapons will attempt
to disrupt the protests against the Republicans.
8, 2004 (post RNC)
Okay, so it
wasn't just like the DNC in 1968 in Chicago. It might actually have
been worse, in that protestors were preempted from being able to
do what they planned to do. Every time a group of people assembled,
there were cops in riot gear there within minutes to intimidate
them, tell them that they could or could not stand on some arbitrary
patch of sidewalk or street, and then make mass arrests (frequently
even when protestors did exactly what the police had told them to
do). Sounds pretty sad for the "most free country in the world"
to be harrassing and arresting people who gather together for political
purposes.... freedom of assembly? speech? More like freedom to do
what the cops say (regardless of any rights or logical reasoning),
or else to get jacked.
Check out the
New York Independent Media Center for photos, video, audio
and stories by independent journalists and joe's/jane's-on-the-street
www.2600.com for an independent
journalist's experience reporting from the streets during the convention
in New York, where he would be swept up and arrested along with
over 1,800 others during the protests of the convention.
Here are excerpts
of an article from Salon.com that sums it all up pretty well
reproduction of this article here complies with the fair use policy
of copyright law)
fought the law and the law won Anti-Bush protesters
were tough and resilient all week. But in the end it
was the NYPD and City Hall with the upper hand.
By Michelle Goldberg
Sept. 3, 2004
| NEW YORK --
...."The Republican National Convention has
trumped the Constitution, the laws
of New York state and common decency," said [Tom] Roderick,
a thin Manhattanite
with graying temples, dressed in khakis and a dark blue polo shirt.
not supposed to happen in the United States."
inside Madison Square Garden praised the NYPD for keeping
order, grim stories of preemptive, arbitrary arrests, filthy jail
and long detentions without access to attorneys circulated among
lawyers and quite a few ordinary New Yorkers who were arrested for
the wrong place at the wrong time.
In order to
thwart a few demonstrators who promised to torment delegates and
cause chaos, the police adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward un-permitted
action most of the week. Whenever groups of activists gathered,
row upon row
of riot cops would surround them with orange plastic netting and
arrest everyone inside, including journalists and bystanders. Police
defied state law by holding many people well over 24 hours without
During the four
days of the convention, a few dozen protesters managed to
make it into Madison Square Garden, including two who interrupted
speech before being dragged away by Secret Service.
the NYCLU's executive director, said that on several
occasions, the police overreacted and civil liberties were undermined.
"We're deeply distressed at the number of sweeps that have
especially on Tuesday, when hundreds were snared and arrested for
nothing wrong," she said. During the convention, the NYCLU
storefront in midtown. "People would come in and ask, 'Where
can I go to
protest lawfully and not get arrested?'" said Lieberman. "We
had to say to
them that those are two different issues. You can protest anywhere
on the sidewalks of Manhattan, as long as you don't block the sidewalks
use amplified sound, but that's no guarantee against arrest."
media rarely takes protesters' complaints about police
mistreatment seriously, in part because activists are notorious
wolf. Besides, many protesters announced their plans to break the
of time, which left the city feeling justified in locking them up.
Sheekey, president of the RNC host committee, was quoted in the
Times praising the NYPD for proving that "New York City had
the only police
force to deal with a modern anarchist threat."
In dealing with
that "threat," though, police also came down hard on many
nonviolent people, including some who weren't breaking the law.
journalists saw this firsthand when they were caught, literally,
NYPD's net. Many reporters, including ones from Slate and Newsday,
detained during the demonstrations. At least one journalist was
inside Madison Square Garden, apparently on suspicion of opposition
Dische was covering the Bush speech for the German paper Die
Zeit. Dische said she was sitting in the press stands with the artist
graphic novelist Art Spiegelman when police removed them both from
stands and questioned them about their T-shirts. Spiegelman's T-shirt
"Pray for a secular society"; Dische's featured the word
"Bush" and Chinese
characters. She convinced police it said, "I love Bush"
(it meant shit on
Bush and flush him away) and was allowed to return to her seat.
On her way
back, an usher handed her an American flag and told her to wave
it. When she
refused to take it, she "immediately felt a hand on my shoulders,"
and police quickly ushered her off the convention floor and into
set up inside the Garden. They called immigration officials to check
American status and questioned her for over an hour. She also convinced
to Google her on the Internet to prove that she was a legitimate
When she called her daughter, Emily, and spoke to her in German,
detective barked, "You don't speak in a language we can't understand
Finally she was escorted to the street, with the police, Dische
"trying to make nice the whole way."
Writing on the
Christian Science Monitor's convention blog, journalist Tom
Regan seemed shocked by what he'd witnessed at a midtown protest
the day organizers called for direct action and civil disobedience
protesters, while certainly noisy, had obeyed police instructions
down the entire length of the street," he wrote. "Now
they were being
treated as if they had gotten wildly out of control, but they hadn't
some point the police would just start picking people out of the
arresting them. From what I saw, there was often no rhyme or reason
who they picked to arrest."
people were arrested on the mere suspicion that they might be
protesters. Ever since thousands of protesters on bicycles snarled
last Friday, bike riders have reported being singled out by the
Wednesday, Kenneth Scott Kohanowski, a lawyer, was riding home on
Avenue from his office to his neighborhood in Chelsea when he was
for reasons still unclear to him.
and asked the officer why we couldn't go down Fifth Avenue,"
wrote in an e-mail. "He told me to keep on moving and I insisted
why I couldn't proceed toward my apartment. At that point, he shoved
then threw me against a magazine kiosk. A dozen other officers then
on top of me. They then arrested me and booked me for disorderly
I have never been arrested before. The police in this city are out
control with the RNC in town."
evening, a freed protester would walk out of the Criminal Courts
building every few minutes to cheers from a crowd of several hundred
supporters. Many of those released were caked with grime; their
inside did little to calm worried parents. Protesters, they said,
held for up to 24 hours in pens at Pier 57, a parking garage on
River. The floors were covered with dirt and motor oil. Several
said they sustained chemical burns from sitting or lying on the
a turquoise-haired 20-year-old from Philadelphia, had been held
for 29 hours, 13 of them in a small pen at Pier 57 with 40 other
Because there was only one bench, most of them sat on the floor
grew tired of standing. "I was lying on the ground and I started
welts," Gross said. "The next day they started erupting
and pussing out."
There are two sores on her arm. One is largely scabbed over. When
back the bandage on the other, it's leaking blood and some hideous
fluid. She was wearing a miniskirt when she was arrested and there
sores on her legs. "Imagine that one but huge and bubbling,"
conditions at Pier 57, Jason Post, an NYPD spokesperson,
insisted that protesters were spreading misinformation. "It's
not the kind
of place you want to go for a week of vacation but the conditions
fine," he said. On Wednesday, he acknowledged, the police installed
carpeting, suggesting that there was a problem with the floors earlier
the week. But, Post said, "Conditions were adequate prior to
that." So where
did the protesters' oozing sores come from? "You'd have to
ask them," he
the War Resisters had planned to march from Ground Zero to
Madison Square Garden, where they were going to lie down in the
the street in a symbolic "die in." They planned to get
arrested, just not
before they broke the law. Instead, they were rounded up near Ground
they marched two abreast down the sidewalk.
It was preemptive.
"I was at the march on Sunday and thought the police were
pretty restrained," Schell said. "But this is looking
more and more like a
South American Republic."
That may be
an exaggeration. But the kind of mass arrests and long
detentions protesters were subjected to this week aren't supposed
in New York. In 1991, a state court of appeals ruled that prisoners
York must be processed within 24 hours or released. On Thursday,
Supreme Court Judge John Cataldo ordered the release of 550 protesters
had been held too long without seeing a judge. When the Police Department
failed to let them go, he issued fines to the city -- $1,000 per
still held by 5 p.m.
The NYPD said
that it was simply overwhelmed with the number of
convention-related arrests -- around 1,200 on Tuesday alone, and
in all. That excuse struck protesters' attorneys as preposterous,
long the department had been preparing for the demonstrations. "We
the city of New York improperly and illegally detained protesters,"
civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel Thursday night. "We believe
plan is to keep protesters detained until George Bush leaves the
tonight. Some people have been held more than 60 hours."
Siegel said, people arrested during demonstrations take less
then 10 hours to go through the system, and sometimes as little
hours. But he claimed the city has developed a pattern of holding
prolonged periods during multi-day protests in order to keep them
streets. As to the city's contention that the large number of arrests
Tuesday created a backlog, Siegel pointed out that people arrested
disobedience during the previous five days were also subject to
detention, even though there weren't enough of them to jam up the
Siegel is currently
representing 33 people in a lawsuit against the city
stemming from the demonstrations against the World Economic Forum
February 2002. Then, as now, protesters were detained for 40 or
"We allege in that lawsuit that the purpose was to detain people
couldn't come back to demonstrate," he said.
When he started
getting calls about the RNC arrests, the parallels struck
him as obvious. He got involved, he said, when the mother of a 17-year-old
Trinity High School student named Richard Prins called him at midnight
Tuesday, saying she couldn't find her son and feared he'd been arrested.
next day Prins' mother called central booking to find out when her
be released. According to Siegel, "she was told that all the
going to stay until President Bush leaves."
Thanks in part
to Siegel's intervention, almost everyone ended up being
released by Thursday night. And in the end, the arrests didn't stop
thousands from marching from Union Square to Madison Square Garden
Thursday to show, once again, their opposition to the president
agenda. "I'm still here," said Angela Coppola, a 25-year-old
organizer who was arrested Tuesday during an impromptu street party
Square and held for 28 hours. "None of us inside had any intention
home after being released."
outside the courthouse, Coppola admitted to a certain
sadness about how everything had turned out. "The true tragedy
of the RNC,"
she said, "is that people were arrested for just contemplating
much they hate Bush -- while the Republicans are in my city celebrating
successfully they've robbed us."
Directed at Journalists Too, A Frustrating Counter Constitutional
is often directed at journalists too. That fact should not be surprising
of course, since episodes like the Rodney King beating have proved
damaging to the public's perceptions of the police. Documentation
of police brutality is from time to time actually given air play,
even some times at the level of the corporate media. Cops don't
like that. Its unfair in their minds because they are used to getting
the hero treatment all the time.
Hey when you
are the law you don't have to wait around and watch as your
reputation gets a dirty dose of reality, you just take out the journalists
and your problem is solved right? Heck! After you break their camera
or tear out the film from their camera... after you get them tied
up in a bureaucratic booking mess that might end days later in an
"wrongful arrest" (aka. a bunch of wasted time and frustration
for the wrongfully arrested journalist) in the best of scenarios,
or some ridiculous charge and a maybe a trial in less fortunate
circumstances.... after all that even if it was a totally wrongful
arrest, even if you destroyed some one's camera and /or evidence
of your crimes.... so what!? It doesn't matter. You're not going
to lose your badge and certainly not any pay for it. You got what
you wanted via your almost always granted immunity to prosecution.
Hell! Even if it is all on video and that is entered as evidence
against you in a court case you might still get off. The cops in
the Rodney King case walked didn't they?
Here's an example
of a journalist getting tackled and having his camera taken in New
York, ironically while covering a protest against the killing of
journalist Brad Will. Will was killed in in Oaxaca, Mexico during
the fall of 2006 (not by police, but by paramilitaries doing the
extra judicial bidding of the police and the government of Oaxaca).
killed by "Non-lethal" Round Fired by Boston Police October
Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series victory, there were large crowds
on the streets of Boston, and rioting ensued. The Boston Police
were sent in to quell the unrest. But, they showed up with riot
gear, "non-lethal" weapons, and a "kick some ass"
attitude which typically does more harm than good, causing drunk
rioters to become more interested and provoked (as has happened
in so many other circumstances such as college hockey riots in Minnesota,
and other similar situations). This time a non-rioting woman was
killed by the firing of a "non-lethal" pepper spray projectile
by police. Ironically this occurred on October 22nd, the annual
national day of protest against police brutality.
fan incidents like this are not good examples of police repression
of political dissent, they still show how the police have become
hyper-militarized and what that means for the American people. Police
states come into existence incrementally, not all at once, usually.
This kind of violence has been dished out by police to anti-globalization
protestors for years ( and to Vietnam War protestors and Civil Rights
protestors before them, although the weaponry has been getting increasingly
high tech and menacing in the last twenty years in particular).
As usual, police violence and repression are tested on undesirables,
dissidents and foreigners, and then brought to the population at
large. How does the saying go? First they came for the Jews, then
the communists... then they came for us.
[Check out Urban
Warrior, a documentary about the recent militarization of police
in the U.S. This trend contravenes The Posse Commitatus Act that
is supposed to keep domestic police forces and the US Military separate
in the interests of preserving democracy.]
killed by Sacramento Police after Shot with "Non-Lethal"
Stun Gun December
caused by police using "non-lethal" weaponry. This time
it happened in Sacramento, California. There have been more than
70 confirmed Taser deaths in the US since 1999, according to Amnesty
International. Actually, there may have been more, but medical examiners
are often quick to attribute deaths to heart attacks, drug overdoses
or improper restraints. See the Sacramento
Bee for more information about this incident and tasers generally.
2nd Inauguration January
security for a presidential inauguration according to the corporate
media. Check it out for yourself from the street level view at the
DC IMC website where breaking
news in the form of text, photos, video and audio will be updated
as shit happens at the protests of the newly privatized ceremonies
of (sham) democracy.
New "Maximum Pain" Weapon for Use Against Rioters, Protestors
A new "non-lethal"
energy pulse weapon is being developed that will deliver "maximum
pain" to its victims from up to two kilometers. Pain researchers
incensed that their work toward relieving pain will be used to inflict
more here NewScientist.com
and here theMemoryHole.org
Police Attack Immigrant Rally in Los Angeles May 3, 2007
During a rally for immigrant rights in Los Angeles, riot police assaulted protestors with truncheons and fired more than 200 rubber bullets at demonstrators, as well as mothers with small children and babies in strollers. The police even pushed and assaulted members of the media. Usually the police are happy to treat independent journalists this way, but this time a shocked Fox news reporter was violently separated from her assumption of 1st Amendment rights. She is on video frantically telling police that they couldn't do that while the police just continued to bark orders and beat people with marshall authority. This is not an aberation, and it is on the rise.
NYPD Officer Thug Visciously Attacks Bike Rider During Critical Mass for No Reason and Then Lies; Video Shows Incontrovertably Officer is Lying July 25th, 2008
Ramsey County Sheriff, St. Paul PD, Minneapolis PD and tens of other agencies covert and otherwise attempt to shutdown dissent at the RNC in St. Paul, Minnesota with overwhelming force directed at peaceful protestors and attacks on journalists and passersby September 2008
Denver Police Upper Cut Women with Baton without Provocation... Vicious. Then they arrest her as she describes the incident to media later on September 2008
These same cops made and distributed a t-shirt among cops and other paramilitary types that said “WE GET UP EARLY to BEAT the Crowds 2008 DNC.” Now if their spokesmen would just be as honest in their press conferences to fawning media rather than lying and acting like their guys are such caring and nice people. It would be refreshing to hear the spin man for the cops admit that they are at the protests solely to beat and harass protestors in an effort to silence them and distract from their protest messages. But that will never happen of course. This mask-off expression from the police themselves is very revealing though, indeed.