Crime and Police

To Terrify and Occupy

How the excessive militarization of the police is turning cops into counterinsurgents

by Matthew Harwood
 

Jason Westcott was afraid.

One night last fall, he discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend was planning with some co-conspirators to break in to his home. They were intent on stealing Wescott's handgun and a couple of TV sets. According to the Facebook message, the suspect was planning on “burning” Westcott, who promptly called the Tampa Bay police and reported the plot.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the investigating officers responding to Westcott’s call had a simple message for him: “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Two-Thirds of Americans Say Private Consumption of Marijuana Should Be Legal

by Paul Armentano

55% of those surveyed also said that they supported statewide laws seeking to tax and regulate the production and sale of cannabis to adults.

PALO ALTO, CA — Sixty-six percent of Americans believe that adults ought to legally be able to consume cannabis in the privacy of one’s own home, according to results of a recent nationwide HuffingtonPost/YouGov survey.

Seventy-two percent of self-identified Democrats and 70 percent of Independents said that the private consumption of cannabis should be legal.

Republican respondents endorsed private consumption by a margin of 50 percent to 39 percent.

Fifty-five percent of respondents — including 62 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents — also said that they supported statewide laws seeking to tax and regulate the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, such as those recently enacted in Colorado and Washington.

By contrast, only 37 percent of Republicans said they supported such a plan.

The Value of Political Corruption

by Thomas B Edsall

Americans have been pretty cynical about politics since at least Vietnam and Watergate. And key reforms that conservatives sought for decades and finally achieved have done nothing to quiet public distrust of the political class.

In fact, two of these reforms — the ban on congressional earmarks and a series of court rulings that radically deregulated campaign-finance law – have intensified the public’s hostility to both politicians and the political process.

From 2006 to 2013, the percentage of Americans convinced that corruption was “widespread throughout the government in this country” grew from 59 to 79 percent, according to Gallup. In other words, we were cynical already, but now we’re in overdrive.

New York Times Editorial Board: Repeal Prohibition, Again

The paper of record goes on the record unequivocably in favor of legalization of marijuana.

by the New York Times Editorial Board

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

Revealed: 'Collect It All' NSA Targets Those Seeking Web Privacy

'Merely visiting privacy-related websites is enough for a user's IP address to be logged into an NSA database,' says new report.

- Jon Queally, Commondreams staff writer

(Image: via Boing Boing)

Internet users who use online privacy tools or read certain websites may themselves become targets of NSA surveillance, according to a new investigation by public broadcasting outlets in Germany published on Thursday.

Report: Militarization of Police Turning Communities into 'War Zones'

SWAT raids disproportionately affecting people of color

- Lauren McCauley, Commondreams staff writer
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/06/24-4

The city of Manchester, NH parading around their special armored SWAT vehicle. (Photo: Manchester City Library/ CC/ Flickr)

The rapid militarization of American police forces is turning our communities into "war zones" with tactics of war used disproportionately against people of color, charged a new report by the ACLU on Tuesday. 

Thousands of Rapists Are Not Behind Bars Because Cops Focus on Marijuana Users

by Bill Piper/Drug Policy Alliance

A recent piece in the Washington Post highlights the growing backlog of untested rape test kits that are sitting in police storage units while rapists run free and victims suffer.  Missing from the story, however, is one of the biggest contributors to this backlog, the enormous amount of police and tax resources spent targeting drug crimes, particularly marijuana possession.

The backlog is a disgrace. The total number of rape test kits that have never been sent to laboratories for testing exceeds 100,000. In some cases, the kits have been sitting in storage for decades. From the Washington Post:

10 THINGS CITIZENS CAN DO TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT

10 THINGS CITIZENS CAN DO TO IMPROVE CITIZENS/POLICE RELATIONS

10 WAYS LAW ENFORCEMENT COULD IMPROVE CITIZEN RELATIONS

10 THINGS LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN DO TO IMPROVE CITIZEN-POLICE RELATIONS:
 
1) End the Drug War now. No one should be arrested or prosecuted for possession
or selling any recreational intoxicant to a consenting adult. Disband all narcotic units,
release all prisoners who are currently incarcerated for drug possession and drug selling,
and expunge all criminal records of everyone whoever suffered under this hypocritical, draconian and ineffective policy for the last 40 years. 
 
2) Publish the pictures, names, and badge numbers of all officers; and post this
listing in the lobby of the Champaign Police Department, the lobby of the public
safety building at the U of I and the sheriff's office or courthouse, like is done over at Urbana's 
municipal building. Police officers are government employees and, like politicians, have no reasonable expectation to "employee privacy." (residency exempted, of course.)

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