A few months ago, Zebulun and Elijah Colbourne were among five New York City teenagers arrested and held overnight in jail in order to fill an official quota. The citation claimed that the teenagers, who had been racing in the sidewalks, were engaged in “tumultuous and violent conduct that caused public alarm.” They were given a summons, handcuffed, and held in a cell before being released the next morning without further action.
“They just wanted to arrest us,” Zebulun told WABC News. “They locked us up for nothing.” Well, not exactly for nothing: The arresting officer was able to tally five summonses toward his monthly quota.
Adil Polanco, a five-year veteran of the NYPD’s 41st Precinct in the Bronx, confirmed to WABC that police are under relentless official pressure to make arrests and issue summonses in order to meet arbitrary quotas.
“We are stopping kids walking upstairs to their house, stopping kids going to the store, young adults … [i]n order to keep the quota,” discloses Officer Polanco. “Our primary job is not to help anybody, our primary job is not to assist anybody, our primary job is to get those numbers and come back with them.”
Like other decent people who become police officers out of a genuine desire to protect the rights and property of individuals — yes, such people do exist — Polanco is severely disillusioned by the reality of his profession.
“I’m not going to keep arresting innocent people, I’m not going to keep searching people for no reason, I’m not going to keep writing people [citations] for no reason, I’m tired of this,” declared a visibly disgusted Polanco.
Audio recordings played during the segment broadcast by WABC confirmed Polanco’s account.
One patrol supervisor told officers that unyielding and ever-increasing arrest and citation quotas would be part of their professional lives “until you decide to quit this job and become a Pizza Hut delivery man”; another supervising officer tells police that “you’re going to be doing a lot more, a lot more” by way of meeting arrest and citation quotas.
New York City Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne insists that quotas — however euphemistically described — are “productivity goals” for police officers. He thereby offered a validating illustration of a principle repeatedly noted in this space: The only things that government actually makes are criminals out of innocent people, and corpses out of living human beings.
An unjustified arrest is an act of kidnapping. What Officer Polanco describes and WABC documents is nothing less than the systematic abduction of innocent people under color of state “authority.”
Polanco is neither the first nor only officer to confirm the widely known but officially denied truth that police are subject to arbitrary arrest and citation quotas.
Five years ago Cincinnati police officer Vincent George filed a grievance with the police union against the department’s use of arrest and ticket quotas. Like other Cincinnati police officers who failed or refused to meet those quotas, George suffered immediate professional retaliation in the form of a demotion to overnight desk duty.
A Washington Post story from 2004 described how police in Falls Church, Virginia were required “to write an average of three tickets, or make three arrests, every 12-hour shift, and to accumulate a minimum total of 400 tickets and arrests for year…. Failure to meet the quotas results in an automatic 90-day probationary period with no pay raise and a possible demotion or dismissal if ticket or arrest numbers aren’t immediately raised to acceptable levels. ”
In Illinois, pressure from police officials killed a proposed measure banning the use of arrest and ticket quotas, even though the same officials loudly deny that such quotas are in use.
As the Greater Depression deepens, municipal revenue streams are being choked off and job opportunities are evaporating. Thus police are under ever-increasing pressure to carry out the predatory practice of “taxation by citation” — with the prospect of financial ruin if they fail to produce the required number of “criminals.”
Whatever else can be said about Officer Adil Polanco, his public condemnation of police abduction by quota is an act of authentic heroism.
BROOKLYN – Shock jock Hal Turner of North Bergen took the witness stand in his federal trial Wednesday and accused the FBI of urging him to make violent statements as a way of infiltrating extremist right-wing groups.
Turner, who built an audience of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with his radio show, is on trial here on a single charge of threatening three Chicago-based federal appeals court judges. The charge is based on a posting Turner made on his radio network blog last June in which he said the judges “deserved to be killed” for their ruling in a gun control case.
If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison.
In an investigative report last November, based on FBI documents, The Record outlined Turner’s secret FBI role in infiltrating the same groups who were drawn to his radio show and blog. Besides neo-Nazis, Turner said he made contact with the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation.
In more than two hours of testimony before lunch, Turner described how he was recruited in 2003 by the FBI’s Newark-based Joint Terrorism Task Force. He said he was paid “in excess of $100,000” by the FBI during his almost five years as an informant.
After the husband and mother of Chicago-based U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow were murdered in 2005, Turner said the FBI asked him to “ratchet up the rhetoric” on his radio show in an attempt to “flush out” the killer. As it turned out, Lefkow’s husband and mother were not murdered by right-wing extremists but by a man who was disgruntled with one of her rulings.
Turner’s testimony, which is expected to continue all day, marked a dramatic turnabout in the trial.
In gripping testimony on Tuesday, all three Chicago appellate court judges took the stand and said they felt threatened by Turner’s blog posting that they “deserved to be killed.”
During the first two days of the trial, while prosecutors presented their side of the case, there was no mention of Turner’s FBI link. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter did not even permit defense attorneys to present an opening statement until after prosecutors had finished introducing evidence and rested their case.
“Here’s where the case get’s very interesting,” said Turner’s lead defense attorney, Michael Orozco, in his opening statement before calling Turner as his first witness.
Step lightly is the only conclusion one can draw from the Obama administration’s refusal to sign the international treaty banning landmines. U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that the administration had decided not to join the 10-year old treaty endorsed by 156 countries. Altogether, 39 countries have not signed on, inclusing Russia, China and India.
Kelly’s comment drew outrage from treaty supporters, including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), who called the refusal to sign a “default of U.S. leadership,” and contradictory to the White House’s “professed emphasis on multilateralism, disarmament, and humanitarian affairs.”
The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines called Kelly’s statement “shocking,” and anti-landmine groups were sharply critical of the review process, which was conducted behind closed doors without input from NGOs, legislators, or NATO allies who have signed the treaty.
The 1999 treaty bans the stockpiling, production, or transferring of anti-personal mines that caused over 5,000 casualties last year, one third of them children. More than 70 countries are infested with them.
In the face of the uproar over the Obama administration’s refusal to join the ban, the State Department quickly backed off and said the policy review “is still on-going.”
The White House has also resisted endorsing the treaty to ban cluster weapons.
A total of 103 governments worldwide have signed the agreement, but ratification is still working its way through various legislatures and parliaments. Some 30 nations have ratified it, however, elevating the treaty to the level of international law.
The U.S., Russia, and China are the major producers of cluster weapons, and they are stockpiled in at least 77 countries. A number of countries, including Japan and Australia, have destroyed their stocks.
Cluster weapons have a high failure rate—30 percent is not unusual—and the unexploded bomblets lie in wait for unwary civilians. Some 90 million cluster weapons were dropped on tiny Laos during the war in Southeast Asia, and the weapons continue to kill and maim between 100 and 200 people a year.
Many of the 50 million clusters dropped on Kuwait during the first Gulf War failed to explode and, in the two years following the war, killed 1,400 Kuwaiti civilians. Cluster weapons continue to kill and wound hundreds of civilians in Kosovo and Iraq.
The aftermath of war was underlined by a recent study conducted by the Vietnamese military and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation that looked at six provinces near the old demilitarized zone in the country’s north. It found that it would take 300 years and $10 billion to clear unexploded bombs and mines from the region.
Since the war ended in 1975, unexploded ordinance has killed 10,529 people and injured 12,231 in the six provinces.
The Iraqi Ministry of the Environment has found that 42 sites across the country are heavily contaminated with radiation and dioxin. The dioxin is from the widespread bombing of oil pipelines and refineries during the U.S. invasion, and the radioactivity is residue from radioactive depleted uranium ammunition (DUA). Over 500 tons of DUA were used during the first and second Gulf wars.
According to environment minister Narmin Othman, the bombing of pipelines in the Basra area has heavily contaminated the soil with dioxin. “The soil ended up in people’s lungs and has been on food that people have eaten,” he told the Guardian.
DUA is the latest innovation in armor piercing ammunition, and it is widely used in 120mm tank shells, and 30mm cannon shells fired by aircraft. While not highly radioactive, it “has the potential to generate significant medial consequences” if ingested, according to the U.S. Environmental Policy Institute.
DUA tends to vaporize on contact, contaminating food and water supplies with radioactive dust.
While the U.S. claims DUA is not dangerous, birth defects and early life cancers have risen sharply in places like Falluja where the weapon was widely used. “We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies,” Falluja general hospital’s director Dr. Ayman Qais told the Guardian. “Before 2003 [the start of the war] I was seeing sporadic numbers of deformities in babies. Now the frequency of deformities has increased dramatically.”
Admissions for deformities have risen from two every two weeks a year ago, to two a day now. Besides deformities of the head, spinal cord, and lower limbs, multiple tumors have been showing up as well. The Guardian found that in a three-week period, there were 37 abnormal babies born in the Falluja general hospital alone.
Conn Hallinan can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Words always matter, and names always have a life of their own. But perhaps Palestine and Israel form a context in which words become positions more dramatically than in many others. The authors of the “Moment of Truth” Kairos document, which is the Christian Palestinians’ statement to the world about the occupation of Palestine and a call for support in opposing it, have repeatedly been asked about the use of the word “boycott.” What exactly does this mean? How far exactly does it go? And what exactly does it call for?
The document calls for a complete system of sanctions of Israel. Not simply a boycott of products generated by settlements or of products in general, or of institutions and organizations that are unabashedly complicit in the occupation, but a total boycott. Our occupation is not selective, and so our opposition must not be.
The injustices perpetrated by the State of Israel affect our economy, our education, our health and our mobility; they inhibit our most quotidian and our most far-reaching freedoms; they stigmatize our language and confine our travel; they stifle what we do and buy and make. The occupation is not a random onslaught of power, and it isn’t conducted on some remote soil: it is a complete matrix of control, a strategic, consistent, deliberate, historically constructed, externally condoned and internally sustained attempt to separate Palestinian and Israel rights and lives in the very place where we make and have always made our home. Boycotting Israel signifies boycotting this entire range of injustice.
The boycott is also the manifestation of our right as Palestinians to decide the terms of our own struggle and our own freedom. This certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t value the input of our supporters, both from within Israel and from elsewhere. But we as Palestinians ultimately have the right to choose our own methods of resistance. Resistance itself is a right guaranteed by international law, as expressed by Article 1(4) of Protocol 1 (additional to the Geneva Conventions), for “conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination.” Boycott — which is a powerful yet totally nonviolent tactic — is part of our choice. Indeed, as is stated in “A Moment of Truth,” boycott and disinvestment are “not revenge but rather a serious action to reach a just and definitive peace that will put an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and will guarantee security and peace for all.”
This assertion responds to some of the criticisms we receive from people inside Israel including and in addition to those who have pro-Israeli beliefs, including some of the criticisms we receive more generally from peace-seeking people. Many want to see a “balanced” solution: they claim that Israelis don’t know what’s happening inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and that they’re not directly involved in the occupation; thus, they think that Palestinians should “dialogue” with them, not boycott them, in order to explain our reality. Our answer, though, is that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign is the way for them to not only hear about but also see, experience and know what their government is doing in Palestine. The occupation is a hierarchy, and Israelis are on top. Every single Israeli is benefiting from its very existence, and so we call, too, for every Israeli to decide where he or she stands. This responsibility is both collective and deeply personal.
Regrettably, the leftist movement within Israel remains very weak. This weakness relates to the fact that strong criticism of Israel is often ignored or dismissed within the international community: many people fear Israel itself, or fear the stigma of being labeled anti-Semitic. This environment of fear and hesitation thus undermines the movement inside Israel and its endeavor to end the occupation. If Israeli activists are perceived as traitors, and so their numbers (as well as the numbers of their international supporters) wane, the Israeli government can continue to claim that no one in the world actually backs their efforts — especially for boycott.
That said, there are indeed Israelis who not only oppose the occupation in theory but who are also avowed public supporters of the boycott campaign. Neve Gordon is one such person. A political science professor at Ben Gurion University (and an American-born Jew who moved to Israel and has raised his family here), Gordon explained how he reached this conclusion in a 20 August 2009 Los Angeles Times op-ed:
“The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right. It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama Administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.”
Boycott us, Gordon urges, “For the sake of our children, I am convinced that an international boycott is the only way to save Israel from itself.”
And we must listen. The Israeli occupation must experience the consequences, and the consequences must be visible, tangible and countable. They must become apparent to the Israeli state and society on every level — cultural, political, economic, and academic — as the international community concretely demonstrates its unwillingness to tolerate the ongoing occupation.
Some voices, mainly in Europe, have criticized the nature of the BDS campaign. Some say that it could easily be associated with the Nazi-era call to “boycott the Jews” and therefore be misconstrued as anti-Semitic. As was mentioned earlier, this is another example of the anxiety that inhibits efforts to end the occupation. Others express the kind of hesitancy we also saw before the call to boycott the apartheid regime in South Africa — a hesitancy that took the stance of “But we don’t want to hurt the blacks.”
If we compare the boycott-related reluctance in the South African context to the similar worries that currently affect the Palestinian context, we must see that there will always be justifications to do nothing; people will always harbor concerns, both ideological and practical, that inhibit them from real involvement. And as long as these hesitations are allowed to win out over action, oppressors will continue to oppress. It must not be so.
Other voices criticize the scope of the boycott. They say that it isn’t strategic or feasible, that it will backfire, that they can’t accept it. However, it must be understood that a total boycott is both reasoned and necessary, and that moral standards put forth by the international community, informing us of what we should and should not do and what we can and cannot say, are precisely what the autonomy and solidarity of the BDS campaign (that is, our autonomy to choose our own ethical and practical terms, and our supporters’ solidarity with that independence) attempts to depart from.
That being said, I would still like to pose the following question to those who criticize a complete boycott: would they accept a boycott of settlement products, or some other kind of selective boycott? If so, then we hope they will carry it out. In short, we hope our supporters will do whatever they can. We’ll continue with our own goals, principles and practices, and will be glad to work with those who wish to participate.
Another commentary on an additional source of criticism: some churches worldwide have likewise expressed their skepticism about our call for boycott, and have pushed us to adopt a more “positive” attitude. To them, we wish to say that there is nothing “positive” about the way the occupation is constricting us. Nor is there anything “positive” about the way the Israeli state responds to our dissent (by repressing it), to United Nations resolutions about refugee rights or illegal settlements or humanitarian crises (by ignoring them), or to the massive and vocal international support for the UN-commissioned Goldstone report (by rejecting it). The lofty goal of “balanced dialogue” is impossible in a place where there is no balance, a place that continues to silence our voices. To consult another model, advocating for “positive engagement” with the South African apartheid regime in order to “convince” it to be more humane in dealing with the oppressed proved to be condescending and ineffective.
Clearly, we receive quite a bit of criticism about the BDS movement, but we rarely receive any suggestions for alternatives — and, indeed, the gravity of the situation in Palestine doesn’t leave room for many of them. If the call for a complete boycott was not “justified” some years back, how can they possibly respond to the overwhelming atrocities committed by Israel in Lebanon and Gaza in 2006, or in Gaza in winter 2008-2009? Exactly how epic a catastrophe is necessary in order to “justify” our own measures of resistance? While we discuss the effectiveness of the BDS movement, Israel continues — in concrete and increasingly extreme ways — to keep Gaza in a choke-hold, demolish houses and evict families in East Jerusalem, to build illegal settlements and evade any commitment to a freeze. Israel is tilting more and more dangerously to the right, and turning more and more irrefutably into an apartheid state. To delay opposition, to delay a boycott, is dangerous, too.
Even more than the word “boycott,” of course, the word “apartheid” garners wrath from Israel’s supporters. Former US President Jimmy Carter knows this well, after he authored Palestine Peace Not Apartheid and was widely criticized by prominent pro-Israel figures in his own country. But Carter stands firm on his use of the term “apartheid.” As he explained to the Israeli daily Haaretz in March 2007, “When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa.”
Carter’s words once again call us to boycott as the only way to prevent such apartness from becoming even more profoundly and destructively entrenched. Moreover, the threat — the reality — of this apartness must compel us to carry out a complete boycott, not a selective one. The blockade of Gaza is enacted by the State of Israel; the State is the occupation. They are not separate, and they cannot be separated. We must boycott both.
We must be courageous enough to be honest, both in describing the situation we’re subjected to and in calling for its end. In our document “A Moment of Truth,” we strove for this kind of candor and clarity, and we continue to do so. Without a complete boycott — economic, academic, cultural, political, athletic, artistic and so on — Israel’s unjust and illegal policies will continue, and so will passivity within both the Israeli and the international community. The bloodshed will continue, too.
As churches, we must not simply be “strategic”: we must be prophetic. We must raise our voices, and the boycott will strengthen our words with deeds.
Rifat Kassis is International President of Defence for Children International (DCI) and General Director of its section in Palestine. He is also Coordinator and Spokeperson of Karios Palestine – A Moment of Truth.
TEHRAN – Former Director of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence Organization General Hamid Gol blamed the US for creating and training different extremist and terrorist groups in the region, saying Washington is seeking to destabilize the region, specially Iran, through the measure.
“The US intelligence agencies pursued just one goal by forming Rigi’s group which was provoking unrests and instability in Iran,” Gol told FNA on Wednesday.
Abdolmalek Rigi’s US-backed notorious terrorist group, Jundollah, whose main stronghold is in Pakistan, is responsible for carrying out several cases of kidnapping, drug-trafficking and killing innocent people in Sistan-Balouchestan province in southeastern Iran.
Iran announced last week that it had arrested Abdolmalek Rigi when he was traveling to Bishkek to meet a high-ranking US official at a nearby military base to discuss new terrorist attacks on Iranian territory.
Referring to the plots and attempts of the US and its European allies against Iran, Gol reiterated that the very aim of them is to weaken Iran’s independence and impair the relations between Tehran and Islamabad.
He also advised the Pakistani government to elude the plots hatched by the US for dominating and infiltrating the region.
In remarks broadcast on Iran’s state-run TV, Rigi confessed that the United States offered to provide him with military aid to wage an insurgency against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“After Obama was elected, the Americans contacted us and they met me in Pakistan. They met us after (Iranian forces’) clashes with my group around March 17 in (the southeastern city of) Saharan and he (the US agent) said that Americans had requested a meeting,” Rigi said.
“They (Americans) said they would cooperate with us and would give me military equipment, arms and machine guns,” Rigi stated, adding, “They also promised to give us a base along the border with Afghanistan next to Iran.”
The Jundollah’s ringleader then revealed the US plot to support all the anti-Iran terrorist groups, saying, “One of the CIA officers said that it was too difficult for us to attack Iran militarily, but we plan to give aid and support to all anti-Iran groups that have the capability to wage war and create difficulty for Iran’s (Islamic) system.”
The Jundollah group has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks in Iran. The group has carried out mass murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, acts of sabotage and bombings. They have targeted civilians and government officials, as well as all ranks of Iran’s military.
In their latest attack on October 18, the group killed more than 40 Iranians, among them 15 members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) – including top commanders – and several tribal elders in the country’s southeastern border city of Sambas.