Several local police forces in California got on the police body-cameras bandwagon well before police killings around the nation in the summer of 2014 triggered a broad push for their adoption. The Rialto Police Department was the focus of a 2013 New York Times story that emphasized how much body cameras improved interactions between officers and the public.
But in Oakland, it appears authorities will only release the body-camera videos when they exonerate police, and that the video will be kept from the public and the media in other circumstances on the grounds that it is part of an ongoing investigation. The East Bay Express recently reported on how the Oakland police are dealing with four police killings. In two cases, Police Chief Sean Whent won’t release any body-cam footage. In the other two cases, police wouldn’t release the footage to the public. Instead, on Aug. 19, the Oakland Police Department held a screening for 11 members of the media.
This account is from the East Bay Express :
[The] videos included police body camera footage taken by officers who were chasing Richard Linyard and Nathaniel Wilks (in two separate incidents). On July 19, Linyard was allegedly fleeing the police on foot when he was later found wedged between two buildings. A coroner’s report said Linyard died from injuries he suffered when he was apparently stuck between the buildings.
On August 12, Wilks allegedly fled the police in a vehicle and then on foot. Several officers confronted and shot Wilks near the intersection of 27th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.
Watson said OPD showed videos to select members of the media in order to dispel inaccurate reports that officers beat Linyard, and claims that Wilks was shot in the back. Both incidents sparked protests. “We held the viewing in the interest of the public, to be able to share information through fair and balanced reporting,” said Watson.
Watson, however, said that the video footage will not be released to the broader public, and that OPD believes the California Public Records Act allows the department to withhold the footage because it is evidence in several ongoing investigations.
‘Completely wrong’ to withhold some video
As the Bay Area News Group reported, giving the police the right to pick and choose which videos to release outraged local civil-rights lawyer Jim Chanin. “I think it’s completely wrong to have selective showings of one shooting and not another shooting, depending on how the department feels . … There’s an inference now that if (police) don’t show you a video, there could be something wrong or improper about (another) shooting,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, a bill that would establish statewide procedures on access to and use of policy body-camera footage appears to have failed, U-T San Diego columnist Steve Greenhut wrote on Friday.
In April, a comprehensive bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, passed its initial committee vote. Per its official description, “Assembly Bill 66 would provide guidelines about when the cameras are to be operated, require notification of those being recorded, and prohibit law-enforcement officers involved in serious use-of-force incidents that result in serious bodily injury or death from viewing the video until they have filed an initial report.” Whent, the Oakland police chief, testified in favor of the bill.
But Weber’s bill was effectively killed within weeks. As Dan Walters wrote in the Sacramento Bee :
Weber’s body camera bill was beaten up in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. Police unions, whose endorsements politicians crave, strongly opposed it as unfair, and the committee insisted that only local authorities decide when cops can see body videos.
Vittorio Fera violently arrested. Photo credot – Haim Schwarczenberg
Occupied Palestine – Italian activist Vittorio Fera was violently arrested and beaten by soldiers at weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh in occupied Palestine. The Italian activist, 31-year old Vittorio Fera, is falsely accused of throwing stones and attacking soldiers. His case will be taken to court the second time Monday 31st August between 9 and 11 am.
During a weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh Israeli soldiers randomly arrested two protesters: one 18-year old Palestinian youth and the Italian activist Vittorio Fera. Fera went to the protest to document human rights violations by the Israeli army against Palestinians and became a victim of military violence himself.
While documenting an Israeli soldier strangling a 12-year old boy, Vittorio and the other activists were ambushed by Israeli forces. Vittorio was separated from the group and violently shoved to the ground. “We were shocked to see the boy being choked by a soldier, when suddenly soldiers came running at us and attacked Vittorio”, Josephine from Denmark explains.
Vittorio Fera with clear marks of military assault
Journalists witnessed soldiers kicking and beating him during the arrest, even though he did not resist or fight back. Vittorio, and the Palestinian youth, were forced into a military jeep where they were detained for almost nine hours by the Israeli army, before they were finally taken to a police station. Despite various demands of Fera’s lawyer to have him brought to a police station immediately, both he and the Palestinian were illegally kept in the military jeep until shortly before midnight.
Vittorio Fera with clear marks of military assault
The military accuses Vittorio Fera of throwing stones and attacking the soldiers – an unfounded accusation. A first sentencing in court late Saturday night only resulted in the postponing of the sentencing until Monday morning. The hearing will take place in in Jerusalem Monday the 31st August 2015 between 9 and 11 am.
See the video of the arrest here
Occupied Palestine – A 52-year old Palestinian man was arrested at Shuhada checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron) yesterday, for ‘not obeying soldiers’ orders. Israeli forces painfully handcuffed and blindfolded him.
Around 1:30 pm, Hisham Azzeh walked through Shuhada Checkpoint in order to reach his house that is located up the hill next to the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida. At this first checkpoint on his way home, Hisham passed through the metal detector without it beeping to indicate he had to go back and pass again. Therefore, he continued on his way, but Israeli soldiers yelled at him to go back and pass through the checkpoint again for no reason.
When he did not immediately comply with the soldiers orders, they arrested him. Israeli soldiers painfully handcuffed him with his hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, without any regard for a recent operation on his hand. The soldiers also blindfolded him, so he was unable to see what happened to him and where he was brought. On the way up the hill towards the military base, the pain, caused by the plastic handcuffs, was so intense, that Israeli soldiers had to allow Azzeh to sit down on the ground, as he was unable to continue walking.
Palestinian man sitting on the ground in pain
Palestinians observing the arrest were continously telling soldiers about Azzeh’s recent operation on his hand and the plate that had to be inserted during this operation. Even though they were explaining the immense pain the plastic handcuffs were causing to Azzeh due to this operation, the Israeli soldiers shouted at them to leave the area and be quiet. Various requests to call an ambulance were denied. Only after Azzeh’s brother, who is a medical professional, arrived and reasoned with the soldiers, they attempted to cut the handcuffs. As the soldiers put the handcuffs too tight, they were struggling to cut the handcuffs without cutting Azzeh’s hands, making the procedure even longer and more painful, with Azzeh suffering immensely and crying out in pain.
Hisham’s hand showing scars from the operation. Photo credit: Youth against settlement
In the meantime, a civil police car was driving past on a regular patrol and got stopped by the Palestinians in an attempt to alleviate the situation for Hisham. After the handcuffs were finally cut off, by-standers cooled his hand first with a bottle of cold water until an ice-pack was brought for him. The police took Hisham Azzeh to the police station after a long discussion. After about an hour, Azzeh was released. He is now doing okay, but is still suffering from pain in his hands.
Police, bystanders and the soldiers standing around Hisham
Harassment like this in al-Khalil (Hebron) is not unusual. Palestinians have to pass through various checkpoints on their way home or to work and often get detained for long periods of time.
TUBAS – Israeli troops on Sunday morning evacuated 14 Palestinian families from their houses in the al-Ras al-Ahmar area of Khirbet Atuf village east of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, local sources said.
Local sources reported that the “Israeli occupation” told the 14 families that Israeli forces will be carrying out military drills in the area for five days.
During the five days of military exercises, Palestinian residents in the area will be evacuated for six hours every day, local sources told Ma’an.
The evacuation was done under the argument that evacuating protects residents.
Earlier this year military drills in Tubas resulted in a fire that swept across some 3,000 to 4,000 dunams (750 to 1,000 acres) of Jordan Valley farmland.
The majority of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control, despite being within the West Bank.The district of Tubas is one of the occupied West Bank’s most important agricultural centers.
According to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, more than 15,000 dunams (3,700 acres) of land in the Tubas district have been confiscated by Israel for military bases with a further 8,000 dunams (2,000 acres) seized for illegal Israeli settlements.
This is a letter from a Palestinian Christian to the news director and lead anchor of EWTN News, the news division of the Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic broadcast network with Zionist leanings.
Dear Raymond Arroyo,
I was watching your world over segment last night on EWTN and I had some concerns. My name is Mary. I’m a conservative Catholic from Bethlehem, Palestine.
I know you didn’t think we existed – don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Besides, Israel propaganda does a great job making sure people think Palestinians only consist of mean crazy Muslims fighting the innocent virtuous God chosen people.
I couldn’t help but notice you were one of them, which struck me as very odd considering you work for a religious channel not political, and even if you yourself had your biases it should not be portrayed on your show.
Let me clarify some things if I may, sir. I have three cousins that are priests an uncle who is a Bishop look them up Bishop William Shomali, Fr. Ibrahim Shomali and Fr. Issa Shomali.
My mother lived in Rome for ten years, she almost got ordained to become a nun.
Yes we are pretty conservative and we are proud of our faith. Growing up in occupied Palestine just made our faith even stronger.
Watching on a daily basis Israeli jeeps with huge rifles sticking out from the back of the jeep threatening to shoot us at any moment just because we happened to live on the wrong side of town.
On the way to my St Joseph all-girls Catholic school I saw them making dirty comments, staring me in the face, mocking me.
I saw them shoot little children because they threw rocks at them, and sometimes for absolutely no reason.
In my peaceful town of Beit Sahour, mostly Christians, the first boy to get killed by Israelis was 16 years old.
He was walking home from the store when Israeli soldiers dropped a huge rock on his head from the top of a building and watched him crawl home bleeding until he died at the front steps of his home. He was Christian, he did nothing to them.
Yet you don’t feel any sympathy for him. The second boy was at home in the kitchen watching his mom making fries.
An Israeli settler — you know, those guys who built a home illegally on Palestinian land and are armed — shot him through the window and killed him in front of his mom.
His name was Salam, it means peace. He was a Christian, not involved in anything. Yet you wouldn’t feel any sympathy for him because he’s not Jewish.
I can go on and on and on about how Israel was created, the wars literally kicking people out of their homes and moving in them, the massacres.
The times when they would put the whole town on house arrest, which means we can’t leave the home or look out the window. It would take weeks sometimes.
We are Christians and yet you wouldn’t feel any sympathy for us. When they would set us free they would shout in the microphone in their jeeps “home arrest is off you dogs and cows and donkeys”. And yet it’s all justified.
One time a Christian nurse from my home town took home a young boy who was wounded by Israeli soldiers. He was involved in a protest against occupation and must have thrown a rock at one of the jeeps (oh the horror!)
The soldiers went to her home, and arrested and imprisoned her for years for treating a wounded boy; how dare she!!
And when the town had many protests to free her they released her to Jordan and she was never allowed back to her home. And yet we are the terrorists and you have no sympathy for us.
My ancestors come from that land back in the days when people lived in caves even.
What if we are the original Christians that followed Jesus 2000 years ago — wouldn’t we have the same right to live there in dignity and yet we have none.
And you don’t care. We will continue to carry the cross proudly on our shoulder and suffer, we will continue to pray for our enemy and for peace.
We will not hate, we will only tell the truth. This is what our Bible teaches; you should try doing the same. Peace be with you my friend.
Love, Mary Alshomaly from the Holy Land of Jesus
Occupied Palestine – On Friday the 28th of August 2015, two peaceful demonstrators were violently arrested and a child viciously attacked by Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian village Nabi Saleh in occupied Palestine. Every Friday the people of Nabi Saleh protest against the illegal settlement build on the villages’ land.
Israeli soldier threatening Palestinian women and children at non violent demonstration in Nabi Saleh. Photo credit: Karam
Today at around 3 pm one Palestinian male, Mahmoud Tamimi, and one international activist were arrested in the Palestinian village Nabi Saleh close to Ramallah. They were arrested during a Friday demonstration against the illegal settlements on the land belonging to the people of Nabi Saleh.
Only a few minutes after the protesters peacefully started their march towards the gate, which is regularly blocked by the military preventing any movement in- or outside of the village, the Israeli army began attacking the non-violent protesters with dozens of rounds of tear gas.
The soldiers then ambushed the demonstrators escaping the clouds of tear gas by surrounding them. They attacked and then arrested Mahmoud Tamimi, shoving him down the hill towards the illegal settlement, where he was forced to lie on the ground.
Israeli soldier strangling a Palestinian boy at non violent demonstration in Nabi Saleh. Photo credit: Karam
Around the same time, a Palestinian boy was violently attacked by a soldier throwing him to the ground, choking and almost suffocating him in the process. “While the boy was screaming in pain his family came to rescue him from the soldiers’ vicious assault”, Josephine, a Danish activist explains.
Israeli soldier attacking Palestinian boy at non violent demonstration in Nabi Saleh. Photo credit: Karam
A group of peaceful international demonstrators trying to document the attack on the boy, was ambushed by another group of soldiers, who violently pushed a 31-year old Italian man to the ground and proceeded to arrested him.
Both the Palestinian and the international were being held captive in a military jeep by the Israeli army for almost nine hours, before being brought to a police station.
The Daily Beast has reported that North Dakota has enacted a drone bill that permits law enforcement drones to be equipped with weapons such as Tasers, rubber bullets, tear gas, and sound cannons. This is a terrible idea.
Having attended numerous drone meetings and conferences in the past several years attended by a broad array of industry, law enforcement, and other government representatives, I can confidently say that there is a broad consensus that armed domestic drones are beyond the pale. With the exception of one sheriff in Texas who mused about arming drones several years ago, the concept is never even seriously discussed in the drone community. Several states have already enacted flat bans on weaponized drones (examples include Oregon , Virginia, and Wisconsin).
Although there are plenty of states that have not passed drone legislation at all, and some states have enacted legislation that makes no mention of the arming of drones (such as Florida, Tennessee, and Utah), the North Dakota bill is different. While it does explicitly ban the arming of police drones with “lethal weapons,” it remains silent on so-called “less-than-lethal weapons.”
Here’s why arming drones, even with less-frequently-lethal weapons, is a such a bad idea:
- Drones make it too easy to use force. When domestic law enforcement officers can use force from a distance, it may become too easy for them to do so, and the inevitable result will be that these weapons are over-used—just as surveillance tools, having become so cheap and easy, are widely overused. Tasers were originally sold as an alternative to guns—and who could dispute that getting an electric shock is better than getting a bullet? Yet we know that Tasers are routinely used by police officers not as a last-resort use of force, as guns are supposed to be, but as a torture device to get truculent suspects to comply with police commands through the application of pain—and all-too-often, as a way of punishing citizens for the crime of “dissing a cop.”
- “Nonlethal” weapons aren’t actually nonlethal. So-called “nonlethal” or “less-than-lethal” weapons should be called “less lethal” weapons because they do kill. Tasers regularly kill Americans—39 people so far in 2015, according to the Guardian, and comparable numbers each year going back to 2001 according to an Amnesty International report on the technology, which also found that 90% of those killed with Tasers were unarmed.
- Distance=inaccuracy. Even when officers are physically present, fully immersed in a situation—with 360-degree vision and all of their other senses in play—we know that force is often over-used. When officers are not physically present, their perception of a situation and their judgment about when to apply force is more likely to be flawed, non-targets are more likely to be injured, and excessive amounts of force are more likely to be applied. And the drones themselves may be inaccurate due to wind, communications and control problems, or other factors.
- This will open the door to increasing weaponization. If we allow less-lethal weapons to be deployed on drones, how long will it be before the door is opened to fully lethal weapons. Already the Pentagon has developed a small (under 6-pound) lethal “kamikaze” drone called the “Switchblade,” which functions as a pint-sized guided missile. The Army is reportedly considering spending $100 million on such drones under a program called the Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System.
- It will only increase the militarization of police. The heavily militarized response to the protests in Ferguson and so many other places around the country have been bad enough; imagine if the police there were permitted to fill the skies with drones raining beanbag bullets, Tasers, tear gas, and sound cannons down on protesters.
This bill does impose restrictions on police use of drones for surveillance, which is a good thing, and initially, it banned all weapons on drones. The ACLU supported the initial version of the bill. But the weaponization provision was altered through last-minute lobbying by the state’s police association.
Just because police departments in North Dakota have been given permission by their legislature to fly armed drones does not mean that they need to do so, or will. Indeed the strong national consensus against doing so may hold them back until hopefully this anomalous legislation can be reversed.
JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities have renewed the administrative detention of 85 percent of Palestinians detainees held under the policy, a prisoner rights group said Friday.
The Prisoners’ Center for Studies said that at least 75 of the 480 Palestinians held under the detention without trial policy have had their sentences — which range from two to six months — renewed four times in a row.
The detention of 135 detainees has been renewed three times in a row while 190 Palestinians have had their sentences renewed twice, the center added.
Israeli military courts have issued 726 administrative detention orders in 2015 alone, including first time sentences and renewals, the group said, over 340 of which were issued to Palestinians from the Hebron district in the occupied West Bank.
Riyad al-Ashqar, a spokesperson of the Prisoners’ Center for Studies, said Israel is keeping Palestinians as political hostages through the policy of administrative detention.
Most detainees held under the policy, which dates back to the British Mandate, are held on secret evidence and are not aware of the reason for their detention, which can be renewed indefinitely in six-month periods.
In 2012, over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike to protest administrative detention, one of the only means available to Palestinians to challenge the policy.
Last week, Palestinian detainee Muhammad Allan ended a two-month hunger strike which he began to protest his detention without trial. An Israeli court ruled to lift his administrative detention due to his deteriorating health.
While administrative detention is legal under international law in exceptional circumstances, the international community and rights organizations have condemned excessive use of the practice by Israel.
Ongoing suppression of activists and political opposition in Bahrain
Tensions remain at all time high, with political leaders and activists behind bars, the situation in Bahrain shows no sign of abating.
Reports of ill treatment and police brutality continue to emerge from Jau, the country’s main prison, as the authorities crack down on detainees.
The recent sentencing of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman has created a further political deadlock sparking mass protests across the country.
As demonstrations sweep across the country, and Western leaders continue their silence in this episode of Infocus we investigate how the authorities are continuing to suppress dissenting voices in the country.
North Dakota — Nothing says “police state” quite like unmanned aerial vehicles patrolling the sky ready to deploy 80,000 volts to the nearest protester or dose entire crowds with chemical weapons.
The idea of weaponized drones has long been a dystopian, yet fictional idea. However, thanks to House Bill 1328, in North Dakota, this police state hell from above is now a horrid reality.
Thanks to a police union lobbyist, the idea of police using drones for “less than lethal” weapons is now written into North Dakota law.
According to the Daily Beast,
The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Rep. Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.
Then Bruce Burkett of North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.
The term “less than lethal” is thrown around to make tasers, which have been responsible for hundreds of deaths since 2001, seem like they are okay to be deployed on infants.
The reality is that “less than lethal” weapons are only slightly less lethal than the real thing. Now that these weapons will be put on drones, entire new safety concerns arise, such as accuracy and the simple issue of a drone falling into a crowd.
After being duped by the police lobby into passing a bill allowing cops to equip drones with weapons, Rep Becker is worried. He spoke up about police deploying these weapons when they aren’t near the intended target.
“When you’re not on the ground, and you’re making decisions, you’re sort of separate,” Becker said. “Depersonalized.”
One need only look at the Middle East and the thousands of innocent women and children who’ve been slaughtered by US drones to imagine the grim reality of such legislation.
Law enforcement and their union lobbyists are assuring lawmakers that drones would only be used in non-criminal situations, like a missing person case or for photographing crime scenes. This begs the question of why they would need such ominous legislation if they say they’ll never use it?
According to Keith Lund of the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Corporation, laws like this one are to combat restrictions in drone development to create jobs.
North Dakota has been hit hard by the oil bust, and more drones equal more jobs.
“It’s really all about the commercial development, which is where all of this is heading,” Lund replied. “If [a law] is somehow limiting commercial, law enforcement development… that is a negative in terms of companies looking and investing in opportunities in the state of North Dakota,” Lund said, according to the Daily Beast.
It’s not only weapons attached to drones that are raising issues in the state either. Police and their lobbyists are putting up a big fight to allow the use of drones for spying without a warrant.
“Requiring a search warrant for surveillance is ‘restricting development?’” asked Rep. Gary Paur, a Republican, at a hearing.
It seems that corporate and state collusion, at the expense of the people’s liberties, doesn’t even have to happen behind closed doors anymore.
Get ready, because if we know anything about the military-industrial complex, it’s that it spreads like a virus. It is only a matter of time before other slimeball politicians sell out civil liberties to prop up “Big Drone.”
NABLUS – A Palestinian father said Wednesday that Israeli soldiers stole money and jewelry from his family home when they detained his son in a predawn raid in the the northern West Bank village of Salem east of Nablus.
Nasim Hilmi Karaki, a lieutenant colonel in the Palestinian Authority national security forces, told Ma’an that Israeli special forces stormed his house around 1:00 a.m. after blowing up the main door.
Large numbers of troops ransacked the house as they inspected rooms using metal detectors and police dogs, Karaki said, adding that they blew up the doors of three rooms inside the house.
He said that the operation lasted until around 5:00 a.m., during which Karaki was cuffed and forced to stay with the rest of the family in one of the rooms.
The soldiers then detained Karaki’s 18-year-old son, Hilmi.
Karaki said that the troops were searching for firearms but were unable to find any.
However, after they left, he said he discovered that they had stolen 21,000 shekels and his wife’s jewelry, worth around 2,000 Jordanian Dinars (about $2,820).
An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident.
Karaki’s son was one of 31 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank overnight Tuesday.
Israeli forces routinely detain Palestinians throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, often on the pretext of perceived security threats.
Palestinians often report theft by Israeli forces during such raids. During a detention campaign Operation Brother’s Keeper in the summer of 2014, Israeli forces confiscated an estimated $2.9 million worth of cash and property from Palestinian homes, charities, and businesses according to a report by Geneva-based human rights organization Euro-Mid Observer.
Spokespeople for the Israeli government justified confiscations during this time by claiming their planned use to fund or support terrorism.
The Euro-Mid Observer reported, however, that Israeli authorities neither provided evidence nor judicial permission for the confiscations.
In the lawsuit, T’ruah, The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, asked the New York state Attorney General’s Office to investigate Honenu, a New York-based Israeli nonprofit organization that provides financial support to Jewish settlers convicted of or on trial for violence against Palestinians.
The complaint also names Honenu’s fiscal sponsor, the Central Fund of Israel, according to Israeli media.
Since 2003, Honenu has operated a fundraising program in the state of New York. The tax-exempt Israeli organization raised $233,700 in 2010, the last year for which official data is available, according to tax filings.
Israeli media say Honenu’s budget for 2013 was approximately $600,000.
In one instance in 2013, the organization provided funds to the family of an Israeli convicted of killing seven Palestinians in May 1990.
The lawsuit follows a recent expose by Israel’s Channel 10 about Israeli settlers’ crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The television program was aired earlier this month in the aftermath of the July 31 firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank by Israeli settlers in which a Palestinian baby and his father were burned to death.
In a statement issued hours after the incident, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) condemned the “brutal assassination” of the Palestinian infant, stressing that the regime in Tel Aviv bears “full responsibility” for the arson attack.
Earlier this month, Israel released all suspects held in connection with the arson attack in the village of Duma.