It is Time We Discussed Abolishing the Police

From CounterPunch:

“If I was an anarchist or even a regular protester,” explained the president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Ron Smith, “I would probably not want to be infiltrated by the police… Just like the dope dealer on Third and Pike doesn’t want to get busted. That’s the price of doing business. It’s the whole package.” This startling bit of honesty from the Seattle police regarding their imperative to infiltrate and spy on social justice protests came as Ansel Herz, a reporter for the local newspaper The Stranger, questioned Smith regarding undercover cops at a Black Lives Matter protest last December.

For those involved in Left protest movements this is hardly news. I remember my early days in the antiwar movement at Texas Tech University. During the first rallies protesting the invasion of Iraq in 2003 local police with their crew-cuts, wraparound shades, and shirts tucked into Wrangler jeans would “blend effortlessly” into the crowd of college students. Campus police even intruded into a graduate student’s office—much to his surprise—in order to peruse our flyers and posters that were stored there. A year later an investigation by Salon revealed that police had infiltrated antiwar groups in Boulder, Fresno, Grand Rapids, and Albuquerque. A federal prosecutor even demanded Drake University turn over all of its records regarding an antiwar conference held there by the National Lawyers Guild.

Ahead of the Republican National Convention in 2008 Minnesota police in conjunction with the FBI raided the homes of antiwar activists “seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets” according to reports. One of the many police officers who infiltrated antiwar groups prior to the convention would later brag of how protesters “were herded like sheep at the hands of the riot cops.” Ultimately he determined that the “strategy, tactic, and deployments were well planned and extremely effective in controlling [protesters].”

Detective Wojciech Braszczok was one of many undercover cops infiltrating the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, a fact that came to light after his unrelated arrest following the release of a video of him violently assaulting a motorist. Braszczok’s participation in the movement went beyond monitoring protests as he insinuated himself deep into the personal lives of Occupy members even attending birthday parties—all the while collecting “intelligence” for the NYPD. Other undercovers in the Occupy movement worked as agent provocateurs “being paid to go to these protests and put us in situations where we’d be arrested and not be able to leave” as Occupy member Marshall Garrett discovered after his 2011 arrest.

During the 2010 protests against budget cuts and tuition hikes on West Coast college campuses university police sent a spy into meetings of the University of Washington based UW Student Worker Coalition. At UC Davis the administration worked with faculty and police to form the Student Activism Team, a taskforce charged with infiltrating and surveilling Left groups on campus. Even more disturbing, a lawsuit filed last year by the Evergreen State College chapter of Students for a Democratic Society revealed further details of a surveillance ring dating back to 2009 and built around John Towery a member of the Army’s Force Protection Service who had infiltrated the Olympia, Washington student group. According to emails Towery was trying to “develop a leftist/anarchist mini-group for intel sharing and distro” with campus police and police departments in Everett, Spokane, Portland, Eugene, and Los Angeles as well as with various branches of the military.

Last week documents obtained by The Intercept revealed that undercover officers for the NYPD regularly attended Black Lives Matter events. Pictures of activists are kept on file by the department and their movements are tracked. In a statement on these revelations the Metropolitan Transit Authority which has been using its counter-terrorism task force to also spy on Black Lives Matter justified the spying by equating protesters with terrorists. And this is not just the view of local police departments, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force have both been monitoring Black Lives Matter protests across the country showing the dangerous and unfounded link in the minds of police between social justice movements and terrorism.

It is notable that the problem of police infiltration is unique to Left-leaning political groups. Right wing organizations like the Tea Party, the Oath Keepers, and the Ku Klux Klan are more likely to have police as enthusiastic members than moles. Even the FBI’s oft celebrated infiltration of the Klan during the Civil Rights Movement led to more cheerleading for Klan activity than arrests of its members. While police frequently paint Left organizations as violent in order to justify the violation of people’s right to organize politically these right wing terrorist groups are regularly leftunmolested by the supposed keepers of the peace.

There are many people who think the police exist to fight crime. The reality is that the police exist to maintain the status-quo with the rich on top and everyone else fighting for scraps. During the uprising in Ferguson last year comedian Chris Rock commented, “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” The police represent the first line of defense between the rich and the rioters. Those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement—the latest challenge to the racist status-quo—learn quickly the true function of the police as they are shouted at and insulted by police in riot gear who hem in their marches, as they have their photos taken by police surveillance teams for further investigation, as they deal with the never ending stream of plain-clothes cops intimidating, monitoring, sowing seeds of distrust. Knowing the political role of the police perhaps it is time to stop hoping for reform and start imagining a world without the police.

“Chaos” in Oakland court — Occupy activists arrested

From SFGate:

The scene has played out dozens of times in Oakland courtrooms in the past 14 months. An Occupy activist, arrested during a demonstration, makes a court appearance as supporters look on from the gallery. Sometimes the supporters sit quietly, obeying the strict rules set out by the court, and other times they shout disapproval, or chant slogans, and get the boot.

On Tuesday, three of them got arrested, authorities said.

It happened in Department 11 of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, during the 8:30 a.m. sentencing of 24-year-old activist Jack Rusk of Oakland. Earlier, he had pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault in a deal with prosecutors that called for a year in jail. Prosecutors dropped a slate of charges — including assault on a peace officer and possessing explosives — that stemmed from an Occupy anti-police rally Jan. 7, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, an office spokeswoman, said Rusk was indeed sentenced in a brief hearing and remanded into custody by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies.

Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said some audience members then shouted at Judge Carrie Panetta, who ordered one woman to be arrested for contempt. He said that as deputies arrested the woman, two other people interfered and were also taken into custody on suspicion of obstruction. The arrestees, who were jailed, were not identified.

One of Rusk’s attorneys, Jeff Wozniak, said there were about 30 supporters in the courtroom, and that after the sentencing they began to chant, “Jack, Jack, Jack.” When Panetta ordered sheriff’s deputies to clear the court, Wozniak said, the supporters started chanting, “F— the police” and “F— the courts.” As people filed out, he said, Panetta ordered the arrest of the woman, who was within a thick crowd, and chaos followed.

“By the time I got out into the hallway, they had Tased someone, taken out their batons and arrested four people,” Wozniak said. “It was a very unfortunate series of events.”

Nelson said he did not know whether deputies had deployed a Taser.

“Whenever there’s any courtroom disruption, our deputies are going to be there to handle it,” he said. “If a judge orders a person to be arrested, they’re going to be arrested.”

New York City: Police arrest two people allegedly connected to Occupy Wall Street, claim search revealed weapons cache and explosives

Please note, Occupy Wall Street is claiming that neither of the two people arrested had links to OWS. However, keeping in mind the immediate distancing by OWS from the Cleveland 4, it is hard to ascertain what claims may be accurate. A link to OWS’s response is here.

From the Daily Mail:

The daughter of a prominent New York doctor went into labor and had to rushed to the hospital when she was arrested on charges of having explosives, illegal weapons and a stack of papers labeled ‘The Terrorist Encyclopedia’ in her New York City apartment.

Morgan Gliedman, 27, and her boyfriend Aaron Greene, 31, an Occupy Wall Street organizer, were taken away from their home in Manhattan’s pricey Greenwich Village on Saturday.

Gliedman, who was nine months pregnant, has had her arraignment postponed because she went into labor as she was being hauled away, the New York Daily News reports.

She is the daughter of a top Brooklyn cancer doctor and was educated at the Dalton School, an exclusive New York prep school attended by the likes of Anderson Cooper and Claire Danes.

Greene, the father of the child, went to Harvard University for his undergraduate degree and did graduate work at the Kennedy School of Government there, as well.

He was being held without bond.

The New York Post reports that police found seven grams of HMTD, a high explosive powder that was reportedly used in the 2005 London Underground bombings.

Also found in the living room were numerous written items containing instructions on the manufacture of explosive materials and bombs, including a collection of pages that had a cover page entitled ‘The Terrorist Encyclopedia’ and a booklet entitled ‘Deadly Homemade Weapons,’ court papers said.

No political writings were discovered, and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the investigation was continuing into whether the couple had any larger plans or ties to any radical groups. They did not show up on any watch lists.

Police evacuated the building and several others nearby as the bomb squad removed the highly-unstable material from the apartment.

Officers also found a sawed-off shotgun and ammunition, according charging documents.

Full Story

Cleveland 4: Connor, Doug, and Brandon sentenced

From capitalist media:

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Two more defendants in an unsuccessful plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio have been sentenced to prison.

Brandon Baxter was given nearly 10 years in prison, and Connor Stevens was sentenced to more than eight years.

Earlier Tuesday, alleged ringleader Douglas Wright was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

The 20-year-old Baxter of Lakewood was sentenced to 117 months, and the 20-year-old Stevens’ sentence got 97 months.

All will be on supervised release for the rest of their lives after being released from prison. They were sentenced in federal court in Akron.

New York City: More than 180 arrests at Occupy Wall Street Anniversary demonstrations

From Capitalist Media:

NEW YORK — Occupy Wall Street protesters celebrated the movement’s anniversary on Monday by clogging intersections in the city’s financial district, marching to the beat of drums that were a familiar refrain last year.

Protesters roamed around the lower Manhattan financial district all morning in groups of a few dozen each, from one intersection to another and back again, chanting loudly about the ills of Wall Street. In total, there were a few hundred protesters scattered throughout the city. More than 180 of them were arrested by early Monday evening, mostly on disorderly conduct charges.

Full story at the Washington Post
.

Rochester: 18 arrests after anti-capitalist march

From capitalist media:

An Occupy Rochester protest shut down East Avenue for a brief period Saturday evening as a group of over 150 people marched westward down the street and sidewalk. The protest is believed to have begun in Washington Square, and at some point it poured onto East Avenue.

At one point, Rochester Police vehicles began following the protesters as they moved down the street. Then marchers ran into a wall of officers near the intersection of East Avenue and Union Street.

One of the protesters, Laura Brown describes the scene saying, “The police standing in a line, smacking their batons threateningly on the hands and spraying pepper spray at us.”

Police say they began arresting individuals when they refused to disperse. But marchers continued to push past officers moving mostly onto the sidewalk and side of street. The march continued for a short distance west on East Avenue, even passing by News10NBC building.

Police say they arrested 18 individuals for disorderly conduct. Among the arrested was Emily Good, who you may remember was arrested last summer while videotaping a traffic stop outside her home.

Laura Brown says the protest was an attempt to re-ignite the Occupy Movement in Rochester. She also believes the arrest will inspire the movement rather than stop it.

“It’s always going to be my response and the response of everyone I know is just going to be to keep doing it stronger, faster,” says Brown. “I also think it will bring more people in to see how things are and it’s just going to increase our ranks.”

Some of the arrested have been released on bail, and police say they will have more information regarding the arrest on Monday.

Minnesota: Occupy Homes protesters charged with rioting

From City Pages:

Several Occupy protesters have been charged with rioting for their demonstrations at the Cruz family home.

Local protester Nick Espinosa, who made a name for himself by dropping pennies on Tom Emmer and glitter-bombing politicians across the county in addition to his work with Occupy Minnesota, was charged yesterday with third-degree riot (a gross misdemeanor), interfering with a peace officer, trespassing, disorderly conduct, and presence at unlawful assembly.

Espinosa did not return phone calls seeking comment but Occupy Homes released a statement blasting the city attorney for “escalating” charges against the protesters.

Initially, the protesters at the Cruz family home were charged with simple trespassing.

“These charges are a clear and disgraceful attempt to suppress the Occupy Homes movement and ‘make an example’ of anti-foreclosure organizers who were arrested while non-violently protesting an unjust eviction,” Occupy’s statement read. “City Attorney Susan Segal, appointed by Mayor RT Rybak, has also made it a point to aggressively prosecute other political defendants, including a group arrested while protesting US Bank’s foreclosure practices last fall.”

Despite the new charges, Occupy says it will continue its protests.

“This attempt to silence and stifle anti-foreclosure organizing will not deter us from fighting for our homes, our families, our neighbors, and our futures,” Occupy said.

It is unknown at this time how many other protesters were hit with the new charges. Espinosa is one and the group acknowledges that “at least three arrestees (though likely more)” have been affected.