Posts Tagged ‘police’

“When the police feel they are reduced to the status of sub-humans, they themselves go into a kind of revolt against the young people in order to affirm a humanity which is denied to them, and in so doing they are therefore not simply playing the part of killing/ repression machines. Secondly, every riot cop and every other kind of cop is still a person. Each one is a person with a definite role like everyone else. It is dangerous to delegate all inhumanity to one part of the social whole, and all humanity to another.”

– Jacques Camatte, “Against Domestication.”  In French in Invariance Année VI, Série II, no. 3, 1973. This translation Falling Sky Books, Kitchener, Canada in 1981.

Read Full Post »


Hélène Landemore, “Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many,” pgs. 100-102.

Landemore argues that the cognitive diversity of a polity is more important for producing good outcomes in deliberation than the cognitive ability of the individuals within the polity, or, “[i]n other words, it is epistemically better to have a larger group of average but cognitively diverse people than a smaller group of very smart but homogeneously thinking individuals” (90). For this reason, she believes “that all things being equal otherwise, deliberation among more-inclusive groups is likely to produce better results than deliberation among less-inclusive groups, even if those less-inclusive groups include smarter people” (90).

Read Full Post »

“The militarization of America’s police has been hotly debated in recent years. Critics argue that effectively turning cops into soldiers risks alienating them from the communities they supposedly serve.

New research provides evidence supporting such warnings. It finds the use of SWAT teams—perhaps the most common and visible form of militarized policing—neither reduces crime nor enhances public safety.

It reports this aggressive approach to law enforcement is disproportionately used in minority communities. And finally, it finds portraying officers in military gear decreases public support for the police.

“Curtailing militarized police may be in the interest of both police and citizens,” concludes Jonathan Mummolo, an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. His study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mummolo measured the impact of militarization using a variety of methods. Among his data sources were “a nationwide panel measuring the presence of active SWAT teams,” and a list of every SWAT team deployment in the state of Maryland over a five-year period (8,200 in all).

SWAT teams,” he notes, “often received advanced combat training,” and their formation “represents a heightened commitment to the use of militarized equipment and tactics.”

He found “the vast majority of SWAT deployments occur in connection with non-emergency scenarios, predominately to serve search warrants.” What’s more, these teams “are more often deployed in areas with high concentrations of African-Americans, even after adjusting for local crime rates.”

Perhaps most importantly, he reports “there is no evidence that acquiring a SWAT team lowers crime, or promotes officer safety.” All in all, he adds, “the benefits of increased deployments appear to be either small or nonexistent.”

But there are costs involved, as the second part of the study shows. Mummolo conducted two studies of Americans’ attitudes toward the police: one online, featuring 1,566 people, and another conducted by Survey Sampling International, featuring 4,465 people.

Participants read a fictitious news article in which a police chief argues his department deserves a larger budget. The report was paired with a one of four photos featuring a group of policemen “standing guard during a local protest.”

The images depicted various degrees of militarization, ranging from one in which five officers stand in traditional uniforms to another featuring cops in riot gear posing with an armored vehicle. Participants were then asked about their support for police spending and their confidence in the force.

The results: Seeing the armored-vehicle photo “caused support for police funding in the United States to fall by roughly four points in the (online) survey, and two points in the SSI survey,” Mummolo reports. “Support for funding the department in the news article also fell.”

Strikingly, among people taking the latter survey, viewing that image also led to “a 3.2 point drop in respondents’ desire for more police patrols in their own neighborhoods.”

It seems few people are enthused about having a pseudo-army patrolling their streets. And they assume a police force that can afford that kind of equipment doesn’t need additional taxpayer dollars.”

– Tom Jacobs, “THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE DOES NOT REDUCE CRIME.” Pacific Standard, August 20, 2018.

Read Full Post »

“Burglarized Fruit Store,” Kingston Daily Standard. July 11, 1912. Page 01.

Two Youths Caught in Royal Fruit Store.

One Boy, Aged 14, Was Arrested – The Elder Boy Escaped – Had Beans, Fruit and Cigarettes.

The operations of two youthful burglars in the Royal Ice Cream Parlor were interrupted about 5 o’clock this morning by the proprietor, Michael Pappas. One of the young thieves, aged 14, was captured and appeared before the magistrate in juvenile court this morning. He was remanded until Friday morning.

That the young boys had every detail well planned is evidenced by the fact that they left bicycles in an alley near by. Granting entrance to the back of the shop by the shop leading off Montreal street, the young lads forced this back door and had just taken possession of a can of beans, a tin of fruit and some cigarettes when they were disturbed by the proprietor. A quantity of ice cream had been consumed and destroyed, as well as a number of dishes.

The elder boy escaped but the police will probably arrest him this afternoon.

Read Full Post »

“Grant agreements show that police in Windsor received $87,846 and the Niagara Regional Police Service received $81,976 to cover costs related to the Provincial Electronic Surveillance Equipment Deployment Program (PESEDP), an initiative to roll out unspecified spying gear in cities across Ontario, for the period from March 2017 to March 2018.

A separate invoice shows that Waterloo police had an active service contract with JSI Telecom, a company that provides data collection and analysis services for police and intelligence agencies around the world, through March 2018.

Police in Durham Region received $81,976, while police in Waterloo received an unspecified amount of funds to cover costs of the program during the same period.

Brenda McPhail, Director of the Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Project for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, finds the secrecy surrounding police’s acquisition and use of surveillance gear troubling.

“The absolute minimum we should be expecting from our police when it comes to invasive surveillance, is sufficient public disclosure.”

“The fact that we have secret processes to buy secret technology raises really serious concerns for civil liberties,” McPhail said in a phone call.

“The absolute minimum we should be expecting from our police when it comes to invasive surveillance, is sufficient public disclosure […] to be able to tell whether or not the tools are truly necessary, whether their use is proportionate, and what safeguards are in place [for their use].”

“We can’t know any of these things if everything happens in secret.”

The Waterloo Regional Police Service and the Niagara Regional Police Service both confirmed in emails that they participated in the PESEDP. Each told VICE News that the program ended in 2016. The Windsor Police Service declined to answer questions. Durham Regional Police Service and JSI Telecom did not respond to requests for comment.

Niagara police spokesperson Stephanie Sabourin wrote in an email that the equipment deployed under the program was used under Section 6 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which allows police to intercept personal communications. Sabourin said that Niagara police do not use “mobile device identifying equipment” as part of the program.”

– Nathan Munn, “Details about a secret police surveillance program in Ontario are emerging.Vice News, May 30, 2018.

Read Full Post »

“Rioting Japanese Reds Tee Off On The Yankees,” LIFE. Vol. 32, No. 19. May 12, 1952. 

Photographed for Life by Michael Rougier and Jun Miki

On May Day in Tokyo, Japan’s newly restored sovereignity – formalized on April 28 when the U.S. joined in the ratification of the Japanese peace treaty – was challenged in a bitter, bloody outburst. It was led by Communists and directed against the U.S.

The trouble began in Meiji Park, three miles from the emperor’s palace, after 300,000 people gathered beneath the oaks and willows for a peaceful rally conducted chiefly by Japan’s biggest labor unions. The unions had accepted a united front with the socialists, left-wing groups and others in order to fight the Japanese government’s proposed anti-subversive bill, which they feared would throttle Japanese unions. The Communist party, impotent under the rules of the Occupation, was well represented by both Japanese and some North Koreans. One of the speakers at the rally, U.S. Socialist Norman Thomas (above, right), observed to a reporter, ‘These North Korean flags made this all a little embarrassing.’

His embarrassment, and the crowd’s surprise, increased as wild-eyed young Communists, in a well-planned move, seized the speaker’s stand, drove Thomas and other scheduled speakers off the stage and grabbed control of the rally. Moving from Meiji Park in a snake-dancing parade toward the heart of Tokyo, they whipped up the mob. Then, outside the main gates of Emperor Hirohito’s palace grounds, which are only a stone’s throw from Allied headquarters. 10,000 rioters, their leaders remarkably well trained in classic Red street-fighting tactics, fought outnumbered Tokyo police for 2 ½ hours. Next to the police their favorite targets were passing Americans and U.S. automobiles.

When the fighting was over, the square in front of the palace was strewn with wounded and debris. The government had been presented with a fine excuse to pass its anti-subversive bill and the labor unions, like the rest of the country, had been given a shocking lesson on latent anti-Americanism which was bound to exist after war, defeat and occupation. But next day many Americans in Tokyo were showered with profuse apologies and gifts of flowers from Japanese friends who were appalled lest Americans would think the rioters expressed the majority sentiment of the Japanese people.

Photo captions, page by page, from top left, clockwise:

1) Communist Rioters Hurl An Angular Piece of a Broken Police Barricade At American Army Vehicle, And The Driver Ducks His Head, From Allied Headquarters Roof (Top Left) Americans Watch The Battle

2) Speechless Socialist Norman Thomas was prevented by the Reds from addressing rally. He later called rioting ‘a minor dress rehearsal for revolution.’

3) Sloganeer Reds make their pitch with English-language signs. During the fight they removed signs and used the poles as weapons. Many were students.

4) Festive Beginning of May Day rally in Meiji Park featured dancing girls. Spectators sucked ice cream sticks, munched bean-curd cakes, waved their banners and cheered speakers attacking rearmament and the proposed anti-subversive bill.

5) Reds Swam to platform from ringside seats which they had strategically packed beforehand. They drove off sponsored speakers and called for march on the Imperial Plaze. ‘We can fight the police there,’ shouted one of their leaders.

6) The Battle Is Joined when the Reds arrive in Imperial Plaza from Meiji Park. Against background of U.S. headquarters in Dai Ichi buildding (left, rear), police and rioters clash. A policeman has just hurled back one of the Red’s homemade tear-gas bombs whole others smoke on ground. Rioters, armed with clubs, rocks, bags of offal and bamboo spears cored with metal, have drawn back to regroup for another attack. Reds’ expert maneuvering was directed by booming of drums.

7) Banners Are Waved on platform and Reds yell ‘Banzai!’ in a effort to whip up the throng to fall in line for the march toward the Imperial Palace. But by this time thousands of non-Communists in crowd had begun to drift away.

8) Yelling Students snake-dance along street near the Diet Building after leaving Meiji Park. Moving toward Imperial Plaza, they cursed Americans and screamed, ‘Yankee, go home!’ until their cadenced slogan became hysterical roar.

9) Police Boots trample a fallen Red leader while one officer’s legs clamp his head in a scissor grip. Outnumbered 10,000 to 40 at beginning and stone from behind by Communist infiltrators, the police fought back as savagely as the frenzied rioters, whose leaders screeched ‘Kill the Police! Kill the Police!’

10) Cop’s Club swings down on skull of a rioter who, on hands and knees and with his coat ripped off and his shirt pulled out, cowers under threats of new blows.

11) U.S. Sailor splashes about in center of Imperial Palace most where Reds had hurled him, then stoned him. Friendly Japanese eventually pulled him out.

12) Collapsed Cop is dragged from plaza through a clutter of bamboo poles and placards abandoned by the Reds during a police counterattack. Nails in ends of poles made nasty weapons. More than 1,400 were injured in riots. Cops fired over mob’s heads and only fatality was student hit by ricocheting bullet.

13) Locked in Embrace, wounded Communist couple writhes in gutter, moaning hussterically. ‘Let us die! Let us die!’ But police gave them first aid.

14) Hustled From Fray, battered students, his glasses amazingly still intact, is treated by one of the Reds’ aid teams which helped wounded evade arrest.

15) Americans Autos were overturned by mobs, then set ablaze by rioters skirmishing around Plaza. Scores of other U.S. cars were stoned and smashed.

16) Bloodied Student, the Communist ‘dove of peace’ symbol flapping on his jacket, is given first aid by his friends during a lull in the plaza fighting.

Read Full Post »

Alternatives to Police in the Black Freedom Movement

There is a question that haunts every critic of police—namely, the question of crime, and what to do about it.

Since the 1960s, the right wing has made crime a political issue and identified it with poor people and people of color. Because the left has largely refused to make crime an issue, it’s also failed to challenge this characterization.

Successive waves of politicians—of both parties, at every level of government—have learned to stoke the public’s fears of rape, murder, drive-bys, carjackings, school shootings, and child abduction, as well as rioting and terrorism, and present themselves as heroes, as saviors, as tough-talking, hard-hitting, no-nonsense, real-life Dirty Harrys who will do whatever it takes to keep you and your family safe. The solutions they offer typically have the appeal of simplicity: more cops, more prisons, longer sentences. The unspoken costs come in the form of fewer rights, limited privacy, greater inequality, and a society ever less tolerant of minor disorder. These political tactics are nothing new, of course, but the scale of their effect—2.2 million inmates in 2010, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics—is unprecedented. And unless the left can do better, we have to expect that these same solutions will be the ones offered in the future.

The fact is, the police do provide an important community service: protection against crime. It is not their chief function, and they do not always do this part of their job well or fairly—but they do it, and it brings them legitimacy. Even people who dislike and fear police often feel that they need the cops. Maybe we can do without omnipresent surveillance, racial profiling, and institutionalized violence, but most people have been willing to accept these features of policing, if somewhat grudgingly, because they have been packaged together with things we cannot do without: crime control, security, and public safety.

Because the state uses this protective function to justify its own violence, the replacement of the police institution is not only a goal of social change, but also a means of achieving it. The challenge is to create another system that can protect us from crime, and can do so better, more justly, with a respect for human rights, and with a minimum of bullying. What is needed, in short, is a shift in the responsibility for public safety—away from the state and toward the community.

The thought that community-based measures could ultimately replace the police is intriguing. But if it is to be anything more than a theoretical abstraction or a utopian dream, it must be informed by the actual experience of history. One place to look for community defense models is in places where distrust of the police and active resistance to police power have been most acute­—in other words, the Black community.

Civil Rights with Guns

As early as 1957, Robert Williams armed the NAACP chapter in Monroe, North Carolina, and successfully repelled attacks from the Ku Klux Klan and the police. Soon other self-defense groups appeared in Black communities throughout the South. The largest of these was the Deacons for Defense and Justice, which claimed more than fifty chapters in the Southern states and four in the North. As documented in Lance Hill’s book The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, the Deacons made it their mission to protect civil rights workers and the Black community more generally. Armed with shotguns and rifles, they escorted activists through dangerous back-country areas, and organized round-the-clock patrols when racists were attacking Black neighborhoods.

As one Deacon explained, “You wasn’t going to receive much protection from the police,” so Black people “had to protect ourselves.” In fact, the Deacons sometimes had to protect Blacks from the police. As one member told journalist William Price, they eavesdropped on police radio calls and responded to the scenes of arrests to discourage the cops from overstepping their bounds. The Deacons also served as a disciplining mechanism within the movement. On the one hand, they worked to calm “trigger-happy” youths seeking revenge against The Man. On the other hand, they confronted “Uncle Toms,” seizing and destroying goods purchased from businesses under boycott. They also helped identify informers, who were then publicly upbraided by a group of women from the NAACP.

Williams and the Deacons influenced what became the most developed community defense program of the period—the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). The Panthers, as Bobby Seale put it in his memoir Seize the Time,“patrolled pigs.” Visibly carrying guns, they followed police through the Black ghetto with the explicit aim of preventing police brutality and informing citizens of their rights. When police misbehaved, their names and photographs appeared in the Black Panther newspaper. The Philadelphia chapter pushed the tactic further, with “wanted” posters featuring killer cops.

The Panthers also sought to meet the community’s needs in other ways—providing medical care, giving away shoes and clothing, feeding schoolchildren breakfast, setting up housing cooperatives, transporting the families of prisoners for visitation days, and offering classes during the summer at Liberation Schools. (Several of these programs are described in a collection edited by Judson L. Jeffries, entitled Comrades: A Local History of the Black Panther Party.) In Baltimore, they offered direct financial assistance to families facing eviction, and during the summer provided a free lunch to school-age children (in addition to the free breakfast). In Winston-Salem, the Party ran an ambulance service and offered free pest control. The Indianapolis branch provided coal to poor families in the winter, held toy drives at Christmastime, founded community gardens, maintained a food bank, and cleaned the streets in Black neighborhoods. In Philadelphia, the Panther clinic offered childbirth classes for expectant parents; in Cleveland and New York, drug rehab. These “Survival Programs” sought to meet needs that the state and the capitalist economy were neglecting, at the same time aligning the community with the Party and drawing both into opposition with the existing power structure.

The strategy was applied in the area of public safety as well. As much as they were concerned about the police, the Panthers also took seriously the threat of crime and sought to address the fears of the community they served. With this in mind, they organized Seniors Against a Fearful Environment (SAFE), an escort and busing service in which young Black people accompanied the elderly on their business around the city. In Los Angeles, the Party opened an office on Central Avenue and immediately set about running the drug dealers out of the area. And in Philadelphia, neighbors reported a decrease in violent crime after the Party opened their office, and an increase after the office closed. There, the BPP paid particular attention to gang violence, organizing truces and recruiting gang members to help with the survival programs.

It may be that the Panthers reduced crime by virtue of their very existence. Crime, and gang violence especially, dropped during the period of their activity, in part (in the estimation of sociologist Lewis Yablonsky) because the BPP and similar groups “channeled young black and Chicano youth who might have participated in gangbanging violence into relatively positive efforts for social change through political activities.””

– Kristian Williams, “Civil Rights with Guns: extract from Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.Redneck Revolt, August 11, 2015.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »