police state

New York City: dissent grows on cannabis enforcement —but Bratton intransigent

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

New York CityIn another sign of new progressive tilt in New York City politics, the New York Post reports July 8 that Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has announced that he will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases. Thompson's press release said his new policy is to "prevent offenders—who are disproportionately young men of color—from being saddled with a criminal record for a minor, non-violent offense." But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said his cops will keep arresting Brooklyn's cannabis tokers anyway. "In order to be effective, our police officers must enforce the laws of the State of New York uniformly throughout all five boroughs of the City," Bratton said in his own statement. "Accordingly, the Kings County policy change will not result in any changes in the policies and procedures of the NYPD."

High court: warrant needed for cell-phone searches

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Shadow WatchThe US Supreme Court issued a key ruling in favor of Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age June 25, finding unanimously that police in most cases need a warrant before searching the cellphone or personal electronic device of an arrestee. Chief Justice John Roberts firmly rejected arguments that searches of digital devices are comparable to searches police routinely carry out for contraband after making an arrest. In the cases of Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie (argued separetly, but decided together), Roberts wrote: "Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse... The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant."

Federal court: warrant needed for cell-phone tracking

Posted on June 16th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Shadow WatchIn what could turn out to be a landmark case, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta ruled June 11 that police must obtain a warrant to get a person's cell phone location history from the service provider. Police conducting a robbery investigation in Miami had obtained the location histories of four suspects after getting an order from a federal judge. But the standard for getting a so-called "D-order" is that it be "relevant and material" to an investigation—lower than the "probable cause" standard required for a warrant under the Fourth Amendment. The court found "that cell site location information is within the subscriber's reasonable expectation of privacy. The obtaining of that data without a warrant is a Fourth Amendment violation." Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who helped argue the case, hailed the ruling in United States v. Quartavious Davis as "a resounding defense of the Fourth Amendment's continuing vitality in the digital age."

'Collateral damage' feared in Harlem gang sweep

Posted on June 10th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

New York CityIn a dramatic early morning raid June 4, some 400 NYPD cops wearing bullet-proof vests stormed the Manhattanville and Grant housing projects in Harlem, arresting scores in what was boasted as the largest gang case in New York City history. In what was dubbed Operation Crew Cut Initiative, police commissioner William Bratton announced 103 indictments of accused members of the Make It Happen Boys, Money Avenue and 3 Staccs gangs. Charges in the 145-count indictment include conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit gang assault, and weapons possession. Of those indicted, 41 were already in jail on other charges. The three warring crews are  held responsible for at least two homicides and 19 shootings in and around the housing projects in recent years. The suspects are all between 15 and 30 years old. "If you choose this lifestyle, you will suffer the same fate as these individuals," Bratton said at a news conference later in the day. (Daily News, WABC, Newsday, June 4)

Family seeks federal review of SWAT raid that left tot in coma

Posted on June 9th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

GeorgiaA Georgia family and state lawmakers are demanding a federal investigation into the case of a toddler severely injured by a flash grenade during a drug raid May 28. Bounkham Phonesavanh—19 months old, and nicknamed Bou Bou—remains in a medically induced coma at the Grady Memorial Hospital burn unit in Atlanta. Habersham County District Attorney Brian Rickman told AP his office is investigating to determine whether any officers will face criminal charges. Police said officers were searching for a potentially armed drug suspect at the home and did not know children were inside when they broke down the door and threw in a flash grenade. The grenade landed in the sleeping boy's playpen, according to both authorities and the Phonesavanh family.

SCOTUS deals new blow to Fourth Amendment

Posted on April 26th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

SCOTUSThe US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on April 22 in Navarette v. California that a traffic stop that led to a marijuana arrest was constitutional because police had reasonable suspicion the driver was intoxicated. In 2008, California Highway Patrol officers stopped Lorenzo Prado Navarette's pickup truck on a Mendocino County road based on a 911 tip about reckless driving. The officers said they smelled marijuana when approaching the vehicle. They conducted a search and found 30 pounds of cannabis. Navarette and a passenger were arrested and charged. At trial, they moved to suppress the evidence on grounds that the search violated their Fourth Amendment rights because the officers lacked reasonable suspicion when they pulled Navarette over. But in the opinion authored by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, the majority found that while an anonymous tip will not always lead to reasonable suspicion, in this case it did. The court found that "under appropriate circumstances, an anonymous tip can demonstrate sufficient indicia of reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make an investigatory stop." Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito lined up with the majority, as did swing voters Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. (Sacramento Bee, This Week, Jurist, April 22)

NYC: police slaying survivors protest return of Bill Bratton

Posted on December 28th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

New York CitySome hundred New Yorkers gathered in the bitter cold Dec. 27 in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building in Harlem to protest mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's appointment of Bill Bratton as police commissioner. Nicholas Heyward is leading the effort to remind New York City of Bill Bratton's record the last time he ran the NYPD, from 1994 to 1996. During that time period, an officer of the Housing Police shot and killed Heyward's 13-year-old son, Nicholas Jr, as he held a toy rifle while playing cops-and-robbers in the  stairwell of his apartment building in Brooklyn's Gowanus Houses in September 1994. Said  Heyward: "It was painful for me to hear [de Blasio] chose William Bratton, who was police commissioner when my son was murdered. I cannot accept that he will be police commissioner again... Under William Bratton there was over 30 innocent unarmed people that were killed from 1994 to 1996 in New York City. And Bill Bratton failed to hold any of those officers accountable."

Urban Shield police confab protested in Oakland

Posted on November 2nd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

CaliforniaHundreds of police officers, sheriffs' deputies and military servicemen from across the country—many donning battle fatigues—converged on downtown Oakland's Marriott Hotel Oct. 25 for the opening of the Urban Shield security confab and weapons show. National and international law enforcement agencies joined with defense industry contractors to attend seminars and display wares for three days. Outside the Marriott, scores of community activists protested the event. United under the name Facing Urban Shield, the coalition said the militarist tone of the event highlighted the worsening human rights records of police forces around the US, and the waste of billions of tax-dollars on prisons. They also charged that the showcasing of arms dealers undercut crime-plagued Oakland's efforts to stem gun violence.

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