On August 26 the U. First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the Boston police for arresting a man who recorded their brutal treatment of a teenager. The ruling is only one stage of an important lawsuit, but it may have sweeping consequences for two concepts crucial to civil liberties: police immunity and the free-speech right to record on-duty police in public. In essence, and in an unusual move, the court ruled against immunity and for freedom of speech.
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We are inundated in this country with propaganda boilerplate about being the greatest democracy in the world. It was a peaceful demonstration against Wall Street greed.
At least it started out that way. All evidence suggests it was, then, sent careening into chaos by the police strong-arming of young protesters who had done nothing but express their views in public. In one incident, young women on the sidewalk observing the arrest of a young man in the street are corralled by cops using orange plastic nets. He re-holsters his weapon and walks away.
Another video shows him doing the same thing indiscriminately to others in a clear violation of NYPD rules that say the spray is only authorized to disable someone resisting arrest. Over people were arrested in the melee.
The MSNBC video also shows a young man with a camera being violently slammed into a parked Volvo for videotaping the actions of the police. In fact, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month on exactly this situation in a case involving a man who videotaped cops beating a man in Boston Commons. For a PDF of the ruling, go to: www. The case is instructive. It began with a federal lawsuit brought by Simon Glik, a Russian immigrant who had become a lawyer in the US. He saw cops beating a man and took out his cell phone to videotape them.
He was told to stop and he refused. Police arrested him, confiscated his phone and deleted the video. They charged him with illegal wiretapping since his recording included audio. The City of Boston and the individual police officers involved appealed the ruling, and the 1st Circuit upheld the district court. The justices pointedly demolished the notion often used by police officers that the law on the matter is unclear. The court is saying all this is so clear cops should know slamming a man against a Volvo for videotaping is a violation of law.
In the Wall Street melee, white-shirted commanders popped up a lot in videos as the worst abusers. Thus cops develop the sense that they can exercise power without too great a risk of being called too strictly into account for its use. The challenge is to push the target over an imaginary line that instinct will tell him or her constitutes a breach of something. The ability to maneuver the unwary into a trap is well known to cops but rarely realized by outsiders.
No questions about civil liberty issues were raised. We see NYPD cops near Wall Street attacking harmless, peaceful street protesters simply expressing a desire for economic justice. When have we seen a right wing Tea Party demonstration calling for an end to taxes and programs for the poor attacked like this?
Which takes us back to the opening of this story. Right wing police defenders might take this as a reason to praise this country. Our police and military are not slaughtering people by the thousands. Chief Bouza clearly sympathizes with cops in how they are placed by society between a rock and a hard place. Some cops clearly take personal joy in abusing leftists who would publicly demand justice.
But cops are necessary in a society, and the job is not an easy one. Most cops are decent working men and women simply caught in the vice. That seems to have been the case in New York, with a few cops stirring things up to create a chaotic situation good cops were, then, compelled to address.
The media is bought and sold by huge, cold-blooded, profit-making corporations and money runs our democracy to the point we have a government dominated by bullshitters and panderers. When a concerned citizens has had enough and takes to the streets, these days he or she is corralled and humiliated by a range of sophisticated and well-funded police agencies. Marginalization is assured. What the young activists in New York are doing is a good model. That goes for ending the bankrupting state of endless war these same forces have collared us with.
If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as un usual. The result is a peaceful protest is turned into a melee justifying arrests. How did we get to this place? Join the debate on Facebook.
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Police Immunity from Cell-Phone Recording Overturned by Court
We are inundated in this country with propaganda boilerplate about being the greatest democracy in the world. It was a peaceful demonstration against Wall Street greed. At least it started out that way. All evidence suggests it was, then, sent careening into chaos by the police strong-arming of young protesters who had done nothing but express their views in public. In one incident, young women on the sidewalk observing the arrest of a young man in the street are corralled by cops using orange plastic nets. He re-holsters his weapon and walks away.