Posts tagged John Markley

No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter… (#6)

Quick quiz. Try to identify where this photograph was taken, and what military force the people pictured in it are members of.

Here is a photograph of several men in dark uniforms with helmets and body armor, in combat posture, with assault rifles pointed directly at the camera. They are posed in front of a large tank. One man is standing in front of the tank, smiling, in a normal suit and tie.

The photograph was taken in Richland County, South Carolina. The people in the photograph are Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and his Special Response Team. They are posed in front of their recently acquired Army-surplus Armored Personnel Carrier, which has a top speed of 30 miles per hour and a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun. They call it the Peacemaker, apparently because this is exactly the sort of military hardware Jesus would use to terrorize or kill suspected meth addicts.

Sheriff Leon Lott told the Columbia State newspaper that he hoped the vehicle, named The Peacemaker, would let the bad guys know that his officers are serious.

We don’t look at this as a killing machine, Lott told the paper. It’s going to keep the peace. We hope the fact that we have this is going to save lives. When something like this rolls up, it’s time to give up.

— Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine (2008-03-06): S.C. Sheriff’s Department Armored Vehicle with Belt-Fed Machine Gun

Take another look at that photograph, and let me know whether that’s what peace looks like to you. Please keep in mind, if you happen to be in Richland County, South Carolina, that, in the view of the Sheriff’s Department, keeping the peace means putting so much firepower in the hands of government police that their capacity for violence terrorizes the rest of the populace out of any thought of defying or resisting their orders.

The Richland County Sheriff’s department got their new armored personnel carrier through a federal government program which provides military surplus weapons to local law enforcement agencies.

As Radley Balko said back in May, in response to another story:

I’m afraid this intermingling of domestic police and military is well beyond the point of no return.

Do you feel safer now?

(Via John Markley 2008-09-04, Radley Balko 2008-09-01, and Pete Guthier 2008-09-01.)

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Well, thank God #10: Got Milk? edition

A while back in comments on GT 2008-05-14: Well, thank God #9: Income Taxi edition, John Markley said:

I’m disturbed by the whole idea that there are actually undercover agents hunting for unlicensed taxi drivers. The whole concept sounds like a wacky satire of Stalinist Russia.

But since when has a collapse into obviously inane self-parody ever stopped a government busybody from doing what they do best?

Meet Millersburg [Ohio] farmer Arlie Stutzman, who’s had a Grade B dairy license for 12 years, allowing him to sell milk to local cheese factories. On September 20, an undercover ag agent visited his farm and asked to buy a gallon of milk.

It’s a no-no for a farmer to sell milk directly, so Stutzman offered to just give it to the man if he were truly in need. But the guy insisted on leaving two bucks. The agent then fetched an unmarked container from his car and had Stutzman’s son fill it with milk. . . .

For the sin of selling in an unlabeled container, Stutzman had his license yanked. At an administrative hearing, he argued that the Amish faith taught him to share food with anybody in need, and asked that his penalty be reduced to a 60-day license suspension. His plea was rejected by department director Fred Dailey, who’s also mean to baby deer and people in wheelchairs. Stutzman now faces additional fines if convicted at an April 17 hearing.

I never realized that being generous and sharing food is a crime in Ohio, says Stutzman.

— Cleveland Scene (2006-03-08): Got bullshit?

Stutzman eventually got his license back after public uproar forced the Ohio Department of Agriculture to back down. But though in this case justice may have been tempered by mercy, I have to say thank God that the Ohio Department of Agriculture was there to bust Stutzman in the first place. If state agriculture departments weren’t out there every day making sure that customers have to patronize the right corporate milk distributors and retailers, who would? How could anyone be sure that customers are being forced to go through the proper agribusiness channels for their dairy products? Without state bureaucracies and their professional snitches to do the centralizing and the regulating, why, Amish farmers might be out there just giving out raw milk willy-nilly to odd passers-by. God, it’d be Anarchy!

It should never be forgotten that the Ohio Department of Agriculture is the thin blue line that keeps Ohioan customers away from the agricultural products that they are willing to pay for.

(Via Jeffrey Quick’s Blog 2006-03-09, via Mental Militia Forums 2006-03-09, via FSK 2008-07-04.)

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In fifteen words or fewer: Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post on immigration and poverty statistics

(Via Kerry Howley @ Hit and Run 2008-05-15, via John Markley @ The Superfluous Man 2008-05-19.)

Robert J. Samuelson, in the Washington Post (2008-05-14):

Finally, let’s discuss poverty. Everyone’s against it, but hardly anyone admits that most of the increase in the past 15 years reflects immigration — new immigrants or children of recent immigrants. Unless we stop poor people from coming across our Southern border, legally and illegally, we won’t reduce poverty. Period. That doesn’t mean we should try to expel the 12 million illegal immigrants already here — an impossible and morally dubious task. Many families have been here for years; many have American children. We need a pragmatic accommodation: assimilate most people now here; shift future immigration to the highly skilled.

— Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post (2008-05-14): Truth Serum on The Trail

Shorter Samuelson: Let’s reduce poverty by forcing all the poor people to be poor in other countries.

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Public schooling

One of the worst things about so-called public education, i.e. government-controlled schooling, is that students are forced into an institution that they consistently find unpleasant and boring, whether or not the individual student thinks that it’s worth the trouble. That fact, combined with the fact that the victims are all young and many of them are poor or black or otherwise marked as at-risk youth in need of special surveillance and control, naturally and systematically corrupts the way that the school relates to its students. It leads administrators and political decision-makers to focus on restraining the unruly behavior of the coerced students, by making authority, control, security, and discipline top priorities. In practice this means monitoring, intimidation, and coercion. These facts in turn result in attitudes and institutional practices throughout State schools that are often hard to distinguish from those prevailing in a prison camp.

Here are three stories that have come out, just over the course of the past week, about the practices of administrators and uniformed thugs in American public schools. In particular, they are about three separate cases in which one or the other set out to maintain control over their school by physically brutalizing or sexually humiliating young women.

The first case, from Arizona, happened four years ago. It’s in the news today because the famously liberal Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals recently ruled that Safford Middle School officials were within the bounds of their legitimate authority when they forced a strip-search on a 13 year old girl — because a couple of student snitches claimed that she had some unauthorized ibuprofen on her, and the Authorities had to know for sure:

Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

The justices voted 2-1 in favor of the Safford School District on Sept. 21. The decision upheld a federal district court’s summary judgement that Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero did not violate the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2003, when they subjected her to a strip search in an effort to find Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold over the counter and in prescription strengths.

The girl’s mother filed a federal law suit against the district and Middle School officials because they forced her daughter to strip down to her underwear then move her bra and panties in such a way that her breasts and pubic area were exposed. The mother also asserts that she was not notified of the impending search.

In the opinion written by Judge Richard Clifton, Based on the information available to them, defendants (Safford School District, Wilson, Schwallier and Romero) had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search of (the girl’s) person would turn up evidence that (the girl) had violated or was violating either the law or the rules of the school.

Clifton wrote that Wilson and the others had reasonable grounds for believing the girl had Ibuprofen based on conversations with two other students.

The other students said the girl possessed Ibuprofen and had distributed the drug to others, according to the court report.

— Diane Saunders, Eastern Arizona Courier (2007-09-26): Court rules school officials acted properly in strip search

The second case is from New York, where — in order to enforce a blanket no-bags policy putatively adopted for the students own health and safety — a member of the school goon squad decided that it was O.K. for him, an adult male ex-cop, to pull 14 year old girls carrying purses out of class and interrogate them about their menstrual cycles:

Grahamsville — Several television news crews from New York City are camped outside the Tri-Valley Central School following the story in today’s Times Herald-Record about what question a school security guard asked a 14-year-old female student.

The girl was called out of class by a security guard during a school sweep last week to make sure no kids had backpacks or other banned bags.

Samantha Martin had a small purse with her that day.

That’s why the security guard, ex-Monticello cop Mike Bunce, asked her The Question.

She says he told her she couldn’t have a purse unless she had her period. Then he asked, Do you have your period?

Samantha was mortified.

She says she thought, Oh, my God. Get away from me. But instead of answering, she just walked back into class.

At home, she cried, and told her mother what happened.

It appears that at least a few other girls were also asked the same question.

On Sept. 21, Martin and other girls were called to the office of Principal Robert Worden. Lisa Raymond, the assistant superintendent for business, was also there, Martin said.

They just asked me what he (Bunce) said. I told them, and they said thanks for coming, she said.

The small Sullivan County school has been in an uproar for the last week. Girls have worn tampons on their clothes in protest, and purses made out of tampon boxes. Some boys wore maxi-pads stuck to their shirts in support.

After hearing that someone might have been suspended for the protest, freshman Hannah Lindquist, 14, went to talk to Worden. She wore her protest necklace, an OB tampon box on a piece of yarn. She said Worden confiscated it, talked to her about the code of conduct and the backpack rule — and told her she was now part of the problem.

Tri-Valley Superintendent Nancy George, who has refused to meet with any reporters today, yestedar said that when Worden, Bunce and another staffer did the bag check, they were telling students to put the bags in their lockers. The administration is investigating whether they said anything more to some girls.

I have had some parents talk to me personally, and they gave me the names of some students who were asked, she said. We’re certainly not going to make light of this. It’s a very sensitive issue, but it needs to be handled. Parents with more information should call her directly, she added.

Raymond and Worden failed to return calls yesterday for comment. Bunce was not working yesterday, and his home phone number is unlisted.

Bunce was forced to retire from the Monticello Police Department in 2002 after he and the former chief were caught running their process-serving business on village time.

School board President Lori Mickelson declined comment.

The school banned backpacks in the halls this year for two reasons, George said: Student health, because heavy bags could hurt the kids’ backs or people could trip on them; and for security concerns, felt nationwide, about concealed weapons.

— Heather Yakin, Times Herald-Record (2007-09-28): The Question’ causes furor at local high school

Clearly the Authorities concerns about small purses and their contribution teenagers’ back problems outweigh minor considerations like the dignity and sexual privacy of 14 year old girls.

The third case comes from Palmdale, California, near Los Angeles, where a member of the school goon squad slammed Pleajhai Mervin, a young black woman at Knight High School, down on a table, twisted her arm behind her back, and broke her wrist — after she refused to follow his bellowed orders to make a fourth try at cleaning up the last bits of a slice of cake that she had accidentally spilled on the lunchroom floor. According to Mervin, the uniformed thug yelled hold still nappy head at her during the course of the attack. The fifteen-year-old young woman was then ticketed for littering, expelled from school, and arrested for battery against the beefy uniformed security thug who was breaking her wrist while other security goons hovered around. Two other black students — a 14 year old boy and his 16 year old sister — were tackled, held down, shoved around, handcuffed, and arrested for daring to film what was going on using their cell phone cameras.

School security guards in Palmdale, CA have been caught on camera assaulting a 16-year-old girl and breaking her arm after she spilled some cake during lunch and left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning it up.

… The girl, Pleajhai Mervin, told Fox News LA that she was bumped while queuing for lunch and dropped the cake. After being ordered to clean it up and then re-clean the spot three times, she attempted to leave the area out of embarrassment but was jumped on by security who forced her onto a table, breaking her wrist in the process.

Steve Watson, InfoWars (2007-09-28): School Guards Break Child’s Arm And Arrest Her For Dropping Cake

Mervin says a security guard slammed her against a table at a lunchroom at the high school and twisted her arms behind her back so violently, he broke her wrist. Her wrist is in a cast.

He put my arm behind my back and he started raising it until it hurt, so I told him, Stop, it hurts. He had slammed me on the table and told me to hold still. He called me a nappy-head, and that’s when I just started crying, said Mervin.

Mervin claims she was roughed up simply because she failed to pick up every crumb of a birthday cake she accidentally dropped on the floor of the lunchroom during a lunch-hour birthday celebration for a friend. She says she thought she cleaned up the mess, but the security guard thought otherwise.

He said, You have to come pick the rest of this cake up. So I said, I picked it up. He gets on his walkie-talkie, he got a call, so I just started walking to class, and that’s when he grabbed me, said Mervin.

Mervin says when the security guard realized he was being videotaped, he tackled the student shooting the video. She says another student captured photographs of that incident. She says the whole incident was unnecessary.

Leo Stallworth, KABC Los Angeles (2007-09-26): High School Security Guards Accused of Excessive Force

One security guard twisted the arm of 16-year-old Pleajhai Mervin behind her back and slammed her against a lunch table, fracturing her wrist, parents said.

I want justice, said Mervin’s mother, Latrisha Majors, who also was arrested. I want justice for my daughter. I want the guards to be held accountable for their actions.

Majors and her daughter were arrested in the Sept. 18 lunchtime incident, along with Joshua Lockett, 14, who videotaped the fight, and his sister, Kenngela Lockett, 16, who also suffered a fractured wrist.

Both Mervin and Kenngela Lockett attended the protest with their arms in slings.

Joshua Lockett, who was on probation for robbery, remained in juvenile custody on suspicion of violating his probation, sheriff’s deputies said.

We come to get an education, not to be hurt by security guards, said Kenngela, who said she tried to pull guards off her brother and was hurt while being handcuffed.

One guard, whose name has not been publicly released, has been placed on leave with pay pending an investigation by the Antelope Valley Union High School District. Attempts to reach the guard were not successful.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said the guard told them he felt threatened by Mervin.

There was resistance by her, Sgt. Darrel Brown said. He went to control her.

— Karen Maeshiro, LA Daily News (2007-09-29): Rally protests security guard acts.

Mainstream media sources such as the Los Angeles Times, KABC in Los Angeles, KSN (a local NBC affiliate), and the LA Daily News have repeatedly described what happened as a tussle … between a security guard and three students, as a scuffle with security guards, a melee with security guards, mayhem, etc. This apparently is what passes for accurate description of a professional uniformed security goon battering two high school girls and a fourteen-year-old boy, while he’s backed up by another security goon hovering around the area and clearly outweighs all of his victims. You can watch part of Joshua Lockett’s video of the scuffle at MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-26) and MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-28).

Oh No A WoC PhD (2007-09-30) has a YouTube montage of more photos and videos from this so-called melee, and also the contact information for school and city officials.

(Stories thanks to feministing 2007-10-01, Women of Color Blog 2007-09-30, Oh No a WoC PhD 2007-09-30, The Superfluous Man 2007-09-28, Radley Balko 2007-09-28, feministing 2007-09-28, and Majikthise 2007-09-28.)

State schooling, institutional racism, blanket zero-tolerance policies, and increasing police and security presence in schools have ensured that many if not most American schools are no longer primarily places of learning. They are guarded institutions whose primary focus is on command and control.

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