Posts tagged Washington

Cops are here to help you: Tacoma, Washington police Officer Ryan Koskovich and Officer Michael Young taser, handcuff and imprison a deaf assault victim for not obeying commands that she could not hear.

In Tacoma, a few months ago, a woman called 911 seeking protection when a fight with a guest turned violent. Unfortunately, when you call 911 they send the cops, and government police are not interested in protecting you; they are interested in controlling the situation. The victim in this case is a black woman who has been deaf since birth. The cops were told ahead of time that she was deaf, but what with a situation to control, when they showed up at the apartment they tortured her with a taser, handcuffed her, and hauled her off to jail for running at the police in an assaultive manner. She was running outside to meet the police, so that they could protect her from the person that was beating her up. Instead, a white police officer, Ryan Koskovich, screamed at her, whipped out his taser to drive her to the ground with a painful electrical shock, and then handcuffed her and arrested her, all because she didn’t stop running immediately when they bellowed commands at her that she could not hear. The police claimed, in reports that they wrote up after the fact, that they had also held a hand out. Other people in the neighborhood were watching and nobody else says they saw the cops hold a hand up. Of course, it’s possible that nobody saw it because it was 11:30 at night and dark; but then, that might be a reason for the police to think that someone might not necessarily be able to see their hands, and might not necessarily be able to hear their bellowed commands, and perhaps they ought to adopt a different strategy from maximal confrontation and Taser first, ask questions later. But that of course is only the sort of thing that you do if you give a damn about not torturing and imprisoning innocent people.

Officer Ryan Koskovich, Tacoma, Washington
Tasered, handcuffed and imprisoned deaf assault victim Lashonn White
Photo from NY Daily News

Police use Taser on deaf crime victim

TACOMA, Wash. — KIRO TV’s investigative unit has discovered Tacoma police used force to arrest and handcuff an innocent deaf woman after she called 911 for their help.

Instead of an apology, she ended up bloody and in jail for nearly three days without an interpreter before a prosecutor declined to press charges.

After months of digging, investigative reporter Chris Halsne found significant discrepancies in the official police version of events leading up to Lashonn White’s arrest.

Late in the evening on April 6, White said she called for police assistance after a guest reportedly attacked her in her own apartment.

. . . Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside White’s apartment complex in about six minutes.

It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating, Person doing the hitting is a Sophia and Vict. is Lashonn White.

In addition, it appears from internal police records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Koskovich and his partner were repeatedly given information that the victim could not hear a thing.

. . . To her, what happened next defies common sense — especially, for a woman with no criminal record, no arrests and just one minor driving violation on her record.

Within seconds of running outside to meet police, Officer Koskovich pulled his Taser and fired a two-barbed electric wire into White’s ribs and stomach.

All I’m doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground and then handcuffed. It was almost like I blacked out. I was so dizzy and disoriented, White said.

Witnesses said White began bleeding heavily from her knuckles and the right side of her face swelled up immediately after she hit the pavement following the Taser jolt.

Pictures acquired by Team 7 Investigators also show injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck and arms.

Worse yet to White was the incredible confusion that came with suddenly being handcuffed, under arrest and without the ability to communicate with Tacoma officers, who had no sign language skills.

The next thing I know, they took me to jail. Told me to stand up, you’re going to jail. I said, What? What have I done? I couldn’t figure it out. I had no idea what was going on, said White.

. . . Margaret Sims’s apartment is right over the spot where White fell to the ground after being tased. She said it was around 11:30 at night and dark, but she heard Lashonn screaming in pain and ran to the balcony.

I hollered down and said, She’s deaf and can’t speak!

Sims says she went down to the street and spoke with officers while Lashonn was still in handcuffs. She told us during an on-camera interview that the police officers at the scene admitted there was a misunderstanding.

They had tased her because he thought she was coming at him, but what she was doing was running to him. But he said, stop and he didn’t put his hand up. He just said, stop and she couldn’t understand that, replied Sims.

Another apartment tenant, Geraldine Warren, said she also heard the commotion and talked to police.

They just told her to halt. She kept running, she can’t hear—she’s deaf. I said, Aren’t you supposed to say halt like that? asked Warren holding up her right hand.

Tacoma police arrested Lashonn on two criminal charges, simple assault and obstruction of a public servant (law enforcement officer). Then they carted her off to jail. She spent 60 hours there[1] – also without an interpreter- before a city prosecutor reviewed her case and asked that charges not be filed at all. . . . White said despite her repeated requests to police for a certified ASL interpreter, one was never provided.

— Police use Taser on deaf crime victim, by Chris Halsne, for KIRO TV 7 (5 August 2012)

The Incident Is Being Investigated. But Police Officer Naveed Benjamin has already said that the actions of the officers do not appear to be outside of policy. Probably not. And what does that tell you about the policy?

This is of course not the first time this sort of thing has happened. See for example GT 2007-12-07: Law and Orders #4: Wichita cops take control by shocking a deaf man for not following orders he couldn’t hear, GT 2007-11-11: Taser first, ask questions later, AP 2005-03-22: Autistic Teenager is Beaten by Deputies After Being Mistaken for a Prowler, GT 2008-02-05: Rapists in uniform, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.

  1. [1] [In other words, a crime victim was imprisoned for nearly three days, because police could not speak her language and chose to respond to her with escalating brutality before they knew what was going on. —CJ.]

Change You Can Believe In (Vol. III, No. 4, April 2011)

The latest instalment in our ongoing monthly feature.[1] You may be surprised to find that this month I am going to pass over the new fucking war that the Peace President has been kinetically pursuing against yet another Muslim country. Too obvious. Instead, we have….

Executive power

In which Obama decides he’s in favor of the unitary theory of the executive — in order to save his Czars, natch.

There is no ambiguity in that vow: none at all. He explicitly promised not to use signing statements to nullify Congressional statutes he thought were invalid. Citing his credentials as a Constitutional Law professor, Obama explained that “Congress’ job is to pass legislation,” and when that happens, a President has only two options: “the President can veto it or sign it.” In contrast to Bush — who, Obama said, “has been saying ‘I can change what Congress passed by attaching a statement saying I don’t agree with this part, I’m going to choose to interpret it this way or that way’” — Obama said he, by contrast, believes “that’s not part of [the President’s] power.” He punctuated his answer as follows: “we’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress.” It just doesn’t get any clearer than that.

But on Friday, Obama did exactly that which he vowed in that answer he would never do. When signing the budget bill into law, he attached a signing statement objecting to some provisions as an encroachment on executive power but still vowing to obey them (such as restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees), but then explicitly stated that he would ignore the provision of this new law that de-funds his so-called “czars” (which are really little more than glorified presidential advisers). Declaring that the Executive has the unfettered “authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch” — i.e., asserting another critical aspect of the “unitary theory of the Executive” — Obama declared that “the executive branch will construe [the de-funding provision] not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.” In other words, we’re going to ignore that mandate because we believe it’s unconstitutional: he’s going to use funds for exactly the purpose that Congress, in a bill he signed into law, flatly prohibited.

— Glenn Greenwald, Obama v. Obama on signing statements, in Salon.com, April 17, 2011.

Drug warfare

Hey, remember back when Obama stopped the Drug Enforcement Agency from raiding medical marijuana dispenaries in states that have legalized medical marijuana?

Here’s how Obama’s DEA stopped raiding medical marijuana dispensaries that this month in Spokane:

DEA agents raided at least four dispensaries around Spokane…. On Thursday evening Charles Wright said that “THC will be open and in full operation tomorrow.” His message less than a day later was much different.

“Effective immediately, THC Pharmacy is shutting down immediately and I recommend all pharmacies in Washington State follow suit,” he said.

DEA agents raided THC Pharmacy Thursday, confiscating all the marijuana and cash. But it wasn’t the raid that scared Wright into closing. He said his it was a conversation he said his attorney had with US Attorney Michael Ormsby Friday morning.

“I am being threatened with 20 years to life and I have no further political power to do anything. If I open the doors today they will put me in prison tomorrow,” he said.

… Charles Wright said that US Attorney Michael Ormsby has said that federal raids will continue until all dispensaries are in compliance with federal law, which states it is illegal to possess or sell marijuana.

Rob Kauder, Feds Continuing Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, at KXLY.com (29 April 2011)

Here’s how they stopped it in Rhode Island:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The top federal prosecutor in Rhode Island has warned Gov. Lincoln Chafee that the state’s plan to license medical marijuana dispensaries violates federal law.

U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha says in a letter delivered to Chafee on Friday that federal prosecutors have the right to investigate and prosecute those who grow and distribute marijuana, even if such activities are allowed by state law.

— Associated Press, Federal Prosecutor Warns RI About Medical Pot, at abc6.com (2011-04-30)

Here’s how they stopped it in San Marcos, California:

At least one medical marijuana dispensary in San Marcos was raided by law enforcement agents Thursday, authorities confirmed, and the homes of suspected medical marijuana providers in North County were hit, as well.

Authorities raided the Club One Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary at 1232 Los Vallecitos Blvd., a business park just north of Highway 78, said San Diego County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Barnett.

“It was raided today along with several other locations throughout North County and Riverside County,” said. “Evidence was seized and money was seized.”

… Also, residences in Vista, Oceanside and Temecula were raided Thursday by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Diego Narcotic Task Force…. The homes hit by the raids were the residences of medical marijuana patients, said Eugene Davidovich, the director of the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access.

— Teri Figueroa, SAN MARCOS: Authorities raid medical marijuana collective, in the North County Times (28 April 2011)

Here’s how they stopped it in Metro Detroit:

Drug agents executed search warrants at two medical marijuana facilities in Oakland County on Tuesday, but it was unclear whether it signaled a new federal crackdown against the state’s fledgling industry.

The raids were part of a wide-ranging operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which dispatched agents in eight coordinated raids of homes and businesses in Detroit, Novi, Commerce Township, Walled Lake and Romulus.

… [T]he raids were focused in Oakland County, ground zero in the battle between medical marijuana clinics and law enforcement officers.

A DEA official confirmed that agents executed search warrants at Casab’s home in Commerce Township and his Caregivers of America marijuana facility on 12 Mile in Novi.

The DEA raided another Caregivers facility on Decker Road in Walled Lake. The building is owned by 1020 Decker LLC, whose registered agent is lawyer Barry A. Steinway of Bingham Farms, state records indicate.

Walled Lake issued a medical marijuana dispensary license to 1020 Decker LLC on Aug. 31, 2010, under terms of a local ordinance.

“The feds say it’s illegal, but the city issued them a license,” Abel said.

— Robert Snell and Mike Martindale, DEA raids Oakland Co. medical marijuana centers, in the Detroit News (13 April 2011)

It’s been two and a half years, but I’m sure that sometime real soon now our Progressive President is going to get his Drug Enforcement Agency to halt those raids. They probably just haven’t gotten around to it yet, because they’ve been so very busy in the past couple months.

War on the World

Finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention one of our Progressive Peace President’s real triumphs. During the long, dark night of the Bush administration, the United States government became notorious for its use of torture, its disregard for due process, and its endless, arbitrary detentions in legal black-holes like Guantanamo Bay, all in the name of a ever-shifting, never-ending War on Terror. Obama promised that he would rectify that. Nowadays, thanks to Obama, they only promise to hold people in Guantanamo forever without a trial after they try out a few options and can’t figure out any kangaroo court where it would be politically expedient to send them. Under the Bush administration, the CIA became notorious as one of the leading practitioners of indefinite detention and interrogation by torture, in black-hole secret prisons where prisoners — many of them innocent victims of mass sweeps and round-ups — had no legal recourse at all. The Obama administration has put an end to all that. Now:

“The CIA is out of the detention and interrogation business,” said a U.S. official who is familiar with intelligence operations but was not authorized to speak publicly.

— Ken Dilanian, CIA has slashed its terrorism interrogation role, in the Los Angeles Times (10 April 2011)

Huzzah and kudos. Now, instead of indefinitely detaining people without trial and torturing them for years, the CIA just kills them instead:

Under Obama, the CIA has killed more people than it has captured, mainly through drone missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. At the same time, it has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad….

— Ken Dilanian, CIA has slashed its terrorism interrogation role, in the Los Angeles Times (10 April 2011)

In summary executions like this one:

WASHINGTON — C.I.A. drones fired two missiles at militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas on Wednesday…. The strikes drew a sharp rebuke from a Pakistani government that is increasingly public in its criticism of the C.I.A.’s covert role in its country.

… The drone attack was widely interpreted by Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, as a deliberate effort by Washington to embarrass the country. “If the message was that business will continue as usual, it was a crude way of sending it,” a senior Pakistani intelligence official said.

… The targets of the attack were militants commanded by Maulvi Nazir, a Taliban leader from South Waziristan…. The drones struck a double-cabin pickup truck and a motorcycle as they returned from Afghanistan into Pakistan, a Pakistani military official said. Seven fighters were killed and six others were wounded in the attack just south of the village of Angor Adda on the border between the two countries.

Pakistani officials have grown more alarmed at the frequency of the drone attacks — 117 last year, more than all previous years combined — and the fact that the targets are now largely low-level fighters and junior commanders, not top operatives. Wednesday’s strikes bring this year’s number of attacks to 20….

— Eric Schmitt, New C.I.A. Drone Attack Draws Rebuke From Pakistan, in the New York Times (13 April 2011)

Plus ca change, mes amis. But President Bush must be careful to cover his political bases; I hear that he is planning to run for a fourth term next year.

  1. [1] Here’s January 2011; here’s February 2011; here’s March 2011.

Housing and Urban Development

Here’s a view of the Southwest neighborhood in Washington, D.C., in 1949, before government planners came along to Develop it. The buildings are mostly small rowhouses, some of them dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. A lot of the people living there were poor; most of them black folks or European immigrants. There were bustling commercial districts, grocery stores, a lot of little shops, and a movie theater.

It's an aerial view photo of a neighborhood filled with little rows of houses and shops, lots of green space, small roads criss-crossing.

Before.

Here’s a view of the Southwest neighborhood in 1963, after it got Urban Renewed. Every square inch on this map was claimed under eminent domain; this is what the award-winning urban planners and developers did with it.

It's an aerial-view photo of the same neighborhood. Almost every building has been leveled and a giant paved freeway is running through the vacant lots and the handful of buildings.

After.

Wikipedia describes what happened in between the Before and the After as the 1950s rebuilding.

Here’s another photo from 1979, when the highway construction was complete and the government had finished some brutalist office and residential buildings, new office complexes for HUD and the EPA, and some government housing projects. Some of these developments were widely praised; some even won an award.

Thank goodness government is around to develop these neighborhoods for us. Just think of all the blight and unlivable neighborhoods we’d have if they just left it up to the people who live and work in a neighborhood to determine the conditions under which they want to live and work.

(Thanks to BeyondDC.com 2011-01-10.)

See also:

The State of the Debate #2: Against legalization

From Washington state:

On Wednesday, the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee voted against two pieces of legislation, one of which called for the legalization of marijuana, and would, among other things, make it available for sale — heavily taxed — at state liquor stores. The other would have reduced possession of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil one.

The legalization bill (HB 2401) was voted down 6-2. For a moment, HB 1177, which would have decriminalized marijuana, looked as though it might have a chance, but it too died, with a final vote of 5-3.

In his opening remarks to the committee, Chairman Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said he found merit in all of the arguments, pro and con, but that it came down to the question of whether the federal government or the states should be in the business of regulating marijuana. Although he favors state regulation, Hurst said, he could not in good conscience vote for a bill that conflicted with federal law.

… Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, argued that legalization would allow the state to regulate a product that has potential hazardous consequences. A vote yes, he told his fellow committee members, is a vote for control. A vote no is a vote for continued chaos.

— Lillian Tucker, The Seattle Times (2010-01-20): Pot bills go up in smoke as House panel stops both

… And that’s why I’m against legalization schemes. For decriminalization, yes, of course; but against this kind of cockamamie tax-and-regulate license-monopoly scheme, carried out in the name of exposing yet another good to government control.

It’s also why I’m against relying on electoral politics as a means of social change. When the political debate is constrained to the one side, who argue for arresting harmless potheads and locking them in cages, even though they think it is a bad idea, simply because their conscience demands absolute submission to the will of the United States federal government; and the other side, who think that marijuana ought to be legalized so that the government can use a tax-stamp scheme to more fully control people’s access to it — when, that is, the debate consists of two sides, each jockeying for position against the other to see which of them can package its policy proposals in the most authoritarian terms — when, I say, the political debate is constrained to those kind of options, it’s time to start looking for a new forum.

There’s no sense in trying to win at a rigged game; sooner or later, you need to just walk away. Go counter-economic — direct action gets the goods.

See also:

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday / ALLiance in Walla Walla, Washington and Pensacola, Florida

Two things.

First, a shout-out on behalf of the ALL Ad Hoc Global Organizing Committee. Are you yourself, or do you know anybody who is, an individualist anarchist, agorist, mutualist, left-Rothbardian, or otherwise on the libertarian left, who happens to live in or nearby any of the following metropolitan areas?

Are you yourself, or is the ALLy that you know, interested in meeting like-minded people and getting (more) involved in local activism and organizing? If so, please drop me a line with your or their contact information. I have some requests from prospective local organizers who are looking for people to start locals for the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. I would love to be able to put interested ALLies in contact with each other.

Second, it’s Sunday Sunday Sunday. Let’s get Shameless Shameless Shameless.

What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.