Posse Comitatus and the Fourth Amendment

By: Tuesday September 30, 2014 7:35 am

Back in pre-Constitution America, the British army would burst into the homes and businesses of American colonists.
The searches would often be destructive, and intended so. Some of the time the point was to seize incriminating “revolutionary” materials, many times the point was simply to harass and threaten people the Crown feared and wanted to send a message to. It was in direct response to such invasions of freedom that the Founders wrote in the Fourth Amendment “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

 

The Culture of Non-Accountability, Ferguson Edition

By: Saturday September 27, 2014 9:37 am

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the continuing actions of Ferguson and St. Louis County officials are providing a textbook case study in avoiding accountability. There are lots of steps along the way, but at the end, the big lesson is that the protection granted by a culture of non-accountability is only for those in power.

Justice Department Pushes Ferguson Police to Ban Officers From Wearing ‘I Am Darren Wilson’ Bracelets

By: Saturday September 27, 2014 7:59 am

The Ferguson Police Department, as well as St. Louis County Police Department, have assured the Justice Department that their officers will no longer be permitted to wear “I Am Darren Wilson” bracelets while on duty in Ferguson, Missouri.

Darren Wilson is the white police officer, who shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown at least six times in early August. Ferguson residents have spotted police wearing bracelets in solidarity.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division writes in a letter to Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson, “We write to confirm that you will prohibit Ferguson Police Department officers from wearing “I Am Darren Wilson” bracelets while in uniform and on duty. We write to also confirm our understanding that you will ensure that other municipal police agencies prohibit their officers from wearing these bracelets while working in Ferguson.”

Twenty-Three People Killed by American Police in Span of One Week

By: Friday September 26, 2014 12:38 pm

At least twenty-three people were killed by officers from various United States police departments in the past week. That means about three people died in the custody or at the hands of police every day from September 18-24. The frequency in which police use force, especially lethal force, would seem to deserve quite a bit of attention, however, it is rarely highlighted by news media. For the most part, it goes ignored.

Justice Department Bans Reporters, Non-Residents from Ferguson Town Hall Meetings

By: Monday September 22, 2014 12:17 pm

A unit of the United States Justice Department has decided to protect the mayor of Ferguson and city council members from the potential effects of transparency by banning reporters and non-residents from a series of town hall meetings.

Email Suggests Manufacturer of Stingray Surveillance Equipment May Have Lied to FCC

By: Wednesday September 17, 2014 10:11 am

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the manufacturer of StingRay surveillance products of providing inaccurate information and possibly even lying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is the agency that is supposed to regulate communications over cable, radio, satellite, television and wire.

Court Challenges US Navy’s Dragnet Surveillance of Civilian Computers & Suppresses Evidence in Criminal Case

By: Monday September 15, 2014 11:07 am

A federal appeals court issued a decision suppressing evidence found by a Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent and used to prosecute a civilian for child pornography. The NCIS special agent had conducted dragnet surveillance of all civilians in an entire state. The “extraordinary nature of the surveillance” demonstrated “a need to deter future violations” of the Posse Comitatus Act and send a message to the government that military personnel are not permitted to enforce civilian laws.

Podcast: ‘Urban Shield’ & the Ramping Up of Police Militarization in the United States

By: Sunday September 14, 2014 4:00 pm

One week ago, Alameda County in California hosted an annual major police gathering supported by corporations and law enforcement and security agencies from the local, state and federal level. Corporations displayed their military-grade equipment available for police departments to purchase, and training exercises or competitions played out in the San Francisco Bay Area. Anyone observing [...]

Pentagon, DHS Award Grants to Police Without Considering if Agencies Have Record of Violating Rights

By: Tuesday September 9, 2014 4:05 pm

A United States Senate committee held a hearing in the aftermath of what happened with militarized policing in Ferguson, Missouri, in order to examine federal grant programs for state and local law enforcement. At the hearing, two of the heads of three major grant programs admitted they do not examine whether a law enforcement organization is under investigation for depriving citizens of their constitutional rights before awarding grants, which may include military-grade equipment.

The Pentagon has a 1033 program, which gives away surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement for free.

Armored Vehicle Manufacturer Flips Out After Its Representative Explains Why Vehicles Used at Protests

By: Monday September 8, 2014 1:27 pm

Armored vehicle manufacturers are especially sensitive to suggestions that their vehicles will be used against protesters, even though that is exactly how they were used in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white police officer gunned down Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

The Armored Group LLC was recently present at Urban Shield, an annual trade show and training exercise in Alameda County, California, supported by law enforcement and security agencies at the local, state and federal level.

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