News Release Archive - Police Brutality

Did Biden’s Pick for Border Agency Cover-up Police Killings?

The New York Times reports in “Not Your Usual Police Chief: Biden Picks Trump Critic to Run Border Agency” that “Chris Magnus, the Tucson police chief who carried a Black Lives Matter sign at a protest, was chosen to lead Customs and Border Protection.”

But journalist Dennis Bernstein examined Magnus’s record as police chief in both Tucson and Richmond, Calif. Bernstein’s three-part expose, “Fatal Errors” examines Magnus’ record in the two cities where he held sway and scrutinizes his actions in two deadly cases where young Latino men died in custody when there was no justification for their deaths.

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein@gmail.com, @flashpointsnews
Bernstein is an award-winning journalist and executive producer of “Flashpoints,” broadcast from KPFA and syndicated on Pacifica Radio.

Last year he wrote an in-depth three-part series for Who.What.Why. titled “Fatal Errors.” The pieces included: “Police Brutality in Tucson,” “Shot by Police in Richmond, CA” and “Police Reformer — or Cover-Up Artist?”

    Bernstein said: “Magnus of the Tucson PD really wants you to think of him as a reformer. But while he was tweeting about how he would never allow this kind of in-custody police killing that he had witnessed in the 8:46 second killing of George Floyd, the chief’s men had done the Kenosha cops one better. Their in-custody suffocation of a brown man went on for over 12 minutes and the chief covered it up for over two months, even as he commented as a reformer about George Flyod.

“Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez desperately pleads as he drops to all fours, naked, disoriented, and terrified in a darkened corner of his grandmother’s Tucson garage. He wails and screams as three officers swoop down on him, forcing his face into the floor as they double handcuff his arms behind his back. He offers no resistance, apologizing, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I love everybody.’ He cries out for his grandmother to help, ‘Nana, ayúdame! … Please give me some water. … I can’t breathe!” See video.

“‘Tranquilo! Chill the f– out, man,’ shouts Officer Ryan Starbuck, bearing down on the man’s back.”

    Following the killing of Ingram-Lopez last year, his family settled for $2.9 million in December.

“Bad Apple” Argument Obscures Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com
Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, just wrote the piece “Calling Chauvin a ‘Bad Apple’ Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence, which states: “As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd proceeds, the prosecution will try to portray the defendant as a ‘bad apple.’ In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell alerted the jurors that they would hear police officials testify Chauvin used excessive force in violation of departmental policy to apply restraints only as necessary to bring a person under control. However, this argument obfuscates the racist violence inherent in the U.S. system of policing. …

“Black people who are unarmed or not attacking police are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, the Brookings Institution found. … More than 75 percent of the time, chokeholds are applied on men of color. …

“Prosecutors were compelled to bring charges against Chauvin because the whole world had seen him kill Floyd. After massive protests erupted following the horrifying video of Chauvin’s torture of Floyd — now known to have lasted nine minutes and 29 seconds — the MPD [Minnesota Police Department] fired Chauvin and prosecutors charged him with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They later added a charge of second-degree murder.

“But what would have happened if eyewitnesses had not recorded Floyd’s death? Would Chauvin have been fired and charged with murder? …

“For nine minutes and 29 seconds, Chauvin continued to choke Floyd as several bystanders watched, many visibly recording the killing. Chauvin didn’t try to hide what he was doing. As eyewitness Genevieve Hansen testified, Chauvin looked ‘comfortable’ with his weight on Floyd’s neck.”

Tucson Police Chief: Reformer or Serial Cover-up Artist? What Might Real Reform Be?

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein@gmail.com,
Bernstein is the award-winning journalist and executive producer of “Flashpoints,” broadcast from KPFA and syndicated on Pacifica Radio.

    He just wrote a three-part series for Who.What.Why. titled “Fatal Errors“: “Police Brutality in Tucson,” “Shot by Police in Richmond, CA” and “Police Reformer — or Cover-Up Artist?” 

    Bernstein said today: “Chief Chris Magnus of the Tucson PD really wants you to think of him as a reformer. But while he was tweeting about how he would never allow this kind of in-custody police killing that he had witnessed in the 8:46 second killing of George Floyd, the chief’s men had done the Kenosha cops one better. Their in-custody suffocation of a brown man went on for over 12 minutes and the chief covered it up for over two months, even as he commented as a reformer about George Floyd.

“Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez desperately pleads as he drops to all fours, naked, disoriented, and terrified in a darkened corner of his grandmother’s Tucson garage. He wails and screams as three officers swoop down on him, forcing his face into the floor as they double handcuff his arms behind his back. He offers no resistance, apologizing, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I love everybody.’ He cries out for his grandmother to help, ‘Nana, ayúdame! … Please give me some water. … I can’t breathe!” See video.

“‘Tranquilo! Chill the f– out, man,’ shouts Officer Ryan Starbuck, bearing down on the man’s back.”

Bernstein’s three-part expose, “Fatal Errors” examines Chief Magnus’ record in the two cities where he held sway and scrutinizes his actions in two deadly cases where young Latino men died in custody when there was no justification for their deaths.

Debate Confusion, Trump’s Racism and Biden’s Praise of Police

Newsweek reports in “Did Donald Trump Condemn the Proud Boys and White Supremacists?” that at last night’s debate moderated by Chris Wallace, President Trump, when asked to condemn white supremacist violence, said “Sure I’m willing to do that,” but then told the group the Proud Boys to “stand by.”

NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree
Freeman is co-writing a forthcoming book, Community Control Over Police, and recently wrote the piece “Community Control Vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis.” He is also an organizer with Pan-African Community Action and an analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Freeman said today: “Corporate media’s moderation and coverage of the debates is just as complicit in mass confusion. Biden’s rejection of community control over police is comparable to Trump’s refusal to denounce the white supremacist Proud Boys.

“Everyone knows Trump is racist. But for the questions not to be softballs they should have asked Biden about the connections between racism and policing. Only a month ago we saw in Kenosha and other places amiable interactions between police and right-wing militias mobilized against anti-racism and anti-police brutality activists. Yet Biden manages to get in praise of police and a denunciation of so-called violent activists with no interrogation from Wallace.”

Trump in Kenosha

President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where Jacob Blake was shot repeatedly by police in the back.

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein at gmail.com, @burn_stick
Bernstein is the executive producer of the program “Flashpoints” and just wrote the piece “Don’t Expect Justice for Black People in Kenosha if Sheriff Beth Has His Way.

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at gmail.com, @kevinagray
Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He co-edited Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence which scrutinizes the impunity of perpetrators of violence to African Americans in U.S. society.

He is also author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics, which connects various issues, such as the drug war, to issues of oppression of African Americans and police violence. The book also lists Confederate and other memorials.

Many of his writings — including his essays “Rolling Back the Police State,” “What It Feels Like to be Black in America” and “Back to the Jim Crow Future” are available at Counterpunch and The Progressive.

Could NBA Strike Fuel New Strike Wave? 

MIKE ELK, mike.elk@gmail.com, @MikeElk
Elk is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report — which has featured a map showing strikes around the U.S.

He said today: “The NBA strike — which is unprecedented in many ways — could inspire a whole new round of BLM strikes across the United States, much how George Floyd’s murder sparked more than 500 strikes in less than a month. And with Labor Day coming up, the NBA strikes could open the door to a whole new round of strikes in various industries.

“The strikes come as many teachers feel unsafe about returning to teach in classrooms across the U.S. Already, both major teachers’ unions, the AFT [American Federation of Teachers] and NEA [National Education Association] have pledged their financial support to support ‘safety strikes’ over unsafe school reopenings. In June, there were hundreds of strikes.”

Elk’s past pieces include “COVID & Disaster Capitalism: Busting Unions in Baseball” and “As South Carolina Teachers Walkout, 10,000 Storm State Capitol in Columbia.”

“Epidemic” of Uniform Violence at Home

Harvard Health reports: “When lockdown is not actually safer: Intimate partner violence during COVID-19.”

STACY BANNERMAN, stacy at stacybannerman.com, @StacyBannerman
Bannerman is author of HOMEFRONT 911: How Families of Veterans Are Wounded by Our Wars. She is able to speak to issues of domestic violence by both police and military personnel. [See recent piece by retired colonel Ann Wright “Fort Hood a Dangerous Place for Women in the Military.”]

Bannerman said today: “Police violence does not stop on the streets. There is a black-and-blue line of domestic violence in the households of policemen. Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population. and some 40 percent of police have reported having participated in domestic violence in the previous year.

“The uniform has protected police abuse at the expense of the spouse and family. It is the same Code of Silence that ensures the women and children who are victims of veteran domestic violence are invisible collateral damage that America refuses to acknowledge or discuss.

“According to the National Center for Women and Policing, The reality is that even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution, raising concern that those who are tasked with enforcing the law cannot effectively police themselves.”

The socially sanctioned horror of domestic violence by uniformed personnel is also suffered by the wives of combat veterans with PTSD, said Bannerman, who has written about it extensively and experienced it first-hand. Once married to a two-time Iraq War combat vet with severe PTSD, Bannerman said, “Domestic violence and sexual assault by military, particularly combat veterans with PTSD, is a serious problem, but these are problems among police, too. It is a hidden issue that, were it extrapolated to the general population, the epidemic of potentially lethal domestic violence in the homes of those who’ve worn the uniform would be a public health crisis.

“Research has found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD were significantly more likely to perpetrate violence toward their partners, with over 80 percent committing at least one act of violence in the previous year, and almost half at least one severe act, including strangulation, stabbing and shooting.

“Taxpayer dollars provide funds for training of police and military in use of force. It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to constrain the use of force after the fact. Our collective failure to identify and address human-made and intergenerational trauma is especially egregious with far reaching negative ramifications.

“The issues involved are toxic masculinity, a culture centered on domination by brute force, and a process of dehumanizing and defining difference as deviance; rendering certain people ‘the other’ — typically people of color and/or women.”

Bannerman’s past articles include “High risk of military domestic violence on the home front.”

Trump and Barr Turn to Joint Terrorism Task Force to Crush Protests

DAVE LINDORFF, dlindorff at gmail.com
Editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net and 2019 winner of an “Izzy” Award for Outstanding Independent Media, Lindorff just wrote the piece “Tear Gas and Clubs in Lafayette Square Were Just the Beginning” for The Nation.

Lindorff reports: “On June 1, President Trump ordered National Park Police and troops from the District of Columbia National Guard and some other federal law enforcement agencies to drive peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, north of the White House, to clear the way for his Bible-holding photo op. The same day, Trump and his Attorney General William Barr, along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, also placed a call to the nation’s 50 governors.

“A leaked transcript of that taped conversation, published in full by a number of major news organizations [audio], shows both Trump and Barr referring in glowing terms to the way the Obama administration, almost nine years earlier, had crushed the months-long Occupy Movement across the country in a matter of a few days.

“Trump told the governors, many of whose states were experiencing massive protests against police brutality in the wake of the brutal videotaped police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, ‘This is like Occupy Wall Street. It was a disaster until one day somebody said, “That’s enough.” And they just went in and wiped them out. And it’s the last time I heard the name Occupy Wall Street. …’

“Trump was followed at that point in the call by Attorney General Barr, who told the assembled governors that the Trump administration planned to use the same Fusion Centers and Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) the Obama administration had relied on to spy on and then crush the Occupy Movement to shut down the current wave of urban uprisings and protests over police brutality.

“As Barr put it, ‘The structure we’re going to use is the Joint Terrorist Task Force, which I know most of you are familiar with. Tried and true system. It’s worked for domestic and homegrown terrorists, and we’re going to employ that model.’

“It’s important to remember what actually happened with the Occupy Movement, a remarkable protest against inequality, corporate power, and the corrupt Wall Street banks whose recklessness had caused the 2008 financial crisis. Occupy was a spontaneous grassroots protest that sprang up in September 2011 in Lower Manhattan with the occupation of a one-block space called Zuccotti Park located just two blocks north of the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. That encampment was quickly replicated in over 18 cities across the nation as part of a movement that introduced into popular discourse the class-conscious notion of ‘the 1 percent and the 99 percent.’

“As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Washington, D.C.–based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) recalls, the Occupy movement” was targeted by the government. She said, “That’s why you saw encampments wiped out by police with over 7,000 arrests.”

“PCJF, following that shutdown of Occupy, turned to the Freedom of Information Act, seeking all documents relating to efforts to crush that movement from both the FBI and the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Pentagon and other intel agencies. After appeals, the organization received thousands of pages [see BigBrotherAmerica.org] of heavily redacted documents that made it clear that even as the FBI was reporting that the Occupy movement was peaceful, it had been classified as a domestic terrorist threat by both the FBI and DHS, ‘before even the first encampments were set up in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere in mid-September,’ with the FBI already providing detailed warnings of Occupy Wall Street’s plans to Wall Street banks and US corporations as early as August, 2011.”

Is the Solution Defunding the Police, Or Community Control?

MAX RAMEAU, afrimax at niainteractive.com
NETFA FREEMAN, netfa at ips-dc.org, @Netfafree
Rameau and Freeman are writing a book, Community Control Over Police, and just wrote the piece “Community Control vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis” which was published by Black Agenda Report.

They write that it is “undeniable that policing in the U.S. is out of control and outrageously overfunded. Since 1977 crime has continued to fall, but police budgets have almost tripled to a staggering $115 billion per year.”

But, they argue, “Defunding the police will not abolish the police. Far from purging classism, racism and patriarchy from its ranks, defunding the police is likely to bring them back in their purest form and with a vengeance.”

They note that historically, “the shift from private security to public utility created the contradiction that allowed civil rights organizations to fight for equal protection under the law, public transparency and other reforms. Of course, this did not end police brutality or alter the fundamental function of police as protectors of wealth and enforcers of the will of the ruling class, but turning the police into a public utility did provide some important tools necessary for the reduction of harm and heightening contradictions when those harms came.”

They point to other examples around the world to illustrate their argument: “South Africa is a modern capitalist country that is mostly post-industrial and features pockets of development that mirror the wealthiest western nations. Yet, the government there does not spend anywhere near the amount of resources on police as the United States. So how do upscale malls, financial districts, wealthy white neighborhoods and other configurations of the ruling class protect themselves from the majority of residents living in poverty? They hire private security firms to enforce the rules of the establishment — not the laws of the province or country.”

Rameau is a Haitian-born Pan-African author and organizer with Pan-African Community Action. Freeman is on the Coordinating Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace and an organizer in Pan-African Community Action which published a longer version of their new piece.

Today, Sentencing for Pacifist Jailed for Protesting “Omnicidal” Weapons — Supported by Activist Thrown to Ground by Police

Early Friday, IPA put out a news release “Barr Prosecuting Pacifists: Activists Face Prison for Action at Huge Nuclear Weapons Base” about the years-long prosecution and the sentencing of Plowshares activists, which begins Monday morning with the sentencing (by video conference) of Elizabeth McAlister, who founded Jonah House in Baltimore with her late husband Phil Berrigan.

The elderly man who Buffalo police shoved to the sidewalk and lay bleeding from his head has been identified as Martin Gugino.
Gugino is a long-time peace activist and recently made a series of video statements about the sentencing of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists who entered a major nuclear weapons facility on April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination to “nonviolently, symbolically disarm” the weapons there.

The support group for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 states that the Catholic Worker activists, after entering the nuclear weapons facility in Georgia “then split into three groups and prayed, prayerfully and symbolically poured blood, spray-painted messages of disarming nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King, ‘the ultimate logic of racism is genocide’ and another naming the ominicidal logic of Trident. The seven waited to be arrested.”

One of them, Father Steven Kelly, remains in jail. Others, like McAlister, have spent over 17 months in jail prior to trial with little media attention and is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. ET Monday. The unusual sentencing will take place by video conferencing while she remains at home in Connecticut. For public access to audio of this hearing, dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234.

The group reports that “Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was granted an adjournment and given a new date on June 29, 3:30 p.m. in Brunswick, Georgia.”

The other activists — Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Kelly — have asked for an adjournment “and were given June 29 and 30 as their new dates to appear with no times specified yet. They were not told whether they’ll be allowed to be sentenced in person in open court or whether they’ll have to travel to Brunswick to be sentenced remotely by video once they get there.”

In one of his videos supporting Mark Colville and other Plowshares activists, Gugino addresses the federal court in Brunswick, Georgia where Colville is awaiting sentencing in support. Gugino cites Martin Luther King’s belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Gugino added: “What he doesn’t say there, is that it doesn’t bend itself; we have to bend it. We have to go out into the culture and act justly, act morally, do good, and little by little it will bend the culture towards justice. And some of the time, the culture doesn’t want to be bent, and so there will be conflict, and that’s just part of it. And Martin Luther King knew very well the possibilities.”

A year ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Prize winners wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking the charges against the activists be dropped. Instead, at their trial in October, the prosecution and judge prevented the activists from mounting a series of defenses, including presenting a justification or necessity defense with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg testifying on their behalf — or invoking international law. The prosecution and judge even effectively kept the reality of the nuclear weapons at the base from the jury. The activists were convicted on October 24 to minimal major media coverage.

Interviews are available with:
MARK COLVILLE, markcolville9761 at gmail.com, @amistadobrero
One of the seven Plowshares activists, Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. He used a hammer made from melted-down guns to smash parts of a shrine to nuclear weapons at the facility. In late December, the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

More information and interviews with other Plowshares activists are available via the group’s extensive website and via the media team:

Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com, @kingsbayplow7
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com