ANTI-CAMERA CREW German militants make an online game out of CCTV camera destruction

Civil liberties activists in Germany and elsewhere are taking a novel, and militant, approach to CCTV culture. A new game dubbed ‘Camover’ is taking the country’s cities and the internet by storm. The premise? Get a crew, a catchy name, then black-block up and decommission street cameras in whatever inventively destructive fashion you like, from axes to lassoes.

Bizarrely, considering the general anti-camera focus of the hi-jinks, the trashings are being filmed and shared on the net – where they are compared and scored. Points are given for each camera smashed and for the originality of the method, leading commentators to claim a new era of militancy where reality-gaming meets activism.

The game originated in Berlin, where anti-CCTV feeling has been brewing in the radical circles. Attempts at more standard protest, including a small march and film showings, made little impact, so a black bloc took to the streets one night to take more shady direct action. Now participants are getting in on the game from Finland, Greece and the US.

As one Camover blog put it, “In the supermarket, in the university, at work, in the tram or in the ATMs – we hate them all. We are not interested in feeling “safe” and we don’t want them to stop crime.”

And from the Finnish: “During the last weeks we have blinded several CCTV-cameras around capital area of Finland. CCTV-cameras are important part of social control against people. It’s about power and control, and not about peoples values and rights. It’s about turning us into slaves and fearing authorities. But we can defend ourselves against the state and against corporations and take away Big Brothers sight.”

Published on 21st February 2013 | Part of Issue 838 | Print Friendly Version

Find this story at 21 Fabruary 2013

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Paria’s van de stad. Nieuwe marginaliteit in tijden van neoliberalisme.

De Franse socioloog Loïc Wacquant heeft enkele boeken geschreven over het ontstaan van getto’s en het neoliberale overheidsbeleid in de Westerse staten, die het ontstaan van deze gebieden eerder zou bevorderen dan tegengaan. Enkele van deze boeken zijn in het Nederlands vertaald bij uitgeverij EPO. Het boek dat enige maanden geleden bij deze uitgeverij verscheen is ‘Paria’s van de stad’.

Het boek maakt deel uit van een trilogie, waarin de relaties tussen transformaties van de sociale klassen, etno-raciale scheiding en de gewijzigde functies van de staat in het huidige neoliberalisme nader worden onderzocht. Je kunt die drie componenten zien als deel van een soort driehoek, waarin de wederkerige relatie tussen klasse en segregatie op grond van raciale en andere onderscheidingen de basis vormen van de driehoek en de staat de top. Het boek dat ik hier bespreek- Paria’s van de stad- nieuwe marginaliteit in tijden van neoliberalisme verkent de basis: het bekijkt de samenhang tussen raciaal onderscheid en klasse in de moderne metropolen die gespleten zijn in wijken van de gegoeden en wijken van mensen die sociaal uitgesloten zijn. Die samenhang wordt geanalyseerd aan de hand van een vergelijking tussen de ineenstorting van het traditionele Amerikaanse getto en het ontstaan van het hypergetto en de langzame desintegratie van de arbeiderswijken in West-Europese steden die op gang gekomen is na de teloorgang van de traditionele industrieën uit het Fordistische tijdperk.

Een tweede deel van de trilogie, ‘straf de armen’ onderzoekt in de driehoek de samenhang tussen sociale klasse en staat, zowel op sociaal als penitentiair vlak, waarbij wordt aangetoond dat het gevangenisbeleid dient als vervanging van de afgebroken welvaartsstaat. De economisch overbodigen in de samenleving worden gedeeltelijk onschadelijk gemaakt door hen op te sluiten. Daarbij spelen raciale elementen een duidelijke rol, tot uiting komend in de oververtegenwoordiging van migranten en afro-Amerikanen in de gevangenissen. Dit is een belangrijke nieuwe functie van de neoliberale staat: de nieuwe armoedepolitiek die gebruik maakt van een disciplinerend bijstandsbeleid enerzijds en een neutraliserende gevangenis anderzijds. We kunnen sociaal en penitentiair beleid – de politiek van workfare en prisonfare- met elkaar verbinden en we moeten ze beschouwen als twee varianten van het nieuwe armoedebeleid, dat in werkelijkheid gebaseerd op een uitbuitingspolitiek. Het gaat om het beschikbaar zijn van goedkope arbeidskrachten op de geflexibiliseerde arbeidsmarkt en de controle en disciplinering van de mensen, die economisch gezien overbodig zijn geworden. Het tegelijk toepassen van een voorwaardelijk bijstand systeem (workfare) en een uitgebreid detentiebeleid (prisonfare) dienen eenzelfde doel, namelijk het tot stand brengen, handhaven en verder ontwikkelen van de neoliberale strafstaat. Wacquant moet dan ook niets hebben van de stelling, dat in het tijdperk van het neoliberalisme met zijn privatiseringen de staat zich meer zou terugtrekken uit de samenleving en meer zou overlaten aan het marktmechanisme. Het is juist de invloed van het overheidsbeleid die geleid heeft tot het ontstaan van relegatiezones. (relegatie is een ander woord voor sociale uitsluiting). Dit overheidsbeleid is naast economische en sociale ontwikkelingen een van de belangrijkste verklarende factoren voor het ontstaan van die zones. Armoede, werkloosheid, relegatiezones zijn het gevolg van politieke keuzen.

Het derde deel van de trilogie ‘Deadley Symbiosis, Race and the rise of the penal state ontleedt het verhaal tussen staat en ras: het toont aan hoe etno-raciaal onderscheid leidt tot het uiteenvallen van de groepen op de onderste treden van de maatschappelijke statusladder en hoe dit onderscheid de ontplooiing van de strafstaat vergemakkelijkt.

onderklasse

Bij zijn kritiek op de pseudowetenschappelijke prietpraat zet Wacquant zich af tegen de scheppers van het concept ‘onderklasse’, die volgens Wacquant helemaal niet bestaat. Het is hooguit een statistische categorie, maar geen sociale klasse. Wacquant citeert een onderzoeker in Zuid-Amerika, Alejandro Portes, die schreef dat de grote fout van veel onderklasse theorieën over sloppenwijken is dat ze van sociologische omstandigheden psychologische kenmerken maken en dat ze de slechte eigenschappen van de daders aan de slachtoffers toeschrijven. In de thematiek van de onderklasse wordt sterk de nadruk gelegd op de veronderstelde – tot criminaliteit leidende -gedragsstoornissen en culturele afwijkingen van de bewoners, en te weinig aandacht besteed aan de historisch gegroeide structuren van rassensegmentatie, klassenongelijkheid en de gevolgen van overheidsinteractie, die de klassenongelijkheid beïnvloeden en versterken en over de ruimte van de stad verspreiden. Daarmee blijft verborgen dat politieke besluitvorming leidt tot het ontstaan en voortbestaan van relegatiezones in de metropolen en dat de stigmatisering van de bewoners van die gebieden wordt versterkt. Wacquant voert in zijn analyses een overvloed van bewijzen aan dat het niet de opkomst van een zichzelf vernietigende onderklasse is, maar vooral in Amerika het overheidsbeleid van opzettelijke verwaarlozing op het gebied van huisvesting, sociale zekerheid en onderwijs die de beste verklaring biedt voor de toenemende armoede en de grotere uitsluiting in de geracialiseerde kernen van de Amerikaanse metropool en in mindere mate in de relegatie zones van de West-Europese metropolen.

arbeidsmarkt

Een van de vele factoren die tot het ontstaan van moderne relegatiezones in Amerika en Europa geleid hebben is de ontwikkeling op de arbeidsmarkt. In de jaren zeventig en begin jaren tachtig van de vorige eeuw verdwenen ook in Nederland de traditionele industrieën, zoals de textielindustrie, de leerindustrie, de scheepsbouw en andere sectoren in de metaalindustrie. In deze industrieën konden geschoolde arbeiders en later migranten hun emplooi vinden en ze hadden vaste banen waarbij ze –als ze dat wilden- soms konden doorstromen naar middenkaderfuncties. De mensen met die middenkaderfuncties en de arbeiders woonden door elkaar in grote stadswijken waar de meeste mensen werk hadden. Kenmerk van deze periode is ook, dat de lagere klasse meeprofiteerde van de toenemende welvaart door hogere lonen en betere behuizing en doorstroommogelijkheden. Het neoliberale beleid van privatiseringen en bezuinigingen op de sociale zekerheid, de gezondheidszorg en het onderwijs, de grotere marktwerking en het ontstaan van de dienstensector hebben tot een nieuwe situatie geleid. Er is een flexibilisering van de arbeid opgetreden met een toename van deeltijdarbeid, tijdelijke contracten en slechtere arbeidsvoorwaarden. Aan die nieuwe banen kan vaak geen bestaanszekerheid worden ontleend. Wacquant spreekt in dit verband over desocialisering van de arbeid.

De verschuiving naar de dienstensectoren en de automatisering in de traditionele industrien, die door het overheidsbeleid werd bevorderd, betekende dat de arbeidsmarkt een duale structuur kreeg, met banen voor hoogopgeleiden, weinig middenkaderfuncties en daarnaast ongeschoolde arbeid. Banen in het middensegment verdwijnen of zijn al verdwenen. De positie van de geschoolde (migranten) arbeiders in de traditionele industrieën werd overgenomen door een volgende generatie migrantenkinderen en vrouwen, die de onzekere, flexibel georganiseerde arbeid gingen vervullen in de nieuwe dienstensector. Daarbij ontstond in veel steden een arbeidsmarkt paradox: enerzijds werden veel hoog geschoolden gevraagd en was het aanbod beperkt, anderzijds waren er veel ongeschoolden die werk zochten en was het aanbod van ongeschoolde arbeid beperkt. In recente tijden moeten de ongeschoolde migranten concurreren met migranten uit Oost-Europa door het ontstaan van de Europese arbeidsmarkt.

Nieuwe marginaliteit

Wacquant spreekt in dit verband –ook in de ondertitel van zijn boek- over de nieuwe marginaliteit. Terwijl in het Fordistische tijdperk werklozen een functie hadden van arbeidsreserve, waaruit de werkgevers konden putten bij toenemende omzet hebben de inwoners van de relegatiezones in de grote steden deze functie nog maar in zeer beperkte mate: ze zijn economisch gezien volstrekt overbodig geworden. Wacquant spreekt in dit verband over deproletarisering. Maar de nieuwe marginaliteit heeft nog een ander aspect: in een stad als Amsterdam (in tegenstelling tot bijvoorbeeld Rotterdam) worden momenteel voor functies op alle niveaus arbeidskrachten gevraagd en ontstaan er tekorten. Dit verschil tussen bijvoorbeeld Rotterdam en Amsterdam hangt samen met de regionaal ongelijke ontwikkeling in deze tijd van economische crisis. Terwijl er enerzijds regio’s zijn waar de economie en de bevolking sterk krimpt zijn er enkele andere regio’s in Nederland die nog steeds een economische groei kennen, o.a. de Noordvleugel van de Randstad. Nu blijkt in de regio Amsterdam echter, en daarmee komen we op het tweede kenmerk van de nieuwe marginaliteit- dat de inwoners van de relegatiezones niet op de banen terechtkomen die beschikbaar zijn. De gemeentelijke en institutionele beleidsmakers halen onderklasse theorieën van stal: de inwoners van die gebieden hebben geen arbeidsritme, ze zijn lui, moeten gestimuleerd worden, beschikken niet over de juiste discipline om de banen in de dienstensector te vervullen. Wacquant gruwt van dit uitgangspunt. Hij haalt daarbij zijn leermeester Bourdieu aan die zegt dat de inwoners van de relegatiezones niet over sociaal, economisch en cultureel kapitaal beschikken, om die banen te kunnen krijgen maar dat bij het toekennen van bepaalde psychologische eigenschappen aan de bewoners van de relegatiezones buiten beschouwing blijft, dat dit gebrek aan kapitaal het gevolg is van het overheidsbeleid, waarbij in het kader van de grote bezuinigingen voorzieningen in de buurten, goed onderwijs en gezondheidszorg en sociale zekerheid verdwijnt en tegelijkertijd de neoliberale strafstaat wordt ingevoerd, om deze groep te disciplineren en onder controle te houden en waarbij deze overheidsinterventies in deze groep economisch overbodigen hun positie niet verbetert maar bestendigd. Het feit dat de inwoners van de relegatiezones strikt economisch gezien eigenlijk overbodig zijn op de arbeidsmarkt verklaart m.i. voor een deel de agressie waarmee rechtse politici en delen van de nog bestaande middenklasse en hoger de inwoners van die gebieden bejegenen en waarbij maatregelen worden ingevoerd, bijvoorbeeld voor bijstandsgerechtigden die minstens voor een deel kunnen worden gezien als zinloze pesterijen.

Andere kenmerken nieuwe marginaliteit

Naast de genoemde twee kenmerken van de nieuwe marginaliteit als gevolg van de neoliberale politiek en de neoliberale economie, dus het ontbreken van de functie van uitgeslotenen als arbeidsreserveleger en het niet mee profiteren bij een opgaande economie heeft de nieuwe marginaliteit nog een aantal andere kenmerken: de flexibele loonarbeid is niet langer een bron van homogeniteit van de klasse, van solidariteit en zekerheid, maar een van sociale versnippering en onbestendigheid voor degenen, die opgesloten zitten in de marges van de arbeidsmarkt. Verder is de nieuwe marginaliteit niet verspreid over arbeidsbuurten maar geconcentreerd in geisoleerde, afgegrensde gebieden die door zowel de inwoners als door de buitenstaanders worden gezien als een soort leprakolonie waar alleen de verschoppelingen willen wonen. Hieruit vloeit het stigma van de woonplaats voort. Als je in zo’n buurt woont, ben je verdacht. Het woonadres wordt een nieuwe bron van sociale uitsluiting. (territoriale stigmatisering). In deze relegatiebuurten is niet langer zoals in het Fordistische tijdperk een binding met de buurt, waar de bewoners zich thuis voelen en zich veilig wanen. Het is een ruimte van onveiligheid, armoede en ellende, waarmee je geen binding hebt en waar je zo gauw mogelijk uit wilt vertrekken als het maar enigszins mogelijk is. Hierdoor wonen in de relegatiebuurten steeds meer armen die in een volstrekt uitzichtloze positie verkeren. Andere mensen trekken weg. Een laatste kenmerk tenslotte van de nieuwe marginaliteit is, dat de bewoners van de relegatiebuurten niet meer zoals in het Fordistische tijdperk een soort achterland hebben waarop ze kunnen terugvallen in moeilijke tijden. In het Fordistische tijdperk konden de werkers die tijdelijk werkloos waren terugvallen op de sociale economie van de gemeenschap waar ze vandaan kwamen, of dat nu een functionerende arbeidsbuurt, het plaatselijke getto of een dorpje op het platteland was in het land van herkomst.

Verschillen tussen Europa en Amerika

Tot nog toe heb ik het voornamelijk gehad over de overeenkomsten van sociale processen in Europa en Amerika waarbij relegatie zones ontstaan; de getto’s in Amerika en de banlieus of achterstandswijken in Europa. De helft van het boek van Wacqcuant gaat echter over een analyse van de verschillen tussen de beide continenten. Wacquant gaat in zijn boek ‘Paria’s van de stad’ tekeer tegen wat hij noemt de pseudowetenschappelijke prietpraat van sociale wetenschappers, journalisten en beleidsmakers in Europa, die suggereren dat wanneer de door hen voorgestelde maatregelen op het gebied van het veiligheidsbeleid, controle en disciplinering niet worden doorgevoerd een veramerikanisering zal optreden van de relegatiezones in Europa, met dezelfde hoge graad van criminaliteit, armoede, ellende, verkrotting, verwaarlozing en gettovorming. Aan de hand van een historische analyse van de ontwikkelingen in Europa en Amerika toont hij aan, dat deze veramerikanisering in Europa niet optreedt en dat de relegatiezones in Europa heel andere historische ontwikkelingen, kenmerken en sociale processen kennen dan in Amerika. Bovendien verschilt het overheidsbeleid in Amerika en Europa van elkaar.

Zowel in Europa en Amerika komen discriminatie en segregatie (gescheiden wonen) voor, maar in Amerika heeft dat geleid tot gettovorming en in Europa niet. Een getto is een multifunctioneel geheel met een uitgebreide arbeidsverdeling die het getto in staat stelt zichzelf te reproduceren zonder uitwisseling met de rest van de wereld. Het zijn autonome kernen van economische en culturele productie, waarbij je kunt spreken van een staat in de staat. In Amerika is het getto gebaseerd op de systematische politieke uitsluiting van afro-amerikanen, dus op racisme, die teruggaat op het tijdperk van de slavernij en waarbij de afro-amerikanen als reactie daarop in het getto hun eigen parallelle instituties ontwikkelen, die het getto besturen. Er is nauwelijks uitwisseling met de omgeving van een etnisch homogene groep, die geheel op zichzelf is aangewezen. Dit was het klassieke Amerikaanse getto in het Fordistische tijdperk. In het getto woonden vaak ook afro amerikanen die tot de middenklasse behoorden, en het getto was dan ook niet altijd een poel van ellende, misdaad en verderf. In het tijdperk van de nieuwe marginaliteit interfereren klasse onderscheidingen met het racistisch onderscheid. Op basis van de neoliberale Amerikaanse politiek heeft de staat zich teruggetrokken uit de getto’s. Gezondheidszorg, onderwijs, sociale zekerheid zijn vrijwel geheel afgebroken en de afro Amerikanen die tot de middenklasse behoorden zijn weggetrokken naar eigen buurten. Als gevolg van deze ontwikkelingen is het sociale weefsel van het getto vrijwel geheel ingestort en ontstaan het hypergetto: een ruimte die wordt beheerst door criminele bendes, moord en doodslag, handel in drugs en bittere armoede waarbij er geen instituties meer zijn die de samenleving bijeenhouden. Het hypergetto is een oorlog van allen tegen allen.

De relegatiezones in Europa kennen een geheel andere ontwikkeling. Het zijn verspreide kernen van sociale woningen in de periferie van een stedelijk landschap, waarin de bewoners van de relegatiezones regelmatig contact onderhouden met hun omgeving Het gebruik van de sociale ruimte in de West-Europese steden is gemengd, anders dat in de Amerikaanse steden met getto’s. Ook de schaal is anders. In de Amerikaanse getto’s wonen honderdduizenden mensen bij elkaar op een oppervlakte van soms honderden vierkante kilometer. De relegatiezones in de Europese steden zijn veel kleiner. De relegatiezones in de Europese steden kennen verder geen etnisch homogene groep, zoals in Amerika. Er leven mensen van verschillende nationaliteiten en afkomst zij aan zij in de verschillende straten. Ook de graad van verarming en werkloosheid in de Europese relegatiezones is veel minder dan in de Amerikaanse getto’s. En tenslotte zijn de Amerikaanse getto’s echte ‘no go arriers’ waar moord en doodslag welig tiert. In de Europese relegatiezones is dat veel minder het geval. Als gevolg van het van Amerika verschillende overheidsbeleid zijn de Europese relegatiezones, die soms tijdperken van grootschalige stadsvernieuwing gekend hebben, veel minder verloederd dan de Amerikaanse getto’s. De laatste zijn een echt oorlogsgebied. Instortende of in verval geraakte woonblokken, lege plekken, waar huizen zijn afgebroken en niets in de plaats is gekomen, dichtgetimmerde huizen en panden, gebarricadeerde winkels.

Convergentie van stelsels?
Een intrigerende vraag is, of de een ‘veramerikanisering’ van Europa optreedt en de sociale processen in de verschillende relegatiezones naar elkaar toegroeien. Krijgen we in Europa ook zulke getto’s als in Amerika? . Wacquant denkt van niet. Het overheidsbeleid in Europa is heel anders, en de historische ontwikkelingen van de relegatiezones en de principes waarop ze gebaseerd zijn verschillen ook sterk. Globaal ziet Wacquant drie opties voor de overheid. De eerste optie is het opkalefateren en opnieuw implementeren van de bestaande voorzieningen van de verzorgingsstaat die erop gericht zijn gemarginaliseerde groepen te ondersteunen en te herbewapenen. Dat kan gebeuren door medische voorzieningen uit te breiden, noodvoorzieningen verder op te tuigen en hulpprogramma’s voor activering, met het doel dat ze een springplank naar scholing en werk worden en allerlei vormen van gesubsidieerde arbeid of werken met behoud van uitkering te bevorderen, om het sociale weefsel in stand te houden en de kansen op betaald werk te vergroten. Onderdeel van dit beleid is ook, dat netwerken in de non-profitsector in de buurten worden gemobiliseerd, om op goedkope wijze een vorm van welzijnsbeleid van de grond te krijgen. (Welzijn nieuwe stijl). Wacquant ziet niets in dit beleid. De oorzaken van het ontstaan van de nieuwe marginaliteit, de desocialisatie van de arbeid en de deproletarisering, worden hiermee niet aangepakt. Bovendien gaat het vaak om fragmentarische, projectmatige ad-hoc reacties op steeds verder voortschrijdende marginalisering waarbij de bureaucratische kakafonie van ingrepen en de inefficientie van de staat wordt vergroot omdat maatregelen en bevoegdheden steeds meer op sub-nationaal niveau komen te liggen (gemeente, provincie, buurt of wijk) en waarbij de werkzaamheden steeds meer aan de particuliere non-profitsector worden uitbesteed. De ineffectiviteit van dit beleid zal de sociale aanpak van de armoede op lange termijn verder ondergraven.

De tweede optie is regressief en repressief. De armoede criminaliseren door de armen op te sluiten in steeds meer geisoleerde en gestigmatiseerde buurten en waarbij de gevangenissen en huizen van bewaring in feite functioneren als een soort overloop, een verlengstuk van de gestigmatiseerde buurten. Workfare (werken als straf, dwangarbeid) en prisonfare (het wegsluiten van armen) gaan dan hand in hand. Dit is de lijn die Amerika gekozen heeft, met het ontstaan van het inferno van het hypergetto als gevolg. Ook in Europa bestaat de verleiding om te vertrouwen op politie, justitie en het gevangeniswezen als remedie tegen de sociale onzekerheidseffecten door de bestaansonzekerheid en de terugtrekking van de verzorgingsstaat. Wacquant is echter optimistisch dat dit Amerikaanse model niet zonder meer in Europa zal worden overgenomen. Volgens Wacquant zitten de sociaal-democratische en christen-democratische staten in Europa zo in elkaar dat een toepassing van het Amerikaanse beleid op grote schaal op hevige politieke en culturele weerstand zou stuiten. Ook dit beleid laat de oorzaken van de nieuwe marginaliteit ongemoeid en zal niet werken. Het zal leiden tot een explosie van de kosten van het gevangeniswezen, de politionele diensten zonder dat een oplossing in zicht komt. Wacquant probeert daarop –tamelijk kort voor zo’n dik boek- een derde optie te formuleren: ‘Daarom moet er uiteindelijk van onderaf wel een derde, meer vooruitstrevende respons komen op de stedelijke polarisering: de offensieve heropbouw van de sociale staat die met zijn structuur en beleid zou kunnen inspelen op de nieuwe economische voorwaarden die ontstaan, op de nieuwe manieren waarop er in gezinnen wordt geleefd en verlangen naar deelname aan de samenleving’. Wacquant wil daarbij de invoering van een ‘burgerloon’(of basisinkomen) waardoor levensonderhoud en werk van elkaar worden losgekoppeld, de invoering van gratis onderwijs en universele toegang tot de openbare goederen huisvesting, gezondheid en openbaar vervoer. Alleen hiermee kunnen de schadelijke gevolgen van de fragmentarisering en desocialisatie van de loonarbeid worden beperkt, zegt Wacquant.

Verhelderend boek

Wacquant heeft het boek samengesteld op basis van artikelen, die hij aan het einde van de negentiger jaren van de vorige eeuw geschreven heeft. Het is een verhelderend boek in die zin, dat sociologische begrippen, die in allerlei discussie te pas en te onpas worden gebruikt en dan een vage betekenis hebben, helder worden gedefinieerd en scherp omlijnd. Ook is het een verhelderend boek omdat de ingewikkelde processen in de driehoek raciale scheiding-klasse en staat in een historisch perspectief worden geplaatst van de concrete historische ontwikkeling in verschillende regio’s. Er zijn qua historische ontwikkeling en daarmee de uitwerking van de genoemde driehoek grote verschillen tussen de Verenigde Staten en Europa, en binnen Europa zijn er ook verschillen. Je kunt analyse en beleid van de ene regio niet zomaar overplanten op een andere regio, en met name de voorstanders van de strafstaat doen dat wel en zij worden in het boek van Wacquant ontmaskert als opportunisten, die met pseudo-wetenschappelijke prietpraat hun politieke doelstellingen proberen te bereiken.

Het boek loopt echter uit op een enigszins andere aanpassing aan de structurele economische processen, die hebben geleid tot de desocialisatie van de arbeid en toenemende bestaansonzekerheid. De oorzaken van die desocialisatie worden niet verder uitgewerkt. Macro-economische ontwikkelingen worden slechts zijdelings en impressionistisch in het boek genoemd. Hier wreekt zich dat de basis van het boek eind negentiger jaren van de vorige eeuw is geschreven. De Engelse vertaling van het boek verscheen in 2008, dus aan de vooravond van de economische crisis. Wacquant zegt in het laatste hoofdstuk dat zijn analyses over de gesegregeerde steden in Europa in 2005/2006 nog klopten en dat zijn voorspelling, dat de veramerikanisering van de relegatiewijken in Europa niet zal optreden, werd bewaarheid. De ontwikkelingen in Zuid-Europa en de beleidsdoelstellingen van de Europese Unie, met de druk die gelegd wordt op de staten om hun sociale zekerheid echt rigoreus af te breken waren toen nog niet bekend. Dit maakt het optimisme van Wacquant dat er geen gettoisering in Europa zal optreden minder waarschijnlijk. De straffe bezuinigingen, waarbij de bestaanszekerheid voor grote groepen wordt afgebroken door inperking van de sociale zekerheid en de desocialisatie van de arbeid wordt bevorderd in plaats van tegengegaan maakt het gevaar, dat ook de Europese staten zich zullen terugtrekken uit de relegatiegebieden en zullen kiezen voor de neoliberale strafstaat met haar combinatie van workfare en prisonfare alleen maar groter.

Beschouwingen naar aanleiding van Loïc Wacquant- Paria’s van de stad. Nieuwe marginaliteit in tijden van neoliberalisme. Uitgeverij EPO, Berchem.

vrijdag, 26 oktober 2012
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South Africa mine massacre photos prompt claims of official cover-up

Police accused of planting weapons next to Marikana miners’ bodies in bloodiest such incident since end of apartheid

Police in South Africa have been accused of planting weapons on the bodies of dead miners as part of an official cover-up of the Marikana massacre, in August.

Damning photographic evidence was presented to an independent commission of inquiry examining the deaths of 46 people during nearly six weeks of violent strikes at the Lonmin-owned mine.

The revelation follows a series of media reports alleging that on the worst day of bloodshed, when 34 striking miners were killed, some were subjected to execution-style shootings away from the TV cameras.

Photographs taken by police on the night of 16 August showed more weapons by the bodies than photos taken immediately after massacre, the commission was told. The crime scene expert Captain Apollo Mohlaki, who took the night pictures, admitted the discrepancy.

In one picture, a dead man is seen lying on rocky ground near the mine; a second picture, taken later that same day, is identical except that a yellow-handled machete is now lying under the man’s right hand. Mohlaki said he saw the weapon under the man’s arm in the night photo he took, but when looking at the day photo of the same body, he said of the weapon: “It is not appearing. I don’t see it.”

George Bizos, a veteran human rights lawyer representing the mine workers, said the evidence presented at the commission indicated an attempt to alter the crime scene.

“The evidence clearly showed there is at least a strong prima facie case that there has been an attempt to defeat the ends of justice,” he said. “Changing the evidence is a very serious offence.”

Bizos, who defended Nelson Mandela during the Rivonia trial, half a century ago, called for high-ranking officials to be brought before the commission to explain whether they granted colleagues permission to move traditional weapons from where they had been found.

Ishmael Semenya, a police representative, said the national police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, had launched an investigation two weeks previously, after receiving evidence that one of the crime scenes had been tampered with.

But Bizos said Phiyega’s investigation was not to be trusted because of her public statements shortly after the massacre. Three days later, Phiyega was quoted as saying: “Safety of the public is not negotiable. Don’t be sorry about what happened.”

Video evidence shown to the inquiry on Monday also indicated that some of the slain miners may have been handcuffed. Family members at the hearing wept as they saw two lifeless bodies with their hands tied behind their back.

When asked if he had seen whether any of the dead miners’ hands were bound, Mohlaki said he had not. “If I am looking at the video, there is a person handcuffed possibly, but on the day I did not observe that,” he said.

In one of the videos, police can be heard joking and laughing loudly next to the dead bodies, which lie scattered amid dust and blood. Bizos called for a transcript of what the police were saying.

In August, television footage of police opening fire on the miners caused shock around the world. And in subsequent weeks, the journalist Greg Marinovich produced a series of reports for the Daily Maverick website pointing to evidence that some of the miners had died at a second site, having probably been killed in cold blood. Autopsy reports allegedly show that several of the dead had bullet wounds in the back.

On Monday Dali Mpofu, a lawyer representing about 270 injured and arrested miners, told the inquiry: “Evidence is going to be led to the effect that the people at scene two were hiding away when they were shot.”

Mpofu said one of the bodies recovered from the scene, known as Body C, stood out from the rest because it was “riddled” with 12 bullet wounds; all the other bodies had single bullet wounds.

The massacre of 34 workers was the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid, in 1994. The inquiry has heard that at least 900 bullets‚ “400 live rounds and 500 rubber bullets”, were fired that day. It followed 10 fatalities, including those of two police officers who were hacked to death.

In the immediate aftermath, the authorities sought to portray the miners, who were striking illegally, as responsible for the violence. Some 270 of the striking miners were arrested and charged with murder, though the charges were later dropped.

The strike ended in September after workers agreed a 22% pay rise with the mine’s owners, the platinum giant Lonmin.

The inquiry began last month and is expected to continue for four months, investigating the roles played by police, miners, unions and Lonmin in the deaths. It has been plagued by complaints that family members were unable to attend and allegations that police have arrested and tortured witnesses. Mpofu told the commission last week: “One person [said] he was beaten up until he soiled himself. Another lost the hearing in his right ear and another had visible scarring.”

With their reputation already in tatters, the police have been criticised for a lack of full disclosure to the commission, which last week was shown a 41-minute police video that appeared to have missed out everything important.

James Nichol, a lawyer representing the families of the dead miners, said of the photo anomaly: “Even the police service did not know about these new photos until two Thursdays ago. Who concealed them until then? It’s astonishing they have not come to light until now.

“There are only two possible conclusions: a cover-up and a systematic planting of evidence.”

Referring to a video played to the commission, Nichol added: “What was grossly offensive was that you see dead bodies and what you hear is the raucous laughter of police officers.”

Asked if he suspected a police cover-up, David Bruce, a senior researcher in the criminal justice programme at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, said: “To my mind, there is no question about that. When we’re talking about a cover-up, we’re talking about something very elaborate. There’s a massive pattern of concealment that seems to permeate what the government is doing at the moment.”

David Smith in Johannesburg
The Guardian, Tuesday 6 November 2012 18.06 GMT

Find this story at 6 november 2012

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

NEW REPORT DOCUMENTS ‘TOTAL POLICING’ CLAMPDOWN ON FREEDOM TO PROTEST

A detailed new report launched today by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) highlights how promises made by the police to ‘adapt to protest’ after 2009′s G20 demonstrations in London have been forgotten in a remarkably short space of time and a far more intolerant ‘total policing’ style response to protesters has developed in the UK.

The report, which covers a fourteen month period from late 2010 to the end of 2011, paints a bleak picture of the state of the freedom to protest in the UK. It documents how the tactic of containment known as ‘kettling’, the use of solid steel barriers to restrict the movement of protesters, the intrusive and excessive use of stop & search and data gathering, and the pre-emptive arrests of people who have committed no crime, have combined to enable an effective clamp-down on almost all forms of popular street-level dissent.

The High Court last week ruled that the use of pre-emptive arrests in advance of the royal wedding in 2011 was lawful but, from the experiences of activists gathered by NetPol, the report argues that this tactic is ‘one of the most disturbing aspects of the policing of protest’. Squats and protest sites were raided by police and potential protesters were rounded up and arrested. This including ten people who were carrying republican placards and a group who had dressed up to attend a ‘zombie wedding’, who were arrested while sitting in a café drinking coffee.

The report is also critical of the use of ‘section 60’ stop and searches, which require no ‘reasonable suspicion’ and have been disproportionately targeted at young people taking part in protests. This group has also faced arrest for ‘wearing dark clothing’, for ‘looking like an anarchist’, and in some cases under eighteen year olds have been threatened with being taken into ‘police protection’ if they participated in demonstrations.

NetPol’s research also highlights the invasive but routine use of police data gathering tactics, which oblige protesters to stand and pose in front of police camera teams and to provide their personal details. The report gives evidence of an increasing misuse of anti-social behaviour legislation to force protesters to provide a name and address under threat of arrest. NetPol believes political protest should not be equated with anti-social behaviour, and that the use of such powers against demonstrators should end.

Each one of these measures restricts and deters legitimate protest, but taken together these measures allow the police to impose a level of deterrence, intimidation and control that makes taking part in legitimate protest a daunting and often frightening experience.

Val Swain, commenting on the report’s launch on behalf of NetPol,said:

“The evidence we have gathered has been published just as news emerges of further pre-emptive arrests and other restrictions on the freedom to protest taking place in advance of this summer’s London Olympics. With an apparent willingness by the courts to defend any actions by the police against protesters, we fear that dissenting voices face an even harsher clamp-down in the weeks to come.”

Find this story at 24 July 2012

Find the report at

 

Police protest tactics ‘give officers excessive and disproportionate control’

Study by network of police monitoring groups says use of pre-emptive arrests and kettling are unjustified curbs on liberty

Police tactics, such as the kettling used to quell the 2009 G20 protests in London, have been condemned by Netpol. Photograph: Antonio Olmos

Pre-emptive arrests, confinement by kettling and the gathering of personal data give police officers “excessive and disproportionate” control over public protests, a report by a coalition of police monitoring groups has warned.

The study by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) is highly critical of tactics used by forces across the country to clamp down on what it says are freedoms of assembly and expression.

Based on evidence from court cases and eyewitness reports of police operations in 2010 and 2011, the study calls for a more tolerant approach towards processions and protests.

Netpol consists of an alliance of well-established activist groups, including Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp, the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, Climate Camp Legal Team, FITwatch, Green & Black Cross, Legal Defence and Monitoring Group and the Newham Monitoring Project.

“The use of pre-emptive arrests is one of the most disturbing aspects of the policing of protest during [this] period,” the report states. “The mere possibility of disruption to the royal wedding triggered the arrest of groups of prospective protesters who had committed no criminal acts.

“Ten people holding placards were arrested while heading to a republican party, and a group of people dressed up to attend a ‘zombie wedding’ were apprehended while drinking coffee in Starbucks.”

Intrusive levels of stop and search were used during an anti-austerity demonstration of 30 June 2011, where people were also “pre-emptively arrested for wearing black and looking like an anarchist,” the study says.

The high court, however, recently ruled that the use of pre-emptive arrests in advance of the royal wedding in 2011 was lawful. The European court of human rights in Strasbourg has also dismissed appeals by campaigners who have attempted to have kettling – refusing to allow protesters to disperse – outlawed.

The Netpol report disagrees with the court decisions, maintaining that holding people “for long periods of time within police kettles has placed vulnerable individuals at risk, prevented people from moving away from scenes of violence and disorder … and constitutes an unnecessary and unjustified interference with individual liberty”.

It adds: “People attempting a spontaneous march from a UKUncut demonstration were held for up to two hours on Lambeth Bridge, in a situation which in no way presented a risk of harm.

“Student protesters in Manchester were similarly kettled for taking part in a demonstration which, while disobedient, was not violent.

“The imposition of a kettle in Whitehall on the 24 December student demonstration appeared to be a catalyst of disorder, and serious injuries occurred in Parliament Square on the 10 December despite the use of kettling.”

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 July 2012 17.46 BST

Find this story at 24 July 2012
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

American Heart Association publishes study claiming Tasers can be cause of death

CINCINNATI – An article just published by the American Heart Association’s premier journal, “Circulation,” presents the first ever scientific, peer-reviewed evidence that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest and death.

The article, written by Electrophysiologist Dr. Douglas Zipes of Indiana University, is already generating a buzz among cardiologists in the Cincinnati area, according to Dr. Terri Stewart-Dehner, a cardiologist at Christ Hospital.

“Anyone in cardiology has heard of Dr. Zipes. He is very well respected,” said Dr. Stewart-Dehner.

Stewart-Dehner said any article published in “Circulation” has great significance and will be taken very seriously by cardiologists around the world.

“Peer reviewed is a big deal,” said Stewart-Dehner. “It means the article goes through a committee just for consideration into the journal. Then cardiologists review the validity of the research; it means it’s a reputable article.”

The conclusions of Dr. Zipes’ article, which looks at eight cases involving the TASER X26 ECD states: “ECD stimulation can cause cardiac electric capture and provoke cardiac arrest resulting from ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation. After prolonged ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation without resuscitation, asystole develops.”

To view the abstract of the article, click here or go to http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/recent.

Speaking on behalf of the American Heart Association, Dr. Michael Sayre with Ohio State Emergency Medicine, said, “Dr. Zipes’ work is very well respected. It’s a credible report. It’s a reminder to police officers and others who are using these tools that they need to know how to do CPR and know how to use an AED.”

Dr. Zipes has been discounted by the manufacturer of the Taser, Taser International, because he has been paid to testify against the weapon, but Dr. Zipes says the fact that his research has withstood the rigorous process of review by other well-respected cardiologists and was published in this prestigious journal proves his case.

“It is absolutely unequivocal based on my understanding of how electricity works on the heart, based on good animal data and based on numerous clinical situations that the Taser unquestionably can produce sudden cardiac arrest and death,” said Dr. Zipes.

Dr. Zipes says he wrote the article, not to condemn the weapon, but to properly warn police officers of its potential to kill so that they can make good policies and decisions as to the proper use of the weapon, and so that they will be attentive to the possible need for medical care following a Taser stun.

The Taser, used by law enforcement agencies across the Tri-State and by some 16,000 law enforcement agencies around the world, was marketed as non-lethal. Since 2001, more than 500 people have died following Taser stuns according to Amnesty International, which said in February that stricter guidelines for its use were “imperative.”

In only a few dozen of those cases have medical examiners ruled the Taser contributed to the death.

It was nearly nine months ago 18-year-old Everette Howard of North College Hill died after police used a Taser on him on the University of Cincinnati’s campus.

The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office has still not released a “cause of death,” but the preliminary autopsy results seemed to rule out everything but the Taser. The office is now waiting for results from a heart specialist brought in to review slides of Howard’s heart.

The late Coroner Anant Bhati told 9 News in an exclusive interview before he died in February that he had “great respect” for Dr. Zipes and that he too believed the Taser could cause cardiac arrest. He said he just wasn’t ready to say that it caused Everette Howard’s death until a heart specialist weighed in on the investigation.

Dr. Bhati also agreed with Dr. Zipes that the weapon should come under government supervision and be tested for its electrical output regularly.

Taser International has said that because the Taser uses compressed Nitrogen instead of gun powder to fire its darts, it is not regulated and testing of the weapon is not legally required.

The company also says the Taser fires two darts, which enter a subject’s skin and send electricity into the body in order to incapacitate the subject so that officers can get a subject into custody without a physical fight.

Research shows the Taser has saved lives and reduced injuries among officers.

Taser International has changed its safety warnings over the years.

An I-Team report in October showed that Taser International’s website stated in its summary conclusion on cardiac safety, “There is no reliable published data that proves Taser ECDs (Tasers) negatively affect the heart.”

With the publication of Dr. Zipes’ article, Dr. Stewart-Dehner says it can be argued that statement is no longer the case.

The new statement on Taser International’s website quotes a May Department of Justice study on deaths following Taser stuns. It states, “While exposure

to Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) is not risk free, there is no conclusive medical evidence that indicates a high risk of serious injury or death from the direct effects of CED’s (Tasers).”

Here is Taser International’s complete response to Dr. Zipes’ article:

While our medical advisors haven’t had a chance to review the details, it is noteworthy that the sole author, Dr. Douglas Zipes, has earned more than $500,000 in fees at $1,200 per hour as a plaintiff’s expert witness against TASER and police. Clearly Dr. Zipes has a strong financial bias based on his career as an expert witness, which might help explain why he disagrees with the findings of independent medical examiners with no pecuniary interest in these cases as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s independent study that concluded, “There is currently no medical evidence that CEDs pose a significant risk for induced cardiac dysrhythmia in humans when deployed reasonably” and “The risks of cardiac arrhythmias or death remain low and make CEDs more favorable than other weapons.”

Steve Tuttle

Vice President of Communications

Posted: 04/30/2012
By: Julie O’Neill, joneill@wcpo.com

Find this story at 30 April 2012

USA: Stricter limits urged as deaths following police Taser use reach 500

Tighter rules are needed to limit the use of Tasers by police across the USA.


Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the USA, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used.

Susan Lee, Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International
Wed, 15/02/2012

The deaths of 500 people following police use of Tasers underscores the need for tighter rules limiting the use of such weapons in law enforcement, Amnesty International said.

According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the USA have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail.

On 13 February, Johnnie Kamahi Warren was the latest to die after a police officer in Dothan, Alabama deployed a Taser on him at least twice. The 43-year-old, who was unarmed and allegedly intoxicated, reportedly stopped breathing shortly after being shocked and was pronounced dead in hospital less than two hours later.

“Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the USA, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used,” said Susan Lee, Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“This is unacceptable, and stricter guidelines for their use are now imperative.”

Strict national guidelines on police use of Tasers and similar stun weapons – also known as Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) – would effectively replace thousands of individual policies now followed by state and local agencies.

Police forces across the USA currently permit a wide use of the weapons, often in situations that do not warrant such a high level of force.

Law enforcement agencies defend the use of Tasers, saying they save lives and can be used to subdue dangerous or uncooperative suspects.

But Amnesty International believes the weapons should only be used as an alternative in situations where police would otherwise consider using firearms.

In a 2008 report, USA: Stun Weapons in law Enforcement, Amnesty International examined data on hundreds of deaths following Taser use, including autopsy reports in 98 cases and studies on the safety of such devices.

Among the cases reviewed, 90 per cent of those who died were unarmed. Many of the victims were subjected to multiple shocks.

Most of the deaths have been attributed to other causes. However, medical examiners have listed Tasers as a cause or contributing factor in more than 60 deaths, and in a number of other cases the exact cause of death is unknown.

Some studies and medical experts have found that the risk of adverse effects from Taser shocks is higher in people who suffer from a heart condition or whose systems are compromised due to drug intoxication or after a struggle.

“Even if deaths directly from Taser shocks are relatively rare, adverse effects can happen very quickly, without warning, and be impossible to reverse,” said Susan Lee.

“Given this risk, such weapons should always be used with great caution, in situations where lesser alternatives are unavailable.”

There are continuing reports of police officers using multiple or prolonged shocks, despite warnings that such usage may increase the risk of adverse effects on the heart or respiratory system.

15 February 2012

Find this story at 15 February 2012

© Matt Toups/Pittsburgh Indymedia

Taser victim’s sister says brutality ‘can’t be ignored’

The sister of a Brazilian student who died after being tasered in Sydney’s CBD has told an inquest that the level of brutality police used on him cannot be ignored.

Ana Laudisio told Glebe Coroners Court that sitting through the two-week inquest into the death of her brother, Roberto Laudisio Curti, had been one of the hardest experiences of her life.

She gave a scathing assessment of police behaviour the night he died and criticised the lack of cooperation from officers involved in revealing the truth.

“It’s shocking police acted the way they did,” she said.

We have sat here and listened to all the officers involved describe in detail how our beloved Roberto was electrocuted for almost a minute. There were times we were angry, frustrated… and we felt sick.
Ana Laudisio

“Their lack of integrity disgusts me.”

Roberto Curti died in March after several officers discharged their Tasers 14 times and used capsicum spray, handcuffs and batons to restrain him after a chase through central Sydney.

He was suffering from an adverse reaction to a small amount of LSD. He had stolen two packets of biscuits from a convenience store but was unarmed.

Ms Laudisio said officers who gave evidence into what happened on March 18 were not concerned about her brother’s welfare.
Audio: Listen to Ana Laudisio (ABC News)

“They were worried about not getting their hands dirty,” she said.

“There was such a level of brutality that night that it cannot be ignored.”

Ms Laudisio said the inquest had been harrowing for her and her family.

“We have sat here and listened to all the officers involved describe in detail how our beloved Roberto was electrocuted for almost a minute, was hit with batons,” she said.

“There were times we were angry, frustrated… and we felt sick.

“What happened could have simply been avoided if some of these people had common sense.”

She also criticised the investigation into her brother’s death.
Photo: Roberto Laudisio Curti. (Facebook)

“After suffering all the devastation of our brother dying, we still had to deal with the frustration of not knowing what happened for four months, when we got the brief of evidence,” she said.

“Even more frustrating was to see the lack of cooperation among the police officers involved, their reluctance to help the family.”
‘Cowardly’

Ms Laudisio said officers had been “cowardly” in telling the truth about what happened on the night her brother died and she questioned why so many were allowed to carry Tasers.

“How can junior officers with only a few months’ experience be allowed to carry and use dangerous weapons at their own discretion?” she said.

“Wouldn’t it be better to have fewer officers well trained and able to respond appropriately.

“It could happen again, a young man’s life could again be taken simply because people are too proud and arrogant to change.”

Coroner Mary Jerram expressed her condolences to Ms Laudisio, her sister Maria and uncle Domingos Laudisio.

“Just know we won’t forget Roberto, and we won’t forget you,” she said.

The coroner gave permission for the family’s presentation to be recorded and broadcast.
Distressing testimony
Video: Tracy Bowden looks back at the events of the night Roberto Curti died (7.30)

Roberto Curti’s uncle, Domingos Laudisio, has told 7:30 that all along he has wanted the inquest to find the truth of what happened to his nephew.

“It is tough, believe me, I have been trained all my life to be very straight, very calm, but this is quite an experience. it is extremely distressful, extremely distressful,” he said.

Mr Laudisio insisted the inquest show graphic footage of Roberto’s final moments as police tasered him on the ground.

“The decision was to show everybody the difference between what was on that film and what was on the police reports,” he said.

“That was my personal decision even against some members of the family, I insisted on it.”

The footage shows Roberto Laudisio Curti on the ground and hand-cuffed when Senior Constable Eric Lim recycled his Taser and fired a second time.

Another officer had a knee on Mr Curti’s abdomen.

“Roberto was yelling in pain he was handcuffed they were still drive stunning tasering him,” Mr Laudisio said.

“I’m not saying [Roberto] was right, his behaviour was inappropriate but that film was unbelievable, unbelievable.”

The inquest heard that two officers applied Tasers directly to his body almost simultaneously in bursts of up to 14 seconds.

7.30 By court reporter Jamelle Wells and Tracy Bowden

Updated Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:23am AEDT

Find this story at 19 October 2012

Copyright © 2012 Fairfax Media

532 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States Since 2001

Today we added 60-year old Bill Williams (Everett, WA) as the 181st taser-related death in America since 2009. [NOTE: the full list is shown below].

According to Amnesty International, between 2001 and 2008, 351 people in the United States died after being shocked by police Tasers. Our blog has documented another 181 taser-related deaths in the United States in 2009-2012. That means there have been 532 documented taser-related deaths in America.

This blog has been pointing out incidents of police taser torture for quite awhile. The work done over the past few years by Patti Gillman and Cameron Ward continue to be the inspiration for our work. Gillman and Ward documented over 730 taser-related deaths in North America on their blog.

I wonder if anyone cares about the rising use of the taser as a lethal weapon? At least we know that the Department of Justice cares. They issued a report about the pattern of abuse against the mentally ill in Portland that included the frequent, unnecessary use of Tasers.

On the other hand, I think that something is wrong in America when the police electrocute folks on a WEEKLY basis with their taser arsenal … and the public is mute in its response. Sometimes it takes a lawsuit … like the one recently settled in Ohio … to get the police to cool it. The police in Cincinnati, Ohio took the hint … they changed their taser policy!

I encourage you to use our COMMENTS (‘Post a Comment’) option at the bottom of this blog post to let us know what you think about these weekly taser-related killings.

Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Black, Martinsville, Virginia
Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31, Hispanic, Bakersfield, California
Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52, Caucasian, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee-
Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45, Caucasian, Stockton, California
Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28, Hispanic, San Jose, California
Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, 37, Black, Thomasville, Georgia
Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43, Black, Iberia, Louisiana
Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32, Black, Los Angeles, California
Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40, Caucasian, Conroe, Texas
Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Caucasian, Bay City, Michigan
Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40, Black, Freeport, Illinois
Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48, Caucasian, Tamarac, Florida
Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41, Hispanic, Fresno, California
Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16, Black, Detroit, Michigan
Apr 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38, Black, Modesto, California
Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker, 50, Black, Tuscon, Arizona
Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24, Black, Fort Worth, Texas
Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35, Black, Lumberton, Texas
May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53, Caucasian, Holbrook, Arizona
May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27, Black, La Marque, Texas
May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37, Black, Salem, Oregon
Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32, Caucasian, Hurricane, Utah
Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48, Black, Bel Air, Maryland
Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36, Race: Unknown, South Windsor, Connecticut
Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37, Asian, Fontana, California
Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25, Black, Bakersfield, California
Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35, Caucasian, Simi Valley, California
Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27, Caucasian, Riverside County, California
Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52, Black, Moreno Valley, California
Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53, Race: Unknown, Greenville, South Carolina
Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31, Black, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38, Black, Greensboro, North Carolina
Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36, Hispanic, Mesa, Arizona
Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37, Race: Unknown, Arizona City, Arizona
Aug 26, 2009, Miguel Molina, 27, Hispanic, Los Angeles, California
Aug 27, 2009, Manuel Dante Dent, 27, Hispanic, Modesto, California
Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, 38, Caucasian, Aurora, Colorado
Sep 16, 2009, Alton Warren Ham, 45, Caucasian, Modesto, California
Sep 19, 2009, Yuceff W. Young II, 21, Black, Brooklyn, Ohio
Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, 44, Hispanic, Laredo, Texas
Sep 28, 2009, Derrick Humbert, 38, Black, Bradenton, Florida
Oct 2, 2009, Rickey Massey, 38, Black, Panama City, Florida
Oct 12, 2009, Christopher John Belknap, 36, Race: Unknown, Ukiah, California
Oct 16, 2009, Frank Cleo Sutphin, 19, Caucasian, San Bernadino, California
Oct 27, 2009, Jeffrey Woodward, 33, Caucasian, Gallatin, Tennessee
Nov 13, 2009, Herman George Knabe, 58, Caucasian, Corpus Christi, Texas
Nov 14, 2009, Darryl Bain, 43, Black, Coram, New York
Nov 16, 2009, Matthew Bolick, 30, Caucasian, East Grand Rapids, Michigan
Nov 19, 2009, Jesus Gillard, 61, Black, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Nov 21, 2009, Ronald Petruney, 49, Race: Unknown, Washington, Pennsylvania
Nov 27, 2009, Eddie Buckner, 53, Caucasian, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Dec 11, 2009, Andrew Grande, 33, Caucasian, Oak County, Florida
Dec 11, 2009, Hatchel Pate Adams III, 36, Black, Hampton, Virginia
Dec 11, 2009, Paul Martin Martinez, 36, Hispanic, Roseville, California
Dec 13, 2009, Douglas Boucher, 39, Caucasian, Mason, Ohio
Dec 14, 2009, Linda Hicks, 62, Black, Toledo, Ohio
Dec 19, 2009, Preston Bussey III, 41, Black, Rockledge, Florida
Dec 20, 2009, Michael Hawkins, 39, Caucasian, Springfield, Missouri
Dec 30, 2009, Stephen Palmer, 47, Race: Unknown, Stamford, Connecticut

Jan 6, 2010, Delano Smith, 21, Black, Elkhart, Indiana
Jan 17, 2010, William Bumbrey III, 36, Black, Arlington, Virginia
Jan 20, 2010, Kelly Brinson, 45, Race: Unknown, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jan 27, 2010, Joe Spruill, Jr., Black, Goldsboro, North Carolina
Jan 28, 2010, Patrick Burns, 50, Caucasian, Sangamon County, Illinois
Jan 28, 2010, Daniel Mingo, 25, Black, Mobile, Alabama
Feb 4, 2010, Mark Morse, 36, Caucasian, Phoenix, Arizona
Mar 4, 2010, Roberto Olivo, 33, Hispanic, Tulare, California
Mar 5, 2010, Christopher Wright, 48, Race: Unknown, Seattle, Washington
Mar 10, 2010, Jaesun Ingles, 31, Black, Midlothian, Illinois
Mar 10, 2010, James Healy Jr., 44, Race: Unknown, Rhinebeck, New York
Mar 20, 2010, Albert Valencia, 31, Hispanic, Downey, California
Apr 10, 2010, Daniel Joseph Barga, 24, Caucasian, Cornelius, Oregon
Apr 30, 2010, Adil Jouamai, 32, Moroccan, Arlington, Virginia
May 9, 2010, Audreacus Davis, 29, Black, Atlanta, Georgia
May 14, 2010, Sukeba Olawunmi, 39, Race: Unknown, Atlanta, Georgia
May 24, 2010, Efrain Carrion, 35, Hispanic, Middletown, Connecticut
May 27, 2010, Carl Johnson, 48, Caucasian, Baltimore, Maryland
May 29, 2010, Jose Martinez, 53, Hispanic, Waukegan, Illinois
May 31, 2010, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, 42, Hispanic, San Ysidro, California
Jun 8, 2010, Terrelle Houston, 22, Black, Hempstead, Texas
Jun 12, 2010, Curtis Robinson, 34, Black, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jun 13, 2010, William Owens, 17, Race: Unknown, Homewood, Alabama
Jun 14, 2010, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, 42, Hispanic, Harris County, Texas
Jun 15, 2010, Michael White, 47, Black, Vallejo, California
Jun 22, 2010, Daniel Sylvester, 35, Caucasian, Crescent City, California
July 5, 2010, Damon Falls, 31, Black, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
July 5, 2010, Edmund Gutierrez, 22, Hispanic, Imperial, California
July 8, 2010, Phyllis Owens, 87, Race: Unknown, Clackamas County, Oregon
July 9, 2010, Marvin Booker, 56, Race: Black, Denver, Colorado
July 12, 2010, Anibal Rosario-Rodriguez, 61, Hispanic, New Britain, Connecticut
July 15, 2010, Jerome Gill, Race: Unknown, Chicago, Illinois
July 18, 2010, Edward Stephenson, 46, Race: Unknown, Leavenworth, Kansas
July 23, 2010, Jermaine Williams, 30, Black, Cleveland, Mississippi
Aug 1, 2010, Dennis Sandras, 49, Race: Unknown, Houma, Louisiana
Aug 9, 2010, Andrew Torres, 39, Hispanic, Greenville, South Carolina
Aug 18, 2010, Martin Harrison, 50, Caucasian, Dublin, California
Aug 19, 2010, Adam Disalvo, 30, Caucasian, Daytona Beach, Florida
Aug 20, 2010, Stanley Jackson, 31, Black, Washtenaw County, Michigan
Aug 24, 2010, Michael Ford, 50, Black, Livonia, Michigan
Aug 25, 2010, Eduardo Hernandez-Lopez, 21, Hispanic, Las Vegas, Nevada
Aug 31, 2010, King Hoover, 27, Black, Spanaway, Washington
Sep 4, 2010, Adam Colliers, 25, Caucasian, Gold Bar, Washington
Sep 10, 2010, Larry Rubio, 20, Race: Unknown, Leemore, California
Sep 12, 2010, Freddie Lockett, 30, Black, Dallas, Texas
Sep 16, 2010, Gary L. Grossenbacher, 48, Race: Unknown, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Sep 18, 2010, David Cornelius Smith, 28, Black, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sep 18, 2010, Joseph Frank Kennedy, 48, Caucasian, La Mirada, California
Oct 4, 2010, Javon Rakestrau, 28, Black, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
Oct 7, 2010, Patrick Johnson, 18, Caucasian, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Oct 12, 2010, Ryan Bain, 31, Caucasian, Billings, Montana
Oct 14, 2010, Karreem Ali, 65, Black, Silver Spring, Maryland
Oct 19, 2010, Troy Hooftallen, 36, Caucasian, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Nov 4, 2010, Eugene Lamott Allen, 40, Race: Unknown, Wilmington, Delaware
Nov 6, 2010, Robert Neill, Jr., 61, Caucasian, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania
Nov 7, 2010, Mark Shaver, 32, Caucasian, Brimfield, Ohio
Nov 23, 2010, Denevious Thomas, 36, Black, Albany, Georgia
Nov 26, 2010, Rodney Green, 36, Black, Waco, Texas
Nov 27, 2010, Blaine McElroy, 37, Race: Unknown, Jackson County, Mississippi
Dec 2, 2010, Clayton Early James, Age: Unknown, Race: Unknown, Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Dec 11, 2010, Anthony Jones, 44, Race: Unknown, Las Vegas, Nevada
Dec 12, 2010, Linel Lormeus, 26, Black, Naples, Florida
Dec 20, 2010, Christopher Knight, 35, Black, Brunswick, Georgia
Dec 31, 2010, Rodney Brown, 40, Black, Cleveland, Ohio

Jan 5, 2011, Kelly Sinclair, 41, Race: Unknown, Amarillo, Texas
Feb 5, 2011, Robert Ricks, 23, Black, Alexandria, Louisiana
March 15, 2011, Brandon Bethea, 24, Black, Harnett County, North Carolina
Apr 3, 2011, Jairious McGhee, 23, Black, Tampa, Florida
Apr 22, 2011, Adam Spencer Johnson, 33, Caucasian, Orlando, Florida
Apr 23, 2011, Ronald Armstrong, 43, Race: Unknown, Pinehurst, North Carolina
Apr 25, 2011, Kevin Darius Campbell, 39, Race: Unknown, Tallahassee, Florida
May 1, 2011, Marcus Brown, 26, Black, Waterbury, Connecticut
May 6, 2011, Matthew Mittelstadt, 56, Caucasian, Boundary County, Idaho
May 11, 2011, Allen Kephart, 43, Caucasian, San Bernadino County, California
June 13, 2011, Howard Hammon, 41, Caucasian, Middleburg, Ohio
June 22, 2011, Otto Kolberg, 55, Caucasian, Waycross, Georgia
June 28, 2011, Dalric East, 40, Black, Montgomery County, Maryland
July 5, 2011, Kelly Thomas, 37, Caucasian, Fullerton, California
July 10, 2011, Joshua Nossoughi, 32, Caucasian, Springfield, Missouri
July 19, 2011, Alonzo Ashley, 29, Black, Denver, Colorado
July 21, 2011, La’Reko Williams, 21, Black, Charlotte, North Carolina
July 30, 2011, Donald Murray, 39, Caucasian, Westland, Michigan
August 4, 2011, Pierre Abernathy, 30, Black, San Antonio, Texas
August 6, 2011, Everette Howard, 18, Black, Cincinnati, Ohio
August 6, 2011, Debro Wilkerson, 29, Black, Prince William County, Maryland
August 6, 2011, Gregory Kralovetz, 50, Caucasian, Kaukauna, Wisconsin
August 12, 2011, Joseph Lopez, 49, Hispanic, Santa Barbara, California
August 17, 2011, Roger Chandler, 41, Caucasian, Helena, Montana
August 21, 2011, Montalito McKissick, 37, Black, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
August 24, 2011, Michael Evans, 56, Race: Unknown, Fayetteville, North Carolina
August 30, 2011, Nicholas Koscielniak, 27, Caucasian, Lancaster, New York
September 11, 2011, Tyree Sinclair, 31, Black, Corpus Christi, Texas
September 13, 2011, Damon Barnett, 44, Caucasian, Fresno, California
September 17, 2011, Richard Kokenos, 27, Caucasian, Warren, Michigan
September 24, 2011, Bradford Gibson, 35, Black, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
September 24, 2011, Donacio Rendon, 43, Race: Unknown, Lubbock, Texas
September 29, 2011, Howard Cook, 35, Black, York, Pennsylvania
October 4, 2011, Glenn Norman, 46, Caucasian, Camden County, Missouri
October 9, 2011, Darnell Hutchinson, 32, Black, San Leandro, California
October 31, 2011, Chad Brothers, 32, Caucasian, Colonie, New York
November 6, 2011, Darrin Hanna, 43, Black, North Chicago, Illinois
November 13, 2011, Ronald Cristiano, 51, Caucasian, Bridgeport, Connecticut
November 15, 2011, Jonathan White, 29, Black, San Bernardino, California
November 22, 2011, Roger Anthony, 61, Black, Scotland Neck, North Carolina
December 16, 2011, Marty Atencio, 44, Hispanic, Phoenix, Arizona
December 22, 2011, Wayne Williams, 27, Black, Houma, Louisiana
January 15, 2012, Daniel Guerra, 24, Hispanic, Ft. Worth, Texas
February 29, 2012, Raymond Allen, 34, Black, Galveston, Texas
March 5, 2012, Nehemiah Dillard, 29, Black, Gainesville, Florida
March 12, 2012, Jersey Green, 37, Black, Aurora, Illinois
March 19, 2012, James Barnes, 38, Caucasian, Pinellas County, Florida
April 10, 2012, Bobby Merrill, 38, Black, Saginaw, Michigan
April 21, 2012, Angel Heraldo, 41, Hispanic, Meriden, Connecticut
April 22, 2012, Bruce Chrestensen, 52, Caucasian, Grass Valley, California
May 10, 2012, Damon Abraham, 34, Black, Baldwin, Louisiana
June 9, 2012, Randolph Bonvillian, 41, Caucasian, Houma, Louisiana
June 20, 2012, Macadam Mason, 39, Caucasian, Thetford, Vermont
June 30, 2012, Victor Duffy, 25, Black, Tukwila, Washington
July 1, 2012, Corey McGinnis, 35, Black, Cincinnati, Ohio
July 5, 2012, Sampson Castellane, 29, Native American, Fife, Washington
September 1, 2012, Denis Chabot, 38, Caucasian, Houston, Texas
September 14, 2012, Bill Williams, 60, Caucasian, Everett, Washington
You can see that we don’t know the race or national origin (RNO) for Ronald Armstrong, Kelly Brinson, Kevin Darius Campbell, Michael Evans, Jerome Gill, Gary Grossenbacher, James Healy Jr., Clayton Early James, Anthony Jones, Derrek Kariney, T.J. Nance, Phyllis Owens, William Owens, Stephen Palmer, Earnest Ridlehuber, Sukeba Olawunmi, Ronald Petruney, Donacio Rendon, Larry Rubio, Dennis Sandras, Edward Stephenson or Christopher Wright. We can use some research assistance from villagers to help us identify the RNO for these folks who died after being electrocuted by police taser guns.

We track the RNO information because we sense that these taser-related deaths are happening at a disproportionate level to people of color.

For example, we see that at least 74 (73 men and a 62-year old woman) of these taser-torture killings occurred against African Americans. Black people are only 13.6% of the total population, yet 41% of the 2009-2012 taser-related deaths in America are Black people.

At last count, there are more than 514,000 Tasers among law enforcers and the military nationwide. Tasers are now deployed in law enforcement agencies in 29 of the 33 largest U.S. cities. Some states, such as New Jersey, are loosening up their rules for taser use. Other states, like Delaware, seek to justify taser use in spite of rising death toll.

However, the tide may be turning. As taser-related deaths and injuries have continued to rise (as well as the amount of Taser litigation), many departments are starting to abandon the weapon in favor of other means of suspect control. Currently, Memphis and San Francisco have opted to ban the use of tasers by law enforcement. Charlotte (NC) pulled all the tasers off the street. Nevada revised their taser policy so that it would be more aligned to proposal from the ACLU.

South Carolina is beginning to question its use of tasers. Additionally, a federal court has ruled that the pain inflicted by the taser gun constitutes excessive force by law enforcement. The courts don’t want police to electrocute people with their tasers unless they pose an immediate threat.

Perhaps the idea of an electric rifle made sense when it was first invented. “Taser” refers to an electrical weapon trademarked by the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company known as Taser International. The word Taser stands for “Tom A. Swift Electrical Rifle.”

The Taser was developed by Jack Cover, a contract scientist on NASA’s Apollo moon program in the 1960s. Inspired by his favorite childhood book series – Victor Appleton’s Tom Swift – Cover drew up plans for a non-lethal weapon like the one the series’ main character used.

In 1993, Rick and Tim Smith, who launched Taser International, worked with Cover to improve his design and introduced the device the next year. Since then, use of the word Taser has became part of the common American language.

However, we now see too much taser abuse. First available to law enforcement in February 1998, now used by more than 14,200 law enforcement agencies in more than 40 countries. More than 406,000 taser guns have been sold since the product hit the market. It may be time for congressional hearings.

Some tell us that tasers are making America safer. Police kill about 600 people per year in shootings. So what?! Should we be we be happy that they are ONLY killing people once-a-week with taser guns?

How Do Tasers Work? When a Taser’s trigger is pulled, two wires shoot out of the device at the suspect from up to 35 feet away. At the ends of the wires are probes that either embed in a person’s skin or cling to clothing.
When the probes hit, an electrical pulse is delivered for five seconds, causing involuntary muscular contractions in the subject.
At the end of the first pulse, police tell the person to roll onto their abdomen, so they can be handcuffed. If they do not comply, they may be shocked again.
Once a person is arrested, police remove the barbs and call EMTs to the scene.
The person is taken to the hospital to be checked out. If the barbs remain in the person after police try to remove them, they are removed at the hospital.
The Taser is equipped with a chip that records information on each use, which can be used in court if someone alleges they were shocked multiple times.

Personally, I think that the ‘Use of Force Continuum’ needs to show tasers as ‘near-lethal’ … definitely an error to claim that they are ‘non-lethal’.

Many of us think that that immediate problem with Taser use is the lack of state and federal training standards for Taser certification. There are too many police officers with a taser on their hip and insufficient training on how … or when … to use it. Without set training standards (which includes a block on the liabilities of the weapons use in the event of bodily injury or death), officers are not fully aware of the ramifications of Taser use.

Find this story at 14 September 2012

Police Taser blind man mistaking his white stick for a samurai sword

The IPCC is investigating an incident in Chorley, where an innocent person was struck by a 50,000-volt stun gun

An innocent blind man was shot in the back with a 50,000-volt Taser by police after they mistook his white stick for a samurai sword.

Colin Farmer, 61, was hit after reports of a man walking through Chorley, Lancashire, early on Friday evening, with a sword. He said he initially thought he was being attacked by hooligans when he was struck by the Taser.

The matter is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after Farmer made a complaint to the force.

Farmer, who used to run an architects’ practice, was on his way to meet friends at 5.45pm and was walking in Peter Street near a restaurant. “I was just walking along and I heard some men shouting really angrily and thought I’m going to get mugged. I didn’t know any police were here.

“The Taser hit me in the back and it started sending all these thousands of volts through me and I was terrified. I mean I had two strokes already caused by stress. I dropped the stick involuntarily and I collapsed on the floor face down.”

He added: “I was shaking and I thought ‘I’m going to have another stroke any second and this one is going to kill me. I’m being killed. I’m being killed’.”

Farmer, who has suffered two strokes, the most recent requiring two months in hospital in March, was fearful he would suffer another stroke.

“I walk at a snail’s pace. They could have walked past me, driven past me in a van or said ‘drop your weapon’.”

Lancashire Police apologised to Farmer for the “traumatic experience” but confirmed last night that the officer who fired the Taser has not been suspended and remains on duty.

Chief superintendent Stuart Williams, from Lancashire Police, said: “We received a number of reports that a man was walking through Chorley with a Samurai sword and patrols were sent to look for him.

“One of the officers believed he had located the offender. Despite asking the man to stop, he failed to do so and the officer discharged his Taser.

“It then became apparent this man was not the person we were looking for and officers attended to him straight away.

“He was taken to Chorley Hospital by officers who stayed while he was checked over by medics. They then took him to meet his friends in Chorley at his request.

Helen Carter
The Guardian, Thursday 18 October 2012

Find this story at 18 October 2012

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

An Unnecessary Death in New York: Police Killing Highlights Flaws of ‘Zero Tolerance’

 

In midtown Manhattan, police officers shot and killed an African-American man in August after he had walked across Times Square waving a kitchen knife. His last moments tell the story of a broken law enforcement system in New York City.

Darrius Kennedy’s date with death begins at 3 p.m., in front of the Stars & Stripes of the neon American flag in New York City’s Times Square. Kennedy, a sturdy man with long Rasta braids, is wearing a white shirt with cut-off sleeves, faded jeans and light-colored shoes, and he is skipping backwards toward Seventh Avenue, waving an IKEA kitchen knife. He is going to die, a pedestrian shouts: “They’re going to kill you, brother!”

First a policewoman and then four or five other officers pursue Kennedy with their 9mm Glock service weapons, with a trigger pull of 12 pounds, held in both hands. Kennedy backs off from the officers, heading south into the eternal twilight of the streets of Manhattan. He has four-and-a-half minutes left to live.

Officers quickly seal off Seventh Avenue using police tape, and the first squad cars come hurtling down the avenues, their sirens howling. Pedestrians stumble through the blurred images documented by tourists running toward what they see as an adventure, whipping out their smartphones and cameras, hoping to capture a manhunt on video, while Kennedy continues to skip down the streets.

A Classic American Divide

The discussion that takes place in the aftermath of the shooting will divide cleanly along age-old American lines. Some will make snap judgments, in web forums, letters to the editor and call-in radio programs. “Gotcha!” they’ll write, “another bites the dust,” and “he deserved it.” They’ll lionize the police officers, calling them “New York’s finest,” praising their efforts to provide security in the big city. They’ll ridicule the victim, calling him a crazy, knife-wielding pothead — a foolish African American.

Others will ask anxious questions. They’ll wonder whether, in this troubled America, it’s even possible to just mourn, even if only for a day. They’ll want to know why a few dozen police officers couldn’t deal with someone like Kennedy in other ways. Why is it, one man asks, that escaped zoo animals are immobilized with tranquilizer darts, while a human being in New York is simply and ruthlessly shot to death in broad daylight?

Kennedy’s sister will be quoted as saying that her brother was a talented musician, a man who undoubtedly had his problems, and yet, she will say: “They could have shot him in the leg.” His aunt says that her nephew was a “loner,” and that people are spreading all kinds of lies about him. She insists that he was a good man, and that he wasn’t a bum.

Kennedy has picked a grotesque backdrop for his death. His short journey begins on brightly lit and eternally noisy Times Square, near the Minskoff Theater and ABC television headquarters, where huge electronic billboards advertise Broadway musicals like “The Lion King” and “Mary Poppins,” as well as some of the world’s most recognizable brand names, like Coca-Cola, Samsung and Heineken. News headlines flicker across illuminated panels as big as tennis courts.

Times Square, diagonally sliced in half by Broadway, sees an average of 1.6 million pedestrians a day. It’s Aug. 11, a Saturday. The streets are devoid of office workers but filled with the usual weekend crowds. Day laborers dressed in Mickey Mouse and Elmo costumes stand at intersections, where tourists photograph them in return for pocket change, the “Naked Cowboy” is singing and playing his guitar and steam rises from the carts of food vendors. Kennedy and his pursuers gradually move south along the avenue, from 44th to 43rd to 42nd Street, Kennedy hopping along in front of them, making small, bouncy jumping moves like a cornered boxer, while the police officers, tense and vigilant, cautiously follow him at a distance.

No Police Reports in New York

A few hours later, New York Police Chief Raymond Kelly says that the police response was “by the book.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg says: “He had a knife and he was going after people.” But the videos uploaded to YouTube, and there are many of them, don’t seem to support the statements made by the mayor and Kelly. They also don’t show the police officers trying to subdue Kennedy with pepper spray, which they claimed they did four to six times.

There are no police reports in New York. There is, however, police spokesman Paul Browne, who doesn’t say much that’s useful, and there are police reporters. Sometimes they uncover valuable information, and sometimes they don’t. To them, Kennedy’s case is merely that of a bum who got shot to death. The headline in the New York Post will read: “He Got His Wish.”

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has its motto painted onto the sides of its squad cars, three guiding principles for the 36,000 men and women serving on the force: Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect. The NYPD Patrol Guide states, under Regulation 203-12, that the NYPD “recognizes the value of all human life and is committed to respecting the dignity of every individual.” The rule also states that police officers “shall not use deadly physical force against another person unless they have probable cause to believe they must protect themselves or another person from imminent death or serious physical injury.”

Kennedy keeps moving. He crosses 42nd Street, passing the Ernst & Young building and the 42nd Street subway station, where lines N, Q, R, 1, 2, 3 and 7 intersect. Toward 41st Street, the fronts of buildings are covered with advertising for the new Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.” On weekdays, office workers stand in the shadow of entranceways, smoking. Tour busses make their stops, and ticket sellers in red boleros pull passersby into their businesses. Those are normal days.

Three Minutes Left to Live

But at about 3 p.m. on Saturday, it is clear that this is no normal day — there is no one standing in the doorways. The area is shut down because of a man with a knife — one with a 6-inch and not a 12-inch blade, as the newspapers and TV stations will report, because they include the handle in their incorrect measurement.

The traffic has vanished from the broad avenue, and it is only police cars that hurry back and forth. Seen from Times Square, the crowd led by Kennedy is moving to the left of the center of the street. He now has two dozen or more police officers on his heels, most of them in uniform and a few in plain clothes, and all have their weapons drawn. They are accompanied by an amorphous swarm of eager witnesses, whose comments can be heard in the various clips. “Do you see this shit?” one person asks.

Kennedy, a 51-year-old who looks younger than his actual age, bounces along in front. At first, he turns his back on the police officers every few meters, looking as haughty as a torero turning his back on a bull. But now he is only striding backwards, keeping an eye on his pursuers through the round, green lenses of his metal-rimmed glasses. He has three minutes left to live.

The Trouble with ‘Zero Tolerance’
In this part of Manhattan, Seventh Avenue is also called Fashion Avenue. The side streets are filled with shops selling fabric, Indian wedding dresses and gaudy Asian clothes. The urban pace is a little slower here. The sea of lights in Times Square subsides, the buildings become less extravagant and tall, and the cityscape becomes noticeably shabbier.

“I think that under the given circumstances the shooting was justified,” says John Eterno, an athletic man with a gray beard and rimless glasses. He wasn’t at the scene, and he doesn’t know all the facts, but his opinion carries weight. Eterno was a police officer for 21 years, patrolling the streets of Manhattan. He taught at the Police Academy and he has written important pieces on police reform. He left the police force as a captain in 2004, when he went back to school to study criminology.

Eterno now teaches at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, a suburb on Long Island that happens to border Hempstead, the town where Kennedy grew up and is now buried. Depending on the traffic, the drive out to Long Island takes one to two hours, passing through a confusing blur of neighborhoods lined up along both sides of Jamaica Avenue, mile after mile. Then the city comes to an abrupt end and dissolves into postcard images of New England, idyllic villages, neatly divided into lots with small but attractive houses. Rockville Centre, where Eterno teaches, is one of those places. Hempstead, on the other hand, is different. It’s poorer, sadder. More black people live there.

Blind Severity Cemented by 9/11

So everything is in order with Kennedy’s death, the reporter asks? “Nothing is in order,” says Eterno “when you come to discuss the actual state of the NYPD.” His office is located in a low building on the edge of the campus, where the late-summer sun is beating down on the roof. Eterno talks for two hours. He makes a compelling case against the city’s corrupt, broken security apparatus, which, he says, is still tragically a model for the rest of the world. Eterno’s words suggest that Kennedy was also a victim of grim circumstances.

The NYPD developed a worldwide reputation for its “zero tolerance” policy and its great successes in the 1990s. The city was on the brink in the 1980s, with New York’s image shaped by pictures of burning garbage cans in the Bronx. That changed with the arrival of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who would soon become famous, and his equally well-known police chief, Bill Bratton. They substantially beefed up the police force and organized it like a business, with strict quality control procedures, applying statistical methods and considerable pressure to succeed. New York became safer and cleaner.

But scandals also became more and more common around the turn of the millennium. Police brutality became an issue, as did the NYPD’s blind severity and intimidating presence. The debate over these concerns would undoubtedly have continued if Sept. 11 hadn’t permanently changed everything. All of a sudden the NYPD, which until then had regularly faced sharp criticism from citizens’ advocacy groups, politicians and the media for every misstep, became an untouchable force made up of heroes. It was no longer kosher to criticize the police, and anyone who did was seen as behaving in a somehow un-American way. The situation began to deteriorate, as statistics suggest.

Unpleasant and Unsettling

In 2002, the New York police stopped around 97,000 people on the streets, often searching them in the procedure known as “stop and frisk.” For those affected, the experience is unpleasant, often humiliating and can be very unsettling, especially when plainclothes officers aggressively lay into citizens. The whole thing can feel like an assault.

The problem is that situation has been spinning out of control since 2002. More than 500,000 stop-and-frisk cases were recorded in 2006, and last year the number of cases peaked at 700,000. Most of those being stopped were completely innocent people. “In many parts of the city,” says Eterno, “the police behave like a besieging army.”

And the NYPD’s image of the enemy is as clear as glass. In 2011, about 86 percent of those stopped were blacks like Kennedy or Latinos. In the 17th Precinct, on the east side of Manhattan, where the two minorities together constitute only 7.8 percent of the population, blacks and Latinos made up 71.4 percent of stop-and-frisk cases. Similar statistics apply in Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side and Tribeca.

“It’s madness,” says Eterno. He says he can prove that the NYPD has figured out how to massage the truth when it comes to performance, encouraged by a city hall and police headquarters that are constantly proclaiming the good news that New York is “the safest big city in America.” Successes are talked up while real crime is downplayed. The city touted a 77.75-percent drop in crime between 1990 and 2009, even as it reduced the size of its police force by 6,000 jobs. “These numbers must seem completely crazy to anyone who knows anything about statistics,” says Eterno.

To back up his theories, Eterno interviewed a thousand police officers. They told him the most outrageous stories, all of which, upon closer inspection, proved to be true. According to the officers, individual police stations and precincts deliberately cook the books to make themselves look good to those higher up in the chain of command.

Declines in crime levels are artificially produced by documenting serious crimes as less serious offences — or by not recording crimes at all when they are reported in the first place. Rapes are downgraded to sexual harassment, and muggings are documented as petty theft, bringing down the overall crime count in the process.

Successes in the fight against crime can also be manufactured. Officers provoke arrests by charging old men with urban vagrancy when they are merely feeding pigeons. Pregnant women who sit down on the steps of subway stations to rest have been taken away for allegedly disturbing the peace. Unsuspecting citizens out for a stroll are stopped and frisked on playgrounds, because they don’t have children with them, as required by city ordinances. These examples are not unsubstantiated accusations by ideological groups hostile to the police. Rather, they are tangible charges, supported by audio recordings and the testimony of police officers who went public and filed complaints against the police force, because their internal grievances were ignored.

A Police Stop Culminates in Death

Kennedy’s path to his grave also begins with a police stop. Based on everything that’s been revealed to date, on the Saturday of his death, he is standing on the corner of 44th Street and Times Square. Perhaps he is smoking a joint, or perhaps he is not. But while smoking marijuana may be illegal, it is fairly common in the US — especially in New York.

A policewoman confronts Kennedy. Would she be doing this if she didn’t feel pressure to perform, to deliver the right numbers? And would she do it if he were white? And Kennedy, who is having trouble with the police because of a joint for the eighth time in his life, and who has been fed up with this sort of treatment for a long time, suddenly sees red. He snaps. He wields his knife, rages and resists. The pursuit begins.

He makes his way through a city in which worlds are drifting dangerously apart. The New York of a black man has nothing in common with that of a white woman. The former will get to know police officers as disrespectful tormenters, while the latter will encounter them as gallant figures. Police officers are bullies in poor neighborhoods while they hold the door open for citizens in wealthy areas. These contrasts become blurred around Times Square, a Babylon bustling with poor and rich people alike, where visitors mingle with half-crazy denizens of the city. This is the backdrop of Darrius Kennedy’s final minutes alive.

False Reports of a ‘Times Square Ninja’
By the time he crosses 40th Street, Kennedy is being pursued by about 30 police officers, both on foot and in squad cars, and they’re making a huge commotion. The air is filled with the crackle of announcements and the short bursts of police sirens. People are following along on both sides of the avenue like sports fans. Their numbers are difficult to estimate, but some of the videos give the impression that it could be hundreds. It’s certainly several dozen, and the crowd continues to grow along the way, egged on by a herd instinct and paying no heed to the potential for danger.

The police usually have special units for cases like this. In their jargon, he is an “emotionally deranged person,” or “EDP,” and the type of unit that would normally deal with EDPs is called an Emergency Service Unit (ESU). Its arsenal includes such “nonlethal” material as batons, tasers, shields and water cannons.

By now, though, Kennedy has been walking backwards, away from the police, for at least three minutes, and there is still no ESU in sight. No one will explain how it is possible that, three blocks from one of the world’s busiest public spaces, the NYPD is incapable of deploying a special unit within three minutes. In fact, there will be no explanations at all. The NYPD doesn’t respond to SPIEGEL’s inquiries or answer written lists of questions submitted.

What is known about the day of Kennedy’s death is that a large number of police officers, armed with pistols and out of their depth, are pursuing a single man with a knife. They have no batons or tasers. Supervisors, officers above the rank of sergeant, have these nonlethal weapons, and ideally there would be one supervisor for every eight officers. But on this day there doesn’t appear to be a single supervisor within the large group of police officers pursuing Kennedy.

They’ve already walked five blocks. It’s getting close to 3 p.m., the crowd of people in their wake is growing larger, and the disruption to city life becomes more and more intolerable. This can’t go on much longer. Finally, at about 38th Street, Kennedy makes another wrong move.

He leaves the center of the avenue, the width of which has protected him until now, and he bounces to the left, toward the sidewalk. Soon he’ll be walled in on one side. Throughout the whole ordeal, he looks like a defiant child more than anything else. What’s going through his head? Why doesn’t he just drop the knife? How is this game supposed to end?

The police and the papers will portray him as mentally disturbed, as an unemployed outsider, a homeless man and a drug-addicted loser with a criminal record. Even the New York Times, straying from its declared policy of only printing verifiable news, quotes dubious eyewitnesses, who contradict one another and apparently confuse Kennedy with someone else. They turn him into the “Times Square Ninj,” a man who often appeared on the square, wearing a Ninja costume and doing somersaults for tourists.

Neither Unemployed nor Homeless

Other news reports will state that Kennedy attacked people during his date with death, but that’s a claim that not even the police is making. None of the reports will specify that all of the offences in his “criminal record” related to the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In fact, almost everything that will be written about Kennedy is full of holes or is flatly wrong.

In fact Kennedy, as he makes his way down Seventh Avenue, is neither unemployed nor homeless, nor does he do back flips for tourists. For the last six years, he has lived on the top floor of an apartment building on Third Avenue and 25th Street. It’s an apartment reserved for the building superintendent, John Nyman, who uses it mainly for storage.

A long, messy hallway leads to the large apartment facing the street. Kennedy lived in one of the smaller rooms here. He had a deal with Nyman, who lives in his own apartment on 22nd Street: Instead of paying rent, Kennedy worked for Nyman and took care of his cats. When he wasn’t working, Kennedy lifted weights in the basement, and when he sang along to a song on the radio, says Nyman, it was easy to hear that he was a musical person and had a nice voice.

In an earlier life, back in the days of disco, Kennedy had been a professional musician. He played bass and, with a short haircut and sporting flashier clothes, he went on tour with various bands, sometimes even as far away as Asia. He was married and then got divorced in the 1990s. At some point, Kennedy stopped playing music. There isn’t much else to be discovered about his life. He played basketball as a child, and he sang in the church choir in Hempstead, but that was long before he became the man with the Rasta braids, the man with the knife.

‘He Was the Nicest Guy on Earth’

“You can believe me or not,” says Nyman, a wiry man with blue eyes, as he stands on the street, smoking a cigarette, “but Darrius was the hardest, most diligent worker I’ve ever met in my life. And he was the nicest person I knew, the nicest guy on Earth.” On the morning of that Saturday, when Kennedy went to Times Square, he and Nyman were standing around, drinking coffee together. They were friends, “and to this day, I still don’t understand what happened up there.”

Of course, Nyman did read the papers after the shooting, and he watched the videos and heard the police version of the story. He also heard the stories claiming that Kennedy had knocked over trashcans in Times Square and had threatened people with a screwdriver several years ago. “All I can say is that everyone who knew him, and that was a lot of people here, doesn’t believe a word of that. I think the cops make up these things.”

Since 9/11, says Nyman, New York as a whole has increasingly transformed itself into a city with a “medieval concept” of life. “Darrius smoked a joint? Okay, so what? If we were in Ohio, the police officers would have driven him home and let him off with a warning.”

Kennedy had a lot to do in the neighborhood. He was a handyman in 11 buildings, repairing drains and washing machines, bleeding radiators, and cleaning pipes, windows and toilets. He always worked on weekdays and often on weekends, and according to Nyman, he was always on time and “completely reliable.” A Ukrainian couple that works as janitors around the corner tells the same stories. They are mourning his death. “He’s missed,” says Nyman.

‘I Always Told Him the Knife Would Get Him in Trouble’
But what did happen with Kennedy? And what about the knife? “Oh, the knife,” says Nyman. “I have a knife, too. I use it to cut up boxes and open packages every day, and Darrius did the same thing. I always told him not to walk around the city with the knife, and that it would get him into trouble one day. But he didn’t want to listen to me.”

Did Kennedy have psychological problems? Nyman does not hesitate before responding. “He had his demons, sure.” According to Nyman, Kennedy found God a few years ago and had constantly studied the Bible ever since. “But most of all he hated the police. It was real hate, because they were always harassing him, throughout his entire life.” He hated them because they stopped and searched him — a black man and a pot smoker — again and again. “He was a pretty big guy,” says Nyman, “and for those police officers he was the picture of a suspect.”

Kennedy reaches the last several feet of his path through life on Saturday, Aug. 11, at shortly after 3 p.m. The exact time to the last minute isn’t entirely clear. He moves past a Bank of America branch on 38th Street, past an empty Off-Track Betting parlor and past the windows of a Chipotle fast-food restaurant.

He slows down. By now he is looking around nervously, and he must sense that his pursuers have him surrounded. What he probably doesn’t see yet is that a squad car is parked across the sidewalk like a barricade, next to the glass entrance of an office building at 501 7th Avenue.

Police spokesman Browne will later say that the officers opened fire after Kennedy had come within “two to three feet” — less than a meter — of them. Police Chief Kelly will report: “The officers got out of the car. As a result, Kennedy approached the officers with the knife; they had no place to go.” Both men, Kelly and Browne, aren’t telling the truth.

The various videos circulating on the Web clearly show that Kennedy is at least 15 to 20 feet away from the officers standing at the squad car when they start shooting. And it isn’t as if they had just gotten out of their cars and were taken by surprise by their victim or somehow found themselves in a situation requiring self-defense. In fact, they are standing there with their weapons drawn, waiting for Kennedy, who passes another shop, the Jewelry Patch, before turning around and facing his death.

A Pool of Blood Becomes a Tourist Attraction

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

10/17/2012 06:51 PM

By Ullrich Fichtner in New York

Find this story at 17 October 2012

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2012
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

Marines charged with murder over Afghanistan death

Five Royal Marines charged with murder over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011

British soldiers in Helmand: the incident took place last year but it is thought investigators only began inquiries in recent weeks. Photograph: Corporal Barry Lloyd Rlc/AFP

Five Royal Marines have been charged with murder over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011.

Seven marines were arrested on Thursday by the Royal Military police. Two more were later arrested, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Four have been released without charge pending further inquiries, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The incident took place in Helmand province last year, but it is thought investigators only began an inquiry in recent weeks.

An MoD spokesman said: “The Royal Military police has referred the cases of the remaining five Royal Marines to the independent Service Prosecuting Authority.

“Following direction from the SPA these marines have now been charged with murder and they remain in custody pending court proceedings.”

The soldiers, believed to be members of 3 Commando Brigade, were arrested in connection with an incident described as “an engagement with an insurgent” in which no civilians were involved.

During a six-month tour of duty in 2010, which lasted from April to October, seven servicemen from the brigade were killed in action, all from 42 Commando. The tour, Operation Herrick 14, was the unit’s fourth and saw the force score notable successes in capturing explosives from the Taliban.

Jonathan Haynes and agencies
The Guardian, Sunday 14 October 2012 08.34 BST

Find this story at 14 October 2012


© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

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