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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Didn't Go to Jail for Any Kind of Cool Reason—It Was for the Dumbest Reason Imaginable

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 1:30 PM

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I didn't go to jail for any kind of a cool reason. I wasn't arrested at a protest; I didn't assault somebody deserving. I went to jail because I was a doofus. How I became a doofus of the magnitude I was—that's a different story.

Step one was a car accident. I caused it. It was the summer of 1998, I'd just turned 29, and I was leaving Capitol Hill in my old Volvo one late afternoon, heading back to Fremont, where I lived. I was near the old B&O Espresso, making a right turn onto East Olive Way, and I didn't leave enough room between cars going by for me to fit in, and I got rear-ended. The car behind me got rear-ended, too.

There was no place to pull over without blocking traffic...

KEEP READING >>

Monday, November 17, 2014

I, Anonymous: Anger Clouds the Mind

Posted by on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 12:30 PM

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I cannot fathom the level of cowardice and hate it takes to assault a woman walking to her car with a friend late at night on an empty street. The fact that you yelled "faggot" before you sent her to the hospital is all the more ironic given it is a term she used to self-identify to find rebellion and empowerment against pieces of shit like you. If there were a screen we could shake society through to sift out people with your destructive mind-set, I would enforce it in a heartbeat. Next time you get too drunk, I hope you mistakenly lurch for a band of bears, "get hit by a car," and get your brains spread on the pavement, and that the police are as callous to your predicament as they were to hers. I'll be the first one there in the morning, spreading your guts around the public domain as a friendly neighborhood reminder that people like you are far, far from safe and will eventually come to terms with their faulty bias, or meet their fate in a violent shuffle off this mortal coil. #bashback

—Anonymous

Click here to leave a comment!

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mayor Murray Gets More Serious About Police Reform

Posted by on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Mayor Ed Murray and a small band of public officials announce a packe of police reforms proposals.
  • Ansel Herz
  • Mayor Ed Murray and a small band of public officials announce a package of police reforms proposals.

"We are not Ferguson in Seattle," said city council member Bruce Harrell, tossing a grave-sounding soundbite to reporters at yesterday afternoon's City Hall press conference on reforming the Seattle Police Department. Harrell didn't really explain what that meant. If it means we're setting the bar for our city's police department above Ferguson's—well, shit, I would sure hope so.

Mayor Ed Murray discussed a raft of reform proposals. They boil down to: (A) making the Community Police Commission a permanent, rather than temporary, body; (B) consolidating the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board's functions into the commission and the OPA Auditor; and (C) implementing 40 recommendations that the Community Police Commission made last spring, while leaving 15 of them to be negotiated with the police unions next year.

"Our police accountability system has, over the years, become complicated and confusing to the public," said Murray. "Today, we are announcing major reforms to bring greater fairness, independence, and transparency to the police discipline and accountability system, and to rebuild public trust."

Murray said he'll offer this package of reforms in legislation submitted to the city council for approval.

Continue reading »

Friday, October 31, 2014

Totally True Horror Story: Part 2!!

Posted by on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 12:05 PM

In case you missed part one, click on his creepy face.

Here's what happened next:

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11 People Arrested for Supplying Dead Unmarried Men with Dead Brides

Posted by on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 8:19 AM

This religion worships an execution machine that was popular in Roman times. Maybe one day in the future there will be a religion that worships the electric chair or the drip.
  • CM
  • This religion worships an execution machine that was popular in Roman times. Maybe one day in the future there will be a religion that worships the electric chair or the drip.

The story from China is that 11 men were recently arrested for the dark business of exhuming the bodies of women (the fresher, the better) from graveyards and selling them on a market that meets the needs of families in the difficulty of having on their hands a beloved uncle or son who exited the state of all affairs unmarried. When a deal is settled, the body of the dead woman (who may have been married in life) is buried next to the dead bachelor. This is called a ghost wedding, and the resulting marriage is certainly more peaceful than anything you will find in the land of the quick.

Though the practice is very old and maintained mostly by people who live in rural China, it is by no means barbaric. Indeed, because civilization only begins when the living live with their dead—meaning, when the living are settled rather than nomadic, we can see in the ghost marriage something like the deep and wonderfully twisted roots of the modern urban consciousness.

The city is about a very close relationship between inhabitants who are made of matter and those made from the faintest stuff of memories—ghosts. Inhabited and uninhabited buildings, rooms, hallways, staircases are all haunted by those lost in the past of those buildings, rooms, hallways, and staircases. You can only remove ghosts by demolishing a building. This is why it is utterly ridiculous to fear ghosts in the forests. What is there to haunt? Trees? Moose? Mud? What nonsense. Humans are the haunted animal. Humans live in houses, apartments, castles, and the cities of their dead.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three of Ex-Seattle Producer Rafael Anton Irisarri’s Stolen Guitars Turn Up at Trading Musician

Posted by on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Finally some leads are surfacing in the case of Rafael Anton Irisarris stolen moving truck.
  • Bob Hansen
  • Finally some leads are surfacing in the case of Rafael and Rita Irisarri's stolen moving truck.

Remember when then-Seattle techno/ambient producer Rafael Anton Irisarri (aka the Sight Below) and his wife Rita’s moving truck with all their belongings was stolen on Memorial Day? How could you forget? Anyway, the couple has since moved to New York state and have been trying to get on with their lives after that trauma. Yesterday, though, Rafael received some hopeful news from a musician friend: three of his instruments—a Fender bass and two Guild guitars—were found at Trading Musician in Ravenna. These instruments were sold to the shop on Oct. 3 and Trading Musician has details of the person who sold them. “The shop had tried to contact the detective in charge of the case [Det. Manuel (Manny) Quinonez] several times and finally [two days ago] they got a hold of him,” Irisarri says. “[Yesterday] I finally was able to talk to the detective at SPD, too, and he's not even started trying to track these people down. It’s a huge break on the case, which might lead to where all of our things ended up, and when I talked to the detective he said the ‘police have many cases they are working on,’ i.e. not a priority.”

Irisarri praised Trading Musician’s manager John Herman for “doing all the legwork for the cops and [being] super nice getting me a bunch of details and letting me know what my next steps are.”

I called Herman and asked him if he could describe the person who sold Irisarri’s instruments to Trading Musician. "The woman sold one of the guitars and seemed a little weird," Herman said, "so we kind of low-balled because we weren’t sure what was going on. She came back later with two instruments and that also seemed strange. Something rang a bell. We started digging around in what is pretty much the novel that is the stolen stuff that people send to us—it’s a huge book. Sure enough, we remembered the whole U Haul thing. We looked through and there were these three instruments on there. So I took a chance and called her and said, ‘Hey, we know this stuff is stolen. If you don’t want to be involved or prosecuted for stealing someone’s merchandise, you should bring the money back to us.' She returned the money, over $700, and left the instruments with us. We did our normal protocol and reported the instruments and her name, as well. We entered 0 as the dollar amount that we paid for them.

"Finally, a couple of days ago, I got a hold of detective [Quinonez]. He’s been out of town, apparently. He’s interested because it appears to be the first real lead that they’ve had."

Continue reading »

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Need to File a Complaint About the Seattle Police? Go to the 18th Floor of the Pacific Building Downtown

Posted by on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

OPA Director Pierce Murphy shows off the big new logo on the wall as you come in.
  • Ansel Herz
  • Office of Professional Accountability Director Pierce Murphy shows off the big new logo on the wall of the agency's brand new location: 720 3rd Ave., 18th Floor.

The Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) has moved out of its old split office (which was partly at SPD headquarters, partly in the city's Municipal Tower) and into a brand new office on the 18th floor of a tall building on Third Avenue! And they want you to know about it, and to feel free to stop by any time to talk about police misconduct, which OPA staff are charged with investigating.

"We want to project independence," OPA Director Pierce Murphy explained to a small group of officials and reporters who were shown around the new digs this morning. "We're not siding with anybody. That was the idea of getting away from the police building. We're trying to be publicly accessible."

Murphy also said he wants to get to the point where police officers feel welcome walking in to talk with his staff—something he felt he accomplished in Boise, Idaho while dealing with the troubled police department there. At the ground floor, there's a Top Pot donuts next to the entrance (INSERT COP JOKE HERE) and Murphy's corner office looks out over Third Avenue, facing north.

"I think it's a very good first step," said Community Police Commission Executive Director Fé Lopez. She added that education and outreach will be key so that people in the community know where to come when they have complaints. The address is 720 3rd Ave., 18th Floor. You can also file a complaint online or over the phone.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thieves Steal Valuable Gear from Ex-godheadSilo Member Mike Kunka's Storage Unit

Posted by on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 5:45 PM

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  • Denis Barbulat / Shutterstock.com

Another huge theft of a Northwest musician's gear took place this week. The Port Angeles storage unit of Mike Kunka (former bassist in the great and super-heavy Kill Rock Stars/Sub Pop band godheadSilo, as well as Enemymine, Dead Low Tide, and Smoke and Smoke) was ransacked and he lost a reported $20,000 of equipment and master tapes (see Kunka's list below). In addition, thieves stole his and his wife's record collection and a Christmas tree.

Slog tipper Kerri said, "Thieves broke into a vacant unit next door to [Kunka's], ripped out a section of the wall, jammed the door shut, and loaded everything out through the vacant unit. There was no indication from the exterior that they had been robbed. So, you can imagine his shock when he opened the storage unit." According to Kerri, the storage unit, on Tumwater Truck Route, has no security camera system, but the suspect(s) left a time-stamped Safeway receipt that included a Club Card number, and police are viewing Safeway's video for clues.

Slog readers: If you have any further tips, please let us know.

Here is a partial list of the missing gear. Still trying to wrap my head around this.

Black fender jazz bass made in japan
White fender mustang bass beat to shit (godheadSilo)
White fender mustang bass with bass synth insides and extra guitar strings (smoke and smoke)
Black fender mustang/bronco bass with tremolo (godheadSilo)
Natural 8-string Kramer bass with aluminum neck (enemymine, dead low tide)
Acoustic/electric tenor guitar gold neck and body
2 silver Roland bass synth floor modules
1 brown Roland bass synth floor module
Garnet pa mixer
Garnet bto head (godheadSilo)
Garnet pro head
Garnet pro 200 head
Garnet stinger head and cabinet with horn
Sunn concert lead that Buzz used on the first 2 Melvins records (broken mid range knob)
2 custom white and tweed soldano cabinets (enemymine and later)
Peda-band one man band machine floor control and synth brain (possibly the only one in existence) home built in the 1970’s
Master tapes of pretty much every record from 1990-2000
Plus countless personal items including our record collection, our daughter’s toys, and most of my clothes.

I have no photos of anything. Any photos of me playing these instruments were also stolen. If you have photos please attach to your re-post. I don’t want to see them, it’s still too much. Thanks everybody.

Continue reading »

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Man Charged With Assault in Connection With Alleged Westlake Groping

Posted by on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Julia Marquand executed a now-infamous hollaback, using social media to shame the man she said groped her, get other women to tell their stories, and get the Seattle Police Department to respond better than they did at first. Hats off to you, Ms. Marquand. Now a man has been charged in connection with her case.
  • Image Courtesy of Julia Marquand
  • Julia Marquand executed a now-infamous hollaback, using social media to (1) shame the man she said groped her, (2) get other women to tell their stories, and (3) get the Seattle Police Department to respond better than they did at first. Hats off to you, Ms. Marquand. Now a man has been charged in connection with her case.
The man accused of groping a Seattle woman near Westlake Mall last week has now been charged by the Seattle City Attorney with one count of Assault with Sexual Motivation, a gross misdemeanor, according to the City Attorney's Office. The man will be arraigned tomorrow morning. He has a previous conviction for a felony Assault with Sexual Motivation from 2011.

As you may recall, ten days ago, a woman named Julia Marquand tweeted out a photo of a man she said had just groped her, adding in her tweet that she'd tried to give the photo to the police officer she reported the crime to, but "the cops don't want it." First reported (as far as I saw) over on Seattlish, the tweet and the story soon went viral. Seattle police spokesperson Sean Whitcomb told Seattlish he didn't know why the officer didn't want the photo, and the department followed up with Marquand, announcing a few days later that they'd arrested a "person of interest" in the case.

From the SPD on October 15:

Continue reading »

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Garfield High School Black Student Union Marches on Seattle Police Station

Posted by on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 5:53 PM

The students chanted, Black lives matter! Black lives matter!
  • Ansel Herz
  • The students chanted, "Black lives matter! Black lives matter!"

About thirty students and their supporters marched, drenched in rain, from Garfield High School to the Seattle police department's East Precinct headquarters this afternoon to deliver a simple message: black lives matter, from Ferguson to Seattle.

"Not all cops are bad," said Yonathan Beruk, a Garfield senior. "We understand that." He was speaking through a megaphone while facing a line of stony-faced police officers using their bicycles as barriers. "Compassion and empathy are all we can ask from you," Beruk continued. "We are pleading. We are tired."

The Seattle Police Department, as the students were well aware, is under a Department of Justice consent decree to curb its patterns of excessive force and racial bias in its policing.

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  • Ansel Herz

East Precinct Captain Pierre Davis, a 29-year veteran of the force, who is black, told me he "applauds the gumption" of the students to organize an un-permitted march on an issue. One of the students shouted through the megaphone that the dozen or so officers surrounding the police station with wooden batons seemed threatening. Captain Davis said the batons were necessary in case the march threatened people or property.

Continue reading »

Monday, October 20, 2014

Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit by SPD Officers Against Use of Force Reforms

Posted by on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 11:19 AM

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  • Ansel Herz
  • The lawsuit, by officers mostly from the North Precinct, alleged that new use of force rules required them to "under-react to threats of harm."

Back in May, following US Department of Justice findings that the Seattle Police Department had engaged in an unconstitutional pattern of using excessive force, 126 Seattle police officers filed a lawsuit in federal court to try to overturn federally-mandated reforms to SPD's use of force rules. The officers alleged the new policies violated their constitutional rights. (Ugh.)

On Friday, reports the Seattle Times, US District Judge Marsha Pechman agreed with attorneys for the City of Seattle and dismissed the lawsuit (having heard oral arguments on October 9).

Will this put down what we previously described as an "internal revolt"? We'll see.

UPDATE: Judge Pechman dismissed the suit with prejudice, which means the officers cannot appeal file the same suit again. "The Seattle Police Department is entirely committed to Constitutional policing and is moving full speed ahead with implementation of the Consent Decree," said SPD Chief Kathleen O'Toole in a statement released by City Attorney Pete Holmes.

"Today we move forward with police reform and move past internal divisions over policy," added Mayor Ed Murray. "The City and the officers who filed the suit share the same objectives: safety for the public, and safe working conditions for the officers who provide for the public’s safety. We can achieve both."

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Friday, October 3, 2014

City Council Moves King County's Juvenile Jail Project Forward Over Objections from Anti-Prison Activists

Posted by on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM

TK
  • Protesters held up signs saying "Address Racism Now" and "Without Community Input, Plans Can't Go On." The vote didn't go the way they wanted.

For City Council Member Mike O'Brien, how to vote on a series of seemingly innocuous land use code amendments on Tuesday at City Hall turned into a decision fraught with racial angst.

"I'm struggling with this, for sure," he blurted out on the phone after the vote, in between a long pause and a heavy sigh.

The land use code amendments were requested by King County in order to facilitate the building of a new "Children and Family Justice Center" on 12th and Alder in the Central District. Opponents call it a "new youth jail." They point out that young black men have been disproportionately incarcerated inside. County officials freely acknowledge this and say they will do better.

The two groups depart from one another on the solution: The anti-jail coalition wants the county to build a community center with no jail component; the county insists it must build detention beds into the new facility.

Full disclosure, per usual: I volunteer inside the current jail every Tuesday. And in a new development, I've learned that No New Youth Jail campaigners included my name as a supporter in a hard copy of a letter delivered to the King County Council earlier this year. The letter is a good one, but there are two problems: (1) I don't know how my name ended up on it (there's no signature), and (2) the letter doesn't sufficiently explain what the county should do, given that state law requires it to operate a juvenile detention facility. You can read the electronic version, where my name is not listed, here.

At City Hall, O'Brien said the county deserved "kudos" for dramatically reducing the sheer number of children held in the jail, even as the racial disparity of those locked up inside has increased. But he rebuked the county officials seated across the table for not adequately involving segments of the local community in the development of a replacement facility.

"Rebuilding the youth detention and courthouse facilities is a project that has been in the works for years," O'Brien said in a statement. "So it is a failure of our collective leadership that today, as the council’s land use committee votes on a small land use change regarding this facility, that we are hearing from young black men, their families, their community, and their allies that they want to be part of this conversation but have not yet had a chance to participate in a meaningful way to date."

Continue reading »

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Former US Attorney Jenny Durkan's Second-In-Command to Take Over in Western Washington

Posted by on Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Jenny Durkan is (we presume) moving on to bigger and better things! Last month, she revealed she'd be stepping down as the DOJ's top attorney in Western Washington. And it was suggested that she might be angling for a position with Hillary Clinton or, once Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation, that she might replace him.

But who will replace Durkan in our neck of the woods, pending presidential appointment and confirmation? Her number two in command: Annette L. Hayes. Hayes is an Assistant US Attorney who joined the office way back in 1997. Her full bio is below the jump, but a quick Google search reveals one interesting highlight of her career: traveling to Iraq in 2008 to investigate an alleged murder by a Blackwater private security guard.

Welcome aboard, Hayes. Among other things, she'll be overseeing the federally-mandated reform process at the Seattle Police Department and, we hope, not putting any more anarchists in prison for what seem to be political reasons.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

SPD: Man Shot Near Pioneer Square Collapses with Life-Threatening Injuries

Posted by on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Yikes. Seattle police say:
After receiving reports of gunfire at 2nd and Yesler at 10:40 AM this morning, officers arrived in about one minute and found a wounded man on the street. Medics then transported the victim to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

At the scene, witnesses told police a gunman had opened fire on Yesler Way, striking the victim. The wounded man then ran around a corner onto 2nd Avenue, where he collapsed.

Witnesses also reported seeing two men, both wearing hooded sweatshirts, running from the scene of the shooting. Police are now working to identify the two men.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact SPD’s tip line at (206) 233-5000.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Youth Justice Campaigners Turn Boring Land Use Hearing Into a Fight Against Institutional Racism

Posted by on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 2:47 PM

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  • Glenn R. McGloughlin / Shutterstock.com
  • The inside of the current detention center looks a lot like this. King County has brought down the number of juveniles it incarcerates—but they are still overwhelmingly and disproportionately black youth.

Last Thursday, what was supposed to be a routine, boring ol' land use meeting at the Seattle City Council turned into what one council member calls "the most powerful hearing" he's ever attended at City Hall.

Up for discussion was putting kids in jail—that is, whether King County should spend $210 million on a replacement for the aging Juvenile Detention Center on 12th Avenue and Alder. (Full disclosure: I volunteer inside the facility on a weekly basis.) Opponents say the money should be spent on a community center instead. King County voters approved the project, 55 to 45 percent, in 2012.

King County officials explained that they want the city to amend its land use code to have greater flexibility in how they meet design objectives for the new juvie—things like going beyond maximum width rules in a few places.

But for past two years, a vocal group has been pointing out that the detention center is a glaring example of institutional racism: about 10% of King County's juvenile population is black, but in 2013, black youth made up 42% of those incarcerated. They called on the city not to make it any easier for the county to proceed with the replacement jail and to reject the amendments to the land use code.

"We have a terrible problem with racial disparity that is a result of our system and how it works," acknowledged Claudia Balducci, one of King County planners behind the project (also, oddly, the mayor of Bellevue), at a forum organized by the End the Prison Industrial Complex in June. "Building a [new] facility will not fix that, will not make it better, but will not make it worse."

The main reason to build the new "Children and Family Justice Center," she reiterated last week, is that the old structure is decrepit and renovations would be prohibitively expensive. State law mandates that counties operate a juvenile detention center.

And the new jail would reduce the number of detention beds from 210 to 154. Over the past decade, by expanding alternative to incarceration programs, the county has brought the monthly juvenile jail population down from hundreds to around 60 or 70. "We agree wholeheartedly that we need to focus more energy, and give more support to preventive measures, but it’s also a reality that there are circumstances where detention is needed,” Balducci has said.

But whoo boy, did the opponents of the youth jail mobilize and turn out for the land-use hearing. They packed the chambers and for two hours, offered scathing public comment from a massively diverse group. Watch it here.

Continue reading »

Monday, September 22, 2014

NYT Reports On Woman Sent to Jail for Helping Daughter Get an Abortion

Posted by on Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 1:18 PM

As I wrote on Slog two weeks ago: Jennifer Whalen couldn't get her daughter the best abortion—an abortion in an abortion clinic—because politicians and anti-choice activists have worked to make those abortions financially and logistically impossible for poor and working people. So Whalen got her daughter the best abortion she could her: she ordered abortion drugs for her daughter online.

Emily Bazelon interviewed Whalen and has more infuriating details in the NYT:

Whalen’s case is the only prosecution I could find involving a pregnancy in the first trimester, the early stage at which at least 88 percent of abortions in the United States take place. But it may not be the last. What Whalen did in trying to help her daughter—order pills online—is probably an increasingly common response to the rising wave of abortion restrictions that has rolled across the states in the last four years. “Her situation is very scary legally, because we are seeing the number of clinics dwindle,” Nash said. “If women don’t have access to abortion clinics, some will turn to the Internet, and then, will they be charged with a crime?”

The grim answer was yes for Jennifer Whalen because of a series of choices made by officials who had the discretion to respond differently. Hospital authorities decided that they were mandated to report Whalen, according to the district attorney, because they made a judgment call that what she did was “suspected or actual child abuse.” Warren, the district attorney, could have declined to press charges. And Norton, the judge, could have refrained from sending Whalen to jail.

Go read the whole thing.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It Is a Terrible and Traumatizing Thing to Be Raped

Posted by on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 9:20 AM

And it is awful when rape victims are dismissed and disbelieved. And rapists should be caught and punished. But a false accusation of rape is a less-terrible-but-still-terrible thing too:

In the emotionally charged conversation about rape, few topics are more fraught than that of false allegations. Consider some responses to the news that singer-songwriter Conor Oberst had been falsely accused of sexual assault. Last December a woman writing in the comments section of the website xoJane, going by the name Joanie Faircloth, claimed Oberst raped her when she was a teenager. The charge spread across the Internet; Oberst denied it and brought a libel suit against Faircloth when she refused to retract the story. In July she completely recanted, admitting that she had made it all up to get attention. Yet instead of showing sympathy for the ordeal of the musician—one known for being supportive of feminist issues—some chided him for taking legal action to defend himself against a false, career-damaging charge. In the Daily Dot, pop culture critic Chris Ostendorf decried the lawsuit, arguing that it could intimidate real victims of rape and that it promoted the idea of men as victims of false accusations—even though that’s exactly what Oberst was. After Oberst dropped the suit, Bustle’s Caroline Pate praised his decision and referred to the saga as “a roller-coaster for both parties”—treating the false accuser and the wrongly accused as morally equivalent—and called the revelation of Oberst’s innocence “crushingly disappointing.”

False rape accusations are a lightning rod for a variety of reasons. Rape is a repugnant crime—and one for which the evidence often relies on one person’s word against another’s. Moreover, in the not-so-distant past, the belief that women routinely make up rape charges often led to appalling treatment of victims. However, in challenging what author and law professor Susan Estrich has called “the myth of the lying woman,” feminists have been creating their own counter-myth: that of the woman who never lies.

Go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Philadelphia Police Release Video of Drunken Mob That Allegedly Attacked a Gay Couple

Posted by on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Do you recognize any one of these 15 fucking douchebags?

This "clean-cut" mob allegedly attacked a gay couple in Philadelphia on September 11. They could be locals, they could be tourists. NBC Philadelphia via JoeMyGod:

A violent attack on two gay men in Center City Thursday night left one of those men in the hospital with multiple fractures. Sources tell NBC10 the 27-year-old and 28-year-old victims were walking from a restaurant in the area of 16th and Chancellor around 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Suddenly they were approached by a visibly intoxicated group. Witnesses say someone in the group asked, "Is this your fucking boyfriend?" When one of the victims told them yes, the group allegedly attacked them, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest. Police say one of the suspects then snatched a victim's bag containing a cellphone, wallet and credit cards. The group then fled in an unknown direction. "It was a bunch of screams at first," said witness Geoff Nagle. "...a lot of punching and kicking."

The couple suffered serious injuries. Queerty:

Speaking with the media last night, both victims say they have been released from the hospital with serious visible injuries. One victim, speaking through and contraption that will have his jaw wired shut for the next two months, says he suffered multiple facial fractures and several orbital fractures.... According to CBS Philadelphia, the victims have been able to identify their attackers through surveillance footage captured either before or after the attack. Though no arrests have been made, police seem confident that the assailants will be brought to justice.

Watch the video. Share the video. If you recognize anyone call the Philly police at 215-686-3047. You can email the Philly police at tips@phillypolice.com or you can text them at PPDTIP (773847).

Monday, September 15, 2014

LAPD Detains Black Woman for Kissing White Boyfriend

Posted by on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Daniele-Watts-3.jpg

Because they thought she was a prostitute:

Actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend Brian James Lucas (aka Cheffy BeLive) have taken to social media to protest Daniele’s recent arrest for prostitution. The young black woman’s actual crime? Kissing her white boyfriend in public. It seems someone saw the two kissing in public, didn’t like it, and told them to “stop putting on a show.” Minutes later, the police show up, and start asking Lucas questions which, he says, suggested that his girlfriend was actually a prostitute and he was her trick.... Interestingly, a California CBS affiliate says that California has no law requiring you to show your ID to the police if you’re just walking down the street. But they do have the right to detain you if they have “reasonable suspicion” of something.

It would appear that the cops believed they had a "reasonable suspicion" that Daniele Watts was a sex worker—I'm not saying it was reasonable, mind you, only that the cops actions would seem to indicate that they suspected Watts of being a sex worker for some reasonable reason. But if they believed Watts was a sex worker and she was selling sex to the man she was with and they detained her because prostitution is illegal... why didn't they detain her boyfriend too? It's not just selling sex that's illegal. It's illegal to buy sex. Anti-sex-work activists constantly argue that laws criminalizing prostitution are meant to protect women who sell sex from the real villains: men who buy sex. Yet here we have the cops breaking up what they believed to be a commercial sex transaction, and they detain the woman they suspected of selling sex—put her in cuffs, throw her in a police car—and not the man they suspected of buying sex?

Hm. I have a reasonable suspicion now that maybe anti-sex-work activists are lying when they say the laws against prostitution are meant to protect women doing sex work.

It also needs to be said: Watts shouldn't have been detained even if she were a sex worker because sex work shouldn't be illegal.

UPDATE: The NY Daily News has details—and tape—that complicate the narrative. Neighbors claim the pair was fucking in the car, which they dispute. And Watts was still within her rights to refuse to provide identification.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Three Black Men Who Were Killed by an Absence of Policing

Posted by on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Is Police Work A Thing of the Past?
  • CM
  • Is Police Work a Thing of the Past?

We do not know the exact sequence that ended with the death of Michael Brown (he was shot six times by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Furguson on August 9). But we do know the exact sequence that ended with the death of Kajieme Powell. This sequence lasted only 15 seconds. The two officers of the St. Louis Police Department arrive, see a problem, and shoot it. That is the extent of the police work that went into this situation. Like Brown, Powell, a young black man, was killed by white officers. As a consequence, and with good reason, we focused on the racial side of this tragedy. But there is another side to this incident that needs more attention, and it is this: The near complete lack of police work on the part of the two officers. Meaning, there is almost no work (doing a job) to be found in the Powell incident. And we have to ask why. Why did the officers avoid working—assessing the situation, making an effort to communicate with the suspect, seeing if he was a danger to others, clearing the area, deciding what kind of force would best solve the crisis for those involved directly and indirectly. The officers only stop the car, draw weapons, and begin shooting. This is not police work.

On July 17, 2014, several officers of the NYPD jumped on Eric Garner and choked him to death. Again, the incident is on video, and again, it is easy to focus on the racial side of the tragedy (black Garner, white cops). But what happened here is similar to what certainly happened in St. Louise and what possibly happened in Ferguson: An ordinary citizen is killed by officers who aren't working, who refuse to do any work, and who, ultimately, have never really learned to do their work. Indeed, the Garner death forced the NYPD to send its officers back to training—sadly, it was only for three days.

Also recall the comments made by former members of the US Army on the Ferguson Police Department's military-like response to the protests in Ferguson. What they saw were cops who did not know how to handle their weapons or how to deal with civilians. They were amateurs. They clearly were wanting in training. They were an embarrassment. From The Nation's "A Former Marine Explains All the Weapons of War Being Used by Police in Ferguson":

There is a growing chorus of military veterans who have chimed in on the absurdity of photographs like this one. Let me join the parade.... There’s at least one line every Marine knows. It’s ingrained at boot camp or Officer Candidate School and follows us to the front lines and back home again. It’s a simple command and it’s the second of the four weapons-safety rules. It says, “Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.” The St. Louis County Police Department apparently never received the memo.


The question to ask, then, is: Why no memo, no professionalism, and this general inability to do or resistance to actual work? My guess is budget cuts. Doing real police work costs money, and city budgets are tight because, essentially, the rich do not want to be taxed. Balanced budgets are the only game in town.

Think about it. The fast response in the case of Powell was, in the terms of market values, cheap. And if budgets are tight, we can expect a kind of policing that cuts as many corners as possible. The police work we see on TV shows like Law and Order is now just a fantasy. That kind of procedural business—foot work, communication with the community, testing and following of evidence, and so on—requires a big budget and staff. But we live in an era of austerity and small government. A lean police department can only be a mean and incompetent police department. Remember, in capitalism, you get what you paid for.

My theory is that the three black men in this post were killed by an absence of policing.

The NFL, Domestic Violence, and #WhyIStayed

Posted by on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Many of us have been tracking the story of former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice and his wife Janay Rice over the last few days. But if you haven't, it's a good jumping off point for talking about domestic violence—a conversation that, like one on many touchy topics, people seem to have a really hard time with. Here are some places to start reading if you're still catching up:

Amy Davidson at the New Yorker on "What the Ray Rice Video Really Shows":

On Monday, a video of Ray Rice, the Ravens running back, punching his then fiancée in the head and leaving her slumped on the floor of an elevator, was released on TMZ. It was greeted with shock. By the early afternoon, the Ravens tweeted that they were terminating Rice’s contract. That is an appropriate response, except for one thing: we’ve known for months that Rice had hit Janay Palmer and left her unconscious; there had been a video already, of him dragging her inert body out of the elevator in a hotel in Atlantic City. And yet, somehow, the video from inside the elevator was not what some purportedly well-informed observers expected. The N.F.L. had investigated the incident, after all, and only suspended Rice for two games; that didn’t fit with the pictures on the screen. But what did people think it looked like when a football player knocked out a much smaller woman? Like a fair fight?

Barry Petchesky at Deadspin says "Someone Is Lying About Whether The NFL Saw The Ray Rice Tape":

Privately, top reporters were told in no uncertain terms that the video existed, that the NFL had seen it, that it showed Janay Palmer acting violently toward Rice, and that, if released, it would go some way toward mitigating the anger against him. One of the league's most devoted mouthpieces described the video for us on an off-the-record basis, going off what his sources had told him. The implication was clear: If you saw this video, you'd know why Rice only got [suspended for] two games.

Now that the video's out, the NFL and the Ravens are reversing course.

The Onion brings the cry-laugh:

Following public outcry over his mishandling of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s aggravated assault of his then-fiancée, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday that the league has adopted a new zero-tolerance policy toward all videotaped domestic abuse. “We hold our players to the highest standards both as professional athletes and as people, so any violence toward women that is recorded, authenticated, and then publicly distributed will be met with an automatic suspension and fine,” said Goodell, adding that the new, stricter guidelines reflect the league’s hard-line stance against any spousal abuse that is clearly and irrefutably captured on film.

Most importantly, though, this case has brought up the age-old question—and I beg you not to fall into this stupid thinking trap, but the question is out there, so let's address it—of "Why does she stay?" The woman Rice is shown savaging in this grainy video went on to marry him afterward. She's released a statement decrying the media focus on the case. In response to a regular narrative coursing through media and across the internet of people questioning why people stay in abusive relationships, a Twitter hashtag popped up: #WhyIStayed.

If you're asking that question at all, you should take the time to go read that hashtag, in which a parade of abuse survivors give their reasons for "staying." It's an example of what Twitter is best at: giving a voice to people, letting them speak for themselves, and amplifying lots of small voices into a large conversation. It's tough to read. But when that stream of terror and manipulation and sadness gets to be too much, go check out #WhenILeft.

If you're trying to get help or information on domestic violence, for yourself or someone you care about, try calling King County's great 24-hour Crisis Line at (206) 461-3222 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seattle Cop Defends Killer of Michael Brown, Accuses Obama of Racism

Posted by on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

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After the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last month by police officer Darren Wilson, a Seattle Police Department sergeant jumped to the defense of Wilson—who is now the subject of a grand jury investigation—and was infuriated by the Obama administration's response to the shooting and subsequent protests in Ferguson.

Sergeant Christopher Hall wrote on his Facebook profile on August 19, "In light of the Ferguson hashtag, DontShoot, I'm starting the hashtag #DontRobStores and #Dontpunchcops." And last Thursday, he posted a link to fundraising page for Wilson that sells t-shirts saying in big block letters, "Don't attack a police officer. Don't get shot."

On August 20, at 3:43 p.m., Hall, changed his profile image to a police badge that says, "Officer Darren Wilson I Stand By You."

SPD officials said they are considering a formal investigation into Hall in response to this story.

The postings seem to imply that the fatal shooting of Brown—an unarmed black teenager killed by a white cop—was an appropriate use of force during the incident, even though there's a dispute between witnesses and Ferguson police about whether Brown and Wilson were scuffling or not at the time of the gunshots. Hall's viewpoint may be particularly concerning for a Seattle cop, given that the SPD is under a federal court order to reform a pattern of excessive force and troubling practices with racial minorities.

Beyond that, Hall's views, judging by his Facebook page, appear to be that civilians are naive, weak creatures, while, according to his posts, police officers like him are "badass motherfuckers" who need military-style equipment.

SPD spokesman Sergeant Sean Whitcomb says the department is looking into Hall's prolific Facebook activity and that it's too early to say if his wide-ranging comments—which also include calling President Obama a "wuss" and accusing the president of "racism"—violate department policies. A decision is pending from the chief on whether to launch a formal misconduct investigation.

I reached Sergeant Hall by phone at his West Precinct office this morning and read quotes from his Facebook page verbatim, offering him the chance to explain his comments. "I'm not looking at what I wrote," he said, and refused to comment. When I said I could send him screenshots of what he wrote, he said I shouldn't bother. "I don't know you, and I have no interest in discussing it with you," he told me.

Direct comments and screenshots from Hall's Facebook page are below the jump.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Many of Y'all Tried to Game Free Records From Columbia House Record Club?

Posted by on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 11:02 AM

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The Columbia House Record Club was a once massively popular, er, well-marketed, record/tape/CD mail-order subscription service. Their hook was, when you signed up and mailed in a SINGLE penny, the club would "give" you a bunch'a "free" records (or tapes/CDs) as a bonus for signing up. It sounded like a great deal until you learned it was a hustle - "multiple times a year," after receiving your "free" stuff, the club would send you a record of their choosing, based on your taste, at their retail price (postage not included). AND, even MORE annoying, if you didn't like their selection you'd hafta return it within a set amount of days or be charged. Oh, if you did return the album, you had to pay the return postage. Ugh.

Well, as there was a "free records" involved, I had a ton of friends who tried to game their system. They all signed up, sent in their penny and, after getting a box of albums, ALL boasted how they had succeeded in ripping off CHRC!! Right, BUT they never bothered to explain how they got past being liable for all the unwanted records, and invoices, that followed!! I'm sure their poor parents/collection agencies ended up having to sort it out. Sheesh! Still, a lot of folks did game CHRC, and not just kids! For instance, dig how many CDs this semi-legit dealer, Joseph Parvin, was able to game. God damn!

The patron saint of the records-club schemers would probably be Joseph Parvin. In 2000, the 60-year-old was prosecuted for having received, between 1993 and 1998, nearly 27,000 CDs, using over 2000 fake accounts and 16 P.O. boxes. All told, he bilked Columbia House (and rival BMG) out of $425,000 of product, selling them at flea markets.

Dag, 2000 fake accounts is a lot of hustlin'! Just goes to show creeps are all the same - they'll work exceptionally hard to steal for a few bucks in return. Including the CHRC. Their business model was hinged not only on extortion, but also on stealing: nearly all their give-aways were FREEBIES! Meaning, most of the artists/groups received NO royalties for the albums CHRC gave away, as they were considered promotional.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Seattle Police Deny Having or Using "Stingray" Cell Phone Data Sucking Device

Posted by on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 1:22 PM

This is a stingray, the animal after which the surveillance device under fire from civil liberties advcoates is named.
  • Matt9122/Shutterstock
  • STINGRAY The animal after which a surveillance device used by Tacoma police, now under fire from civil liberties advocates, is named.

It took many by surprise that civilian police at protests in Ferguson, Missouri, outfitted in camouflage and carrying assault rifles, looked like stormtroopers. Here in Seattle, in 2012, the public was surprised and dismayed by the Seattle Police Department's quiet acquisition of two drones through a Homeland Security grant. After an outcry, the department decommissioned the drones and, earlier this year, sent them to Los Angeles police.

Here's another surprise (woohoo!) from police in Tacoma: They've been using a suitcase-sized device called a Stingray that pretends to be a cell phone tower and sucks up data from surrounding cell phones.

In a June exposé, USA Today explained what the hell a Stingray does and called its use "a method from the NSA's playbook."

Did Tacoma police decide that the public deserves more transparency? Did they disclose their use of this technology voluntarily? Haha. Good one! No—instead, Phil Mocek, a co-founder of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, filed a slew of Freedom of Information Act requests and obtained documents earlier this month, some of which are redacted, showing that the department acquired the device in 2009 and has used it 179 times since then.

Tacoma's City Council, much like our own city council's experience with SPD's drones, had no clue, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Seattle Police Officer John Marion Is At It Again, Apparently

Posted by on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Officer John Marion: Im going to come there on my time and come bother you at work.
  • DH
  • Officer John Marion
"I’m going to come to The Stranger and bother you at work and see how you like it, how about that? I’m going to come there on my time and come bother you at work," Officer John Marion told The Stranger's Dominic Holden last October. "I’m sure your boss will love it when I just come in there and bother you while you’re trying to write your newspaper." Marion was found to have engaged in misconduct, but the finding was removed from his record by Interim Chief Harry Bailey, then, under public pressure, reinstated by Mayor Ed Murray.

This time, PubliCola reports, a Facebook user named John Marion took to the social network to call a local White Center business owner, who was complaining about the conduct of Seattle police, "pathetic."

Here's what happened: Last week, Cafe Rozella owner Ricardo Guarnero wrote a lengthy first-person account of his interactions in White Center with King County Sheriff deputy Steve Cox, who he described as a compassionate and hard-working policeman. But, Guarnero said:

After his death, things changed. We had to rely on the Seattle Police Department (SPD) for any assistance. Since, we were on the Seattle side of the White Center border, we had no choice on who was doing the law enforcement. Cox had given me his cell phone number, so anytime we needed help, even if it was just a bunch of hoodlums hanging out in front of our cafe, we would call and he would be there immediately. SPD insisted that if there was anything wrong we should call 911. The dispatchers at 911 are not in the habit of giving out the cell phone number of the Seattle police officer who might be on duty at the time. Plus, they would not dispatch unless you had a bona fide crime to report. Even then, they would only show up if they had two squad cars and four police officers. A simple traffic violation resulted in, at least, two squad cars, often more, treating the situation like a gangland style shooting. In sum, they had no organic connection to the community.

Marion and a few other people who also appear to be police officers commented on a Facebook link to Guarnero's post. One comment called Guarnero a "tard," and another, from Michael Stankiewicz (an officer by that name was singled out for praise in this 2011 OPA report), simply said, "Asshat." Marion called Guarnero "sad, pathetic, lost, and self righteous all at the same time."

According to an update on PubliCola, new police chief Kathleen O'Toole is disappointed by the comments. "It's unfortunate if these remarks have been made," she said via SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb, "and it reflects poorly on the entire department." Whitcomb said the comments "likely" came from SPD employees.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Should Washington State Eliminate Our Statute of Limitations on Rape Charges?

Posted by on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Last week, Democratic nominee for Texas governor and serial badass Wendy Davis announced her desire to eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting cases of rape and sexual battery in Texas.

Here's what Davis had to say during a press conference in Dallas:

“Eliminating the statute of limitations for rape will help to right that wrong by making sure that survivors like Lavinia will never again have to forgo justice just because someone stood back and let the clock run out on their case,” Davis said.

The Davis campaign pointed to several Texas rape case where the criminals got away with the crime because of the statute of limitations.

Like Texas, Washington State's statute of limitations for prosecuting rape cases is generally 10 years (not including crimes involving minors). There have been a few attempts to repeal the statute of limitations in Olympia, most notably by survivors of priest-perpetrated sexual abuse, but thus far efforts have failed.

Which made me curious: Do prosecutors and victim advocates in Washington State feel that abolishing our state statute of limitations for rape cases would help victims of sexual violence? So I started calling around. One of the first people I was able to reach was Tom McBride, a prosecuting attorney who's been with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys for 21 years. Here's what he had to say.

What is the intent behind having a statute of limitations when prosecuting rape cases?
It's a common-sense recognition that after enough time passes, you start to lack the certainty you need to decide something. We have a court system where the standard is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, so at what point in time can we still prosecute and preserve that standard while still proving our case? That said, there are always exceptions. For example, videotape evidence or DNA evidence.

The 10 years statute of limitations is accurate for Rape 1 and 2 if you report the crime within a year. If you don't report within a year, [the statute of limitations is] three years. That said, victims under 18 can report up until they turn 30. So, like with a 10-year-old, arguably they have a 20-year statute of limitation. Recognition that particularly with kids, if the abuser is in the home, they need to be out of the house and financially independent before they report.

Do you believe that eliminating the statute of limitations would help you prosecute rape cases?

Continue reading »

Friday, August 22, 2014

Writer Says Media Coverage Made Her Identify With School Shooters

Posted by on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Slog tipper Matthew G. Miller sends this piece by Gina Tron in Politico Magazine recalling her troubled high school years:

When I compounded my reputation as a dangerous psychopath by scaring a girl who’d been mean to me with a nasty note that invoked the Columbine killings, and the police found out about my short story, the news was on the front page of our hometown paper and covered by the local TV station. I was banned from my prom (which I was rumored to want to blow up) and frightened parents claimed they would shoot me on sight if I tried to go. Extra police were sent to the dance and to my school.

My notoriety was made. And although I had no desire to go on a killing spree at all, I began to sort of enjoy it. I started to identify with mass murderers, probably because I thought I was the same as them: a loser destined to be secluded from society. But more importantly, I felt that being suspected as a villain gave me power. I was no longer a quiet nobody. I was infamous. People paid attention to what I did. I now had a stage. Teachers and adults feared me, and some kids my age, though they claimed to dislike me, were curious about me. There was something about my situation being plastered on television that made it feel like I was more than just a human. I may have been a loser, but I did something. The notoriety was as addictive as it was isolating. And there was something so uniquely American about the whole thing.

Does media coverage lead to more school shootings? There's no definitive data on this question, at least not yet, but experts suspect that it does.

"It’s not unreasonable to ask for a little restraint from the media," says Tron, who is pictured, when she was younger, posing with one of those local newspaper covers. She believes, like CNN's Anderson Cooper, that journalists shouldn't name the shooters. "If you maintain his anonymity, you rob him of the narcissistic gratification he’s looking for."

We’ve Got to “Police the Police”: Photos from the Local NAACP's Rally for Ferguson

Posted by on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 9:42 AM

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  • Kelly O

Blues music played from loud speakers strung across the rolling green lawn, friends caught up in small groups, and children ran through water sprayed from beautiful, cartoonish park fountains. If it wasn't for the signs reading "Who's Next?" and "Stop Police Terror" and the 150-strong crowd chanting, "Hands up! Don't shoot!", the scene last night in the Central District's Pratt Park could have been mistaken for a neighborhood picnic.

But it wasn't. The people amassed last night by the Seattle King County chapter of the NAACP were angry. The National Guard may have withdrawn from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, but the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white police officer on August 9, the tear gas and arrests deployed against protestors and journalists that ensued, and the war-like military presence that has since pervaded that town has left its mark on black communities across the country.

"[Ferguson] wasn't an anomaly, that was a microcosm of towns across the nation," said Sheley Secrest, former NAACP chapter president (and former candidate to represent Washington's 37th legislative district). "We've got to make certain that we've got people to police the police."

Speakers, most of whom were faith leaders, highlighted instances of historic and recent police brutality across the nation before bringing the conversation home and speaking about the mistrust and aggression propagated by Seattle police in communitites of color. Sixty-nine-year-old William Wingate spoke to his recent experience of being confronted by an SPD officer who accused him of swinging at her with a golf club that he used as his walking stick. "I'd never seen her before in my life," he said.

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  • Kelly O

Continue reading »

Thursday, August 21, 2014

St. Louis Police Killed Kajieme Powell in a Barrage of Bullets

Posted by on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 12:33 PM

"Over two fucking sodas," says a witness who caught the incident, which occurred on Tuesday, on camera. Twenty-three-year-old Kajieme Powell, who is alleged to have stolen a few drinks and pastries from a nearby store, reportedly had a history of mental illness. This video, released by the police, is not easy to watch:

The video appears to contradicts the narrative of events claimed by police, though a representative for the St. Louis police union called it "exculpatory." Ezra Klein adds:

This man needed help. He had a knife, but he also, clearly, had an illness. After watching the video, Vox's Amanda Taub said, "I keep thinking about the times when I have called 911 because I have encountered a mentally ill person in public who seems unsafe. I don't know how I would live with it if this had been the result." There has to have been a way that police could have protected Kajieme Powell rather than killed him.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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