Videos and images circulating on Twitter Sunday night appear to show the French government snipers shooting protesters. There is currently confusion over whether the bullets fired are made of rubber or are real bullets. Regardless, many citizens are coming away with serious injuries.
Recently, the government approved a hike in the tax on gas. Protestors have been rioting in the street over the past few days, with many citizens using violent protest as a means to express their displeasure with this tax change. Fires have been consuming cars and damaging local businesses. In an effort to control these protests, police have closed tourist areas and fired tear gas. This is the first major escalation since the protests broke out.
In addition to the gas tax, the protesters, who call themselves “Yellow Vests”, are upset with an increase to the French pension system. Though taxes are going up, the payouts for many citizens are decreasing. This, among other general dissatisfaction with French President Emmanuel Macron, has fostered increased anti-government sentiment among Yellow Vests.
The current escalation of tensions could have large implications on the structure of French politics and government. Macron is reportedly considering declaring a national state of emergency. According to several reports, there have been 110 injuries in the fiasco so far. He has been defending his police officers and their actions, saying ″(Violence) has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger” and “no cause justifies” attacks on police.
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Prominent Black Lives Matter leader and freedom activist Hawk Newsome is currently being held in a New York City prison on three charges: attempted assault, disorderly conduct & obstructing governmental operations. Newsome and other community activists were peacefully protesting the violent death of Stephon Clark at the hands of cops in Sacramento California earlier this week.
Clark, 20, was gunned down after police believed he was holding a gun. No weapon was found on Mr. Clark and authorities have suggested they mistook a cell phone in Clark’s hand for a gun. The fallout from the Sacramento community reached the East Coast by Wednesday night as protestors, including Newsome, took to the streets of Manhattan.
Later that night, Newsome was pictured being taken away in cuffs and wrote the following to his supporters:
In jail. Set up a donation for legal fees. Create a free Hawk meme. I’m OK. I’ll be in all night. – Hawk Newsome
Newsome has made waves in New York City and nationally for his work as a peaceful advocate of change. Black Lives Matter is a civil rights organization that has called for a systematic review of authority in the United States. They have often been painted as far left radicals when the overarching message and goals of Black Lives Matter more realistically share roots with Frederick Douglass and the abolitionists who stood for equity in the face of state tyranny.
Mr. Newsome sued the city of New York over his unlawful arrest during an anti-Trump protest in February of 2017 and has created headlines by suggesting that cops should not be allowed to wear uniforms in a court of law. Carrying signs that read “Stephon Clark’s Life Mattered” & “Rest In Power Stephon Clark,” the protest began in Columbia Circle and maneuvered into Manhattan before 10 activists were arrested including Newsome.
Updates poured in over the next 24 hours:
It’s has now been over 12 hours that he’s been detained and information is being withheld from his family and attorneys. No Charges. No Docket Number. Please have everyone call 646-386-4511. His arrest number is M18618166. – Angelique Negroni-kearse
Newsome is known in conservative circles after a video went viral of him speaking at the pro-Trump “Mother Of All Rallies” protest last year in Washington DC:
Mr. Newsome’s hearing was originally scheduled for 2:15 PM at 100 Centre Street in NYC but has been changed to a later time between 5-11 PM EST. To learn more about Mr. Newsome’s case please follow this link to facebook.
We will update this post as more information comes in.
According to WRAL, North Carolina police have successfully convinced a Wake County judge to order Google to hand over the data records of citizens found to be within a digital corridor on the night or day of a specified crime scene. The state claims they have the right to access Google’s database in an effort to identify suspects in the area of a crime.
The two cases in question revolve around the murders of a taxi cab driver and another man killed in his driveway last year. Drawing on a satellite map, Raleigh police presented the Wake County judge with a highlighted area encompassing the crime scene. Any citizen that passed within this territory during an estimated time of criminal activity would be included in the digital roundup.
While privacy activists across the country criticized the news, county officials suggested that this is simply the natural evolution of forensic techniques. Raleigh police presented the tech giant with warrants to provide the digital information of any active cell phones found within the area of the two separate murders.
For one of the warrants, the judge ordered Google to hand over the data of any user within a 17 block radius of the crime scene. This area includes residential houses and businesses, meaning that the data dump could potentially include thousands of free and lawful citizen’s private information. Some have suggested this is a breach of our constitutional rights to search without due cause.
According to research, 92% of all Americans own a cellular device. While users have the option to turn off GPS location services, citizens can still be tracked by connected cellular networks that constantly monitor users. Google has remained quiet on the proceedings and offered a brief statement regarding how they decide to release information to authorities:
We have a long-established process that determines how law enforcement may request data about our users. We carefully review each request and always push back when they are overly broad. – Google
The statement suggests that Google protects the rights of its users up to a point. Without any specifics, however, it is tough to assume what their policy really is and how dedicated the tech giant is to its user’s private information. Furthermore, the data was not limited to Android users. Any user connected to a google app was targeted in the sweep. In the case of the two murders in Raleigh, perhaps the search optimization site was shown convincing evidence that compelled them to release the records of thousands of area citizens. Or perhaps this isn’t a battle the Silicon Valley enterprise wants to fight.
According to the presiding judge, this ruling does not allow for a limitless search of a user’s phone. Text messages, emails, and phone calls were precluded from the warrant although the judge suggested these could be obtained with through a different process. This ruling holds precedent in Orange County California where a digital search warrant to comb through the records of cellular users has been used in past cases.
Americans are not stupid. They know they are being watched and recognize that the monolithic tech giants of our age often have no recourse (or interest) in protecting the rights of their consumers. This decision stands and Google’s weak stance on privacy helps illuminate the reality that your right to digital privacy in The United States continues to be eroded with certainty and precision by a new grouping of technological authorities that seem not to possess an understanding or care for constitutional rights.
The fourth amendment to the constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Constitutional advocates will recognize the issue with judges ordering private data of citizens that happen to pass through a geographical territory while a crime is committed. While the information could be used to prosecute a killer, it also serves to disenfranchise the property rights of the other 99.9% of citizens who have a right to be secure in their persons against unreasonable search. Ordering the release of is an unreasonable search.
What’s worse is that this sort of legislation will undoubtedly target minorities as it already did in the taxi driver case. Crime is highest in places of poverty, and if authorities are allowed the opportunity to search private citizen’s property based on territorial generalizations, it is a certainty that the weakest among us will only get weaker. Furthermore, this new technique could possess technological challenges. For instance, this modern form of analytics could lead to false accusations based simply on being within a 17 block area of a committed crime.
As we move into the era of complete technological adoption, clarification regarding privacy and the rights of individuals in the digital age are becoming contested issues. While officials suggest these new measures are in line with a mentality required to investigate crimes of the 21st-century, where does the breach of privacy end? Every inch we give up as Americans is another inch gained by the corporate monoliths of government and business. These latest cases are simply another example of how commonplace it has become for the state to monitor its citizens without their consent.
On Thursday, over a hundred of AJ Weber’s friends and family packed an emergency town hall meeting in southside Los Angeles demanding answers from the LA Police Department regarding the shooting death of Weber on Super Bowl Sunday.
AJ, the father to a 9-month-old baby and one of 10 children to Marine Corps veteran and small business entrepreneur John Weber, appears to be the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being black.
On Monday the LA Sherrif Department played the 911 audio call that had suggested there was a black male pointing a gun at passerbys at the 1200 block of 107th Street. The call was made by an unidentified male and the police department transposed his voice to hide the person’s identity.
30 minutes later a teenager would lay in a pool of his own blood after deputies fired a staggering 10 bullets into the unarmed teen’s chest.
Community members demanded answers from the LA Police department:
Brother of #AnthonyWeber (the unarmed 16-year-old that was killed by LASD a few days ago) asked Capt. Christopher Bergner of @LASDHQ Homicide Bureau a question at tonight's Town Hall and was answered with this disgusting response… pic.twitter.com/XpUdrt1Mxv
As we have seen in countless state-sanctioned murders of black men over the past few decades, cops were eager to ask questions later. When they found Mr. Weber in the courtyard of an apartment complex, two officers say that Weber reached for a gun before they ended his life in a flurry of bullets.
Officers were not wearing body cams or audio devices and when they found no weapon on Weber were quick to suggest that it was taken by a member of the 50 person group that gathered at the crime scene in the moments after.
Now playback the story and imagine if this was a white teenager in Beverly Hills. Imagine that the LA Police Department received the same call and proceeded to profile a white male of their choosing to pursue. Imagine they sunk 10 bullets into his little pale frame and in the aftermath blamed the lack of evidence on a group of white men and women who gathered and wanted to know why a murder had been committed. Imagine a white family torn apart in the span of 15 minutes by trigger happy “police” and think of the outrage from white corporate media at the death of a strapping young man on the cusp of adulthood.
It’s hard to imagine because it doesn’t happen.
Pictures shared of Weber in the aftermath show an eager and happy father. His friends and family insist there was no gun because AJ didn’t own a gun. The suggestion that someone in the crowd around Weber’s lifeless body stole the gun is patently racist and should be met with the level of scrutiny deserved of any American citizen.
Why would somebody take the gun? What is the motif? To “hide” the evidence? To frame the cops? A free gun? No matter how you spin it, the idea just doesn’t add up and its very suggestion speaks volumes about the lack of training and accountability in our police forces. Officials originally refused comment on the timeline and evidence presented but by Thursday their statement had changed with the Sheriff acknowledging that Weber may not have had a gun at all.
Since the death of Anthony Weber, the Sheriff's Department has faced intense criticism from his family and others who insist he did not have a gun. https://t.co/5pFEdNpKhZ
For myself and many reading this article we wonder how this changes? We live in a flawed society that still judges people not on the merit of their character but on the dip in their waistband and the color of their skin. We live in a police state that asks questions later and uses their bias to inflict deadly force on American citizens. The contempt shown by the sheriff and his officers towards the community is par for the course. They see themselves as above reproach as infallible and far too often they are given a safe passage from serious questions and punishment.
AJ Weber was a father and a young man still on his way into adulthood. The 911 caller who effectively signed the death warrant of Weber could’ve been anyone. They could have been completely mistaken or they could have been someone with a vendetta towards Weber. We will never know the answer to that question because AJ Weber can no longer speak. AJ Weber can no longer provide for his baby child. AJ Weber is 6 feet under because two “officers of the peace” thought it better to shoot first & ask questions later. AJ Weber is dead because he was a black American.
In today’s times, it feels like at least a few times a year a cop kills a citizen or video footage comes out that a cop killed a citizen in the past. Every time news comes out of a murder like this there are protests and much outspoken opposition: whether marches, celebrities speaking out, or social media banter. Typically, these protests revolve around the idea that the whole police force needs serious fixing and reconstruction because people being wrongly killed by police is a serious problem. In response, Conservatives and Republicans say back to these protests that “one cop does not represent the rest”, “one bad decision does not define the group, or “not all cops are bad”. These responses from the right wing need serious considering. Specifically, the phrase “not all cops are bad”. Is there really a good cop?
Another common argument the right side uses is that cops are only doing their job; they have the best intentions in mind. Cops cannot be blamed for the actions of themselves because they are only taking orders from higher-ups. Cops have the best intentions but can only do what they are told. This idea that cops can get away with terrible actions because they are just taking orders is ridiculous and goes with the saying “if someone told you to jump off a bridge would you?” No, cops should be able to logically think about what they are told to do and determine if the orders are good or bad. They should be held to the standard that every other employee is held to.
There was another side to the argument besides that cops should not be blamed for the orders they follow: cops have the best intentions. This part of the argument may very well be true for many cops. Some may just want to protect and serve the taxpayers the best way they can. While the opposite may also be true for a few police officers.
These arguments may bring another option to the table, however. It may be that yes, most of the people in police officer roles are overall good people and want to do the best for society, but the job/position of being a police officer today is not good for society.
To validate this claim that the job of a police officer may not be good for society we would have to look at where police officer’s orders are coming from. Well, police officers do not technically pledge an oath to a person, but to a thing: the law. Police officers swear to execute and enforce every law passed by the United States government. For a cop’s job to be positive to society, one would have to agree with every single law passed in America. Whether the law is putting people in jail for using cannabis, fining someone for pumping their own gas in New Jersey, unconstitutionally seizing citizens by means of the PATRIOT act, and nearly an endless amount of other unjust laws.
It is not that every single person in the position of police officer is a bad person (even though some definitely are) or that the idea of wanting to protect and serve society is a bad idea. Wanting to protect and serve people is an admirable thing to do. The problem with today’s police force, however, is that they hold the job of enforcing all of the government’s laws and regulations, and many (arguably most) laws and regulations are flawed and unjust. Until the laws are cleaned up and give the citizens their natural rights back the police force will be doing a disservice to society and be inherently bad.